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Divorcing the Disordered — An Interview with Dr. George Simon

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divorce-when-being-wrong-every-day-for-being-alive-isnt-working-for-you-anymore-1b4e4In 2013 I interviewed friend of the blog, Dr. George Simon for HuffPo. I thought it’s long past time to rerun this column, as I can’t recommend Dr. Simon’s works enough (see the Resource page for his books or check out his site at www.manipulative-people.com ). Simon is a psychologist who has spent over 25 years researching character disturbance and has written two acclaimed books on manipulative and other difficult personalities — “In Sheeps’ Clothing” and “Character Disturbance.” I interviewed Simon about his views on divorcing someone with a character disorder.

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Many of us might be inclined to describe our exes as “crazy.” After all, divorce doesn’t normally bring out the best in folks, but according to Dr. George Simon, some divorces may be exceptionally toxic because one party suffers from what he terms a “character disorder” (CD). Divorcing a disordered person is its own particular kind of hell, distinct from the usual miseries of divorce.

TS: How do you know if you’re dealing with someone who is truly disordered, or someone who is just being a difficult jerk? I wonder if the distinction matters?

GS: CDs really can’t help themselves when it comes to being who they are. Yes, some are very adept at positive impression management and manipulation, but if you know what to look for, you can tell.

But first you must divest yourself of many popularly held but erroneous beliefs about human nature. Not everyone is struggling with fears and insecurities. Some people actually aren’t “hung up” enough about the things they do. And not everyone who puts on an air of confidence or superiority is compensating for low self-esteem. There really are people who sincerely think they’re all that and are therefore entitled to do as they please regardless of the consequences! People reveal their true character mainly in their core beliefs — which are reflected not in what they say, but in their actions.

Top CD attitude red flags: Entitlement, possessiveness, indifference to others, arrogance, disdain for obligation. The more of these attitudes they possess and the more intense these attributes are, the more character impaired the person is.

TS: How does someone who is character disturbed behave differently in a divorce? Is it more contentious?

GS: There are hundreds of examples. But here are a few:

First, it’s not about acknowledging failure in the marital relationship, separating, and moving on. Rather, it’s about punishing, destroying, or making someone else’s life miserable for daring to say “no” or declare an end to an abusive situation. Character assassination becomes the norm. The CD will arm their attorneys with examples of their ex’s “questionable behavior,” but which are amplified to such an extent to paint the worst possible picture of the person.

Perhaps even more important is the ordeal the CD wants to be sure the ex-partner goes through. They’ll bring out such big cannons with their lawyer, that the other party has to spend much time, energy, and money either defending themselves or just trying to survive the ordeal that they have no time, energy, or money left to advocate for a stronger position.

TS: Are CDs financially abusive?

GS: Money matters always tell the story the best. The CD will clean out bank accounts. Or they play financial games. The reckless gambling and spending will all get discovered right around the time the aggrieved party has begun seriously contemplating the divorce. This makes it even harder to think about throwing in the towel because of how disadvantaged the victim will be walking out.

The CD will also try to penny-pinch or in other ways attempt to ensure that their former partner can’t simply walk away in a financially tenable position. The worst CDs will want to see their former partners financially broken and destitute. The last thing they want is simply to separate and allow the other person to be on their feet and move on to a different (better) life. Rather, they want them — at least from a financial standpoint — to rue the day they decided to call it quits.

TS: How are children affected?

CDs triangulate the kids and use them as pawns and weapons of war in divorce. As pathetic as it already is for CDs to treat the person they supposedly once worshiped so horrendously, their willingness to use their children to emotionally wound their partner is even more reprehensible. But the greater the character disturbance, the less compunction the CD has to use the kids in this way. Alienating kids from the other parent. Trying to sabotage whatever positive relationship there is. Bribing and trying to buy affection and allegiance, not just with money but with superficial attentiveness, attention, seduction, and placating.

TS: What motivates someone who is CD?

It depends. There are two major CD types, the narcissistic and the “aggressive” personalities. For the narcissist, no one else really matters. The cardinal feature will be a complete indifference and insensitivity to everyone else’s welfare and a pathological determination to save face.

For the aggressive characters, it’s all about “winning.” And while this always includes ensuring the defeat of the opponent, in some cases (as in the case with the sadistic aggressive) it’s also about humiliating the other person and relishing in the pain they might be able to cause them.

TS: So how do we deal with them, aside from divorcing them? Should we try to achieve some kind of consensus around co-parenting, for example?

GS: You have to understand that CDs don’t play by the regular rules, so trying to reach consensus with them and exhausting yourself trying to get them to “see” the unhealthiness of their ways is pointless. I have a rhyme I like to use — “it’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.

Character disordered people are not stupid people. They’re contrary people. They know what the generally accepted rules are, they know what most people’s expectations are. But they haven’t made the decision in their heart to play by the rules most of us want them to play by. That’s a matter of the heart.

Trying to reason with them to examine their behavior assumes something that is patently untrue. It assumes that what they need is insight. I make that point in my book. We live under this delusion. Therapists do this all the time! They think they are going to be the person who says just the right thing in just the right way, so that this time a light bulb is going to go off in this person’s mind and all of a sudden — they will understand and “see” the error of their ways! The problem is, they already understand!

It’s not that the disturbed character doesn’t know what they’re doing and what damage comes from it. If the wounded party is crying their heart out and is miserable, it’s not like you don’t know what you’ve done and what an effect it has had! It’s right there. They already see this but disagree with the notion that they should conform their conduct and work to make amends.

They’ll change only when the cost of their behavior rises too high, the benefits of doing something different becomes more clear, that’s when they’ll change. It’s not that people can’t or won’t change. It’s under what circumstances they’ll be motivated to change. What you need to do if you’re in a relationship with someone like this is set those limits and enforce those boundaries.

You must set the terms of engagement! You can’t trust the character-impaired person to do it. When there is a clear cost to continuing their crazy behavior, there will perhaps be some incentive to change.

Dr. George Simon blogs about manipulative people at www.manipulative-people.com

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Thank you for posting this interview. The concept of being character impaired is somewhat of a paradigm shift for me. That someone would know their actions hurt their loved ones and continue to do them anyway is just mind-boggling. So unbelievably selfish and entitled! The insight offered here is so valuable.

    • This concept is perhaps the most valuable thing I have gotten from Chump Lady. I wouldn’t say it is a magic wand but it definitely was an “I see the light!” moment. Yes, it’s a paradigm shift but one you will find the more you read about it the more you find yourself saying “that explains that.” Instances from your relationship that made no sense and confused and bewildered you will suddenly, when viewed in the light of CD, be crystal clear. Keep reading and it will also help you fix your picker if you have the desire to ever date again.

      • For me, the most painful questions were “how can he do these thing?” and “why doesn’t he care about the pain he’s causing”? I could understand “breaking up.” I couldn’t understand discarding someone you’ve known and supposedly cared about for 30+ years. Character disorder explains that behavior.

        • yes yes yes yes.

          In the seemingly endless conversations with Kunty Kibbler that I have in my own head, I say: “To do what you did, you are either character disordered or purposefully evil. Pick one.”

          In my fantasy she picks one and, in effect, admits to a serious psychological deficiency.

          In reality, she would angrily start listing reasons why she was angry, frustrated in the marriage, or otherwise unhappy with her life — all of them would focus on me as the reason. Then she’d finish with: “Despite everything, I really do care about you.”

          Spell it D-I-S-O-R-D-E-R.

          • Tuesday, December 16th, 2014. My now ex-husband grabbed me around my waist and pulled me close to him and kissed me passionately and told me he loved me. Seven hours later he called me at work and told me that we should skip MC and he would meet me at home, because he would “answer all my questions.” At home, he got out the Divorce Letter and proceeded to tell me what a horrible person I was, etc.

            But let’s back this up a bit. The proceeding Friday, he spent the entire day at work, writing the Divorce Letter. Sunday we went to church with his parents to watch the annual Christmas pageant which our kids were in. My then husband sat close to me for the first time in a month or more and reached over and grabbed my hand. This gave me hope! We then went over to his parents home for dinner as my ex-MIL nicely offered to make dinner for our daughters birthday. After dinner, I went over to one of their two couches and sat down. My husband came over and snuggled up next to me like he always did in the past. This gave me ever more hope!!! The next day, Monday, was our daughters birthday and everything seemed okay. The next day was Divorce Day Tuesday where my world came crashing down.

            I said to my then husband when I still lived with him, “Who does this to a person?” I listed all the things I mentioned above. He said, “A confused person.” I said, “NO! An EVIL person!” He’s either evil or has a personality disorder. Or maybe both. Everything was premeditated. He’s holding onto this Divorce Letter he took all day drafting on Friday and then holding my hand, cuddling with me and then kissing me passionately and telling me he loves me the day he delivers it to me? That is insane!!! I could never in a million years pull that off let alone do that to someone. Especially someone I spent over 20 years with and had two kids with.

              • Me too. Several times. But the OW didn’t do BJs (WTF???) until he told her it was over. I drove 3 hours in lingerie and heels under a trench coat to find he wasn’t in his hotel room. I just thought he was out ‘with the boys’ – ultimate chump. Instead of enjoying being adventurous with me, he was having boring vanilla sex with her and not sleeping all night because he had never stayed all night and was paranoid. I just drove home and never connected the dots. FML.

            • Martha,

              Thanks for sharing your story because you reminded me now two years out how I endured the same sort of mindfuckery during the last days of my torture before being discarded. (It’s amazing how we forget the details). I was slowly finding out about the new affair this time with someone nearly half our age, and I was receiving gifts from my now ex, and we held hands, and we were seeing a new relationship coach that seemed promising. So much anxiety and yet so much hope. Then on a day I had hand surgery he decided to tell me first, “I love you and I will always be here for you” followed a half hour later by “I’m leaving you to be with [the OP]”. I then kicked his ass out of the house, and he proceeded to freak out on me. The first time I stood up for myself in all of that mess.

              So yeah, I also think “how could someone be this cruel? this torturous?” Never in a million years could I be so manipulative. And we were together for 20 years.

              • ChumpDude,

                I’m so sorry you went through the same mindfuck and emotional rollercoaster with your ex. These types of people are heartless and manipulative. 🙁

            • I think we were married to the same person. Before I went grey rock with him, he flip flopped so much it left my head spinning, sometimes in the same conversation. One minute being blaming, threatening, and/or snide. The next, telling me that he had an amazing wife and should be happy. Back to snide, then asking for a hug.

              This was before I found out he was cheating and while I was pregnant. I was in a constant state of confusion.

              Wow. I am sooooo glad that I stopped talking to him. Life is so much better without him messing with my mind.

              • GetMeFree,

                I’m so happy you are free of him, too, and it sounds like your life is much better!

                I look back on how my ex was able to convince me the way he was acting towards me was “real” feelings; it’s made me question our entire relationship and marriage. I have no clue what was real and fake. The whole thing could have been fake! I’ve gotten to the point that I accept that he’s the mean person and the “nice guy” is just an act he puts on.

            • “A pathological determination to save face.” It was all a “show” for your in-laws, your kids and the people at Church, Martha. Your story is so sad. I’m sorry, Christmas time has to be so difficult for you.

