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Un-Chumping Post-Infidelity, A Primer

Since starting this blog, I’ve been asked several times in various different ways how I transformed into a happily married person after infidelity. Hey, you were such an epic chump — how did you ever trust anyone again? Did you fix your picker? Are you just stupid lucky? Where did you meet your husband? How did you know he was a good one? Are there any left?

I’ll start with the last question first — are there any good people left? HELL YES! We chumps are legion! For every freaky narcissist out there is some good, able-bodied person who’s been propping an egomaniac up without reward… until that shit fails (as it must). So the chump is back on the market. And then there are the ordinary, decent people who fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of toxic taker and codependent giver. The world is full of millions of potential partners — not all of them personality disorders — take heart!

I’ve never understood why people chase the elusive reconciliation unicorn, thinking the odds of THAT working out are far greater than the odds of finding a new partner. Seriously? You could swing a cat in a bar and hit a stranger better than your cheater — just by virtue of the fact that person has not already cheated on you. Not that I recommend cat swinging as a selection method (more on refining your picker in a minute), but it’s totally likely you will find love again IMO, and far less likely that you can transform a hard-core cheater into a good life partner.

It should go without saying, you don’t have to remarry to be happy. But if you want to partner up again, don’t settle. There are so many ways to be happy — just escaping the orbit of a toxic relationship will improve your life dramatically.

But back to how did Chump Lady arrive in the Promised Land O’ Healthy Relationships?

Stupid dumb luck, really — but also the wisdom to recognize an opportunity and be open to it.

How did I meet my husband? New Orleans. But if I told you I met him on an elevator, I would not recommend to you standing on elevators in pursuit of a good, life partner. Elevator populations are random things. I don’t know specifically where to tell you to meet good people — they’re everywhere, but check places you especially like to be (like New Orleans!) If you like polkas, hang out in polka halls. If you like hiking, join a group. If you’re helpful, volunteer somewhere. You’re bound to stumble over someone like-minded eventually. While you cannot improve your luck in these matters, you can improve your wisdom, so that when you find a good person you recognize them as such.

What does a good person look like? I feel very chumpy telling you this, but after you’ve been with a really crappy partner, the differences are glaringly obvious. How did I not see that the cheater was ATROCIOUS? OMG… it’s mortifying.

So, here are a few things I’ve learned about choosing better and what good relationships look like. There’s a part 2 (I can run more tomorrow if you want, vote in the comments). There are  more than a few lessons here, but let’s start with the biggie, RECIPROCITY.

Good people want to reciprocate. Takers, over time, are very transparent in their selfishness. Sure, they often love bomb you in the beginning, but it’s always quid pro quo — they’re looking for the payoff. They want something in return for their efforts — and it’s never a fair trade. They get petulant if the kibbles are not immediately forthcoming. With crappy people, the entitlement is often pretty out there, but we’re so dazzled by their sparkle, we want to be of service to them. Bad dynamic! Good partners delight in pleasing you. They get honest pleasure from doing for you. And while they can receive graciously, however, taking too much does not sit well with them.

I’ve found this in other parts of my life too, in friendships and good neighbors. Good folks want to return the favor. You lent me your casserole dish? I’m going to return it with cookies. You invited me to dinner? I’m going to invite you to a concert. If you make a generous overture to a good person, and the equation becomes temporarily lopsided? They’re vocally appreciative and they look for an opportunity to give back. Bad people don’t do this. Bad people are VERY comfortable with things being lopsided. (Really they prefer that, but they’re artful about not letting on, or diminishing your gifts as Not All That Valuable, so what’s the big deal?)

I paid off thousands of dollars of my ex-husband’s debts when we married to get a better mortgage rate. I paid for all sorts of things I should not have. (The chump title is mine, do not challenge me.) And in retrospect, it appalls me now how comfortable that fat, six-figure salaried patent attorney was at letting single mother me finance things. I’m appalled at myself mostly. But I told myself, well, of course he’d do the same for me. But that was spackle. He didn’t. He wouldn’t.

When I met my husband, I was totally struck at not only how generous he was, but how mutual everything was. If he wrote to me, I would write back, and then he wrote me back something more, something funnier. I never had to guess about his level of interest, there was always more conversation to be had. I was on the lookout for character — and the smallest gestures made a big impression on me.

Once in New Orleans, I lost my voice. Just got a chest cold thing and he leapt into action — are you okay? And took the initiative to order an over priced cup of tea via room service. It’s the kind of motherly thing I would do, but a guy? I knew then that he was a Good Person. I was paying attention and the good things just started adding up. We joke about that cup of tea — he says, boy, that cup of tea was sure worth it, for the impression it made!

When you’re with a narcissist, they aren’t noticing you in any care taking sort of way. They aren’t checking in. They aren’t looking for opportunities to do for you in small ways. It’s all about them. If they make a gesture, it’s a grand gesture that reflects well on them some way. Other people must notice it and remark, but I doubt a cup of tea would be on their radar. The balance is always off with a narcissist. Good people want to DO. That was my first clue that this relationship was different.

Tomorrow — I’ll get into not falling into the “Well, they look good on paper…” trap. Good people ARE good. They’re more than a bundle of attributes you should like, or others would find enviable.

But suffice it to say — if you learn nothing else about relationships — hold out for reciprocity. Good people give AND take in pretty equal measure, but it genuinely pleases them to please you.

Radical, huh?

This column ran previously.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I also looked for someone who could be alone. Big red flags even with an extrovert if incapable.

  • I had dated a guy WAY earlier in life…a guy who was SO NICE. I actually sort of dismissed his niceness because (get ready to smack me here) I figured that anyone I ended up with would be nice to me, right? In the moment I distanced myself from nice guy because we were young and lived VERY far from each other…pursued brooding bad-boy who I THOUGHT was nice…the idea that he was nice was spackle.

    28 years later, I not only had a chance at a nice guy, The Universe gave me a second chance at that SAME nice guy and I was NOT going to make that same mistake again. So he is a little silly (daughter is like “he clips his phone to his belt!!!”) but as CN knows, dorky phone belt-clipping is not a punishable crime when compared to blowjobs from coworkers.

    I had decided that I would consider a disfigured nice partner over a flashy mean one so the fact that he is tall, handsome and successful were all bonus. I apologize for the tall thing, Im only 5’2″ so its kind of wasted on me…I know you tall gals hate us shorties when we do that, it wasnt my goal and I cant change it.

    I hope all chumps find their best lives, partner or not.

    • Bwahahahaha! –> “dorky phone belt-clipping is not a punishable crime when compared to blowjobs from coworkers.”

    • Those of us who are nice guy dorks who clip our cell phone to our belt thank you and salute you ! After I divorce cheater wife I have already told myself to find a dorky history nerd that likes to hike. I went for the beautiful glamorous looking woman who turned out to be a big fake. Life lesson.

      • I like hiking and history! If I had it to do over again, I’d get a degree in history with a poly-sci minor.

        Hiking the CDT is on my bucket list. I was preparing to do a section hike when the ex bailed.

        • I did the reverse majored in government, minor in history.

          One of the silver linings I told myself- well if I’m getting a divorce I guess that means I get to do more hiking! Maybe now I can find a woman that will actually go with me.

      • I like hiking too, but I am an engineer nerd not a history nerd so I’ll just go along for the hike and then leave you and Sunflower to talk history. 🙂

      • History nerd who likes to hike? By gosh, that’s actually my career. Both parts! I am buoyed that those are desirable characteristics to someone out there.

        • I’m doing a lot of hiking on my Road Trip to Meh. Gee, is hiking a chump trait?

          • I say we rip off the national slogan and coin a new phrase: “Find Your Park and Lose a Narc.”

          • I guess it is. I just joined an outdoor meetup group that does a lot of hiking. I met another chump (female) on the first hike. It makes sense though. Hiking is good exercise without being too physically taxing. Exercise is supposed to be good for improving your mood. I have really enjoyed the hiking I’ve done since before and after DDay. I even used to walk to work. Now I have switched to biking because it is just a bit too far to walk.

            Anyway Zell, join a hiking group and you will likely have your pick of chumps who like to hike and from the responses here some will even like history.

      • Zell

        You will have women knocking down your door! As a hiker and life dork who is wandering the suburban sidewalk I’m always on the lookout for fellow hikers! Good luck with the process. Hiking is so much better without the emotional weight of a cheater!

      • Zell, please don’t hate us for having muffin tops, rolls, big stomachs and chunky thighs. I am not obese at all but I have all of those things. We don’t like our bodies enough, we need lots of acceptance on this one.

  • Hmm…not so sure the differences are glaringly obvious after being with a crappy partner. After my first disastrous marriage with an overt, grandiose Narc, my second husband looked like Mr. Wonderful. Woody made a big show of being a giver and showing reciprocity when he was courting me and during our early years of marriage. I thought it was real. He remained courteous and thoughtful in some ways right up until the end–part of his “Great Husband and All Around Good Guy” mask. This made it really hard to see his covert narc flags waving. They were there all along, I can now see in 20/20 hindsight, but they weren’t red flags. They were clear plastic flags.

    That’s why I love this line of yours, Queen ChumpLady: “I was on the lookout for character — and the smallest gestures made a big impression on me.”

    In addition to looking for the red (or invisible) flags of the disordered, now I’m trying to look for every little sign that reveals depth of character. I want to able to recognize someone of true worth–a more positive approach to separating the wheat from the chaff.

    • Yes, I had an overt narc cheater and then chose a covert one. He seemed so responsible and generous compared to the first one that I couldn’t wait to have kids with him. What was I thinking?

      So many flags in hindsight. The problem was I had virtually no deal breakers. And I was so defeated and had such low self-esteem from the first abusive marriage, that I was easy prey. The love-bombing felt so good after a terrible discard.

      After I discovered his secret, double life, a member of his family said, “He did exactly the same thing to his first wife!” Ugh. If only I had slowed down, been more cautious, refused to settled, and asked more questions.

      He did not share my values and was not honorable. He didn’t suddenly decide to break his vows, forsake his children, and destroy our family because of anything we did or some stupid midlife crisis, addiction, excuse of the moment here ______ . His actions revealed his true character. That is who he is. I just didn’t see it before.

    • “Woody made a big show of being a giver and showing reciprocity”. That’s the key – the “big show.” It’s the small gestures that no one but you see that are telling. My ex was big on big gestures too. A surprise trip to Greece to celebrate my 40th birthday, a trip to Napa to celebrate my 50th (which never happened due to DDay #2). But when I was sick in bed or recovering from surgery, did he do little things to make me feel better? Did he rush home from work to help me? Nope. ‘Cause nobody saw those moments or told him what a great guy he was so they served no purpose for him. If a gesture wasn’t one that other people could see him making and compliment him on, to him it wasn’t worth doing. It was NEVER about doing something kind for me. That’s what I will look for. Someone who likes to do nice things without needing or expecting public applause and a parade for doing them.

      • Beth, that was a great description of my Sluterella, too. She was big on Pharisee-like expressions of charity and kindness. She did public things so the world would think she was kind, generous, and thoughtful. Look at me donating time or money to help stray animals! Look at me taking my kids to that Cool Thing for Making Them More Cultured! Smile for the Facebook photo, everybody!*
        When we were behind closed doors, well, that was another story. She gave me birthday presents that were things she liked, not me. She forgot our anniversary twice. She ignored the kids for hours. She quit caring for the two pets we had in our actual house, not even giving them food.
        Once I was so sick I threw up for hours and hours. Eventually I became so weak I couldn’t walk. I was crawling to the bathroom to throw up. I asked her to take me to the doctor. Instead, she shut the door and went downstairs so she didn’t have to hear me retch any more.

        * Unless it concerned me. Husband? Who’s that?

        • Oh My God, TtW, how dare you make Sluterella (love that name, BTW) listen to you retch?? How selfish can you be? It’s amazing what we put up with, isn’t it?

        • Traveling the world…did she have a brother!? I swear my Whorehopper was poured from the same mold…anything that got him attention from the community.. he was doing..pick up trash on the side of the road, volunteer to coach soccer, football, softball, Boy Scouts etc…anything that made him look like a responsible stand up good guy..outside the home..wife needs major surgery..she can drive herself cause he didn’t want to miss the potluck at work..daughter at 3 years old almost dies from the flu..chumpy pregnant wife stays the night at the hospital so he can go to a Christmas party with chumpy prego wife’s (ex) best friend..chumpy wife gets Rocky Mountain spotted fever ( I know, what luck) spends 2 days in a recliner with no food or water and he never noticed a thing..just thought I was being lazy..donates money to every cause on earth but let’s chumpy wife pay all the bills…has over 500,000.00$ in his retirement while chumpy wife has 0… had to cash my small savings out to pay my “share” of the bills while on extended maternity leave( nurse anesthetist tried to kill me by paralyzingly me up to my eyeballs instead of just to the hips with spinal..long scary story there) whorehopper always bought gifts I call ” for me for you” things…gifts he wanted but got for me and the kids too..then would take them for safe keeping of course…in between finding new and exciting ways to punish me for any perceived slight..he was screwed his way through my friends and family..damn I am a trusting soul…never questioned a thing until I started listening to finally listen to that crazy person in my head screaming run Forest! RUN!

        • Beth, I think the stbx is similar to yours, but i have another analysis of his personality than what you have given. I think this kind of generosity ( buying gifts, fancy vacations, fancy dinners etc) are less demanding especially if you can afford that, and does not need emotional involvement, or responsibility. On the other hand being there when you are sick or feeling sad needs a lot of emotions and responsibilities, this is the kind reciprocity that is lacking in this kind of character. My stbx was/still very generous (still we share back account and it is his salary solely, still he pays for the rent where i live, still he was bringing me expensive gifts while wrecknciling, but on the other hand he was always cold and distant all through our marriage, and of course much more after i discovered his affair. He was always uneasy/almost absent when i got sick or needed him with me… It is not easy to untangle his character!

          • That’s a really excellent point, FL. It definitely was easier for my ex to spend money than to exert any sort of emotional effort but he was a cheap bastard too which tended to spoil the impact of the big gestures. For example, ex couldn’t resist telling anyone who commented on the trip to Greece he gave me for my birthday that it was only done because he booked it right after 9/11 when no one was traveling abroad so flights and hotels were really cheap. He always sounded sort of apologetic about taking advantage of such a huge tragedy but at the same time he couldn’t stop bragging about how savvy he was. Talk about lack of empathy and emotional depth? That should’ve been a huge red flag right there.

        • Traveling

          Your x and mine should meet! I was left alone or alone with the kids after: giving birth, having a miscarriage, stuck out of town with a child in ICU, and in a hospital with a blood clot. Like CL, it is the small, daily acts of kindness and reciprocity I will notice! Good luck to you!

      • Exactly Beth, the big show, for everyone to notice what a great guy he is and how lucky you are Chump. Everything they do in public is a performance that will benefit them.

        Like you while I was the hospital then later in bed recovering from surgery and sick he begrudgingly would help me walk to the bathroom. Never asked how I was feeling or offer any type of comfort,

        • Once when my back was locked up in a muscle spasm so I couldn’t stand without passing out, my ex grudgingly came home at lunch (after leaving me home alone and unable to get up to pee for five hours) and carried me to the bathroom. He set me down none too gently on my feet and unsurprisingly I passed out. I came to wedged between the shower and the toilet with him standing over me with his hands on his hips with this huge frown because I was wasting his precious time, I guess. Ugh. The worst part of remembering these moments is knowing I kept gulping down the shit sandwich for years after that. What the hell was I thinking??

          • Beth. You weren’t thinking. You were just in a committed marriage letting go of the little things. Well it wasn’t little anymore. And you wouldn’t put up with that shit. Good for you. It’s crazy liking back at how things make sense now. But who goes into a marriage looking for negative things. Anyways. Always good to read your updates Beth ????

