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Dear Chump Lady, He’s just flawed, he’s not bad?

assholeDear Chump Lady,

My cheater and I met when I was 19 and he was 24. Fast forward two years and I am a 21 year old, who has had only one sexual partner, and he was an emotionally abusive cheater.

I was in a very fortunate position where the other woman was a classmate of mine who was manipulated by my then boyfriend into thinking he was single. So when she found out about me from a mutual friend, she nearly immediately stepped forward. She provided me quite a bit of support surrounding “D-Day.” Without her honestly and kindness I never would have had the strength to leave the guy who I thought was the love of my life. Three months later the OW and I have established a slightly awkward but solid friendship.

I have a plethora of issues to pick from, but the one I’d like to focus on is the idea of demonizing a cheater. Many friends, the OW included, have told me that I should not adopt an attitude where I think of my cheater as a “bad person.” They say that while what he did to me was not acceptable, he is still a “good person” who was simply driven by a bad life situation to cheating.

Every time I hear this I find myself launching into a rant about how for months he had been using me as an emotional punching bag and how I almost had to take an incomplete for that semester of college when in three weeks I went from 120 pounds to barely 100 (for perspective I am 5’6). While I do recognize that he had a streak of bad luck resulting in some serious financial troubles, I still don’t see how any “good person” would turn to abuse the person they apparently love to get through any rough time.

Often this statement comes with the logic that it isn’t good for me to deliver absolutist statements regarding another person’s character. It’s said I will be happier recognizing him as simply a flawed human rather than a remorseless and sociopathic waste of space.

I guess what I’m wondering is — really, will I be happier?? I do not think I am still mad at him, but I honestly believe he is an alcoholic narcissist who occasionally shows kindness to others in order to stroke his own ego. I am confident one day he will provide you with many more chumps. I am just lucky to get out when I did.

Sassy Name Here

Dear Sassy,

The important thing is that you left. Cheating was a deal-breaker and you LEFT. I wish the emotional abuse had been a deal-breaker, but we’ll address that in a minute.

It doesn’t matter what he is — a flawed forest creature or Lord Satan himself — what matters is YOU. What you will tolerate. What is acceptable to YOU. What you think a healthy, reciprocal, loving relationship looks like, and whether you think you’re in one. Only YOU determine the price of admission to your relationships. YOU set that price, and you get to say who’s tall enough to ride your ride.

When you look at it this way, we can chuck the issue of you being an absolutist about him. (Poor sausage is being demonized!) You’re an absolutist about yourself. Boundaries are absolutes. I will not be cheated on. I will not be verbally abused. I will not let this relationship destroy my health.

Those are your boundaries and you have every right to enforce them. All this blah, blah, blah about what kind of person Dickface is? Irrelevant. That analysis is untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Who he is, is someone who demonstrated that he was unworthy of you. Next.

He doesn’t have to be All Bad for you to next him. You can acknowledge his fine collection of argyle sweaters or his lovely singing voice or the kindness he shows to his pet ferret. He was Bad ENOUGH. And no handsome sweater can possibly eclipse his deceit.

Now about this emotional abuse — I’m sure you put up with it because you suffered from some chumpy thoughts. Spackle is not just denial out of self-interest, it’s also based on some erroneous ideas. Notions such as — Terrible Life Events Make Him Abuse Me. Or The Crazy Shit He Does Doesn’t Define Him. And so you gave him a pass.

Part of un-chumping is examining those fallacies and learning to do better. Having boundaries means enforcing consequences. That’s not “demonizing” someone. Not accepting crap excuses for bad behavior is not demonizing someone either. It’s recognizing that Dickface has agency and makes choices. You had a bad semester — whose life did you ruin?

How we face adversity and how we treat the people we purport to love is what defines our character. Dickface has lousy character. You do not. Bad match. Next.

It’s said I will be happier recognizing him as simply a flawed human rather than a remorseless and sociopathic waste of space.

You will be happier being away from him, period. Let God sort out his flaws from his sociopathy.

At 21, Sassy, you have an advantage that many of us wish we had at your age — you know that remorseless sociopathic wastes of space exist. And they disguise themselves as mild-mannered boyfriends who will suck the life out of you.

There are disordered people in the world who know right from wrong, but don’t care. They don’t think the rules should apply to them. They don’t have empathy or remorse. And there’s no conscience there to appeal to for better behavior. They aren’t wired for conscience. Cluster Bs, sociopaths, Bad People, whatever you want to call them — they walk among us.

And they succeed at their manipulation games when people act like chumps and excuse their crap behavior as “flawed” or think they can manage it into some semblance of civility.

It’s good information to have. Use it going forward. The freaks can’t hurt you if you know your worth first.

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.
  • Fix your picker.
    For me that meant finding a therapist specializing in trauma to examine why I put up with the emotional abuse and failed to see red flags. It helped me stop and put down the spackle. I no longer spackle anything in life. It’s an amazing unburdening.
    As an added bonus I met a great guy and wake up happy and spackle free every day.
    Put down your spackle and Go live an authentic life.

    • Each day I’m getting closer to MEH, and this morning I came up with a visual. A few years ago, a pastor encouraged me to go NC with someone, and said “you’ve given him enough space in your thoughts”. That guy has about a pinprick size spot in my brain now. I’m working on the same with my cheater the Spin Doctor. When they treat a tumor with therapy, the shrinking tumor surrounds itself with scar tissue, so even if it can’t be removed it is smaller and surrounded. Time, healing and NC are shrinking my Spin Doctor tumor and soon I hope that memories of him only occupy a pinprick size spot – just enough to remind me to fix my picker and watch what the next person SHOWS me.

  • Sassy — the last paragraph of your letter reveals the key to the whole thing: by expending so much energy into trying to figure out what viewpoint of him will make you happiest, you’re allowing him (or rather, his presence in your mind) to have a degree of control over you. And you’ll never get on the road to happiness as long as he plays the role of an anchor impeding your progress.

    What will make you happier is getting to the point where you no longer have to ask what will make you happier.

    That said, this is something we ALL struggle with, and there’s no magic formula that will make it happen faster. Just acknowledging it can be enough for now, until you get some traction in other areas of your life that will make him a Meh-mory.

  • My ex liked to pull out “I’m a flawed human being …” when he was supposedly, kind of but not exactly apologizing in a combined sad sausage and trickle truth way. I was supposed to jump in there and reassure him that all God’s creatures are flawed and thus he is A-OK. I never did so outloud, but by staying I sent the same message. Fuck that noise. He can go forward being whatever type of person he wants (he has apparently chosen asshole for the time being). It doesn’t matter what he is as long as he does it somewhere else.

  • I’d often tell or try to convince myself my Ex isn’t a bad person, she just made some poor life choices…Then I remember all the stuff she’s done and realise she’s just a giant bag of shit who probably holds the world record for Poor life choices. I’ll give her some credit though she is very good at making her poor life choices seem perfectly justifiable and normal.

    • MBE
      Well said. A funny thing happened to me about halfway through reading this column. I have said sooooo many times already (sorry just the once more) that a post here helped me by suggesting I think of my cheater as not sharing my values rather than trying to see him as ‘bad’ which I had great difficulty with.
      Well. Reading through this column I suddenly realised that fuck his different values, he IS BAD. Really fuckingly awfully bad. Thoughtless, cruel, calculated, self interested, heartless and just mean. A complete bastard.
      I’m feeling much angrier now than ever. I think as I recover from the initial trauma my mind is gently picking its way back over what had to have happened when he was living his double life. The first time I went through this I was in shock and disbelief. Trying to square that nice guy bad acts circle. To disengage I thought huh different values. And now six months on I can see more clearly than ever how fucked over I was for so fucking long.
      So now, fuck the different values shit. He is a complete fucking fucker. Aaarrgghhhhhhh

      Ahem. Pardon the explosion! The other thing I liked about this column was that it focuses on us. Our needs, our rights, our responsibility to ourselves, our trust in ourselves to know what we know, our right to live as we want to, our perfect right to peace and happiness. Us us us. For once!

      • Yeah, Capricorn!! I knew you’d get to anger! It’s not pleasant (though tough choice whether angst or anger feels worse), but the anger/rage is a necessary stage to healing. It is also an overt sign that you realize (a) a great set of wrongs has been perpetrated against you; (b) you didn’t deserve it, and in fact, deserved love, respect, and cherishing instead, and (c) a way to emotionally disengage from the cheater, which is the end goal after all.

        The rage will become its own entity; allow it some independence (short of needing a defense attorney).

        • Awww… Capricorn can come sit on the “Pissed as Shit” bench with me and Tempest ::::patting the open spot of the bench saved just for you::::: we are fabulous and working through the abuse that was heaped upon us.

          Also, me thinks some of the “they aren’t evil” folks either never got fully victimized by a cheater or did some cheating in the past. For me, WAY down the path, I am fully disinterested in the penis/vagina action that happened, I reflect on how MEAN he was to me as a direct result of having participated in selfish badness. Kindness & decency are key elements of trusting relationships and that was, in the end his greatest betrayal.

          • I literally just said this in therapy this week UNM…that the sex itself didn’t even matter, it was what he did and how he handled it, and then everything after it, that made me so unbelievably angry.

            • “They aren’t evil” = They have never seen him unmasked. I used to accept others despite their apparent ‘flaws’. Now narc sightings are a frequent occurrence.

          • Amen! Same here….not the penis/vagina action but the complete disrespect, devalue, lying, rudeness, disregard for another human being, never mind his supposed partner in life! Btw, may I join you on the “Pissed As Hell Bench?” I brought cookies!

          • SwitzerlandSpackler:”You’re just two good people who couldn’t work it out. He’s such a nice guy.”

            EnragedCTM: “No, actually he is an abuser; a lying, cheating, character-disordered, evil parasite who deliberately and gleefully hurts innocent, caring, and trusting people before trying to play the victim…..you were saying?”

            It ebbs and flows but I can safety say I’m in Rage2.0 I have some tea to go with those cookies….

          • This is it, UNM. Its the absolute cruelty of his disrespect and the criticism and lies he told me about what a terrible wife and person I was and how badly I had treated him, which was why he was treating me as disdainfully as he was. I still get flashbacks of not actually existing as a human being to him.
            Whilst HE KNEW what he was really doing. How do you look into a persons hurt and bewildered face, look at their tears and their efforts to fix what has nothing to do with them, and carry on doing it??
            Of course he got more depressed and self loathing (something we must all Feel Very Sorry For Him For – he was suicidal don’t you know!!). But these were consequences of his own choices.

            Infidelity is abuse. The way I was treated was abusive.

            • Yes Patsy, for me, Ground Zero of cruelty was the day he informed me of his intent to divorce me “because you are such a bad wife”…he was either planning his exit to be with OW or he was trying to “end the marriage” enough to release him from some of the guild he might have been feeling or perhaps he was trying to be faithful to OW… regardless of why, he was profoundly cruel and blaming all to avoid telling the truth of his adultery.

              I sat there weeping, hunched over, broken and he hovered over me pummeling me with detail after detail of every mistake I had ever made in the 21 years he had known me.

              He hurt me horribly to save himself the discomfort of the truth.

              Im sure that he and God have chatted about that

              There were dozens of moments before and dozens after but that one stands out singularly as the pinnacle of his cruelty…it was premeditated and intentional …I was ambushed in it. Chumpy me didnt react to the cruelty, I simply wanted to “save my family”.

              I cant even imagine how I would have reacted in the wake of that night if I had known the full truth…I hope I would have been mighty, but all I remember is being exhausted and sad…there was no mighty in sight.