              • I agree, AmIFinallyDone. I didn’t see it at the time, but that’s all it was. An act. His whole life is an act. And now he’s ramped up the Christian act at church. I cannot even go there anymore, because the last time I saw him at church, he was holding his hands up in praise during worship (something he never once did the entire time we went to church together for over ten years) and when he prays, he gets down real low and puts his head in his hands (didn’t do that either.) It’s just so over-the-top. A big show.

                Yeah, Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore. Hopefully one day it’ll be a happy and joyful time again. Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

            • After X moved out and filed for divorce we were at a school function for our son. We arrived separately and sat at opposite ends of the room. As we were leaving my son introduced me to his friend and her mother I didn’t realize X was behind me and before I could say anything he reaches out and shakes the woman’s hand and introduces himself then me as his wife?? huh?

              • My ex did that, too. I filed for divorce in February and in June a photographer came to our home to take photos for our house sale. My ex said, “This is my wife, Martha.” WTF?! I stopped being his wife in December and I divorced him from my heart when he said to my face, “I gave up Sally for you. I gave up Jane for you. I gave up Mary for you.”

                Yeah. My husband gave up all these women for me WHILE WE WERE MARRIED! I thought “forsaking all others” vow meant he was going to do that when we got married.

      • This insight is what finally made me realize my efforts over the years to get him to “see the harm” he was doing not just to me but also to the kids would never go anywhere. Until I accepted this reality, I was still under the impression, he would choose differently if he truly knew.

        He knew. He just didn’t care or agree that it should alter his choices.

        • For me, the most painful questions were “how can he do these thing?” and “why doesn’t he care about the pain he’s causing”?

          ^^^
          Yes. So painful. I said to XW (as she continued her affair in my face, destroying me and our children), “What you are doing is causing me and our children pain. Please stop causing us pain.” As clear and blunt as I could. Her response? Either a blank stare or contempt. It was truly chilling. This was not the sweet, loving woman unmarried. Or rather I guess it was but I denied, spackled and rationalized.

          Scary stuff.

          • I know the blank stare, and the contempt. It’s the same look I get when he says “I just don’t want to be with you” And I say, “Then why are you here? Why don’t you leave?”

            They are so disordered, it’s like someone who can’t choose between pumpkin and apple pie on Thanksgiving. They want a little piece of both. But we’re not dessert! They love the “pick me” dancing. When I stopped doing that in August, that’s when the real contempt kicked in. When I became as cold toward him has he’s been to me for 24 years.

    • My marriage has had many ups and downs, but finally thought we were really getting along well. Then one morning as I was cooking breakfast a text popped up on his phone “Good morning babe”. After that all hell broke loose. Constant texting and phone calls between my husband and “sweetie”. “I love you Sweetie” and her “I love you” . This has gone on for a year. He claims it stopped last Oct 2015. Not true. I’ve listened to voice mails and seen text from her. She is very sexual explicit- sent nude pictures to him without her face being shown (not recent pics either). She’s in her fifties same as me and what pics of seen of her with her face showing.- definitely not recent nude pics she sent him.

      He claims he’s never met her and never had sex with her. To me that sounds doubtful since he always turns his phone off when he goes thru Ohio close to where “sweetie” lives. I’ve told him to not leave his phone laying around.

      He’s not sorry about anything. He claims he’s done nothing wrong because he hasn’t had sex with her (Ha Ha). I’m angry, hurt and feel betrayed. I’m angry, very angry. I know my marriage is over and I need to leave. He claims it’s over between them, but he still talks about her in the present tense. I don’t see or talk to my husband much. He’s a truck driver and gone even more now because when he’s home my anger gets the best of me.

      Both knew the other was married before it started. I know my marriage is over. There is no trust left: to many lies and to much turning it around on me trying to make me look the bad guy.

      How do you finally decide to leave? Do I need to set a time line and leave. I’m baffled by my own behavior and anger.
      But the hurt and angry at times seems to consume me and I don’t want to live like that. I feel like I’m going crazy and stressed out.

      • I’m younger, but it was the same thing. A few things…
        1) In the words of my friend Eric – you are not hanging out with a girl like that and not getting your dick wet. They will only admit to what you have them dead to rights. He is fucking her.
        2) You will realize that you have hit the point of no return. For me it was realizing that he just lied like most people breathe. I could never believe another word out of his mouth. Once I genuinely embraced this fact, deep in my soul, I was like “Well why the fuck would I stayed married… I just be worried about the myriad ways in which he’s going to screw me over. There’s no point.” I realize there was nothing he could do to fix it. Too much damage had been done.
        3) I fucking hated him. Like I hated everything about him. For a long time I hung on to “well I don’t see how my life could be any better if I’m married or divorced. I do my thing, we get along OK, I have plenty of money, etc.” Yeah, I was lying to myself. I was hurting myself. I was not kind, I was not patient, I didn’t have anything left in my soul to give to other people. Now that I’m free of him, my spirit better. I’m happier, and my life is better. I can concentrate, I can support my friends when they need it, I’m off the anxiety meds. Don’t lie to yourself that it’s “fine”. It’s not fine… you will see that once you are free.

        As the other poster said… this is a marathon, not sprint. Pull together your documents, research divorce in your state, create your cash stash, freeze your credit (freeze his too if you can get away with it), start looking for housing and get it done.

      • You ask yourself two questions: “Is this how I want to live? With someone who perpetrated the most horrible piece of emotional violence on me?”

        And (as I did), “How much self respect am I willing to sacrifice for this marriage?” My mental answer was, “No more.”

        • I’d add “do I like myself in this relationship? Am I being true to MY character and values?” These questions nagged at me during wreckconciliation and kept me from getting sucked farther in.

          • I tried thinking about this objectively like a business deal.

            I am bringing all these wonderful things in the table for this relationship to work: stability, loyalty, hard work, positive outlook on life, etc.

            And what is he bringing to the table? Answer: lies, deceit, power-tripping, gaslighting, potential STDs from various ho-worker groupies, instability, petiness, cruelty, and more lies. Totally the opposite of the above.

            Then it becomes a no-brainer to just walk away from it all. No deal, asshole.

      • You ask yourself what your deal breakers are, and if this kind of disrespect is one of them, you start planning your exit.

        You research attorneys, and find one that you can work with in getting the best settlement.

        You research and get a good therapist. Your attorney is not your therapist.

        You start saving money outside of the joint accounts.

        You pay off and quickly close joint credit cards. Use a little white lie and tell him you’re done with being in debt. It’s true because you’re done being in debt WITH HIM. He’s probably charging for the skank on your dime, anyway.

        When your attorney, therapist and your bank account gives you the green light, you have him served.

        Once you decide, the chores need to be done.

        You can do it. If you’re ready to be free from such a piece of garbage.

        • Thanks for the good advice. I have a good therapist I’m going to. Don’t know what kind of mess I would be in without her. Now I need to find a good attorney and get all my bills and credit cards paid off and stash some cash away. I’m scared about being on my own – been married since I was 18 and Dec 30th will be my 39th anniversary. This holiday has been pretty ruff knowing my marriage is over and that my hope for the marriage to recover is dying . I ‘ve shed too many tears over this ,but know I can’t continue to live this way. I need peace in my life and to learn to be happy on my own.

          So thanks to everyone for their advise and support.

      • “How do I finally leave?”

        You face the painful fact that this man disrespects you without an ounce of appreciation for the wonderful gift he has in his life.

        You make a plan without alerting him. You are not crazy.

      • I let it go too long because of the confusion he caused me. And I pick-me danced even though I had no idea what that was or why. I finally decided to leave when he cleaned out our bank accounts and called the police and had me arrested for domestic violence when I was safely locked away from his violence. When I got back from the pokey the next day with an off duty cop to fetch some of my things, he’d rifled through my purse and taken my keys and wallet. He’d given some of my clothes away to his girlfriend. My jewelry was gone. And still I came back six months later when he cried crocodile tears and pledged his undying love. What was undying was his hope to take my money too. He got most of that before I finally called it a day.

        The moral of the story is that bad people can be very, very good at looking good when they are very, very bad. Trust that they suck and never look back.

      • I asked myself, “Do I really want to do this anymore?” The answer was no. I wanted to go on to bigger and better things, I didn’t want to waste any more time.

    • Yes CL. Thank you for such a timely post since today is Dr. Crazy’s birthday, which I celebrated with a very productive meeting with my attorney.

  • If you are baffled by their behavior, you are NOT one of those people.

    This article is great, it describes my ex to a “T”. It is like a soap opera daily dealing with him and his mess. A soap opera I did not sign up for.

    I have been waiting for 25 years for him to change and he hasn’t yet, even with a divorce, job loss and a near death experience.

  • “For the narcissist, no one else really matters. The cardinal feature will be a complete indifference and insensitivity to everyone else’s welfare and a pathological determination to save face.”

    I finally saw this in the Limited. What I wonder about is if and how they store memories. How can one not have one positive memory of an entire lifetime?

    • I think they “curate” memories. All the positive ones have to do with their own awesomeness and how they impressed others. Great things they’ve done to improve lives. The pain, hurt, lies just go poof. Gone. Never happened, now please let me get back to thinking about how great I am. Truth and authenticity are kryptonite to the disordered.

      • Nic, “curate” is exactly right.

        With my x I started to notice that he had a different morality system from me. My sense of right and wrong is pretty objective (I think), and I perceive that “good” and “bad” exist independently of myself.

        The narc x thinks “good” = whatever makes him feel good. “Bad” = whatever makes him feel bad.

        In the course of normal life, I made him feel bad about himself in a myriad of ways–questioning him, challenging him, asking him to do things he didn’t want to do. These were all normal interactions between two people who live together, but little did I know that I was diminishing his sense of self importance when, say, I asked him nicely if he could call home when he was going to be late for dinner. Or if he could put his dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher instead of on the counter. Or if I told him no, we bought our house in 2001, not 2000. Or if I pointed out an open parking space when he was driving. Or if I opted to spend time with our daughter instead of him.

        After 30 years of diminishing him in these nefarious ways, I became very, very “bad.” That’s all he remembers now; he has curated the good stuff out of existence. And since I was so very “bad,” it’s essentially MY fault that he slept with other women and had to destroy our family.

        Oh, I understand all too well how the character disordered work these days…

        • “Or if I told him no, we bought our house in 2001, not 2000.”
          Yes, Champ!!! Even contradicting them on a fact, not having a different opinion or pointing out questionable behaviour, is a cardinal sin with these people.
          When I read about CD I wonder if I am disordered too because I am so full of anger and resentment at what he has done. But I was never like this before in any relationship or break-up, and I accept being questioned on my behaviour, although it can be very uncomfortable of course. But being offended when proven wrong on facts! That’s the clear cut distinction, then I am sure I am not one of them.

          • Champchump, “After 30 years of diminishing him in these nefarious ways…”
            This jumps out at me because that’s exactly what x did to me. How does one explain the horrible hurt that I have caused the special snowflake, without revealing my “nefarious ways” (insert evil laugh). I asked the fool what it was that I had done to “hurt him”, hurting him being the cause of him finding schmoopie, and he just couldn’t tell me. He has not been able to tell me in 3 years time, because it’s all bullshit.
            Survivor makes a good point, “Nothing can diminish their sense of self-importance. Rather, you had crossed the line of hero-worshiping subordinate to behave as an equal. And for that, you deserved to be punished and firmly put in your place. Ask me how I know.” Evil disordered bastards/bitches is the real answer.

