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Cheater Warning Signs?

crazywarningWouldn’t it be nice if every toxic person just came with a giant forehead tattoo? Then you could really sort the wheat from the chaff. But as we chumps sadly know, they don’t. And we have the therapy and legal bills to prove it.

I’m often asked — did you see any signs? What would you do differently? How did you discover you were dating a flaming personality disorder and not a mild-mannered  government employee? (No offense to our hard working civil servants, I mistakenly assumed a 20 year career in a federal bureaucracy meant my ex would be a solid, if dull choice.)

Did I see signs? Yes. But at the time, I had no way of reading them. No wingnut decoder ring. Part of this was my own chumpiness — what signs I saw, I spackled — and part of it was nothing like this had ever happened to me before. To my knowledge, I’d never been cheated on (of course you could argue, I was a chump, how would I know?) It was really beyond me to imagine that some people are predatory and are capable of living a double life. Like most people, I view the world through my own moral lens. I knew about mental illness, but I didn’t really understand personality disorders. And I certainly wouldn’t recognize a sociopath if he bought me dinner.

This blog is mostly a long recitation of Don’t Make the Idiotic Mistakes I Made Once. So, yes, I’d like to think I’m smarter and wiser now. So, for what it’s worth, here’s a list of the signs I would now take as red flags. Please add your own for the benefit of future chumps everywhere. Maybe if we could spot these people earlier on, and more importantly, identify our own chump weaknesses — we could avoid some serious heart break and wasted years.

(Or we could resort to forehead tattoos.)

Anywho, here’s my list. Keep in mind any couple of these could be perfectly normal, but added up? Yeah, I’d take a pass. Without further ado…

1. He moved fast. Infatuation feels great, but after a few weeks of dating him, it occurred to me that he liked me a bit too much for someone who didn’t know me that well. Of course, who doesn’t like to be adored? Kibbles are awesome. But, as I’ve said elsewhere, they’re also junk food without substance. The flattery, the attention, the sex. It’s all very heady. People who study personality disorders call this phase “love bombing.” It was a full sparkle onslaught. After our second date he told me he wanted to date me exclusively. In less than a month he told me he loved me. Within 4 months he talked about wanting to marry me and by 6 months, he was spending a lot more time at my place than his own.

I thought this was okay, because he “wanted a commitment.” But I remember saying at other times “What exactly did I do to impress you so much?” Even to a chumpy idiot like me, it seemed over the top.

But like every sucker, I wanted to believe. The sparkles hooked me. I thought Mr. Sparkles was the real guy. I should’ve slowed it all way down. I’m convinced they can’t disguise the crazy for over a year. He amped up the drama with “needing” to take a job out of state. He pushed for a commitment because of the move. Again, I should’ve not felt rushed. Crazy people usually want to seal the deal and fast. Once I was married, moved, and isolated — then the abuse really began openly.

2. He called too much. It almost seemed clingy. But I see now, as an experienced serial cheater, he was assessing my whereabouts. He wanted to know what I was doing that evening, and the next day. He checked in a lot. I didn’t see him every day, but that didn’t strike me as unusual. I had a full life. But he was anxious to keep me on the line and interested in him. As I later discovered, when the other life was revealed, he was constantly checking in with the OW and other women. How he managed to do work a job or perform life chores was beyond me.

3. He cancelled plans at the last minute. I should add to this, he was strangely unavailable for important dates, like his birthday. Or available to see me after I’d been gone a week out of town. The shady inability to manage his time was the hugest red flag I got. And his anger at ME when HE was the one to bail. I was understanding the first several times. Then I dumped him. He then began a new charm offensive to win me back, and was good as gold (so I thought) until I married him. He never canceled a date again — he just got better at taking his life underground.

4. When I was with him, I felt charmed. When he left, I felt uneasy. I couldn’t even tell you why. I had a gut feeling. Then he would appear again, and charm me and I’d think I was overreacting, or had him wrong. It was me, my issues. Nothing to be paranoid about!

Listen to your gut. ALWAYS listen to your gut. The gut knew.

5. I mistook intelligence for character. He was accomplished. Made a lot of himself from humble beginnings. Had advanced degrees. Earned a good living. I mistook this for character — I read things into that that were not there, like he was a good person, or he knew how to manage money, or he had any common sense. Yes, he was intelligent — and so what? He was a dreadful person. He was disdainful of anyone else’s intelligence. He Knew Best. The dentist, the doctor — they didn’t know their job, he knew more. He had to be the smartest person in the room. The arrogance should’ve been a huge red flag. I stereotyped him — thought he was just an alpha lawyer, a bit jerky. I projected warm fuzzies on to him that were not there. “Oh he’s a marshmallow, deep down.” No — scratch the surface and it was bedrock jerk.

6. He was okay with a lack of reciprocity. I was a single mother who earned a fraction of what he earned. After we were engaged, and he moved in with me for months, he never paid a single bill, never bought a bag of groceries. Reason given — he had his house to maintain, his ex-wife cleaned him out in the divorce, etc. I should’ve noticed how free he was to spend money on himself — and not on our shared life. Big chumpy mistake. I thought my generosity meant he would do the same for me. I assumed. Wrongly.

7. Either he didn’t introduce me to his friends, or he simply didn’t have friends. He was the picture of charm with my friends. To a person (with one exception) they adored him. And while we did group outings with them, he did not have a group of friends that ever invited him (or us) anywhere. He said his ex-wife got their friends in the divorce, and most friends his age were married and busy with family. Seemed reasonable. His close “friends” lived out of state (douchebags I met at my wedding). He had work acquaintances but no real friends. He wasn’t introverted. I should’ve puzzled at that.

8. He was vague about his past. I couldn’t get a real time line on when he was married to wife #1 and #2. When what happened. Over the years, the story always shifted, but I remembered snippets of it, enough, that I was able to track down #2 and get her story (a horror fest, he was a serial cheater — same OW). If you think that’s odd — consider that when it did come up he would go into this convincing sad, spiel about how he’d had therapy and realized He Wasn’t The Best Husband, and wasn’t bitter towards his exes, and he wished them well, etc., etc.

Now, as a chump? I’d see that as total BULLSHIT. He told me they cheated on him. I thought it was painful, that’s why he didn’t bring it up. His narrative was nothing like a chump narrative — all the easy forgiveness, the We All Made Mistakes Here — total crap. But I thought that was the enlightened therapy speaking. He was just very evolved.

9. I mistook sex for intimacy. I thought because he liked to have sex with me, he liked ME. All of me. Dorky me. Not just the sum of my parts, but you know, the parts of me that I like best about myself. I filled in the blanks for him. No, he was just a horny goat. I could’ve been anyone.

10. He was shit at gift giving. They say this is the hallmark of the narcissist — they suck at gifts. (Give you something? Why? What’s in it for me?) He did some grand gestures, but they always involved something for him too — a nice dinner out, a trip somewhere (that we went Dutch on). Actual GIFTS? Once he recycled something he gave his mother and she didn’t like it. (A black shawl. Seriously).

To give a gift well you need empathy. You have to think… what would Tracy really like? (My husband is awesome at this). Pinecone elves! PG Wodehouse! British movies! These things are distinctively my fetishes. To give me these things you’d have to put aside your disdain for 1940s Xmas kitch and buy the pinecone elf because you know it would please me (even though you think it is a dusty waste of $15). Because to please me pleases you.

Narcissists can’t do this. I got a pen for my 40th birthday. I got a tie-dyed license plate cover for Xmas after DDay. I should’ve dumped him for that alone. Forget the serial cheating — a man who gives a woman a license plate cover for Xmas is a man who should be divorced. On those grounds, solely.

Chumps, I should’ve known I deserved better. You deserved better too. Tell me — what signs did you miss? What will you look for in the future so you don’t get chumped again? Let’s make a list!

This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!

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  • I can tick all of these ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

    He was super vague about his past. He said most of his relationships had ended because they had “just gotten bored of each other and both moved on”. Yeah, right. And he lovebombed me and called me WAY too much during the lovebombing phase, which stupid chumpy me took as him just being interested in me #swooningidiot

    I recall a time he phoned, at the very beginning of our relationship, when I was at the gym. I told him I was working out at the gym, and within 10mins he was there at the gym checking up on me! I told him he was being a bit of a stalker, and that I didn’t like it. But he gave me the shocked, disappointed puppy eyes and said he thought I had said “meet me at the gym”. Arghhh, such a rookie mistake, I should’ve seen through him right then and there. #ifonlyiknewthenwhatiknownow

    • Oh the love bombing. …he wrote (real actual letters you used to post ) every frickin day. He was at uni…chumpy me earning already … drove most weekends to see him …. again like most here that the insescent phone calls and letters were because i was so amazing. Even back then i felt mildly creeped out at the constant bombardment and guess what ??most of the letter content was word salad !! I kept them for years and re reading them with clarity it was like wtf does this mean ?? Its gobbeldigook as they say. It is on us mistaking flattery for sincerity but red flags in hindsight are sooo unfair !!

      • Ah, romantic letters..

        My grandad was in his 80s and used to woo phillipino women half his age. I used to have to help him write his bollocks, vomit making letters to them, they read like old black and white films “I love you so much” ” my heart aches till we me again” then he’d eat dinner and watch tv without a second thought.

        Interesting view into a cheaters behaviour. Totally not caring what I thought, writing a load of over dramatic crap without any regard. I think he even asked my daughter to help once.

    • 1. Not long before my birthday, had spent a lot of money on himself on Ralph Lauren clothes, then when taking me for a meal (that I had to fight for), told me he only had £20 and made me feel very nervous about ordering anything at all.
      2. Used to say things he knew I was sensitive about in front of his 10 year old daughter and tried to get her to gang up on me with him.
      3. Would sulk in his room if I spent time with his daughter.
      4. When first met, said he wasn’t used to girls smiling when kissing him and said I was very affectionate. Then started to be cold when I was affectionate, but then tell me I wasn’t affectionate enough.
      5. Told me he didn’t want any more kids. Knew this was something I really wanted (but like big chump was trying to repress for his sake). Told me he wanted to find girl he wanted kids with when we broke up.
      6. Didn’t let me meet his friends. Wouldn’t meet my friends. Would try to make me feel guilty when meeting friends.
      7. Wouldn’t let me add him on social media.
      8. Would frequently talk about his crazy beautiful exes. Would be visibly pissed off when I pretended I wasn’t the least bit concerned that he had met up with an ex or had been texting one.
      9. Frequently was the victim, would occasionally hint that he was to blame but of course he wasn’t really to blame was just being a grown up suggesting that it takes two to tango. Told me I was the ‘best girlfriend’ he’d ever had and that I was helping him ‘heal’. Told me he was victim of domestic violence. Told me friend of one ex he ‘bumped’ into (how did that happen when he never goes out) said she said he used to beat her up. Didn’t show any emotion with that. I was the one outraged by the ‘lies’.
      10. Would frequently generically diss people in my profession, would again appear pissed off when I didn’t rise to the jibes.
      11. Would say I was invited to meet his family when he knew I wasn’t free.
      12. In fact would say he would have taken me to the cinema etc (something he never ever dos) when he knew I had arranged to meet friends. Like the massive chump I was, I put this down to him shy and introverted. But would somehow be able to meet with his friends when I wanted to spend time with him.
      13. I never turned him down when he wanted sex. He accused me of never initiating. But actually always refused when I did.
      14. Never showed any emotion. Never reacted when I was upset. Was always in ‘control’. Superior. Everyone he works with is ‘stupid’ according to him (he’s an X-ray porter). Only ever saw him get upset if he perceived they were taking the mick out of him. Then would rant for long time.
      15. Took drugs. On his own. With daughter in house.
      16. Would say awful things about daughters mum in front of her. I explained he should try to not do that for daughters sake. Never attempted to stop.
      17. Would shout at/be cold to daughter if she ever insulted him (even with very small things that normal dads would take as a joke).
      18. I actually like his colleagues and got on with them (don’t think they’re stupid at all). However, recently (see below) they’re acting strange towards me. Fuck knows what he’s said about me.
      19. Broke up with me by text day after I finally snapped and spilled what my gut had been telling me (after I had had bottle of wine of course). Appears to have started another relationship very shortly after.
      20. A while ago, was flirting with me by text. Being ongoing chump, I flirted back. He then tells me he’s seeing someone. But the sex with me had ‘more passion, depth’ whatever. I tell him to stop contacting me. Suddenly he’s really happy and lucky with said girl he’s seeing.
      21. Again being ongoing chump a little while later, I drunk text saying I miss him, whys he with someone else (massive facepalm). He replied next morning. I apologised said ignore it. He insisted on coming round even when I said not to. Told me he still loves me, kisses me but is seeing a great girl. Leaves. I FINALLY clock that he’s a narcissist (though counsellor did try to says months before). Text him article about narcissism. Reacted very coolly to his replies, have showed no emotion to anything he has said since. Now see ’emotional’ response from him. Finally get it. Finally over him.

      Jesus writing this all out has been a bit shocking. There was a lot more but God I was a massive chump. For over two years. And everyone telling me he was a ‘dick’. But of course I loved my ‘misunderstood’ man. Face. Palm.

      • Forgot to mention, it also started very fast. Wanted to call us a couple very quickly. Was asking me what kind of wedding rings I like after about a month. Kept pushing me to move in with him into his small house but when I said it was too soon, he then stated that we should never live together at all.

        • For # 11, the word “invited” rings from out like a bell.
          My wife would say as she is running out the door numerous times, “You should come, your invited.”
          It puzzled me that I would need a invite to go to a public event or place.

          • oh wow – ewwww… took me awhile to figure out her ‘invitation’.
            That’s really awful.
            Who thinks that way?

            • I am guessing the “invite” was her way of not having to take responsibility for anything that happened. After all, I was invited, I chose not to go, so it’s not her fault if she fooled around, because if I was there it never would have happened.
              Cheaters seem to forget they also have a choice. Unfortunately they all live by the Nike slogan,
              “Just do it”

  • DING DING DING on moving fast — and to their reactions if we challenge them on it

    When KK and I started dating, she lived 19 miles away in an apartment by herself (which she should not maintain without occasional help from Dad and Mom, and sometimes Sis). 6 months in, she suddenly realized she needed (and could accept having) a roommate. She found someone in the town I was living in and moved in. I made some vague comment to her about that being evidence of “things moving too fast” and she got so defensive we didn’t speak for a week, and made up with great sex.

    About 4 months after that, she had taken a new job with a business writing school and was going through their orientation program. One night we were having dinner at her place, and she’d left out a folder of some of the writing samples she’d been working on. One of them was a formal email sample, announcing that we were getting married and detailing all of the reasons why. I asked “what’s this?” and it resulted ina huge argument — one that, again, lasted about a week and ended with her “just wanting to forget about it” and sex.

    It proved to be a familiar pattern over the duration of our marriage, minus the make-up sex.

    • Fast, I just didn’t get it. We were young so the first meeting when he talked about taking me to a Springsteen concert that was 3 months away, I thought it was odd but oh well.(btw we didn’t go). The first date was valentines and I was thrilled to receive chocolates and a balloon bouquet because now I had something in common with dorm mates who had long term beaus. At 3 weeks he said I love you. I told him it was just too soon, I couldn’t say it. He just said that’s ok. I felt bad so two weeks later I said it.

      The push for sex. I was guilted into it.

      One difference is there weren’t tons of calls. He used the phone to control. He would call every night between 9-11. It would usually be 9:30 – 10 but every once in awhile it would go to 10:30 or a 11 leaving me wondering. If I questioned this, he would blow it off like I was being controlling. Gas lighting. He didn’t want me calling- he still lived at home in the days before cell phones.

      Aw the red flags, aw the sparkle.

  • The gifts!! Yes, telling signs… He gifted me an ankle length, brown terry cloth robe for Xmas one year. Found out later from my daughter that it was on sale when he bought it…
    As far as other telling signs… I actually have a list I called “I should have known when…” That lists all the warning signs. I add to it periodically and use it when I feel weak in my resolve… I won’t post it here, but here are a few:
    He refused to tell me anything about previous girlfriends.
    He was a taker in everything in our life (sex!!! Ugh, what a sucky sex life I’ve had…)
    He wanted to lie on a passport/visa application
    I met his family.
    Silence became the ONLY coping mechanism I had to maintain my sanity.
    He wanted to get rid of our dog 3 months after we got her.
    He would make me feel guilty about spending time with girlfriends at a book club.
    He didn’t want to wear his wedding ring.
    He was insulted and got upset when my sister asked him to take good care of me when we settled in the US, far from my family in France.
    He consistently refused to let me be involved in our finances.
    He would get what he asked for sexually but kept refusing me the most basic, simplest things
    I saw the example of love he was raised with.
    He said he preferred brunettes when we first met (I was blond) and that he preferred blondes later (when I was a brunette)
    He would always pick where he would sit, at the restaurants, at the movies, on the couch, the dining table, so he could get the best vantage point.

    • Oh yes – refused to let you get involved with the finances. ?? Same here! Once all my savings had dwindled down to nothing (I was at home raising two kids, so didn’t have an income for many years. He was happy for me to use all my saving up until there was nothing, and then I was at his financial mercy, I see this now), he then took over and wouldn’t let me get involved in finances, saying that I “had enough to do with the kids, than to be bothered worrying about finances”. I thought he was being “thoughtful”. No…he was being controlling!

      After much snooping around shortly after D-Day, I discovered a series of receipts from what I would call a “pussy bar” (“karaoke bar” with women behind glass that you choose like puppies at the pound) in which he had paid between $500-$800 per night on “entertainment”. The most shocking one I found was for just over $1000. For ONE NIGHT!! And he use to allocate less than that per month to me for household/living expenses/food/clothing/schooling etc for the kids! He spent more in one night than he gave me in a month! Arghhhh, still makes my blood boil to think about it ?

      No, wait…..mustn’t get all fired up. Must remember MEH ??

      • I have just the opposite experience with finances. After I insisted upon merging our finances because he didn’t pay the gas bill for 5 months, he then became hands off with money. I managed the budget and paid all the bills. Every so often he would complain that he didn’t get enough money, but when I asked him to participate in the budget he would refuse.

        • Same here Cancer Chump – I managed all our finances the whole time we were together, I would repeatedly ask him to participate in the bill paying and financial decision making. He would NEVER give input/help…..yet he would complain over and over when I told him we did not have money for ‘whatever’ thing that was not budgeted for. It was always ‘my fault’.

          • Ditto. Although he was running the day-to-day operations of the business, he had nothing to do with the day-to-day financial stuff. Like, still can’t use Internet banking. When he sold ‘our’ profitable business to buy another property that I knew would be far less profitable, I was the negative Nelly who he would get pissed at because I would let him know if we had a bi-monthly taxable loss. I was trying to let him know to keep an eye on the business spending during those periods. But no, apparently it was me saying ‘I told you so’ about the less profitable farm. Ugh.

            Schmoopie, an accountant, no less, would be supportive. Yeah, right. If that money-grabbing whore ever saw our books, she would have given up far sooner! She saw dollar signs and told him she ‘just wanted to play tennis and be a lady who lunches’ – even never calculated that I own half. And had dependent children who would require funding.

            When he paid her the $10k she extorted at the end of their love affair (because that’s love, right? Oh that’she right, he NEVER said he loved her. Great. So fuck around on me with someone you can barely tolerate. That’s awesome for my ego, too, ya know. I love you so much that I fuck literally ANYONE else) to ‘keep her quiet’ he should have seen he didn’t have deep enough pockets to really shut her up. He did actually. But still didn’t fess up. Left it to her to tell me via text two months after he ended it. Fucktard.

          • Ditto! Until he got a second job teaching firefighting courses at a local college. Then he joked about having a “secret” account. I thought YES this will stop his complaining and maybe inspire him to take a role in our finances. But NO he still complained that we didn’t have money and then complained if he had to spend HIS. Red flag should have been his odd behaviour with his cell phone and Internet passwords. He couldn’t even go to the washroom without it and it was bizarre that he never had battery left if I wanted to use it to take a picture. Chump for 18 years… chump no more!

            • LettingGo – same here! He had 2 cell phones and would take both of them to the bathroom/toilet with him, at all times! He said it was “incase he got a business call”. RED FLAG!! I later discovered, from a staff informant that helped me catch him out, that he actually had 4 different cell phone numbers (2 simcards in both, different telcos and numbers, which he could switch to whenever he wanted, depending on who he was calling) – I only knew about the 2 numbers. I had no idea you could have 2 simcards in 1 phone (dualSIM androids). Had no idea he had 4! Makes me wonder how he could be so unorganised in life/business but be super organised with managing 4 numbers and remembering which one to use when, and for who to call from. Bizarre

              • I finally convinced the shit stain to combine accounts, 9 years into our marriage, and we agreed to discuss all purchases over $100. When it came time to pay credit card bills his always got paid in full & I had just enough to make minimum payments. He’d bought himself a $3000 mountain bike, a $500 leather jacket, we did not discuss. Then he would accuse me of running up credit card debt when my balances never got paid down and I would incur interest.