              • UNM, your post hit me right in the gut. Thank you for sharing. And you are mighty… even if mighty looks like desperation or exhaustion or sadness.
                I didn’t have a D-Day…. After weeks of carrying a dreadful, suspicious feeling in my gut, I addressed my concerns and asked for reassurance that they were unfounded. With no response to my suspicions of an inappropriate relationship, he unloaded on me, saying he’d been miserable with me for a year. I was told that he was leaving and that ending our marriage was the best decision he’d ever made. Insert lists of every horrible thing I’ve ever done and said including that one time years ago when we were dating…. Until I went NC three weeks later, each text and conversation brought up more of my sins from years past, as if he’d catalogued every bad habit or irritated response or crummy mood of mine over our entire relationship.

                His anger and resentment and vitriol had to come from a place of guilt, right?? Otherwise, how could he truly walk away from his marriage and life without a hint of remorse?

        • Tempest
          You will laugh as I know you had talked about this anger that can appear a few months in and I was at first a bit worried about it, after all I think I fear invoking displeasure in others and anger is a sure route to that. Then felt a bit well ‘european’ in the worst way (sorry not usually such an ass) and thought maybe I was just going to be very chill about the whole thing. Sigh.

          • LOL, Capricorn! For a while I wondered if you were an angel of wisdom who could deal with all this without anger. Turns out you are only human. Thank goodness!

      • Yay for healthy anger! I think anger is so important because feeling it lets us know a boundary has been crossed. So many of us are taught to swallow our anger, that nice girls or nice guys don’t get mad, but that robs us of the ability to make choices about our own welfare, if we can’t really get mad when someone does something fucked up to us! I didn’t start to get better until I realized my cheater was just a dick. Being a therapist I gave people the benefit of the doubt way too much. My personal life is not work, I don’t have to be objective or fair all the time, I just get to be human, and I can call an ass an ass.

        Cap, your cheater was a fucking fucker, and fuck him! Your healing is what matters.

        • OMG, K….thank you for that!” I am a psychiatric nurse and really do appreciate “my personal life is not work and I can call an ass an ass!” Brilliant!

      • My therapist told me a few years ago “I am so glad you can get in touch with your anger.” Getting in touch with it was never my problem: riding it instead of letting it ride me was.
        My anger is no longer my constant companion, though it puts its hand on my shoulder for reassurance whenever I have to deal in any way with STBX. My anger has been my friend. It drove me to set boundaries, file for divorce, kick him out, change the locks.
        My STBX hates my anger. In the past he knew how to soothe it. Not anymore. My anger is mighty. It is like protective dog – there are a few select people/things that it hates. I have learned to trust it.
        ?❤?❤

        • K and Louisvilleflower

          Everything you say is true and I recognise. I have a hard time, not being angry but showing it. I tend to acr super super nice in proportion to how angry I am. If I really hate people I am usually so nice to cover it up. Terrible really.
          Might be nice to learn how to manage it better! ….along with losing weight, leaning the piano, getting back to tap class….

        • “Riding it instead of letting it ride me”, thank you for these words. I needed to read them. I also have learned to appreciate my anger and disgust as things working WITH me to drive the change that needed to be. Listening to myself and trusting that my anger was justified is something I have spent the past 6 months coming to terms with. “Puts its hand on my shoulder for reassurance…” is another goodie. At times I find myself feeling “sorry” for him – he now lives alone in a foreign country, his business has gone bankrupt (diddums) and he says he misses the kids to the point it physically hurts him. I find myself feeling “bad” for the reality I have forced upon him (no longer living a family life), then Miss ‘ol Anger pops up after a few minutes to say, hey!…remember what he did to us?! Don’t feel sorry for that asshat, he brought it all on himself!! If you hadn’t discovered his double life and promptly made cleverly covert plans to escape that dreary existence, you would still be living the chump life and your kids would be growing up in that shit situation. Anger doesn’t so much rest its hand on my shoulder at times, as it does pokes/prods me in the arm to jolt me out of the “feeling sorry for him” mode.

          • I want to weigh in on this while anger thing. I spent decades suppressing righteous anger, and instead invested heavily (unconsciously) in misdirected inner child work (that was almost like an addiction).

            Anger is a dangerous thing to tinker with. Maybe it’s best left in its organic state to work its natural course.

          • Left at the airport – Wow, your voice sure resonates with me about the anger on the shoulder and how to get rid of the ‘feel sorry for him part’.

            Controlled anger is a very powerful too in the path to meh.

            It still sits on my shoulder and comes in handy if somebody tries to push me around.
            Ain’t happening.

        • LF, this is so well put. I am usually a very meek and mild person, and probably overly tolerant thus far of people’s ‘foibles’ (Read: bullshit) but I do go off every now and then when I feel like a uncrossable boundary has been violated (and that takes a lot). Up until now I have always thought this is a bad thing, letting someone have it and really have a piece of my mind, unfiltered, but I am beginning to think it’s actually a good thing and I need to harness it more in my everyday life, but like you say, ride it better – by letting ‘the facts’ out much earlier and push back on my boundaries when other people start to ping them rather than when they are stretched to breaking point. This is where Mr Stig comes across all sad sausage and you’re so meeeeean, but I now seen he’s been fucking with me, and actually deserves it anyway. So I’m closet sassy and I bottle it up but it is as you say, a protective instinct which I should respect, rather than beat myself up for and feel like an asshole about.

          • I think this is the sign of a chump, we swallow our anger, tolerate “foibles” for a very long time, then explode. Maybe part of establishing strong boundaries is to enforce then often and quickly, rather than needing to get to the point of exploding. By that time, we usually have put up with unacceptable behaviour and/or abuse for far too long.

            • This is my problem also. Swallow the fury, boundaries are not just violated but destroyed and I do fuck all about it. I taught him how to treat me…..

      • My anger saved me from more abuse. If I hadn’t gotten angry, I would still be eating shit sandwiches and supporting Durt, the slut puppet, and Durt’s mom. I recall the last interaction I had with Durt without a neutral third party present. He cornered me screaming that I was a fucking bitch for saying that the things we couldn’t agree to split could be decided by a judge. I tried to escape to a bathroom with a lock and he blocked me from doing so. Then he lit into me that I have anger problems. My retort: good luck finding a woman who doesn’t get angry when you do the same thing to her as you have to me and all of your past victims. He was left momentarily speechless and his response was repeating my name and shaking his head. Of course his mom,Who continued to live with me for a year while he was off banging the slut puppet on their fuck fest “tour” was witness to the whole thing.
        Again, anger at the abuse he heaped on me for me through the gaslighting mindfuck. Hang onto it while you go through it and remind yourself hat you deserve better.

    • Ha love it Mickyblureyes. Well said . Karma will sort those shit decisions out. Don’t let the door decapitate you on the way out.

      • This conversation about anger brought to mind a quote from Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) that stuck in my brain:

        “He could see Bonzo’s anger growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender’s anger was cold, and he could use it. Bonzo’s was hot, and so it used him. ”

        In my experience, hot anger accompanies D-Days and the days following when you’re still stuck in a horrible situation.

        It eventually becomes cold, when you start seeing the truth, get farther away from your expectations and disappointments and start intentionally journeying toward the land of Meh. The anger is still there, but it’s a tool that protects you from further abuse.

  • “Having boundaries means enforcing consequences. That’s not “demonizing” someone. Not accepting crap excuses for bad behavior is not demonizing someone either.”

    Truth!

    Preach on, CL.

  • Sassy, you are way ahead of the game! I was in my thirties and it took me 15 years to stop making excuses for my exes bad character, bad choices, horrible treatment of me and I spackled like crazy until I couldn’t anymore. They are bad people, and we need to learn to get away from these types at the first sign. I’ve also learned that my opinion of people is just that, mine, I’m not going to make my ex out to be some damaged bird that just lashed out because he was hurt, I say bullshit, the thousands of choices he made to lie, deceive, gaslight, and abuse me were conscious choices and I choose to believe he is a bad guy, and anyone that tries to sparkle over that is not welcome in my world.

    You sound very bright, you are mighty!

    • You are right beachgirl. We spackle over every behaviour no matter how absurd because we are always alighning the present behaviour to the good times at the beginning – which we now realise were fake anyway. Because we are stuck in that cognitive dissonance of believing this person to be fundamentally good and have our best intentions at heart – nothing matches up – we end up forcing our brain to ‘make it fit’ so we can carry on existing with this person. I believe I had alot of general unexplained health issues as a result of this unresolved mental state, including being Soooo tired – especially in the middle of the day – for Years! – anyone else experienced this?

  • I see no need to choose. I think it is perfectly fine if you think of him as “a remorseless and sociopathic waste of space” AND a “flawed human.” If someone told me that my self-centered, narcissistic, angry jackass of an EX was troubled by his difficult childhood, I’d just agree that their insight was true too. He’s got all sorts of problems. Your EX probably does as well! But the exciting part is that you aren’t sharing those problems anymore.

    The important choices are about yourself, as CL says. Work toward a life that is happy, healthy, and fulfilling.

    Three cheers for having the gumption to leave this guy so quickly!

    • Yes, a person can be troubled by a difficult childhood and get help for it, like many chumps have. A difficult childhood is not an excuse.

    • I agree, Eilonwy. Someone who treats others that cruelly is a flawed human being in a very fundamental way. And it doesn’t matter if it’s due to their bad childhood, or that they had a stutter as a child and got picked on. Somewhere along life’s trajectory, there was a decision tree, and they chose the path toward Asshole rather than Good Noble Person Avenue.

      • Tempest: ‘the path toward Asshole rather than Good Noble Person Avenue’ This tickles me all kinds of ways, thank you. What I want to know, is Asshole a Grove, a Close, a Way? Thanks you for this start to my morning.

              • “Oh, I took a wrong turning, my map was upside down, and I end up in Asshole”…nope, it’s pretty clearly signposted.

              • That reminds me of a comment by my then-Husband after I had thrown home out of the house but not yet filed. (My divorce was based on finding out about an affair with gradwhore he’d had 8 years prior.)

                He wrote, “I was an asshole back then, I’m not an asshole any more.”

                He was half right.

      • Stuttering? Check
        Bullying? Check
        Narcissist parent? Check

        The third shaped me way more than the first two. It made me a codependent, enabling, people pleaser with poor boundaries.

        • Those Narc parents, they train you well – get you ready to let people violate your boundaries, to beg for kibble, as well as making you the most irresistible Narcbait.

      • The troubled childhood was what gave him the sympathy card from me. The thing is, even though I work in that field of early attachment – I glossed over the fundamental fact that this pathology is nigh on impossible to change – let alone a concerned spouse. Being too close to the situation is half the problem. Now with no contact and a decent space of time I can see the disorder so much more clearly. Despite the no contact from me I keep getting the blame for all his woes! – even his parents have joined in blaming me for the financial state (Narcs leave you bankrupt – its true) and I believe they got the smear story that I was a big spender – when in reality it was him – and he’s still throwing money around while insisting that me and the kids sell the house and move into a crappy rental. The thing that gets me every time is how these people manage to convince others so well of their teflon status. (But I suppose we were sucked in for years – lol)

    • Also, you can have had a terrible childhood.

      But, at some stage you have to take responsibility and now allow it to dictate the rest of your life.

      A terrible childhood NEVER gives you the green light to mistreat someone else.

  • Sassy’s issue isn’t whether or not the cheater is a big ol’ pos…it’s HER FRIENDS. She needs to dump them with a swiftness. She has the right to think what-ever she wants about the fuck wit who fucked her over without her *friends* giving her sanctimonious lectures on what she should think.

    Every time they launch into their spiel on flawed individuals, they are invalidating her right to be angry and diminishing her hurt and betrayal. They’re cheater apologists. Bottom line Sassy….get new friends who actually DO support you. And…dump the OW…sweetheart, no matter how you spin it…she’s NOT your friend.