      • Remember that Narcs invest a huge amount of time on image management and their public persona. To the World, my Ex is Ms Wonderful and a great wife and mother–why look at all she does –isn’t she great !!
        Only those who actually live with “Mr or Mrs Wonderful” know their true face when the public mask comes off. This made it so hard for me and all of you I’m sure after Dday because people outside the family who didn’t know her that well refused to believe that little Mrs Betty Crocker actually is a disordered abusive narc who lives a double life. “That’s nonsense, YOU must have done something or driven her to cheat if she even did” was what I heard many a time.

        Regarding fixing your picker and finding a true partner, CL gave some great advice. Also make sure to see them angry AND drunk (my wife refused to agree to marry me unless she saw me drunk as a skunk and then purposely pushed my buttons while I was inebriated {her ex was a mean drunk}). If they are wearing a mask it will often drop. Also see how they treat wait staff and the less fortunate–that is telling. Finally make sure that your close friends and family meet them and spend time with them and get their opinions and LISTEN to them if there is anything negative.

        • Your wife is a smart woman LG, and a lucky one too, to have replaced an abusive drunk with a former Chump like you!

          • Thanks, Beth.

            Understand that my wife and I are light drinkers but her Ex was disordered and a very angry person who became vicious when he drank (which became an every day thing after awhile). She was so terrified that she would marry a Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde type again that she demanded that after we got serious. I’m happier & sillier than usual when drunk, so no biggie. Her sister got me blasted and my wife purposely tried to get me mad–didn’t work. She was amazed that I am the same person drunk as sober just sillier, as are most normal people but the disordered –watch out !!

            • I totally get where she was coming from LG. I think checking your angry-drunk level under controlled circumstances the way she did was nothing short of brilliant self preservation on her part. And the fact that you didn’t mind what she did just emphasizes the wisdom of her picking you as a partner. Much happiness to both of you. I dearly love to hear happy-ever-after-being-chumped stories. 😀

        • Also, if they try to get you drunk it is another red flag. It gave stbx a real sense of power. 25 years later he still reveled at telling the story of me getting drunk at a college bar and throwing up in the bushes outside- hysterical right?

          He was giddy happy when I would drink too much- not a good thing.

          He drank every night and sometimes I would try to connect by asking him to make one for me. I may be a lightweight but I would always feel a buzz after one of his drinks and 2 look out. He always denied making them strong but hey, he lies.

          Kids and I dumped all the alcohol when he left other than wine which I use for cooking and have a rare glass with dinner. I am not anti alcohol but I don’t want it to be a focus.

          • Feelingit, see my comment above to Beth. My wife also had serious issues with her Ex and alcohol and she and I are light drinkers at best. She just wanted to make sure there was no Mr Hyde lurking underneath when I drank.

            • I get you! I wasn’t trying to imply that you or she were heavy drinkers or that she was attempting to control. You just reminded me of the other extreme to watch out for.

          • My ex liked to get me drunk because I got “in the mood” more. Yeah, that’s romantic, isn’t it?

            • I used to have to get me drunk to get me in the mood to have sex with Mr. Emotional Abyss. 😀 True story. My alcohol consumption has gone way down, as has my weight since the divorce. Not a coincidence.

              • My weight has gone down, too! Though my alcohol consumption has gone up since I’m now going out with friends and having fun!

        • Amen, Laughing Gator!

          Ditto This: “Only those who actually live with “Mr or Mrs Wonderful” know their true face when the public mask comes off. This made it so hard for me and all of you I’m sure after Dday because people outside the family who didn’t know her that well refused to believe that little Mrs Betty Crocker actually is a disordered abusive narc who lives a double life. “That’s nonsense, YOU must have done something or driven her to cheat if she even did” was what I heard many a time.”

          And Double Ditto This: “Also see how they treat wait staff and the less fortunate–that is telling.”
          For my abusive narc ex it was airports that tripped her switch. She would treat ticket agents, security people and gate agents with such utter disdain and contempt. Countless times I quietly apologized for ex’s rudeness. I’m now happy as a clam to be rid of her! Yay me!

      • Wow this hit me. My husband gives me lavish trips and gifts (and has actually told me to brag about it on social media). But the little stuff? No. I had a hysterectomy and he was out of town, working. I remember driving my kids to a track meet four days later, sweating bullets because I couldn’t take pain meds and drive. This was a year ago and I’m still here but this group is helping me see things.

    • Wow Mehtamorphsis I could have wrote this. I also went from a older man (5 years) who was a overt, grandiose Narc that looked so good to me as a young girl. I thought it was just confidence and smarts so when he cheated and left me 5 years later I was devastated and ill equipped to handle living alone. It took me 7 years at 24 to build back up after leaving me financially devastated and even had his girlfriend steal my car, (I got it backed wrecked).

      So here I am 7 years later, just bought my own house, got a great job feeling like a whole person again (I accepted all the blame for being young and naive in the demise of my first marriage) and I meet a good looking, humble man in the grocery store. I thought I did it right this time, because he was so wonderful and thoughtful. But every once in a while some thing would feel off. We were married quick (he was 6 months divorced when I met him and he had to prove that he was not at fault) I got pregnant, than little things started to not be so fun. 20 years and he was always the “family man” and thoughtful but things were never as good as the beginning. In hindsight the red flags were glaring but I had still never really realized there were people like this in the world (shades of blue velvet ha ha). Now I see so clearly the covert narc/antisocial behavior. He had spent at least 10 years telling my young sons he was going to divorce me one of these days. Meanwhile he was telling me he loves me. They were so confused and hurt, that there were days they would take it out on me, then I would react to their disrespectful behavior and then he would tell me I was a horrible mother…. He never let anything happen that he did not remind me that I was a horrible mother. It broke my heart It was my finding his love letter to his co worker that opened up the flood gates to what he really thought of me.

      I will also look for the red flags in the beginning but most of all I will listen more to my gut. I am not sure what a authentic relationship feels like, but I KNOW how a destructive one feels. I hope I never forget so I avoid another cheater at all cost.

      as a side note… my first cheating EX ended up writing his biography and spewed such lies and hate about me that was when I really started putting the red flags with him too. Even stated that I was so young and naive that I clung to the belief that marriage was forever and made him miserable during the divorce. he had a sadz. He has been married 3 times and cheated on the them too, in the book he swears they did not sleep together but just sat up all night talking…. right.

      • “Even stated that I was so young and naive that I clung to the belief that marriage was forever and made him miserable during the divorce.”

        That’s a pretty stupid thing to put in writing if you plan on having other people read it. anyone who isn’t disordered will know he’s the bad guy if he thought like that. “marriage is forever” is kind of implied in the vows.

    • Yes, Mehtamorphsis, my cheater had that “Great Husband and All Around Good Guy” mask too! I think that’s been the hardest thing for me to reconcile because I’ve always believed that mask. I still have to remind myself that it was a mask and the real person is the one that did not care about me and my feelings.

      I am working through identifying the those red/clear flags that I ignored so that I will see them next time. I can’t believe how often I spackled over those flags….

    • My X was also a ‘nice guy’ who did lots of things for me. There were a couple of tiny red flags of shallowness early on but they were nothing compared to all the good things about him that he demonstrated through his actions. I feel so totally fooled by him that I fear I could not trust a genuinely nice guy to not end up lying, betraying and abandoning me like my x so I feel the only alternative is to stay single and become happy with that.

      • Georgie, I hope you can overcome your fear of trusting men. We all deserve loving companionship! I have been studying up on how to identify emotionally abusive men and found the following book extremely helpful. It fit my Mr. Nice Guy to a T once I realized he was manipulating me through passive aggression and other covert narcissistic means.

        _Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men_ by
        Lundy Bancroft

        • Fantastic book. My 19 year old college daughter recommended the book to me. Wow. Amazing how lost I was. So busy spackling!

    • The cover narcs are so hard to spot when you don’t know such a thing exists! No one would believe my ex would do such a selfish thing, it must have been me that made him do it (that’s his Mommy’s belief ????). While yes, overall he was the nicest guy you ever met, he had moments where he was King of the Assholes. Those moments the depth of how judgemental and superior he thought he was I pushed aside. THAT is where I spackled anx can see it now. I remember there was a pregnant teenage girl in a store and he LOUDLY started chanting “shouldn’t be pregnant!” Who the fuck does that? If an overweight person was using a scooter in public he would indirectly exclaim how being lazy made them fat. He took our kids to the park and came home carrying a really nice, brand new leather football. When I questioned where it came from he told me “someone must have left it so now it’s mine”. I seriously had to make the 34 year old grown ass man take the fucking toy back to the park. I explained “finders-keepers” is not actually a thing. Some poor kid was going to go back looking for what was most likely their Christmas present and it wouldn’t be there because some dick thinks he is entitled to take anything he wants. Those are just a few examples that made my gut ping. I will never squash that instinct again. Those little flags were actually the big telling moments. I just had it backwards.

      • Oh, this was my ex! Absolutely, positively! Telling him how grown-ups should act! I remember we were in the grocery store in the cereal aisle and there was a mom there with her kids. Ex was throwing F bombs left and right. I was so embarassed. I said, “Please don’t cuss in front of the kids.” He got so upset and said, “Oh, they’ve heard it all before.” I felt so horrible for that poor woman.

      • oh my ~ I have to laugh at the picture of explaining finders keepers to a grown adult. Handslap to forehead

    • Your ex sounds similar to mine. No red flags, just plastic ones. Even when it got to the point where I was afraid he would divorce me for failing to meet his impossible standards, I didn’t think he would cheat.

    • This. My second husband was a great guy compared to the first. He wasn’t beating me, so he was great. My picker was seriously off and my boundaries only worked for obvious he’s-gonna-kill-me markers. Ugh.

      I did not learn this from my parents. I don’t know how I got such a shitty picker. I’m still working on it.

    • My FOO was a trainwreck and compared to my alcoholic BPD mother, nowdeadcheater actually looked pretty darn good. That was true for YEARS…as shitty as he was, he was still easier to live with than my parents.

      When we dated, he was in a phase of breaking out of his family mold and finding his own way. After we married (like 3 seconds) he became his father complete with abusive blame.

      As an idealistic young in-love girl, I didn’t see the shitstorm coming.

  • CL has better advice than me. I’m trying to concentrate on actions that I see, how they treat others around them, do they talk about others behind their back, do they gossip, do I sense drama, are they constantly looking at their phones, social media superstars, etc. If it’s a me, me, me fest – then no way. If there’s a boatload of selfies on Facebook, then no way. You know the drill.

    These are all generalizations and stereotypes, so I’m sure there are people who are innocently doing this stuff and are good people, but there’s a reason these generalizations and stereotypes exist in the first place.

  • Reciprocity is my new favourite word. I even Googled how to pronounce it because I had never heard it spoken before! ????
    I remember Cheater needing a massive display of appreciation for doing any housework. If I was speaking to one of my parents on the phone, he wanted me to mention the housework that he had done. ‘Mum, Cheater is so great. I got home from work and he vacuumed the whole house.’
    We would often have a cup of tea after dinner and, if there was only one teabag left, he would just make himself one.
    One day, I might get to a point where I trust myself to be a better judgment of character.

    • Reciprocity (or lack thereof!) is definitely a huge indicator.

      After I just started unraveling the knot of my STBX’s 20+ years of deception, STBX cleaned out the refrigerator one day — he was in suck up mode.

      I noticed. Didn’t really give a rat’s ass at that point, so I didn’t say “thank you” (sooooo not like me … I am the queen of “sorry” and “thank you”).

      Several hours later:
      STBX said: “Did you see the fridge?”
      Me: “Yes.”
      STBX — irritated at my lackluster response — “Don’t you like it? It took an hour to clean!”
      Me: “You want me to sing your praises. Well, I’ve cleaned out our fridge for more than two decades. You never once thanked me.”
      STBX: Crickets … and stewing in his outrage for days ….. Needless to say, he completely stopped helping around the house. He had to get his “revenge” for my lack of gratitude.

      Funny how reciprocating their LACK of gratitude inflames the rage of a disordered one.

      • This is so familiar. They never do anything just out of wanting to do it, they need to be recognized for it or it’s not worth it to them.

        “Funny how reciprocating their LACK of gratitude inflames the rage of a disordered one.”


      • Reminds me of the line in this blog somewhere, “To the entitled, fair treatment is oppression.” True dat.

      • Wow! My whorehopper cant do anything around the house without the whole world having to hear his pain..he quit making breakfast for the kids on Saturdays because no one was thanking him for doing it…never mind I cooked all the meals the other 6 days of the week..that is just my job and it is expected to be done no matter what.. when my mother was battling lung cancer I worked as an R.N. full time, took care of her, my drug addicted sister, our 2 kids and if dinner was not on the table by 4:00pm 2 days in a row I got accused of neglecting the family(him) and a week of ghost mode..he would not speak to me or the kids cause if he had to punish me might as well punish the extensions of me too…see what your mother makes me do guys? If she just wasn’t so irresponsible and cared about us more you wouldn’t have to suffer…

      • I can remember a few days after DDay he was telling me about all of the sacrifices he had made for me and then, in my defense, I listed all of the sacrificed I had made for him. His response was “its not a contest”.

        • In other words, he didn’t want reciprocity, he wanted me to acknowledge him as the supreme giver in our relationship and worship him for it. Silly me made the mistake of reciprocating to show my gratitude.

        • My X used to tell me all he’d done for me that day/week long before D-day. Once I reciprocated with a long list of all I’d done for him. He wasn’t happy about that.

          • Cheater loved to rub his sacrifices onto my face. Let’s see.

            Me: Moved into another country for him after marriage. Totally different culture.
            Me: Left all family and friends behind and started building new life with new friends.
            Me: Left a good career behind and started from scratch in a new country with no network or language.
            Me: took the language course and went out onto the streets to learn and practice the new language.
            Me: let him be away on “extended business trips and guy vacations” – now I know better – and spent many weekends and holidays alone by myself in his country with no family of mine or his there.
            Me: Agreed to move to another city and live with a newborn son by myself seeing cheater on weekends so he could concentrate on “work and putting bread on the table”. Took up all the child rearing and household chores to let the cheater enjoy quiet weekends with nothing to do. Let this arrangement continue even after he lost a job but insisted to spend the weeks in another city in our rental apartment.
            Me: at the cheater’s initiation moved to Canada 6 years later beleiving his promise that we’d reunite soon (second change of country of residence and start from scratch). Lived another 6 years in a long distance marriage, took care of our son, school, activities, established myself here, new career, friends , place to live, etc.

            Cheater: I sacrificed my freedom for you!

            All I heard for 12 years. His precious freedom.

            I am giving it back to him. And he is now punishing me for giving him his freedom back. Totally disordered.

    • This. Thanks for reminding me of this character flaw. My cheating ex wanted a freaking gold star for doing normal household chores. Doing the dishes, feeding the dogs, taking or the trash, etc. It was exhausting giving him the praise he needed for the few little things he did.

      I’ve been dating this guy for a few months and really like him, but wonder if my picker is really fixed. The fact that he takes care of his kids and his house without needing a bunch of admiration from me makes me feel like things might be ok with him. He’s really good to me, too, but I’m afraid to let go and trust again. I want to trust that he is genuine.

      I needed this post today. Thanks for reminding me, AussieChump, Chump Lady, and everyone.

      • Well, “good behavior” only lasts for a short period of time, then a person goes back to their true self. Give him about a year and if he’s still being a great guy, I think you can relax and enjoy him.

    • Their similarities never cease to amaze me, X would list the normal everyday chores he’d do during the day. X would also ask me to tell everyone what chore he’d done, no matter how small or insignificant. He’d remind me repeatedly all day, with something as insignificant as, I emptied the trash, I took out the trash, did you notice I took out the trash.., I’d thank him, hoping he’d quit. If the phone rang and I’d answer it, he’d be telling me to tell who ever I was talking to the chore or chores he’d done, empty the trash, feed the dog, load the dishwasher.

      We have a very small lawn, that takes a normal person less than five minutes maybe 15 minutes at the most to mow and trim. X would take all afternoon to mow our little patch. He worked out and had muscles, looking back I think this was an excuse and an opportunity to show off his muscles. He’d be “doing yard work” in a muscle shirt or no shirt hoping he’d be noticed. Looking for neighbors to wave to.

