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But He’s a Really Nice Guy

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I’d probably make a terrible lawyer. It’s not that I don’t like to argue (clearly, I do… at least on the page.) It’s that I tend to bludgeon in cases where subtle diplomacy might be a more effective tactic.

Contrast me with my husband, an awesome lawyer and a consummate persuader. (I’m exhibit A. He sweet talked me all the way to Texas. Me, a person who despises hot weather, jalapeños, and threats to her reproductive freedoms. Really an amazing accomplishment when you think of it.) A middle child, he’s a natural diplomat. He’ll pretend to eat the shit sandwich if he thinks that will get you to do what he wants you to do. “Oh, you’re just kicking my ass” he’ll coo at opposing counsel as he pockets their settlement money.

Our contrasting persuasion styles were on display last week, as we were counseling my cousin about her chump situation. We’d outline a practical plan of a escape, and after listing a litany of horrors, she’d say: “I still just can’t believe he’s Not A Nice Guy.”

For me, that’s like waving a red flag to a bull. I immediate launch into HE’S NOT A NICE GUY! Nice people don’t fuck around with people they meet on Craigslist for years! (And then try to convince you that those people are Nice People.) Nice people don’t imperil your finances, put liens on your house, and fuck with the IRS! Nice people don’t blame you for this shit and expect you to clean up their messes! HE’S NOT NICE!

I can’t leave it there, of course.

As far as I’m concerned this guy is 77 flavors of personality disordered, a manipulative turd, lightly battered, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried in Satan’s own kettle. I’m not allowing “nice.” I don’t care if he sings in church choirs, gives vegetables to orphans, and sends his chump flowers on her birthday. He’s a fucking creep and he’s on my Bad List. I proposed a summer vacation to the town where he lives just so we could go kick his ass. Once I know this crap, I cannot UNknow it. Hell to the NO will I pretend that he is NICE.

(sputter) “But He’s Really A Nice Guy.”

So how does Mr. Lawyer/Diplomat handle it? “You don’t have to hate him. Work out who he is later. What’s evident is that his self-destructiveness is hurting you, you have zero control over him, and you need to save yourself. Get out now.”

Ooh. Much better.

Meanwhile over the weekend, I received about a dozen letters asking about Trust That They Suck. Help! I’m paralyzed! I can’t trust that he/she sucks!

See, I always go down the rabbit hole of trying to convince you how much they suck. I realize now that my approach was wrong. If you’re reading this, and you’re on the fence — ACT NOW and UNDERSTAND LATER.

You don’t have to trust that they suck! You just need to recognize the chaos and pain you’re living in. Love that idiot all you want to — just get the hell away. It’s a burning house — run OUT and save yourself. You know it’s on fire, and really, you know what you need to do.

I’m making the argument that your cheater is the arsonist who lit the damn thing on fire, and aren’t you pissed off? But really, you can figure that out later. What’s important right now is that you SAVE YOURSELF. Don’t sit there as the flames engulf you wondering, huh… is that a burning smell? Could it be an electrical fire? Did I leave the toaster on? DOESN’T MATTER — RUN OUT OF THE BURNING HOUSE.

Does your cheater smell like gasoline and dried pine cones? Or do they smell “nice”? No. They smell like all manner of combustibles. They aren’t nice. They’re fucking arsonists.

The important thing to realize is that the relationship is dead. It burnt down. You didn’t burn it down, you don’t want to believe (right now) that your cheater was capable of burning it down, but there it is — a charred ruin all the same. You can’t go back and live there. You need to rebuild — alone. You can’t go back to your cheater because for really coincidental reasons, they tend to live in places you’ll never feel safe in. (Uh, that’s because they keep burning down houses… because they SUCK!) You don’t need to connect the dots right now. Just get OUT.

(sputter) “But maybe I’ll regret it later?”

As you live in a nice, solid house? As you breathe fresh air that’s not contaminated by burning toxins? As you relax into a newfound feeling of security?

Trust me on this. You won’t regret it.

This column (and my burning house metaphor) ran before. But I think some newbie chumps still might need it. 

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I’d like to report that since I wrote this column, my cousin got divorced from the Nice Guy (whose life continues to be a train wreck), and she got her dream job, and has been dating a guy she’s super happy with. (And there are pictures of her cruises and sunny beaches and hikes together in my Facebook feed.)

    • I am glad and very happy for her. Good,you were there for her to support. That always helps.

      • Very happy to read this. I was about to go off on a rant that Don’t You Dare Abandon “Trust That They Suck” until I read that this was an old column, lol. Trust That He Sucks has been such an easy mental trick for me. I’m on pretty good cordial but not too friendly terms with my ex as I raise my youngest child. Just yesterday, my ex wanted a lengthy chat about an old mutual friend. At first I thought the old chumpy things like “Aw he misses talking to me” but then Trust That He Sucks appeared in my head. It’s a wonderful habit now. Retraining my brain to be suspicious, not chumped. WHY is he being so friendly today? What’s in it for him? Am I being buttered up for some reason? I don’t know yet. I do know that “Trust That They Suck” is a reliable “go to” for how to respond/feel about any situation with ex-cheater-spouse.

        Nice? Does it even matter? It really doesn’t. My ex is a pretty decent ex husband and father compared to many others I know personally as well as read about here. If he were competing in the Asshole Olympics, he wouldn’t be on the podium. But he definitely qualified for the asshole team and is going to Korea. It’s been very important for me to trust that he sucks, because he does suck, and his suckiness rears its ugly head unexpectedly after periods of relative “niceness”, and I need to be ready. I need to assume something sucky is around the corner. That’s who he is.

        I also love the burning house analogy, and I recall telling him after DDay that’s what he was doing. He started a fire, the house is burning, and he jumped out the window to save himself and left me behind to die. Well I didn’t die, I jumped out a window too, my own window. Then I went and built my own amazing house with my own two hands!

        Anyway, trust that they suck, everybody! Because they really really do.

        • They DO suck, but in the beginning it’s hard to arrive there. And people stay paralyzed until they can Trust That They Suck (but I have a happy memory! Surely this is EVIDENCE OF NICENESS!) So this method of GET OUT and trust that they suck later, works too.