            • 17 years…..but EVERYTHING else about your letter was my life.
              Taught EMT, taught paramedic….worked in the ER on days off…..yet we never had extra $.
              He had his own bank account and credit cards and his phone GLUED to him at all times.
              Every time I feel shitty about him leaving me for the last AP all I can think now is that it’s her shift to work now.
              Kinda makes me smile.

        • This was me too.

          Red flags I missed/misinterpreted in the early years (1-3):
          – love bombing me.
          – his clinginess to me.
          – his not having any of his own friends from high school or university (despite spending 7 years doing an honours degree and Phd).
          – only having family as friends.
          – extravagant gifts that he really liked for me (that HE got off on getting for me, rather than the pure joy of giving someone something FOR them).
          – when he was not with me going to work on weekends – wtf.

          Red flags I missed/misinterpreted later on (years 3-6)
          – refusing to go to the doctor about erectile dysfunction (couldn’t last very long) and giving me the silent treatment if i brought it up.
          – accusing me of attacking him if i wanted to talk about how we could connect more sexually/improve our sex life.
          – him being bad with money. I thought him having a PHD would make him good at stuff like that? No. That was party of the personality disordered impulsiveness.
          – him being careless with money despite us supposedly saving for a home deposit. See > actions not words exhibit A.
          – me managing our budget and ensuring all our bills were paid and him refusing to sit down and look/manage our budget with me unless I FORCED him to do it. wtf.
          – him flirting with shmoopie from work in front of me at his 30th birthday and when I challenged him about it, he gaslit me with the classic “we’re just friends!” line from the cheaters manual we chumps unfortunately know so well.
          – him needing to ‘blow off steam’ Friday nights and on weekends and coming home at 3am. I don’t drink alcohol and am not into bars/clubs so I stayed home. Chumpy me.
          – him wanting to take meth-amphetamines and ecstasy like some kind of crazy teenager.
          – him taking his phone into the toilet when he shat.
          – him messaging constantly at night.
          – his silent treatment of me for months on end, which when I asked him about, he just said ‘he’s tired.

          I honestly never imagined or saw the depravity that was coming. The closest I have ever had to considering suicide seriously was after D-Day number 2, after a short period of wreckonciliation and pick-me dancing.

          I’m not kidding when I say Chumplady, my family and my psychologist saved my life.


          • I just remembered another one.

            I used to ask him, “do you still love me, cheaterpants?” “Are you happy?” To which he would coo back, “of course,” and hug me.

            The fact that I felt in my guts the need to routinely ask that question says it all.

            Towards the end while he was fucking shmoopie I used to say to him that he was too good for me. That’s how much he had worn me down and devalued me.

            I since know that I am valuable and that I have a moral code, which makes me a better human being than he is because I don’t go around destroying people’s souls & using them.

            Every parasite needs a host.

            I’m glad it’s no longer me.

          • Never looking back,

            So much in your story is like mine 🙁

            Even the postscript too.

            Was yours a covert? Very intelligent?

      • My cheater was also controlling with the finances. Same story: I worked him through school (with help from his parents as he couldn’t be bothered with a low wage job, while obtaining an education); When we had a child we agreed that I’d quit my work and be a sahm. He gets his statements online, and does online bill pay, so I never saw any bills or credit card statements.
        When asked, he’d state that he didn’t want me to be bothered with mundane bill paying.
        When I suspected infidelity, I became more demanding about seeing our finances. He flat out refused. The more pressure I put on him, the more hostile he became. Then he left.
        He had several accounts, including a stock account which he claimed I had no right to access, as it was his “separate” asset, from before we were married. He also had a checking account that he put money in for my living expenses, during his absence. He never would open it as a joint account so if anyone ever asked to see my id when using his card, they’d decline me. I opened my own private acct and just withdrew the $$ from his acct and put it into mine. I did this for two reasons: I needed my own acct so I could have a secure cc to build my credit (I had none) and also so he couldn’t pour over his statements, going over every purchase, interrogating me on spenditures he didn’t approve of.
        At first, we agreed on $1200/mo for living expenses for my child and me. (and being pregnant at the time, maternity expenses as well) but soon it became $1000/mo then $900/mo.
        He paid the mortgage, and so he felt that even $900/mo was too much. He thought I should be able to maintain our home with as little as $600/mo.
        As it was, I couldn’t afford to save, I couldn’t travel anywhere, I couldn’t treat myself or my child to anything. We had just enough to get by.
        Meanwhile, cheater was wining and dining his slutress, and planning expensive getaways.
        I am convinced that someone with a conscience could never put their family through that hell.

        • FedupChump, I feel you. I really do. Reading your post felt eerily familiar to my experience. We never had a joint account either. Once all my savings had gone (he was happy to let me use up all of it while I was a sahm) and I was at his financial mercy, he would just deposit a monthly living allowance into my bank account for all the household expenses/food/water/gas/kids etc. it was never enough and I would have to ask for more before the month was up. He would get shitty and accuse me of wasting it.

          Whenever I got uppity and demanded to see his bank account, he would shut me down by getting so angry, he would throw things around the house and break things in a rage. Like our son’s stroller, and my laptop charger, and even once ripped a wardrobe door off it’s hinges! F**ing psycho! With two little kids at home, I didn’t want to stir the beast. So, over time I stopped asking about his finances. I was clueless even to how much he earned, he would never tell me.

          Like I said above, during my snooping phase (and I was super lucky, because a disgruntled staff member of his was helping me out), I discovered receipts from the “pussy bar” he used to frequent (when he claimed he was at late night work meetings) in the range of between $500-$1000 a pop, and receipts from 5-star hotel restaurants for ridiculous amounts (eg; late night burgers at a swanky hotel, costing about $40 each, when you can get a $3 burger at BK), and expensive perfume purchases which were not for me. Meanwhile, the bastard had me on a tight budget, allocating LESS per month to the kids and I than he would spend in ONE night at the pussy bar. It seriously blew my mind. I don’t know what kind of person can do this and live with themselves.

          Well, now he DOES live with himself, all alone! Leaving him at the airport was the best decision I could have made in that situation. Whenever he complains that he misses the kids, I just keep reminding myself of the shitty things he did – like when he didn’t care about them the time they had a particularly bad virus, and I was at the hospital alone with them (we were living in a foreign country, away from family), then back home I was up all night caring for two vomiting kids while he was “at work” (the pussy bar). Yeah, don’t tell me you miss your kids. You were too busy to spend time with them or care for them when we were together with you in that country. Cry me a river, Asshole. I don’t care anymore about your feelings. Suffer in your jocks alone, fool.

          • ” I was at his financial mercy, he would just deposit a monthly living allowance into my bank account for all the household expenses/food/water/gas/kids etc. it was never enough and I would have to ask for more before the month was up. He would get shitty and accuse me of wasting it.”
            This. Exactly. He made me beg for money every month, then tick through all the “non essential” items I was wasting$$ on. It was so incredibly dehumanizing. I feel your rage and I apologize if I hit a trigger. It’s a trigger for me that makes me shake with anger.
            If I found receipts for $1k spent on hookers, I’m not sure I’d be typing this right now. I might have just lost my mind and control. You’re strong for getting the eff out. I love your story. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you, but getting on that plane must have been exhilarating.

            • FedupChump thank you for your reply, and you don’t have to apologise at all! No trigger hit here, I’m fine. I just wanted to share and let you know that you’re not alone.

              The kids and I left last year, in May. So it’s been just over a year since I left him at the airport (haha, I love saying that, “left him at the airport”, because that’s exactly what I did) and life is much better for the kids and I. I’m just about done with my second degree, so next year I hope to be on a good income and getting back on my feet.

              I still can’t believe that he did that to me, all the financial abuse. What kind of person does that? Especially when there are little kids involved. I don’t know how he could easily spend $1k on a night out at a hooker bar when he had a wife and 2 kids under 6 at home – and wouldn’t even allocate that amount for living expenses for a whole month for them?! It still boggles my mind, honestly. I took photos of all the receipts and carefully put them back in his briefcase during my snooping phase. He actually still has NO IDEA that I know about all the money he spent. There’s a lot of things he doesn’t know that I know mwahahahaha ? But I like to keep it that way. All he knows is that I left because I found out about him cheating (which I didn’t tell him I knew about until I was on home soil, and had lawyered up). Even now, he still doesn’t know that I know about the secret phone numbers, extra bank accounts, the fact that his staff member actually SHOWED me the bar he would frequent, and took me to the exact address where his mistress lived. Bahahaha, he knows nothing! And after years of being kept in the dark, it feels good to turn the tables. That’s not very MEH of me, I know. But…its nice to have the upper hand for once.

          • How hideously scary and isolating for you, Left him. And how bloody infuriating to think you were struggling to look after your sick kids when he was off with sex workers.
            How they cope with sickness in others is another sign to watch for – including how they behave when ill. Mine had zero sympathy (unless it was OW – my first clue to the affair that I ignored), and when he had a cold wanted to be waited on hand and foot.
            Yet when I clearly had viral meningitis after a week of gastro through the family, and was debating going to hospital on a sunday morning, my (doctor) ex said “well it’s not bacterial so there’s not much they will do, I’ve got to go to work” and left me all day with 2 small kids. I cannot believe I tolerated that and was left partially deaf in one ear, which is a good reminder of what happens when you neglect your health!

            • “And don’t you know it’s dinner time? What the hell is wrong with you that you don’t know to get up to make dinner? After lying there all day doing nothing while I work? What a lazy ass you are!”

              It’s called abuse. But hey, if the narc is sick, you’d better take the day off to tend to them.

            • Oh my goodness, Vastra!! I’m so sorry he did that to you! You are now partially deaf in one ear? ? That’s terrible, he’s an f**ing asswipe for not caring for you when you were so ill. I hope this douche is now far far away from you.

              I can’t say I’m not surprised though, because YES mine was the same. He would get sick and throw himself into a hole like a victim, and expect to be coddled. When I got sick? No help from him. In fact, I recall one particularly bad night when my sister had come to visit us, and I was having bad stomach cramps. It was so bad, and I thought something was seriously wrong with me, like maybe appendicitis? he came home at 11pm and I asked him to take me to hospital while my sister minded the kids. He wouldn’t take me, just told me to go to bed. He was “too tired to take the car out again”. I ended up taking a taxi at 1am when the pain got too much. Yes, a TAXI!! And don’t forget, we were living in a foreign country that has a lot of crime and bad medical services. I got so uppity, I picked the most expensive hospital and got the taxi driver to take me there. The taxi driver was even more concerned for me than my own husband!! Spent a few hours in the hospital having tests and antacid medication, then got a taxi back home. Yep, luckily I know how to look after myself! My sister hated him from that moment on. Should’ve left him then and there. I didn’t find out about the cheating until 3months later.

          • Side note:
            Love your name ‘Left him at the airport,’ did you really leave him there? If so, I really want to hear this story. I thought my surprise exit on my X’s away fuck-weekend was good, but yours sounds amazing. You’re my hero.

            • Hahaha hi Red, yes I really did leave him at the airport!! Funniest thing I’ve ever done. Maybe I should write to Tracy one day and she can put my story up as a post? It was a crazy, messed up time. When I look back now, I don’t know how I did it!?! I was desperate to get out. And the anger fuelled me. A woman scorned, and all that. I was on fire ?

              • Late to this post, but I second that request to read your story, LHATA!!

            • Haha, now I want to know about YOUR surprise exit! Hahaha, love that you did that.

              • Same here! (about Redstarrising’s exit!). And Lefthim, even though I’ve read your story before, I love when you tell it! Give us a clue where we can find it? (in comments to what post(s)?)

      • Mine did the same. He was happy to force me to pay almost half the bills while I was unemployed and on unpaid maternity leave. I guess he needed me to bankroll his horrific spending habits, thousands on clothes and hookers every year. Now that I have thrown him out, I have nothing left. After the separation hearing, he moved to another continent and left me with tons of bills. And when I asked him to leave some cash so I can get food for our son over the next few weeks, his response was “pick vegetables from the garden “.

        • Mine was the opposite, I was always having to check that he had enough money to pay the bills. I would say I was worried about money and being able to afford the bills. He used to go over his overdraft every month on our joint account and we would get charged fees and get letters to say we had gone overdrawn. He would tell me not to worry and that he would sort it. I thought he was just trying to take care of me and his family and stop me worrying.Little did I know he was spending thousands on gambling on credit cards and getting out pay day loans. I will never date anyone who gambles ever again.

      • Oh yes the old…dont you worry about the just concentrate on the kids and the house….duh ok ….fast forward 2 years …it was his exit strategy to remortgage the house to the max to pay for what he wanted and leave me and the kids with exactly $200 and then shortly after homeless.

        • I love your name, I keep saying that to myself at the moment. When I am going over all the stuff he said and did to me I’m like who does that. I don’t think we will ever get an answer to that question no matter how hard we try.

          • Ya know who does that kind of stuff?
            Sociopaths do.

            But we didn’t know how normal sociopaths can make themselves look, in the beginning.

    • I’ve told this story on here before, but it makes me either smile ruefully, or smdh, to this very day.

      Our second Christmas and my birthday that same week came at a time that we were separated, and trying, supposedly, to work things out. The previous year, we had exchanged simple but meaningful gifts, not elaborate because we were poor students expecting a baby, but, very sweet gifts. I care way more about the meaning of a gift than its intrinsic value, and I was anxious to see what he had chosen for me in this mutual endeavor to make our relationship work.

      So, he joined my parents, siblings, and me for my birthday dinner and cake. It came time for me to open my gift from him…and it was this set of kitschy wall plaques, depicting old fashioned children fishing and what not. Something you’d give a distant aunt or cousin in the family gift exchange. In the car later, I saw evidence that he’d stopped at the K-Mart on his way to the house, bought that thing, and wrapped it in the car. I always try to accept gifts graciously, and I remember hoping that he couldn’t see the disappointment on my face.

      Months later, my best friend and I got rip roaring drunk one night, and practiced throwing darts at those stupid plaques, which I’d never taken out of the box.

      • Mine once (before gifts stopped altogether a few years into marriage) bought some clothes off the clearance rack at K-Mart several sizes too big, left the tags on, stapled the K-mart bag shut, and threw it under the tree. Raged about how I was a materialistic bitch when I couldn’t keep the disappointment off my face X-mas morning (mind you, I didn’t say anything, I just didn’t have a good enough poker face).

        • Omg! This!
          “Raged about how I was a materialistic bitch when I couldn’t keep the disappointment off my face X-mas morning (mind you, I didn’t say anything, I just didn’t have a good enough poker face).”

          This happened to me dozens of times in 25 years. Then when his latest affair was discovered and the mask was ripped off, he said he HAD to fuck AP because I could “never” be satisfied.

      • MOAS – i absolutely LOVE that you had a game of darts with those wall plaques LOL! What FUN! ?

      • I literally had to pick out my own gifts. 🙁
        Early in the relationship I thought he just didn’t want to screw things up and he just really wanted me to like what I received. But no…he’s just a sociopath. It’s extra sad because his ex-wife knew he was like this (through 4 years of her own disappointment) and she actually was out Christmas shopping, saw something she knew I would like, and told him he should buy it for me but he didn’t. He’s really sad and sick.

    • Ah Yes! He wouldn’t wear his wedding ring!

      Mine told me he found rings uncomfortable.

      I guess it would have been pretty uncomfortable trying to bed other women with a wedding band on your finger!

      • Mine prepped me beforehand and told me he never wore jewelry and not to bother getting him a ring. When he deployed a few months later I picked up a ring and told him he could put it on his tags that he had to wear anyway. I meant it as a sweet gesture to remind him I loved him and was worried about him when he was gone. I was met with a cold stare and an “Against regulations.” He left it behind on his dresser when he left. One can’t bang every young female on the FOB plus random government contract workers and the occasional hooker with wedding ring on.

        • LOL!! My STBX won’t take his wedding ring OFF now that I filed (though I saw it off many a time during our marriage: “it interferes with scrubbing for surgery,” among other bullshit). My theory: the ring presently functions as a shill; it’s there to remind the 2 hookers and several casual OW friends I’ve discovered though his emails that “I’m married to a “beautiful wife”, so you guys better be bringing your A-game!” (I just found an email from an OW overseas that he fucks whenever she’s in the country; apparently he told her he’s losing his “beautiful wife”, and “boo hoo”!!) Ha! This asshole never once in 25 years gave me a compliment like that to my face!! I wonder if yours wears his all the time now that you’ve left!

          • In a similar vein, mine kept mementos from past relationships. A painting that an ex had given him with an exchange of their love notes behind it (I finally snooped a bit 2 years into our relationship and found that bit, which he deftly explained away), a gourd a different ex had bought for him in Argentina, and other little things that I never would have guessed were imbued with special “ex-lover” juju. I’m realizing now that certain other things that showed up were likely gifts from his affair partner.

            Of course, he has now kept everything I ever gave him in a weird memento-like way. I was in our house alone about 3 months after I moved out to collect the rest of my things. I found love notes I wrote to him at the beginning of our relationship in his bedside table. He had left my closet and my drawers in our dresser completely empty and untouched, down to a sock I had left by accident. I was unfortunately at the house where we used to live together to pick up our daughter last week, and she needed a diaper change so I went up to her bedroom. I had decorated her whole nursery and he hasn’t changed a thing, down to the air plants (now long dead) that I hung in terrariums from her ceiling. Could be just laziness but he is a neat/clean/control freak so I think it is sort of odd that he is suffering dead plants in his house.

            Like you Chickynot, I think that these things are kind of a subtle reminder to whoever he is with to work harder. As in, “look, I’ve had deep loving relationships with women who touched my soul before, so much that I’ve kept these special things they gave me, what are you going to do to compete with that?”

            And the weird baby’s room shrine to me just plays into his poor “pity me” narrative, just a poor misunderstood guy who couldn’t keep the mother of his child around because of his nebulous emotional issues. You know, it just takes the right woman to sort a man like that out… [insert massive eye roll here]

            • Wow Rockette, I never even thought about the house stuff. Neither of has moved out yet (and not like I plan to go anywhere). He hasn’t “officially” owned up to having his sugar baby GF, so hasn’t moved. But I know from his emails that he’s invited her to come stay at the house while I’m on a camping vacation with girlfriends a few weeks from now (eww will I ever be washing those sheets!). I’ve been kinda wondering if he plans to cover over all the family pictures all over the walls (lots of which he put up years ago). But now I realize he’s probably just gonna use those to control her! (I had first thought he invited her to secretly spite me, but now I think it’s both).

      • Mine wouldn’t wear his either. He said it made other women know that having an affair with him would be too easy because he’d only be available only for sex and not commitment.

        I swear to God, I’m not a moron, but I fell for that. Stupid!

        • My Lovely Narc Beast wore his ring the first year of our marriage. His personality flipped after that and he started rejecting me and my family. He’d leave with his ring on and come home with it off. I asked him one day where his ring was. He told me he left it on the bench in the locker room. I said can you call down there and ask them to put it in the office what if the cleaning crew takes it. He said it’s a worthless ring no value and it will be there tomorrow. I said ok it’s $200 but it’s the one I put on your finger. After that the excuse became he hates how it feels on his hand. No he’s just a cheating scumbag that couldn’t keep his story believable at work that I’m insane and he’s miserable and about to divorce me. Well I discovered his affair with a woman that works in his building. I think it’s hard to text your whore 4000 times a month with that wedding band obstructing your full range of motion. ? I was his ATM sandwich making cover story chumphole. After I had him served I told him im done taking his lies abuse and cheating. He said “you wanted a loyal husband that wore his wedding band and I wanted a sexy wife… neither one of us got what we wanted. Had you been my sexy whore I would have worn my ring to make you happy.” Funny because I did everything he requested trying to keep the beast from yelling at me. Everything. He texted and called me hundreds of times a day and still needed other women to stroke his ego and thrill him. Thank God I got the strength to file there’s no fixing this kind of man. I think i married a monster with human skin.

      • Mine ALWAYS wore his. Didn’t keep him from being with other women though. When I said as much to him, he told me “this conversation is over.”

      • Mine wouldn’t wear his either! He had three all together that I bought for him during our 23 year marriage, that he found uncomfortable, afraid he’d lose them, etc. Meanwhile, I still have the dent in my finger from not taking mine off until my one and only D-day hit. He also kept his pay stubs at his numerous work desks over the years, never bringing them home. His pay would be direct deposited, so I never saw the deductions, and I was so busy working and paying bills I stopped pushing him to show me. Next week he is marrying his best friends significant other, I wonder how she’ll feel when she finds out about his child support payments? I’ve never been so glad to have the chance to start over in my life…

    • The not wearing the wedding ring is a huge red flag, as is the alpha male syndrome. When X and I married, after being together a long time (a whole other story), we were both respected professionals, but early in our careers. He didn’t want me to take his last name, and I thought it was because he respected me so much. He also never, ever wanted to wear a wedding ring, so much so that I didn’t even give him one during our five minute notary signing ceremony (another huge red flag).