      • Haha the showing off !! I remember on so many occasions of him actually completing a regular household task he would look for special kibbles. I would say “are you waiting for a medal !!” I think he was.

    • My cheater wife would actually become more and more angry when she cleaned stuff. Made it totally not worth it. When she did clean something (rarely) she wanted me to make a huge deal out of it like a grand celebration and thank you for picking her piles of dirty clothes up off the floor. I did 90% of the cleaning, 100% of the cooking, and most of the taking care of our daughter.

      • Wholey crap batman…you cooked AND cleaned?! Without a pity party or a huge blowout?! You took care of your child like a responsible adult and the dim wit wasn’t satisfied?! Stay strong my friend…better days are ahead..imagine what life can be like if you find a you out there…there will be no stopping a domestic duo like that!

      • Yes, this is familiar. It made me nuts that I was supposed to praise the jackass for picking his own used tissues off the floor! (Not exaggerating.)

    • See I had the opposite problem. My ex used to do too much. It made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough so then I tried to do more and more myself. I also didn’t want him to burn out. I took on some of his chores (the few he would let me do because most I didn’t do well enough to meet his standards) but that did no good as he just came up with new ones to replace the ones I was doing. Eventually we were both running ourselves ragged. At that point I backed off a bit and decided that if he didn’t ever want a break to relax that was his problem because I needed one. Keep in mind, I never asked him to do any of that. He was self driven. Eventually hid did burn out, noticed that he was doing too much and blamed me for it. Idiot. Maybe Schmoopie will be able to keep up with his pace and do it all to his standards. Good luck with that bitch.

      • YES. YES, YES, YES! My ex could NOT stop moving. He was up at 7 a.m. (sometimes earlier) on Saturdays and would clean the house and do all the chores before I even woke up. I would feel SO guilty for this. And he was constantly busy. He would go to work, then come home and go to work in his garage, then stumble in around 9 p.m. to eat something and then go to sleep.

        BUT, when it came to doing the adult stuff? Like paying bills? Taking care of things? He left it all TO ME. I also think that he did all those things – dishes, laundry, etc – so that he could justify to himself all the time he spent AWAY from the house doing his own thing. He was always gone looking at parts or in his garage or with his friends. Spending time with me and our daughter was way on the bottom of his list.

        I totally understand, ChumpInRecovery! I’m hoping that ex’s whore is a HORRIBLE housekeeper and that it drives him nuts. Hahaha!

        • You are right that we were doing more than we realized. There were certain things that were left to me, mostly having to do with nurturing the kids. He never stayed up with me while nursing the babies, it was a very lonely time (although at least he didn’t leave me then like some of these chump’s assholes). When he wasn’t home doing chores, he somewhere else having fun. He did take breaks, just not at home and they didn’t involve relaxing. Mostly they involved broker dinners (he claimed no spouses, but based on other’s stories I wonder about that now) and flying. I was left home alone with the kids a lot, but then when the tables turned when he quit his job and was home being a SAHD with me working long hours to support the family, I was neglecting him and sticking him with all of the housework (not even true really). So many double standards with these people.

          Also, about the time he started cheating (that I know of) he completely dropped out of doing anything. It was like he went on strike or something. Instead, of complaining, however, I just picked up the chores he was dropping and did my best to hold it all together although he made sure I knew I wasn’t keeping it all up to his standards. I guess that was just practice for when he moved out. It hardly made a difference by that time.

          • Chumpinrecovery & Keepin Calm, My STBX did the same thing: took on a lot of household chores…ruined a few of my clothes by laundering everything together. He works for himself, so was in & out of the house all day. I work 9-12 hour days, driving a lot, would be exhausted coming home. But if I tried to do chores I’d hear I was doing it wrong. I think he was trying to be helpful, but sometimes there was steam coming fron his ears as he was working himself up. And passive aggression…heaping unfolded laundry onto my side of the bed so that I would have to fold & put away before I could go to sleep. (That was my last straw). I think he did those things to assuage his cheater guilt (wait, is that a thing?) and bolster up his “I’m such a great husband” image. He felt entitled to cheat dince he was such a giver. Yeah, that’s right.

  • My first husband was an overt narc. I thought I had done a great thing by settling for nerdy doc. There were flags along the way but I ignored them because he wasn’t grandiose. Some of those include: parking is a bitch where we work so I would drop him off/pick him up if I was off but he would complain if I asked him to do the same for me; drop me like a hot potatoe when dating and lying about going to strip clubs with a loser friend that would come stay with him every few months; his best friend told me he was making fun of him because he couldn’t answer what my favorite things were like foods, colors, places to go. Ex was a physician but he made a big deal about not advertising it because he didn’t want to have to do stuff for people if he didn’t want to. But if he was trying to smooze people, he was all into calling in a script for their kids with an ear ache id they called him but wouldn’t dare do that with my sister or her kids because ‘I could lose my license if I didn’t examine them’.

    Now I know he idealizes, devalues, discards. I’ve seen this play out over and over in our 20 years together with his work, hobbies, and his family. I thought it was us against the world (kids and wife), but I was the enemy too when complaining to shmoopie about how awful I was as a wife and mother.

    I am so hoping my picker is fixed for not only the time when I’m ready to date, but to apply to the rest of my life situations as well. I’m not sure I would have ever made it through this ordeal (again) without CL and CN. It’s becoming clear he was of lousy character and a cheater, my faults include being too passive and giving and not calling bullshit so much earlier with my giant pale o’ spackle.

    • “Now I know he idealizes, devalues, discards. I’ve seen this play out over and over in our 20 years together with his work, hobbies, and his family.”

      Ditto, same here. Honestly, the fact that it took him twenty plus years to get to discard with us probably says pretty good things about us. I know in the case of my ex the cycle usually only lasted 2-5 years if that.

      • Same. We were in a cycle of idealize, devalue, and discard. Now that I understand it, I can clearly see that’s what he was doing. I remember writing in one of my journals that ex had stopped showing me physical affection, that I literally had to take his arms and put them around me. That was a devalue/discard phase right there.

        “Honestly, the fact that it took him twenty plus years to get to discard with us probably says pretty good things about us.”

        Yes. Yes it does. We were their lifeline, the one who held everything together. My ex actually called me about a month ago because he couldn’t figure out a letter he’d gotten in the mail from the state. And the whore was there, too, because I heard her coughing. I thought, why in the HELL are you calling me? There are two adults in that room – figure it out! But of course, I made the mistake of thinking there were two ADULTS. No, just a manchild and his whore.

        • “There are two adults in that room – figure it out! But of course, I made the mistake of thinking there were two ADULTS. No, just a manchild and his whore.”

          I got a call from the dry cleaners asking if I wanted the hole in his pants repaired. Dude seriously just went to the dry cleaners, changed the address and didn’t bother changing the name or the phone number. Seriously? Message deleted. Plus, he had the nerve to ask me about a software problem because I am the Tech support person in our marriage. How about, No.

          I sometimes wonder why I was so lucky to last all of 27yrs. I guess I’m a really great spackler with a high tolerance for bullshit. Hope she likes old man balls who can’t stay up past 8pm when her 3 year old is crying.

          • My cheater went with a woman with little kids, too, even though our youngest is 17. But you know what she did? She sent them to live with their fathers (yes, plural) because she “couldn’t handle disciplining them.” Ex told me that this was called “parenting.”

            Yeah, those two are a match made in trash heaven. It’s pathetic.

            I wonder why I lasted 18 years with mine, too. Wait – I already know. Because I gave him a second chance and married him again and was BOUND AND DETERMINED that it would WORK this time. Turns out only one of us was in it for the long haul. “Things change”, he told me, and he “wanted something different.” Thanks, asshole.

  • Your cup of tea brought back a memory I hadn’t thought about in awhile. I have to share this story.
    X and I were looking for a home and were staying on a military base equivalent to a hotel.
    Our last night there I became deathly ill with food poisoning.
    In the refrigerator were cans of 7/Up, which cost 25 cents a can. I was laying on the cold bathroom floor, next to the toilet all night throwing up. I really thought I might never leave the room alive. I would crawl to the refrigerator to get a 7/Up to drink hoping it would help me feel better but couldn’t keep down.
    I had a total of three cans of 7/ Up.
    X woke up the next morning while I’m still laying on the bathroom floor with dry heaves.
    He doesn’t ask how I am, or what can he do to help me, he says, how many of theses cans of seven up have you had??? 75 cents..
    So in contrast to your tea story, someone complaining about you drinking 75 cents in 7/Up while you lay dying or think you are is definitely what you don’t want, and not a good sign of things to come.

  • One of my biggest problems was being afraid to *judge* those red flags and crappy behavior … somehow my crappy childhood brainwashed me into thinking it was UNKIND to judge people for their “flaws.”

    Adding to the mess is the fact that I married young. I just didn’t have the life experience necessary to understand that there is a giant difference between flaws and honest accidents, and intentionally crappy behavior and bad character.

    By the end of the marriage-from-hell (23 years is a long walk through the Inferno):
    –I grew into the ability to JUDGE truly abhorrent, hurtful behavior.
    –I grew into the ability to judge actions rather than words.
    –I grew into the ability to assess for flags and walk away when I saw them.
    –I also grew into the ability to share this journey with my older two daughters who, regretfully, witnessed my inability to judge for many years of their young lives (they are now young adults).

    It’s still a process, but I’m one very determined mom (to model behavior that will, I hope, help my girls live a healthy, happy life). Changing life-long beliefs and habits is tough for anyone — even Chumps. But, we have the good intentions and Mightiness of character that our asshole cheaters never had. Plus, we have many examples on this site that it truly is “do-able.”

    (Thank you to all of you who’ve made it to the other side and still post here to light the path!)

  • Yes about the grand gesture that reflects well on them. No good deed could ever go unnoticed! This was evident in so many things little and small during the marriage. I always had to say “thank you” after every dinner cooked, every load of dishes washed (never mind that I did those things 90% of the time and rarely got thanked). If I didn’t he would say something like “did you notice I did the dishes?” After Dday, he continued to do things like pay to have the lawn mowed. It really really got his goat that I never said thank you. But he did make sure to let everyone know that he paid to have my lawn mowed!

  • Another little thing to look for that might help: someone mentioned on here that people lacking empathy are immune to contagious yawns and do not startle. I looked it up and it’s true! And sure enough, XH had both of these traits. This seems like very useful information to me. I will probably do yawn and startle tests in the future. 😀

      • That’s very interesting. I never heard that before but in retrospect it seems true of my experience. On the other extreme, my ex who is definitely a narcissistic sociopath according to my therapist would startle me all the time. It was so bad that I got to the point that I didn’t believe him when he would do it. Imagine getting a phone call telling you that your kid got hit in the eye at a Phillies game and had to go to the hospital. He told me that and I hung up on him because I figured he was trying to get back at me for telling him there was no money to go to a game. He called me back and I demanded to talk to my older son to get the truth. How pathetic is that? Turned out it was true. Spent the night at a Philadelphia hospital with an excellent plastic surgeon that fixed his eye. So the fact that we didn’t have the money to go to the game, topped off with the ER visit cost us over $500 and he wondered why I had an issue paying the bills.

      • Yep, confirmed! 3 in a minute. Stop talking about yawning… number 4.

        Thing is though, I do not startle easy. Wonder what’s up with that.

    • I made a comment about this exact thing the other day . I struggle to remember my fucktard yawning at all never mind contagious yawning. He would sometimes say he was ‘a machine’ ….blade runner is a true story !! Maybe we should do that test in the movie to prospective romantic subjects!!

  • At the time you never see it – you are so used to doing everything ! Even if my head was falling off STBX would not get the kids up for school – but expected coffee in bed every morning. I don’t remember coffee in bed at any time for me! Massive “look at me ” gestures. Show off dinner parties, trips all sorts. Don’t remember him doing housework… or anything with the kids… or attending sports days or school plays. or loading the washing machine or dishwasher. I do however remember ILYBINILWY just weeks after booking romantic holiday to the Maldives (he took Scmoopie) I remember the lies, I remember wondering how someone THAT I THOUGHT cared about me and our kids and life could completely abandon us – for their own personal happiness…bless ! Stupid me did not see their despair lol. Am I worried that I will pick an asshole again ? God yes I am !!

  • I think the reciprocity lasts as long as the Narc has their shallow version of feelings for you.

    My ex willingly attended Saturday morning family educational lessons for my son and when he was in treatment for severe Bipolar Disorder. He visited him in the hospital. He did the things that outwardly feigned being all in with me.

    A month after our wedding trip, however, I came down with MRSA pneumonia and lung cavitations. I didn’t find out till I got better that the mortality rate for it was 50%. I took myself to the hospital, after all, and while I knew it was BAD because they put me in an isolation room where everyone had to suit up, and I felt like the death scene from E.T.

    The thing about an isolation room is that because the suiting up is an expensive hassle, the nurses do it as seldom as possible. They change your IV, they check your monitors, they leave you and the antibiotics alone to work. I felt well enough to make my own way to the loo with my IV pole.

    My brand new spanking husband brought the girls to see me the first night. He did not come again until I was discharged. He did not call on the phone to chat, only texted me with logistical details. A month after our wedding.

    The worst night of it I was coughing up a fair amount of blood and hit the nurse’s button in a panic. It took nearly an hour for anyone to come, and it occurred to me that the nurses fully half expected me to just slip away in that bizarre plastic covered room. I googled MRSA Pneumonia. I called the husband and asked him why nobody told me that it pretty much was a tossup if I would live. I had just changed all my life insurance policies to him, btw. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone in my life.

    He sounded annoyed with me. He told me his hands were full taking care of the girls on his own. He didn’t want to miss work.

    When he came to pick me up two days later I was desperate to just look into his eyes, and I don’t know, see some happiness that the IVATB had worked. I wanted that deep soulmate connection that we’d made it through a big challenge. He treated me like a spinster aunt that he’d gotten roped into ferrying home. It was the first time I looked into his eyes and just saw deadness. He complained he was very tired and hated to miss work. He was irritated for months after that I could not seem to do the lions share of housework childcare and cooking as I had for years of living together.

    I was no longer useful. He was not the center of the household. That’s when the discard began. He totally changed. My being sick was not in his plan.

    So I don’t know how you bounce back from that. I’ve had other health concerns since then, and I just accept that I’m on my own. I’ve had to rely on family and friends, and Uber. F it. It is what it is.

    Mostly I’ve learned that ‘You Get What You Give’ only works with non Narcs. With Narcs, You Give Till It Hurts.

    • Wow Luz you’ve been through the ringer! So freaking disheartening to think you’ve merged your life with a fuckwit. My ex would tell me jokingly that I was weak when I got sick (colds/flu), but when he got it would be super pissed if I didn’t wait on him hand and foot and anticipate his every possible need. Get upset that I must not really love him if I didn’t take the whole week off from work to sit with him. I chalked it up (or spackled) to gender differences. The famous Youtube Video about the “Man Cold”. I wasn’t in a reciprocal relationship and never was. For almost 20 freaking years of my life. Thank goodness I never had a life threatening condition. I would’ve been left to die.

      You’ve got family and friends to care for you. That’s great!
      My ex thought his cancer had returned and started burning up my phone. He had burned most bridges in his life and didn’t have anyone. I guess 20-something year old shmoopies don’t like caring for old, sick men that can’t go out to expensive dinners and planning awesome trips….

      • When my sister was diagnosed with cancer caused by the BRCAngene, I was tested to see if I inherited it also. When the results came back negative (whew!) she told me how worried she had been. Not just because she didn’t want me sick, but “who would take care of you?” Her boyfriend of almost 20 years was a complete rock through the whole thing, even today taking care of my mom in a way my ex never did.

        My ex simply didn’t take care of me in the ways that matter. I know that now.