          I will never abandon my key aphorism — TRUST THAT THEY SUCK.

          They do.

          But there are other ways to get results.

          • Yeah that makes a lot of sense. I guess that did paralyze me in the beginning. I just couldn’t accept what his character really is. I guess that’s why we all Pick Me Dance, right? “He’s temporarily insane. I need to be “strong” until he goes back to being his normal nice self”. Laughable to me now, but it’s what I was thinking at the time. Absolutely correct that I needed to stop allowing myself to be abused and tortured immediately, and that understanding his true character was just going to take too long to get me out of that very very bad situation fast enough.

          • While I don’t side with Dr Laura on many many issues there is one thing she says that I rerun through my head often – “even hitler was nice to some people” and “even Charles Manson was nice sometimes” does that make them a nice person or someone you want to have anything to do with? So perfect!!!!

          • I had to force myself to IGNORE his “niceness” and focus on my survival.

            I was driving myself straight off the cliff by making up stories about his brain tumor, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde mid-life crisis or alien invasion.

            I could “save” him from afar. Put on your own air mask on first!

        • ‘If he were competing in the Asshole Olympics, he wouldn’t be on the podium. But he definitely qualified for the asshole team and is going to Korea.’

          Love this! A great way to offset the feeling of ‘w-e-e-ell other ones are worse than him and he does have some good points.’ Yes but ‘he definitely qualified for the asshole team’.

        • Exactly this: “At first I thought the old chumpy things like “Aw he misses talking to me” but then Trust That He Sucks appeared in my head. It’s a wonderful habit now.

          ****Retraining my brain to be suspicious, not chumped. ******

          WHY is he being so friendly today? What’s in it for him? Am I being buttered up for some reason? I don’t know yet. I do know that “Trust That They Suck” is a reliable “go to” for how to respond/feel about any situation with ex-cheater-spouse.”

          Great public service Struggling! Thank you! And glad to know you are doing better.
          I bet your ex just wants a session of ego massages (kibbles) when talking about this friend

        • I took a quickie personality disorder course a few years back & learned that their are people who consider themselves good people as long as they’re “NICE”. It doesn’t matter what they actually do. As long as they are “NICE” about it or to others they can lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, slander, murder, burn the house down…

          • That’s my ex. He camoflauges himself in niceness. That way when he screws somebody over, nobody believes them because he’s “such a good person”. Or they’re more willing to overlook it because “that’s not like him at all”. Sure he does nice things, but that doesn’t stop him from being a piece of shit. But most people only see the nice things and that’s how his reputation stays intact.

            • Mine really was a nice guy to everybody. And that was image management. But when I look at how emotionally anorexic he was and how he screwed up his first family and now this family, because he Couldn’t love himself, therefore he couldn’t love anything or anyone, I can see he was not very nice to me or my son. Sure he carried his weight around the house, in the yard and cooked all the meals since he was a chef by trade, he seems like a nice guy. But when I tell people, family and friends, what he’s done throughout our marriage, and that’s not counting the acting out, people are shocked. Especially when they hear we just finished a chapter 13 bankruptcy and that his father got us out of debt early on in our years. Now they tell me how he would paint pictures of being wealthy. From the house to the job to vacations. He severely inflated his positions, like saying he was part owner – what a daydreamer.

              He was grandiose when speaking with others and I’m just learning of this now. Family and friends are shocked because this is not the person they knew. I wouldn’t doubt that they don’t believe me because it’s so extreme.

              Mine was involved far-fetched acting out. I just still can’t understand how he arrived at acting out the way he did because he is so against his character.

              But because of Trump lady, and chump nation, I’m not waiting for the house to totally burned down. We’re only 10 weeks out, and I’ve had to move out and we’re in the process of filing jointly for divorce and selling the house. I trust that That he socks and that I understand this better later.

              • “I just still can’t understand how he arrived at acting out the way he did because he is so against his character.”

                The sad part is it IS his character. The rest, the nice guy, was acting.

            • My ex is just like yours CSBB. Uses niceness as camouflage. That’s what conmen do. I and everyone else thought he was a nice guy and that’s why we were blindsided. All impression management. Trust that he sucks is my mantra even now one year out as he tries to be friendly.

          • YES. I think my ex thinks he was doing the right thing by lying to me because by lying, I was not getting upset. He would tell me what I wanted to hear, and I’d be calm. And when I finally found out that he’d been lying his ass off, we were broken up and not talking, so he never had to deal with the consequences of what he did. Or didn’t do, really.

            The worst part is that I still think of him as a nice guy since he made me feel amazing, like the most interesting person ever. In a lot of ways, I will be forever grateful for that. And then all I have to remember are all the promises he broke, and, well, all that matters are actions.

            • That’s how my soon-to-be ex is. He thinks the lying was helpful to our relationship, when it really was just helpful to him.

            • Same here. Which is why I get stuck in the pick me dance loop, well in my head anyways. Still only 11 weeks out, but if he continued with therapy and group sessions and came back to me before we filed and said it was all a big mistake and he wanted to try RIC, I would say yes in a heartbeat. He gave me 30 great years, well maybe not the last seven, but then… Could I ever be intimate with the porn star?

            • You are completely correct about actions speaking louder than words. I have a question for chump lady, because my story is a little different. In a nutshell, I went from a narcissist cheating, now ex-husband, and the first relationship I got into was with a “nice guy” I knew for the last 4 years at work. It was easy for me to trust that my ex was a real ass hole, as I had dealt with non-stop harassment throughout the divorce. What has recently threw me for a loop, was that, as “educated” as I felt I was about personality disordered people after leaving my ex husband, was…to make a long story short…I found out my work associate turned boyfriend is married and has been for 7 years!!! No one at work (where he has worked for several decades) knows!!! As soon as I found out this information, along with the fact that he is a serial cheater, I called his wife. She seemed saddened, but mildly surprised. Later, she texted me that she had talked to him, and hoped he won’t cheat again, even though he refuses counseling. I have never heard from her again; though the douche bag has stopped me several times at work to initiate contact. He made me feel amazing, and was, ironically, my rock that I’d run to when my ex was harrassing me. I have no doubt, he acts “nice” to his wife, since his forte seems to be listening to other people’s problems and pretending to just be a nice, hard working “single” dad. I guess what I’m asking is, how long would a woman put up with a serial/ sex addicted cheater because he is “nice”?? At some point, a woman has to get tired of the lies and late nights, right? Even though my heart wanted to believe it all to be some bad misunderstanding, I knew I had to do the right thing and tell the wife, and cut off the relationship cold turkey. But it still weighs on me…my ex was such an asshole it was obvious; but this type of character; who keeps his marriage a complete secret but can act so loving to me, and I’m sure his wife…I can’t wrap my head around? What made you finally leave?