      In reality, he didn’t want anyone to think we were married for over 25 years! While he played the loving husband and father at home, in public, it appeared to many people that we were more like professional associates. At the time, it all seemed to make sense. I wanted to be a respected professional. What I failed to recognize was that he actually was compartmentalizing me, something narcissists do very well. When we divorced, some people saw it another corporation being sold. Probably to him, it was.

      From the very beginning, he also was an awful gift giver, until I begin to buy my own, expensive, gifts and made sure he got the bill. Then, for years, he just had a jeweler choose the jewelry for him; I doubt he even knew what was in the package before I opened it. Of course, as soon as my daughters were old enough, he passed that responsibility off to them. They loved it, and were always so excited to see my reaction when I opened what they had chosen for me! And, of course, it made him look like the hero, with zero effort on his part. It is the only jewelry I have kept; the rest of it had no significance to me at all. So even in gift giving, there was no effort from him, no thought about what I would enjoy.

      Two things also stand out about my final decision to leave and really illustrate how little narcissists think about their spouses. The first was when I simply asked him to name my favorite movie, after 30 years together. I certainly knew his favorite. I had it dozens of times, if not more, not because I liked the movie, but because I loved him. He looked at me as if I had two heads; he did not have a clue what kind of movie I might enjoy. See, what I loved just didn’t matter to him.

      The second goes back to the wedding ring. During our relatively brief wreckonciliation, I bought him a small gold band and insisted that he wear it. After two weeks, he took it off, claiming that it “bothered” him too much, and that he hated to wear ” jewelry.” It was a small symbolic gesture to me, but one that he was incapable of making. If there is one thing that says cheater, it is the refusal to wear a ring!

      Seriously, those two things confirmed for me that he did not give a shit about me, and never had. It is the small things, it really is.

      • Eh . . . I don’t know if I’d make too big a deal of the lack of wearing a wedding ring. My X was banging the OW all the time with his on. It never stopped him from trolling for strange.

        My husband now takes his off when he gets home and wears it whenever he leaves the house. (He’s always afraid of dinging it up working around the house.)

      • Violet — I wonder if you are my STBX’s college buddy’s wife!! (I know you’re not married to mine; wrong industry, but same gifting strategy, for sure!)

      • Oh man! Your post reminds me of my XH’s compartmentalizing!
        At home (by year two of 10 years together, 1 year married) he often barely tolerated me. I always was asking if I did something wrong or if he was mad. His response (even when obviously angry) was, “you have never seen me mad”. I know now that I was living with an abusive overly aggressive box of rage, but I digress.
        In front of his family or people he wanted to impress I was his beautiful wife who did this and accomplished-overly bragging to the point where I felt I needed to downplay his praise.He was also very touchy and affectionate in these situations.

        Around work buddies I was the ball and chain.

        Around couple friends he was the victim. “Let me ask my boss” (whenever someone asked him a question that he wanted to “consult” me on.) OR” I am just around to make all the money-I don’t actually get to enjoy anything because I am always working.” (Both total bullshit)
        Around my friends and family…oh that’s right, he never wanted to be around my friends and family.

        • “I know now that I was living with an abusive overly aggressive box of rage, but I digress.”

          THIS THIS THIS >>>

          This was my EXACT EXPERIENCE too. I could feel that he was angry with me, that things weren’t good, but the multiple times I brought it up (“are you happy?” “do you still love me?” why haven’t you asked me to marry you yet?” “why aren’t we married yet?”) he would insist that “of course” he was happy and still loved me and “I already consider us married – what more do you want?”

          I always thought he was a kind, soft “nice guy” – that’s the image he worked SO HARD to maintain.

          But when the mask fell he was exactly as you described.

          The most vengeful, rage-filled, aggro, repressed maniac I have ever come across.

          • Neja and neverlookingback, same personality as you both describe, always acting as if he could barely tolerate me and when I’d ask if he was angry he’d reply in an angry tone that, no he wasn’t, then he’d raise his voice and ask if I was looking for something to bitch about? then go into a lecture on how I was never happy.
            I’d ask if he loved me, he’d answer with, I’m here aren’t I?
            His public image was so much different, friendly, out going, life of the party, “Mr. Nice Guy.” Appeared so open minded and understanding, went out of his way to pull chairs out for people to sit down or find them a chair, offer to get them something to drink. I actually had other wives tell me how lucky I was to be married to someone so nice and so funny. If he was actually that way behind closed doors I would be lucky but he was nothing like that when he didn’t have an audience. He never brought me a drink the entire time we were married, or pull out chair for me.
            Behind closed doors he was abusive, spiteful, sarcastic and cruel.

            • Brit & Neja, if we went to the cinema, my ex-fucker used to wait until every single other person had got up and went down the aisle before he started to leave. “After you, after you…” he would say to them all, gesturing wildly. He couldn’t possibly join the queue and make his way in an orderly fashion with the rest of the crowd. No, he was special, he was NICE. “After you, pleeeease.”

              Then that fucker hits me with that infidelity shit. The lies he was telling friends about how much of a tyrant I was, withholding money… There was NOTHING nice about him.

              They are two-faced ghouls.

              • Never — the movie thing? He doesn’t want to be seen walking out with you. Might spoil it in case an OW or two is in the crowd.

            • NeverLookingBack, no matter where we were X would go out of his way for others, almost tripping himself in public places sprinting so he could hold the door open for strangers. He’d make a special effort if it were an elderly person particularly a women. He’d make these exaggerated faces and body movements to draw attention to himself or say something he thought was humorous or amusing when in actuality it was dumb. Most people would smile or fake laugh, to be polite. I’d feel embarrassed for him. Afterwards I could see him look around to see if other people noticed how nice he is.
              This same “nice” person would walk past me in the hallway at home and stand so I couldn’t get past him, then without looking at me, say MOVE! He wouldn’t budge or say excuse me. He’d never reveal this side of himself in public.
              Funny how we are labeled different things depending on the audience,
              ball and chain, to some people he worked with, the psycho bitch to others, the boss in front of certain friends or strangers, he’d act like the wounded abused animal around his family, the loving considerate husband in front of my family.
              I can only imagine how he described me to his AP and who ever else he encountered.
              No, there’s nothing nice about them. He had me convinced that he was a man of integrity, he drilled it into to my head almost daily with his long lectures on what a great guy he is.
              Yes, they’re two-faced, and vile creatures.
              CN and CL saved my sanity.

              • Brit same here. I hate the labels and names. I was called a backpack, miserable wife, mentally insane, ungrateful, immature baby. He would bitch that he had to babysit me when we went out because i didnt know how to get men away from me. Yeah I do if I was able to get one sentence out before Ball-o-Rage came storming over screaming an inch away from anyone who looked at me or spoke to me. After a while i looked down at the floor so i wasnt the cause of any innocent men getting hurt. To his family he referred to me as “She” and not my name. I suspected that it was going on behind my back too… and still knocked the wind out of me when I read the messages between him and the whores.
                But that public image! Just like you said Brit it’s like 2 completely different people and I find it horrifying.

        • This …every word brit. I found out later he constructed a characature of me for each of his life circumstances : work buddies like you say brit i was the ball and chain and “kept him under the thumb ” (apparently people used to make the thumb forehead sign in reference to me ) : for old friends he was the victim : for his family i controlled everything : for my family he was the perfect gushing son in law. Makes me physically sick to think he played me like i had no feelings.

          • Same. I figured it out after he kept calling me from work speaking loud in an over enunciated slow way… “Umm hi babe (fake nervous voice) is it OK if I can please go out for a drink with my work friends. I promise I won’t be gone long. It’s only guys no girls”. all this was said like I was asking him questions and controlling him but I wasn’t even talking. This is so fake that it actually scared me. This is the guy that got drunk and didn’t come home or call. That went on guy trips every other weekend. if i took a nap on sunday id wake up and find out he went to the bar no note just left. it’s fake as shit and remembering this now is making me want to barf.

      • Red Flag…. Wedding Ring. She had lost weight and said her ring keep falling off and it got in the way of her Yoga….. A RED FLAG indeed!

        I wish I had followed up more on that excuse….took me two more years to figure it out (now 6 year out)!

        What a CHUMP I was!

  • I can top the license plate cover. The Christmas right before D-Day, I got kitchen shears. Should have put them to good use a few months later when I found out what he had been up to. 😉

    Disparaging comments about what I liked – music, books, movies, things to do. Always noncommittal about doing something as a family unless it was his idea. I rarely got to meet with my friends as he had to go out “networking” (this was basically getting wasted with his friends). As it was “networking”, spouses couldn’t come, which was good as babysitters cost a lot of money. Not sure why this sounded logical at the time. lol Asking him for date nights, not only did I get the babysitter excuse but also the explanation that he didn’t see the point as we were already married.

    A lot more coming to mind – I think I’m going to stay with cats from now on LOL

        • I got large Army sweatpants AND a sniper book when I was pregnant with our 2nd child. Husband was then an Army medical resident, & I was in the Army JAG Corps, which I joined for him. I’m a lawyer, not a sniper, and mostly they are not the same.

          Worse, I saw these ludicrous presents as endearing b/c he was working SO HARD that he really didn’t have time to shop anywhere other than hospital gift store. Years later my engagement ring was stolen. Our insurance covered it, but when he went to replace it, he called me in irritation and I recall feeling somehow responsible and guilty.
          Then he bought a ring and stone in the shape I specifically said not to get (“anything other than X”) and it had worn letters in it. OMG I must have blocked this out b/c I never confronted this before now.
          Back when he was in med school and internship and residency, I told myself that someday all this work (and time away from our kids and massive personal neglect) would pay off.

          THEN we’d have TIME together and THEN we’d have money! Except after 35 years, I got sick and he left me for Alaska and the “Christian” adulteress who lives there. No contact with our 3 kids, either. Because they’re ungrateful…

          I’m an intelligent educated woman and yet, here I am. Still spinning. WTF?

          • Giving a sniper book to a pregnant woman as a gift? Was the dude suicidal? Or did his “shooting partner” reject it? That boggles my mind.

          • Know what you mean about hoping all the years of hard slog and supporting their long hours, on-call, study etc for medical training will pay off (I was also doing the same, just less prestigious specialty with saner hours). He had no intention of staying with me, I was another first wife who supported him in the early years and got dumped for younger more submissive OW. Having said, that, I would never want that back, a big house / fancy holidays / comfortable retirement is meaningless if you are married to a toxic cheater narc surgeon.

            • Vastra, I hear you. When I met the Fucktard, he’d just gotten his Ph.D. and passed his licensing exam in Clinical Psychology. He earned less that $17k a year. I was finishing my B.A. and applying to Law School and working full time. I supported him while he built his practice and took shitty clinic jobs and was there when he had the good fortune to stab a former mentor in the back and take over his research job at a major university, and when he went on to a minor professorship, and clawed his way up that ladder to Chair of his Division at another major university. He did both at once, and had many more hours a day to enjoy himself than I did. When I graduated from Law School, he said he hated lawyers. He invited his entire family but never planned lunch and said it was my fault they had nothing to eat because I hadn’t bothered to care about them. He invited four family members to stay with us during the Bar Exam. I shut that down, so I was selfish. The torpedoes just kept coming when my career was going well. If I had to work hard it was because I was too stupid to choose an easier profession, or because I was having an affair. Projection much?

              I too was the supportive first wife. The anticipated but never accepted backup plan when the student promised my house and function did not satisfy a person who called himself “Doctor” every day, just for the wow factor he felt from that.

              But time marches on. My life is better since that shit is gone. I found a dream job over 15 years ago and I won’t look back. So what if I designed a nice home that was used by a shithead as a lure? I have a better home and life now. Yes, those trappings are meaningless.

              • In my head I believe you Survivor. I get it, in my head. But yet I’m still trying to find meaning in this. My resume has gaping holes and his is pristine. I’m starting over and I’m 57. And, I kid you not, HE is furious with ME. QUIT his AMAZING job to avoid paying me spousal support.

                Like I have wronged him. Somehow he’s the hero and I’m the villain – and that makes me screw my head in the ceiling. I’m not near meh yet. I want to be, but is there meaning in this??

              • Mine had a Phd and went on to work in drug/alcohol research. When he was in a senior research, he began fucking one of his Phd students from his office.

                I had two degrees, and was completing my third – however somehow none of that mattered against his precious Phd and his career.

                Apparently my studying all the time made our life together “boring” which is why he started fucking his student at work. See, it was all my ‘fault’ – I sucked. He was perfect! How dare I not live up to his standards. It was, after all, my job to make him happy!

                But all those years HE studied? That wasn’t boring. No, not at all – that was his future!

                WTF the hypocrisy of it all. Fuckers, the lot of them.

              • Pilot’s first wife here, Air Force, long period of time away from home. Left the service, unemployed, helped him study and fill out his resume, choose clothing for interviews, he got hired by major airline, less than a year later he’s furloughed by major airline, he joined the military reserves to maintain and build flying hours while I was finishing up my teaching credentials. His reserve job was in another state and he didn’t want to be alone or commute. He convinced me to leave school, not to worry the sacrifice would pay off someday. Two years later I begged him to apply to another airline since it had been over two years since being furloughed. He didn’t want to, but he finally applied, he got hired, finally medical and dental benefits for us and our child, better pay and benefits than the other airline. He was based in another state, so another major move. An airline pilot doesn’t earn much money in the early years.
                He makes Captain, and finally living comfortably that’s when he decides he wants something different. Then took a step down with the airline so his spousal support would be less. Now he’s on “disability”. He’s relentless with playing games with support. I hate him. He acts as if I deserve to be punished, for what? supporting him? following him around the country so he wouldn’t need to commute or be alone. I sacrificed my career, he insisted I be a stay at home Mom and wife. While he traveled all over the world I was home living in some dump in the middle of now where with a toddler, not knowing anyone. This isn’t the life I was promised or looked forward to. I don’t know how he can live with himself, he has no remorse, guilt or empathy. Clearly a sociopath.

              • Same sad story – Dr. Gagg had me working and taking care of our babies while he went to vet school….and then did an internship….. and then a residency, at a university veterinary teaching hospital no less (narc has to teach and shine and sparkle in front of students instead of getting a decent paying job in private practice) so the dreams I had of one day leaving teaching to be a stay-at-home mom were never to come to fruition. But hey, we were in it together, right? Struggling to pay of 250K of loans he took out while in school, saving what we could for retirement….. Until Horse Face [email protected] sashayed into the picture and Dr. Gagg couldn’t be man enough to stay faithful to his wife and children. Now he wants to give me $400/month for child support or he’ll just *have* to put that $250K down as marital debt and have me help pay it off, and then is furious with me for retaining a lawyer.

                I get it. I know meh is somewhere on the horizon, but it’s not in my sights yet. I still cry over what I lost (which was an illusion) and the life I planned and dreamed I’d have with him. All lies.

            • Oh, forgot to mention: yes, Horse Face C&nt was also a student where he teaches, 18 years younger than him. He’s a disgusting cliche.

              • X would refer to the sacrifices made as us working towards “our” career.
                “Our career” has left me living without medical or dental benefits. It’s been over 20 years since I graduated from college. X and his attorney made a request to the judge that I meet with a career counselor for an evaluation. $2000.00 for testing and an interview with the career counselor in his opinion, the only job that I have a chance of getting is at the Hilton, or Marriott hotel, early in the morning, serving coffee to businessmen from a coffee cart.
                Excuse my language but wtf??

          • “I’m a lawyer, not a sniper, and mostly they are not the same.”

            OMG, Doctor’s 1st Wife/3 kids, that is TOO funny!!

            • Gift Giving – BIG RED FLAG!!!!

              A $20 Christmas decoration from a truck store with the tag still on it ( was driving in the US until the 24th – so I felt sorry for him – duh.

              No presents for anyone at holiday gift giving time – but he went out and bought himself a shiny new toy?!?!

              Others that I can now look back on

              1. Refusing to kiss me because he didn’t get something his way -ONCE.
              Didn’t kiss me for the next 12 years of our marriage. Grudge much?

              2. Letting me drive an unsafe vehicle to taxi kids around in ( no breaks – used the clutch to stop sometimes ) while he always had a very nice truck.

              3. Had to be the centre of attention – always. Need for the spotlight.

              4. Hated people. If he did not see eye to eye with somebody ( maybe they saw the real him ) he wouldn’t be able to just shrug it off. Nooo – not him.
              He HATED them and would make them miserable if he could do it. Turn others against that person etc

              5. Commenting on their people’s appearances -always.
              So and so isn’t looking as good as she used to – put on weight. Oh – she’s pretty but too heavy in the legs. He lost his looks …. And on and on.
              My point is that they are about as deep as a puddle.

              6. Just a friend. Sorry – going out for dinner, or any other event with another woman from work, school or the gym is a date. Period.

              7. Being compared to any other woman is a big red flag.
              Or they are still fixated on one that “got away”. Run fast!!

              8. Lonely guy. He needs you ( or anyone with a pulse and a vajajay ). He’s lonely for a reason !!!

              I could go on – but my coffee is cold

        • Is there a cheater handbook with a camo lingerie chapter???

          He kept talking about it – “let’s go to Bass Pro Shop and get you some camo lingerie.” It was usually said in jest, but maybe semi-serious…?

          He never bought it for me. Too cheap. RARELY bought me gifts, as per the cheater MO.

          So I finally bought myself a camo sports bra to be funny.

        • I got red and black but also so small I’m not sure who could fit it. Made an effort once.

          He came last night to get more things from the house. I started piling things in the spare room that I didn’t want and that piece was in it. He told me I could bin it and I said it was his to deal with.

          • If I got that from my STBX, it would have been a re-gift that didn’t fit Sugarbaby.

          • 1141,
            Good to hear he finally got his dirty laundry out of your house.
            Let somebody else do it for him.
            Soon he’ll be at the laundromat doing it himself!
            ( he’ll need to add more bleach ) !

            • Haha yes peacekeeper the laundry pile is gone! 🙂

              It was an emotional night and next day. Always a step back when we have to have contact. But slowly and surely we’ll get to a dissolution and the amplitude of the waves gets smaller bit by bit.

        • Nearly every Xmas for the past five years: Golden toe socks. The kind old men wear.

          • Easier to care for than bare root roses, but I get your point. Nothing says true love like a pair of generic geriatric socks.

            • How about a starter mushroom growing kit in a box? Nothing says love or romance like growing your own mushrooms right?

              Other red flags:

              -Not wearing wedding rings (bought 3 and then stopped).
              -No friends in 36 years.
              -Over the top “Nice Guy” for attractive younger women. Flirting with them in front of me. At social gatherings he would seek out females; the more outward attractive, the more interested he was. If I questioned his behavior I was jealous, insecure or crazy.

              -Years and thousands of dollars invested in his next “get rich quick”
              idea. Promises that it would all be worth it. Broken promises and the easy street future never materialized.

              -Long hours and weekend work were for our future and I had to trust him.

              This is the short list. Ugh! Soooooo….happy to be rid of him!!!

      • Too funny. One of the many very strange things cheater boy did while deeply involved with the most recent of the sluts was, inexplicably, send me a pic of camo lingerie one day while he was shopping in the little town in which they “worked.” I now get that what he would do was wait for her to leave for the office, then have his moment of contact with me, though that dwindled to almost nothing eventually. But the camo undies pic came very late in the game, and I still have no idea WTAF was up with that. Would not shock me if he bought them for her, but who knows? The layers of his disorder can not be overestimated.

        He also purchased, for their home, a certain antique I had been hunting down for ages, and in which he had and has zero interest. Did not discover that until I found it on the list of items they were willing to sell. Nice. And strange. They are strange people.

        • Is it a weird disordered thing? To get things for their APs that their spouses have longed for?
          I had always wanted to have a holiday at the Timberline lodge. The Shining was filmed there, (parts of it, anyway) and my grandmother and I would talk about going there together. Alas she died before we could actualize our dream.
          My husband would go snowboarding at Mt. Hood once a year, and we talked about making the trip together.
          It never happened.
          I did discover, going through his emails, just one month post D-Day, that he did make reservations at the Timberline for the following March. When I asked him about it (hoping he’d at least lie and say it was a surprise for me, even though I knew better) he said the reservation was for when his friend and him went snowboarding in the spring. I threatened to call said friend, and he then exclaimed “He doesn’t know yet!”
          So he made a $1200 reservation for a three night stay in a room with one queen size bed?
          They went up the hill every spring that’s true, but I knew our friend would never split a bill like that only to share a queen size bed.
          I lied and said I saw the email attached to the reservation. He just gave me a blank stare (you know the one) and asked me how much I saw. I said everything. He didn’t say a word. He packed his things but before leaving, asked me details about what I saw in the email. When he realized didn’t actually read any email, and that I just found the reservation, he back tracked, refusing to leave.
          He did admit that he made the reservation for him and his slutress, and eventually cancelled it. (it took him a month!)
          But he broke my dream and my memory of my grandmother and our shared fondness for the Timberline lodge. I’d rather set the place on fire than step foot inside. He ruined it.