    • That dead eye look… I remember that. Before DDay #1 I had to have surgery. I remember looking up at my husband when they brought him in to say goodbye before I was wheeled into surgery and thinking “he doesn’t care whether I make it through this or not.” I figured out later that he was deep in a affair at the time and was texting and emailing the OW while sitting in the surgical waiting room with my mom. I felt so alone and so afraid looking into the dead eyes of the man I had been with for more than 20 years. And yet, I spackled and pick-me danced for YEARS after that. What an idiot I was…

      • Beth I remember the same feelings when I went into surgery and being prepped, remembering he didn’t stand close to me or show any concern, I remember waking up from surgery and looking at his distance stare as if he wished he was someplace else. I smiled at him, he had no response, no acknowledgment, cold reptilian eyes.
        The nurse offered to wheel a bed in my room so he could stay the night with me after surgery he said no, he was going home. No kiss goodbye, or a smile, never asked how I was feeling.

        The first night in the hospital was uncomfortable, at eight the next morning I called X to see when he was coming back to visit, instead of being happy to hear from me he was agitated, and angry that I woke him up.
        I spackeled, danced myself into a frenzy, sucking frantically on the hopium pipe all with a huge smile ignoring red flag after red flag.

        • Every time. Every time I post a story here someone else has the same story. I swear to God, it’s like there’s a cheater mold they all come out of… Too bad the mold doesn’t have some sort of ID code embedded in it so we could recognize them when we see them.

          • Yea mine acted super strange during my surgery too. Very cold and distant. Only it wasn’t just surgery, it was a c-section for the birth of our first child. After hours of labor, the asshole said to me “you know, if you can’t tolerate this pain, you’ll never be able to get a tattoo.” Thanks dick. He was so inconvenienced when I asked him to come to the hospital every night to help with our days old child.

            • Oh, Fuck that guy!! I am a tattoo sitting champ and that pain is barely in my top five. Intestinal perforation, unmedicated childbirth, MRSA Swiss cheese lungs, torn knee meniscus, eyebrow microblading and two large tattoos. Put his balls in a vise grip next time you see him and ask him if he’d like tattoo instead. What a numpty!

      • Oh god, I didn’t even think of this! My STBX acted strangely during the only surgery he went to. I remember the nurse asking him if he wanted to accompany me back to my prep room and he said know. I’ll never forget the look of confusion on her face! At the time I wrote it off as him not being comfortable in hospitals. But he was probably in the waiting room texting the OW the whole time!

      • Yeah if I think about it too hard then he was probably texting/kik-ing the ow while I was having my procedure. They also cover their shit by saying “yes” to everything minorly monetary. I had wondered why he was so accommodating, silly me.

    • Luz – my heartfelt sympathy and empathy for your health concern and having to go it alone, even while married to such a self absorbed prick. I know of the dead stare that you speak. I’ve had it many times in my married life and it is the most lonely, disheartening look one could possibly give, especially when you’re afflicted with some ailment/life threatening illness. I love that when you ask what’s wrong, they project onto you that you are seeing something that isn’t there.

      I do know that if you are sick or have some sort of affliction and you have the coherency to notice how they treat you when you are in such a state – or even if it’s a dear friend or family member – this is a very good test for seeing if their mask of “nice” slips. They show who they are pretty quickly when you or someone dear to you is sick. X treated me like garbage when I was sick. He could care less when I had family members die. It was asking him to cut off his arm to come a funeral.

      • Ya Guys, Meh! Thank you for your concern but I’ve had it better than some and worse than some. I mean, I feel incredibly happy to live in the age of IV antibiotics. And to be able to pay for them.

        But the shark eyes, oh gosh! That’s soul crushing in any hemisphere. Referencing to some of the family of origin stuff Jesssmom said, what if my mom hadn’t told me from an early age I was The Plain One and would have to ‘work extra hard’ to keep a man?

        What if she hadn’t demanded we still kiss my abusive adopted brother’s ass every holiday and show up on my porch unannounced when I told her I didn’t want him to have my address?

        The point is, we gotta unlearn all that. I leave dishes unwashed for a night now. I slow down when I start to feel sick. I pay a neighbor to mow my lawn.

        I was making a casserole yesterday and I suddenly remembered scraping mirepoix out of the food chopper how my monkey dancing had gotten so bad during the marriage that I was scraping every particle out of bowls so that zero food waste happened. That is not the Narc’s doing. My hyper campaign to Work Really Hard to Be Loved was my shit to fix. Granted, the Narc benfitted heavily and exacerbated it.

        But this is my stuff to fix. And if it means I never work that hard again for love, so be it. I’ll love myself for a change.

        • ‘But this is my stuff to fix. And if it means I never work that hard again for love, so be it. I’ll love myself for a change.’

          YEP. TOTALLY THIS ^^^ ????????

        • So true Luz! “Unlearning” a lifetime of bad messages (many of which I’ve delivered to myself) is what I’m concentrating on right now. For me, it isn’t so much “Work Really Hard to Be Loved” as it is Work Really Hard to Be Loveable. I still struggle every day with that voice in my head that tells me I’m just not loveable.

          • Beth, I’ve struggled with that too. I’ve been abandoned twice, once with cheating which is so much more traumatic. I know I am a worthwhile person and am able to live quite well independently but still sometimes think: ‘What’s wrong with me? Why am I not loveable? I know people who are not very nice to their partners yet the partners still stick around, yet I was, I think pretty nice ( not submissive, I could be assertive in a reasonable way) and mine left anyway.

            • Oh Georgie, I don’t think it matters how nice we are or try to be with these disordered types. Hopefully the right person will come along and see you for the loveable person you are but yeah, being able to live independently is important too. In fact, I don’t know that I will ever be able to go back to living full time with another person. As much as I’d like to have a significant other in my life, I’m pretty happy and comfortable living alone.

        • I am so that way too..very abusive upbringing…broken collarbone, split lip up to my nose before I was a year old etc..I have always been a people pleaser and avoid conflict at damn near any cost…was always told I was the smart one but not the pretty one..or skinny one or favorite one..I have spent 47 years trying to be first instead of always feeling last..I put up with so much bullshit because I didn’t think I deserved any better..I should just be grateful somebody married the plain nerd..I am a serious ruminator too..takes me forever to finally get with the program but when I do..I am full on 100% I am learning it is ok to say no and stand up for myself. If your my friend I will defend you till the end..mess with my kids and I will shoot you in the face..but I never gave myself that same loyalty..changing that a little more each day…

          • Yes. Exactly! If I can’t find someone to give me the same loyalty I give to others, I need to learn to give it to myself. Love too, although I have to say, every time I hear that “you have to love yourself before anyone else will love you” shit, I feel defeated.

            I had to laugh at your “I am a serious ruminator too” comment. I think ruminating may be my super power. LOL

          • Ditto. I’ll ruminate for literally YEARS. I’m loyal as hell and it takes me forever to give up on a lost cause.

            But Luz is right. My shit to fix.

    • They “love” you until you no longer place them in the center of your solar system for an extended length of time, or you have the gall to do something like get sick, or have a kid. I found that with mine, so long as I was prioritizing him over myself and everything else, we usually got along fine. But it’s such unusual behavior to abandon someone you love in times of need that it literally took me years to wrap my head around wtf was happening. Unless he was in seduction mode for some reason, selfless was not on the menu. If I even get a whiff of this now, I’m out.

  • Grand gestures – we were dating and he was looking on ebay for a watch for me. Because according to him, I needed a “good” watch. Mhmm it had never occurred to me that I was lacking a “good” watch. He didn’t find it on ebay, so he had to pay fullprice for a “good” watch. I happen to like the watch, it’s not flashy or even very expensive, it’s a watch end of story. But that just shows, it was what he thought I should have, never what I wanted. Funny enough, the birthday before the last DDay he gave me a necklace with a peace sign, now that was something I really liked.
    10’s of thousands of $ to pay off his debt – checkmark!

    • I got that too. Ex would sometimes buy me expensive presents but they were always things he thought I should have, rarely things I actually wanted.

      If it was something I liked I would use it and wear it out which proved I didn’t appreciate it because it didn’t look new anymore. If I really didn’t have a use for it that proved I didn’t appreciate it because it didn’t get used. There really is no way to win.

  • “If they make a gesture, it’s a grand gesture that reflects well on them some way.”

    This. 100% this. STBX was the master of the grand gesture, and for years, that made me buy into his view of himself as a sensitive and thoughtful kind of guy because hey, he planned that surprise overseas trip and he’d help pick of mail for neighbors when they went out of town and he was an active volunteer at the school. All of which got him praise and public recognition.

    But the smaller day-to-day opportunities to show reciprocity and caring in a way that wouldn’t reflect on him at all – helping with the laundry, dishes, yardwork or groceries, or backrubs when my back hurt – forget about it (although he was more than content to be on the receiving end of small acts of consideration from me). It got to the point where I just did all of those things myself because it was easier than dealing with the accusations of nagging, overly high expectations and and never being satisfied that were leveled my way if I tried to get him to help.

    • Hell, mine was into turning a small gesture into a grand gesture at a moment’s notice. X put gas in my car every now and then and wanted me to lie prostrate on the ground for days groveling to his holiness because of that one small, little nice thing. Being married had nothing to do with what he should be doing anyway as a husband. No. I was to be a source of neverending kibble for X’s small gestures. The man child didn’t even know what a grand gesture meant. Amazing how someone could do for him what he could not do for himself and yet, the synapses never fired for reciprocity.

  • I think that’s one of the hardest things for me to wrap my brain around. I remember how good my cheater wife was in the beginning 17 years ago. She was so kind, so enthusiastic about us and me. She even liked do the same things as me- like hiking. I realize now it was all a sham. You don’t really know who this other person is. She had a secret life. Who knows what all she did behind my back during those 17 years. It really gets you.

    • Zell I’m glad you wrote this. Reading the commments here and on other posts it seems that the EX’s all have the same personality. Mine didn’t. Well not until she met her AP.

      She was a fantastic wife. A bit of a princess and a bit controlling but nothing too major.

      Then she met him and BOOM. It all changed in a second. She gave it all up for an ego boost. Still messes with my head thst.

      • A side note to mine though. She was great at the beginning of the relationship but seemed to check out in 2004 after the birth of our daughter. I would describe her as a crummy wife (and mom) after that. Her own therapist told her she shouldn’t have become a mother. In 2011 I busted her for pursuing a man in or neighborhood whose wife was deployed in Afghanistan (she lied of course but one of her female friends outed her to me). We did counseling and I stayed because our daughter was so little I couldn’t bring myself to walk even though my gut told me she was not a good woman to have as a wife. But I ate the shit sandwich with a side of spackle. Fast forward to 2017 and I bust her screwing her 24 year old massage therapist. Did counseling again (for the kid’s sake) during these summer months- our marriage therapist diagnosed her as Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m done with it, my daughter will be old enough to understand soon and has already told me she wants to live with me instead of her. I’m still amazed though that I got scammed those 17 years back- I truly thought she was a gift from Heaven. But people like this are master manipulators- they’ve been doing it their whole life really- there is something warped in their head- very selfish self centered mentality. (Mine actually self-admitted over the past ten years how self centered she is- almost like a warning that she wasn’t going to be able to control herself). Now she can figure it all out without me.

        • Oh man! Zell that really hit me. Many of the years even match. 2003 first child. 2013 facade came down. I thought the very same thing before knowing the truth, even used the same words “gift from heaven”. She pursued a guy in the neighbourhood (among others). Was a serial cheater her whole life. I stayed for the kids. Back before I knew anything, she would describe herself as being “very selfish” (I’d usually talk her out of it – but it was indeed like a warning as you say, or maybe moreso a camouflaged confession, credit for herself without any consequences). I too took her to therapy for herself. She had an assessment done and was diagnosed BPD by a psychologist, along with other things. Features of NPD and ASPD. Master manipulator almost doesn’t do it justice. Just so many overlapping things. Be well, brother.

          • I’m kind of paranoid that this is just the guy I caught her on and that other times have flown under the radar. She used to tell me about all the people at her work that cheat and how stupid the women were and it always put me at ease (thinking SHE would never cheat based on the way she’d talk) but now I’m like shit maybe this is some real deep level psycho manipulation stuff and I was just too naïve/moral.

      • NotMehYet2, I always struggle with this post. The character the asshole was playing was perfect. He always seemed to care. He would do things at home, he would take care of me when I as sick. He would do his part of the bills or bureaucracy. He would bring me breakfast to bed every day.

        Of course, it was a character. He never cared about me or considered me his “forever” partner. He never told the cousin-whore, when they reconnected in facebook, he was married to me. But there were no red flags. No weird gifts. No abandonment when I needed him. Only some emotional distance in the last years which was very normal in my family and all the relationships I know. Even now my mom claims all men are like him. I despair thinking I’m never going to be able to trust again. My picker was not wrong and when I met Cheater I was in the middle of my Dad’s cheating, so I asked many questions trying to see if he was not like my dad. I was conned, I did not spackle.

        • Hi Gato
          Ok first not all men are like your Ex. I have no evidence to back that up but please trust me on that.

          Thing is, you say about the emotional distance in the last few years. I didn’t even get that. She was a normal loving wife right up to the moment she met him. And I really mean that.

          It’s weird. Just after DDay (now nearly 3 years to the day) I, like most ended up on wreckonciliation sights and they all said the same thing. What did YOU do to contribute to the end of the marriage, and I just couldn’t see it. Was I the perfect husband? No, I don’t believe such a thing exists. Was I a douchbag? No. I loved my wife. Perhaps not perfectly but definitely completely and I have no reason to think she didn’t feel the same.

          People here talk about how right up to DDay their Ex’s did wonderful things. I think this is common. The year before she left we were holding hands ice skating in NYC (we are from the UK so it was a big trip) , making plans for the future and basically loving life. The following winter we did a large conversion on our house. Part of the future plans you see. Just a short time later she was in a full on affair.

          Don’t get me wrong. Once the affair started she exhibited all the usual traits of a cheater but right up to that point no red flags whatsoever.

          I’ll never understand it.

          • He was loving, NotMehYet2. Nothing ever changed. I got kisses, being told he loved me, loving eyes (he used to slow blink to show me love, after he learned it was something cats did). When I say emotional distance, I’m actually explaining myself what I understood to be just work. He was working so much, trying to get a position as professor somewhere. That’s it. It wasn’t that he stopped the loving gestures or taking my hand or anything like that. He behaved until he went to fuck his cousin-whore, as if he loved me.

          • after dealing with my cheater wife I’ve come to realize that you will never fully understand what is going on inside their brain. Just like ChumpLady’s book says- its self centeredness, greed, and not caring about you. They want what they want minus consequences. Your wife got ego kibbles from holding hands ice skating moment. She got kibbles from building a home together. She got kibbles from cheating. It’s about ‘more’ versus ‘responsibility’. 100% ego at any cost.

  • Ok this is a bit off topic but of all marriage breakups how many involve infidelity? Does anyone have any stats? It seems to me by the numbers on this site it must be very very high.

    • From what I’ve read apparently 15% of wives and over 30% of husbands cheat. But another study found that women were more likely to lie and never confess whereas husbands once found out do finally admit to it. So the wives % is likely higher than 15%

      These numbers don’t include non-married couples

    • I suspect a great many marriages break up due to a third party. Of course, Money, drugs/addiction, mental health, and communication all follow too. All of these were present in my marriage’s dissolution. When Fucktard asked me for a divorce it took me a while to figure out why or more specifically who. He had two years head start. He was that good at lying. Eight years later and he continues to spin the narrative, that ol’ “we grew apart and had no interests in common” spiel. FWIW though he always held physical beauty and fitness before all else but married me, a “fit” bigger woman, very opposite to the tiny airheads he dated and preferred…. During our marriage, when I did gain weight (even during pregnancy), he belittled my appearance and told me he was “not attracted…” Then it hurt but I also remember thinking, WTF, how can you be so shallow? Perhaps his need to have pretty on his arm outweighed our history and twenty eight years together, but I suspect blowing up our marriage had more to do with his secret double life. As so many here say, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”

  • My X is a covert narc and he idealized me and love bombed me until I was on the top of the world. I had never been treated like that and completely believed it. An example of how clueless I was: He learned that one of my passions is reading and he told me that he loved to read too. Oh yay! What are you reading? Between books? Oh let me recommend something…

    And this turned into my first experience with gaslighting. Because he didn’t really like to read all that much. So the book went unread. I offered another book – one that he might like more. But he kept falling asleep in bed when he read it. Hmmmm I bought him a new lamp. It never occurred to me that he didn’t like to read because he TOLD me he did. It came so naturally to me to stuff down my own experience (he is not reading) in favor of his words. His true character did not show until we had kids 3 years later. And then it took me 17 years to wake up and get divorced.