              • I mean- to all you women who had a guy that sweet talked you all the time while cheating from the beginning- what made you finally leave?

              • Affair # 6. And as soon as I left, he dumped her, waited 3 months and started with #7. But he’s really nice.

        • Mine also wouldn’t make the asshole podium but he’s still an asshole. He is much nicer to me now than he was the last few years of our marriage so it is sometimes hard to remember that he sucks. I have to dig back to the last couple of years before DDay to remember how badly I was treated then and to the few months post DDay when he said and did all kinds of cruel things to me to remember that he sucks and that being nice to me now is just image management so that people (including me) won’t think he is an asshole.

          My analogy is that he was standing on the edge of a cliff. I ran up and said “I love you don’ t jump off that cliff. Then Schmoopie ran up and said “If you loved me you’d throw her off the cliff and he threw me off the cliff”. Now he’s paying the medical bills so he thinks that makes it all ok and he’s still a nice guy. And after all, he didn’t threw the kids off with me so double brownie points for that. No, he’s not a nice guy. I did not deserve to be thrown off a cliff to please a selfish slut.

        • Thank you for this perfect analogy! “My ex is a pretty decent ex husband and father compared to many others I know personally as well as read about here. If he were competing in the Asshole Olympics, he wouldn’t be on the podium. But he definitely qualified for the asshole team and is going to Korea. It’s been very important for me to trust that he sucks, because he does suck, and his suckiness rears its ugly head unexpectedly after periods of relative “niceness”, and I need to be ready. I need to assume something sucky is around the corner.”

          My STBX is a “nice” man and a “good” father. He has followed through on our divorce settlement. In fact, he did not even get a lawyer and my lawyer said, “No one every signs the divorce papers at the first meeting.” I said, “This man will.” And he did because he is so “nice” and conflict avoidant. I could cajole him into conflict when we were married…but I didn’t realize how hard I was working to improve my relationship with a “nice” man who always left me feeling like the crazy one and the angry one. Now I realize I was simply the FEELING one while he was secretly keeping score and SCORING tons of cake that he felt entitled to.

          I am thankful in some ways that his “nicness” has made my divorce “easy” but there is NO THERE THERE and I want substance in my life. I have tons of substance. I have depth. I have feelings and opinions. I am willing to work through the hard stuff with my friends and my family. Mr. Stupid-nice lost out big time but he will never understand that…

          All that to say, I understand nice. I understand having to watch out for the double-bind of nice. And I constantly have to “trust that he sucks.”

          Thank you!

          • This is me. In speaking with my sister today, who does pastoral counseling, this I s how I described him to her. Conflict avoidant. It sounds like I’ll pretty much get everything I want in my separation agreement, filing jointly, and more. My attorney is drawing up the agreement, he’ll review it and if he feels he needs an attorney to review it he will. I don’t think he’ll argue with much because I literally could destroy him with one phone call. As my attorney put it, if I drop the dog business right now and got a full-time job, I could be making almost as much as him thereby negating alimony. If he doesn’t have to give me alimony, what’s stopping me from destroying the “sex addict”?

        • Totally agree … “Trust that they suck” has been the mantra that has got me through so much.

        • I tried to post 3 times last night. Anyway now on bus on way into town to meet mediator and our lawyers. Last night feeling desperately nervous and sad I cast about for things on the net and Chump Lady to gather some strength. This post comes at the right time. Thank you. I was, and am one of those chumps who declared over and over again: “But he was always so nice!” I am STILL in shock after 10 months. The deer in the headlights who did not see this coming. Yet in our meeting today where I have requested no contact, his smug niceness maskng entitlement and demands will be bouncing off the walls and racing down the corridor to unsettle me. And while many of his mates possibly think, “oh well they weren’t suited and it just took him this long to disentangle himself” (30 years) I will try to go in with eyes wide open. Because niceness is a sneaky insidious way to get what you want. I know. It is over. We are done.

        • ‘If he were competing in the Asshole Olympics, he wouldn’t be on the podium. But he definitely qualified for the asshole team and is going to Korea.’

          This made me cackle.

        • I am working on that one. My arsonist is diligently pursuing healing via a christian mens group and intense counseling. But, really, he already burned the house down. Its good he is rebuilding his house. I feel glad for him and I WISH I could believe that the flooding and triggers would disappear someday within that relationship. But, there is this man who could “buy humans” the underprivileged sex traded kind. He could lie, cheat and use porn and get lap dances until the massage parlors caught his eye. He went from someone I loved, trusted, respected and planned to live with forever, to a disgusting gutter trash skank. It still blows my mind. I have just work on TRUSTING THAT HE SUCKS. He MAY get over that, but its a 100% sure bet that he trashed 20 years I devoted to him. That’s a lot to put aside. Superhuman I am not.

        • Absolutely, SilverQueen. It is never too late to free yourself from lying and cheating and abusing people. Your wonderful, cheater-free life is available and reachable.

          Stay Mighty!

        • My Grandparents knew someone in their retirement community who got married for the first time at 76. She said it just took her a while to find the right man. 🙂

          • My grandfather cheated. After a couple years of reinventing, healing and growing, my grandmother remarried a wonderful man at age 65. They were together for over 30 years before both dies of natural causes. Like nature, love finds a way.

      • Thank you CL.

        I’m 41 and my clock is breathing down my neck. Your cousin’s story gives me hope. Thank you!