        • So true, Champchump. Asking for cooperation from the disordered is a direct offense against their inherent specialness. But it is wrong to assume that by doing so you were “diminishing his sense of self-importance.” Nothing can diminish their sense of self-importance. Rather, you had crossed the line of hero-worshiping subordinate to behave as an equal. And for that, you deserved to be punished and firmly put in your place. Ask me how I know.

          • “Rather, you had crossed the line of hero-worshiping subordinate to behave as an equal. And for that, you deserved to be punished and firmly put in your place.”

            Survivor, you nailed it.

            • I lived it, as so many have. And I have put a number of years between then and now so it’s very clear. Looking back is easier than looking from the inside of a cyclone, every time.

            • For them to be one up, you HAVE to be one down. If you ever outshine them in any way, they can’t allow that. They have to devalue you & choose a new partner who is still beneath them in value.

              • This makes sense and I think it supports the statement, “Cheaters never trade up.”

                STBX gets infatuated with people who have a crush on him. Ha Ha… Because those who are not in his level will otherwise smell the fishy facade and run away. There is still much to be done but I think I am on my way to becoming one of those who can smell these fuckers from a mile away.

            • The other point the Disordered hate is you knowing more than them or being able to do something better then them!!
              Holy Moly hang onto your seats people if you have a talent or skill that they feel makes them look “stupid”. My STBX said to me once “you make me feel so stupid when you do that” (in a it’s so unfair whining tone) refering to my navigation abilities. WTF!!! Everything was a competition with him. He always had to “WIN” ?

        • X is a tit for tat, petty bullshit, kind of guy. If I asked him to put the wash in the dryer – three feet from where he was glued to his computer screen – he would ask me to bring him a drink. Because dammit, if he had to get up and walk three feet, he was going to have me walk downstairs and back again to fetch him a drink. God forbid his debit and credit column of life not be balanced at all times.

          He never thought to do anything to help run our household on his own. It took me years to understand that he married/hired me to handle such mundane tasks.

          • Sounds familiar, if we were to go anywhere for the day and have things to bring in frm the car. He’d have a tally of what he brought in compared to what I carried in.
            Not counting my handbag, a water bottle and keys to open the door.
            Then he’d sit his ass on the couch holding the remote and ask what I was making for dinner after being out all day.
            If he were to bring the trash bag to the can outside (which isn’t far) I’d hear about it all day. Imagine if I announced repeatedly all the household chores I did during the day.
            Such a weasel..,
            If I were to ask him to do something he’d say okay but never do it.. if I were to ask again he’d say I told you I’d take care of it.., most times he’s never would. He must have thought I hadn’t done enough around the house to deserve his effort.

        • Kiwi Chump and responders, amazing. The exact scenarios. It’s unreal. And why is it I can find so many people at CN with the exact same lives as me, and yet I can’t find one person that I know in my daily life who has lived like this and understands?

          • I think they are out there, but they are still in the dark as to what has really been happening to them, as I would still be if I hadn’t found this site. I would have been embarrassed to tell my story because it seems so crazy. I thought people would dismiss me as the crazy one, would think I am making this shit up, and I was hiding his dirty secret for a year. Even when he accused me of poisoning him while he was busy cheating on me… It is embarrassingly like a bad soap opera, and difficult to admit I have been part of it. At least here I feel safe to talk. When I tell my story IRL, I edit a lot of the craziest stuff out, because it makes ME sound crazy.

        • Holy Shit my ex wife said the same thing to me thats freaky
          She said quote “its your fault making me sleep with other men”
          I cant get that out of my head 5 years later and never will I am sure.

        • Thank you for this. I am still mired in this very shit. I am lining up my ducks but it is so validating to read stories so much like mine. When I suggest we hire a handyman for a project that is beyond the scope of our combined capabilities, I am accused of emasculation (not that he knows that word, but that is the gist of his fury). Rinse and repeat in every aspect of our marriage. It has been such a mindfuck and I am so over it. Fuck him and fuck his fragile ego, too.

      • Insightful. Curate is very descriptive. I have no idea how the man who held my hand as they pulled the little life we created out of my body could throw our family away so easily. I felt that experience bonded us for life.

      • They “curate” all right… My cheater wife saved over 800 of their shared dick/pussy-pics as testament to their awesome love (Brought to you by the Photo-vault app. Need to hide your awesome self from your spouse? Use Photo-vault!).

        The thing is, I’m an amateur photographer. I have lots of photos from when we were dating – she loved the attention then. But she quickly grew to hate it whenever I pointed the camera in her direction – I have very few photos of her later in the marriage.

        That tells me she hates how I see her – like my camera would capture or reveal the ugliness she feels towards me. And yet she loves how her boyfriends see her – in all her awesomeness – that she can control.

        • BetrayedNoMore, I think your photos story says that she really is just a fragmented person, and so is the whore OM, The photos of all her bits are a true reflection of her. I am guessing you took photos trying to portray a whole person which she knows she can’t be, and she couldn’t stand it. It’s very sad when you think about it.

        • I agree with kiwichump! I think deep down inside, these people know they are not “good” people in the generally accepted sense of the word. They marry “good” people as part of the facades they try to construct. But they always find someone who is as down in the gutter as they are to cheat with. They feel comfortable with their affair partners because the affair partner is of necessity a cheater and a liar too, and isn’t judging them. They are immensely UNcomfortable being scrutinized by someone whose standards and morals they know they don’t live up to.

          I remember when I was trying very hard to convince my x to come back and help me save our 30-year marriage (this was before I knew everything that had been going on), and he said “No, I’m not worthy!” It was a rare moment of honesty, and clearly distressing to him. I’m sure that’s sort of how your wife felt every time you wanted to take her picture–she did not want you to scrutinize her, because somewhere inside she KNEW she was unworthy of you even if she would never admit it to herself or you.

          • “They feel comfortable with their affair partners because the affair partner is of necessity a cheater and a liar too, and isn’t judging them.” Perhaps this is why the “New Wife” aka OW, cannot meet my eyes when speaking to me. She looks everywhere but at me. EX on the other hand can look me straight in the eye and lie (of course he then asks why I’m so mean to them).

          • You’re right, her and her piece-of-shit asshole boyfriend(s) will never measure up to my level of integrity.

            So instead, she focuses on meticulously scrutinizing me to the Nth degree (“You diced the celery too large. I told you before I don’t like large pieces of celery. You never listen to me. You don’t take my feelings into consideration. You blah… blah… blah…“). She can keep me completely off kilter as I stuff my own feelings in an attempt to do right by her and everyone else. Then she can guilt me, shame me, gaslight me, lie to me, deflect back onto me, lather, rinse, and repeat.

            I don’t think this is sad; it’s insidious and evil.

            • Wow, if I didn’t know any better I would think your wife and my husband were the same person.

              My husband would get mad at me if I left a kitchen cabinet door open. I had no idea it was such a big deal. So we had a contest where we agreed to pay the other person $1 every time we left a cabinet door open. As it turned out, he left more cabinet doors open than I did. Then THAT made him mad. But it was me who worried from then on about leaving a cabinet door open.

              I always told him that he believes the best defense is a good offense. He was a pro at turning around my grievances and coming across as the hurt party. That happened in a variety of ways, every single day, just like you and the celery.

              It just amazes me that these evil people have so damn much in common. Until I ran across Chump Nation I felt as if I was going nuts.

              • Yes! It’s never the *real* problem, “You just shared with others – in front of me – how much you get off when ‘sexy’ women come on to you when you’re out playing in the band.” His response: I need to lighten up. I’m always presenting problems.
                In his eyes, *nothing* was a problem, unless I chose to talk to him about it. His criticisms, his stonewalling, his absence, his lying, his cheating…NOT problems. My questioning him: BIG PROBLEM.

              • Mine said I was addicted to TV, so I told him to take the Sky card out of the decoder so he could be in complete control of what I watched. I was perfectly happy with a book. Mr had to have the TV on to watch what he wanted (which was boring but I stayed in the lounge otherwise he said I sulked). He gave up after a month, said I was cheating by being in the lounge while he had the TV on. Said I was isoling myself on the couch reading a book. Everything except worshipping his greatness 24/7 was some sort of personality defect…

              • Me too before finding Tracy on huff post i was going crazy literally
                We had nothing to understand what the hell we were dealing with.
                Its a pandemic all these disordered fukwits male and female.

      • nic, “I think they “curate” memories”.
        x is “explaining” to me why he just f*ed over my world a couple of days after d-day, and he says that he had been miserable for all of our marriage, I say for every year of our marriage, every day of our marriage and he says yes. I then said to him, even on the days that our kids were born? He says yes even those days. He left me speechless. I asked him, do you know how f*ed up that is or sounds?, he tells me, there you go again, cussing. The cussing was the ONLY thing that he heard from that question. I thought the bastard had lost his mind at that point, but cussing to him and his family is so terrible, worse than being a soulless, cheating whore (like his mother and sisters are, but they don’t cuss, so everything is fine).
        So you nailed it, “curating” memories.

        • Cussing!?!!!!!!!!!
          it just amazes me how they can cheat on their spouses, deceiving everyone, gaslight, the whole works but the minute you use a sware word, you are viewed as the most sinful of creatures, and the problem then becomes you choice of language.
          And they are so good at guilting you, you loose sight of the initial issue and begin apologising, while they act all smug because they don’t lower themselves to such vulgarity.

          I began cussing ( I like that word, not the term for it in Australia) to get a response out of cheater because he would revert to the silent stare so often I began to wonder if he was having some form of silent seizure. After D’day he took me to task about using the F word, which was viewed as my being deliberately sinful towards him. This was baffling to me considering what he had done with his mouth but was taking no responsibility for.

        • Jesus Christ on a cracker… Mine too. D-day #2 I’m laying in the fetal position on the floor knocked out by all her sexts and pussy pics as proof of her lying and betrayal. Yet she picks that particular moment to start tsk-tsking me over my language.

          Oh, I’m so sorry… Please forgive my vulgarities. Humor me though, which Victorian novel did you model your fuc… sorry… requited love off of? Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I don’t seem to recall the passage, “Fuck my mouth” ever appearing. Perhaps there was another less known Bronte sister?

        • Does your mind spin like mine searching for any type of understanding some smallest way of deciphering what you just heard come from their mouth?
          Its defies logic on all levels

      • You are exact ! They make up a world where only they live.
        My ex still does it and its become her narrative in any new relation which she has many many times. She tells the story she made up and very quickly notmal guys see thru the BS. But it doesn’t stop them from having their version of events and its so terribly skewed.

    • “What I wonder about is if and how they store memories. How can one not have one positive memory of an entire lifetime?”
      Right after Dday, my ex told me said, “I have some good memories of our marriage, but now it’s just a business deal that’s over.” Disordered never really connect the way normal people do. They can have moments of fun, pleasure, enjoyment, whatever, but that doesn’t really translate to feeling a close bond with the person they share those moments with. So your disordered ex probably DOES have lots of positive memories of the marriage, but those memories have nothing to do with feelings towards you…. all that matters is the disordered person’s feelings.