    I am terrified too though, because my X was SO good with his mask of reciprocity, caring, checking in – he is so so good. I am worried that I will fall for it again.

    • At the beginning of our relationship my wife read the entire “The Fountainhead” book because I told her it was my favorite book and inspired me. I thought wow she really likes me (its a pretty long book to read). I bought her other books over the years- she never read any of them- even short ones. She likes playing on her cell phone though.

      • Great book!

        Mine acted like there was something wrong with me because I am a reader, he made fun of me for being a nerd and boring almost every day for 20 years (just joken of course). Before we were married it was something he wanted to get into and wished he could be more like me… ick.

        • They are con artists. Mine also for years said she “admired me for being smart and knowing things”. After Dday she said “you are too smart- it scares me how you figure things out”.

          • ^^^So much this!

            DrTurd was intimidated by me and told me he had to look up words after we’d talked. Seriously? I’m just an ordinary person who reads books and doesn’t watch YouTube videos all day long. Plus, he was afraid of me after I discovered all the evidence like I was all knowing or something. He’s just a lazy-ass douchetard.

            • Ugh me too. LAM went over his entire relationship history, including the fake online ones when the lying began, because what I needed right after DDay is story time so he could stall telling me about “the one.” He kept asking “how do you do that?” when I would tell him all the things I already knew and did logical acrobatics around his drivel. He used to tell me how I was the smartest person he knew back when I mattered to him.

              • Honestly I think this is part of the “high” cheaters get by cheating. They feel that their spouse is smart, so if they are getting away with something it makes them feel smarter. Deep down there is some level of despise that they have for their spouse or it just feeds their unending ego appetite.

            • Yep — same here. STBX used to brag about how “smart” I was. (For the record, I’m no genius … just a bit nerdy and a big bookworm who turned out that way as a response to a crappy childhood.)

              After the 20+ years of deception started to unravel, he turned it into “You think you’re so fucking perfect” … “You think you’re so fucking smart” … I was stunned. Regretfully, at first, I defended myself. After figuring out that this is all part of his infantile game, I started to ignore the comments.

              One of the nice things about seeing through their BS is that you start to NOT give a shit what this person thinks about you … even if you could figure it out between all of the lies.

              And now that Frozen song is running through my head …. hahahaha “Let it go … Let it go …” It’s good to let the disordered freak’s opinion GO. 🙂

              • Definitely a good sign, “You start NOT to give a shit…” Good boundaries will definitely kick those haters and their disordered opinions to the curb. ????

              • Zell….exactly what you said. I think they get an ego boost from outsmarting someone they think of as smarter than themselves! Totally. The fact that his MOW/ho-worker was dumb as a bag of rocks, dressed like a teenager & she & her own husband are pretty white trashy, I think he got off on feeling like HE was the smarter of their couple. He was also her boss, so he bestowed gifts on her at work (cheap cologne, lingerie, vibrator). What a guy!

    • That was one of the few things my ex and I had in common: we both loved to read. I did enjoy that about our relationship. But it seems like he started reading less and less in the last year or so which is odd now that I think about it. He’d rather be in his garage making his deals and screwing people over, I guess.

  • I was thinking about reciprocity just yesterday and how vital it is in a relationship. My marriage was terribly, terribly lopsided, even from the very beginning. I was so young though and hadn’t had a lot of relationships in life that I had analyzed to death like you end up doing in a marriage to a narcissist. The relationship I had before X was wonderful and I really loved the guy. Alas, it didn’t work out and sadly, since I was still learning how loving relationships work, that relationship was lopsided and he did a lot of the work. So after being hurt and seeing that I needed to improve in giving of myself to another in a romantic relationship, I went whole hog for X – the dark, mysterious, attractive bad boy. Very long winded mistake. There are days when I really wish I just had some sort of beginner’s luck! Gah!

    As CL says, not having the cheater in your life is a precious gift and I’m very happy that mine is out of my life. I would like to date again and I do want to get married again if the opportunity arises, but it may not too. Either way, I’m moving on, enjoying a lot of little things that single life affords (woot for not having to fight over sheets/bedding and then getting yelled at in the middle of the night about it).

    • I dated nice guys, too, but they were too boring for me when I was young – HOW STUPID WAS I???

      I, too, married the attractive, exciting bad boy. And oh wow, was he EVER a bad boy. Jail time, fights, anger issues, etc. It was exhausting trying to deal with him.

      Like you, I’m enjoying my drama-free life now that he’s gone. The ONLY time I have drama is when he pops up!

      • I did marry the nice guy, but he decided he didn’t want to be the nice guy anymore because “nice guys finish last”. After DDay he actually told me that he wished he hadn’t been so nice to me because then maybe he would have gotten better out of me.

        Well guess what asshole, you did get the best of me and probably the best you will ever get because Shmoopie has her own agenda. And congratulations because you have officially lost the “nice guy” title among everyone who ever knew us both.

        • That is horrible. These people suck SO MUCH. I’m almost terrified to get into the dating pool again. It’s going to be a long time.

        • CIR, mine said the same thing. His mask was to look like the “nice guy”. He always said that nice guys finish last. They never get ahead in life and that they (him) have to work harder just to move ahead, even just a little. I feel in love with his nice guy image not knowing that he was really a bad person. It was all just a facade. Once his mask would slip I would see the real him. It was then I realized he was never a nice person. But me, being a co dependent, would spackle every mean thing he would hide from his family and friends. He was diagnosed with Boardline Personality Disorder. I have never heard of this type of character flaw so I was completely blind to this type of realionship. Just the Jeckle and Hyde behavior is what I couldn’t deal with anymore along with the constant lying, secrets, cheating, hiding money, etc…. now I can’t wait to get to “Meh”. I just wish I visited CL’s blog earlier. I any still going through the motions of divorce but reading CN’s input and support has given me insight and strength to understand this was not nor ever my fault. I am still playing up to his BS due to getting through this divorce (I get more out of him with honey than I would with vinager). But sometimes I hate being this way, it isn’t how I want to be. I can’t even get angry right now.

    • Yes to sheets that stay on me! I used to let him have the sheet that matched the current set on the bed and use a blanket and/or another random sheet in the Summertime because otherwise I’d wake up with nothing covering me next to a sheet burrito.

  • My ex did take care of me pretty well in terms of when I was sick – most of the time (except for the last few months which now I know is because he was falling in “twu luv” with his whore). But there were other times when his absence was glaringly obvious. I had a book signing at our local Barnes & Noble for my first ever published book – and he didn’t go. I was so hurt, but I just shook it off. Other times I would be really sick and he’d be out in his garage for hours and hours and completely ignore me. I could never tell what he would do. Sometimes he was kind and sympathetic; other times, indifferent. That’s why this whole thing has been such a mindfuck for me because he DID have good in him and did do nice things for me. He’d send me flowers for no reason, always ask me if I had enough chocolate (I NEED chocolate to get through the day!), and would sometimes surprise me with gifts.

    But the big stuff? The paying the bills and being responsible? The spending time with me and making me a priority? That wasn’t there the majority of the time. His promises to change were constantly broken. His lies were ongoing – and now I realize that yes, he lied to me (chump that I was, when I saw him lie to others, I thought, oh, I’m his wife – he’ll never do that to me! Yeah, CHUMP).

    The cognitive dissonance has been a major stumbling block in my healing and recovery because he DID do some awesome things for me. It wasn’t all bad. But now I wonder…was it all for kibbles? Did he ever truly care for me? Our last conversation, he told me that he’d always love me “in his own way.” I don’t think that man truly knows what love is.

    • “The cognitive dissonance has been a major stumbling block in my healing and recovery because he DID do some awesome things for me. It wasn’t all bad. But now I wonder…was it all for kibbles? Did he ever truly care for me? Our last conversation, he told me that he’d always love me “in his own way.” I don’t think that man truly knows what love is.”

      This! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

      • We have to remind ourselves that pathology and personality disorders are on a spectrum. While some are full-blown narcs, others are more covert. And every abuser has good days. They aren’t horrible 100% of the time.

        I try and remind myself of this. I look back at my diaries and look at all the times I cried over this man; there were many. I read about the things he did that I’d blocked (oh so many) and it helps with the cognitive dissonance.

        • My therapist keeps reminding me that there is an asshole (or perhaps she used narcissistic) spectrum. Some are worse than others but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still assholes and we are still better off without them.

          • EXACTLY. My life is so much calmer! I have peace and tranquility in my home and no random outbursts of anger where the ex gets mad at an inanimate object that “wasn’t supposed to be there” and thus, why he stubbed his toe. I am NOT EVEN JOKING.

            The only time my life is upended is when asshole pops up, like a weasel looking for kibbles.

    • This fooled me for a long time too. Like you, I eventually realized he did the easy stuff, or “low hanging fruit” and didn’t follow through on the difficult things. When he started up with OW, (not cheating in his mind because I gave him the ILYBINILWY talk and he waited 3 whole days to call her!) he would lie about her constantly. And when I called him out, he’d ask “ how do you know that?!” Made me sick when I realized he had probably lied whenever he thought he could get away with it during our long marriage. I never caught him doing anything worse than long distance phone calls a few years earlier – same OW, surprise – but I feel shaken that he was so callous and untrustworthy after all.

  • I thought my ex was reciprocating until after d-day when he threw everything I had every asked him to do back at me as reasons for leaving. Why he did those things if he didn’t want to I will never know. These were things like clean out the fridge when I couldn’t bare to open it because my pregnancy made me so sick. He was good at saying he would do something and then conveniently forget. When I asked him why he didn’t do that thing he would either lie or apologise in a way that would make me feel bad for asking him to do it again. As hard as it is to have to do everything now he’s gone. It is a lot easier now that I don’t have to worry about upsetting him for asking him to do something he promised me he would do.

    • I look forward to that day. I am afraid of running a household and taking care of the kids by myself. But you just gave me courage to move ahead. Yes, there will be a lot to do. But no more of this tiptoeing, checking up and trying not to offend him when calling him out on his failure to follow through. (Which somehow was offensive to him even though it was his failure).
      To sum up, it might seem like a lot now but in reality be a lot less work without him around.
      Can anyone speak to this?

  • Reciprocity… I like that.

    My ex was a “nice guy”. He was very friendly, especially out in public, but his nice gestures became less and less frequent over time. But thinking back, they rarely showed that he was thinking about me when we were apart. He also didn’t do things “just because”.

    Honestly, I can’t even imagine what that’s like.

    I think that’s partly why I’m still so turned off by the thought of a relationship now. It just sounds like so much work. That’s because, in my past, it WAS work, and it was completely one-sided. I’ve never thought about it in terms of someone actually improving the quality of my life.

    Reciprocity… it sounds amazing. Maybe I’ll experience it someday. Until then, I’m on my own for tea. 🙂

  • In my State (a lot of retirees) the swamp is deep in charlatans- divorced serial cheaters, men/women looking for a free ride after gambling away their retirements in real estate and the stock market, covert drug addicted with a habit, those looking for a cook, nurse, and housing, etc…. And my apologies in advance for offending, but there are also a lot of creepy, new age evangelical types coming out of the mega-churches we have around here, who excel in hiding their true selves. Out of desperation or love of manipulation, I have found many are good at “reciprocity.” Its like they read the primer on skittish, older, single women. As a recovering chump, it is especially dangerous. There are many lonely widows with or without bank accounts. Men are a commodity in my State, and they know it! STDs are also above norm in the senior population. Although I am a chumpy optimist, the prospect of being used at my age (60+) is very real. Additionally, if you have Alzheimers in your family, you must plan for the future to the extent you are able. These would be cautionary words for anyone. At the moment, I am in a community of many comfortable widows with pets. It would be nice to change my status or my State but for now, there is something to be said for PEACE.

  • They’re all for show. My ex impressed the nurses in the delivery room when my son was born. I remember one praising him for being attentive and giving me ice chips. I was too busy to comment but the burning thought on my mind was, “If you think he’s really like this, you can have him”. It was all part of the setup to look like a nice guy so people would think I was crazy for leaving him.

  • Hey, if you are getting a Javascript and enable cookies error — please LET ME KNOW by EMAIL. info at chumplady dot com.

    It appears to be our overzealous Spam Filter. I will add you to the White List. (Assuming you are not, in fact, a troll.)

    Hopefully it’s little algorithms will catch on. It’s being quite awful the last couple days.

    • Chump Lady asked me to post this as a FYI:

      I got the Java error message when I tried to post a comment this morning but it went away when I logged on with my username and password. So if you’re having issues, try that.

    • Thanks. I was having this error but managed to get around it with the fourth browser I tried. I thought maybe JavaScript was out of date or something.

  • Chump Lady: I your story and couldn’t be happier for you that you found a good man.

    But what do you do when your spouse, who seems like the sweetest, nicest, most considerate person in the world, turns out to be a habitual cheater/liar who betrays as easily as they breathe?

    My XH of 40 years was always known as the guy who would give you the shirt off his back. On the rare occasion that I was sick, he would drive miles out of his way to bring home a take-out order of matzoh ball soup. He always opened my car door, walked on the curb side of the street, warmed up my car before his in the middle of winter, scratched my back in those places I couldn’t reach, picked up Chinese food when I was too tired to cook, happily diapered our triplet sons with nary an “Ewww”, and the list goes on. The perfect, most accommodating and reciprocating husband ever!

    And this suited me perfectly because I’m a very giving person myself who naturally looks for an opportunity to help others to make their journey through life easier. I happily, lovingly and faithfully served my husband in big and small ways alike.

    But when it all came out in the wash, he finally admitted to having 14 extramarital affairs, all with women I knew. Apparently, these affairs started when we were dating (flash back to 1974) and continued all the way through (and beyond) the day our divorce decree was finalized. The whores included a college coed, our sons’ soccer team mom, 4-5 of his coworkers, the woman we sheltered in our home as she tried to escape her alcoholic/abusive spouse, the wife of the couple we vacationed with, even our 19-year-old babysitter. Worse, the vast majority of his APs were also married and had children of their own. But because of his extremely accommodating and reciprocating exterior, I didn’t have a clue.

    Following D-Day, we begin a 3-year separation – I went Zero Contact 15 months in and remain that way – and we’ve now been divorced for just over 2 years. Two weeks ago, my XH married AP #14… she was his coworker, also married for 40 years, mother of 2 and grandmother of 6; her own divorce from her rich lawyer/chump came through just a few months ago, giving her and my XH a green light to finally legitimize their 5 1/2 year f**kfest.

    Post-Pompeii, I’ve crafted a calm, safe and happy single life for myself (3 years of counseling really helped!)… I bought myself a sweet little bungalow, enjoy good health and financial independence, am still expanding my 30-year old business, come and go as I please, and easily meet new friends in all sorts of places, including the yoga studio and charitable organizations where I volunteer. I delight in visiting with my 3 sons and DILs, and eagerly await the birth of my first grandchild next spring. God has been incredibly good to me and I am blessed.

    While I’d love to have a loving, trustworthy partner in my life, I’m not even dating because I guess I still don’t trust my picker to make the right choice the next time around; at age 62, I just don’t have enough time left in my life to make another colossal multi-decade mistake. Perhaps foolishly, I’m hopeful I’ll meet Mr. Right in the most organic of ways (i.e. elevator, grocery store, garden center, church, downward dog).

    Is this just pie in the sky?