        • The only clock breathing down your neck is the one tracking how much time has already been wasted with a lying, cheating fuckwit vs. how much time there is ahead of you without one! You’ve got this.

        • It is scary. But at 42 I told myself being alone in a world of honesty is better than more years of dishonesty with my cheater wife. At least alone I can respect myself.

          • Agree with this completely Zell! I’d rather be lonely living in a world of honesty and intact morals than lied to and cheated on by a husband who clearly doesn’t give a shit about me. I’m living a good life and I’m completely confidant in my decision to get the wheels turning on the divorce merely days after “I love you, but I’m not in love with you. I’m moving in with my internet girlfriend”. It was hard and it was scary as hell, but I’m so glad now that I just trusted that he sucked even though I wasn’t yet fully convinced of that (but he’s such a good dad. . . he’s such a nice person. . . everyone keeps telling me he’s such a nice guy, he has to be having a mental breakdown. . . etc.). I trudged on through the shit storm and came out the other side better, stronger, and happier than I’ve ever been!

          • Zell

            I was at a crossroad at your age. I made the decision to leave him in Florida and moved back to my home state where I had lost my home months earlier.

            I found a job and a small furnished apartment. Three months later I took him back.

            Staying power isn’t an asset. It wastes precious time and energy with the same results.

            With a cheater you are always alone. Without him you get to LIVE!

            Stay the course and you will live better!

            I divorced him at 57 and I’m finally free at 61. Invest in yourself. The payoff works at any age. Don’t look back; close that door!

        • I’m 40 this year and building up the strength I’ve lost in the last year staying with Mr “so called nice guy”. Hoping going back into counselling myself this time helps! Xx

      • My wife & I were both chumped by our Exes and we are in our late 40s and we had a redo and have never been happy. Worst case scenario is that you never meet anyone, but even then you will be a million times happier if you leave rather than stay and live with a disordered cheater.

          • My husband and I were both chumped by our exes and we met and thought we’d never been happier. Then, he started going to prostitutes and cheating on Adult Friend Finder. Turns out he was a personality disordered cheating fuckwit and now first wife is having a big laugh. But, good for you. Really. Maybe I’ll get there the second time around.

      • I am 65 and met a wonderful man in hot yoga of all places. We are getting married in two months. I felt 40 years of marriage with as ass was enough prison time for anyone but this man embodies all that I did not have all those years. Never give up. As Tracy says “there are good men and women out there”. Yes he is four years younger than me. Even better!!

    • Chump Lady, when you talk to your Mighty Cousin now, what does she say about the two approaches (yours vs. your Husband’s)?

      Which one eventually swayed her?

      I often wonder about Chump’s “Ahah!” moments

      • I should ask her. Probably a combo of both, I’d guess. Every now and then she messages out of the blue to say “You were right.”

        Which is really something, because my cousin is my Older Cousin and growing up she was always kicking my ass at games and sports (I sucked at sports), particularly Pounce!, and I think she’d die before she’d concede defeat — so, I’m taking this win and enjoying it. 🙂 It’s kind of a joke with us.

    • Mr. Chump Lady appears to be one of those smooth, smiling Texas Boys that no one realizes has a .45 Remington 1911 hidden under his jacket.

    • This is great timing for me. Some days it’s hard to trust that they suck. It works when I’m angry but I can’t be angry all the time it’s exhausting. But Mr. Chump Lady’s take on it works for those days when anger is not there. I’ll just worry about how I feel about the disordered one later but for now save myself.

      • Yes, great timing for me too. There was a thread on yesterday’s post that got me thinking about whether or not it was destructive to ME to dwell on my X’s foibles in a way that fed the anger / hatred fires, now that the divorce is nearly done and I don’t need the anger energy to get through the necessary legal details. Yes, he sucks, but yes, there were good times (way back when) as well, and it feels emotionally harmful to me to deliberately negate those memories. Plus, there are times (now post-meh) when dwelling on everything wrong with X seems like Being In Training To Be A Hater. And being a Hater violates my own values terribly; it’s not worth it.

        So I love CL’s husband’s take: “You don’t have to hate him… What’s evident is that his self-destructiveness is hurting you, you have zero control over him, and you need to save yourself.”

        It’s nice to feel like I can save myself without having to hate.

    • Man this whole thread is what I needed. The nice ones can be the worst. It’s a slow burn to destruction with these types. Mine is “nice” too and “conflict adverse” (mostly, as long as you’re not asking him to split community property) and craves being liked. Can’t stand for others to think negatively of him, even me. Their secret weapon is their sneaky meanness.

      • I’ve been struggling to see how my pain compares to chumps that had mean xholes. Mine did the dishes, was nice to his folks, nice to the kids, coached soccer, volunteered at church. He could be great at home but became more and more judgmental as time went on. Was not good with time and made everyone wait but he was so cute and humble that he was forgiven. At home he would be mad if you were mad at him for being late…… and I don’t mean just 15 minutes I mean hours without letting me know or my Mom who was taking care of our child after school. I now know it was the ultimate disrespect for my time and person and he was probably distracted by hooking up or trying to.

    • Broke off an engagement with a well known “nice guy” found out serial cheater a month ago and now no contact for two weeks! Even though my relationship on the daily wasn’t bad at all (haha because I was being lied to) these two weeks of no contact have been amazing!! I got a raise at my job, I have two trips already planned and plenty of friends and family coming out to visit me. I have had strangers invite me on hikes and concerts and am extremely excited for the future. What has he been doing? Well I told everyone not to let me know…but people love drama. He’s been to the bars almost every night for two weeks of no contact! All it’s done is solidify my reasons for leaving and I feel mighty!! 🙂

    • I’m really glad. It takes a lot of painful internal work and time to get un-mindfucked enough to see clearly. Blows me away how hard it was to wake up. Thankyou. For CN. For this article. And for exactly your acerbic clear assertive honest ways. Really.

  • It’s so hard to see at the very beginning. Of course the theory out there for infidelity is it only happens in bad marriages so therefore a chump shouldn’t be surprised. And the chump should share their half of the blame. What many of us know now is, we were in good marriages (or so we thought). At least the cheater had it good as we were twisting ourselves into pretzels for them. And although no marriage is perfect, there was no solid reason for the cheater to do what they did. And really, the cheater knows this too since they hide their affair in order to eat cake. And for those who abandon, they only do so once they have secured their next appliance.