          • It’s probably not meant as a personal affront — they get this stuff for their AP’s cause they figure, if YOU liked it, that must mean it’d be a good gift to impress the next woman with. After all, CL is right — they lack empathy, so are completely clueless about what ANY other person might like. Once mine got our then-18 year old son a set of lawn ornaments for Christmas (and, as his sister pointed out, “my brother doesn’t have a lawn”).

          • I do think they take some weird satisfaction in that sort of thing, yes.

            Another weird one: I eventually realized that he had his slut post to FB a cropped photo–just her face–of one of the sex pics DD eventually saw on his phone in its entirety.

            The need to deceive, play games, keep secrets just runs all the way to their (shallow, basically hollow) cores.


            • So true, Cashmere!!! It is sick and scary the joy they get out of that shit.

          • Let me tell you they ruin everything. It’s like they can’t help it. Stbx has taken Peachtitties (yes she posted a pic on Insta with peach halves in front of her breasts, classy) to every place we had memories at. He’s also racking up personal debt like no tomorrow trying to impress her. She just quit her job and is now putting pressure on him to sell up, retire and go live in the small country town she lives in. Umm he tells adult kids that he’s not even going to pretend that’s going to happen. What she doesn’t know is he has fresh supply. Suck eggs PT’s. It’s only a matter of time before you become a statistic with a cheater. Meh goodluck to them.

      • Camo lingerie. Wow. Mine would get me pajamas for Christmas and then get pissed off when I wore them. He wanted me to sleep naked, even when our kids were small and would need Mommy during the night. I never understood the logic of buying me a gift (which I liked) and then being angry with me for appreciating and using the gift. Idiot.

    • Mine always gave me what appeared to be thoughtful gifts but were really things that he thought I should like or that that would make him look good. Things like jewelry and clothing. “see what great husband I am, I keep my wife well”. I generally wanted simple things. I actually wanted the spice rack I had asked for but he didn’t give me because somebody else told him it wasn’t a nice thing to give your wife. He also poo pooed giving me the booty slippers I wanted because only old ladies wear those. I have no doubt that Schmoopie will be thrilled with the expensive jewelry and clothes. I also have no doubt he can’t afford her. He doesn’t work for the bank anymore and he is still going to be making child support payments.

      • He also gave me a $300 purse when he knows I don’t use a purse because I have my work bag (the one I can fit a laptop into).

        I did love and use all of the great wallets he gave me over the years including the one that matched the purse I used twice.

        He was upset when I didn’t use the gifts he gave me but was also upset when I did because then they would get warn so I obviously wasn’t taking care of them.

        He wanted a trophy wife.

      • Mine also went for the showy stuff. Meaningless, but pricey. Have sold off most of it. Buh-bye, dumb stuff that mean zip.

      • mine would always come home after business travels with either face creams or workout clothes. I figured he was trying to tell me just get younger looking and thinner, just like the hookers he was banging while I was home raising our child. He also bought several times sweater so it looks like Persian carpets, very similar to what his mother would wear. Ick.

      • “Mine always gave me what appeared to be thoughtful gifts but were really things that he thought I should like or that that would make him look good.”

        THIS >>> Was my life. You summed it up perfectly.

      • I’m sorry. He must have had a lot of confidence to trust that no strangulation or stabbing would ensue.

        • OMG I just remembered. Our last Christmas together he gave me an extravagant new iPhone6 (& a matching one for himself). Then 18 months later, while living in my sister’s basement with my dog, I realize I’ve been paying for his phone AND mine, on my credit card the whole time. Jesus…

          • I got an early days cell phone in my Christmas stocking once. Turns out it was free for signing me up for paying for a two year contract. I explained patiently that a gift isn’t supposed to cost the recipient, and that if I could afford it I would have bought it myself. He said that was why it was in my stocking instead of under the tree.

            • i had access to his phone records till we separated and he idiotically sent our youngest his “old” phone since hers broke. RED FLAG!!! But yes there are texts to OW#1 (or #6047??)

              and yes they are incriminating but I filed in CA so it’s only somewhat relevant. I do feel like a fool. My kids saw things I did not see until now.

              WTF was wrong with me?? I slap my forehead and think, after 35 years of loving him loyally (and I did love that man deeply), that I may now hate him. Which is so not meh.

              I want to stop caring – truly, b/c the anger is NOT helpful to me. HOW do we get to meh???

    • Epic cheapskate gave me a wrapped box of copy paper that he had stolen from work.

      • At least it was wrapped. Did he stuff your stocking with individually wrapped tp from work as well?
        What an ass!

        • FedUp, my god you really did just make me LOL with the tp comment ??? thanks for that good laugh

      • Copy paper? You’ve got to be kidding, seriously? ??‍♀️

      • Mine bought me a BMW for my birthday for show, (I didn’t want it but he insisted, said he’d be insulted if I turned it down) it was for him, for everyone to notice, look at what a great guy he is. He would ask me if I told people what he had bought me for my birthday.
        Eight months later he left and filed for divorce and denied the car was a gift. I’m unemployed yet required to pay for this car, reimburse him what he put down on the car and make the remaining payments on the birthday gift that I didn’t want, I was happier with my mini van.
        He told the judge, I went to the dealership and made him buy the BMW. Like I had the power to make him do anything.

  • He always talked a lot about other women— colleagues, friends, exes, etc. He didn’t have close male friends. I didn’t like it, but I blamed myself and thought I needed to work on my own “jealousy” issues. Of course he encouraged this. I didn’t know that narcissists enjoy something called “triangulation” where they bring a third person into the picture and set up rivalries for amusement. Right after he proposed to me on a special beach, he just had to tell me how he had talked a lot with his friend Kathy about the proposal and how it should be. That made me uncomfortable but I let it go like all the other little red flags. Fast forward— turns out he has a secret sex addiction. I ran and we are now divorced. He is supposedly in treatment and “working on developing same sex friendships.” He’s 56 but hey, better late than never I guess!!

    • My STBX did this while I was pregnant — with all three.

      My self-esteem was shot already. I would feel strangely “off” and self-critical when he would take me somewhere (like his job) and I would meet a woman he knew. I could never quite figure out why it bothered me so much. I had never been a jealous person because I grew up in a household with tons of it —
      and I hated it. So, instead of questioning him, I questioned myself. And I became horribly self-conscious.

      Twenty years later, I find out that during each pregnancy he had been parading me in front of his OWs (for his own sick amusement). (Yes, he did it at other times too … but those instances really leave a bad taste in my mouth.)

      • Oh, mine liked to take his 19 year old whores to upscale shops and new, hot restaurants, parade them around, and then take me there the following week.

        I think it made him feel special, proving to practically total strangers that he could bag young women and still maintain a trophy wife.

        Thing is, nobody gave a crap! In fact, several people said after the fact that they felt sorry for me and thought he was an ass for doing it. Of course, none of these people bothered to let me in on the secret either.

        They all said they figured it was none of their business, or assumed I must already know and was ok with it. I wish people would get more involved instead of turning a blind eye.

        • “They all said they figured it was none of their business, or assumed I must already know and was ok with it. I wish people would get more involved instead of turning a blind eye.”

          Me too. It really sucks to be the last person to know what in the heck is being done to harm you.

        • When I first moved to the city after grad school, I waitressed. My coworkers and I saw this all the time. All the husbands who would bring their girlfriends to the restaurant and then bring their wife and sometimes kids! And sit in the same table!! We would fantasize how to blow the whistle on them without getting fired. Disgusting.

      • Jesss Mom- I, too had a bad feeling at his work. One night we would dress up for his work Christmas party and he spent 1000. on a suit n shoes for himself( I had no idea until after, oncluding matching tie to match my dress). And he was super affectionate and was getting me drinks etc. Ppl weren’t coming up to me to talk to me but a couple of times I saw some women approach him in the drink line and put their hand on his chest and he wouldn’t walk away. Huge red flag now I see why. He was patading me infront of women he slept with and he was their manager. He actually told me on dday that these women wpuld never say anything and no one knows at the company. Sick bastard.

    • My STBX was always talking about his female friends. He would always say how well he thought his female friends and I would get along, but somehow whenever I wanted to try to get together with them, he would mysteriously “forget” to give me their email addresses, or invite them to parties we threw. Now that I’ve found out that he’s a sex addict/amorous narcissist, I know that he was sleeping with at least two of these women, and trying to sleep with several more. I do wonder if he was trying to get me to be jealous, but as an adult who is capable of having non-sexual friendships with members of the opposite sex, I never dreamed of it.

      • Yes it’s hard for those of us who are capable of non sexual relationships with people to understand how these disordered personalities think. We do assume a degree of normalcy in other people that might not be there. When a disordered person has been very close to you, the pain is intense. That’s why we need this space to talk to each other.

        • Interesting point!

          My dad raised my brother and I … I was used to hanging around guys in completely Platonic friendships. Looking back I can see that I projected my innocent perspective onto him.

          But, I will grant myself a bit of a break — he is one hell of a good actor. Never came home late; never received strange phone calls; never made strange phone calls, etc. (He always cheated while AT work or at least when I had every reason to believe he was at work.)

          • My ex was always jealous of my relationships with my guy friends. I had two brothers and always had more guy friends in high school and college, so to me, it wasn’t a big deal. But ex would always tell me, “No matter if he’s your friend or not, a guy will ALWAYS want to sleep with you.” Little did I know he was describing himself!

              • Mine says the same thing too. Always making innocent things sexual and disgusting.

              • He told me all a guy wants from a woman is to hook up with her.
                But his female contacts were never flirts, nooooo siree, they were jokes, bets, just friends and all of that.
                He cant even admit it, but the evidence is hard against him and i didnt need more at one point.

            • Mine didn’t mind, strangely. Though, he loved to make fun of me because I tended to not SEE it when someone was hitting on me. I was so flippin’ oblivious … and he thought my naivete was amusing.

              I’ll have to ponder that one. His motivation had to be crappy and mean-spirited. Turns out, it always was.

              • He didnt mind because he had decided he didn’t want that turf. They select their turfs.

            • Got the same lecture too (while he was cheating!). Projection much? LOSERS

          • Mine Too! In so many ways a “model” husband. My friends would always tell me how lucky I was that he was home for dinner every night and never demanded “guys nights.” Little did I know, he didn’t have to. His flexible work environment and schedule along with travel I had zero reason to suspect (When the army sends you, you go), meant he never had to. He also had a government issued phone that I could never ask to see or open. But, he really wasn’t on it. There was nothing suspicious about this aspect of his behavior. After it all came out everyone was like “How could you not know?” Why in the hell would you assume your husband was banging prostitutes over his lunch hour? Who would think that. I guarantee if I HAD thought that, those same people would have told me I was crazy for thinking so. No way for a chump to win.

          • At work? Or just at the office?

            I’ll never forget how proud of himself my Shaman-Level Energy STBX was as he explained how he hadn’t actually lied to me because he’d always been careful not to say that he “had to work late” but rather he “had to stay late at the office.” Which was true enough, he did have to stay late – to meet up with his Froot Loop Schmoopie.

            • Wish i had read the alternative decode for the english language. …he made everything ok in his head because the “lie” was not technically a LIE. he used lawyers to tell me how generous he was going to be in child support by saying….”the lawyers will start at X and take it from there. It is fair ( in the eyes of the law anyway ) ” sure you are going to hide behind lawyers to be told you’re doing the right thing…. well done you !!

          • Similar story, Jesssmom. I grew up with brothers. Prefer guy friends generally. He grew up with sisters, and always got on really well with women. I thought that was great. The thing is, for nearly 25 years, he wasn’t fucking them. They really were just friends (oh, believe me, I have now years of retrospective detective work behind me on this!) And then, he fucked ALL that trust. Also a FANTASTIC liar during the affair. I had no idea. He wasn’t out late. Or unexplainably absent. He did all the travelling to her house – she usually came to ours, though – and fucking her while I was at work. Being a self employed farmer, he could make the time. And the place, well, we had several of those they could smear their filth over. Very clever. He says he scared himself with how expert he was at lying.

        • Very good point. My ex had lots of female “friends” at work and I never thought twice about it. Never once thought or questioned that they were anything but nonsexual friendships. Of course, once I knew about his serial infidelity, I did wonder if there was more to those friendships than I thought but whatever. Too meh now to care one way or the other.

      • I knew the first time Jackass mentioned the MOW (wondering “where her husband was” at a funeral, talking about her coming over to see his mother’s dining set which might have someday been for sale) that he was involved with her. There’s not as much fine in the triangle if the person being betrayed doesn’t know about it.

    • My ex also had only female friends. All his male had serious problems and only lasted a month or so. His one life long make friend was a serial cheater. Ex used to talk about how disgusting that behavior was yet still maintained the friendship.His reason for no make friends was that he was couldn’t trust them not to hit on me!!

    • “He always talked a lot about other women— colleagues, friends, exes, etc.” This was Kaa. When after 22 years I suggested he had EAs . He became angry and said it was the creation of “gob shite journalists ” also he noticed that I didn’t have close male friends like his close female ones. He often gave presents that benefited him. I got a bigger frying pan and a curry cook book for my birthday in the first year ( he is a glutton now with OW who is a professional cook). A set of mugs for my 50th. Re gifted His present from his employer one Christmas along with a cd that had been in the car for weeks. He refused to see this as unreasonable. Last wedding anniversary he got me a season ticket to an art gallery that he had already one for . A couple of months after he left he took OW.

    • My ex-cheater-husband, too. He started the triangulation just a few months after I moved 650 miles away from my family to be closer to him. He said he went out for dinner with his ex-girlfriend (they were still in college together and dated/sex for 3ish years). I was like, “What?!!” And he was like, “it’s no big deal. We are just friends. Everyone does this.” RED FLAG! And then his other female “friend” that he was planning to visit in England (she went into the Army) after college graduation. While he was there visiting his “friend”, I found what looked to be love letters from her to him. Her saying, “If you come visit me, we can spend the ENTIRE night together and have sex.” I read these letters while he was visiting her there with a male friend. I was devastated! I was too embarrassed to admit that I read the letters, so I just asked him about her and of course he said she was “just a friend.” I FAILED TO TRUST MY GUT!!! And I spackled and wanted to believe he was the “nice guy” that was in front of me. Years and years of him talking about other female “friends.” So many stories to tell.

      A few years back, we went to the owners of the company he works for annual summer party. One of the guys that my ex worked with came up to us and he said to me, “Assbrain spends most of his day walking around work visiting and talking with all the women.” He said it in a joking kind of way, BUT now I know he wasn’t joking at all! My cheater just did the narc smirk when this guy said this. It was the truth!

      My cheater listed off the name of three women he “gave up for me” while we were married. I guess they were some of his many, many emotional affair/”healthy female friends”. I had never ever heard of these name before!

      My God the triangulation!! I do not miss that horrible, uneasy feeling I’d have. He got to the point where he was 100% underground with his “healthy female friends” and he got to the point that he wouldn’t even tell me he went out with male co-workers/friends for lunch. Even if the male was our pastor or the best man at our wedding. I called him out on why don’t you tell me you went out for coffee with our pastor or your best man and he said something really mind-fucking — I can’t even remember what it is anymore because it was so crazy when he said it!

      The hardest part has been trying to forgive myself for not trusting my gut/intuition. There were so many red flags even before we got married, but I spackled and ignored and trusted the cheaters words and not actions.

      • We met at work in my country where he came in as a consultant for 2 months. We chatted daily but had one gone out only once before he left for good, I thought. I was totally off my feet. Then in a month he called me, asked to take time off and join him in a road trip. I was thrilled! After 10 days of intensive love bombing he proposed and I said yes. First red flag of moving fast that I ignored. I thought I was so special this alpha male chose me! And the prospect of engaging into a long distance relationship at 30 was not very enticing. I thought he was the man!

        He left again and we decided I would spend a month or so with him over in his country before the big wedding we planned in a year. Then he disappeared for 4 months. No emails or phone calls. When I finally emailed him that I was calling it quits he resurfaced and called and pretended to be so busy and surprised! Why! We decided to marry, right?! This was followed by another intensive month of sparkles with him then another 4 months of separation and the big adventure wedding in the mountains which I fully implemented under “his guidance” as he liked to joke. The red flag then was that he refused to wear a wedding band and was going to borrow one from his uncle for the church ceremony only. One of our guests, a jewelry designer, overheard our argument the day before the wedding and gave us his present in advance: identical looking rings, staineless steel with 3 golden moving balls in them, nice but nothing like a wedding band. Cheater fell in love with them and committed to wearing them always but they looked nothing like a wedding band so no threat to his hook ups with OWs. Another red flag ignored.

        And after I moved cross countries the triangulation started pretty much right away with his multiple female friends. I was the jealous one, the one that did not understand real friendship. That went even after DDay when we were supposedly reconciling. He told me he would never give up “speaking” with his friends because they had a special place in his life. He told me he was not like me “easily discarding people from life” referring to my ex bf. That mindfuck still hauns me. Why oh why do we not trust our gut and choose to believe these idiots?

      • I have this same story. “My God the triangulation!” I left NY to move in with him in MN. He said he loved me and wanted to be with me but everything else he did spoke otherwise. I felt deparate for a partner in life. I found journal entries he wrote on a legal pad on the kitchen about other women. When I asked him about them he acted horrified that I would read his personal journal right there on the kitchen table. I should have averted my eyes, he said. He actually left a birthday dinner I made (for him) that we planned to help his married female friend with her laundry shoot, it seemed to have gotten “stuck”. He left me on a dance floor at his friend’s wedding for this same woman because she looked “uncomfortable” with the person she was dancing with (not her husband). This woman was particularly snarky to me. I felt sick inside. So many incidents that added up to a sick-making life. I did not trust my gut. I am still working on this.

        Tracy, perhaps a post? How do you trust your gut? I just took a job because it is better pay amd has healthcare, but my insides were saying no. I am worried that I act in deparation again.

      • Martha,
        You are a wonderful, caring woman.
        YOU have nothing to forgive yourself for.
        YOU did nothing wrong.

        ((((Hugs strong lady))))

    • “He always talked a lot about other women— colleagues, friends, exes, etc. He didn’t have close male friends.”

      THIS. He has close male childhood friends, but never hung out with them. However, he went to happy hours ALL THE TIME with female work colleagues. I questioned it but was told it was nothing. So I too thought it was just my jealousy. WRONG. Turns out all his affairs were with these work colleagues.

    • “He always talked a lot about other women— colleagues, friends, exes, etc. He didn’t have close male friends.”

      This was a red flag I missed too.

      I will never date/be with a man who only has female friends again. It’s too weird. Mine said, “I just don’t know how to relate to other men.”


  • Mine match most of CL’s … especially the lack of reciprocity. I bought him stuff a lot (mostly little small, thoughtful stuff — but stuff I knew he would like). And I always paid when we went out to eat. I didn’t have a problem paying because he was getting ready to move out of state to help care for his sick grandpa (long story). And, while this was all true … what I should have noticed was that he DIDN’T MIND that I paid for everything. Looking back, had the shoe been on the other foot, I would have felt terrible … offered to cook at home rather than eating out, etc.

    My STBX actually had a TON of friends and he had no problem introducing me to them — but all of them were “players” who drank too much. It didn’t occur to me that you pretty much convey WHO you are by whom you associate with often. And it never occurred to me to question my assumption that he was the mature one in the group. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Not even close! (Hell, I see now that he may have been one of the less mature ones …)

    Anger while drinking. I never had a problem with responsible drinking — responsibly (no driving) and not excessively. My STBX only drank some of the time I was around (oops, didn’t know he was drinking in my absence). But, once in a while, he would go into a blind rage while drinking. I hated it enough to demand that he quit drinking or I wouldn’t date him anymore. Two points here … 1) he quit drinking completely (which I mistakenly took as a sign of his maturity as well as his commitment to me). 2) I assumed the periodic rage would disappear with the alcohol. Nope. Rage is deeper than alcohol. It is a part of WHO he is.

    Maya Angelou … When people show you who they are, believe them; the first time.

    • OMG I also paid for all of our meals our! And he was very comfortable with that. He had child support to pay, he was transitioning from his finance career to psychotherapy, blah blah blah. Little did I know that he couldn’t afford a dinner out but he could afford a dominatrix for $300 an hour. Yes his secret ( did I mention he was a 50 something Dad and therapist in training?) was that bad.

      • Well, at least you didn’t pay his child support. Yep. I was that much of an idiot. His mom had been paying it [another huge red flag] …. so, when we moved in together, I told him we should start paying it and I would cover it until he found a new job. Because, you know, his other job didn’t quite cut it for Mr. Fantabulous. (***facepalm)

        And there is another red flag. Irresponsibility.
        And another. Unable or unwilling to keep a job for any length of time. (He always seemed to have such good reasons to quit … again, and again, and again …)

        • I don’t know if mine are specific cheater red flags or just douche bag flags

          A) despite a full time job, still living with brother and SIL in hoarder basement at age of 30

          B) despite no bills see A) declaring personal bankruptcy

          C) claiming a guy is your BF despite not seeing or hearing from him since you were 9, at the age of 32

          I had the rush to intimacy, he had no friends, he had never had a long term relationship and yet,

          I chose to overlook it all. I wanted to get married and was happy to have a met a tall, attractive to me physically, no children from past relationships guy who treated his mom like gold. I never thought I would sparkle so hard just to meet the socially “expected” life events of marriage and kids.