    • Very good point. Sassy, glad you found CL and the voices of reason and chump nation and legions of support. Sounds like your friends are young and naïve at best, possibly experiencing compassion fatigue, or worse like what Noelle says. Either way they are proving unsafe for you to discuss this topic with them if they invalidate you. If the former, it’s actually a good time to educate them. Tell them your boundary is about YOU, not him.
      Per Chumplady: “You’re an absolutist about yourself. Boundaries are absolutes. I will not be cheated on. I will not be verbally abused. I will not let this relationship destroy my health.”
      If after you make your boundary statement they continue to prove unsafe then start protecting yourself and quietly stop discussing this part of your life with them anymore, or even go to extreme and find new friends. If you do remain friends watch them closely they may be Switzerland friends and you need to decide how much you trust them or not and if so, with what info.
      It’s possible that even if you don’t remain friends for the long term, that one of these years some of them will have an “aha” moment (maybe in about 20 years In their own D-day after investing decades in their own personal alcoholic narcissist who “wasn’t completely bad”). While your words about boundaries may fall on young deaf ears now you may plant some seeds for the future.

    • Sassy, you also have to think that these friends of yours are friends of the cheater and if they just think he is a flawed person, they won’t think twice of telling him what they know about your new life without him. You don’t need them discussing you with the cheater, he gave up having the “right to know” anything about you, and besides that is creepy. And cheaters love creepy.

      • Noelle, excellent point. But because they are probably very young, they haven’t had much experience of detecting this kind of disordered person. Instead they are brainwashed by the prevailing doctrine there are no bad people, just scared, flawed, damaged, misunderstood TFC.
        Still best to stay away from them if they can’t accept what Sassy feels and support her. Waste of time, find friends who understand you.

  • I was your age when I married my Wackjob. I didn’t untangle that mess until 29 years later and then I STILL spackled over it for ANOTHER 5 years!!! I’m an intelligent woman but I was so trauma bonded, abused and codependent I refused to see what was right in front of me. Be grateful you got out. Fix your picker so you don’t choose someone like him again. Go and live your authentic long life. Yours are so fortunate. Please recognize and cherish that..

    • Met mine in college, so this is food for thought for me.
      I ignored red flags or passed them off as immaturity rather than character flaws.

      Sassy, we aren’t discounting your pain – we are happy you got out and survived and didn’t become a long term chump like so many of us. I am sorry for what happened to you. It was real, and it sucks. You are a strong person.

      I am thinking a lot about Noelle’s comments about your friends. Only you can decide who is salvageable, in my opinion. I certainly didn’t know about narcissism and emotional abuse when I was your age. Infidelity happened to older, married people in my mind. Some of their comments might be based on ignorance. I guess the test is to tell them your truth, and that you need their unconditional support, and see where the chips fall. That is a hard thing to do when you are the walking wounded and rely heavily on your friends for support. Do you have access to counseling or therapy? You might need some extra help if you aren’t already getting it. Your radar is still pinging – your upset at your friends’ comments tells us that. See if you can find a counselor, possibly through your school, who can help and not be dismissive.

      • Mine was sparkly and I-was-going-to-help-him-be-a-better-person. LMAO at that now. He sucked then, he sucked in the middle, and he sucks now.

        • Mine was charming and boyish: read immature, shallow and selfish. He is almost 50 and still pulls this con.

          • Ha ha – yes its all in the interpretation! – Mine got me to list all the things I liked about him before he gave me the final discard. SO after me painting a great picture like you say louisvilleflower – charming, sincere, dependable – as I was saying it I actually caught myself backing up and saying – but you aren’t that shallow are you? The he gave me “I don’t have any feelings for you what so ever – probably since the kids were born” (about 20 years). totally ‘dead’ delivery – no anger, no emotion at all that was the worst part. Thats when I knew 20+ years of my life were based on tolerating evil from a person I had imagined into existence. I try to explain it to people, like its when you get conned into believing an April fool joke (do Americans have that!?) and all morning you are getting told something semi believable – but at the same time you figure something is ‘off’ but because is told by someone you trust and you get totally sucked in and they play you along, feeding you more of the joke, maybe setting up other evidence until you are really believing it. Then comes 12 oclock (I believe this is the deadline of the con – then you have to come clean) and then you get HAHA APRIL FOOOOL!! You get this sense of WTF how did I fall for it – so convincing – it could have been true – but there were other signs? feel so stupid!! – is it just me that fell for it.?… on and on. Now, I tell people – that is 3-4 hours of a con that you lived through. Imagine what it fells like for 20+ years of living that con and finding out in one hit. I really don’t know how I came back from that and can totally get why some people kill themselves. Anyone got other analogies to use for an NPD relationship because I get it – people just cannot comprehend the scale of the abuse and mindfuckery.

        • Tempest

          With all that special sucking ability if the cheating ever catches up with him at work and he gets fired he will be fantastic as a gigolo…….

        • Mine was sparky too. All types of wonderful sparkly. Charming and deadly handsome sparkly. Classy and ultra sophisticated sparkly. Sparkly that most women, no matter who they are, cannoy helo but be attracted to (I’m not kidding, he is a sparkly thing that people want to be near). He has a very sparkly personality on the surface, and knows how to work it. He is very good at image maintenance – big, top-score good at it! Skilled at coming across as “the good guy”. Just today, 7 months on, I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen since I left my ex’s sorry ass, only to hear “but he seems like such a good guy! Maybe you just didn’t give him a chance to prove himself”. DOH! People just don’t get it. They don’t KNOW him below the surface. And I don’t blame them because it took me 9 years to scratch the surface down to reveal his true, base color. Most think (me included, before) that he’s a shiny metallic Ferrari, when in reality he’s a mission-brown (that’s shit-brown to those who don’t know what mission-brown is) Datsun 120Y

          • My ex was more the misunderstood sad sausage “nice guy” who bemoaned his misfortune in life as he explained how brilliant and talented and unappreciated he was. The dude seriously looked like a guinea pig, but channeled New Age Jesus. He was a good listener because he’d trained to be a professional listener. And he must be trustworthy because he was a clinical psychologist, a “doctor,” just ask anyone he’d phoned to make dinner reservations. Everyone thought he was a good guy even though I can’t recall HIM ever doing anything for anyone. But he’d delegate a lot of things to me that folks took to be favors from him. What a tool.

  • I am stealing a couple of paragraphs from my comments yesterday to paste here today:

    “Deliberately deceiving another person so you can do things that cause harm to that person is unacceptable. There is no positive spin for it. A pink bow on a like of shit doesn’t make it anything other than a pile of shit.”

    “Chump Nation isn’t asking everyone to be monogamous. We are only asking everyone to tell the damned truth and calling them out when they don’t.”

    So, I have two responses for the people who try to get you to soften in your stance.

    1) “To-may-to, to-mah-to – no matter which way you say it, the result is the same. His deliberate deception was emotional abuse and it put me at physical risk, and that’s 100% not OK, ever.”

    2) “If all you have to offer right now is to invalidate my pain by trying to get me to have compassion for my abuser when I am openly hurting, we should probably stop discussing this subject.”

    The thing is, you maybe aren’t still angry, but you probably still are, and may always be to some degree, hurting when you look back on it. That doesn’t mean anything bad about you. I might be more worried if you didn’t, in some ways, if I read your letter right – it has been about three months? That is a pretty short period of time to feel totally meh. Possible, but maybe unlikely.

    You may be ahead of your peers in terms of having a good BS meter. As CL says, that is a good thing. But, you can’t expect others who are still in learning mode to understand your end game. They will say stupid things because they can’t grasp your pain, even if they want to.

    As far as the OW goes, maybe consider treading lightly there. Of all people, she should feel much more like you feel. If she doesn’t, it would plant a seed of doubt in my mind about whether she is being entirely honest. I’m not saying to throw the baby out with the bath water, I’m just saying to be careful about trusting that whole situation. How was she so easy to dupe so completely that there was no you? And why is she not furious? I find her side of the story a tiny bit suspicious – I don’t mean to attack your friend, but I thought I should say something in case your still, small voice is already noticing incongruities.

    Good luck, and keep visiting here with us. I am so sorry you had to go through this.

    • Good points Ami. And regardless of Meh, I refuse to allow anyone to alter my perceptions of the truth. No one will get away with telling ME how I should feed about the abuse or minimize the resulting trauma in support of a disordered asshole.

      • Well said – Doingme – ‘ No one will get away with telling ME how I should feed about the abuse or minimize the resulting trauma in support of a disordered asshole.’

        This goes far into many aspects of life:
        *Nobody gets away with abusing or disrespecting ME!
        *Nobody gets away with abusing or disrespecting ANYBODY AROUND ME.
        *Nobody gets away with even coming close to injuring a child, a pet of any kind, or a spouse around me!
        *They will get my full wrath in my full form.

        I will never apologize for sticking up for an unfair situation, even if I’m the only one who steps in, which is who I always seem to be the only one to challenge somebody if they are out of line. (Quote) Yeah, I had to kill all my fun sled-dogs that I used for sport because I had to move. Shot them all) . Sorry for the visual but that’s Northern Canada for you.

        Unfortunately, my biggest disappointment in life in my 60 years, is NOBODY the hell ever steps in when things are wrong. Hope I’m not off topic, but it makes me angry about so many passive people who would never say a thing one way or the other. Those are the folks *I* know and love….but, please, let’s just all be real. This is why I love the honesty of C/N. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKn00A40uWE&t=50s

  • Trust your own judgement, abuse is unacceptable, period. X would claim it was in his DNA, he was passionate and that’s just how he is. I knew it wasn’t right but I was soft, and talked myself into believing he was passionate, and as a result his abuse became an accepted way of life for me.
    He has control of his mouth and what comes out of it, just as he has control of his behavior in any given situation

    You have your thoughts and opinion, never give anyone permission to tell you how you feel or
    how you should think.

    • What a load of nonsense your X spewed. I consider myself passionate, and I don’t go around criticizing, belittling, and verbally abusing others.

      You hit on the real reason–no control of his mouth or his behavior. Add lack of empathy to that and you have the right combination of traits for an abuser.

  • I love Chump Nation & CL.
    Wish I had all this wisdom 33+ years ago. I am finally moving on because I am worth it! My prayer is all Chumps realize this sooner than later. Again, lemme just say FREEEEDOM!

  • Yeah flawed human, and I bet so judgemental of others right? He would never do X like Mr Y did. Ms N is bad because she did Z.
    Imagine someone defending a murderer because, hey, we all commit crimes? You never speed on the highway?
    Here’s a tip, people who can’t see the difference arent people you should be friends with. People who throw around the word hypocrite because after all we are all flawed, shouldn’t be your friends. Not because they make false equivalents, but because to them, it’s not a false equivalent. They are irreparably broke. Don’t fix them.

  • Sassy,

    You will only be happier if you focus on yourself.

    Is he a flawed human or a remorseless and sociopathic waste of space? Yes, yes and yes, deservingly so.

    Try doing these things for *you* to get your happiness back….

    -Start with the basics of impacting your happiness, go to bed at a decent hour and not letting yourself get hungry.

    -Fake it till you feel it – Feelings follow actions.

    -Challenge and novelty – Do things that are unexpected. Go outside of your normal activities. You are soooo young!!

    -Don’t treat your “blues” with alcohol, cigs, ice cream, etc. It’s OK to do these things in moderation of course but don’t submerge in them.

    -Buy some happiness – get something nice for yourself. Also, look for ways to spend some money to stay in closer contact with your family and friends.

    -Be satisfied with what you have. This is sooooo huge!

    -Exercise – without any doubt a mood-booster. Find something you love to do and love doing it.

    -Your happiness is within *your* control and shouldn’t involve thoughts of him – Take time to reflect. Take these conscious steps to be happier.

  • This whole post comes down to what social psychologists call situational vs. dispositional attribution. We try to explain our own and other people’s behavior either through dispositional attributions (She is smart; he is athletically talented; he is persuasive) or through transitory situational attributions (she was surly because she’s stressed about finding a job; he is unusually buoyant because he just won the lottery).