    Cheaters are arsonists in all aspects of their lives. They don’t do normal,happy, stable. They live off of drama, excitement, escapism, ‘happiness’ and feel entitled to do so. That is who they are. They may do all of this with a smile on their face and the nice facade to get the kibbles they believe they are entitled to.

    • Twice this is it exactly. Doughboy was always looking for drama, loved that whole gossip genre with his bridge club fridnds. Our life was pretty much drama free. The thing is they love the drama ( Schmoopie is a true drama queen cries at the drop of a hat) but can never be supportive to anyone in a crisis. When our grandson was dying of cancer doughboy couldn’t bring himself to even talk about it, let alone be supportive. To everyone outside of the family he was the poor grieving grandfather but no emotional support to anyone. He stayed as far away as he could and was chatting up what he thought was his next Schmoopie while the rest of the family was doing hospital duty and trying to support each other. They appear to love drama and want to be seen as the hero, truth be told, they tire of it very quickly once they have to actually get emotionally involved. They a use these situations to appear as “nice guys” but don’t expect any real emotional support.
      Trust that they suck is right! As an aside, Tracy keep telling it like it is, newbees need that 2×4 least we start to believe the RIC!

      • After my grandson died I moved from the city to our country property alone, I was retired. Doughboy was still working so only came on weekends. Looking back now I see I was done with him then. I think subconsciously I wanted out but in my emotional grieving state I couldn’t think clearly. It’s interesting how these revelations come to us later. I was an expert spackler! Perhaps that’s why it took all of 3 minutes to tell him to get the fuck out on DDay.

        • Precious silverqueen,

          Condolences on the loss of your grandchild. I am so hurt for you that your family had to experience such a loss.
          Thank you so much for sharing that with all of us here in the Nation

          Love to you as you continue to ForgeOn!

        • The death of a child or grandchild is unimaginable. These cheaters seem to chose escapism to soothe only themselves as everyone else struggles. It’s who they. Not who you are. You are the rock. The light that guided your family through a horrendous time but brought peace and love to transition that child on to death.

          In my line of work, sometimes everyone bails. Hard to believe I know. But I have no doubt your presence and strength was there for your grandchild and your family.

        • Exactly. The day after Fuckwad died ( peacefully at home with the kids and I caring for him) I stopped being afraid. I didn’t miss him. At all. I had been sick and unable to work for years, and got better every day. It was a week befits D day, almost 2 months ago, but now I see I KNEW not to trust him. Knew everything was better as soon as the fuckwad kicked it.

    • “although no marriage is perfect, there was no solid reason for the cheater to do what they did”

      Yes this. This is what keeps me up at night. I wasn’t perfect but he had no reason to be so unhappy with me or his marriage and yet he chose to blow it up in the most painful way possible. Why? The only explanation for all of our situations is they suck. They may be “nice” but they still suck because they are stupid and delusional for thinking that their Schmoopies are somehow going to make their lives better. If they wanted better lives, all they had to do was open their eyes and see and learn to appreciate the good things they had in us.

      • Being a good wife and a perfect wife are different animals for sure, the latter being impossible. I was a good wife, I bet you were too. Maybe on occasion we deserved an arguement or two about one thing or another, but we didn’t deserve this betrayal.

      • I am in the same space. Devastated. Blew up the marriage, which he admits was better than most of those around us. ………But he wasn’t fulfilled.

          • Yes! Sane words. ‘I wasn’t fulfilled’. So what are you doing to get over this? I have in my mind this vision of shedding him like a grey, heavy, long, burnt, feathered overcoat. I am trying to drop it and keep walking. In the thick of divorce so not there yet.

            • I’ve been doing parasite cleanses the past year (I work with puppies who notoriously have worms) and so I’ve been calling him my parasite (that’s the secret folder I set up in my files so he couldn’t find my financial and lawyer info in case he was looking).

              I’m thinking that the divorce process is going to be my personal emotional parasite cleanse. The first 1/3 of the cleanse can be quite uncomfortable but if you know what to expect, it doesn’t throw you off kilter so much. Off course, you can’t just do one “cleanse”. You must address it every month initially and keep spot checking to see if you’ve gotten all the larvae. Just killing off the big parasite won’t do anything for all the immature parasites. So you know there’s going to be die off and that you need to counter the die off with self care (more micronutrients, water, Epsom salt baths, clean diet, etc.).

              But once the parasite, and all it entails, are gone you then notice how much better you feel! You can’t feel that freedom while you are “living life” because some of these parasites take decades to infest you and cause problems. But as some point, you begin to feel the infestation.

              Sometimes you don’t know how you got the worst of the worst parasites, or the kind of parasite you got. It’s not so important to know how it got there. Just work with what you find and go from there. Eradicate what you have and don’t let anyone tell you it’s in your head. Just keep doing spot checks and NVERAGAIN let your immune system get so depleted that you contract another parasite.

      • I’m in the same boat as well. My wife said (right after she told me she was unwilling to stop her affair thus forcing me to honor my ultimatum and divorce her)… “yeah, I mean, I could stay married and keep our family together” but then my life would only be “comfortable” or “just OK” and our marriage is “probably better than average” but “not mind blowing.”

        Not mind blowing.

        So now our son has 17 years of back and forth custody in his future.

        • Same! After putting me through faux reconciliation counseling, and getting my hopes up, saying we had a good 29 year marriage, he blurted out in the last minutes of our final session: Yeah, to be honest we could make it work, but I just don’t know how motivated I am. Speechless.

    • OMG, YAAAASSSS! “They don’t do normal,happy, stable. They live off of drama, excitement, escapism, ‘happiness’ and feel entitled to do so.”