          I regret giving my kids the worst, emotionally unavailable DB of a biological father.

          Clearly, not MEH today.

          • Sorry you’re having a rough day, PhysicsGal. Sending a big virtual (((hug))) your way.

          • PG – Kids need ONE SANE PARENT… you’re it. Stop putting energy into regrets about your sperm donor. Give the kids an amazing Mom – you are enough.

            • I needed to hear this. Thank you Meh. I feel regret about who I chose for my child’s father constantly.

      • I forgot to add — I’m so sorry you had to put up with that. Isn’t it amazing how infantile an adult can be … even when he (or she) is darn near 50.

        With age comes wisdom, UNLESS the person is a disordered narc-type. 😉

  • Every. Single. One.

    I was wife #3 too.

    I would add following

    × he didn’t tell me about wife #2 until I Googled
    × he got pissed at me for googling
    × when I got pregnant he stayed home to take care of the fetus

    • “when I got pregnant he stayed home to take care of the fetus” I hope you’re far enough removed to not mind my saying that’s hilarious!!

  • I tried so hard to be wise!! I tried to assess his character, have my friends and family weigh-in on him. I saw red flags, but I spackled over them. Yes, he did everything on the red flag list above. Here is one red flag, my good and wise friend asked me, “How do you feel after he’s left?” I answered, “Relieved.”

    So anyway, Chump Nation, I’d like to share with you a milestone: all of our paperwork for divorcing is now before the judge, waiting for his signature. Getting to this place was a huge accomplishment, I don’t have the heart to list all or any of the agonizing steps and time it took to get here.

    I guess it’s really going to happen.

    There will be no remorse, no apology, no actions to reconcile. What was for me, my family, my friends, my faith community, an eternal commitment, was kind of a fling to my chosen one, I guess.

    I feel good from the no contact — it is such wonderful medicine!!! To get his demented spirit out of my psyche. I think clearly now. My emotions are stable. I am content.

    I am working my new life, and enjoying it. I feel God has blessed me. I don’t want another man in my life, romantically. I don’t think I can go through the whole arc of another relationship again. I don’t think I was made for that. I somehow built myself up enough to do it a second time, but I’m not willing to cheapen the whole marriage scene by trying again and again.

    While waiting for the decree to be finalized, a little part of me still wishes that a miracle could happen, he would realize what a shithead he’s been and say / do the right things . . .

    Moving on. Once the decree is signed and the divorce is finalized, I wonder how I will feel?

    • You are mighty, QueenMother. Such a long, tough journey behind you … and still a bit more to come. You are ahead of me in the process, but I also wonder what the other side of all of this will feel like.

      I like to imagine that the other side will feel safe; a bit like an adventure when I’m figuring out who in the heck I am; and a bit of a relief … having finally moved beyond the weight of the negativity that all of this has become.

      I hope it rains on the other side. I am looking forward to seeing a rainbow. 🙂

      Sending all my best!

      Take Care,
      Jess’s Mom

      • Dear JessMom and QueenMother,
        I wish for you, in your sky, very soon, the biggest ? Ever!!

      • My divorce was final last fall after Dday #2 in spring 2016. I moved fast with divorce when he moved out to pursue schmoopie. I knew the sparkle would wear off and he would no longer be accommodating as I had lived through this once.

        For me the finalization of the divorce was a starting point really. It meant he had no control in my life anymore. And much less in my kids life. He was a control freak and a dick to us.

        We still struggle to set boundaries with him. He keeps trying to rope the kids in for more time with him. The kids and I have said no to that.

        He’s just purchased a 5000 square foot house with almost an acre of land. Has all the bells and whistles. They still don’t want to go–imagine that. He expects them to do all the chores (he didn’t do any adulting in our 20 years together). But he makes good money as a doctor so he pays them chore money. Kids just butch about how long it all takes to do.

        My daughter tries to avoid going over as she says she has to feed the bear? She defines it as him making her spend more time with him and having more chores to do!!

        The fantasy life with schmoopie 2.0? I make no effort to seek out the scoop on this. But pursuing your 14 year old daughter’s 20 something assistant coach while your volunteer coaching seems like a bad idea all the way around ? Who couldn’t see where this was leading? They both got fired last spring. My daughter cut off communication with both of them and has just started talking to her dad again in the last few months.

        I think he may have a sadz. I don’t respond to his texts. Kids spend the required amount of time with him. I don’t think schmoopie is around anymore. The fairy tale ending came. But it was for me!!!!

        • MJB and Feelingit

          I feel a lot of pain in your posts, but mostly I see a powerful strength, a great love for your children.

          I just have to tell you, that I feel so proud of you both, you are a shinning example to all of CN.

          YOU, dear Ladies, are mighty,
          Your cheaters are…..well they are just trash, so much below you, difficult to find words to describe.
          As CL says, “Trust that they suck!”
          Just keep on being mighty. CN is happy to have your back!
          (Hugs to your precious children and strength to deal with their dealings with their father).
          I know that is what hurts the most and I am so sorry.


      • JesssMom 🙂

        The first morning I awoke in my home, a little over 2 months into my new single satan free life… 🙂 a double rainbow in the sky over my house!!!! 🙂 I wish I could post the pictures here…but??? And, last week there was another one!!! 🙂 The preceding storm was gnarly but! The double rainbow was miraculous! It will happen for you and all of us! I promise! 🙂

        (((((((JesssMom))))))) 🙂

        • Ooopsie 🙂 …should read NEW home 🙂 untained by satan home 🙂

        • That must have been spectacular! What a beautiful way to start your new, untarnished life!

          Thank you for sharing that — I’ll keep the visual firmly in mind. 🙂

          (((Hugs))) to you too, JeepTess!

          Take Care,
          Jess’s Mom

        • JeepTess,
          Just read your rainbow(S) post.
          Thank you for starting my day with a big happy smile!
          I needed that!

          You deserve a rainbow, double double, every day.


    • I don’t have any wisdom or advice but I found your post comforting in that I can Empathize with what you must have been through because I am there now. It is soothing to know chumps survive.

      I will say to you what I always want to hear: it’ll be ok.

    • Congratulations. The first time I was FINALLY divorced (a year and a half after filing) I smiled walking out of the courthouse. It was such a huge relief to be FREE.

      The second time, the end of March, I cried, even though I knew it was the only thing to be done. I loved him, I was fully invested in him, and it was final so quickly after filing, that I’m still mourning the death of that relationship. I’m good until I have to send my kids for visitation, with his new fake family and his Twatwaffle. Makes me sick to have to send my kids in so he can use them for props.

    • “There will be no remorse, no apology, no actions to reconcile. What was for me, my family, my friends, my faith community, an eternal commitment, was kind of a fling to my chosen one, I guess.

      I feel good from the no contact — it is such wonderful medicine!!! To get his demented spirit out of my psyche. I think clearly now. My emotions are stable. I am content.”

      Beautifully put. I agree. This was my experience also. I too am happier now – no one raping me (because I didn’t consent to having sex with him when he was having affairs therefore I consider that a form of rape), abusing me, manipulating me, fucking with me, wasting my time.

      I am 35 this year and freezing my eggs.

      I am finishing a degree in a profession I enjoy.

      I am working on real friendships with people who reciprocate.

      Life is good. No one to hold me back anymore.

      Phew. Huge relief.

  • My experience is that the love bombing can go both ways, and using their contacting you as a measure of their narcissistic ability is a double edge sword: they can also do reverse love bombing.

    What I mean by this is that they do not to call you when they say they will, they are late without an excuse. They do not return an SMS in a timely matter. For those of us who are there targets, as we take ownership of the relationship more than they do, we end up doing love bombing. We are triggered to chase them to give them centrality, and also let them know how far down our boundaries are with their behavior. They are essentially testing us to see how much abuse we are willing to put up with on the front end.

    • This! Consistent bad behavior followed by reasonable-sounding excuses is a red flag. It’s both testing you and gaslighting you (to set the stage where you are always “over-reacting” and the other person is always “reasonable”.)

      • Yep. I got the reasonable-sounding excuses, too, but now I know they were elaborate lies.

    • I have a new twist on reverse love-bombing; mine wanted me to write him a love poem long before I was ready to do so. When I finally packed up all his stuff two weeks before the divorce, the imbalance in romantic statements became abundantly evident–Hannibal had kept all the cards I’d given him over the years expressing my love. How many such cards did I have from him? zero.

      • Ugh…what a revelation, Tempest. Makes me sick what we put up with.

        • Calamity Jane–I suspect we ALL put up with a lack of reciprocity & kindness in our relationships, some instances are more tangible than others.

      • This could be me. In fact, it was. So many thoughtfully selected cards, from me expressing my deep love for him. A small amount of cheap dime store cards from him, usually purchased by his staff, and always just signed with his name.

      • Oh, think of how often the lack of things like nice gifts or cards makes us TRY HARDER.

        I keep trying to formulate in one or two sentences the problem of having to TRY to get someone’s love and attention, the idea that someone has to DO things or BE a certain way to get a particular partner. I think I operated on the belief most of my life. So I did lots of things to please people ad demonstrate….what? That I was worthy? Or attractive? I just didn’t understand that real love or even genuine interest in getting to know someone doesn’t come out of that mentality. It’s not that we do nice things to “buy” someone’s love; it’s that we are wasting our resources in a situation that will never be reciprocal. Today I bought fresh cucumbers from a farm stand. Got one for me and one for the Very Kind Man. And this week he’ll probably have a stack of magazines he saved from the recycling at his work. One of the first things he did was ask me which magazines I might want to read before he sends them to recycling. In a normal relationship, kindness is the language and the currency of interaction. And it flows both ways.

        • You hit the nail on the head.

          This behavior develops so slowly over time that we don’t even notice it happening. Then, after the relationship is over, we realize how strange it was.

          There were a few times when my cheater did something nice for me, like bring me coffee when I was up late working. I remember being floored by how nice that was at the time. But in a normal, reciprocal relationship, that’s normal behavior.

      • Tempest,
        Those damn cards, how many of them did I give him, just like you, and the words we poured out in them.

        Yep, I think I got a few with his name scribbled on them, ( can think of 2 or 3).
        I think stores should place these cards in the same isle, and right next to, the condoms.
        That way when cheaters buy their giant condom supply, ( which most don’t use), they can pick up a card for Smoophie, OW, Miss Perfect Lollipop, whatever!
        One stop shopping, cause they’re busy ya know!

    • Absolutely, Bouncing Back. The reverse love bombing. YouTuber Begood4000 calls this the Sweet/Mean Cycle and they do the Narcissist Doo Doo test on us. After them being the best boyfriend in the world, they will start withholding. Withholding attention, phone calls, texts, silent treatment, etc. We are left wondering, “What did I to wrong?” And we try harder to win them back and “fix” the relationship that we think we did something to break. And this sets the standard for the rest of our relationship. Us doing most of the relationship work and pretty much ALL the work in general! Either friendship or romantic relationship — if anyone ever does this to me again, I’m gone!

    • I got lured into the reverse love bombing…very strange.

      Our early relationship was while he was in the military and communication options were few, so letters were the thing. I have a box of letters he sent and he kept all my letters.

      I kept the letters he wrote as a historical reference for my children. The ones I wrote him…went into the trash. I dont ever want anyone to read my words of love and devotion which were wasted on him.

    • Yes!

      Then, when we were in marriage counseling, he complained about how upset I’d get when he wouldn’t respond to texts “right away”. It’s not that I wasn’t upset “right away”. It’s that everyone else I text with actually responds. But he lets hours go by, hours when I know he responds to others because he ALWAYS has his phone on him. At home, he’d bring his phone into the bathroom with him. I saw the double standard.

      Cheaters suck.

  • We were young when we got married. Had the perfect life honestly. Good marriage with kids.. About the 33 year mark I realized he was going through something. It’s happened at times over the years with both of us. Nothing extreme and we made it through it. The last thing on my mind was another woman. I know-Stupid Me!!

    He had gotten really quiet. He was putting me off for sex. Telling me he was tired. We were getting older. We are in our 50’s. He was almost embarrassingly affectionate in front of my family and kids but not in the bedroom.

    He big time lost his cool with one of our kids one night. An adult kid. That had Never Happened Before! Ever!! A few days later he got a work related text on a Saturday night that started me questioning him.

    It was his reaction and how he started throwing me under the bus in front of our kids that assured me without a doubt that something was up. That had never happened in over a 30 year really good marriage.

    He did apologize and grovel and spent months trying to convince me no affair but of course then I discovered him hiding money. I shouldn’t have come back. I did and now am waiting for the next thing to come out so my kids will get it when I walk out! He has done the emotional apologies and they’ve bought into it.

    • Darling Stillhere —

      You are in a very good place (for a very bad situation), you are calm, cool and collected. You see what’s going on. Would you like to make a plan to optimize your situation?

      Here are some options for you: get a hold of the finances. Know everything. Get a post-nup from husband. Tell him to quit his job (yes), and get another one. He needs to go no-contact with OW.

      Tell a man he admires and who is happily married, who can provide counsel and friendship to him.

      Maintain a cool and calm relationship with him.

      These are just starters. Like I said, you are in a good place (mentally/emotionally and at the start of the problem) and can take some effective steps to optimize and bad situation. Others may have other ideas, for you, on how to proceed from here.

      • My advice is simply to cut your losses. In the beginning stages of grief you are trying to still look for the good and the ole spackler still has battery life. I’ve lived through 2 Dday’s years apart with 2 different schmoopies. This is who they are and will pick screwing around if given any opportunity. It didn’t ‘just happen ‘. This is their drug of choice. Most any hole who gives them kibble will do.

        Leave. Rebuild. I can’t imagine remarrying but who knows. I don’t need a man to feel like someone. I produce my own kibble for myself. And I am going to be more cautious with how I share it. Right now I am lavishing it on my kids and our home life.

      • Thank you Queen Mother. I have moments of pure craziness as others can tell you from things I’ve written on here! This stuff makes me more than a little crazy. Just so you know..

        I have all access to the money and keep track of it.

        He no longer works with her. Works with his old company. Same place and time everyday. Even calls me when he’s leaving. I never asked him too… lol

        We went to two counselors during this time. The first counselor was beating his wife. She divorced him. Second guy was a man from our church. He honestly said some good things that personally helped me. He never held my husband accountable for anything because it was all circumstantial. We went back a second time because this bitch woman’s husband left a message on my husbands cell phone to tell my husband that I’d been harassing his wife for three months and my husband needed to stop me.

        Two months before she had text messaged my husband for more work. I had written her and told her he would no longer be doing any work for her. I was nice. No language but she knew where I was coming from. Told me she was blocking our number and she wouldn’t want to be in my shoes. Funny thing, I never accused or even asked if she had an affair with my husband.

        Three months later I decided to see if her number was really blocked and quickly hung up when her message went on. She texted immediately. I texted back and was not nice.

        Why the defensive if you are so innocent? Hence the phone call from her husband.

        My husband came home from work the day he got the call from the husband and tricked me into going somewhere with him and played the message. ( this was a little over a year ago). He plays the message and proceeds to tell me we are going to their house to deal with it. I wish I had the presence of mind to have let him but I ended up having a full fledged panic attack. Never in my life had that happened!

        We ended up going back to the second man. Had only been once before and we went directly there. My husband scared the crap out of me with his surprise announcement that we were heading to their hose. He has never physically laid a finger on me and didn’t that night but the rage I saw is what did it.

        So I told this man everything! Things I hadn’t told him the first time because I was trying not to throw my husband under the bus. I let it all out! I thought the man was honestly going to have a heart attack! We finished up with no solid direction.

        We left and I calmly told my husband that he could go to these people’s house now. I could handle it. Of course he said no. He thinks they are weird. Really? Ya think? I tried again to convince him to go. He thinks they are crazy. Ya think?

        I think he set me up.So we lived life for a couple months until I discovered the money issue and left.

        We did leave that church. At another one and nobody knows this mess. I know it will be a place where we can get help when the time comes. I asked for help at the other one and not one call. Husband did reach out to a friend there but didn’t share the whole story. That friend and his family left that church and have cut everybody off, including us. I’m actually okay with it and just done with that drama.

        So, I did tell him in the midst of all that, that I would take his ass for everything if I found out it happened. Looks like she’s trying to move on with her life and husband too.

        So, here is where I’m at for now.

        • I did the pastorial counseling with my first husband and all I ended up with was being spiritually abused in addition to be physically abused.

          I strongly urge you to go to a counselor with some actual credentials. Quite honestly, the church is ill-equipped to deal with issues of abuse in marriage, and I would never, ever trust a church to counsel me through it, ever again.

          • Me too! I will never ever go to a pastor for counseling again! At least not marriage/infidelity counseling. I was so naïve in thinking that a pastor who says he “loves Jesus”, yada yada would actually uphold what the Bible says about adultery, lying, cheating, etc. Nope! Not at all! My cheating ex-husband got the church in the divorce, because he’s a narc and he’s able to hide out in the church by portraying himself to be this great Christian man with excellent morals. One minute he’s at church leading young boys in a Christian group like the Boys Scouts and then he’d leave that meeting and go fuck and spend the night with his whore/girl friend. And yes, he did this while we were still married. Good riddance to the cheater and that church!

            • Oh geez… I’m so sorry. My husband also finally met with our pastor( after I left him) and asked the pastor if he had a counselor he could recommend. The pastor didn’t know of one! What is up with that?

              Also, this other woman just preached in her small church for the third time.( can’t make this up). I listened online. I just had to. Yes, she’s nuts. Every message has elements in it that no matter what you do, you are forgiven. She was even so bold to ask everyone where is it said that you have to ask for God’s forgiveness. She’s a crazy freak! Enough of that!!

              After saying all of that, I hope you truly understand that your exes spiritual life is gone. He is only fooling himself. Like you said, a wolf in sheeps clothing.

              My husband has spent the last year groveling and begging for forgiveness but still swears no affair. He is not half the man he was before. He has struggled tremendously spiritually. I think I know why!

            • Ditto. My X husband is the Pastor!!!! Schmoopie is also ordained. They should never be allowed to council anyone on any topic.

              Just because somebody wears a collar and has an education it doesn’t mean that they can guide you through marriage issues!!!

              • I had a really positive experience with our pastor. He called out Husband’s sexual withholding as unfaithful, as in, not upholding the marriage covenant. He asked Husband “How do you feel about putting WAOTF in the way of temptation like that?” Husband did not answer.

                Later Pastor told me the abuse I was suffering was not OK. When someone abuses another person, they abuse the image of God.
                When I told Pastor I felt like trash, he said I was a daughter of the King, and prayed for me as such.
                Of course I bawled all over myself at that point.
                This man and his family are truly a gift to our church.

              • I am sorry to other chumps who have had terrible experiences. Clergy who perpetuate the abuse and lies in the name of God are just sick on a whole different level. It makes me physically ill to think about it.

            • Martha,
              Please excuse this being off topic, but is the boy scout type group called Cadets? Just wondering if we are from the same religious tradition.

        • That is standard RIC crap. Like the problem is just contact with that particular woman. RIC often locates the issue in the OW/OM. All the poor wayward has to do is get away from that BAD person. I have news for them: The cheater can’t get away from the “bad” person–because THEY are the bad person. There are 3.5 billion women on the planet. Getting away from this ONE isn’t going to stop a cheater cheating.

          • Yeah, the RIC was not healthy for me, which is why I was so happy to find this place.

            I admit I had some bizzaro thoughts when I first found out he was cheating. (I knew within weeks I couldn’t trust him again so this was fleeting.) But I’d think “I’ll make him move to another city!” “I’ll do the 180!” Or I’ll “demand” he end it, all that crazy shit you think when your head is still spinning. I would obsess about this chick thinking she must be great. In the end, trust was decimated. Once I internalized THAT and quit worrying about everything else, I started to heal and move past it.

            That’s why RIC is the worst. I can only imagine the bullshit I’d be putting up with if I seriously tried fixing it with that scumbag. She’d never go away and slowly, I’d go insane. Nope and nope.

            • Also I should mention, if it wasn’t her, it would have been one of the other 3-5 billion women on the planet. I’m pretty sure I made the right choice. 😉

              • Amen Rumblekitty 🙂

                The BLESS THEM women that told me what the hell was goin on said to me, ‘Sweetheart, it could have been anyone of us, he was in here (Kroger’s) chattin us all up just to see who would take him on.’

                Amen…THEY are the problem…the ow/om’s are just ‘game’ pieces.

                Lose em and don’t look back.