    But if a behavior occurs multiple times, across situations & contexts, then it has to be seen as dispositional. From the sound of it, Sassy’s X (and virtually all of our Xs) engaged in repetitive cheating and abusive behaviors, across situations. Conclusion? He’s a mean person (he didn’t just engage in bad behaviors).

    While it is considered compassionate to keep attributing people’s poor behavior to situational stressors (the “misunderstood jerk” concept that seems so popular these days), it’s not necessarily an accurate explanation of behavior.

    • … and it’s poorly adaptive. Many of us did that in our marriages (raises hand). XH was tired and withdrawn because he was tired and stressed from work. Every day. For five years.

      I deal with a version these people (misunderstood jerk) at work, as well. Big bullies who are used to getting their own way. — Y’know what? You see these same people being bullies at the grocery store, at the bank, at the hardware store, etc. It’s who they are.

    • One’s poor behavior could be situational if you notice that he’s only surly with you and forthcoming / obliging with other people. that’s something else we should keep our eye on.

        • I believe that a jerk is a jerk is a jerk. There is no appropriate situation for being an asshole. Watch how people treat waiters/valets/service people. Watch how they act when playing sports or games. Narcissists’ masks slip at these times and it reveals who they actually are. It is the mask that slips, not their behavior.

          • I went out on a date with a guy about a year ago. He was a complete ass to the waitress while being charming as hell with me. — Fuck you, buddy, I can see right through you.

            (Also, if you treat the nurse like shit and the doctor like a gem? Don’t think we docs don’t know about that, as well.)

            • My STBX wondered why I am nice to people like the trash guys, repair people, etc. Um, because they are humans and are doing a service for me that I appreciate…
              We have different economic backgrounds. I came from privilege and he came from a family that struggled financially. But he turned out to be the snob.

          • Louisvilleflower

            I just had a ?Moment. I often say how mine is nice but when you wrote that I remembered quite a few times he has been awful to waiters, plumbers, and call center people who he talks to on the phone. He is often MEAN. I always put it down to stress or anxiety. I have several times had to cover for him and smooth things over a bit or ask him why he’s being so mean. Since he has been in Asia it is worse according to my sons who visited him there. My eldest felt uncomfortable shopping with him as he spoke to shop staff so abruptly.
            I always felt he was anxious and not confident about his abilities is always tried to be encouraging and supportive. One of my worst memories now is when he came home for a visit and we went out with the boys to buy him a new suit. We saw a gorgeous suit and he tried it on and had the guy in the shop fussing over him. We ended up buying it and it cost a lot. I persuaded him to also buy some new shoes also expensive. We went home and the boys and I were really made up to see him finally feeling good and confident. We all went out to dinner (to belatedly celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary) and took a family picture. All five of us and him in the suit.
            Cut to three months later and the ddays began. Found out that he had slept with ow#3 on our actual 21st anniversary, he had slept with her five days before that picture was taken. He wore the suit abroad after that dinner to take her out to concerts and events. Of course she had evening dresses (I still don’t).
            I have not looked at that picture since. Our last day as a family. The feelings of happiness I had and what his life had actually become. It just makes me ill.
            He is a fucking fucker.
            How long does this anger thing last?!

            • The horrible rage that takes over your being like the incredible Hulk lasted several months for me. It would come back as I had more and more post-divorce D-days (friends or my memory or my PI) would reveal other affairs or probable affairs, and that rage monkey would be hissing and spitting on my shoulder again.

              The rest of the time for a year and a half, the rage was like a boulder on my chest–“How dare he! How dare he!” was my cognitive symphony for the better part of every day. I would try to take a deep breath, but the boulder prevented it.

              So how long does it last may be best answered by someone who didn’t (willingly) continue to find out new information about their marriage–I *needed* that information to heal by figuring out what had actually happened in my marriage, even though it prolonged the anger.

            • Capricorn, anger is a sign of progress – you’re losing the rose-coloured glasses and are realising how much crap you put up with years. I struggled with it for months, it came on within weeks of D-day and could get quite overwhelming. I ended up ripping up our wedding album and smashing a few of his leftover things. Exercise really helped burn it off, and if I was at home with the kids I pictured ex and OW’s faces on the punching bag and gave them a few thumps. I can smile now when I look back and remember jogging around the neighbourhood and chanting aloud “cheating bastard” or similar when I thought I was alone, and needed to vent. A plumber suddenly appeared from behind a truck and looked quite scared of me!

            • I still have waves. Not as many at once and not as frequently. They come because so many other bullshit pieces still are falling into place like a sick game of Tetris.

              So, I’m not at MEH but I accept this shitty person did all of those crimes against me and my kids.

      • This. Ex was so into kibbles that he would take us all out to dinner and spend the entire hour talking to waitstaff, manager, cook, acquaintances (small town), everybody except for us. My kids, now grown, remember this well.

        • My husband is very nice to waitstaff, service people, etc., etc. He is hell bent on keeping his “nice laid-back good guy” image management going at all cost!

          He leaves being a jerk for behind closed doors. When we were dating, I never would have thought he was anything but a kind, considerate person. It’s like Chump Lady’s cartoon with the shark taking off his “pleasant man” mask.

          • Traitor is the same. Except he is a closet racist and used to have a go at call centre people who rang from Asia and had a strong accent.
            But IRL, sweet as pie, especially adorable to little old ladies. I looked at him and thought a man so gentle and helpful couldn’t really be the selfish, destructive arsehole I saw more and more of at home.

  • Sassy, please tell me that jerk wasn’t one of your instructors. College is enough of a hunting ground for predators without throwing in that imbalance of power.

    In any event, you have the information you need to avoid disordered assholes going forward. You’ve experienced the damage they do and the way they shift blame away from themselves. Bad luck doesn’t cause people to lie. It doesn’t cause them to cheat either. The dude has serious financial problems at 26 years of age? He’s just getting started. Getting rid of him and taking care of yourself was the right thing to do. Staying rid of him is important too. Disordered people have a sneaky way of circling back around for seconds if their victim can still be of use to them. Good luck to you.

  • Bad vs flawed has tripped me up many a time and, at times, kept me stuck. I need to “understand” to put it behind me.

    Y’know what? I didn’t need to understand. I’m not some diviner of souls who can determine a person’s goodness. And the older I get, it seems there’s a whole multi-dimensional matrix of “good” and “bad.” I’m reading a novel right now (“The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult) featuring a ninety year old character who was previously a Nazi guard at a concentration camp. However, in the past sixty years, he’s dedicated all of his time to being the most upstanding person in the community. Everybody LOVES him! — Just an example of how complicated it all gets. And I, for one, grew weary of cycling around and around the same old facts and evidence to try to determine how I should feel about XH.

    As someone here mentioned, yes, the fact that other people remain friends with XH and justify his behavior really confused me. Maybe they’re right and I’m wrong — he’s not bad, and I’m giving him an unfair label? — I ran around and around and around this track.

    What it finally boiled down to was, essentially, that old joke:
    Doctor: “Does it hurt when you do this?”
    Patient: “Yes.”
    Doctor: “Then don’t do that.”

    Don’t do that.
    Don’t stay with someone who makes you hurt.
    Don’t stay with friends who make you doubt your self-worth.
    Don’t waste your time trying to sort out a label to put on the whole situation.

    I’m not wise enough to figure out who XH is, or even sometimes who *I* am. But I am wise enough to make a better choice for myself to eliminate someone who hurts me. Is he bad or simply flawed? Who cares.
    (Note: This is at two-plus years since Dday. Sometimes it just takes time.)

    • I spent years chasing this one around. Is she a narcissist? Is she a psychopath? Is she a sociopath? Is she just a good person who makes incredibly bad decisions? Is she this? Is she that? Finally, I threw all the psychobabble aside and made my own determinative unsophisticated analysis just to give me peace. My determination – she is an asshole, at least to me. Put whatever label you want to on it, she is still an asshole, at least to me. I really do not need to go any further than that.

      She tried a hoover by proxy through a mutual friend a few years after I had moved on. I quietly refused it, which of course, everyone magically came to know about. Those same people who knew us both before and after we became a couple were under the impression that we made the greatest couple ever. Now they look at me and cannot figure out how I could be so heartless as to leave her and cut her out of my life forever. Of course, they do not know about the cheating, lying, gaslighting, std transmission, etc., and would not believe me if I tried to explain. Therefore, my only response to their questioning me is “Fuck you if you cannot accept my choices. Get out of my life along with her.” I don’t need to explain or rationalize my actions to anyone.

      It has not won me any popularity contests because it plays right into her smear campaign, but I just don’t care. I am finally at peace with myself. I would take any one of the fine men or women I have come to know a little about here at Chump Nation over these people any day.

      • Me, too. My only explanation to those who ask is: “I cannot be friends with anyone who can be friends with him.” I do not justify beyond that. I mean, XH made HIS choices and no one seemed to question them. Why should I have to justify MY choices? They’re my boundaries, whether they are “legitimate” or not.

        One of our Switzerland friends — who was always a busybody & gossip — I’m sure thinks I’m a terrible person for having cut her, her husband and XH completely out of my life. But then I think they’re pretty terrible for not having been better friends to me — all three of them, really. It’s my choice. Too bad if they don’t agree or understand.

        • That one is classic NWBiblio. Most of the time, the person says “you can’t tell me who to be friends with”. Funny how people who fuck with you on this can’t seem to wrap their heads around YOUR boundaries. These are confused people. I had one person who really got upset with me over this and just could not understand I wasn’t crossing any of her boundaries, I was cutting her the fuck out of my life because she crossed mine. Jedi Hugs!

        • Busy-bodies and gossips are terrible boors anyway. They bring you down just to be around them. Aren’t you glad to get her out of your life?

          Compare being with Ms. Busy-Body Gossip to being around some children. Do you feel the difference? There’s a certain purity and healing from being around children, that is quite different from the soul-clouding or being around a gossip.

    • Capricorn’a message from yesterday applies here:
      Fuck the why.
      It doesn’t matter why. Only that it/he/she is.

        • NW
          Loved that. Loved all of it. Just how I work (only with less follow through!!)

          I’m at the stage of wishing I had never met him. I love the boys we have but honestly if I could go back and if I saw him I would kick him in the nuts and run. I feel fooled and taken and humiliated. So I wish I had never met him.

        • Thank you NWBiblio! 🙂

          I am constantly amazed at how much our x’s and stbx’s are all alike…and it appears that we are all alot alike also, in many ways… I too had to research it to try to understand wtf just happened? did that really just happen? am I losing my mind?…and then I found Chump Lady and Chump Nation and the lights came on in my brain and my heart finally stopped its relentless panic pounding…suddenly I could breathe again! I’ve never had such an amazing ah ha moment in my life up to that point! Everyday after discovering CL and CN I had those moments more and more till, YES!, just like you…it just no longer mattered…and I got on the road to meh and my better life! 🙂

          Thank you! All of you!
          Jeep 🙂

      • Yep – why? gets you nowhere. What I have come to formulate in answer to those who would say, move on, you will forgive in time, feelings will change etc etc – no, I can honestly say, I do not know this person, so trying to understand, forgive or communicate with him is like he was another stranger to you. When that proverbial mask slips, all the behaviour and your feelings make sense at once, but who would have known that people operate like that!? Yes you put up with bad behaviour in the relationship all these years – but how could you ever have known that it was intentional!! You always come up with a reasonable excuse (spackling) and justify that they really do love you (love bomb period) and constantly talk about your plans together (future fake) – not to mention all convincing lies that held it all together….

  • Sassy gives me hope!

    I worry about young women trying to navigate in this world, and I know that even though I was intelligent, articulate, educated and employed it took me years and years to finally free myself. I only wish I had been as smart and strong as Sassy when I was her age. Bravo!