    • Thank you for writing this. I was in the same situation, but the personality disordered love of my life became dangerous to the point that I HAD to do exactly what you are saying here or I may have been a casualty and statistic along with my daughter. I HAVE since rebuilt. It took a LONG time…years, and Im still working on it. I had to grieve and work out everything: my sad codependance on him, my rage towards him (I really couldn’t ever like or ever truly respect a man child like that anyway), my desire to fix him and understand why he couldnt love me the way I deserved to be loved. While I grieved in a city far from my beautiful (fantasy) country life and home I had built, I ran into human angels who helped me find my way. I traveled to beautiful places I exercised, I walked miles, I got a beloved new dog, and now have a dream job, a gorgeous rental, an amazing, loving, kind and considerate roommate… a new lease on life. Thank you for writing this column. Your advice is gold. My journey and others like me are proof 💜

  • I used to tell “Ted Bundy” that he was a really nice guy on a daily basis. He needed to hear that or I thought he needed to hear that because I was being a supportive wife. Ugh! 20 years of never supporting me, complimenting me or being a real partner and him admitting that he “never stopped dating” our entire marriage. I told everybody he was “such a nice guy” as he was devaluing me to those same people. He told me he did that because he knew I would leave him when I found out what he was doing someday. And yes I left him and filed and got the fuck out of that burning house. 2+ years later still going through the process of divorcing him and he’s definitely not a nice guy. He’s telling my family that he “just wants to take care of his children’s mother” as he’s undervaluing our company and got our house underappraised by $200,000. We think he’s paying people off and giving them a sad sausage story to get them to help him. Very pitiful. I need strength.

    • Marriedtoatroll,

      You found the right place for support! Keep reading CL and CN – we are here for you!! (((Hugs)))

      He is so into “image management” now, but once divorce is final will most likely tire of it and then others will see what a true asshole he is. Live your life with integrity and your true friends will stand by you no matter what.

      • Married to a troll, Cheater #1 tried to over value the house on me, so he would get more. Find a trusted real estate agent, get what they call “comps” or houses that recently sold in the neighborhood to show true market value, then get your own appraisal. The $$$ to do so will be worth it in the end.

        As far as the business, the easiest way to show he’s lying about value: past tax returns. Then he has to explain why the business has suddenly tanked. Your lawyer has probably seen that one before, too.

  • We are in the middle of a natural disaster. My stxbh has been asking me to sleep on the couch at his parent’s house as my home is freezing with no heat, water or power etc going on 5 days. I’ve been staying with friends while my children have been staying with stbxh parents. I go over during the day to take care of my kids and then once stbxh is home from work I go back to my friend’s house. BUT see how “nice” and helpful stbxh is trying to be. Offering to let me sleep at “his” house / calling concerned that I may freeze to death if I stay at my house / peppering me with questions and worries about our situation. NO! He knows my presence at “his” house makes his pregnant girlfriend uncomfortable. He is a huge jerk and is trying to always come across as the nice guy.

    My stxbh is back living with his parents and very pregnant girlfriend. Based on his actions, I am sure he now cheats on the pregnant girlfriend as well. We are still legally married. He doesn’t pay his child support as it is ordered (almost $2k unpaid as I write this) and he is behind on his vehicle loan payments, owes his family money and owes his bank money. Unchecked mental illness. An entire arm of new tattoos but won’t pay court fees for the divorce. Won’t provide medical insurance for the kids as he was court ordered. These folks are train wrecks.

    I’ve always said he is being self destructive! He doesn’t care who he brings down with his sinking ship. (My job is to make sure he doesn’t drag myself and our kids down with him.)

    • He wants you where he can watch and control you. They LOOOVE control the most.
      Good job figuring out what he’s up to, I agree it’s to start a pick-me dance. What a moron. I hope you can keep your spirits up! Hang in there, freedom is ahead!

      • AlohaFreedom, what does the state have to say about back child support and medical coverage? In the land of fruit and nuts (AKA California), one can go out onto the .gov website, register the non-acting parent as a deadbeat and make sure his/her checks get garnished, etc. Not perfect and it was time consuming, but I know if I hadn’t done that with Cheater #1, I wouldn’t have seen one red cent.

        Note: Do NOT go to STBX’s payroll or HR department. They are not very good with legal knowledge/obligations *and* they would not ensure that the child support got to the state with every check. That’s when I went directly to the state and eliminated the middle man.

        • Does the same holds true for alimony? My attorney said we could either have my husband have his bank to automatic transfers each payday but I was a little skeptical of that. She said the other way would be to have payroll send it directly to my bank account which is what I wanted to do initially. But after seeing how discombobulated the company was when they hired him over the past two months, having no HR department, no life insurance, no healthcare, etc., I’m afraid to.

          • Two follow ups:

            AlohaFreedom, you just mentioned harsh weather – if you’re in the EU, then all state-side advice is off the table.

            Nveragain: Not sure if you can get your state to garnish for alimony as I didn’t get alimony from either cheater. But I would definitely look into it on your state’s website. Most lawyers don’t want to get involved, but if you can read, you can probably make your way through the online registration and get it set up.

            One thing I have noticed since, oh, 2000 or so, when online registrations/help/enrollment grew by leaps and bounds, that accessing government services through a combination of online and in-person follow ups has been surprisingly easy compared to the olden days of the 80’s and 90’s when I first learned how to be a grown up. Since the online process takes away a lot of the tedious work, the civil servants actually have time to do the quality work and, ya know, be civil. YMMV.

            • My attorney told me we could do it either way… Have bank transfers done automatically from his account to my account or have his employer send the amount directly to my bank account. Because I am worried about how he handles his finances, because he’s always had difficulty, I was worried about the bank to bank transfers. So she said we could write it into our separation agreement that his place of employment would make the payment. But I’m wondering if others here have found that small businesses tend to have difficulty making that happen without any screw ups.

  • Trust that they suck and have NO true remorse. Connect the dots later!

    Great relief came when my therapist told me I had all the evidence I needed and I could stop gathering and believe.

    I was trapped in his never ending cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard.

    Right up to the end he used my vulnerabilities to keep me hooked. We were saving to buy a retirement home that year. He stepped up and was checking into how much we qualified for yet once again changed the goalpost. It shifted to buying a rental property. He needed my signature. I said NO.