    • There’s a great post on yesterday’s main board in which a chump lays out how she is using her time living with her cheater husband to get her financial ducks in a row. Worth a read for you.

      • Ooo I agreed, that was a good one. 🙂 I almost wish I would have went that route, but I’m too knee-jerky for that.

  • He bought me an ice cream cake for my birthday, even though I hated them. Three years in a row. They were his favorite.

    • mutterchump,

      Happy Birthday to him, NOT!

      I hope you get a proper Birthday Cake now!

    • I think they enjoy watching the chump try to be gracious when they receive shit gifts. For me, every Christmas meant bare root roses under the tree. I got to plant and water and feed and prune them. He got fresh flowers in the house every day. On my birthday, I got coasters he would pick up on his way home from work, usually with a card. Never a cake.

      While these things were constants over 16 years, there were occasional exceptions. Like a Thighmaster and a Walkman he immediately commandeered and used religiously. A piece of art he wanted and had hideously framed.

      I always went to the effort to buy the Fucktard thoughtful gifts. And I’ll never forget his comment that last Christmas: “This is what I wanted LAST YEAR.”

      Yes, it is all about them.

  • Oh my God, the gifts. My recent ex boyfriend never gave it any thoughts. Almost every time he was coming to my city, he brought a box of chocolate. I thought it was sweet, until I figured out that he was always getting it in the same store. The girl that he was hitting on was working there, so getting the chocolate was a perfect excuse to see her 😛 Same with cheating…I was completely sure he was a fellow chump, because “many” exes cheated on him. Never really found out how many, but he was keeping in touch with them and of course forgave them, “because he’s Christian”. So I thought he was such a good person compared to me 😀

  • He did not love, or even like, his family. There was no warmth or genuine engagement with each other in his family — just shame and a kibbles extraction system that was very difficult to watch.

    He had nearly no friends. The three leftovers from college he had, he did not like. He was not on good terms with any of his exes. Sought out other acquaintances as friends, but mostly based on status. He had such trouble building real intimacy or being vulnerable and open to anyone else.

    He constantly people and their work as a way to make himself feel better. He always knew better, even about things outside his field or competence.

    He had a very fragile, easily insulted ego and masculinity. Needed constant reassurance and delimitation from others.

    He almost never read. Rarely finished a book — once every few years. Never quite felt comfortable on his own, alone with his own thoughts. Never had a hobby or a passion. Outside of visiting a lot prostitutes when traveling, that is.

    Yes, he was shit at gift-giving. For years he came from trips abroad with token guilt gifts — earrings and scarves that were nowhere near my style. I kept telling him he gets me another woman’s jewelry. Did not know get also got me other women’s STDs — talk about shit gifting! Also: He wanted me to organize parties and trips for him. But then, my birthdays and anniversaries were hell. One of my birthdays, he made a “reservation” at a fast-food pizza place: “You like pizza, no?” But mostly he made sure he traveled for my birthdays and our anniversaries.

    Yes, he was more than ok with lack of reciprocity, from managing finances to access to computers and cell phones to sex or household chores.

    • * He constantly PUT DOWN people and their work.

      Sorry, should never comment before the coffee kicks in.

  • The moving fast and the no friends are the big ones for me. I started seeing STBX in January and he moved in with me at my mums house at the beginning of August. He was 19 and I was 21. His parents were going to live in Scotland and he didn’t want to go. He was supposed to be going to university to study to be a paramedic but he never went in the end. He also had no friends of his own that he spent any time with. We did have mutual friends we met at the same Christian children’s camp that I met him at. He wouldn’t meet up with any of them without me though. He had people at college and in the territory army he spoke about but he didn’t see any of them socially. I did sometimes wonder why because he wasn’t shy or introvert. I just thought he liked spending time with me.

    I suspected he was cheating when he started spending time with the new young people at a pub he started working at. It turns out he was spending a little too much time with one of the young people. He denied it and lied about it and because I was so tired and sick from being in my 1st trimester I let it slide. I trusted him that he was just trying to make some friends and that he wouldn’t do something like that to his pregnant wife and family. Alas I was very wrong about that and about him in general,

  • They never really say they are sorry. If my feelings were hurt or I expressed how I felt about a situation it was always my fault. He never changed his behavior. No ownership for hurting the other person and of course no empathy.

    I would also add procrastination to the list. You ask for something to be done….not the “honey do list” I fix 1/2 the shit anyway…but other things in your life that would just give you some peace and it is ALL ignored. They get around to it when it is too late or when they see fit. Just another mindfuck!

    • I could have written your post word for word. I am so glad he is gone.

      • Did you feel this straight away. I’m stuck between being so angry at him and really sad for what I thought I had.

    • Yes, especially on the procrastination!

      In retrospect, it sure made the transition easy when he moved out. I already did everything around the house anyway, so there wasn’t anything new to learn. Having him out of the house simply made everything more efficient because I now can skip over the silly energy-draining step of pretending like he’s going to pitch in.

      Oh, and if he DID help with something, it was with minimal effort. If he went grocery shopping, it was only for the items he needed, not for the entire grocery list. If he assembled a piece of furniture and happened to screw something in backwards, oh well! (That actually happened on our dining room table. He installed a supporting piece of wood backwards, so the unpainted part was exposed on the underside of the table. He didn’t want to fix it, so it stayed that way. Eventually, I painted it to match the rest of the table using some paint we already had on hand. Yep, me to the rescue to fix his mess.)

      • This was Kaa too. It would be an up hill fight to get him to do anything in the home that didn’t directly impact on him. Procrastination, resistantance, doing it badly then saying it didn’t matter.losing his temper while he was doing it. So when things needed fixing I tried to do it my self. I spent 22 years hoping he would start to engage. Then Told when he left that he didn’t feel needed.

        • OMG, yes! Mine had a temper, too, when he was actually doing something. I learned early on to steer clear of him during those times and just appreciate that he was doing SOMEthing.

          And yes, too, on saying he didn’t feel needed. He said I wouldn’t “let” him do this or that.

  • Finding loopholes/bending rules.

    Mr. Justification would always take advantage of return policies to get his money back when he really shouldn’t have. And would be charming with the employees until they told him no, then he turned into a flaming jerk.

    This crept into every part of his life, this need to be at an advantage. He would push the limits of carry-on luggage to avoid fees, or overload the checked bags because “they just tell you 50 lbs”. He would wait until the last minute to leave, even while I was waiting and anxious about being late.

    These things always made me deeply uncomfortable, but he would react to my discomfort by explaining all the reasons his approach and outlook made sense, or by dismissing my concerns as me being overly rigid or uptight.

    • This rings so true. It’s about entitlement and the pleasure of pulling something off. Mine had it in spades.

    • Yes, here too, always a shortcut and getting away with things and LOTS of grey areas: just loose boundaries and ethics really. He told me often that I needed to loosen up. I see now this was because on some level he was always requiring me to comprise my principles.

      • “I see now this was because on some level he was always requiring me to comprise my principles.”

        SO MUCH THIS, neverwouldhaveimagined. I was the same.

        The loose boundaries, the lack of ethics. I remember very early in our marriage, we went to get groceries and after we loaded up the car, he went and grabbed two bags of water softener salt. He had NOT paid for them in the store – he outright STOLE them. I was absolutely horrified. And then he acted like I was the prissy one for telling him it was wrong!


        • The Fucktard ex stole a Christmas Tree, swapped price tags while shopping, cheated on his taxes, and so, so much more. None of that behavior was on display in the beginning. It was probably an excruciating demonstration of restraint.

          • I don’t think I saw any of that until I married him, either. But my memory isn’t so reliable any more. I have forgotten – or blocked – SO MUCH of what went on.

            • That is best. I remember being deeply disturbed. Why steal when you can afford to pay? It never occurred to me that it was a game to him.

              • My ex LOVED getting reactions out of people. In the grocery store, he used to put things in people’s carts when they weren’t looking. One time, he put a box of condoms in a grocery cart and then watched when they went to check out. He thought it was hilarious.

                He loved getting reactions out of me, too, and would do the narc trait of insulting me through “jokes” then tell me, “Oh, lighten up.”

              • Yes, kc, so passive/aggressive! He would joke when I was sick and tell our kids we needed to look for a new mommy to replace the old one. Lots of comments like that. Not funny.

  • 11. He was dishonest in other aspects of his life.

    He told lies or lied by omission to avoid conflict or get what he wanted. What I learned from this is that dishonesty doesn’t exist in a vaccum. If he would cheat his taxes why not cheat on me?

    • THIS!!!!

      To the person using my moniker, I have been here posting with “It Is What It Is” for many years now. Perhaps you didn’t realize it had already been used. Could you consider a new name so we can avoid confusion?

    • Mine lies just to lie. He loves it, it’s his favorite hobby. Even when the truth is perfectly acceptable he will lie.
      His mother told me he was a liar as a kid but I thought “oh he’s just playing pranks.” But no, he really, really LOVES to lie. Of course he lies to get out of trouble and avoid conflict too. He makes promises he doesn’t intend on keeping/LIAR. He broke all of his marriage vows/LIAR.
      He says he loves me more than anything/LIAR.

  • Still Here… it is not your responsibility to make sure your kids “get it” when you walk out. How do you know they aren’t living the same pretense as you and silently asking themselves “why won’t mom leave, Dad’s a cheating fuckwit and is becoming abusive to her”? Or, will they get it when you come back from your annual check-up and find out you have HPV or Herpes or any flavor of STD?

    I understand the need to spackle – we all do here at Chump Nation. 30 years is a lot of sunk costs. And guess what, he could be hiding assets right now and leave you tomorrow and not give a fuck about what your kids think.

    He has already shown you he can LIE TO YOUR FACE. What more do you need to know?

    We’re here – keep coming back… but how about for shits and giggles you go see a lawyer?


  • Yes to all of the above except the gift giving. Although they were not always things that I wanted they were always super expensive. He was and is very occupied with looking like he has money. I mean, this is a guy who right after our divorce was finalized leased a big Mercedes then went bankrupt!
    In the beginning of my 10 years with my cluster b substance abuser, he was constantly bringing me home gifts of perfume, clothing, jewelry, but asking me to help fix his credit that he ruined “back when he was a cocaine addict”. I thought it was sweet but was always trying to let him know that not only did he not have to do that to woo me, but that it’s not me anyway. I just am not materialistic like that. I chocked it up to his European/loving a luxury brand thing that I noticed while living overseas (not to offend any euro chumps out there;) …spackle, spackle, spackle.
    Later on in the relationship (after 6 months) there was a lot of shopping for presents for his family that I always ended up paying for on our “mutual credit card” (i added his name to mine) AND he was very pointed about what he wanted for gifts in return (always very expensive) which made me uncomfortable, especially since he made more money than me.
    Once we married the money situation got very unbalanced and I was the responsible bill payer while he went on golf trips and had shopping sprees for himself and our daughter. BUT, every once in a while he would buy me outrageously expensive things. For my 40th, he sat me down and explained that he had got himself into a bit of cc debt so he withdrew 20 grand from his retirement account in the form of a loan (!!!!) He informed me that he had 6 grand left and either wanted to get me a treadmill or a fancy watch. I expressed my feelings about the secret cc debt and the loan (!!!!) (which he said he would never do again…lie) and then said, well, how about using that 6grand to help with our joint debt (my credit card which had his name on it that always was used for bills I couldn’t afford like his sky high auto Insurance and upkeep of all his big obnoxious SUV’s that he always needed to drive). He refused and bought me both the treadmill and the watch with that money. The scary thing is he told EVERYONE what he got his wife for her birthday. I was so embarrassed about the back story that I kept up the appearance of his “generosity”. I am so mad at myself for doing that. Never again!

    • You mentioned that you weren’t materialistic but he was. It was the same dynamic for me and my STBX. Though, admittedly, my STBX didn’t care about looking generous … he wanted it all for himself. Even my birthday presents were bought only because they were things he wanted.

      Though, since the implosion, I’ve realized that he actually hates me (in part) for not being more materialistic like he is. I doubt I’ll ever fully wrap my head around that.

      • I feel exactly the same. Also, the presents to me made me like an accomplice and he knew it and resented me for being a “goody two shoes” and a “rule follower”. Blech. Good riddance to them both!

        • The “accomplice!” Oh my goodness, yes.

          Thank you for framing it that way … It’s like my brain hadn’t quite put that piece of the puzzle in place yet.

  • This one is a strange one, but it always bugged me. Whenever a nonprofit commercial for starving / abused animals came on, my STBX refused to watch (would often turn the channel). He made quite a big deal out of it. But, when a starving / abused CHILD commercial came on, my STBX had no problem with it. Never batted an eye. Empathy for animals, but not humans? Again, strange.

    Also, once when we were getting gas, I noticed an old man in tattered clothes digging through the garbage looking for food. My heart broke. I turned to tell my STBX we should get him a hot dog or something, and for a tiny second … I swear, there was a look of disgust on his face while he was looking at the old man. It bothered me enough that I grabbed my purse and started to get out, saying, “I can’t stand to watch another human having to do that. I’m going to buy him some food.” Suddenly, STBX stopped me, “Oh, you’re right. That’s just awful. Let me take care of it.” And, he got out, spoke to the guy and took him into the gas station to buy him a meal.

    There is not one charitable bone in my STBX’s body … so, all I can think is that he did it to appear like some kind of hero. Such a jackass.

      • Mine spent most weekends endlessly watching b&w war retells of the holocaust . It seemed much more of a morbid fascination than just watching an informative program. He knew i hated seeing those images but seemed to enjoy my discomfort in having to be in the same room (kitchen was in living area).

        • “Mine spent most weekends endlessly watching b&w war retells of the holocaust .”

          Oh my.
          That is one of my ‘morbid fascinations’ too.
          It’s part of the history of WWII and we all have our different preferences of t.v. shows to watch.

          Since the X was into Mad Men and James Bond, I would retreat to my quiet computer with ear buds and watch my own war movies and biographies. I hate to interfere with somebody else’s space.

          But, his schtick was he refused to use earphones while watching a huge-screen t.v. whose sound system absolutely shook the house. Whether I was quietly watching my own movie or reading a book, or even trying to sleep. His b/s movies bored me to tears.
          Is it too much to ask for private space from ‘household tv’?

    • Argh … I should add that the commercials about the starving/abused animals bother me too (animals hold a special place in my heart). My problem with STBX is that he obviously had some kind of empathy, just none of it was spent on humans. I’m not sure this was clear in my post above. Sorry if I left any doubt there.

      • My XH thinks he is the dog whisperer. We had two dogs-one he brought to live in my apartment. He had convinced me he should move in after pointing out we were basically engaged (another red flag after 6 weeks that I used a lot of spackle to make ok in my mind;)
        I walked his adorable dog, found and paid for a vet (she was older and had big bills), fixed her barking problem the right way (more exercise) and paid for all of her upkeep and care. I did the same when we got a puppy (wow, that was a lot of work!!)
        He would occasionally yell at them/”be the leader of the pack” as he would like to put it and enjoy all the tail wagging and kissing the dogs gave him when he got home. He actually bragged that they “loved” him more and he “loved” them more than any person. He NEVER did the heavy lifting. I think, subconsciously, what he really loved is that he could be a total asshole to the dogs and they would still come running to him wagging their tail and “loving” him.
        I think his relationships are so disappointing to him because he doesn’t get that unconditional love that he got from them even when he is a complete nasty bastard. Total narc brain/King Baby brain. No empathy but “Need kibbles now!!!!”

        • These discussions spark so many revelations for me! Thank you so much for this post. I had completely overlooked the fact that my STBX was like that with our dog.

          He wanted a dog and I didn’t (our lives were really hectic at that point) … I caved after he got the kids in on the “please, please can we get a puppy.” He swore he would be responsible for taking care of it. So, we get a puppy.

          Within a few months, I was the one taking care of the little guy. STBX loved the attention and tail-wagging (oh my … this is quite the double entendre!).

          But, once I caught him kick toward the dog (thankfully, he didn’t connect) — because he was annoyed by the dog at that moment. Turns out, he didn’t think I would see that bit of dick behavior. Of course, I threw a fit on him about it … he gave me the pitiful “so sorry” routine … and was extra nice to the dog (in my presence) after that. And, of course, the dog still loved him.

          So, comparing stories — I think your theory about unconditional “kibbles” and failed relationships makes a lot of sense.

          P.S. I kept the dog when we split.

          • Me too;)
            I was thinking about this at work the last couple hours…I feel like I was much like our dog in the beginning and middle of the relationship….always smiling and “tail wagging” even though he “made mistakes”. Mrs. Fixit. And then I wasn’t.

  • Everything you listed plus:
    -they will show their abusive, mean and hateful personality in ways that will make you feel uneasy but they can mask as “normal”. Such as, absessively bitching about someone, spreading nasty rumors about innocent people and making them the brunt of their jokes and shaming them openly in very public spaces, physically fighting (especially after drinking) with anyone whether they are arguing or not, etc. Once you start seeing this side of them and don’t leave them for it, they start feeling more comfortable to do it more around you and you can typically start seeing a cycle. Note to self — they will start arguing with you about simple little things. This is more than to get their kicks off. They are testing, conditioning and grooming you for more abuse.
    – they lie and give you sob stories to see if you will listen and give them sympathy and empathy because they know if you’re empathetic they can take you for a ride. Like the old saying goes “Givers give and Takers take”. Takers (aka: Cheaters/Narcs) seek out Givers to exploit them. If you don’t have boundaries or are uncomfortable with them and assertive people, read the book “Boundaries” and get some. Don’t give out your empathy readily to people you don’t know very well, who are vague or seem to good to be true.
    – they make you feel guilty for spending time with your friends and grooming you to only want to be with them (part of the isolation process). They want to be the center of your world but you’re not the center of theirs — period!
    – if they make excuses and don’t spend money on EVERY SINGLE DATE they ASK YOU on (especially big dates like to the fair, an expensive dinner, to a broadway show, etc.) this is a MAJOR red flag. Make sure you let that sink in CN!!!!!! Every date they ask you on they should be paying for soup to nuts ……especially expensive ones.

  • Bless this post. My ex also displayed every single one of these red flags. Eeeeeesh, I cringe now just looking at ’em. Most of these are about the same as all of yours, but it is fun sharing all the wacky gifts. Every year my ex would load me up at Christmas with a bunch of hair ties and lip glosses — drugstore stuff that you buy for yourself when you need to, which kind of defeats the purpose of gift-giving. But those weren’t too weird; at least they were things I would eventually use. There were of course all the trips or dinners that were mostly for himself, and places he specifically wanted to go. And the gold jewelry box for a person who just plain doesn’t wear gold, EVER. And the Christmas before D-Day, he went out of town (driving many hours in each direction — wonder what else he could have been doing while on that trip, sigh) to have tintypes made. Of himself. Yes, on Christmas morning he presented me with several framed, old-timey tintypes of himself that cost hundreds of dollars. They were indeed well-made, but like….a bunch of framed pictures of yourself? That’s a textbook bad gift. I remember him proudly bragging about paying extra for the super fancy archival glass, you know, so that I could keep them forever as a family heirloom. Lawd I chucked those things out so fast after he left, it wasn’t even funny.

    A note on my chumpiness: With every single one of these bad gifts, I smiled hugely and said “Omg I love it!” and made a big deal out of what a great present it was. “It’s the thought that counts,” I thought. Except. There clearly wasn’t any thought put in toward anyone but himself.

    • Holy cow … the framed pictures of himself! Just when I think I’ve heard (and seen) it all — wow!

      I hope your future is filled with loving and thoughtful gifts from friends and family.

      • So far, it has been. 🙂 I was a hundred times happier with a simple headband that a friend brought back for me from a boutique in Paris than I ever was with any of his more “extravagant” gifts — because she clearly picked it out just for me. I’m also overjoyed with the fact that my new husband actually (gasp) does the chores I’ve asked him to do rather than trying to cover months-long-neglected-tasks by bringing flowers (another of my ex’s hallmarks). 😛

    • “A note on my chumpiness: With every single one of these bad gifts, I smiled hugely and said “Omg I love it!” and made a big deal out of what a great present it was. “It’s the thought that counts,” I thought. Except. There clearly wasn’t any thought put in toward anyone but himself.”

      I was the exact same. I made a show of loving the crap gifts and saying, “Thank you!” and all that crap.

      • I bet a lot of people on this site did the same. Sigh…it’s in our nature as chumps.

  • Mine also had the piercing “reptilian stare” when he targeted me (and later the dead “shark eyes” during the discard/discovery). This is common in psychopaths and sociopaths, but I did not know about such things.

    Adding from Tracy’s list, lovebombing (major romancing, said I love you immediately, declined a job in another country for me even though we just started dating), way too needy (isolating me from family and friends), vague past, tons of sex, no friends, poor gift giving. Once he gave me the same anniversary card two years in a row!

    That uncomfortable feeling in my gut was my brain putting all these pieces together that didn’t quite add up, but my warning system had been dulled by my disordered mother and I just didn’t see the signs.