    I feel that if she has the strength to see the big picture and leave this waste of space in her past, she will soon figure out that she doesn’t have to listen to other people’s bad advice and she doesn’t have to unravel the problems of others to decide if she wants to associate with them, or not. CL hit the nail on the head — set your own boundaries — don’t let others violate those boundaries. It doesn’t matter why, or if they are completely bad or good (who is?). It only matters if they are a good person for you to associate with, or not? Do they respect and honor you, or not?

  • Oh Sassy…

    How much time have I lost trying to untangle Mr. Sparkles sociopathological behaviors? Good Lord.

    Even now, two years after D-day #4, I have to make a mental effort to turn off that channel in my mind. You know the one… it plays a constant loop of “he’s better now for the OW”… “he’s become a different man in relationship with Woman With Dogs”… “he’s going for walks and engaging with the kids”….

    And then I remember what he did to ME and how he blew up OUR FAMILY. That Guy? Yeah, he’s what he did to me:

    – brought back genital crabs from a vacation to Mexico
    – stopped participating in family vacations and trips
    – posted personal ads on AFF looking for women/couples/groups
    – responded to Craigslist ads looking for couples and calling himself a Bi MWM
    – had multiple online personal ad accounts on sites you wouldn’t even know existed
    – fought me tooth and nail on the divorce
    – called me a bitch for making him get his shit out of my house after the divorce
    – he went to a hotel room to meet a hooker
    – he went to a hotel room on a business trip with a woman who “picked him up” in the bar
    – he put my health at risk a hundred times
    – he walked out on me and our son and broke up our family for the OW
    And I need to print that list out – and it is the short version – because it is easy to fall under the spell of “Yeah, but”… “Or, maybe now”…. because I don’t live there. The man who did all those things was my husband and the father of my child. And he was evil.

    Will he change, 99% likelihood no. Will he parasitically destroy the next woman, and the one after her, and the one after her, 99% likelihood yes. But, bottom line, who cares.

    He and I don’t share the same values. I value honesty, integrity, empathy, family, commitment, and honor. He doesn’t. He can move on to another woman easily because he has no values – he’s shallow.

    I expect I will be alone a lot longer this next time around because my picker is fixed. And, that is ok with me.

  • I continue to wonder what people view as the threshold for being a bad person or having bad character. My ex said “I’m not an asshole, I’m just confused!” through tears. Well my dear, if abandoning your child and unemployed wife and leaving them homeless mere weeks after relocating across the country to be with you DOESN’T make one an asshole, what does? I’d ask the same question in this case…if exhibiting poor character isn’t evidence of poor character, than what is?

    • My X also used to go on about how he’s not a bad person–it’s part of the whole sad sausage routine and it sounds like Sassy’s friends are buying it hook, line, and sinker. Oh poor me, I just did some bad things because I was under stress, but that doesn’t make me a bad person, it’s not fair to call me bad . . . wah! I’m thinking there might be some triangulation going on here, too, between the X and Sassy’s friends, including the OW.

      Sassy, I have to say I am in awe of how emotionally intelligent and strong you are at such a young age. I spent four years with a narcissistic boyfriend when I was in my late teens/early twenties and finally moved on, only to meet X and spend the next 25 years as an emotionally abused chump. I’d like to think that if there had been as much awareness of narcissism then as there is now I might have recognized the signs, but even once I did, it still took me years to get out. You are way ahead of the curve in mightiness, take that ball and run with it! Far away from X and friends who don’t respect your very astute perceptions of your own experience with him.

    • Free, I think that we forget that people are supposed to have character and not just run around nilly willy talking about how “it just happened”, “I was stressed” nonsense.
      Even if it was a one-night stand, the cheater had to give himself/herself PERMISSION to cheat on their SO. Permission to be set free from whatever tiny bit of character that they had.
      For example, the x told me a couple of times that he could not go out with his friends to the bar because he “couldn’t trust himself”. Notice he could not, not that he didn’t want to. So about 8 months after he left me, we meet up at a bar, I was there with my friend and he got there with his friend. Very uncomfortable, but they sat in a booth far from us. There were women there that he could have picked up or maybe even the barmaids, but he didn’t do that, because he knew I was watching him. I thought to myself, he has that kind of “control”, but he CHOSE not to have that kind of “control” when he groomed schmoopie from work and left me for her. He gave himself “permission” to be evil to me. I think that you can have a one-night stand, but the underlying evil there is that the cheater gives himself/herself “permission” to screw you over, to screw over their SO for whatever flimsy reason they can come up with, stress, drunkeness, they came on to them, it was just a mistake, it was only one time, being mad at their SO. The EXCUSES are legion, and that is all they are excuses to show you their bad character. Are they “flawed”, yes they are, but more important than that they are evil, with no character,no integrity, no loyalty, no compassion for their SO (at the very least).

  • My abusive, cheating STBX who filed for divorce nearly ran me over in his car. Sad thing is that I merely asked him where the party to which he was driving our kids was. I will never be sure whether he tried to run me over (sociopath) or he was just pretending (‘just flawed human being’)–doesn’t matter. Although intents may differ, if a driver kills someone the result is the same–victim is dead. All I care about in terms of my STBX is protecting my family from him. I think that the most important thing for Sassy is to emotionally protect herself.

    • My God, that’s horrible RSW, just frightening. My X almost ran over a pedestrian in a crosswalk during an incident of road rage provoked by me saying, “Watch that woman there” in case he didn’t see her–instead he hit the gas to send her (and me) a lesson, then missed the timing on hitting the brake, coming within inches of hitting her.

      Not to hijack the thread, but I’m guessing road rage is an experience many of us have had with our disordered partners (for a while he took to launching impotent attempts at burning rubber on his way out of my driveway, but he never could get the right traction so he gave up on it).

      • Road rage, yes… really really bad at times. Almost ran down the Governor of Nevada once. That would have been hard to explain.

        • Unicorn, I reserve judgment on this act until I know which governor of our fair state was in the crosshairs. I might have tried for one or two of them myself! ?

      • I am the daughter of a Narc Cheater mother and a Chump father.

        My mother has CrAzY road rage! She gets enraged and curses up a storm even for the most trivial things like the traffic light turning red.

        She has been doing this as long as I can remember.

        When my younger brother was in elementary school, he started calling the parking lot of a shopping center she frequently shopped at “Cocksucker lane.” Her learned that word directly from her, not the rest of us kids!

    • RSW, my brother’s wife ran him over with a small pickup. He shows up to my house and I ask him, “did she get mad at you, throw out your clothes and run them over with her car?” he says to me no she ran me over, he still had the tire tracks on his pants!!!! He was an alcoholic, he was completely drunk when he got to my house and I knew that he probably would never leave her, no matter what she did to him. I tell him, she is a bad person, what I wanted to say was that she was evil, but I thought bad would be good enough. He flipped out at me, while he is standing there with tire marks on his clothes and had actually been run over. What I am trying to get at is that you are dealing with evil, you need to protect yourself and you need to do it now.
      He wasn’t lying when he said she ran him over, their neighbors called the police and their account of the incident got her a trial.
      Bad character, maybe flawed on my brother’s wife’s part, no….. just plain evil. It’s out there and there are people that are that f*ed up.
      She got away with it too.

      He died last June, just shy of his 45th birthday from alcoholism and being raised by narc parent (mom) and enabler (dad). He thought that the only thing that he was worth, was to be abused. Are there evil people out there, hell yeah, and they are not just “flawed” they are dangerous.

      • Sorry for your loss, flutterby.

        Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful. And it took your brother too soon. My condolences.

      • flutterby…my heart goes out to you.

        My little brother, same as yours, my heart breaks over and over for him…beaten and abused by our violent alcoholic father, more than likely a narcissist, and again by his only wife, certainly a narcissist. My brother died just shy of his 50th birthday, cancer. My brother started drinking too, very young…breaks my heart. We all suffered at our father’s hand and mouth…Dad’s still with us…alcohol related dementia stopped him in his tracks. I had to put him in the nursing home 8 years ago, and there he is. Mom and little brother both deceased, yet he survives. …thinks he is in a 5 star hotel with hookers…smh.

        My sister sent me a screen shot of said narc wife’s page showing our nephew (one of 3 sons my brother had with that soul sucking witch). Pictures of him and his girlfriend 🙂 …then I noticed that witch’s name…remarried to some poor sap…yet, she’s hyphenated her name! She just arbitrarily decided to now AGAIN use our name!!! GRRRRR! …she better hope I don’t meet her somewhere… She was the final straw that broke my brother…my heart weeps.

        (((((((flutterby))))))) (((((((our brothers)))))))

  • “You had a bad semester — whose life did you ruin?”

    Ironically, most people will say, well that’s on you……. the same people who will give your ex a get out of jail free card.

    • This really resonates with me today. These are the consequences of being a chump. I was programmed to believe everything is my fault. For instance, my narc father drove his new car into two feet of water during a flash flood and PRESTO! I was guilty of not telling him he needed to pick up his dry-cleaning earlier in the day before the severe storms swept through.

      But whenever I started to rationalize my own mistakes (real and imagined) he always called, “Bullshit!” on me. I learned it was just easier to admit guilt, shut up, and accept whatever consequences he doled-out; being a narcissist it was typically a 15 minute rage followed by a couple days of silent disappointment treatment.

      Flash forward 40 years later and I still felt immense guilt for anything that happened to anyone. My initial thoughts jumped right to exploring what I could have done to prevent the issue; what did I do to promote, create, or allow the situation/issue/problem?

      I’m continually having to deprogram myself from those thoughts. It’s hard because of the situation Just Around describes; quickly rationalize and excuse the cheater’s innocent little mistake so we can spend the time exploring the depths of my inadequacies to figure out what I did to cause my wife to cheat, and then implement a five-year plan to revisit and revise my behaviors if my cheating wife begins to feel any personal discomfort. STOP IT!

      Tracy’s absolutely spot on when she says, “Having boundaries means enforcing consequences. That’s not “demonizing” someone. Not accepting crap excuses for bad behavior is not demonizing someone either.” I’ve stopped giving a shit whenever someone tries to make me feel guilty for enforcing my boundaries (Fuck you. Next.)

      • “Flash forward 40 years later and I still felt immense guilt for anything that happened to anyone. ”

        yeah, I used to think that everyone played fair…….. that comes from my parents calling me crazy and paranoid when I made alternative assumptions about people’s behaviors…..especially as it affected me.

        So of ocurse, when things did not go right, I blamed myself. i don’t anymore. When things don’t go well, I simply move on.

  • I was also a 21 year old married to a serial cheater who got caught trying to fuck my gay sister (his excuse: “you’re never available for me.”) I had a baby. I was in school full time and working a minimum wage job. Asshole! I told him to get his shit out, divorced him. I was mighty! I applied for and got a scholarship to law school. He disappeared. Never participated in any meaningful way in raising our daughter. She is an amazing person.

    However, when she was 3 I met STBX who love bombed me. I spackled his cruelty, his aggressive hostility, his horrible family, his disconnection emotionally. He was the smartest one in my law school class. I felt grateful he seemed to want (odd, single mother, divorced) me. Even though I was also at the top of my class, working at a law firm and going to school, parenting a preschooler solo 24/7, gorgeous on the outside, host of friends. Deep down I felt no one ever would love and accept me and I felt grateful he showed me any interest (narc cheater dad died violently when I was a kid, mom is a narc alcoholic who abused and neglected me and abandoned me — FOO, anyone?)

    Fast forward 25 years. I cannot even begin to see the tip of the iceberg of emotional abuse and neglect I suffered at STBX’s hands. I was too busy practicing law, raising 4 kids, doing every volunteer job possible, running a household and several rental houses. I excused his disconnect and occasional cruelty because we’d been married so long, we have 4 kids, he made a lot of money, which made me feel secure (being a homeless teenager with food insecurity left big scars). But, that part is irrational because I also earn a lot of money (still feel insecure financially though — those FOO scars again).