    • RedSandals,
      I think you have a fabulous life. Completing it doesn’t necessarily mean taking on a partner, although one does wish for pleasant company at times. That can be had with friends. I recall in my six years living alone post divorce, I relished being able to come home, shut the door, and have some peace.

      Now that I have a new partner (at 59) he is good company, but there are definitely days when I miss my old freedoms. It is particularly obvious when it comes to food…he likes a big dinner, but post-menopausal me wants to eat like a bird. That can be complicated. And some weekends, I’d like to be able to snuggle down with a book, while he pesters me to “go out somewhere”. Never perfect!

      • Marci,

        Thank you! I hope my post didn’t come off as if I’m desperately lonely, inconsolably sad, or pining for “completion”. Not even close! I know what you mean about walking in the front door and luxuriating in being able to close off the world and just relax. Ahhh…

        My life is very full and rich just as it is, but there are still times when I’d like to spend time with a trustworthy and supportive partner… not somebody who merely pretends to be that way. Nope, been there, done that!

    • MyRed, I really think that, while we can improve our chances, we can never guarantee our safety and success. Some sociopaths are just really, really good, incredibly good at what they do – lie and deceive.

      I think of these relationships as being like natural disasters. We don’t cause them, we’re not to blame for having trusted, we just have to pick up the pieces afterwards. And if there were signs, heed them and pick better in future. Don’t re-build on the flood plain, or live in a high-rise in earthquake territory, if you’ve already been through one disaster.

      In my case, however, my ex flew so many red flags he was his own Tall Ships parade. Makes me feel really dumb. Living and learning, I guess.

      • KarenE:

        Love the advice… “Don’t re-build on the flood plain, or live in a high-rise in earthquake territory”.

        I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on staying away from obvious flood zones or earthquake prone areas. It’s the more subtle things I’m afraid of missing or dismissing too easily. I need to make sure my antenna are up at all times to watch for red flags.

  • “When you’re with a narcissist, they aren’t noticing you in any care taking sort of way. ”

    This is so true. There is not one, not one single time, I remember my STBX taking care of me. And he not only didn’t take care of me, he usually made me feel even worse than I already did.

    Here are some random examples:

    –Early in dating he got me so drunk, I fell pretty hard in my own bathroom. He never checked to see if I was okay. Just left me in there to fend for myself.

    –While I was pregnant I slipped and fell (I’m a clutz!) and I was concerned so I called my dr and she told me to come in for monitoring. I drove myself and was in the hospital for 3 hours. He didn’t come.

    –Any time I was sick, he never asked if I was okay and he never helped take care of our child or the house. I was expected to do all of it.

    –I distinctly remember having the flu once and he came home, looked at me and said with disdain “What is wrong with you?”.

    –When I found an indent in my breast, he told me it was nothing to get concerned over. That’s it.

    –I went to my diagnostic mammogram myself. He didn’t text or call when I was there or even after. He didn’t ask about it when I got home.

    –The day after I got my diagnostic mammogram I got the results back that it was cancer. He was at a conference in town and I didn’t want to ruin his day, so I was waiting to tell him when he got home. He called at the end of the day to say he was going to stay overnight at a hotel because he was celebrating his birthday with some coworkers. I told him I had cancer. He said “I love you. I’ll be home tomorrow.”

    –He never offered to go to any appointments with me. I had to ask him to come. He couldn’t be bothered to leave work to come. It was inconvenient.

    –I had a conversation with him on the importance of my chemo vs his holiday party. He stayed overnight to help set-up even though the conference was 2 miles away, which he usually did but this particular year he stayed 2 nights instead of one.

    –On one particular day after a chemo treatment, a day I was fatigued and couldn’t get off the couch, he took our daughter to a santa/tree event for 3 hours. He brought her home and said “Well I’m done for the day!” and took a case of beer and his computer into the basement, leaving me with our daughter. An hour later he came up, looked at me and said “Are you going to be like this tomorrow too?”

    Yep. They suck.

    • Dear CC… You are correct – they suck. But yours sucks epically. I realize that it’s not the pain olympics, as CL puts it, but seriously. Your particular fucktard is one of the worst. I can’t wait until you make him an X instead of a STBX. {{hugs}}

      • I can’t wait either.

        As I write this, he and his mom are moving *some* of his items out of the house. He’s been out of the house for over 9 months and I finally had to demand that he remove some stuff.

        So I sit here, trying to work as they are quietly moving stuff. His mom tries to make small talk. It is so surreal.

        • Ugh. One of the best parts of being divorced in not having to deal with my ex MIL from Hell. Your MIL may be perfectly lovely but I still wouldn’t want to make small talk under the circumstances. Just GTFO.

    • You should have asked “are you going to be a dick to tomorrow too?” but you probably already knew the answer.

  • I haven’t read all the coments, but I will say, along the lines of receprocity, I will forever be on the lookout for “Score Keepers.”

    Cheater is a Score Keeper. if you get one, he get’s one – but bigger and better.

    I only realized this was happening in hindsight and it still pisses me off.


    I bring a brand new baby home and pay lots of attention to her. Cheater acts like a complete douche and ruins picture taking and cuddling moments by actually ACTING LIKE A BABY.

    Family goes shopping for school shoes. Kids get shoes – Cheater gets hundreds of dollars in clothes.

    I take a paid sick day because I’M SICK! Cheater takes numerous unpaid vacation days to golf. Even though we’re counting on his salary for bills. Because I goy to to take time off…

    You get the picture.

    I can go on and on and on.

    What a dick.

    • “Family goes shopping for school shoes. Kids get shoes – Cheater gets hundreds of dollars in clothes.”

      Family has FSA funds that need spending…Kid1 glasses, Kid2 glasses, STBX glasses + RxSunglasses, then oops, there is no money left for MY glasses…

      STBX cleans bathroom and cleans only to the halfway point of the counter, doesn’t touch my half. Even though I clean the whole damn bathroom every week…

      After giving birth (unmedicated) to Kid2, which was a very fast labor and I was TOO LATE for an epidural, STBX says to my ob/gyn, “Well that wasn’t so bad”… Dr. says, “maybe you should ask her about that”… He regales people to this day with how he “caught the baby”… yep, he did ALL the work!
      Also note, as I’m struggling to get to the car to go to the hospital, he stops to cover the passenger seat with plastic in case my water breaks. Save. The. Car!

      After me being in a car crash (4 car pileup), me injured, I call to ask him to pick up the kids from daycare…he asks how the CAR is, not how I am… Friend said “WTF does he have a death wish??”

      Dick cares much more about his CARS than anything else it seems. Those are the pictures he took with him when he left… him and his cars throughout the years. True story!

      What a DICK!

  • I suspected/felt this a while back ago with a friend. Taker, taker, taker. She’s not alone though, the XPOS did too just in a different way.

    My dad had the best advice: There’s pitchers and catchers in this world and (insert whomever) is a catcher!
    I’ve grown to realize that in all my cases father did know best!

  • My STBX is a ‘nice guy’ People love him, think he’s charming and funny and handsome. On the outside, we looked like and amazing couple, but apparently, wait for it, he had been “unhappy for a long time and had become dull” Sound the gong. He needed a 23 yr old howorker to bust his rut. 27 years for a girl who wasn’t even born when we got together. Who’s mom is younger that DrTurd (welcome to the family?).

    I often get confused because on the surface, he did things for us, but now that I play it back in my head, he was lazy, he did only what he needed to do. He’d leave me in a bed with a sweat inducing fever and still expect me to make dinner in the evenings. He indulged in his hobby (I bought him a $7000 bicycle) and then later he told me I was HOLDING HIM BACK and he wasn’t allowed to do the things he needed to do (this coming from a man with no true friendships). In the last year when I told him to travel to family events by himself he insisted I go because “how will it loo?” And then if I tried to touch him, I was forcing contact on him. He made me feel like a hideous, ugly, boring, undesirable turd.

    I spackled our lives. I liked it. I’m a giver, I like to make people feel comfortable. I enabled it. I’m afraid I won’t be able to recognize another narc that mirrors my behaviors and makes me feel good. I haven’t felt good in such a long time that I can’t imagine someone being kind to me and me not having a jaundiced eye of distrust. Ugh. I’m not even close to being divorced,so dating is such a low priority. Coming here and seeing that people have made it through gives me a modicum of hope. I just don’t know what a good person looks like anymore.

    • Wow! I am really relating to it today…I have commented like a social butterfly today instead of like the social retard I was told I whorehopper has 2 bicycles and all the bells and whistles to go with least 10 grand worth of crap…I never complained because it made him happy…when I was off work he had me to cancel caller I.D. On the house phone to save 3 bucks a month cause times were tight according to him…but he somehow managed to afford his bike club dues and his 310.00$ a year gym membership. But I caught hell for buying some yarn at wallyworld to crochet a blanket with my dying mother…I just recently bought a pair of tennis shoes for 40 bucks(outrageous if you ask me) the first pair I have bought in 10 years! We never seem to have money to do anything…but he always has money to lavish himself with anything and everything he wants. Kids clothes can come from goodwill but his shit comes from a catolog…scraps for us but spare no expense for him…spent my half of the tax return on himself every single year for 23 do you do that kind of shit and still be able to look yourself in the mirror? And feel completely justified doing it and tell me to manage my allowance better…yep no access to any of his financial stuff…I get a weekly allowance cause he says I am a financial twit..until I finally started looking at his bank and credit card statements…makes me so angry I have to leave the house to keep from going to prison…

      • Oh, @nobody2U I feel you so hard. He got a Porsche (his third) and I got whatever was cheapest (but of a certain “standard” because, what would people think? SMH), his cycling habit (one of the most expensive hobbies on the planet) and designer clothes. I did my best with what I had to work with and made nice with Target tee shirts and whatever was 70% off. Needles to say, there’s no spousal support right now, but he and Sparkletits are living large on vacation, lavish meals, crazy birthday party for her kid…It’s amazing. But he is entitled. I know he has been secreting money away, but it will be found. I keep hoping I don’t run into them. I fear for my freedom. 😉

        I’m waiting for this journey to peter out. I know there are good people in the world.

        • Hugs to you both. There is good in this world…and perhaps the journey back may be the diamond found in that piece of coal.

        • What is it about these fucking lycra clad middle aged bike wankers. There lavish hobby is a complete money pit. My fucktard managed to convince me that by cycling to work he was saving us money so buying himself a $20 breakfast every sodding morning was compensation to him. The fact that he succeeded in making me and the kids homeless after he walked out and got a love nest for himself and some girl young enough to be his daughter was apparently my fault because “i should have agreed to sell the house sooner” ie a month after he left us while we were all still coming to terms with the fact dad of the year had been leading a double life for 20 years. Then he has the nerve to threaten me with a restraining order (i was no contact the whole time after finding out how manipulative he was ) and apparently lives in fear of me finding out where he lives. Twat

          • Who does that: I just saw the Lycra clad middle aged bike wankers…I laughed for the first time in a long time..that is exactly what his bike club reminds me of..and those Lycra outfits run about 150.00 bucks a pop…and that doesn’t count the 100 dollar shoes and 80.00 helmet…back when he was thinking about joining said gay brigade cycle club he took me riding with him to see if I would be into it..he took me on the worst ride I have ever been on..I didn’t know it at the time he was on a 3000.00$ bike and I was on an 80.00$ Walmart me it makes a huge difference..he insulted me while literally riding circles around me because I could not keep up. He did this so I would never want to ride with him again…which I didn’t because I didn’t want to be a burden to him..he did the same kind of behavior when we went to the gym together only there he stared so long and hard at every woman that came in I was so embarrassed I never went back with him. I recently joined his precious bike club that has been a top priority in his life because the marriage councilor my Stbx chose said we needed to find something we could do together..I bought a 600.00$ bike with whorehopper’s credit card of course..and now suddenly he no longer has any interest in riding with these people…he would lie to me about Christmas parties, Bonn fires etc that they would have and I of course would make a dish for and tell me they were club meetings…he just did not want to take me..I can only assume he has lost interest in his little club because having the wife around will interfere with his dating…he is the only person I have ever met that worked out and cycled 7 days a week and got fatter and more out of shape..hmmmm..maybe exercise really isn’t good for you after all!? He never even mentioned me on his Facebook pictures of me, just pictures I had taken with the kids so he would look like the great dad…even pictures of our 20th wedding anniversary were listed as family vacation…because Mr. Spendthrift turned it into a one..but I was really kind of glad at the time because I couldn’t imagine what the two of of would do alone for an entire week..he took his bike of course..that’s when I finally started to open my eyes and realized we had absolutely nothing between us besides the kids..and he has always referred to future plans as his retirement..his dreams never our anything. He just needed me to serve a purpose and once the kids were grown I am sure he just planned to walk off into the sunset with my replacement…but he has never been able to find her..nobody seems to go past the drunken one night stand with him…they sober up and run like hell.. so I do get comfort knowing he will most definitely die alone and with my half of his retirement money his retirement will always be just a dream..

  • When I encountered my fellow chump who is now my partner, we were sitting together on a long flight. We were two sad single people, both heading off for Christmas alone in faraway places. We shared our stories and laughed at the irony. I admired his long legs throughout that flight. I was dressed in old baggy clothes and was not the slightest bit interested in “meeting” anyone.

    To my surprise, as we disembarked, he handed me a hotel address and said he would be in the bar there the following Saturday if I cared to join him for a drink. I went for that drink, and the rest is history.

    I think we have succeeded because neither of us put any template on the relationship despite both having been married for a long time. We make our own life, almost celebrating the fact that we now do things far differently than when married. We are financially independent of each other, and that keeps us both trying, since going our separate ways is still a choice if one of us breaks our understanding.

    • Great story Marci! I love everything about the way you are handling your relationship with your fellow chump.

  • “and the smallest gestures made a big impression on me”

    I dont know, I think this could hurt us in the long run. The bar is so low now, that someone who’s kind, sweet, and thoughtful will go a long way. But who knows about their true character and what they’re capable of.

    I do like the comment that the odds of finding someone new are much greater than making it work with the cheater you’re with. Didn’t really think of it that way. And seeing this in words, I’m wondering, “making it work with a cheater”, damn never thought I’d even consider that. I like my odds with my new life now thats for sure.

  • My cheater ex divorced me last week after an expensive, extremely difficult court case that he initiated, that lasted several YEARS. Due to logistical issues, I ‘won’ our children, but financially I lost my shirt although cheater ex committed various crimes and abused me in various creative ways for many years.

    Here’s my public service announcement for the day (regarding dating fellow chumps): An honest chump that I know really, really well (can’t identify her), several months after cheater husband left her, decided to date a fellow chump who she thought was her friend for 30 years (Eagle Scout, fellow military officer who went to her university, and now aerospace executive). She wanted to marry him as she tremendously loved and respected him and they never argued, which she thought was a good thing but later realized that he was just consciously and perhaps unconsciously withholding information from her. Over a year ago, out of the blue, he broke up with her, telling her that he ‘wanted to run away from her.’ She was devastated, even suicidal. Four months later, they reconciled. Unfortunately, then never really talked about why they broke up and what would be different the second time around. She was just elated and relieved to ‘have him’ back.

    As it turns out, last summer (few months ago), he started acting strange, even hostile, and after being repeatedly asked if something was wrong or if he was interested in someone else, he would always say, ‘No.’ After she prepared an anniversary dinner and card for him, all he did was say, ‘Has it been that long?’ and never reciprocated the positive sentiment (did anything to celebrate their time together). A couple of months ago, after dating for nearly three years, he (again) abruptly dumped her. He told Honest Chump that he was leaving because, he ‘just wanted to be happy’ and (again) he wanted to run away from her (I would expect that time of verbiage to come from a five year old, not a middle-aged man), she didn’t have enough vacation time (since when does a teacher not have enough vacation time?) and she wasn’t as advanced her career as he was (what difference does it make if she has her own money and NEVER asked him to support her/her kids and often paid for meals and trips?) He later claimed that he never said those things (gaslit her). He also said that he ‘needed time to himself,’ as in lead a monastic lifestyle for a long time (several months?) to figure out what he wanted in life and had been working LONG hours at the office. She asked him if he was interested in trying to work together to improve the relationship and maybe even consider getting counseling as he had with his adulterous ex-wife both before they got married and while they were married. He said, ‘No,’ and ‘I don’t want you.’