    • “Mine also had the piercing “reptilian stare” when he targeted me (and later the dead “shark eyes” during the discard/discovery).”

      I remember the reptilian stare I got from douchebag ex when we were on a date one night. I remember thinking how creepy it was that he was staring at me like that, like I was his possession or his prey (both!). RED FLAG. Yet I dismissed it.

      I also got the dead “shark eyes” during the discard/discovery, too.

      Now I shudder when I think back on what he did. I was such a chump. But I was so, so young and desperate for attention from a man because my own father was so distant. Never gave me hugs or told me he loved me, etc., so I was ripe for the picking.

      • It’s a BIG red flag. I glossed right over it, too. I remember thinking “creepy” but did I run away? Nope. I married him.

      • The discard stare was the worst it was like the person who I’d been living with for the past 25 years had been body snached. But in a horrific split second all the gut feelings and ‘off’ behaviours i had struggled with through the years made sense. This was what he was really like. The analogy to the mask coming off is the only way to describe it. Unfortunately you need to have been through it to get it.

  • Many of mine are already listed. Here are a few more.

    – Not divorced “yet” or has a pick-me dancing “ex” still hooked on

    – Porn focus (Some would call me “not sex positive” on this, but I think a focus on porn causes loads of problems that make healthy relating difficult, and some smart researchers agree with me)

    – Wants to stay in close touch with any ex(es) (Some would disagree, but I think this is concerning, from experience)

    – Substantially greater interest in visiting with children than with other adults

    – Claims to be “broke” but comes up with money when it suits his/her own desires

    – Won’t communicate openly and transparently unless it’s a “woe is me” story

    – Uses intangible spiritual concepts to appear more enlightened than you in ways that allow him/her to accountability for real-world behavior

    – Pushes for anything sexual that doesn’t make you feel positive and happy

    – Thinks things that are ok for him/her to do aren’t ok for you to do

    – Shows little – or far too much – concern when your feelings are hurt

    – Acts out physically when angry or tells stories about doing so with a smug air of superiority

    – Poor impulse control and/or binging behaviors

    – Incongruent behaviors and/or shapeshifting based on who is present at the time

    – Idolizes people who cheat/decieve/harm for any reason while waving away the person’s character issue as if it doesn’t matter, citing the thing that makes the person great is great and the bad behavior isn’t relevant, not his/her business, “two sides to every story”, etc.

    – Treats you parentally or act like s/he can’t self parent

    There’s a good start. 🙂

    • On a more personal note, though many would disagree, after my divorce, I always insisted on going somewhere mid-range or modest and paying dutch anytime I dated (which was rare). I wanted to set a level playing field.

      Some men were clearly insulted. Some seemed relieved. Some seemed bemused, but accepted it. Only a few said, “OK” and took it in stride. Guess who caught my attention?

      I do understand why many women who date men feel the man should pay, and I think that’s ok if that’s important to you. Everyone gets to choose his or her own boundaries. For me, money had consistently been a tool for power in relationships, so I wanted to take that out of the equation. Seeing the number of men who openly (and even sometimes aggressively) balked at my boundary was quite an education.

      I like an equal balance of power in any relationship. I used to think it shouldn’t matter, but it becomes clear that power plays in to all relationships in subtle ways if you get to looking. I look for mutuality and equivalency, not by counting favors, but by feeling for the intuitive feeling that we’re balanced… that the see saw is a fun ride and nobody is getting stuck at the top… that trust is built on a series of times that we both show up and help out. Once the trust is in place, THEN it becomes reasonable to move beyond surface issues like who pays for dinner, but the trust building has to happen first. I learned that painfully.

      • I love this comment Amiisfree. I also like balance and see money as one place that balance can be negotiated.

        In retrospect I now realize how this preference for financial equality was used both to bait me and entrap me. We went from taking turns picking up the tab to my picking up his car payment because he had school loans and I didn’t, so my helping finance his life was “fair.”

        I was so concerned about practicing what I preached (i.e. being equitable about finances) that I was vulnerable to being seen as a “taker” in some sense. So, I got taken instead! Fifteen years on, I was the only one working, and I now completely support myself, the kids (and pay him some alimony). Yep. I sure can see that red flag waving now!

        Among competent adults, financial independence should be expected–one person may have more money than another, but a willingness to take advantage of that is not a sign to ignore!

        • Yep! These jerks take a reasonable principle and twist it until you are accepting totally unreasonable things. When I finally went back on the dating market I watched carefully. I ended up finally with a very good man whose reaction to me offering to pay was “Well, okay if it’s important to you, but I don’t think it’s really fair because you are a single mom and you are already having to pay a babysitter just to be here.” I knew he was it. My ex had done a lot of shitty things in the name of “equality” and yet never ever considered fairness. This is rife in military cheaters and as an academic I saw a lot of it in fellow academics.

  • My cheater was actually pretty sweet with gifts. He made them for me. Nothing spectacular, but sentimental and unique. Most notable were a pair of amethyst earrings after we lost our son. He also made me a lovely carbon steel knife with a bone handle. I really liked that.

    I gave those back to him along with all the other shit he gave me…cards, letters from when he was deployed, Falcon field guides ( we were big on outdoors and hunting and stuff.) a braided horse hair bracelet, a couple of small purses he made out of deer hide he tanned…

    He was very self-sacrificing. Never seemed to take anything for himself, never over-spent, etc.

    But he held grudges. He held against me every single thing I ever did to offend him…he never told me at the time of the offense, just tucked it away, and I realized just this week, that all that “self-sacrifice” wasn’t love at all, but a long laundry list of reasons to justify the behavior he felt entitled to. He was wonderful to me, after all, and I offended him, not having a clue, because he’d very rarely call me on it, and when he did and I corrected it, it was still held against me.

    When we split last summer, he used 2 e-mails I had written him in 2011 and 2012, in an effort to try and find a way to communicate (those were the only 2 he had, because I quit, realizing how ineffective it was.)

    I brought 5 kids to our marriage, and a couple of them were fairly bone-headed as teenagers. They are adults now, but after they offended him with their teen aged ways, he’d have nothing to do with them.

    He was unforgiving. He sulked. There was never any give or take in terms of working out problems. He didn’t like to “argue” and sure as shit didn’t like me to disagree with him.

    But I would have to say the biggest red flag was when he stood in our living room, looked me in the eye and told me that if I didn’t put out more, he would look elsewhere. I was having some real issues with menopause and past abuse of my first husband and I was really struggling. He made it all my responsibility instead of an issue he would help me with. I should have dumped his ass right then and there. Really. How dare he say that to me and why in the hell did I think it was my sole responsibility to make him happy?


    • You spoke about how he held every little (perceived!) offense against you, but you didn’t have a clue at the time because he didn’t mention that he had been offended in any way at the time it happened.

      I wonder if this is part of the Cheater Playbook? Or more severely disordered?

      My STBX did this in spades. I didn’t find out about any of these offenses until the implosion when I discovered decades of cheating and other vile activities. He quite seriously sees each of his actions as revenge for something I did (or he THINKS I did, but actually didn’t — or it wasn’t even an offense to begin with.). For example, one of his excuses is that I didn’t make more money. I had gotten a degree, so I should be making his life easier with more money (he bashed my chosen major for this reason).

      • Well, I think that can be filed under blameshifting, right? A little DARVO thrown in too;)
        I am so grateful to this site and my therapist, the great books out there and my friends for getting through my decade with my XH. I really was clueless about what was going on until the aftermath of DDay.

        • Ah, that makes sense. This is why “trusting he sucks” is so important for me right now … I really know he does — intellectually. But, because I just can’t comprehend (literally — this shit makes no sense!) thinking via blameshifting and DARVO, I overlook so much.

          Like you, I was clueless during my marriage (two decades+). Regretfully, I still feel like I’m in the beginner stages of understanding the how’s and why’s of the destruction and the how’s of staying safe while extricating myself and my kids …

          But, with this site, the wonderful support of the CN, and my therapist, I WILL get there.

      • It’s part of the narcissism. Nothing is ever their fault, so it has to be yours. X was also the master of grudges, and could cut people out of his life in an instant. Woe be unto anyone who challenged his mastery or authority. That person ceased to exist for him. Again. part and parcel of their lack of genuine emotion or empathy.

        • It’s so unbelievably cruel to think and act that way — especially when the other person values integrity and, thus, takes accountability for each perceived offense. I shouldered the blame for so much … Damn, I really let him get inside of my head over the years.

          Therapy in two days! Gonna need it. 🙂

  • Yep, every single box ticked here too! Also, all the lies at the beginning of the relationship (like his actual age – he even told me his much-older sister was his mother at first, can’t believe I fell for that one!). These were excused away by “I didn’t think you would go out with me, and I loved you so much” (excuse me while I throw up). Lovebombing doesn’t cover it – he stalked me, and was insanely jealous and possessive.

    Added to that his “horrible” ex girlfriend, who it turns out is a lovely woman, just with more sense than me, as she dumped him. He was living in her flat rent-free while it was on the market (he was at college), he then rented a flat himself for a few months when her flat sold, but ended up skint – he was only too grateful to move into my parents house when we conveniently got engaged. So many red flags, and they continued.

    Still, at least he’s mooching off some other poor sap and her family now. She earns less than half of what I do though, so no shiny new iPhone for shit head this year – shame. ?

  • The things we see in retrospect. I pre-arranged all my birthday, mother’s day, anniversary, you-name-it gifts. Thought he was just bad at gift giving and this way I wouldn’t be disappointed. I believe we call that spackle, correct?

    • They are bad at gift-giving because it requires them to think about what someone else might like, wan,or enjoy. They lack the capacity and frankly, the desire to consider anyone other than themselves. It is a central part of the narcissistic personality. This one is a biggie!

  • 75% of CL’s list. 1st boyfriend I ever had❗️Love bombing, mailing letters everyday talking about getting marry. I was moving back to our country of origin he just met me 3 months ago and decided to move, too ❤️ (aha! redflag) .

    Before I met his parents a 28 yrs old man/child told me that they used to live better in a nice subdivision but his dad lost his job & lost everything and because of that he was living in a poor neighborhood & I believed him. The 1st time I met his mom she mentioned they were living there since he was 2 yrs old. When I asked back then Mr. Fantastic/too good to be true boyfriend he told me he was “joking” ❓❗️(RED FLAG : lying )

  • PORN, porn, and more porn. Always catching him doing porn or watching sleazy movies online. Then, he would mimic everything that had titillated him in our bed as if he were a porn star which made me feel disconnected and used. The moment that he was “finished”, he jump up like he had been stung by a wasp and rush into the bathroom to wash the cooties off…making me feel like I were dirty and contaminated.

    The comments he would make regarding another woman’s appearance. Always something sexually related…never about a woman’s character or intelligence or personality.

    When I met his 18yr old daughter, I was strangely uncomfortable. Over the course of our dating period, she HAD to be central and always drove the conversations to be solely about her as if she were auditioning and vying for his attention…and the conversations always ended up being sexually charged and provocative which made me even more uncomfortable. X always wanted to have sex with me later after spending time with HER. During the first year of our marriage, I found out that he had tried to have sex with her when she was 17 (which caused the end of his first marriage). She NEVER visited at our home…always showed up in the back room at his store so I could not be a part of their relationship. They spoke together on cell phones AFTER I went to bed at night so that I could not be privy to any of their conversations. I’d hear them talking, and then when he finally came to bed in the wee hours of the morning, he’d wake me up to have sex. This was THE biggest red flag…that I had entangled myself with a lascivious pervert and womanizer.

    • I’m so sorry, Sweetz! What a pig. That father daughter thing is soooo creepy, and I had that same issue with my Narc father. He was always leering at me, even when he was close to 90! I just chalk it it up to his deep mental problems, but boy, I would have loved to have had a normal relationship with him, but he wrecked that! I just had to rise above it, and now he’s gone, so I forgive him.

      • At least you had the decency to be creeped out. His daughter lapped his sexual attention up like her life depended on it. BTW, he is 64yrs old…he will never change and good riddance to BOTH of them.

        • His daughter is a victim of sexual abuse and cannot really be held accountable at this point, despite being 18 and legally an adult. She’s been raised to think this kind of relationship, with her DAD is normal.

          She’s so much worse off than you are. You can walk away.

          • Yeah…I used to think that too and felt sorry for her for awhile. But now he is 64 and she is now 31…they are STILL doing the same. He groomed her since her youth, but she is no longer a baby and she KNOWS how men are. I did have a private conversation about how inappropriate all of this was and how uncomfortable it makes a wife feel. She just thinks I was jealous and hated me even more for trying to make her understand and went even deeper underground with him. I pity the next woman who comes along and has to deal with that dynamic. And yes, she is much worse off than I was. God help her.

            • Well that’s different then. I thought she was NOW 18.

              At 31 one ought to have enough time under them to get it partially figured out.


              • I guess as intelligent as she was vs as intelligent as I was as a sexually abused child, ONE of us “got it”. It is not really a matter of intelligence…it is a matter of wisdom, perception and intuition that “something is wrong” simply from having to hide it from everyone. Even a child knows that.

                Most people cannot bear to think that their close friend would have an affair with their spouse…that level of betrayal hits HARD as a double whammy. But can you imagine an affair being in the works between a father and his grown daughter? He did not even make his bold “move” on her until she was nearly an adult already. She excused him by telling me “well, he is a man after all, and he certainly cant help who he is attracted to”. How then, can you dare ask or expect them to sever their “natural” blood relationship w/o at least ONE of them having the insight and willingness to know that they should? At least, if it was a small child and this came to light, you could call CPS and the father goes to jail. This is a triangle of the most insidious proportions, and the ONLY remedy is to get the hell OUT of it and let them have their perpetual love fest. I hung in there for TEN years hoping to be on hand for her in the event that she wanted to reach out since she knew that I knew. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It. Anymore.

          • I was also a victim of sexual abuse by my dad and grandfather since I was a child btw. I did not go on to keep a relationship on ANY level with either of them the moment I could move out of the house at 18yrs old. By the time I was a teen, I clearly saw the evil perpetrated by both of them for what it was…I did not need anyone to spell it out for me or try to get me to understand that I should keep my distance. So I don’t buy that once a victim, always a victim. She loves this attention as much as her dad loves giving it…and at her age of 31 and all the men she has been with over the years, she certainly KNOWS how destructive it has been…both to her own mother, as well as to me.

            • Oh and one more thought, then I will leave it: If by your logic Sunflower, ANY woman who has been sexually abused as a child or sexually groomed is still an innocent victim later after they become adults? For HOW LONG? So then, is that a good enough reason to look the other way when such a woman is messing with YOUR husband? Should she get a pass just because she believes that this behavior is “normal”? Even though she played a part in destroying TWO marriages, one being that of her own two parents? Um…NO. She is 31yrs old now, and NO marriage can survive this kind of dynamic when SHE wont stop playing with and feeding the monster that is operating in her own dad. She needs serious help to get herself OUT of this relationship, and until she sees that and wants it for herself, she will continue to enjoy her EA (PA?) with her dad and destroy even more. She loves the POWER.

              • Yeah, see above.

                And, I will add that when you have a young woman (18…arguably fully developed in mind) that her father has groomed and who has never been or had an opportunity to be out from under his thumb, that’s a whole ‘nother dynamic that enters a fucked up realm that is BEYOND cheating.

                But she’s not 18…she’s 31. I had no way of knowing that when you first posted.

    • Omg same …always jumped up after sex like he was on fire. I used to koke about the line…leave $50 on the table… now it sounds like i felt at the time. Sub concious always trumps .

  • YES! The moving fast part especially. I knew him a WEEK and he proposed to me. I was young and dumb – only 24 – and I’d never had a man treat me in such a way, lavishing me with attention, being extra romantic. I accepted the proposal but my gut told me, “Wait, something is wrong. He doesn’t even know me!” We got married six months later. And my gut was still telling me it wasn’t the best decision, but I’d been spackling so much that I was delusional.

    Gift giving – sometimes he got it right, but more often than not, he was horrible. Last Christmas, he gave me three coffee mugs (I don’t even drink coffee!) and some baskets. Uh…what? I was crushed because I had spent a lot of time on his gifts and he acted like he could care less. In hindsight, I wonder if that’s because he was already engaged in his affair with the whore. One Christmas he got me a pair of shoes from Walmart. They were SO ugly.

    Of course, his pattern hasn’t changed. He loved bombed the whore and they are already engaged.

    More red flags: his drinking, his outrageous behavior, his temper tantrums. One evening we had my parents over and his mother (who divorced his narc dad a few years prior). He acted like a complete jerk the whole evening. My mom later told me that while they were driving home, she was incredibly upset because she didn’t want me to marry him. His mom told my mom that he was just like his dad. That should have been a HUGE red flag as his dad was a certified ass.

    So, so SO many red flags.

    But thanks to CL and CN, I now know what to look for. Thank God!

    • We moved too fast as well! A month after dating he proposed, I said no. He pushed the issue, love bombed me to the hilt & I gave in. Six months later we were married. He used to dog on his ex-girlfriend & how she used to cheat on him & how he would never cheat on me. This same ex-girlfriend aborted his baby & that was the major reason why they broke up. 2 years into our marriage, I am six months pregnant & guess who he cheats on me with? Yep…HER. There were several other women throughout the years, but she was back in the picture in October 2015. This time she was married with 2 kids under the age of 10. They were high school sweethearts & going to divorce their spouses & rekindle their TWU LUV…puhleeze! Her husband & I had a heart-to-heart chat the day after my divorce was final. He only knew of this go ’round…he had no idea of their past nor her abortion. Funny thing is, my XH isn’t even with her anymore. He’s moved in with The Embezzling Whore. Go figure…

      As far as gifts? I HATE the scent of anything sweet pea. The first time he bought me a pre-made gift set of sweet pea lotions & bath products for Christmas from some bath & body store was after I had found out about OW #2. He bought me the EXACT SAME gift set for Christmas 2015 and asked my daughter to wrap it. She told him to take it back & buy me something else because I hated that scent. He was clueless & thought that because he’d bought it for me before, I would like it again. She informed him that I hated it the 1st time he bought it & I would damn sure hate it this time. Other than the divorce, it was the last thing he ever gave me (but, at least it wasn’t an STD, thank God)…dickhead.

      • “He used to dog on his ex-girlfriend & how she used to cheat on him & how he would never cheat on me.”

        Mine did the SAME THING about his ex-wife, said she’d cheated on him, and swore he would never cheat on me. His famous words? “If I was cheating on you, I’d have the balls to tell you.” GUESS WHO DIDN’T HAVE THE BALLS???

        I contacted the first ex-wife last weekend. Wow. That was definitely an eye-opener. Not only had he cheated on her several times, but she wasn’t nearly the horrible person douchebag ex made her out to be.

        • Of course they don’t have the balls…cowardly cake-eaters!! I kinda hope his ex-girlfriend burns in HELL along with him. That bitch was STALKING me when I was pregnant & I didn’t even know it. He laughed in my face about it. I actually called her & told her she was lucky I was pregnant or I would have already whipped her ass. Didn’t stop her from hooking up with him some 18 years later. If I ever aw her again & was guaranteed I wouldn’t go to jail, I would sooooooo slap-a ho!

          • If I *ever* see the whore, I will not be responsible for my actions.

  • Is anyone watching The Bachelorette? Rachel is going to pick the charming guy with no substance, Bryan. This guy actually said that he thought of her as his gf from Day 1! WTF??

    These ladies always go for the sparkles. I remember Andi did the same with Josh and then wrote a book about his abuse!

  • There was no intamacy; it was always about passion to him meaning the infatuation stage. He’d recreate it in our relationship repeatedly.

    He was passive aggressive, always.

    I was always disappointed. He used it as control. I’d anticipate and the ground always shifeted.

    I could never figure out want he wanted and set my own goals. Whatever I achieved he’d sabotage. I was always losing something.

    He thought he deserved to live in a life past our means yet had no motivation to achieve his ever changing goals.

    He used intermittent reinforcers to reestablish control. My needs became nonexistent.

    He controlled the narrative and rather than communicate his thoughts he’d say my mother thinks..

    Gifts were nonexistent. A cheap bunch of flowers and a card professing his future with me by his side.

    In the end he got exactly what he deserved a small dick and a whore to provide blow jobs. Old narcs settle for the bottom of the dumpster.

    Don’t wait. Leave a cheater; gain a life.

  • My wasband gave me a coffee mug for Valentines Day one year.

    I don’t drink coffee.

    • Ha – I got a seashell toilet seat from Harrods in England! Beat that!
      Of course, it doesn’t fit the American toilets but he put it on anyway.

  • He gave me a bottle of his favorite vodka for my 60th birthday. Unwrapped, of course!