    Within a month he wanted to move into a studio apartment saying I could sleep there. I said NO. Dday came next. And I threw him out, literally emptied his closets. I had enough. I filed.

    He never fought for me once in our so called relationship. I forced myself to stop fighting. My house was on fire.

    Infidelity is the tip of the iceberg. Save yourself!

  • Thanks from a newbie-ish here chump who is seeing this for first time and it makes so much SENSE!!

    Geez I ran around in ever-crazier rings in the early days trying to figure out how on earth my Nice Guy reduced our world to cinders (cognitive dissonance, much?). I knew he was clumsy and careless and all … but surely he didn’t MEAN to …?

    Thing is, if a person is so clumsy they keep destroying everything, you fly AWAY ladybird, you grab your kidlets and make everyone safe. Somewhere with a TOTAL fire ban.

    Eventually I realised that even if it was carelessness (“oops, I burnt my marriage down”) that led to his fucking around with countless women and men for over ten years, and then blameshifting (“but it’s her fault, she should have been more fire retardant”) – that’s Not Nice At All.

  • Yep–“rescuing” you by inviting you to use other people’s resources. He’s swell–or at least thinks he is swell. I’m glad you have friends to provide you with better options. And I hope you get your power back (metaphorically and literally) very soon.

  • A quote that I repeatedly told/tell myself: to heal you have to stop romanticizing the person who destroyed you. When the memories of who they are pretended to be creep in, put reality on repeat and remember good hearts don’t cannibalize their kindred.
    -credit to narcopathawareness

  • I remember the first time the “burning house” analogy hit home. Then I extended it in a way that probably resonates with most of you…

    KK was telling me it was my job to put the fire out, and even giving me advice on how to do so. And while I was busy in one area, she’d sneak around to the back to light other little fire to keep me occupied, all the while saying, “Dont worry, I love you, it will all be ok.”

    • oh yes Uxworld!! Another burning house over here! I never wanted to be a firefighter.

      Thanks, I love analogies and this one is awesome!

    • Oh my God, this exactly! The Twat careened from one drama to the next – car crashes, drunk driving, spending money we didn’t have and then of course “waking up and just finding himself” in bed with a prostitute in Africa. And while I was trying to sort everything and keep us afloat he would, as you say, just run round the back and create another armageddon! Thanks for his image Ux.

  • Exactly right. You don’t remain in a burning house because the person who started the fire didn’t mean to, or if he meant to start the fire it was his “intention” to harm you by it. Cheater, while holding a gas can and match and coughing on smoke and toxic fumes: “Why are you running out of our home? Haven’t you ever made a mistake? Don’t be a quitter!” See how crazy that sounds?

    Doesn’t. Fucking. Matter. Fire burns and consumes, regardless of intention.

    • Worth repeating.

      Doesn’t. Fucking. Matter. Fire burns and consumes, regardless of intention.

      And the mistake thing? Yeah, right. Mistake my ass.

    • Yes! I got, “I never meant for it it turn out this way” as the house goes down in flames. And also, “but everything happens for a reason!” and “I don’t believe in living with regret – that’s too depressing.” Cool.

      In her mind, burning our lives to the ground behind my back is OK bc she gained a new and better “love.”

      • Oh yeah, I got the “WE didn’t mean for it to turn out this way.” From the OW as she was standing in my bedroom, shocked to see ME there (the audacity to be in the bedroom I share with my then asshat of a husband that she came to save from his “cry for help” – WTF?!) he just stood there like a small child being punished. It was absolutely surreal. Stupidest shit ever.

  • My ex said the school thinks he’s really nice, the school actually said (we share custody) that I’m in their opinion a single parent. My exs friends say he has issues, I said its not normal for the ow, to hang outside the school, (the school has been told), she has no kids or is not employed there, apparently he told me I should deal with her, the police said you have to be assaulted before they will do anything. Hopefully karma will help. I think her thinking how wonderful he is shows how ill she is. My neighbour, educated “lady” actually said I was lucky to have him, he could have done better, she actually told people they had a “special relationship” I thought they were just sharing books, she incidentally is not the other woman, apparently lots of “ladies” want him.

    • oooo, sick (what the neighbor lady said. Susan, I pray that wise and wonderful neighbor ladies enter your orbit. Yah, that stinks that ow hangs outside the school. (What a dumbass.)

    • My ex’s reply to my observation that he is a sociopath: “No one has ever called me that, so it’s not be true”.

      This is the same jerk who got me me to help him badger the airline to find his mistress’s suitcase that was lost on a trip with him….

    • You should be able to file for an Order of Protection from a person who is stalking you and your children. F&&k the police, go to the DA.

      • I concur.

        If a single man without children was lurking outside a school the cops would be called pronto ! Gender equality

  • Thanks Chumplady, this column is very helpful and I have not read it before.

    This line is especially helpful to me: What’s evident is that his self-destructiveness is hurting you

    The above statement says a third party can see what is happening. Third party can see that cheater’s behavior harms him, and that he caused it. Third party can see that cheater’s behavior hurts me.

    This helps because I am being told that cheater is not winning at my expense. I am also being told that it’s plain that I am being hurt. I can figure out the rest.

  • Nice guy I thought I was married to one. I blindly went through the years thinking I was safe and secure. Used to compliment him in front of my family and friends. Would stick up for him if someone said something against him. Oh, the little chump I was. He returned the favor by not sticking up for me when one of his work buddies insulted me. He said he did not want to fight with him because he worked with him. This same nice guy screwed around with my cousin for several years. And slandered my name to her and my daughter. Continued to lie and deny and blame me for the affair.

    It took me along time to realize that the nice guy was just an illusion.

    • For the newbies, this is one of the biggest tells there is, you don’t even need evidence of infidelity. When you say nothing but nice things about your partner, but you find out that your significant other has been trash-talking you behind your back, get your ducks in a row, and run for the hills. This means that even if your significant other isn’t actually cheating on you right this second, they will be fairly soon. They are trying to poison the well. They are trying to get in front of the narrative, to paint you in the worst possible light, so that they can do whatever they want to you and still retain community support. Again, run, Run, RUN!!! You may not get any other warning until D-Day.