      • I agree with you Glad, 100%. Everything is always all about the disordered. I take a lot of comfort in knowing this, and knowing it’s all true for my successor the OW as well.

        When I found out about my x’s affair, he minimized it by saying, “She’s nothing,” “She’s just female companionship,” “I see her on my terms,” “She’s no one I would ever marry.” Even though he lies about everything, I don’t think he had to lie about that. As you say, Glad, all that matters to him are his feelings.

    • I don’t believe they store memories of us and/or the time spent together any more than someone might think about a dishwasher that stopped functioning and got discarded.

      That’s what we are: appliances that give them their kibbles/fuel we are nothing more and if they deem that our quality of fuel is no longer potent to charge them up, then it’s bye bye.

      They may store memories of our traits, qualities or language – but again this is only because they have stolen/mimicked this stuff from us in order to help create the false self they present to the world.

      We have to accept that. Once they have discarded us, they have essentially “deleted” us and any Hoover attempt thereafter (benign or malign) is nothing to do with us as people, it is purely to do with whether they perceive they will get some more quality fuel out of us.

      George Simon is fantastic. So is Sam Vaknin but I have also found that to truly get a no punch pulled understanding of the narcissist’s motives, reasons and thinking, I have found NO ONE better than HG Tudor on narcsite.com

      Chilling, painful but very very freeing.

      • It’s what allowed him to cheat while I was pregnant, deny it, write a beautiful poem about our daughter, and have the OWcome both to the hospital and our home while denying the affair.

        What was most disturbing was years later I discovered she gave birth to a son. I didn’t know she was pregnant at the time.

        So how did this work? She gives birth to HIS child pretending it’s her husbands? He decides to stay with me? WTF, he was able to walk away from a child? How does one rationalize this shit?

        Six years later I saw the obituary, his child died at age six. It was when I knew by the timeline they had a child. It made me wonder if that’s why he stayed. Perhaps the child had medical needs and he ghosted her.

      • OMG ZHUCHI!

        I just read my life on that site! OMG!

        …evil bastard…that perfectly described EXACTLY him! I am certain!

        Thank you for sharing that site with us. I knew he was a narcissists…I knew he is evil…I would never have known what and how he thinks…omg that was chilling!

      • Wow, that website is so dark but my God yes. I see so much of my life with the exH and how I was totally manipulated for years and years. Eye-opening for sure.

  • GS: There really are people who sincerely think they’re all that and are therefore entitled to do as they please regardless of the consequences!

    My ex-CD: “I think I have the PERFECT personality to be in a relationship with.”

    That is a direct quote from my now ex-husband. My ex really thinks he’s “all that.” His mommy told him this entire life, up until the last time I heard her say it to him, Thanksgiving 2014.

    About six years ago he said to me, “Don’t you know how important I am?” Which he later denied (gaslighted) saying. He said it. I heard it. More mind games to make me distrust my memory and make me feel crazy.

    GS: If the wounded party is crying their heart out and is miserable, it’s not like you don’t know what you’ve done and what an effect it has had! It’s right there. They already see this but disagree with the notion that they should conform their conduct……

    ENTITLEMENT. My ex knew how much his “friends” hurt me, but he didn’t care. As far as I know, to do day he thinks he’s entitled to do whatever he wants to do. He is/was incapable of putting himself in my shoes. HOWEVER. A few years back, I became work friends with a custodian at my school. Long story short, I work in the cafeteria as a monitor and a custodian needs to be there at the same time. When there is time, we are friendly with the custodians and get to know them just like any other employee at school. Well, I became work friends with a male custodian. The only time I ever talked with him was in the cafeteria. At dinner every night, we’d all talk about our day. I’d occasional mention the custodians name as he was a part of my day. Guess what happened? Ex was jealous. I could hear it in his voice and see it on his face. One time I needed to get a ride home from work and I told ex I got a ride home from a co-worker. Ex said in a jealous voice, “Did Bob give you a ride home?” Um, NO! A female co-worker did. Funny how it was okay for him to triangulate me with his ho-workers and female college friends for 25 years and it wasn’t supposed to bother me. But I have ONE work friend and he’s accusatory and jealous. The rules that apply to me don’t apply to him.

    And he had the nerve to say to me post D-day, “I wish you had healthy male friends.” Um, no you don’t. See above explanation. Two times in 25 years I had a male friend and he freaked out. The other time was a male friend from high school that I saw at our 20th reunion. A week after the reunion that my ex attended with me, my ex said to me, “Well, if you are pregnant, we know it’s not mine (ex had a vasectomy).”

    So these freaks know right from wrong. They know that getting emotionally involved with the opposite sex can lead down the path of adultery. But they don’t care. The are entitled to do whatever the heck they want and they are not going to change.

    During the divorce, I saw a person who I never knew existed. Cold. Calculating. Ruthless. Thief. Emotionless. Uncaring. Self-serving. Did I mention my ex is a Christian? A wolf is sheep’s clothing is more like it.

    • “GS: There really are people who sincerely think they’re all that and are therefore entitled to do as they please regardless of the consequences! ”

      Martha, my ex sounds like yours. On Dday, when I suggested counseling, ex said, “I love the way I am and would never want to change.” Over the next couple months, he was constantly saying, posting and sending mass emails with such statements as, “I am destined to be famous” and “God is opening all the doors to my success.” He blamed ME for the fact that he wasn’t yet famous and said I was a bully who had held him back by expecting basic behaviors such as holding a job, not cheating, considering his spouse’s feelings and being responsible about spending.

      It’s been seven years since then, and he hasn’t changed a bit.

      • Wow, Gladit’sOver,

        Your ex sounds like a tool. You held him back from being famous? Geesh! Of course he hasn’t changed. He doesn’t want to change as he likes who he is. My ex won’t change either. He’s “perfect and special” like he’s been told all his life. He’s incapable of truly looking at himself and seeing how is actions contributed to the demise of our marriage. It’s much easier to rewrite history and blame everything on me. So be it. We are better off with people like this in our life. It’s now OUR TURN to have a great life without lying cheaters messing with our minds! 🙂

      • He is famous now on CN which has had over 12 millions views. So I guess that makes you God, you opened all the doors for him…

      • Glad

        I was also blamed. He said I can’t get anywhere with you. We had endless opportunities in life. Bottom line was he was never invested. Never. The eraser came many times as I lost the assets because he didn’t want a home.

        Once I started making money he thought he was entitled to sitting on a beach at 40 while I supported him. He’s believed he supported ME all those years and now I should support him. I always worked.

        Again at 57 he decided to buy a house. I told him to save for it. He did, hid the money and when I said I wouldn’t sign for a mortgage he dumped me.

        So he was feeling out his options and decided to go for a classless whore who makes no money. I was no longer of use.

        That pain is gone and I’m grateful to live a life based on my own future. He offered me nothing.

        He literally wore a mask.

  • My ex was able to watch me cry in despair and hurt on each separate D-day. He was obviously uncomfortable about my feelings, but only because it made HIM feel uncomfortable. My job was then to attend to him and to make him feel better again. And as soon as I indicated that perhaps I was feeling okay, he would cheerfully resume life as if nothing had ever happened. He would indicate awareness that perhaps he was “in the dog house” for as little as a day before he expected everything to be as if nothing at all had happened. That confused me for years … how could he see me hurt like that and then intentionally continue doing the thing that caused the hurt? Surely he did not understand or he would not do it … ?

    He understood perfectly. My happiness (or pain) was not his concern. I am very thankful he is no longer part of my life.

    • Do you think watching you be emotional was all he could handle? Do you think he felt uncomfortable because feelings are a sign of weakness to these idiots? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I married into disordered after being the emotional scapegoat in my own upbringing. There would be cruel emotional fucking with my head, and when I would lash out (“exhausting myself to get my mother to see my side”) I was called dramatic, sensitive, crazy. As if the abuser was incapable of allowing himself to feel, so got his jollies over watching me fall apart, and experienced emotions second-hand, in a controlled way. Control and unfeeling=strong, emotional and feeling=weak. “See? I’m so calm, and you’re all weepy and vomiting, so obvs I’m the stronger better person in this situation.”

      More than anything, I’ve learned how I’ve brought disordered people into my life forever, then did all their PR for them. So chumpy. I’ve stopped (mil and mother) so now I’m dealing with the backlash. I’m learning that as the feeling and emotional person, I’m actually the strongest one. And they need my strength to either tap into, or to knock me off my pedestal so they feel better. I’m almost 50 and this sucks.

      • Very powerful, Nic. You have good insight. I think you are right–those of us who are sensitive, comfortable expressing our feelings, and highly emotionally intelligent are actually the strong ones in these relationships with the character disordered. They need us, but are so jealous that we have what they don’t.

      • Interestingly enough nic, when I was emotional he ENJOYED it. I know this for a fact. Doing nothing was his way of enjoying them moment. Sick, Sick, Sick. The man never comforted me.

        And I later realized he allowed the whore to read my texts andvoice mails, right after dday. She taunted me about crying. Hmm… guess they are exactly alike. He enjoyed watching and listening to her abuse me.

            • That is best. The Fucktard brought his grad student trollop along to break into my undisclosed secure location to steal back what the court gave me. They just didn’t figure on me being home to bust their thieving asses. FYI, I did not prosecute them. I was moving far away the following week and didn’t want any reason to return. They got their dues in short order when Fucktard and the university were sued and he was fired for malfeasance, then he divorced the trollop for bringing his career to ruin. I hate to say it, but at that point, I took a bit of pleasure in their pain.

      • I won’t claim to understand what goes on inside his sick mind. But my best guess is that he just had no empathy for anyone else and thus really didn’t know how to even fake a response. I would ask him how HE would feel if the shoe was on the other foot, and he could never come up with an answer. He worked hard to avoid being discovered, so I don’t think he got off on my pain … he just wanted it to go away quickly so that he could quit pretending to care. He certainly never reached out to hug me or touch me during any of the pain. He stood to the side or walked out of the room thinking “mmm … hot pockets!”

      • It never entered my mind that X was enjoying watching me suffer, cry, begging him to understand what he was doing. X knew all along what he was doing, and enjoying the results.
        They’re so incredibly evil..

        • I never would have thought my husband would stand there and laugh at me when I’ve cried trying to explain how bad his lies and betrayal hurts. How can you laugh when you have hurt someone you have claimed to love?
          It’s took me 39 years to figure out he’s not the person I thought he was.
          He needs to stay with ow “sweetie”. They’re just alike.

      • Nic all I can say is WOW, your description of your childhood really struck me. That behaviour was hereditary in my family, Grandmother, mother, much older sister, me, and the shitty thing is, I too fell into the trap of marriage to some who did exactly the same. He new how to play on all of those emotions to get what he wanted, he even developed a few buttons of his own so I was a little more custome made for his purpose. I had a breakdown 10 years ago, and at the time I was treated by cheater, his mother, and our church as being some week minded female who struggled to keep control of her emotions. I can look back now and see that it really was the beginning of the end.
        Three years ago.
        D’day hit, I new straight up that we were done, a month later my 9 yr old was diagnosed with cancer (she has just reached one year all clear), by choosing divorce I had no choice but to leave my church because to stay meant owning responsibility for his cheating and remaining married. Because of my marriage breakdown when I asked for leave without pay from my work to care for my daughter I was asked to resign. After 12 months I began studies, 18 months after D,day my mother died. Three years on, I as of yesterday have three certificates under my belt, I have a year remaining of my degree, my kids are good, heathy and happy.