  • There were certain occasions where he was amazing at gift giving. The gifts were thoughtful and exactly what I wanted. BUT when he was buying these incredibly thoughtful gifts, he ALWAYS involved the help of one of my attractive friends. He would ask them to go with him to shop or he would need them store the gift at their house or ask them to hold onto it for him. One time when I was out of town he called my friend so they could have lunch and discusss my anniversary gift! Because he needed ideas of course! Another time he had to store the gift at my friend’s house, a single mother who lived 15 minutes away when his own best friend lived a few house away from us. He never gave me a thoughtful gift without an audience. Looking back I realize it was always a show for other people – what a chump I was to think he actually wanted to show me he loved me.

    • “He never gave me a thoughtful gift without an audience.” Bingo!

      My EX did do some nice things for me while we were dating, and then I was expected to tell everyone who would listen about them for months. I am a fairly private person, so the expectation that I brag about a gift or gesture to people who weren’t there or weren’t close friends was always awkward. One of the red flags I missed was how angry he got after our engagement; he wanted me to be more excited and talk more about it for weeks to absolutely everyone. He told me how ungrateful I was. Sheesh. I should have known that anyone who expected me to be grateful he’d proposed to me was a jerk. Marriage is supposed to be mutual–not hierarchical.

      Later, as you say, he simply learned to manage the audience himself–he gave me things that he could brag about to other people or when other people could see him being a big spender (of money he wasn’t earning).

      He would also never dream of donating anything anonymously. He hated it if I put a few bucks into a church collection basket. Dropping off groceries at the food bank was stupid in his opinion. But he’d happily give things away if he knew he’d be praised for it (though sometimes those things didn’t actually belong to him!) He’d engage homeless people in conversations and give them a few bucks if they seemed the type to praise him. It was never about philanthropy or kindness–it was all about ego!

  • My warning signs started out infrequent and subtle and gradually built over time. Until the last few years, the warming signs were interspersed with a lot of positives so it was easy to spackle and focus only on the good things until it wasn’t anymore. Here are some signs, listed in the order they appeared:
    1. During our early dating years he told me about a girlfriend who visited him while he was abroad in England. He pressured her for sex and ordered cow brains in a restaurant to annoy her. I spackled because he said she had promised him sex in her letters and was annoying because she wanted to spend her time shopping and complained a lot.
    2. He fell for those cute adorable little kittens too but didn’t like them once they became cats, didn’t dote on him and they shed so his suits weren’t always spotless (image).
    3. He wanted to have sex in awkward positions that were painful for me.
    4. I had always shared everything with him. During the early years of our relationship and marriage I was the one who had money. I made him an equal partner in how that money got spent. As such, it was disturbing to me that when he got his first big bonus after he started working for the bank and he didn’t think I should have any say In what we did with that money because “I earned it it’s mine”.
    5. When I complained that he was out with friends on Friday night and didn’t invite me (I am certain these were his male work buddies and he wasn’t cheating yet) his response was “why don’t you go make your own friends, why should I have to do everything with you”. Then he diffused my anger by saying “I spend most of my time telling them how great you are”. Of course I fell for that, didn’t want to be not great by calling him out on his mistreatment of me.
    6. He generally didn’t like to socialize or entertain because it was so much work having to impress people (image).
    7. He seemed upset with me for having a miscarriage.
    8. When I was eight months pregnant with our daughter I grabbed the side of the car and said “Geez” when he sped up towards the J-walker who had the nerve to cross the street a block or so in front of us. Because I had offended him he kicked me out of the car to walk the last five blocks to the grocery store. This was in July and it was hot and humid.
    9. After daughter was born he tried to convince me that I should quit my job to be a stay at home mom. He implied that I couldn’t be a good mother otherwise. Luckily for me my mom was a career woman and I knew that was bullshit. I didn’t do it because I knew that if I did I would end up resenting him and the kids.
    10. He was best man at the wedding of a friend he really didn’t like very much and was always disparaging to me. There were many similar examples of his fakeness over the years.
    11. A few days before the birth of our first son when we knew I could go into labor at any moment, he said he wanted to go flying. When I suggested that might be a bad idea as I wouldn’t be able to reach him if I went into labor he said “ok, I’ll go as soon as the baby is born”. When I objected because I didn’t want to be left to deal with the baby and toddler alone and that shouldn’t he want to be with his new baby, he went off on how I was trying to prevent him from enjoying life.
    12. When we moved across the country for his job, he picked out the new house (I saw it for 20 minutes before being asked to sign the papers) and then spent the next eight years complaining about said house)
    13. When the youngest was a year old he had an emotional affair. During that time we had a tiff about something and he said I should be good to him because he had other options.
    14. After the emotional affair it was constant criticism and complaints about everything I was doing wrong. I never got thanks for improvements I made because there was always something else to complain about including the things I really couldn’t help (poufy hair).
    15. He trained for a half Marathon with a female coworker (I am sure they weren’t having an affair, but I am also sure he thought about it). This made me really uncomfortable in light of his previous EA.
    16. He bought an airplane, then he quit his high paying job because it didn’t make him happy (but kept the airplane which cost ~$10,000-15,000/year to hanger and maintain plus more if you actually fly it). Then he complained that I didn’t make enough money after I had spent years working reduced hours and always putting his career and the kids first as the compromise for not completely quitting after daughter was born.
    17. He started up e-mail conversations with an old female friend who complimented him on his beautiful writing style. He used to write me letters like that once “sigh”.
    18. He wasn’t happy where he lived so I got a job half way across the country so he could live where he wanted. He still resented me when I finally insisted on something for myself and we bought the house near where I worked instead of a far flung suburb.
    19. He spent less and less time at home. It took me a while to catch on as he had just started a new job as a flight instructor that did reasonably require odd hours.
    20. He started having trouble climaxing during lovemaking even when he was the initiator.
    21. The criticisms ramped up, he stopped doing anything to help out around the house or anything else, he stopped parenting and basically “went on strike” and I just kept picking up the slack.
    22. He was doing new odd things during lovemaking and giving me odd requests that ran counter to previous requests.
    23. He was only ever interested at times when he knew I was least likely to be interested (3am on a school/work day, five minutes before my morning alarm went off or before I had to leave for an appointment, etc).
    24. It became harder to ignore the time away from home when he took those three hour dog walks, and would go to the gym after work at 9:00pm and come home at 2:00 am, go for flights during thunderstorms on this day off (instead of having Sunday brunch with his family), and would use the kids being annoying as an excuse to “go for a drive” and get away from the chaos because he just couldn’t take it.
    25. He was always wanting to hang around with this couple I didn’t really like very much (especially the wife who I found arrogant and condescending).
    26. He said we needed marriage counseling because we just weren’t communicating well and we had different priorities. “Yay! An opportunity to fix this”
    27. I got a call from Schmoopie’s husband telling me about the affair (later found out that was the 2nd PA)

    • “When I was eight months pregnant with our daughter I grabbed the side of the car and said “Geez” when he sped up towards the J-walker who had the nerve to cross the street a block or so in front of us. Because I had offended him he kicked me out of the car to walk the last five blocks to the grocery store. This was in July and it was hot and humid.”

      Chumpinrecovery, this is absolutely AWFUL. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that asshole.

      • I spackled because I was 8 months pregnant. The hormones must have been making me grumpy and that was affecting him.

        • Ex also kicked me out of the car when I was in my first trimester because I had a bodily reaction to his driving and asked him if he was okay. It was raining amd I had to walk miles to get home. Had I only packed up and left then, but I tried to explain why what he did was so hurtful. That was not a red flag. It was pure abuse.

    • What a marvelous illustration! I gather most of us longtime chumps could do the same exercise and while our incidents would vary, the result would be the same- full of many red flags that occur sporadically over time and individually can be explained ( Spackled away). We are like weavers, putting the cloth together thread by thread until we can finally step back and see the pattern.

      Funny thing is, I have thought many times over the years about a conversation I had with one of a dorm mate’s boyfriend a couple months after I started dating Stbx. Mind you, I had only met her boyfriend a couple weeks before I met stbx. He pulled me aside and asked me about stbx and our relationship and I don’t even remember what I said but I am sure that I was spackling it and talking on. I finally shut up and he looked at me very matter of factly and said : “I think you could do better.” I don’t even remember his name but I remember his face and that statement has always stuck with me. Now I say why didn’t I listen and what did he see that no one else did? Maybe they did see but didn’t care enough to say. It is kind of haunting.

    • I litterally thought i wrote this list in my sleep…it could have been me. I have so many of these familiar echos of behavior i am wondering if there is a brain chip that makes them all speak the same language! ?

  • My ex lied to everyone. I realized right away that he would lie to his friends but then I caught him lying to his parents. It bothered me enough to think about it but then I told myself that as long as he was honest with me….. He was such a skilled liar that I couldn’t tell when he was lying. Eventually I noticed that he had a “tell”. When I would ask a question that he was going to lie in response he would always pause and say “huh?”. I told him about the “tell” and then every time I would ask a question he didn’t want to answer and he gave me that response “huh?”, I would just laugh and say – okay, now you are going to lie to me. It would just burn his ass. It gave me a lot of pleasure. 🙂

    • I was a chump, too, for thinking that my ex wouldn’t lie to me the way he lied to everyone else. I think he also told me that he wouldn’t lie to me. Man. All that spackling I did! He is a compulsive liar and sadly, one of his sons is the exact same way.

    • Mine didn’t lie outright, but he was a fake with others so I should have realized he was a fake with me too. Occasionally when he was drinking he would be honest. I thought that was when he wasn’t being himself. Stupid.

      I am surprised yours didn’t figure out how to hide the tell after you told him. Lucky for you he isn’t that bright.

      • I’m not even sure what his tell was. He was so smooth and accomplished at it that it was plain scary. Pathological for sure.

          • Yes, Phoebe, practice makes perfect!

            He was SO GOOD at lying, I didn’t even have a clue he lied to anyone and everyone until D-Day #1 (over a decade into our relationship). In fact, he had me believing that honesty was actually important to him. (I’m such a chump!)

            Since then, I’ve found evidence of his lying to LOTS of people. It’s mind-boggling how frequently he lies, and how convincing he is.

            It’s truly sick to be THAT good at being a liar.

      • Mine exaggerated…all…the…time….not an exaggeration. So did his mother.

        I didn’t pay it much attention until his exaggerations were against me. I’ve come to realize that exaggeration is simply a form of lying that I shouldn’t have ever tolerated. And he always said there was something wrong with me because I needed to always “be right” when what it really was, was a need for truth.

    • This. This is what I’ve been grappling with. Witnessing all the lies, big and small, and somehow thinking I had immunity. What was wrong with me? I think someone mentioned being an accomplice – which I definitely feel like I was, despite him calling me a “do-gooder” and “Suzy” all the time because I couldn’t understand the need to lie ALL THE TIME ABOUT EVERYTHING – and that makes me sad.

      • PutAForkInMe, I feel the same. Why did I think I was any different, that he wouldn’t lie to me, that I had some special immunity? But I don’t think we can see these things because we are in it so deep.

      • Mine called me a do-gooder as well. I swear that toward the end that is why he became so mean. He hated that I was a nice person, made him feel worse about himself.

  • Wow – STBX aka Princess YogaPants hit pretty much all of these boxes bang on taking control of my life and deciding to move in with me after only a month or two. I should have been more suspicious that this charming, outgoing woman had only one single female friend.

    What’s more scary is that while I was hurt and on the rebound from that, I found someone else online who hit them ALL. The love-bombing was particularly intense for several months. Fortunately she was a long distance away so it was all done via phone / email / text as she was “recovering” from husband #3. Lots of red flags waving around. Very intense interest in me, my life and how it sounded ideal to her. Lies and secrecy to those around her including keeping me a secret even from her therapist.

    Fortunately about a month or so before we were to meet in person it all pretty much stopped. I think she found another, more accessible victim who was a bigger prize. There was one big bombing run (sung to the chorus of me me me me me) shortly before we met. Meeting her in person was a confirmation that she was not the kind, considerate person who thought older men who lived in small towns were super. What I had taken as joking put-downs about things I liked were in fact just put-downs and dismissing my interests as unimportant. Seeing how she treated other people in person was a big eye-opener too that I was actually watching for. Dinner and meeting was in fact had, most of which was her bar-tab. She also let slip that she had been cruising the bars for young guys the night before – probably because I was no longer the prize. We had dinner, most of which was her bar-tab, an awkward and “just friends” good-night and then I started writing her out of my life. The beautiful woman that she projected herself to be turned out to be a pale imitation who was not aging well and was chasing after her youth with younger and younger men. The reason for meeting for dinner? Free drinks, a (rather nice) birthday present and yes – a free ride to the airport where I put on the “sadz” and waved buh buy!

    I dodged that bullet but need to be alert that I don’t get trapped again. They are soooo difficult to resist. I think I need to take this list and nail it to the bathroom wall and read it daily.

    For me, I’m pretty healed but know myself to still be vulnerable. Still have a ways to go. I do worry that I’m now so gun-shy that I’ll see a narc everywhere.

    • Bow tie, congratulations on dodging that bullet. I think a lot of us fear “seeing narcs everywhere.” But I’d sure rather see them and avoid them, than get sucked into their toxic charm and lies. Hang in there. Remember that you have worth and deserve better.

  • his motto, “No good deed goes unpunished”.

    10 plus beers 2-3X during the week and all that plus wine (whole bottle on his own) on weekend nights.

    he never said sorry if he hurt my feelings or if I was upset (cheaters all seem to have this trait!), particularly about his drinking. It was always my fault for everything that was going wrong. And that I was a “prude” about his boozing.

    No pictures of me in his office. Just our daughter (we had one at the time) by herself and him with her.

    I always felt like an outsider when he was with his family or friends.

    he called his mother more than he called me.

    he was into porn.

    he never asked how I was doing or if I needed anything when I was pregnant (both times) or working late at home to meet a deadline (stressful job).

    he never showed any kind of compassion for anyone.

    Never any show of affection either public or at home outside of sex.

    I completely mistook sex for intimacy. I thought that as long as we were having sex, we were connected and everything would be fine.

    I realize now, thanks to CL and CN, that I was merely OF USE. I am now divorced and as much no contact as possible while trying to deal with his constant mindfucking of the children.

    And working very hard towards MEH.

  • The one issue I disagree with on this list is the idea that the disordered cannot mange the facade for more than a year.

    I dated my EX a year and was engaged to him for another year before we married. I thought that was a reasonable period of time. I was wrong.

    Now I know that he cycles in about 3-5 year periods. His whole adult life he’s moved to a new place, taken a new job, made new friends, become disenchanted after a year or two when people begin to call him out on his lies and exaggerations, acted like an ass, raged at everyone, lost friends, been fired, and moved again because he’d polluted his own environment so deeply there was no way to continue without relocation. The older he’s grown, the shorter the cycles have become.

    I met him at the start of a cycle when he was both new in town and at our place of employment. Four cycles later, I could see the pattern and got a divorce. But I couldn’t see it at the 2 year mark when I married.

    Now I know that he lied about his past–he didn’t “leave” a job for a better one. He was fired. He hadn’t lost touch with friends from one city when he got so busy with the fantastic new job in the next city; they just wouldn’t talk to him any longer. All of his claims of great accomplishment were huge exaggerations. He represented himself as an ambitious go-getter pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. He was, in fact, a narcissist supported by his parents in ways I couldn’t see (they paid his down payment on the house, etc.)

    I am now a fan of deep digging in a person’s past before marriage. If either you or your new potential partner is a recent addition to the community, I’d also suggest taking a lot more time than a year before committing to the relationship.

    • My husband has a similar cycle. For most things it lasts 6mo – 5yrs depending on how quickly he becomes disenchanted with whatever he initially thought was great. In my case the whole cycle took 21 years to discard although there may have been mini cycles throughout our marriage (perhaps on that 7 yr itch cycle) where the relationship would have its ups and downs.

    • E, I wasn’t the victim of a spouse but was platonically love bombed by a co-worker when I did a favor for her. She was on me like a leech. She cheated on her first husband twice, she forged documents at work, she was estranged from her children and she was ALWAYS the victim. I was new to the job and had never dealt with a PD before so I had no idea what I was getting into. She called me constantly, was jealous of any other friendships and had no boundaries. I asked my husband if I was losing my mind because she constantly misquoted me for no reason. My job is very specialized so I had nowhere to go or I would have left. I finally found one, left, and ghosted her and she called every friend I have to try to find out why. The best advice I have is to talk to coworkers because they see these people every day. After I ghosted her the others in the office told me just how nuts she made them for years.

  • Mine lacked friendships and attachment to people in a healthy way. He had no friends throughout our marriage and clumpy me thought that I was his best friend. Wrong.

    Also, he brought flowers and gifts that he liked. Seriously. Usually I’d pick out a gift for my birthday and he’d go buy it. No original thought put into it.

    He controlled when we saw each other very early in the relationship and other big life decisions. He loved power and control.

    He always had to be the smartest in the room. He’d often say about other professions, “I could have said that.” He was incredibly arrogant.

    He triangulated. He manufactured conflict and dis-ease among groups of people, in-laws, friends, etc. He was a real lone wolf and made sure his preferences were a priority.

    These were there from the beginning of our long term relationship. And are huge red flags.

  • Mine lacked friendships and attachment to people in a healthy way. He had no friends throughout our marriage and chumpy me thought that I was his best friend. Wrong.

    Also, he brought flowers and gifts that he liked. Seriously. Usually I’d pick out a gift for my birthday and he’d go buy it. No original thought put into it.

    He controlled when we saw each other very early in the relationship and other big life decisions. He loved power and control.

    He always had to be the smartest in the room. He’d often say about other professions, “I could have said that.” He was incredibly arrogant.

    He triangulated. He manufactured conflict and dis-ease among groups of people, in-laws, friends, etc. He was a real lone wolf and made sure his preferences were a priority.

    These were there from the beginning of our long term relationship. And are huge red flags.

  • CL – were you married to the same guy as I was? Just users and cowards, eventually they will reap what they sow.

  • So many red flags that I totally ignored. A few of the big ones: he told me I wasn’t the type of women he typically dated, he was still in love with his last girlfriend when we dated, and moved in with me after 3 months of knowing him, because he was evicted. He couldn’t keep a job, and sucked big time at paying bills. He had no saving and spent money like crazy. He had a porn addition and was impotent and I had to work EXYREMELY hard to get it semi hard to get me pregnant. But the biggest red flag sign was that after waiting 40 years of wanting to be a mom and finally being one, he forgot, or ignored to get me a mother’s day card. My first f’ing mother’s day and HE forgot a card, much less a present for my FIRST mother’s day. He knew how important that day was to me and he forgot. I yelled at him a few days later to let him know my unhappiness and to never screw it up again. My bday is earlier in the same month so I informed him while he’s picking out my bday card get a mother’s day card. Ugh. Can’t get it back.

  • Thrill seeking: Watch a man (especially if he is in his sixties) that cannot go a single day without looking for a dopamine rush of some kind. Usually something illicit or risky like porn or online gambling or chat rooms.

    Heavy drinking: Watch to see if a man HAS to down a couple bottles of wine every night, a fifth of hard liquor or a six pack or more of beer…or a mix of all of them. What is he medicating? What is his excuse for so much drinking?

    Shitty investments: Find out where his money goes…does he get “bright” ideas, finance them (or get you to), and then walk away from them when the thrill wears off or they do not pan out like he wanted?

    Laziness: See how much he is willing to help out around the home doing everyday mundane stuff like he expects YOU to do. See how much actually gets done w/o you asking for his help…or how WELL he does it when he does get to it. Look and see how he keeps his own place when he does not expect you to show up…or if he hires out help to keep a tiny flat clean. His being an absolute PIG is a strong indication of a rebellious man.

  • Love bombing. My ex had me meet her parents after 1 month. Told me that as soon as she saw me, a voice in her head told her I’d be her husband. I wince with embarrassment now, but I mostly ate this bullshit up at the time.

    Excessive persuasiveness. People (including myself) blinded by her alleged cuteness and playfulness to see that she gets her way TOO often. I assume more charming men have similar traits.

    Vague stories as to the end of prior relationships. (Hint, if she’s always had a boyfriend, and yet realized that “it wasn’t REAL love” with each of them…why do you think you’ll be any different?)

    Excessive drinking. Recreational drug use.

    Unwillingness to plan and make sacrifices for the long term (aka, hates saving for retirement).

    Wack-a-doo jealousy. Like, throwing shit at you. While we were dating, my EW had multiple meltdowns over my having fun when we spent time with HER gay male friend. The following year, she transferred this jealousy to a female classmate in our grad school program. Project much, EW?

    Just a general feeling that she/he believes that the initial thrill of a relationship, whether that phase lasts a few months or a few years, can and must be sustained forever, regardless of personal/family/professional responsibilities and naturally evolving priorities.

    • Funny you should mention these. After the divorce, I had a brief relationship with a guy I met, and I broke it off because he had several of the traits/behaviors you list above. And I’ve had no one since then, so I do think about him sometimes: was I overreacting? Did I misjudge? — Rereading your list, I see that I did not misjudge and would have just been heading down another ugly path.

    • Oh my god JC, those are the same traits as my STBXH. I had never had this laid out so clearly to see what he really is.