    After Dday #10 (???!!!) in mid 2015 I finally had enough and told him he had one hour to get his shit out. He left for OW (much younger girl who has dollar signs in her eyes). He’s already cheating on her. Kids have been devastated, suicidal, drug addicted, dropped out of school, tons of therapy and they are beginning to function again, back in school, working, not getting arrested . . .

    I went to six months of intensive PTSD recovery therapy. Therapist said that she’d never seen anyone with as many big Traumas as I’ve suffered in life function so well. And yet, I went from being mighty when I was 21 into the arms of another covert narc abuser. I stayed with STBX abuser for 25 years! I had 3 kids with him!

    Today I’m building a wonderful new life. But, there are bumps in this road. Filed for divorce one year ago. Divorce has been a bloody battle. Of course. Trial set to begin in a few weeks. I was doing really well at NC but the last two days have fallen off the NC wagon and am feeling cuckoo. I KNOW the only path to serenity is NC! Found myself researching early onset dementia personality changes that cause infidelity. Found support for this. But, who cares? He sucks! I know that! MIL has early onset dementia and a profound personality change at age 50 also. Then I shared that information with STBX. Ugh! Why why why???? I wasted hours last night going down that rabbit hole. Couldn’t sleep. Feel emotionally hung over today.

    I’m committing to myself to go back to NC right now. Let my lawyer deal with him. No need whatsoever for me to have anything to do with him (I even hire babysitters to handle the 2x week visitation transfers so I don’t have to see him).

    Sister and fellow chumpies, this shit is HARD. I’m so imperfect. I have so far to go to get to where I want to be: someone who demands being treated well in a relationship. Someone who immediately recognizes deal breakers, does not spackle, and isn’t afraid to end the relationship — I”m including family relationships, friendships with women, and lovers. All of it. I know you’ll be here to help me.

    • MotherChumper, you are a force of nature, and you will make it. If you can stuff all that into your life and deal with a dyed-in-the-wool asshole, you will kick ass once you are rid of him. I am sure the divorce will make things so much easier/better for you and life will not be able to contain your mightiness.

    • I went from one narc to another too. First was in college – an overt, surly man child with a very messed up childhood. Once I met his parents (dad and his stepmom) I saw what my future would be with him and broke it off. Narc #2/STBX was covert – immature but acted like a good guy. I know now that Narc 2 watched my relationship with Narc 1 and figured out the best ways to manipulate me. He presented himself as the opposite of Narc 1: happy go lucky, all American, family oriented. It was a long con and I fell for it. I think I spent so much time telling myself that he was unlike Narc 1, so he had to be Mr. Right. Chump me didn’t know there were so many Mr. Wrongs out there!
      Sending hugs MC99. ❤

      • Same here, louisvilleflower! Narc #1 was abusive and controlling. Narc #2 knew all of this because he was friends with friends in my circle and vice versa. So he knew why I broke it off with N1 and used that.

        I did the same thing. I was very smug and proud of myself that I didn’t end up with someone like N1 and didn’t see N2 was playing me.

          • My X did the same thing, listened to all of my stories about the emotional abuse I endured with Narc #1 and then set out to make himself appear to be the exact opposite–loyal, stable, and devoted. Over the years he used his false claim to those traits to distract me from the slow but steady devalue and discard (“How DARE you even suggest I would ever cheat, I am the most devoted husband on the planet, maybe too much because you are absolutely out of line and the real problem here is that you are . . .” We all know how that conversation ends).

            • Same. Exact. Story. As a matter of fact, he began to lovebomb me the day I found out my super sparkly narc cheater #1 had gotten married. I thought he was SO different, and I was so fortunate to find true love, but the truth was it was perfect timing for me to be preyed upon and taken advantage of.

    • “I know you’ll be here to help me.” You got that one right!! I, like you, became a lawyer all those years ago. Did you happen to notice that there were many individuals in law school that had serious personal issues? I always thought that would form the basis for an interesting psychological study. It does not bode well for our chosen profession.

      Yes, you are imperfect. We all are. That is what makes us human and defines who we are. You should embrace that. You sound pretty damned spectacular to me. My suspicion is you are one of the few people who cannot see that, just like the rest of us are with ourselves.

      You already know that you need to get back on the NC wagon. Don’t fall off this time. This asshole is not worth it. That is part of what makes this shit hard. He will hoover, and you can expect it to be sophisticated in its execution, given that you are dealing with a lawyer. You can also expect it to be repeated long into the future. Don’t you dare fall for it. You are better than him, and don’t let him or anyone else convince you otherwise.

      When you finally get on the other side of this, and you will, you are going to face some unique challenges just like I did. How does one know if someone is truly interest in them and not just in the financial benefits that come along with them? That one was difficult for me. When I knew, I knew. You will too. There really are a lot of good people out there, but you will be attractive to bad people too. Just go slow and be careful. You will have that luxury, and you will know when it is right.

      You are going to get through this, MotherChumper99. You are doing everything right. Turn to Chump Nation for support as needed. It is so helpful. Having been where you are, I can promise you, it is so much better on the other side.

    • MC99

      I hear you. Psychopath mom, narc dad, first boyfriend bipolar (a doozie) now a chump after 21 year marriage. Ha!

      Fuck them. Fuck them all. They will not get to decide who we are or who we become. We are not dead yet and we should remember that for us time is oh so precious as we have wasted sooo much of it on fuckers. But now we know. We know. We are all imperfect but we kept trying to love and be loved. Not such a sin. All we can do is live very well every single day, love ourselves and realise all the time that if we do that we are having the best revenge. Times a wastin…..

    • Good god, MotherChumper,

      Your post hit me like a ton of bricks. Divorcing a cheater lawyer spouse is a special kind of hell. I vow to survive and report back in. I fell off the NC wagon over Christmas in hopes of speeding the proceedings. It’s helped a bit, but not worth the cost to my sanity.

  • Sassy, your “old classmate/OW/new friend” is the chumpiest of chumps. You should stop discussing it with her and allowing her to confuse you. She’s too confused herself to make heads or tails. And don’t bother trying to get through to her. She sounds like a friend you don’t need right now for all sorts of reason but mainly because she slows your healing. You’re young and have all kinds of advantage in this game. Bring your upgraded picker on your next date and when making new friends.

  • It’s all so complicated. A friend of mine, had to get herself into a place where she didn’t think her ex-cheating-pos was evil. She did it for ‘the kids’. He’s always been a decent dad (though, I disagree that a decent dad would expose his children’s mothers to STDs that could kill her). So she had to learn to separate him from his acts.

    I’ve had people tell me ‘don’t hate him or that’ll eat you up inside!’ Nah. I think I can hate him and still let him go and not obsess about that hate. I don’t think whether he’s a bad person in general and in everything that he does is relevant to how I feel about what he did to me.

    Sassy, I think OW’s perception is skewed. I think her, and a lot of other people who talk like her, are putting their own personal issues into your situation.

    • Yes! There are people out there that deserve to be hated. It doesn’t mean you have to push pins into their voodoo doll every day.
      It means you don’t have to beat yourself up about feeling hate towards someone who harmed you.

  • Sassy,
    Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted, but since you are so young and in the same position I was when I began dating more than 20 years ago, I thought it appropriate to share with you some of my learnings and regrets over many years of dating. First of all, I’ve been cheated on by every single guy I’ve ever dated. I was naïve and always took people at face value and gave the benefit of the doubt. Some of it was my growing up with a narcissistic stepfather and some of it was because I could never fathom treating someone with disrespect, so I never thought that those in my circle could do it without batting an eyelash.

    I will tell you why you are so fortunate… The internet was nothing what it is today and the information out there is endless. Without the internet, I would not have known anything about Narcissism or Chumplady.com… I *never* had the support network that I do now because of sites like this one. Let’s just say that Narcissists/sociopaths, etc have had their way since the beginning of time. Now, because of the information available at our fingertips, many of us who have been repeatedly duped by these people talk and share and we know to steer clear of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    That is exactly what your ex-bf is. He IS the big, bad wolf or whatever verb you care to use to describe him. Like everyone has said here is… it doesn’t matter what he is because there are PLENTY more out there like him waiting to pounce on innocent, unsuspecting victims like yourself. Also, it doesn’t matter because NOW YOU KNOW. WATCH OUT. A couple of rules to live by during your travels…(Other chumps have provided many, mine are more cautionary) Get ready, it’s lengthy… Sorry in advance…

    *You cannot trust until trust is built ever. Once your trust is broken, it will never come back. Just think Bernie Madoff, Lance Armstrong, Kenneth Lay. (If you don’t know, get googling) 🙂

    *Don’t be afraid to validate stories. – Let me explain… It does not mean become a paranoid stalker. 🙂 It means do some fact checking of your own without letting anyone know. That means, tell Chump Nation. I would be weary about telling others, because as you are starting to find out, not everyone feels the same way you do about being cheated on and won’t be able to support you and tell you that you are not crazy and have every right to double-check if this person is worthy of your trust. Also, you are starting to find that people you think are your friends are really not. They can hurt you to by opening their mouths and spreading your business out there, among other things. I’m not telling you how you should validate a story, but if you read enough on this site, you can figure out many ways of validating. If I were you, I would have done that with every person I met and believe me, I will use those same tools each and every time. Protect yourself.

    *When you find out with 100% certainty (meaning they can’t wiggle their way out of it because you already know the ugly truth) the person you are considering trusting is a fraud, you have many options. My suggestion is to decide if you will confront the person. Let me explain this: Find ways to get all of your anger out before you make a decision to confront someone and decide how will it benefit you to do so. Many times, there is no benefit to confrontation. Sometimes you do have the option to immediately cut off contact with no explanation or very little explanation. You decide how much you want to tell them you know, based on your methods of gathering intel… Also, your safety, potential for them to wreak havoc in another area of your life, etc.

    *When you find out the truth, never reveal how you found out. This just goes in their little handbook for mistakes they won’t make next time around. (think serial killer perfecting his craft every time he commits a crime. we don’t want to help them in any way whatsoever) Also, if someone told you, then consider them a confidential informant. It puts them in danger or they regret telling you, if you tell.

    *Don’t bother with the don’t cheat on me speech bulls–t. It doesn’t matter to a-holes. Done that with every one of them and they still cheat. Instead, ask them some questions about themselves/situations that reveal if they are narcissistic. I would recommend reading this site or other sites on narcissism for questions that will reveal character. (Just an interesting note… Some cheaters will never admit to cheating. If you just happen to run across an old fling, don’t be afraid to ask how things went. If a cheater admits to previous infidelity in another relationship, RED FLAG. 1. She isn’t crazy, 2. if he was unhappy in a relationship, the healthy, honorable thing to do is to be honest with the person and end the relationship and 3. it wasn’t just a mistake. The definition of a mistake is not a decision to lie, deceive, abuse, etc. Also, if she IS crazy, just LEAVE. No need to cheat. There is NO EXCUSE for cheating, so if he did it to her, he will do it to you. And by the way, they are never just one night stands. Usually, they will exchange info and keep in touch. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

    *Keep your tough boundaries. Once people try to trample over them and dip their toes over the line, it won’t stop. Why? They look for someone with a weak backbone who doesn’t stand by their words. I was in the military so I think of it in terms of battle. You do everything to reinforce your position. Don’t fall back and let the enemy trample you.

    YOU ARE MIGHTY. Very proud of you for leaving, young lady. Best of luck to you! Please come back here and visit us.

  • In line with the many insightful posts above, I’ll contribute that this topic re: Flawed vs. Bad Person (w/ zero character) gets back to the excellent Compartmentalization discussions on a recent CL post.
    Can you deliberately lie & lie & lie, & secretly & deliberately blow up your wife & children’s lives for years – just because you feel entitled to do that – & still be “a flawed, but essentially good person?”
    Nope. No.
    No matter how someone slices & rationalizes that behavior, & no matter how someone might *compartmentalize* all year long, that behavior requires bottomless deliberate cruelty combined with zero character or integrity.