        Cheater, he still works a casual job where he now earns half of what he once did (which means he is co depending on victim no# 2 financially), he has replaced me, not meaning to sound proud but the woman sits in my seat at church and has formed friendships with all who once were friends with me, she even drives the same style of car I had when married to him, he took no responsibility for his actions, cheating or the failing of our marriage. He couldn’t even show consideration to me regarding our daughter let alone the impact of D’day. He just had time out for a while lived his single life lied his ass of about why our marriage ended, even claimed that our marriage wasn’t really over, I just thought it was, because I am so emotionally unbalanced. And then he hooked V#2 and continued on with his life like nothing ever happened.

    • My X told me she couldn’t do reconciliation whilst I was upset at her betrayal. She needed me to act “normal” so I could show her what being married to be was like !!

      I think they can see our pain, but it hurts their fragile little egos to not be someone shiny who tells them they are awesome all the time. Having someone reflect their shiftiness must be excruciating for them – I am sure that is one of many reasons why reconciliation doesn’t happen. It is too hard for the assholes to accept the pain they have caused.

      • Nailed it, FSTL. They don’t want to have to face up to the pain they’ve caused! Just sweep it under the rug so they can feel better. Doesn’t matter if you don’t feel better, their feelings are what’s important here! Gag. And her needing you to act “normal” so she could see what being married to you was like??? WTF?? What was all that “normal” marriage stuff you were doing BEFORE you found out about the fucking affair(s)? Why wasn’t that enough “proof” to keep her from fucking around in the first place? Because..she’s a fragile, skittish forest creature! Don’t respond with logic, it’ll scare her away! Sheesh, entitled fuckers.

        • It’s not the pain they’ve caused us per se. But more like the fact that we saw their true character.

          And it sucked. They can’t live with that, so they discard.

  • And don’t expect rapid change. It’s a long hard slog. I dated someone, they went to therapy and the change was almost imperceptible even after they started doing it and recognised some of their issues. I was happy for her that she had started to take positive steps, but it was still a regular ride on the crazy train.

    We didn’t have kids (I have my own), so it was much easier to disengage and let them take care of themselves.

  • “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree”
    This was a huge lightbulb moment for me and the cornerstone of my recovery. I no longer felt it was my responsibility to enlighten him. That was a huge burden lifted.

    • Exactly. Life got lighter when I no longer felt the need to fix things. He can go be disordered somewhere else. Oh, and I no longer try to fix his relationship with the kids either. Did that for too many years, too.

      • A fixing compulsion…. no that feeling well. And so do some of the disordered. It matches nicely with BPD, who constantly need to be fixed after they broke their egg (ie ego) shell into a million pieces.

    • Yes, yes, I felt he didn’t understand, and I just needed to explain it better. He wondered why I kept repeating myself. I thought if he comprehended the damage he was inflicting, his actions would surely change. Nope.

  • I think narcassist compartmentalize in their heads, each part of their lives has a box.
    My ex has work, friends, new family, old family..each box has different lies, charms and schemes.when one box questions or holds him accountable for something its easier for him to keep track of the bullshit thrown in that one box.
    After my Dday some of the other boxes in his life came forward and I found myself in the middle of what seemed like a bad Lifetime movie.
    My ex seems to thrive on juggling all these boxes in the air, swirling boxes of lies, stealing, manipulations..but they don’t have endurance to keep it up, so what happens then? They have to discard a box, just like a box of tissues or q tips , it was useful when they needed it but now they are done.
    When I really thought about this way it made it easier to grasp how a person discards a person or a family.
    I have reached Meh, and the q tip has become a little inside thing for my sister and I ( she is my biggest supporter), shes gets selfies of a smiling q tip living life lol.

    • Red, you’re absolutely right! My x did the same thing. For a long time, our kids and I were in one box, and the OW was in another one. This made it possible for him to sleep with her for their first time in the afternoon, then go out with me and friends to a concert at night. Without any of us having an inkling that anything was out of the ordinary.

      My therapist called him “disintegrated.” I think one symptom of a disintegrated personality is that they can’t come to terms with the aging process. My x also started to act as if he was 30, started to identify with our son and his friends (very embarassing for our son), started going to music festivals (he had to be the oldest person at Sasquatch). He’s pushing 60!

      When he could no longer juggle the boxes, that’s when he abandoned me, the kids, the house, the dog, all the vestiges of his former life. After 30 years, he couldn’t keep up the sham any longer.

      • I remember when our first grandson graduated from high school and we met his girlfriend. Suddenly, I observed my husband wanting in his 60’s to live through his grandson. He would send flowers to her from our grandson. He was always asking for pictures of her. I helped him with an Instagram account to communicate and see photos. He started following young female musical stars like Selena Gomez. I tagged him and he blocked me. This was before the divorce started. I can laugh now.

      • ChampChump, “disintegrated”, that’s it. That’s what I meant by fragmented people. Therefore, they can’t have integrity, which requires to unite all the parts into one coherent whole person. Wish we had had you therapist as MC!

    • “In the middle of a bad lifetime movie” I’ve been saying this since D day. Unfortunately this movie is endless. X is relentless in his quest to destroy me. It’s one bizarre accusation or lie after another.
      Constantly trying to defend myself against his psychological games is exhausting. It’s torment.
      People will say “divorce can be ugly,” what I’m going through is far more disturbing than “ugly,”
      X isn’t satisfied with destroying my life as I knew it, my security, my relationship with our son,
      my finances, he’s out to destroy me completely. Humiliating me over and over again. The most recent is he’s reduced his spousal support without a court order. I can’t get in to see my attorney until next month.
      More money, more stress..,
      I honestly think he’s trying to kill me.

      • So sorry, brit. Disordered jackasses seem to think that court orders are optional. He’s probably decided that he needs more cash for the holidays and you can do without. My best advice: Don’t let him see you sweat. Don’t beg for what is already your right. Do what you need to do in the short term (take a loan from family or a friend if you need to, explain to all why your holidays can’t be celebrated properly this year) and be sure to collect your attorney fees and costs to make him honest. Around here, the court can order a person’s wages garnished so that the obligation is paid directly before the asshat gets what’s left in a paycheck. I like that option. It makes them feel like their allowance has been stolen, and it forces them to do what they don’t want to do. Win-win.

      • I think you are right Brit ‘trying to kill me’ . there have been many times in the last year since my d day that I spontaneously said out loud I believe he wanted me to kill myself. Even though I did no contact from the start before I even knew what it meant in purpose … I would get long rambling emails from him threatening to sue me for defamation, lying, trying to extort money out of him and blackmail . he had me in an absolute state of wreck. I was trying in my state of shock after 25 years of what I thought was a good marriage to reconcile that old person with this crazy disordered person hurling these emails at me. After a few attempts of pointing out the obvious and appealing to him to see the light I realised I was just giving him more ammunition and attention . now that he’s employed a lawyer after bailing out of mediation I can see he has no capacity to negotiate. I replied with a lawyer at first then thought I can do this myself so now I have him writing to me simultaneously as his lawyer to not use lawyers any more …. Can’t have it both ways buddy. I wonder if his lawyer has worked out she has a fruit loop on her hands . they were supposed to be a ‘ feminist ‘ leaning legal firm as well so I hope they see that he’s not as charming and reasonable as he first presented .. As we know though the CD are masters of manipulation.

        • Whodoesthat, it would be very convenient if we did kill ourselves. First, we know who they are and are dangerous witnesses. Second they can play victim : I told you Chump was crazy! The things I endured living with Chump! Now you see why I needed Whore to lean on!

          • Oh the victim u are so right kiwichump. ! As soon as he moved out completely out of the blue – leaving us with $200 . he built his part up that ‘he left with nothing and had to rely on friends goodwill…’ While shacked up in his city apartment poor sad sausage . after coming back to take the mattress and beer out of the fridge …I kid u not… He would whine to the kids he didn’t have enough money to buy food…. They believed him …and one of the kids SENT HIM MONEY as we were scraping by. Fast forward to the open disclosure I find out he was wining and dining the OW and didn’t have time to cook at home…. lie to your own kids about being hungry !??..wow that’s bad . but as I suggested he ask his parents to buy him food he flipped it that I was trying to extort money from his parents …. That told me !?. Wtf to think at the beginning of the year I was still wondering if he was disordered ? Entitlement , selfish, arrogance, never wrong, compulsive liar, highly competitive, actually said ‘I’m awesome’ as he left and basically has no conscious. What item about that checklist needs further qualification ? . the mess I am trying to clear up : house , kids, finances , affair etc – last issue on my mind – is shit and realise its all been about him . so now i have to disconnect and stop putting him at the centre of decisions . has anyone been here at the year mark and feel like they are only just coming out of the brainwashing cult I was living in.? Hence the name …whodoesthat.

            • Holding up my hand whodoesthat! I remember losing whole hours trapped in my mind with the circular thinking! It takes a long time to get out from under their ‘conditioning’ of us. UGH! Thank goodness we are FREE!

  • Hi everyone, this is a relatively long-time commentator, had to change my name because the cheating STBXW is trolling all over the Internet for me posting “terrible things about her,” even if those things a) are basically what I can prove in court that she did, and b) are me simply telling the truth.

    Anyway, it’s good to be back. 🙂 To the topic at hand…

    Most cheaters compartmentalize the living sh*t out of their lives. They make hundreds of terrible decisions with money and with trust that the rest of us would, if we committed any two or three of those decisions, wouldn’t be able to sleep for months. My STBXW was able to make hundreds of such decisions and snore her head off sleeping next to me night after night after having willfully pulled off reprehensible stuff.

    It’s good to get a reminder that applying the normal boundaries and expectations of rational behavior onto such people is a waste of time.

  • Thank you for rerunning this article. It fits my husband to a “T”. I filed for divorce in December of 2010. I will finally get him into court to discuss equitable distribution of his 401k and pension next month. He has dragged this on for years at my expense of course. He just bought himself a $30,000 car and has been throwing $100 bills around. My guess is the two accounts have been emptied so I don’t get any share of it.

    I have printed the article to share with family and close friends. After years of telling them what he’s like, this clearly states what I’ve been trying to explain. It makes sense of the “crazy”.

  • When I was going through the thick of it I listened to a particular episode of Dr. Simon’s weekly show Character Matters over and over again, where he had Tracy on. I can’t tell you how much that episode helped in all sorts of ways. Hey Tracy, would you be appearing on his show again?

  • This is why I can’t get to “meh.” Divorced since Sept. 2015 but we share a minor child. The Idiot’s one channel is tuned permanently to spite. S17 is NC and The Idiot has done everything he can to retaliate. The latest? Cancelled Son’s cell phone.

    “Mom, my phone’s not working.” Off we go to the AT&T store to get a new battery. “Oh, no, ma’am. You cancelled service this morning.” “No, clearly, I did not.” “Well, someone who has access to this account did. Do you know who that could be?” Son and I exchange despairing glances. Yes, we do.