    Honest Chump recently discovered that Lying Chump had repeatedly lied to her, invented stories to get her to feel sorry for him (WTF?), hid information from her, gaslit her all summer (probably longer) and had groomed a replacement lover for probably at least a few months before leaving Honest Chump. When Honest Chump calmly told Lying Chump that she knew he was lying he got mad, tried to cover up some of his lies, and then said he felt compelled to lie to her to protect her feelings, which is odd considering that in months prior he had told her after she got into a car accident leaving his house that she ‘shouldn’t have stayed at his house’ (Could anyone be more insensitive?) and could continue to hang around him if she didn’t expect any ‘lovey, dovey’ (romance). (Heck, even prostitutes get paid.), and used to invalidate her feelings (e.g., repeatedly told her when she said, ‘I miss you if she hadn’t seen him for a week because he was too busy with ‘work,’ not ‘I miss you, too,’ or ‘Thanks,’ but ‘It hasn’t been that long’–even after she told him that such responses hurt her. He also told her that he made a ‘mistake’ by lying to her. (Mistakes are things like the accidental stepping on someone’s toe when the subway unexpectedly lurches to a halt, not intentional, unprovoked story-telling in writing and in spoken word.) When she asked him why he started dating someone immediately after leaving her (maybe before?) in spite of him saying that he wanted to lead celibate lifestyle for several months, he said that this ‘monastic period’ to which he had previously alluded was a period in which he was trying to decide whether he would stick with Honest Chump or ditch her for co-worker. This was the guy that people who ‘known’ for years called ‘Nice M’ and ‘Honest M.’ Not trusting my own senses and judgment, I thought that I must be imagining the bad things about his behavior, or must have done something wrong, or just not been good enough for him (like I didn’t earn better behavior). Sad. And sad that part of me still wonders if am imagining bad treatment, while another part wonders why I tolerate so much bad treatment.

    So much for chumps automatically being ethical, caring people as opposed to dishonest, self-serving people. But really, why do we expect other chumps to be ethical caring people? Some might, but we shouldn’t assume that they will. A bit like assuming that someone who has been robbed was always a victim, not perpetrator, of robbery and will empathize with others who have been robbed. (Often criminals take advantage of each other, making them both perpetrator and victim.)

    Now lying, non-committal chump is have a grand time with new lover, who is nearly a decade younger than Honest Chump, childless (unlike Honest Chump), and makes a much higher salary than does Honest Chump, who works in non-profit sector, while Honest Chump tries to figure out what in the last several years, if anything, was real. At least her love for undeserving ‘men’ was real. Ideally, she can expend all that money, time, energy, love she wasted on the undeserving and unappreciative toward the deserving–her kids, other relatives, true friends, and her! It seems as though probability of winning the Power Ball lottery is higher than the odds of Honest Chump and those in her situation of finding a decent, loyal, somewhat compatible partner. Heck, some of us can’t even reasonably become Cat Ladies as we are allergic to cats and dogs and our landlords prohibit us from keeping pets!

    I guess the main question for a lot of us honest chumps is ‘Why do we keep diving for crumbs from dishonest, disloyal, selfish partners?’ I think that one reason I have is that I thought that ‘there was nobody better out there for me.’ This may be true, but am I alone not better for me than these jerks? Hate the idea of being celibate for the rest of my life (never having a happy, healthy, long-term intimate relationship) at this stage, but perhaps celibacy for the rest of my life (up to five decades!) is better than being in yet another self-esteem destroying relationship.

    • RockStarWife

      Nice to have you back! I’ve found living alone to be an improvement worth keeping. I’m one who loved being married. However after being single for three years it suits me just fine.

      I’m dating a man who likes it when I’m happy. He’s humble and just the right amount of quirky. He’s been a bachelor his whole life and mentioned he might want to get married. And I sat there wondering who he had in mind, lol.

      It won’t be me. I’m fiercely independent and marriage doesn’t have much appeal after ridding myself from an anchor.

      I don’t want to share my dreams right now. I want the freedom to live them free of input, criticism or considering anyone else’s life. Living without drama is addictive as is peace.

      • Doingme – I love your take on this and so good to hear you’re doing well. Takes time. You’re an inspiration.

    • RockStar 🙂 I was wondering how you are and where you have been just the other day 🙂

      …and a really big YEP to all you are sayin 🙂

      …I think I may have just experienced the same thing…albeit at long distance…nothing intimate thank the powers that be 🙂 Yay! …still surprising to have such roiling emotions …hummmm…gotta think about that one… 🙁

      I hope you and your kids are doing well and smellin the roses that spring up 🙂

      So good to hear from you! 🙂 Please let us all know how you are doing! 🙂


      • I must clarify…I really didn’t think about it ever becoming anything more than friendship, comaraderie…chumpy me enjoyed the camaraderie 🙂 …wow…ouchie!

        …this whole painful life altering experience from discard and necessary for my survival divorce from satan to please when will it just stop bringing hurters into my life blows eh? 🙂

    • Chumps can turn bad. Once they have been hurt, some decide that if they got hurt, they now have the right to hurt others. Ex’s Schmoopie was cheated on by her ex and when his affair came to light she was willing to take him back and reconcile. The marriage was never strong, however. Ultimately she decided that it was ok to fuck somebody else’s husband to make herself feel better. She knew how much pain she was causing, but she didn’t care. She started out as chump looking to save her marriage, but then ended up as a cheater/homewrecker who participated in tearing two families apart (8 kids total). The sad thing is, if she had left her cheater to gain a life without fucking other people’s husbands along the way, we would have called her mighty. Instead she chose to join her ex and my ex in the gutter. Chump doesn’t always mean good character.

      • Chumpinrecovery, Thanks for sharing this story. I agree that chumps can turn bad. People can change for better or worse, depending on many variables, of course. I wonder, too, though, if the chumps who behave badly, like cheaters, may have ‘started out’ bad, but it took time for their true colors to show. Most sociopaths probably didn’t seem like sociopaths as babies. It took a while for their true nature to be revealed. I think to some extent in the story I described of Honest Chump and Lying Chump that Lying Chump had been less than honest in previous relationships over the last 25 years.

        One thing I have trouble with is thinking that I may have caused the break up with my last boyfriend (only boyfriend I had while separated from my now ex-husband). I cried on his shoulder, figuratively and literally, while going through my horrific divorce. I was also dealing with deaths of relatives, job stress from changing jobs (having been a stay at home mother), moving stress (moved twice), chronic pain which kept me from sleeping for four YEARS, treatment of one of my kids’ special needs. Perhaps my severe angst (depression and anger–not at boyfriend), although it was punctuated with much expression of happiness and gratitude (on my part) for him (and others) caring for me in many ways, just wore down boyfriend past point of repair of our relationship. My family’s lives were chaotic, but overall, except for those of the ones who are terminally ill, better now. However, now ex-boyfriend is, as far as I know, enamored with new unencumbered, successful work girlfriend. How can I possible compete? I would do anything to ‘right the wrong’ to reconcile with him.

  • Love reading your blog, just recently found it – don’t know if you’ve addressed this question, but I would really appreciate your opinion. Do you feel that once a cheater, always a cheater? That it’s useless to even bother attempting a reconciliation? Is it possible that good people can have a major lapse in judgment. Is it possible to get past the affair, or does it all unravel in the end? xo Dolly

    • Uh…Dolly, you came to the right place. Read everthing you can, then ask this question, again.

      Welcome to the club no one wants to belong.

    • Dolly

      Having sex with someone outside a marriage is a choice. When we examine the cheater handbook I believe ‘a lapse in judgement’ is found in the Tip Of The Iceberg chapter. It’s about a lack of character, Dolly. Reconciliation is pain avoidance by the chump in my humble opinion.

      Affairs require agency, lying, and planning. Don’t fall for it.

      • Understood. But there are so many different types of cheaters. Serial cheaters, narcissists and those that are normally faithful people who show a tremendous lack of character and make a mistake. Do you really think a person should not get a second chance? Once they cheat they should be discarded? I have a hard time with stereotypes.

        • Understood. There are blogs available to you with this thought in mind. You will not find it here.

        • Dolly, are you the cheater, or the chump? Either way, the answer is the same. Everyone has heard of unicorns, and people may tell you they’ve got one in captivity, but no one has ever seen one.

          Normally faithful people who show a tremendous lack of character and make a mistake? You are talking about three different things here.

          ‘Normally faithful people’? Either you’re faithful, or you’re not. What matters is: what is fidelity for you? Does it include no porn? no emotional affairs? no one-night stands? If someone knows what you expect in terms of fidelity, and breaks that, they are unfaithful.

          ‘Who show a tremendous lack of character’? Someone who shows a tremendous lack of character is probably someone you shouldn’t be involved with. Lack of character goes way beyond kicking the dog accidentally.

          ‘Make a mistake’? Kicking the dog accidentally – that’s a mistake. Having sex with someone else is not a mistake. It’s a choice.

          If you are the chump, go back and look at the stages in your cheater’s whatever-it-was. You can break it down into a series of choices, a series of small decisions that all led in one direction.

          No one trips and falls in the street so that their penis accidentally ends up inside someone’s vagina. THAT’S an accident.

          And if you’re the cheater – well, you know all this already. You know damn well what you did.

          • I’m the chump. Married 17 years, together 25 – two autistic teenagers. A husband who was a dedicated family man most of our marriage, but we began having issues about 5 or 6 years ago. Our focus was on our children, our relationship suffered. Before his affair started, we were both walking down the road towards divorce. I even contacted an attorney. A woman he knew from the past was served with divorce papers, he was her ‘one that got away’, in her mind, he had never been interested in her. She kept herself around periodically during her 25 year marriage and went crying to him for help when she got served. She gave him the sob story on how her husband was a piece of shit and treated her sons (autistic as well) like shit. My husband felt bad for her and helped her out referring her a lawyer and being a shoulder to cry on. At this point, I was the bitch wife who didn’t appreciate him blah, blah, blah. I was at the beach with our sons in mid-June – July and they had their affair. I didn’t find out until September. I served him with divorce papers before he knew I knew.

            Everyone has similar yet different stories. In my case, he is not a narcissist. He did not come home to me and simultaneously have a chick on the side. We were in a bad place and his frustration was shared by me. I am not condoning his behavior because I could have cheated and didn’t. It is a massive lack of character in my eyes that he will never get back. However, in the years before, he was always dedicated to his family. He would always be thoughtful to me and the kids.

            I am still navigating the process. It’s hard to throw away 25 years and the effects on us separating would be devastating to my sons as they are very close to him. My younger is struggling w/mental health issues as well. I am seeing a sincere effort on his part to rebuild trust and make things up. And who knows, I may still divorce him as I have a hard time with the betrayal.

            I guess I just want to see if others have had hope and seen things work out.

            • If you started having problems 5-6 years ago, that is probably because he started cheating and you 5-6 years ago and you just haven’t found out about those ones yet. That seems to be the pattern around here. When did they start being dicks? Yup, that’s when they were cheating.

            • Dolly, the ‘my husband is a victim of designing women’ stage is one that many chumps go through, and some of them never leave it – they defend their ‘wayward’ and ‘erring’ spouse to the death. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

              Your husband may not be a narcissist, but he has displayed a huge sense of entitlement. You are quite right – you could have cheated, but didn’t. He HAS shown a terrible lack of character.

              The bottom line at Chump Nation is: is this relationship situation acceptable to YOU?

              Are YOU OK with staying married to someone like this?

              We all understand that you’re worried about the kids, about the money, about making it on your own, about being ashamed of having to admit that he cheated on you. It IS hard to ‘throw away’ 25 years – but your husband didn’t find it hard to throw away 25 years, did he?

              Do you have a post-nup? Can you get one? A post-nup is real evidence that he means to change and reconcile properly. Also, how low are your standards for his ‘improved behavior’?

              And how long do you want to see that before you consider you have reconciled successfully? And does he use lines like, ‘For crying out loud, I said I was sorry already’, and ‘Am I going to be made to pay for this for the rest of my life?’ If he’s talking like this, then you DON’T have a unicorn.

              You can stay, and do ‘reconciliation’, and the pick-me dance and the marriage police, and suspect him every time he seems to be distant towards you, and worry about your kids, and the example he has set your sons by cheating on you, and the example you have set them by staying and putting up with that shit.

              Or, you can keep your mouth shut, go underground, lawyer up, get copies of all financials, make plans for how you want custody to be shared, and what money and assets you want to take with you, go and find a good therapist who will support YOU individually, and then serve him. And then go get your life back, and have a better 25 years ahead of you.

            • PS DO NOT DISCUSS DIVORCE WITH HIM. He will simply lawyer up behind your back and rob you blind.

              There are many, many chumps here who said ‘Oh, X would never do that to me’, and are now paying the price for misplaced trust.

              You are not the exception. Believe us.

              • Lola – all things I have considered and am still considering – He does not speak as you indicated above, rather will talk things out when I am having a bad day or triggered. As far the financial aspect, we are broke. Fucked royally. His business has suffered greatly over the past few years and the 3 months of the affair when he hardly even worked have caught up. In addition, the mental health issues with my son were so intense that he ended up taking time away to deal with that as well as my son was walking out of school and we were concerned about him hurting himself. We are both maxed out on credit debt and one or both of us will most likely have to file for bankruptcy. I couldn’t pay a lawyer $.10 at this time and neither could he. There are no hidden assets. As a matter of fact, the easy way out for him would have been to go with his ‘skank’. She had a 1/2 million dollar settlement and got the house from her divorce…

              • Dolly, that’s awful. I am so sorry.

                By all means stay together because you’re broke – there are other people here who have had to do that, or who are waiting for things to get better so they can leave – but that isn’t reconciliation.

                There are still other choices open to you, but maybe not yet.

        • Haha, the old stereotype of his dick just slipped. Wait, you forgot To include his his narrative. No need to tell you as you must know?

          • Dolly

            The first time I was cheated on I was certain it wasn’t his fault and forgave. I put all the blame in the OW. HE cheated. You deserve better.

            • Oh no, I don’t feel like it’s not his fault at all – I have massive hatred for his ‘skank’ for a number of reasons but the blame is all HIS – HIS choice.

              • Dolly

                When I look back to the times when we were in a bad place it was always when he was cheating.

                If you decide to reconcile get a postnup to protect yourself financially. And listen to Richard Grannon’s video on covert narcissists. It was an eye opener. Described the Limited to a tee. I didn’t believe he was a narcissist either.

  • What does a good person look like? I believe DM’s comment about having the ability to be alone is necessary.

    Prior to fixing my picker I had to make many changes and understand how many Cluster B’s attach themselves to others with the very qualities I as a chump possed. I had to chuck the fixer and continue to recognize my go to need to intervene and stop. Overlooking flaws in others and focusing only on the positive was a survival strategy. I no longer ignore the signals my body reacts to however subtle.

  • Today I read a wonderful quote that I wanted to pass on to all….It reminded me so much of the “some Tuesday” that CL often refers to…..

    Sometimes closure arrives years later. Long after you stopped searching for it. You’re just sitting there, laughing this laugh that is unapologetically yours. As it trails off, the corners of your mouth hug your face and it hits you, “I’m happy.” It’s just like that. With no fanfare or epiphany. Suddenly you are grateful for goodbyes that carried you to this moment; to the space you are now holding.

    I thought this was a wonderful thought to pass along…

      • You are welcome!! I love quotes, and this one made me smile and get teary. That usually means it’s a winner!

    • C.S. Lewis lost a son and was sure he would never know happiness again. It took years, but he discovered he was wrong. He wrote a book about it. The book’s title: “Surprised By Joy.”