    So I don’t need to be angry indefinitely that my ex was a empty, lying user, but when I accept & we collectively accept on CN (no need to forgive, just to accept), we need to quetly reject excuse after excuse for all that astonishingly awful & selfish & hurtful behavior – and don’t doubt ourselves. Don’t doubt your hard-won insight.

  • News flash, is that bad people exist. Like rotten, to the core, crappy people walk the face of this earth wearing masks of good people. And spackling is a society problem. All sorts of people will say, wow, you shouldn’t hate, you shouldn’t judge, blah blah, but I really think that’s a crappy thing to say to someone who’s going through leaving a cheater. The correct, supportive response is “yeah, he’s a dick! Now let me cook you dinner, or lets go for a hike” etc. Maybe one day I’ll get to that “he was a flawed human being” place but in order to leave for MY own good, I do need to think of him as a bad person. Also, I’m not God, I’m very very human, and when someone really hurts me and violates my trust over and over, I tend to think they’re an asshole.

    The problem with us chumps is that we get infected with that way of thinking. Our chumpy brains started jumping down the rabbit hole of “it’s not him! (or her). It’s me! I’m harsh and judgemental! I can fix this with just more compassion and generosity! Maybe I was wrong for leaving!” It plants the self-doubt in our heads. This whole leaving a cheater thing usually results in a full-life overhaul. I dropped or distanced myself from anyone who wasn’t firmly in my corner, and I don’t regret doing that. I needed it for me, for my sanity, for my emotional health. Turned out I was spackling more relationships than one.

    Fact is, your justified anger and hurt will scare some people, Sassy. They won’t want to face what it evokes in them. Don’t let this be your problem. You’re mighty. Trust yourself.

    • See? What if we see that infidelity is a social issue, like racism is. Would we say that racism is not evil? Don’t judge the racist? You don’t know what kind of childhood he had? He’s really a good person, in a lot of ways.

  • Can I ask a chump question, that I really don’t know the answer to. DDAYS. What constitutes a DDay? I have so many I really don’t even know how many. I used to think it was the I want a divorce or ILYBNILWY speech. Or the caught cheating moment. Or the caught lying about the cheating moment. Or the lying about the lying about the cheating moment. Or the…
    I was speaking to someone who asked me about DDAY, and all I could answer was which one? I then said run the fuck away as fast as fucking possible.

    • Discovery days. Before I found Chump Lady, my friend named them crapiversaries. Days that changed you forever. Days you can’t forget even if you wanted to – the memories are so vivid.
      Mine were: when my STBX and I were out on “a date” at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and, after the waitress brought our drinks, STBX said “I am not happy.” When I asked for clarification, he said “in our marriage.” When I asked if there was someone else, he told me he’d met his soulmate. 3 months of marriage counseling and promises later, I checked his phone and found out that he was in a full blown affair – DDay 2. I couldn’t eat Vietnamese food for years (that was “mean” of me btw, because STBX loved that place…). I had a total of 4 before I was DONE.

      • How about songs on the radio, Louisvilleflower? huge triggers for me… Songs are the crapiversaries (Man do I love that term!) that never stop giving!

        • Yes! I was in a used book/movie/music store yesterday. They were playing a Counting Crows album that my STBX loves. I walked up to the counter and said “if I buy that cd right now will you stop playing it?” Cashier asked “why?” I said “my ex loved that album, so I hate it. I would like to break it.” She laughed and said “save your money – I will change the disc.”
          ?

      • Louisvilleflower

        Oh. I thought ddays were discovery on the affair. So discovering a porn habit, a dating site addiction, would count as more ddays. Ohhhh. I have like five then, not 3, no six! Fucking hell. I thought I was mad upthread. I fucking nuclear now. ?

    • From my perspective, DDays are moments of truth discovered by the chump, when shit comes to light. Whether it’s catching them redhanded, to looking at their cell phone, to their open email or Facebook page, to finding another woman’s socks in the laundry or hair in the bathroom. Their response is another thing entirely. It’s when we finally have to face the facts; whether we spackle over them or the cheater gaslights or blameshifts in response is just mindfuckery.

      • K

        By that estimate I’m about upto 10. Crikey. I’m so angry I feel numb. Doesn’t change anything but actually there was so much more than just the three OW I know about.
        Did I ever tell the story of how he ‘bumped into’ some other girl I was suspicious of IN HONG KONG. Seriously? Just accidentally bumped into the one person you said I didn’t need to worry about from five years ago. Oh I’m just going to go to bed now. Wake me up when I’m 90.

    • +1 DunChumpin! LOL I laughed because I’ve had multiple DDays in multiple ways. When someone lies/cheats and you find out… DDay. What happens from there doesn’t matter what you call it!

      • I’m reading everyone’s responses and I’m laughing too. Sorry. Yeah it’s so fucked up ain’t it?
        The moral to you kids just coming here for the first few times-everyday with these people is a d day. They just keep ratcheting the fuckedupness level up so that what was d day 1 becomes common place, something worse replaces it for d day 2, rinse repeat.

  • Facts are “He was an emotionally abuse cheater”. That means he was dishonest, deceitful, untrustworthy, unreliable, a liar, sneaky, petty, nasty, cowardly, mean and contemptible. A coward.

    So who cares if he holds the door open for an elderly person every now and again? He didn’t behave well towards YOU Sassy.

    You should be having sassy, sparkling conversations with people who are worthy of you. There is often not enough time on this earth to be with those we dearly love and love us. Why are you wasting a minute on a debate of how bad is bad? Isn’t that he was terrible to you “good enough”?

  • Sassy,

    I am a 51 year old woman. I was recounting a 2 year relationship to my husband from age 19 to 21, trying to put our daughter’s experience into perspective. Like you, I took a lot of emotional abuse. At 5’7″, I was down to 93 lbs. The analogy that came up was that I was dating a wiener dog, thinking he was a German Shepherd pup. But the German Shepherd never emerged. I was stuck in being nonjudgmental and believing in his potential but time told me he was never going to be what I thought he could be. The underlying value is that I would never reach my own potential with him. He didn’t support me, build me, or help me be my best me.

    I don’t need to demonize him. I’m sure I did after the fact, but he’s irrelevant at this point. What was relevant was what I learned. It clarified the traits I wanted in a husband. It clarified the kind of person I wanted to be. It educated me that if I’m justifying niggling feelings about someone I’m dating, something is wrong. I sacrificed too much of myself through that relationship. I took inventory and made some laws for myself. They were immovable and I wouldn’t give an inch. I had a physical threshold that Was very strict. Nobody got past first base. It cost some relationships. That also told me what my value was to them. Education was really important to me. I wanted to be the person I would have married so I worked to be the kind of person I valued. I finished graduate school. I strengthened myself spiritually. I surrounded myself with friends with similar values. I married at 26 to a man who had similar aspirations and values.

    Obviously, my story is not perfect because I’m here. My husband had an emotional affair that caused me a great deal of pain that I’m still dealing with. That said, I believe I did the best I could. I made the changes I did because of that bad relationship when I was younger. Nobody is perfect yet you can trust your gut. It tells you something doesn’t add up. Listen to it. I’m still with my husband but when we were dating he had one issue that niggled my gut. When we were married, THAT is what blew up our marriage. CL says to not try to unravel their FOO issues. Loosely speaking, that was his Achilles heel.

    My point is, though, make this experience a learning one. It won’t be a positive story. I look back on that young woman and wonder who she was. Insecure and lonely. Listening to a loser. Your ex made poor financial choices that may or may not have been his fault. How he treated you when things were not going his way speaks volumes.

    So glad you got out. Learn and move on.

  • Great advantage, indeed.
    I met my demon at 23, I chose him to be my first. I thought I was mature enough, that I was making the right choice. Wrong! I saw the Dark side and I could not make any sense of it. Lucky me he dumped me! and I stopped thinking about that mess. For the next 10 years I lived not thinking about that, having convinced myself that I could not understand.
    But when depression hit, I did think about that mess. I started reading and I learned that there are such …. I can’t call them people, rather sub-humans. There are such creatures. Predators. And the best way to protect ourselves is to heal our psychic wounds. Wounds caused by toxic parents, who rip us apart and make us feel unworthy.
    Now I’m a mother myself and I’m trying to raise a worthy human being! Teach your children boundaries!

  • If Sassy’s Ex’s name was Ted Bundy would this even be a question? I don’t parse assholery by degrees. Ted Bundy didn’t kill every woman with which he came into contact, but he was a serial killer of women. Does the fact that he didn’t kill ALL the women with which he had contact, he was actually helpful to many, mean that he wasn’t a bad person? My Grandmother told me when I was growing up that many horrible people also possess good qualities which surface on occasion – it doesn’t mean that they aren’t horrible people. Who cares if you’re a quarter-time asshole, a part-time asshole or a full-time asshole? You’re an asshole. Your default setting is asshole. Your operating system is set to asshole. Can you perform other tasks besides asshole? Of course you can. My Ex is a wonderful cook, relates well to children that are not his own and appears to be Brother Theresa. That’s his screen saver. His operating system is asshole.

    Sassy, people believe the narrative they have bought into for their own reasons and that has nothing to do with you. You have the wonderful ability to see something for what it is, call it that and deal with it accordingly. You don’t need validation from them for your feelings. It took me 60 years to figure that out. You’ve already learned it. My wise Grandmother warned me not to trust people who are comfortable lying. Lying is not an acceptable problem resolution skill and people who are comfortable using it as one are not trustworthy. People who are not trustworthy are not good people – they only wear a mask of good to pursue an agenda. The first order of genuinely good people is to do no harm. Anything else is bullshit.

  • “Many friends, the OW included, have told me that I should not adopt an attitude where I think of my cheater as a “bad person.” They say that while what he did to me was not acceptable, he is still a “good person” who was simply driven by a bad life situation to cheating.”

    I have never met anyone who said similar to the above for any other reason than that they want to remain friends with the cheater AND they want the chump to accept that. I refused to be friends with anyone that remained in contact with my abuser. Fuck that shit. Life is too short.

    Jedi hugs!

  • Hello! It’s Sassy here,

    I wanted to clarify a few things since a few comments were interested.

    1. No, He wasn’t a teacher, but rather a grad student in the same department as me.

    2. The other woman and I did not know each other before this situation, but we had one close mutual friend who was responsible for letting the OW know that the guy she hooked up with was in fact not a poor lonely sausage who was dumped by his girlfriend(me).

    3. She also did not know my ex-bf beforehand, and the extent of their relationship was a one night stand with him begging her for more the week following (all the while he was essentially living at my apartment).

    4. At the time that the cheating occurred, my then bf and I didn’t have our relationship on social media because we had broken up for about a week and then gotten back together about a month before he slept with her. We had initially broken up because of the emotional abuse, but of course we got back together because he “made mistakes and it would never happen again”. He tried to tell me that he “wasn’t clear” we had gotten back together, and I almost bought it. But then I snapped to my senses and recognized that it was very clear we were back together, and no he can’t decide that we aren’t exclusive anymore without talking to me about it.