    “Character Disorder” doesn’t begin to convey the incalculable, INTENTIONAL damage inflicted upon my son. Son asked me yesterday if he and I could get our last names legally changed to my maiden name. Buh bye, Dad.

      • I knew this was how it was going to end. I knew. So, I stuck it out until sensitive, anxious older daughter turned 18. I tried to make it for my baby boy but I just couldn’t – I thought I would die. So I filed when Son was 15. We have been through a special hell that no one will ever know. The ONLY good thing to come of it is that he and I are tight as ticks. I will miss him desperately when he goes off to college next year.

    • My eldest asked if she could change her name when she turns 18. It broke my heart, but I get it. The kids are ashamed of him and don’t want to be associated with his choices.

    • Eve

      So sorry about your son. If their life is so much better why can’t they afford to pay for a phone?

      I went to the gym last month to put MY membership on hold as I don’t have access to the gym during the week. The asshole took my son off his membership and also cancelled mine last January. His name wasn’t even on it. What a dead beat.

      • Doingme,
        I can tell that you are a very nice person and we would get along great IRL. I know this because you assume that The Idiot cancelled Son’s phone due to The Idiot’s distressing financial circumstances. As if. The Idiot has plenty of money (Cowboys tickets! Ski trips!). He just saw an opportunity to hurt Son and took it. You don’t get much more disordered than that.

        • Eve, because son is on your “side” and hurting him would hurt you to the core. That “father” is an asshole and I’m glad your son sees it in him.

  • I would take it a step further than Dr. Simon’s work and suggest everyone read M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie.” It will help you make the leap from psychology to an understanding of the nature of human evil, how it develops and takes hold.Even if you don’t think of yourself as particularly “religious” it will put your individual experiences of pain, betrayal and suffering into the context of a much bigger framework. I have read both of Dr. Simon’s books and found them invaluable in recognizing and understanding (both in my personal relationships and in business) the character disordered I’ve encountered. Peck’s work has helped me to move on, to forgive (but not forget) and let go of the negativity and emotional baggage I’d been carrying and to realize we’re all in a much bigger struggle…

    • “People of the Lie” is a chilling book. I read it years ago when I was doing personal research on narcissism, because of a few other relationships (long story.) The story about the evil parents who gave their son the “gift” of a gun that was used to commit suicide by their other son — unbelievable these people exist!

      I have thought of this book many times over the years. There truly are evil people in this world.

  • Thank you for running this again. I took notes in my trustworthy notebook to read when I get a little sideways. It really helps me with my last few hurdles to get to meh. One is the hurt and anger I continue to feel with his character assassination of me. He’s subtle so he makes it more believable – in other words it’s not crazy off the wall character assassination – it’s more of a sad head shake, a sigh and “she’s just so angry”.
    Many many people think we got divorced because of my anger issues. I speak the truth and ask the people outside my circle who have only spoken to him about the divorce, if they know what I was angry about. I don’t run into those people much and it’s silly to think I can change their minds – they are his old friends and why would they believe me anyway? But I do speak the truth in a calm and concise way (quickest way to come off as crazy ex wife is an over-sharing emotional outburst) I feel that I’ll never get the vindication I crave which is that EVERYONE know that he had a 10-year double life and is a narcissist whose main attitudes are entitlement, indifference to others, arrogance and disdain for obligation (thanks Dr Simon for the list!).
    My job is to take a deep breath and remember that I KNOW and that is the most important thing. I am lucky to know because for 10 years I didn’t. I know, my kids know, and my good friends know. That’s pretty powerful and I need to focus on that. The validation comes from me – and thank god I know. I’m working on that hurdle of accepting that everyone is not going to know, care or understand. Oh please, please meh come soon!

    • Thanks for the healthy reminder. I also struggle with the lies that my EX continues to spew (and create) even 5 years after the marriage ended. I need to keep reminding my self of the important things you’ve said above.

      • Eilonwy: Amazing the energy they’ll devote to a smear campaign…but not to nurture a relationship. It usually starts well before D-day, as they have to cover their arse. (But, I, too, am staggered at how long they keep it up.) Seems there’s no winning on that front. Except to move on and leave all the culpably gullible behind.
        Mine wrote about me and my “anger” in his weekly published column. No truth (because, as he’s said in the past, “The truth is boring”). It was well-received.

    • I agree. I would like for others to know and understand the truth. But given that it took me 30 years and I lived day in and day out with him, I can understand why others will never believe it. The important thing is that WE know and can get away from them.

      • I feel the pain of the chumps who are targets of smear campaigns. I wish that the Court (our Judge) knew the truth. If the Court did, then the abuser, not me, would be under scrutiny. I am tired of financially and emotionally paying for my STBX’s crimes and being attacked by an abuser who cheated on and left me. The worst aspect of this marriage/divorce, though, is witnessing my STBX get away with physically, emotionally, and financially damaging our kids for years. I would do anything legal to protect our kids. I hope that our kids will be ok and able to break free from the influence of their abusive father by the time they reach majority.

      • True that, Dixie! Looking back, after finally no longer in the relationship, I am appalled. I think, “My God! Why did I stay?…How could I not have seen then what I see now?” Enmeshed. People don’t understand that, because they don’t have to. Seems you have to be a chump to get it.

    • Oh, yes…our “anger”. So much projection.
      During a walk a couple of winters ago, I scooted ahead of him on the side of the road when a car was coming. Apparently, I had behaved like the alpha male. His rebuke left me shocked and speechless. In his disordered world, that made me the angry one. He immediately returned home (where I was visiting) and threw all my belongings, individually, into the snow and locked the door. Within an hour, he posted on social media that I heartlessly left him right after his father had died. His fan club – mostly women – derided me.
      Hours later…a text message, “I miss you.”
      I would never presume to know what happened in someone’s relationship, especially if they were posting on social media about it. Anyone who participates in that crap are not the kind of people whose opinions I value. But in all ways, when I see the strange interest in learning details, and that person is not close to me, I don’t feel a need to set them straight. One of the rude awakenings for me is that there are a whole lot of people out there who are less than healthy themselves, and thrive on gossip. They are not looking for truth.
      Thank heaven we chumps have each other, and can identify with the crazy truth.

  • Strongly recommending Dr. Simon’s work – the link to his site is in the main post. Along with CL and http://www.DivorceMinister.com, his work promoted much clearer levels of understanding.

    I want to talk about ‘meh’ for a quick bit. Reaching ‘meh’ takes changes on the inside, as well as changes on the outside. Outside changes: “No Contact”. I can’t stress this enough. I implemented this after a few months of “Pick-Me!” dancing… and it’s the best of the strategies.

    But there also needs to be much internal fortifying. This is where Chump Lady, Dr. Simon and DivorceMinister assist greatly. We must gain understanding and insight into why persons behave in this way (and why we ourselves made bad choices) – so that we never make poor choices again.

    Reaching meh will come with great internal fortification… so take the time to read and analyse these works.

  • One more thing… reaching ‘meh’ has a lot to do with your internal desires – and this is a great struggle. After investing years, money and effort into someone, your heart is going to find it hard to let go.

    So now the head/brain must rule the heart.
    – “No; we’re not going to call him.”
    – “No; don’t respond to her text message.”
    – “Yes, let’s get started on some reading.”

    ‘Meh’ comes with good daily decisions and sacrifices, and most likely happens over years of diligence.

    I’ve seen persons try to get a new relationship to “crowd out” the memories of the old one – I don’t advise it. It’s more painful to deal with the void, yes; but the strength you get, and clarity of mind that you have when you overcome, is immense – to which I can attest.

    Anyway, here’s a rule I use: My level of ‘meh’ is inversely proportional to my desire for the individual:
    – No desire = High ‘Meh’;
    – High desire = Low ‘Meh’.

    Hope this helps.

    • I reached Meh on a personal level a long time ago. Zero fucks given for what or who he’s doing. But there is no Meh in regards to my child.

  • This is why I’ve been “frozen” in moving the divorce process forward. Gaslighter has entangled us in an ongoing legal Nightmare – he’s trying unsuccessfully to keep up with huge Atty fees, including having to pay a separate Atty to represent me! (Because of his actions… I had no involvement) I’ve got to get the courage to push this Divorce forward, come what may. I have a bulldog Atty, who is frustrated with me for not litigating when I complain when he stops paying things. We want to get a negotiated settlement, I want to keep the house. He’s pulling one over on Schmoopie. He’s screwed up his business partnership unnecessarily, He’s robbing Peter (and other another partnership) to pay Paul. I’ve been in denial, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I’m trying to figure out how to keep it all together from my end. It’s taking a huge emotional toll. He doesn’t have a divorce Atty. But I’m learning His kind will continue to lie cheat and steal to win. I’m trying to get the courage to pull the legal trigger and get this over with. Just terrified of the consequences.

    • You might find that after you do start the divorce, and make the needed decisions, your life will be easier! Your head will become clearer. The limbo you are in, along with the gaslighting, is what’s causing you pain. Good luck!

  • I thank God every day for having the fortitude to insist upon a pre-nup when I married Mr. Sparkles. When we met, I owned my home and had a small 401K. He was giving “everything” he had to his first wife and kids who lived 1500 miles away. When I filed for divorce, after he left me and our son for the OW, I only asked that the pre-nup be upheld and that I receive equitable child support. THAT. WAS. IT. (oh, and adultery as the cause of action)… and he fought me in court for a YEAR! I had to spend thousands of dollars to protect what we had already agreed to… it was ridiculous. His rage every time we met with the attorneys was unbelievable, unreasonable, and frankly – very telling of how character disordered he really is. In the end, the pre-nup was upheld and I walked away from litigating the adultery (nothing to be gained by fighting it – and I’m at meh on that one.)

    December 22 is my court date for final judgement CN… wish me luck.

    To the Newbies, hang in there. I was a zombie for the first two Christmases… and it was in fact, only after the first one where he was hoovering and I was doing the pick me dance like crazy that I realized HE WASN’T WORTH IT. Give it time.

  • “The CD will also try to penny-pinch or in other ways attempt to ensure that their former partner can’t simply walk away in a financially tenable position. ”
    I feel that I’m the one who did this. I asked for, and he signed off on, 1/2 of vet bills for the animals we co-owned but he no longer wanted; 1/2 of the cost of medical & dental bills for our young adult children (I pay for and carry them on my insurance); a small amount of money in spousal support. Does asking for this and expecting him to meet his obligations (not that he ever did when we were married) make me character disordered? I’ll freely admit that I went into divorce proceedings with the intent of “making him pay” what I felt he needed to provide after leaving 33 years into a marriage. Most of the stuff I feel ‘meh’ about but reading things like this make me feel guilty. (I still had to take him back to court to actually get my alimony and have been told to take him to small claims court for the money he hasn’t been sending for vet bills and medical bills).
    Does anyone else feel guilt about sticking up for themselves?