      • Okay, so I misremembered. Turns out Lewis’s book, “Surprised by Joy,” is actually about his early life and conversion to Christianity. But the book’s title is an allusion to a poem by Wordsworth, “Surprised by Joy–Impatient as the Wind.” Which Wordsworth wrote about the death of a child (he lost a son and a daughter less than a year apart). He felt guilty that he experienced joy, felt that it seemed a betrayal of his lost child’s memory:

        “Through what power,
        Even for the least division of an hour,
        Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
        To my most grievous loss!”

        But you get the idea: Even after unimaginable devastation, we have the capacity to find joy in life once again. And so it is for chumps, coupled or not.

        Lit Crit service announcement concluded.

    • Oh it is perfect. ❤️ Even moments after it all came crashing down I heard Florence and The Machine’s “happiness hit her like a train” and knew I would, one day, get there.

  • My STBX was super good at the whole presentation of the “Very Happily Married.” And he manipulated me into believing it, too. Can’t tell you how many times, though, that I mentally divided up the household stuff. And this was WAY BEFORE D-Day#1. Because in retrospect, I’ve pretty much hated him from the beginning, but because it wasn’t ALWAYS bad, because he managed to convince me he LOVED me so much, I pushed those thoughts away. Focused on the “spackled goodness” and carried on as best I could.

    I look back at how naive and dependent I was. I was a stay-at-home-mom, which I LOVED!! And I’m forever grateful I was able to do that.

    But my disgust for him at the little things he did & said to me began way back before kids. The times he just didn’t listen. Or the MANY TIMES he’d ignore me. There was a time before kids, we shared a car. He’d drop me off in the morning and then was supposed to pick me back up at the end of the day. Only, I’d end up sitting there, on a bench outside the grocery store (which was a safer place for me to wait at) FOR HOURS. And sometimes I’d call sooner than later (on a pay phone, because it was almost 25 years ago). Other times, I’d wait to see just how long before he’d remember to get me (I don’t recall him every just showing up…I think I always had to call him). And sometimes, after I called to see where he was at, he’d send a coworker to pick me up, as he would be in the middle of something he couldn’t stop.

    That’s as red a flag as ever, but how could I have not seen it!? How could I have been so stupid!?! I NEVER thought to really say anything. I should have stood up for myself way back then. What is in my personality that would have me allow someone to treat me in such a way!? I think it’s because I have this innate fear/discomfort of “rocking the boat.” Even if I’m the one on the sinking end of that boat.

    So, as I move through this divorce (with him living temporarily in our neighbor’s house RIGHT NEXT DOOR with Schmoopsie), I struggle so much with all these internal dialogues where I really lay into him. Telling him exactly how I feel. And then when I see him, it’s like POOF!! I am silent. Ugh.

    And I long for the moment, when I don’t wake up at 3 or 4 am and immediately think of him. Not because I want him back…HELL NO!! It’s been so peaceful in my house…my home with my 3 daughters without him. And miracle of miracles…without him, the house actually maintains a level of order that never existed with him just dumping all his crap all over the place. And he always complained over the fact that the house was a wreck! (Dumb shit! It’s your mess!)
    But I wonder why I feel such sadness over the divorce? Especially because I’ve wanted it for so long. And I truly don’t love him anymore. I don’t think I’ve loved him for a very long time. But why so sad? Why so many tears?

    And the thought of being with someone else scares the crap out of me. Definitely know I’m not ready, but as I sit in my house, and him next door with the whore, I think: that’s not fair. How is it that he has someone, and I don’t? So I contemplate signing up on one of those dating websites (after the divorce). But am struck with such fear, because I know my “picker” is definitely faulty. And the thought of ending up with someone like who I’ve lived a lie with for the past 25 years is unthinkable.

    So CL, I’d definitely like that Part 2 you mentioned.

    • So many similarities in our stories, GWYG. I did that mentally divide things up so many times. But also the whole don’t rock the boat thing too. Later years as he got meaner, I was too scared to rock the boat. I actually woke up the morning after we got married, looked over at him sleeping, and thought “oh God, what have I done?” Then spent 28 years trying to forget I thought that. To make it work. To love the one I was with. Better the devil you know. Marriage is hard work. Good girls don’t get divorced. I’m starting to ramble…but this crap polluted my head for years as I fell out of love.

      I’m sad too, and I think it’s because I’ve never had a real adult intimate relationship. He wasn’t capable due to cluster B traits, low empathy. And I didn’t grow up either when I was in denial. I’m terrified that I’m some how broken, and it was all my fault this happened. Not logically, of course it’s his fault 😉 just emotionally.

      • 28yearsgone,
        I understand exactly. I have two sisters who are divorced (because both of their husbands cheated on them. One with his best friend’s wife, and the other with their next door neighbor), and both my STBX’s sisters are divorced (multiple times, I might add).

        So we were the ones with the “rock-solid marriage!” We were the “winners!!” and had somehow managed to “succeed” at this marriage thing where everyone (except my parents) had failed.

        But my, how lonely it was “at the top.” And I rarely told anyone of my true unhappiness, because my STBX had ingrained in me that “we don’t tell anyone our personal stuff.” Now I realize that was because he didn’t want people to see him as anyone other than the wonderful husband who worked hard enough that his wife could stay home with the kids. Or that he was anything but the perfect husband who cared about his family so much!

        Cared so much that he slept with two of my “best friends,” and maintained a relationship with the 2nd one for at least 6 of the last 10 years. (Although I beg to differ. Even now, he has me doubting that they were together for the 4 years in between their two affairs.)

        So I also have really never had a “real” adult intimate relationship. I was such a geek in high school, and was definitely a “late bloomer” at least in regard to social skills. So…once this divorce is final, I know I’ll want to date someone. But…fear. Lots and lots of fear.

  • Dolly said something earlier that’s worth considering – that she has a hard time with stereotypes.

    I think that’s something a lot of us have experienced when we first get chumped. We can’t believe it’s happened to us, and we really struggle to accept that this may be a common experience for many people, because it feels uniquely painful, and we are also used to thinking the best about our spouse and also probably spackling a lot as well.

    And then here at Chump Nation, we discover that there’s a reason we have stereotypes at all – it’s because cheaters fall into very limited types of behaviour, our experiences are very similar, and cheaters do tend to say and do the same types of things.

    It really is like the Cheater’s Playbook out there.

    Dolly, I am sorry about your husband; I really am. But it sounds like you won the pick-me dance for now, and that’s often not as good as it sounds. Your husband displayed shitty character and called you a bitch to this other woman, and had a sexual relationship with her.

    To me, that sounds like a marriage that can’t be saved without an epic turnaround on HIS part – not yours. You are the injured party here, so stop making excuses for his behaviour! You were parenting and being sane and raising your kids! You didn’t get the secret hideaway nookie!

  • Dear Go,

    I can relate to a great deal of what you said! As I just got divorced last week after a multi-year divorce process and I don’t love my ex-husband (hard to when the person abused you for several hours/day for many years), it may seem strange to many that I am sad. I suspect that one reason is the loss of a dream of a happy intact family and marital relationship, especially as I am a late middle-aged woman and feel that the probability of me finding a man with whom I could form a happy, healthy marriage is very close to zero. Another reason is I feel rejected by not only my ex-husband who cheated on me and filed but also my last ex-boyfriend, who I dated after my husband left and broke up with me two months ago. I feel as though I am concurrently going through TWO divorces, which I didn’t want–rejected by not just one but two men with whom I had hoped to spend the rest of my life. I, too, am feeling that life is not fair, that these ‘rejecters’ are riding off into the sunset with their new partners, while I (and you) are alone and suffering. I have tried internet dating during the months between date of separation and onset of my relationship with latest ex-boyfriend, few months during ‘break’ in relationship with now ex-boyfriend, and last two months. Mileage may vary, but I found Internet dating (general or group specific, e.g., underwater basket weaving singles) disappointing in various ways (too little response, responses from only scary people or people in other states, countries who were nice but clearly incompatible). Wasn’t worth the investment of money/time. I am working hard on honoring myself by not tolerating ANY garbage from ANYONE while acting calm and diplomatic to people in general under any conditions.

    Part of me wants to get out there and immediately start dating (thinking if they, the partners who dumped me, feel no hesitation to line up sexual partners while they are still with me, then I should be out there, too.) But then I realize that I am not wired like my now former partners–I have never just jumped in bed for casual sex (even though I had the opportunity) because I had to emotionally bond with a man to feel all right about engaging in an intimate relationship with him and true emotional bonding cannot happen overnight. Perhaps we are the winners in a way as in many cases as many of the cheaters described here probably do not form deep, healthy, enduring bonds. I suspect that you share my preference of quality over quantity, right? High quality generally takes a long time. Let’s also remember that, in the case of adulterers, we chumps are not in the business of winning the ‘Turd Olympics.’ Do you want to win the largest pile of turd? I’m guessing not, and neither do I, even if it’s covered with sprinkles. Got to keep reminding ourselves of this.

    I know what it’s like to live next door to cheater who just moved out. I had to do that for several months. I had to see now ex-husband’s comings and goings multiple times/day and couldn’t contact our kids when they were in their father’s custody, even though they were only a few feet from my window. This torment strengthened me–and I’m not someone who believes that what doesn’t kill you always makes you stronger. In this case, though, I learned through lived experience that I could survive certain types of pain, as unjust as the situation that led to the pain was.

    I have been robotic for the last two months, but I am trying to participate in new activities–primarily just trying to stay mindful (observant) to determine what I want to do and be, not what I think that my former Significant Others, wanted me to do and be. (I think that mindfulness (concentrated attention on what is literally in front of me) has helped prevent me from going insane with grief and has reduced anger, anxiety, and depression.) Now I don’t have to prove anything to anybody–although not enough time has passed for me to appreciate this fact, I can already tell I am much more outspoken than I was even a week ago! I wonder if you are like me, trained as a child to refrain from voicing our thoughts and opinions if they didn’t not conform with what the adults in our environment considered ‘appropriate.’ I have told my ex-husband and ex-boyfriend exactly how I felt about them and why I was upset about how they behaved without using any profanity or saying anything that I wouldn’t want to be published. Doing so has been a bit empowering as it has given me some of the voice and the self-respect that I have missed for half a century.

    Also, I am trying to forgive myself for not being ‘perfect,’ as in perfect enough to hang onto my Significant Others. Someday, I might apologize (again) to my ex-boyfriend for crying on his shoulder more than I should have while I was grieving, which I unfortunately did for years. However, I did not deserve to be lied to and mistreated, even if he fell short of physically cheating on me. I don’t think that he every truly loved me nor respected me, so HE fell short.

    One more thing I find a bit helpful–with all that time, energy, love, and money I directed at these unappreciative, dishonest pseudo-partners of mine, how can I give myself those little things that I always hoped that these partners would give me but didn’t? Perhaps I’ll buy myself a flower to put on my kitchen table (yes, guys who make over $200K per year can afford one but chose not to spoil us this way!); perhaps I will spoil myself with a snack at a local cafe (even though doing so runs counter to the frugal behavior on which I was raised), perhaps I’ll find a short love poem that I will read to my sons (to eventually give to their partners because, if I have anything to do with it, they will be someday be loving, loyal partners to themselves and others.

    Last comment–when I was in business school many years ago, one of my classmates showed me how she flirted at a bar overseas. She was smart and appealing but did not appear on the surface as ‘over-the-top’ must have for every man on the planet (no offense to her). However, when she planted herself on the barstool, I immediately sensed that she could have any man she wanted in that very large bar in the city of 16 million people! Confidence (‘I love me and respect me’) aura emanated from her. (I’ll have what she’s having!) An outlook that would probably help many of us chumps! You and I can and deserve to feel this way, too! Too bad for your ex and mine that they can’t comprehend the value of what they have forfeited the ‘right’ to. They’re too busy chasing low quality or a panacea from their pain and their emptiness that arose from their character flaws and lack of emotional development, not flaws in US. (I am not saying that any of us is perfect, but our flaws did not force them to behave badly, especially if we were loyal and bent ourselves into pretzels for them.) I would like to open myself up to the notion that there are men out there that are much more emotionally evolved than these ‘men’ who automatically blame us chumps for their unhappiness but don’t tell us anything is wrong, even with gentle, supportive prompting, until they decide to officially exit the relationship with us chumps. I think that I inadvertently ran into one (emotionally evolved man) at a bar while watching a tennis match last night. Only time will tell if my gut is right, but it was nice to hold a deep conversation with someone who seemed ‘normal,’ polite, intelligent, and profound (and not bad looking) for nearly two hours. I have been pleasantly surprised ‘roaming’ around town completely alone without any specific goal, in striking up conversations with whoever I bumped into, I have met some friendly, fascinating, beautiful (inside and out) men and women and have been enriched as a result. (I am starting to feel like Barbara Walters interviewing ally types of deep, influential people.) Let’s leave the turd next door, not in our own homes stinking up our sacred territory! We’ve got important stuff to do!

    • RockStarWife – I LOVE hearing from you, and how you’re going! I have missed your contributions for a while now.

      I feel the way you feel as well – especially the rejection. I have now come to terms with perhaps never pairing off, and I am generally ok with that, for the following reasons:

      – I have a fascinating job
      – I am now doing fascinating study as well
      – I am mostly OK with how I look (I am one of Malim Biyalik’s ‘advantages of not being a perfect 10′ women, who dresses to suit herself, rather than onlookers)
      – I have a home that I have redecorated and am still redecorating and renovating
      – Financially things are pretty sound, although I still have some mortgage debt

      But the key factor is this:


      Not with with eligible men, and not romantic or sexual ones, but I have good relationships in abundance. I work hard to get on well with people; I have a wide circle of professional acquaintances and colleagues who are great people; a smaller group of male and female friends, and a few intimate female friends who I really trust, and who I catch up with regularly.

      And I have ZERO shit friends. You can’t choose your colleagues, but you can definitely choose your friends, and thankfully my friendship list has been weeded very thoroughly over the years.

      These relationships feed you. You need them desperately. When I read your posts, I hear a woman whose heart is screaming out: I need good lovin’ in my life. But you’re still thinking that good lovin’ comes in one form only.

      Lots of women make this mistake and think that the exclusive romantic relationship is the gold standard of human loving. It isn’t. It simply isn’t. And millions of women throughout history, and hundreds of them on this blog, could tell you this with their hand on their heart.

      I am not a rock star wife; I am not physically drop-dead gorgeous and I have never relied on my looks to get me through life. So I have had to develop resources and parts of me to carry me through, and in doing that, I figured out that I don’t need a man to validate me, to complete me, to make me happy, or to fill up the void. No one human being can do that for another anyway – it’s like chasing rainbows.

      You only ever tell us about the men in your life – the men who have so far treated you pretty badly. And you tell us here about a man you met who seemed nice. But aren’t there any women out there who fill you up in the same way? Or fill you up emotionally? Do you have important friendships that have lasted? I would love to hear about them.

      • Lola,

        Thank you for sharing your heart-warming and inspiring story. I am glad that you have developed great relationships with many people.

        Not surprisingly, in my life, co-dependency is a concern. Am trying hard to avoid becoming entrenched in a co-dependent mindset. I think that what miss more than anything from my last partner is hugs on a regular basis.

        I have some good, supportive female friends and relatives as well as some good male friends. Will try to appreciate and nurture those relationships.

  • The Room Service Tea thing really resonates with me!

    I was on a business trip and my ex-Narc came with me. I ended up getting a horrible case of the stomach flu. I was up and down all night vomiting… He was eating Cheetos on the hotel bed next to me and carrying on conversation with me like it was just another night in at home.

    I had surgery a couple of years ago and he promised me he’d set his watch every 2 hours to give me my pain medication. He fell fast asleep and never once checked on me. The pain woke me up and I’d just take the medication on my own. For my first check-in appt with my Doctor (that he was going to drive me to), he blew me off with a text “Something came up. See if your mom can take you.” -She couldn’t… and neither could the 5 other people I contacted. He ended up taking me after all but was LIVID with me for “ruining his plans.”

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