    5. The other woman was also incredibly hurt and angry by this situation. Her threat to punch him in the face was never acted on, but definitely very real. She sent her own set of scathing text messages to him and defended me when he would talk poorly of me to her (which I do have proof of because she showed me their text messages). I think her “forgiveness” of him has either come from him further manipulating her, or from her religious background, or from her blind optimism towards humanity. I trust she is an honest person who got caught up in the same shit situation that I did. Without her I would have never known he was lying to me. I am a lucky girl to have had her on my side. I know most people don’t get that. (I also have the satisfaction that he doesn’t get either of us haha)

    6. My friends who say this to me definitely only mean the best. They are hurting to see me in pain and are trying to offer help in a situation that they don’t really understand. We are all still young, and most of most of my friends are struggling to deal with their own very real issues. These friends definitely still believe and side with me, but they generally seem to hold on the hope that humanity is innately good and that anyone could do the same “bad thing” if they were put in the right situation. I think I need to develop more of a way to gently disagree with them and encourage them to recognize that no, in fact it is not necessary for me to recognize the good in the man who abused me and hearing it from them trivializes the pain and suffering I feel. These friends don’t want to accept a reality that people can just be mean and sometimes it isn’t possible to instantly see.

    Thank you everyone for your encouraging words 🙂 I am very lucky to live in an age where I can find support in complete strangers who have had experiences just like mine!

    Thank you Chump Lady for your support and wisdom! I’ve got to stop trying to understand the mind of someone who was most definitely “BAD ENOUGH”.

    Sassy out

    • Hi Sassy,

      Don’t spend too much energy on convincing your friends that he is an asshole. When they tell you that he is a good person, simply reply, “That good person wasn’t in our relationship.” End of story. All that matters is how he treated you and that you know you deserve better. You are very, very fortunate to have left this relationship at such a young age. Use this experience to fix your picker and know that what you had was a very unhealthy relationship. Give yourself time to get over your pain while focusing on yourself. In time, he will simply be someone you used to know who gave you an invaluable life lesson.

    • Sassy, honey–you need to restrict conversations about the infidelity and your recovery to your “move the body” friends: the friends who always take your side, so long as you aren’t harming yourself. I’m not sure how so many people got into business as combination “amateur therapist”/moral arbiter. But as you say, you are all young. And that God that you were smart enough at your age to recognize abuse, understand that infidelity is indeed one form of abuse, and get the heck out before it got worse.

      So first, if you know your friends are mature enough to give you support in this area, have fun with them but don’t discuss your cheater ex. Use the same discretion with your friends as you do with the people you date. Pay attention when someone wounds you but doesn’t learn from it.

      Finally, if your friends launch into “don’t judge,” suggest that they check out Dr. George Simon’s blog on “manipulative people.” They are old enough to learn about Cluster B personality disorders and manipulative people. You don’t need to diagnose your ex, to them or to yourself. But you can just say that it is not judging someone to know that they show signs of personality disorder.

      • LAJ, “move the body” friends are few and far between. For people who haven’t heard the term, those are the people who have your back in the very, very worst of situations. Like when you need to move the cold dead body of someone who has harmed you.

        There is a comparison out there about how some friends will bail you out of jail, and others will spend the night in there with you.

        Not that any of us need bodies moved or a friend to go to jail with, but if we know they would do that for us, they are good as gold. Total keepers.

        • Survivor – ‘Not that any of us need bodies moved or a friend to go to jail with, but if we know they would do that for us, they are good as gold. Total keepers.’

          Sometimes it takes me awhile to absorb some things here – so I read your post twice.

          This is SO true and I’m certainly afraid to challenge it, but I do know I have at least 8 who would step in and bail me out of jail – I hope!!! yikes.

          That IS what life is about.
          Those friends are very hard to find but you know who they are.
          They are the ones who’d put their house of for mortgage if they had to.

          I’m kidding, but I know I have a few of them around….it is comforting. But then, I really never ever drive impaired, shoot a gun or anything that should get in trial. Sure appreciate the support though.

    • Sassy, what you say makes sense. I do remember being that trusting in the essential good in everyone. Your friends will learn as you have that it is not always true. Thanks for checking in with the additional info.

  • I was married at 22, and thought I had the “perfect” marriage. We rarely fought, he drove me to and picked me up from work every day, and we even had lunch together most work days. Four years into the marriage, I came home from work to an empty house, and a note on the bedroom door… claiming he just wanted to focus on his career, and didn’t want to be married anymore. No surprise, it turns out he was having an affair. We divorced, she was pregnant within four months of him leaving, (prior to the divorce). It is over 25 years later, and they are still married. She was a single mother when they met, six years older than him, and with three kids from two different men. I begged him to come back when he first left. Then my lawyer suggested I hire a private investigator, and that is how I found out. Once I knew, I was done. Not any less devastated, but DONE. I know everyone’s situation is different, but all these years later, and I STILL will never understand the “I’m staying contingent”…I was hurt beyond belief, but incredulous how cowardly people can be….and how we justify, justify, justify… maybe he had an off day, week, or hell, decade. I am of the firm belief that is short sighted to stay… for any reason…and lord knows, we can concoct so many… from the kids will perish, to I will never find anyone better… Not to sound cliche, but when people show you who they are, react accordingly….

    • QueenB, your ex just didn’t want to be married to anyone expecting reciprocity. So he found someone who already felt lesser (older, multiple kids from multiple dads) and got to play the Knight in Shining Armor. And she sealed the deal with yet another child. And agreed to marry a certified cheater who apparently was okay with his behind the scene antics. No prize to be won there.

      • Survivor, that is probably an accurate assessment. I was shocked when I found out about the affair, and shocked again when I found out who she was. I never knew her, but she worked in the same medical building that he did. She had her first child at 13, yes, 13!!! Years ago, when this all happened, so many people tried to make me feel better, and told me it would never last. I am somewhat surprised that it has. It’s kind of incredulous that it is 28 years, and that they are still together. I too lost a ridiculous amount of weight, and for nearly six months, I could barely function. If you had told me then that the day would come that I would almost never think about him, or that I could think about him without bursting into tears, i never would have believed you. Time really does heal, just not as quickly as most of it would like it to. As one of my best friends said when she got divorced… you can’t go over it, around it, or ignore it… the only way to successfully navigate the pain and move on is going head on through it…that is very thought provoking, but also very true.

        • QueenB, my therapist told me that just because two people are “married” or together doesn’t mean it’s a healthy relationship. You know the truth in that – just this blog alone has hundreds of chumps (myself included) that were in long-term, unhappy marriages. And most likely, we looked picture-perfect to the outside world. People stay together for a host of reasons.

          And yes, the only way to heal is to deal with the pain head on. By avoiding pain, it becomes a ghost in your life. You may not see it, but it’s there. The presence of an absence, as Peter Rollins puts it.

          • Quite true, Uniquelyme. QueenB’s replacement part is likely living in her own special hell, but is stuck because who else is going to take care of her? So she puts up with a guy whose idea of a serious conversation is a note taped to a door. And she likely puts up with an endless stream of scary threats to her precarious position as an old worn out undeserving person in the eyes of her own husband. Saviors can turn into dictators.

          • I agree with your sentiments Uniquelyme. I actually do know a sobering amount of folks who have been in long term marriages that are unhappy. There are times that I wonder if that is one of the many possible contributing factors for infidelity. Not condoning, merely saying….Though I also believe people stay together for a host of reasons, my personal belief is that the only reasons for being… and staying… married, center around love and respect. If the best reason you can come up with to stay married is “because of the kids”, there should be a serious evaluation of that marriage.

  • One of the reasons my rage will not abate is that my XH is dating a 28 year old, (long before I broke up with him) and us chumps are left with online dating. This is from a real ad, from a dating site I will not name.
    Note: I am thinner, better looking, more educated, in shape and wealthy than my scummy X. But he is shacked up.

    Okay, see how many red flags you can spot, even a newcomer like Sassy.

    ***

    I am dominant, but that does not mean chains, whips, etc. Also I do not share, swap, and the ilk. I am a gentle man, seek a woman wanting guidance, direction, discipline, to help keep house, cook, ready and willing to satisfy me sexually daily, and be satisfied in return, at least once daily. As important, if not more so, someone to go with me, do things with me, be with me; when I leave, you leave, whether for coffee, a drive, out to eat – in a place with real plates, silverware, etc., not a fast food joint.

    I want a woman who will let her hair grow long, wear long full skirts or dresses daily, every woman looks better like that, and much easier getting you out of your panties. Wear stockings and garter belt or thigh tops daily, and lingerie styles of my choosing, after all I’m the one who will enjoy looking. When we leave the house you will hold my hand, or arm, eating out we sit on the same side if in a booth, or the same side or corner of a table. I’m very touchy feely, really like kissing, and have found that one of the greater joys in life is in having my partner climax, preferably more than once per day.
    ****

    Run Forest Run!!!

    • Stephanie, i promise you that one day, your rage will indeed disappear. I was so so angry, to the degree that it scared me. I would wish for his demise, and hers, on a nearly daily basis. In the beginning, it is all that you can think about, then, at some point, you realize it’s been a whole day, and you haven’t thought of either of them. and then, suddenly you realize it’s been a week since you have seriously wondered if voodoo dolls really do work! Then, at some point, when it is causing your more harm then good, and you start thinking that you just don’t have the energy to hate him anymore, it will leave you, but much more subtly then it came. I wish you peace…..

        • You are welcome! Though it was nearly 28 years ago, I remember those feelings quite vividly. In retrospect, I think the more I focused on trying not to hate, and trying not to be hurt, the more elusive it became. Easier said than done, I know, but just my thoughts. Meh may at the moment appear to be more Fantasy Island, than reality, but you will be living it sooner than you might currently imagine. Hugs!!

    • I’m sorry, Stephanie – maybe it’s late here, but that ‘profile’ of your x sounds really putrid and now I need a glass of milk (puking a little in my mouth) It’s amazing to me how they build their fantasies off of shear emails or text w/photos. Fantasy, and today it actually makes me laugh – but I’m much closer to meh perhaps. I WANT TO ORDER YOU AROUND AS YOUR DOMINANT! lolol. No thanks.

    • Just count the “I”s in there and it isn’t hard to understand that here is a man who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone but himself. I want this and I want that and I want someone who will give me whatever I want at least once a day, and will behave as I want and dress as I want. Guidance, direction and discipline, my ass. That shit for brains wants a hostage. A sex slave. Good luck to him, and the bus that rides over him.

      • Damn. I forgot the “me”s. He could be Adonis himself, and not get a response to that swill from a decent person, but he’s not looking for a decent person. Just a submissive to serve his wants. Wow.

  • There was a previous post from CL about the good ole days when people just knew it was wrong to cheat and wouldn’t it be great if society was still like that, rather than normalizing or even glorifying cheating and desensitizing everyone to this horrid, cruel, abusive behavior. It was a moment of Meh for me and I started to refer to my STBX as an adulterer instead of a cheater. I mean he didn’t cheat, oppsy!, on his diet and eat a brownie. He lived a double life and destroyed the sacred bonds of marriage and family and took away his children’s innocence and security in the world. He deserves to wear a scarlet A. He asked for this, I didn’t, his kids didn’t. He should be proud he’s an adulterer, right? Because he’s not a bad guy he just choose adultery to find the happiness he deserved. If those choices are so great why not celebrate them and call them what they are?
    Some people are bad, based on their actions and how they treat people and how they choose to spend the precious moments they get on earth. They put this bad energy into the universe not us, they deserve the consequences. Adultery isn’t a flaw, it is an action so terrible that in all cultures it’s consider taboo, a sin so serious it that puts one’s soul in jeopardy, a choice that comprises one’s relationship with their Creator. It’s ok to recognize the abuse, name it, reject it and heal.

    • Yah. I like to refer to it as adultery, too. Adultery is right up there with arson and murder in terms of the big bad things not to do. Some religions even have a penalty for adultery. (No, I’m not referring here to the stoning of ancient Judaism.) The first occurrence carries a monetary fine. The second occurrence carries double the fine. And so on.

      Of course, it is meant to be a deterrent. Does that tell you what each act of adultery does to the soul? Each act of adultery is doubly harmful to your soul, increasingly. Does this explain why, when they commit act after act of adultery, they become such dirty bastards, not giving a damn about anybody or anything?

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