    • Yes, for sure, although it’s not guilt necessarily, it’s just more a fear that his supporters (who were all mutual friends for many years) will think of me as the disordered one. I don’t lie when someone asks where my partner went, I don’t cover for him anymore, I feel entitled to stay where I am and take time to decide what I’m doing with my life and not have him pressure me to “move on” and separate our assets yet. He blindsided me, he did not support me, he still refuses to even acknowledge that the double betrayal (him doing it with a colleague) is what’s killing me the most. It makes the abandoned angry, vengeful, and fighting for something to salvage from what we had. When they’re displaying their happy new life, it makes us pissed that they’re not paying for it. In my more innocent, younger days, I used to not understand “wives who took their husbands for everything they had” … but now I see why they do … They are not getting emotional support from their “partner”, they’re not having value places on their contributions they made to their partner’s life, and their only recourse is to get monetary reward because money will take care of them when their “partner” won’t.

      And, of course, the downside of this is it makes us look and feel like the disordered person. I myself have problems from my upbringing, but I was willing to work through them and be a better person for him, and I expected he would think that he would do the same. So I don’t consider myself character disordered if I recognize my troubles and was working on them BEFORE he jumped ship. Now he is using my problems against me when I thought I was sharing them with him in an intimate setting.

      Sorry, I got off the rails there … ha ha. Yes, I feel the same way, but we’re conditioned to be nice, and suck it up. We are not conditioned to be mighty.

      • Same for me, Champ and bepositive. It makes me wonder if I am disordered, but as I said earlier, when someone can’t bear being contradicted with FACTS and hates you for it, you know you’re not in the same league.
        And I feel guilty sometimes. He never did about his first wife, mother of his 3 kids, and I witnessed the vicious character assassination he did on her when the eldest 2 became adults. That’s when I started wondering if everything I believed him to be (a decent but fucked up man) was wrong. No doubt he is portraying me as the devil now, BECAUSE I know the truth about him and I tell.

  • I think this relates … if it doesn’t, I’m sorry.

    What if your ex talks about personality traits of people he doesn’t admire (usually business or politically-related), and yet those traits are the same as what he has displayed in his relationship? Opportunistic behaviour, abandonment, double standards, lack of empathy. One of many examples: “How can that guy just abandon the company when the going gets tough?” and yet he himself abandoned his family.

    Is that compartmentalizing? Disordered? Image management? A disconnect? It baffles me.

    • I think it goes along with them feeling superior to the rest of humanity. Most of the disordered I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of being related to, or married to, have delusions about themselves. Or, to put it another way, have you noticed that the emotionally healthy people you know can see themselves as they really are?
      And, these turkeys do recognize right and wrong, and talk about it, but they can’t apply to themselves. They already think they are great, and deserve special rules, and endless forgiveness!

    • Their reasoning abilities are different than ours. It’s OK, because THEY are justified, for them to do the exact same thing. I just posted about my X’s X wife (BPD). She had an affair and her affair partner’s wife tried to beat the hell out of her, harassed her, and run her over. She was completely outraged at his wife’s behavior. Yet, when I started dating her X husband, she did much worse to me and felt justified even though they were already divorced.
      Crazy huh!

    • Champ, mine did exactly that as well. No empathy. For ANYONE. Especially me during this whole shitstorm. He used to CONSTANTLY bitch about other people, and basically how stupid they were. And how mentally tough he was, and physically amazing because he became obsessed with Crossfit. By the end, EVERYONE was an idiot at work…everyone everywhere, basically. Except her. And then the exact things he complained about in other people, he did them thousandfold to me. And the shit he bitched about wasn’t even true of other people most of the time. It was just his inflated ego and narcissism, I’m assuming, coupled with her kibbles and sparkles for him, that apparently made him king shit in his mind. And I became so inferior. Interesting yours did the same.

      • Oh, and I have two very close friends, one of whom was actually like his sister (which is how we became friends), whose husbands cheated on them (one while pregnant) that followed with divorce. Acted LIVID that these guys did that to them and said he could never even imagine doing that to me…then he cheated on me. While pregnant. And divorced. Fucking hypocrite. But then again, his parents are supreme hypocrites, so big surprise.

        • One of my good friends was cheated on spectacularly by her husband about 10 years ago. At a party at the time, the husbands sat around and badmouthed the straying spouse, all agreeing that he was awful and they could not understand his behavior.

          Fast forward eight years, and assiduous detective work on my part revealed that my husband had had an affair during a business trip, resulting in a pregnancy on the part of the OW, a forced paternity test, and a legal agreement whereby my husband was required to pay child support until the baby turned 18. He had just started secretly paying child support at the time of the conversation where he was vociferously condemning my friend’s husband for cheating. When I realized the degree of hypocrisy and unmitigated gall it must have taken to do that, my head almost exploded.

  • There’s a LOT of good information out there about the folks with Personality disorders. I only quickly scanned the comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating. The term “splitting” describes the ability for the personality disordered to love you and view you as their saviour one minute and, then, hate and despise you as their mortal enemy the second minute. My, now, X husband was married to a BPD before me. She had an affair with her married instructor at the police academy. She continued the affair through the her tenure. Later, she became a federal law enforcement agent. That’s when she left my X and moved in with her affair partner. His wife threatened her, and if I remember correctly, she almost ran her over. The X wife was outraged at the wife’s audacity to question her and her lover’s relationship. Later, I started dating her X husband. The things that crazy bitch put us through AFTER they were already divorced. She accused my, then, husband of attempted murder, stalking, harassment, child abuse. Spent over 30G in legal fees. She called me, while I was on emergency on call duty (so I couldn’t just turn my phone off, 27 times in one night all night long. She (I was military) wrote letters to my command and installation commander accusing ME of committing adultery with HER husband. This was, of course, easily disproved that we were, in fact married. She harassed family members. I would try and pay for groceries to find every single credit/debit card had been called in as lost or stolen, utilities would be cut off. There is so much she did to both of us that I couldn’t possibly list it all. Because she was a federal law enforcement officer and her affair partner was a detective with the police department, they were able to access all kinds of personal, financial information on both of us and then use it to continue harassment.
    Going gray rock and unemtionally addressing in court every incident of harassment finally succeeded in stopping the harassment. They literally thrive on our emotion and drama.
    I highly recommend reading the book “Splitting: divorcing someone with borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.”. There is another book I read which was a research book on BPD that explained in depth how a BPDs brain works differently than ours. It was very telling, but I can’t remember the name of it at the moment. If I find the book, I’ll post later.

    • Was it “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me?” Another good one for family/friends is “Stop Walking On Eggshells.”

      • No, i purchased it at my college bookstore. It was an actual research book written by a few psychiatrists. It’s buried in some boxes in the garage.

    • Thanks, Sugar Plum about the term and definition of splitting. I have never heard of that before. I still have trouble understanding how my now ex could be over-the-top in heals love with me one day and then the next, hate me. I’m basing this on the first time he devalued me which was over 20 years ago. It has never made sense to me. He pulled this same thing when I was pregnant with our second child. It came out of nowhere and in all honesty, I didn’t do anything to cause him to act this way both times. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m already divorced, but would still be interested learning more about “splitting.”

      I’m sorry for what you went through with your exes ex! That’s some crazy behavior!! It’s good you were able to put a stop to it.

      • Honey don’t you feel bad with me. By the time I was finally able to get that restraining order she was terrified of me. Our last appearance in court, she wasn’t expecting me to show up with my (then) husband because it was a child custody hearing and I was TDY out of state, she started visibly trembling when she turned around and saw me. She didn’t know I used to be law enforcement and knew EXACTLY how to process official complaints through HER chain of command. 😉

  • CL, thank you for this article today. This past weekend was the ex weekend with the kids. He was supposed to give me the child support for December yesterday. Of course he is telling me that he will give me next paycheck (you know in January) and in the next sentence reminds our kids about the expensive gifts he is buying them. I’m now down to using my food money to pay for after school as he hasn’t paid CS. I’m still waiting for the decree so I can let the state garnish his paycheck. He is also several thousand in arrears as well and refuses to pay it even though our settlement demands it.

    This article is spot on and describes my ex to a t. My prayer for 2017 is that I can get a new job that takes care of everything so that I don’t have to be dependent on CS (or anything else)from him.

  • What a great post. Please keep re-running it.

    I was married somewhat young and believed that my XH’s behavior/attitudes were due to immaturity and lack of life experience. Over time some of those rough edges softened, but the CD attributes didn’t go away. I have a PHD in spackel.

    I got lucky at the end of our marriage (17 years)/DD#2 (who knows how many there were) because XH was amenable to the separation and divorce. I used to think that this was because he was a tiny bit remorseful, but now I believe he screwed up his impression management campaign and was forced to do the ‘right thing’ at that moment and/or he was using it as an excuse why he couldn’t pay for/commit to OW#2. Later he wanted to re-neg on the terms of the separation agreement claiming he hadn’t read it (i.e., because it no longer suited him). This is why it is so important to get legal advice, because these folks never ever play by the rules.

    It took me a long time to understand that phrase “when someone shows you their true self – believe it”.

  • Thanks for posting this today, CL, your timing is perfect. I’m visiting my sons, and interacting with X. Pretty much at Meh, and trying to stay cool around him.
    This is him: ‘Entitlement, possessiveness, indifference to others, arrogance, disdain for obligation. The more of these attitudes they possess and the more intense these attributes are, the more character impaired the person is’, as GS said. I got married young, and did not realize any of this, he hid the other side well (also substance abuse for decades won’t help these problems!).
    But, he’s also kind, funny, entertaining, and loves his sons.
    This really messed with my mind. He’s definitely disordered, and an alcoholic, but I kept weighing the bad against the good for ages! I eventually left when I figured out that whatever he was going to do at any given moment, he was bad for ME. I was miserable at the end, he was openly cheating, and I had to get out or die.
    I still sort of worry about him, because he’s not mentally right, he may be borderline, but I don’t want my kid’s father to end up in a gutter, you know? But at least I moved far away, and take good care of myself.
    This whole topic is painful for me.

    • Freewoman, I could have written your post. My ex was also funny, outgoing, very bright. We met at 17 and married at 20 and 21, and were together for 36 years. In the end, I realized that his brain just didn’t work the same as mine. I’m not sure he had the same kind of emotional memory, and he definitely was challenged when it came to empathizing with anyone. So many times I’d tell him his behavior with his female coworkers was painful to me, and he’d apologize, but he wouldn’t stop. It was my mother who woke me up. One day I was telling her that he just never seemed to understand that he was hurting me, and she said, “He understands, he just doesn’t care.” It had really never occurred to me that he just didn’t care. After all, he told me he loved me. He did nice things for me…but his whole life was about acquisition. He wanted more stuff, more clout, more kudos. In the end, and he discarded me for his married coworker, who was once his graduate student. He abandoned his real family for a fantasy. This was easier than looking at his own behavior, or figuring out how he could be contributing to his own unhappiness. He placed all the blame on me. It was devastating. For awhile I believed it, until I found Chumplady. That’s when the shame started to lift from my shoulders. That’s when I was able to start moving forward.

      • Thanks, Lyn, you know it always helps to know we’re not alone in our feelings ? I was married for 32 years. It still blows my mind that he didn’t protect that.
        I think we just have to keep telling ourselves ‘I was a great wife! I did all I could, and I loved.’
        We deserve a hug, and praise, no shame for us!

      • Lyn,

        Same story as yours.

        “He understands, he just doesn’t care.” It had really never occurred to me that he just didn’t care. After all, he told me he loved me.

        Accepting that he didn’t care, finding Chump Lady and a lot of other stuff has helped me move forward baby steps at a time. My ex always had co-workers, ex-girlfriends and college female friends all in the wings. He didn’t care that it bothered me. He just didn’t care.

        And when we were going through MC, I took out the letters he sent me over 20 years ago. At first we were friends just writing letters to each other. He was dating someone at the time. In one of the letters he was complaining that his then girlfriend was crying, because he was going to go out for dinner with a girl he went to prom with (he was about 21 years old at the time.) He didn’t care that she was crying about it and he was going to go as that’s what he did. I no longer have the letters, so I don’t remember the exact wording. But he just didn’t care he was hurting her feelings. Can you say RED FLAG?!! I didn’t see it at the time. I didn’t see it until I reread the letter 20+ years later. And my ex pulled the same thing with me when I moved 650 miles from my family to be with him. One day he called me and said he was going to go out for dinner with his ex-girlfriend (the one who was crying above.) I was so jealous and crushed! I was like, “Why do you have to do that?!” And he just brushed if off like everyone does it and they are “just friends” and no big deal. Another big red flag. My gut was aching. But I put up with it. If I could just go back in time and slap some sense into Martha…..

        • Same scenario here as well. Looking back to even before we were married, there were moments that I thought that doesn’t seem right. These were few and far between and the rest was him making me feel incredibly loved.

          Example: Told me when he was a senior in high school, he was dating a junior and he hadn’t planned to go to prom. He found out that this girl had bought a prom dress. Granted, she shouldn’t have done that before she was asked, but STBX broke up with her and then asked someone else to prom. Struck me as odd since he didn’t want to go in the first place. He said he changed his mind and may have done that anyways. Now, I recognize it for who he is. He felt wronged and was going to make sure she paid for making an assumption about him.

          Every time I felt a disconnect between the loved he showed and some choice, I should have paid more attention.

        • Martha, what you wrote reminded me that recently I came across a journal I was keeping when we were engaged (I was abaout19 years old at the time). In this journal I wrote about him calling and telling me about going out with a group of girls after a church youth group meeting. He apparently went on to tell me how good looking they said he was. I wrote, “Why would he do something like that and then tell me about it? Maybe I’m not giving him enough attention, maybe he feels like I don’t compliment him enough.” Sheesh! There it was right in the beginning of our relationship. He was doing what he wanted and I was codependently trying to think of ways to make him stop. When I read that 30 years later, I wanted to kick my younger self. The problem is, I didn’t even know what the words codependent and narcissist meant until decades later.

      • Lyn you could be me. I spackled my husbands behavior for 34 years. His affair was with a much younger friend of ours and then 4 years of wreckonciliation during which the abuse escalated (including losing half of our life savings in his business). Followed by another AP, this was the exit affair (story was they met 2 days after our separation– evidence to the contrary). He left saying he had to get rid of his old life to get a new one and he just wanted to have fun. A 56 year old toddler..they really do suck

  • I’ve been divorced over a year and am still taken to court by the XH. Someone recently asked me what his end game is. This post reminds me that there is no point except to hurt me in whatever method he may still have available.

    • Qwerty,
      My STBX will probably take me to court many times for many years after we are finally divorced no matter what I do. I could never be ‘perfect’ enough and worship him enough to please him. He funally left and falsely accused me of committing crimes when he saw no more benefit to staying and thought that he could get the kids and all the money. He appears determined to annihilate me in a scorched earth campaign.
      How do you cope?

      • RockStarWife,

        First, you do not respond. Let a lawyer do that for you; that’s what they are for. If he falsely accused you of crimes, then be sure to truely accuse him of false reporting. There’s a penalty for that. Hunker in the bunker and take care of yourself and your kids. Let him come unglued while you chart out a future without him. Talk to your local domestic abuse center. Rally support where you can: therapist, trusted friends and family. The disordered love, love, love “scorched earth” but courts, not so much. Good luck to you. You CAN do this.

        • Hi Survivor,
          Thanks for writing. Our first couple of judges didn’t believe lying abuser. These two wise men saw right through him. However, current judge, who has presided over case or last couple of years ‘reversed’ some of previous judges’ decisions, making me return money (support which I was awarded by one of the first two judges) to abuser who took me to court although he abused me. (My attorney bill now exceeds $100k.) I no longer trust the family law system/police to protect the innocent. I hope that our current judge can be revived from her stupor to realize that the plaintiff, who constantly demands the police and court protect him and punish me, is the perpetrator. Abuser is fighting for physical custody of our kids again. Hope that justice and sanity prevail.

  • For someone who HATES “Liars”, “bull shit” and “drama”, mine certainly loves to live in a swirl of it.
    – absolute, hand held voice recorder/playing – email sending, report to the police non sense – had his work phone altered- I did zero of those things.

    In fact, he lives in an undisclosed place, because, well, I don’t know why anymore. He tried to screw every PENNY out of every transaction – even wanted multiple person depositions given over a garage sale…. (???) – someday that will all be funny. Now I’m just glad I’m not waiting for the other shoe to fall out of the sky and onto my head, like the last few years.

    Apparently, according to him — I am the drama queen. Dangerous, bitter, stupid, you know- you know- you know….

    (who knew? I live a pretty much quiet life.)
    After 30+ years together today would have been anniversary #29. I’m not as bad off as last year, but I’m not at “meh” yet. This thread was helpful to remind me that I may miss the person I think he was before – he certainly is not a person worthy of my time.

    In fact, he lives in an undisclosed place, because, well, I don’t know why anymore.

    • Magneto,

      Sounds as though you are dealing with a very disordered person.

      I used to miss the person I thought my STBX was; now I miss the person I was before I met him and the domestic abuse started. For the sake of my loved ones, I am working on maintaining a self-image of a strong, competent person who is not demolished by a disordered person’s false allegations and attacks.

      • In 30 years my attorney says he had never met a man so disinterested in the basic welfare of his family.
        Not just me, but our daughters (people questioned as to weather xh was their biological dad or not – by the lack of concern he had.)
        I don’t believe he was this person all along, I think he had tendencies – and something serious broke. But broke is still broke.

        Cheating, health scare, stealing my possessions looting the house, emptying bank accounts – all was small compared to the disrespect he showed me as a human being. Total piece of garbage.

        • I used to think that about mine, Mag; that his behavior became progressively worse (as is common with UNrecovering alcoholics, which he is). He surely became sloppier, more careless and reckless with the passage of time. But a lot of time away from him and a lot of research gave me a clearer perspective…To me, it’s that he got comfortable and dropped his mask. I can see a lot from the earlier years *now*. Maybe I just wasn’t able to handle any more reality at the time.
          But that’s okay. I didn’t have to know everything for sure (and I probably never will) in order to start healing. You don’t either. There really will come a time when he just won’t matter anymore.

  • Trying to divorce a CD. What works? So far for me that is no contact and then pushing everything through attorney. He only speaks in $$$. Yes. He wants me broke and destroyed. Homemaker for 30 plus years. He won’t leave the home. I’m a nomad with lots of loving friends and family. I’ll make it! And yes he documents down to the penny. It’s nuts.

    • LFT, I’m struggling my way through the divorce. Good to hear that no contact and going through attorney is working for you. I’m doing that, but still struggling with the ways my STBX is trying to punish me for finally saying “enough” to his affair. He’s trying to figure out any way to hurt me. The very few things I’d like to walk away with, he’s tormenting me with. If he knows that I want it, he says he does too and will force it to be sold. I’ve tried not to focus on what matters to me, but he knows me too well.

      Any other tips from those who’ve gotten what they wanted in their divorces from the disordered? Strategies that worked in negotiations? I’ve got tons of documentation, so that’s not an issue.

      • Every situation has its unique aspects, so I don’t know if my experience will work for others. Right after D day, I wrote up a “separation agreement” that was very simple and my husband at the time signed it. ( I now know he thought it was temporary and he wouldn’t have to abide by it down the road). We were apart for 4 years, when I finally got a lawyer to proceed with a divorce. XH did not want a divorce and while I had gone no contact in the last year, he still did not want a divorce. So, when he received the paperwork, he started emailing, texting, phoning daily with threats that he would take all my money, he would destroy everything I have, etc. I did not respond to a single one – in fact, I don’t know why, but his threats struck me as funny. Then he started to make demands through his lawyer. I instructed my lawyer to not respond. This all went on for the better part of a year. Then, all of a sudden, I got a call from my lawyer’s office that he had agreed to the divorce and the separation agreement was upheld. Within a couple of months the judge signed and we had our divorce. I think my XH was always trying for a reaction from me – any reaction -and he gave up – at least in the area of divorce. Recently he has let me know through one of my sons, that he has written a new will and is leaving his money to the one son and has excluded his other two sons ( one is ours and one from a previous relationship). He is disinheriting them because they haven’t behaved towards him in the way he wants. This has the potential of really hurting the relationship between the boys – it is very cruel. But, I am again choosing to not react to this and to let things play out. One of the banished sons is about to become a father. He and his wife are very excited (as am I) and I wonder whether his father will disown his first grandchild as well. It will be his loss for sure. So – my belief in non- contact is strong. It is the only way to go when dealing with CD people.

      • I haven’t gotten to dividing stuff. So I could end up like you. I suspect I will actually. So thanks for preparing me!

        In the end I have all the family and friends. He does not just his sad cheap trashy AP. He really traded down.

        It’s just awful though his actions. They are truly nasty.

        Stay strong

  • Trying to predict the actions of the disordered is frustrating for anyone who thinks logically. I have dealt with several in my extended FOO and 2 EXH’s. None of them acted exactly the same way, and I was not able to notice a pattern when I was young. Only after years of dealing with them, and lots of reading and some decent therapy was I able to start seeing the similarities. The more experience I had with the person, the better able I was to predict that person’s actions in certain situations. One of my x’s gave me his paychecks and I managed all the finances — he had other sources of income I did not know about, of course, and squirrelled money away, but I had little trouble from him about money while we were married. After the divorce, if I could catch up with him, I could generally extract what he was supposed to pay, but catching him grew much harder. The other X was horrible with his own money, and I had learned enough by then not to give him access to mine. He did however expect me to give him 1/2 of the equity in MY home (too bad, so sad, he didn’t get any of it ) and he took tools and valuable items from my home when he left. However he did not have the money to hire a lawyer, and therefore did not have a leg to stand on in the divorce. He moved in with the OW and expected her to take care of him. That didn’t work out well for him, and he seemed quite surprised that I didn’t want him back (“But, I’m Sorry and I’ve Changed! Yeah, right) when he realized his standard of living had plummeted.

    The sad part of the situation is that we waste time trying to be fair and trying to be reasonable, but you cannot reason with a disordered person. They only want what they want when they want it, and they don’t believe we are entitled to anything. That is the connecting thread. Good luck in any dealings — Meh seems out of reach while that is going on!

  • But the greater the character disturbance, the less compunction the CD has to use the kids in this way.
    Shouldn’t it be the MORE compunction?

    X continues to use our kids to his advantage and regardless of their feelings. He’s a major CD.

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