      • Poison the well. Yes, now realizing that Mr. Nice Guy has done that all through my son’s lives. A big Red Flag CL is when you always knew that they cared more of what everyone else thinks of them instead of what you and the children think. Their outside appearance is paramount. Too bad that it took me 35 years to realize how disordered my ex really was. Now dealing with trying to understand WHY I allowed this treatment of me.

  • I can understand your cousin. My X was soooo nice! My own brother, when informed by my son of sparkledick’s cheating answered :”well, there is only so much a man can take”. This is probably because of my reactions in the past to sparkledick’s constant teasing and taunting me in front of said brother. Who has his own pile of shit to react to. (It’s not our shit that’s the problem. It’s the chump’s reaction to our shit that’s the problem…).

    Sparkledick is Very Nice. Opens doors for old ladies. Feeds pigeon pests (to annoy me since they poop ALL over my varanda, but it makes him look like a saint). Would wash dishes. Go to the movies with me. Show off in stores as though he were a maharaja (just like his father).

    But Sparkledick is not a GOOD human being.

    How to get over Sparkledick’s niceness? I Trust That He Sucks and wash my own dishes. I feel Free.

  • I really needed this today. I have thought so many times about writing Chump Lady and talking about how nice my STBX is, and why I am so confused I am in so much pain when my story is so much less dramatic than some others. Then I make myself stop and think about the fact that for 5 years he sabotaged every attempt I made to plan for our long-term future. And the fact that he is apparently completely incapable of having a conversation about the fact that he has been unhappy since before we were married 5 years ago. He swears he talked about it when we were in marriage counseling, but the therapist never heard it! 10 months after D-Day, I still don’t really know what happened. The only way I even know that there have been problems the whole time is because of mutual friend told me, and I read his Therapy Journal where he blamed me for the most ridiculous things. It is so hard to let go when somebody smiles, and does considerate thing was, and wants to chat whenever he comes over to see his daughter. I just keep telling myself that I’m thankful that he wants to be a good dad, and if you can only have one relationship, I’m okay that it is with her. He implied that he wanted to work on the relationship, and that he was sad that he had made mistakes, but it is impossible to rebuild Trust without transparency, and you can’t have transparency when what you actually get is silence and guessing.

    • On the forums, I posted a link about spotting a psychopath if you are dating one. It’s really a pretty good checklist for general Cluster B disorder tendencies. Sparkly charm and niceness is one item on the list.

  • Cheaters have a way of fooling people into believing they are nice people, I think that’s part of the perpetuation of “the Chump must have done something wrong to cause it” narrative.

    With Opportunistic and predatory behavior the individual sees an opportunity to take advantage of a person or a situation and then does so. What better way to do that than to fool everyone Into believing you are a nice guy/gal! It can come in the form of pretending to be non-threatening, an an authority figure, a sad sausage, godly, what have you.

    Ted Bundy used this psychology to make him self appear non threatening, and then kidnapped, raped and killed his victims. We appropriately name him a preditor. Yet, when a cheater takes advantage of their “nice guy/gal” image, or “sad sausage” image, onlookers tell themself they must have had a momentary laps. No, a momentary laps doesn’t involve plotting, planning, working around, creating lies, etc. A momentary laps in judgment is snapping at your coworker because you are in a bad mood, or gobbling down 10 cookies while on a diet. It goes against your real agenda… having good working relationships, and losing weight. Predators have hidden agendas that benefit themselves by taking advantage (opportunistic) of another, to that persons detriment. Could someone take advantage of a situation and not be a predator…. sure. If I see someone drop a $20 bill and they don’t realize it, I could quickly pick it up and put it in my pocket, shitty yes, predatory no!

    Cheaters put on the nice guy/gal image to cover up their real agenda. Nice is a smoke screen so nobody sees what’s happening behind the scenes.

    But as CL points out, when a predator is hidding in the bushes, a psychological breakdown of their motives isn’t the appropriate response in the moment, defensive and self preservation strategy is.

  • All pathogens have “escape mechanisms” that help them evade immune responses.
    Being “Nice” is one of them.

    • this was supposed to b a reply to Got-a-brain’s very precise observations just before my comment.

  • Took me a while to run out of my burning house, but when I finally saw the flames engulfing everything I loved and everything I stand for, I ran like hell and I haven’t looked back. Anytime a shiny turd memory creeps into my thoughts I repeat “trust that they suck”! Because they really do.

  • When my now ex and I were sitting in front of the notary with the divorce papers I had prepared, he was a sobbing mess creating quite the scene. He had decided he wanted to stay married – which was not an option. Too many, far too many, lies, other people, financially harmful acts, etc. etc.

    In my mind, I knew he was a train wreck and I needed out. I was also grieving a profoundly painful death and mired in undiagnosed severe trauma. I needed love and support and I was vulnerable to things that looked like it, however dysfunctional. It was very hard to think straight. I was really struggling to stick to my guns.

    I finally girded my resolve and said roughly this: I don’t know what the future holds, but I need to be divorced right now. Whatever it is that’s going on with you, you aren’t stable, and I need stability. This doesn’t define the future. It just allows me to be stable for now. We agreed to divorce and we agreed on the terms. We’re here to sign the papers. I’d like it if you would please sign them.

    That tipped the scales without me realizing it. We were on a stage of his narcissistic making, and I unwittingly made him the guy who had to sign to appear like he was Mr. High Road.

    So he, all tears and melodrama, signed them without even skimming them to be sure I hadn’t changed them. I could have put anything in there. But I wouldn’t do that, of course. I have integrity, and he knew it.

    He left, and the notary actually told me that I was great and it was clear that I had done the right thing. He asked me what I was going to do now. I said “Next stop, courthouse.” He said, good. Go straight there. And that’s what I did, before anything could change my mind.

    I didn’t feel 100% sure I had done the right thing — that he really wasn’t a nice guy at all — that all of his tears were crocodile, always, to spin a situation to get him something HE wanted — for some time. That became crystal clear post-divorce when he had nothing left to gain from me.

    Boy howdy, was it the right choice.

    • Great post, Amissfree. I can relate to “Whatever is going on with you, you aren’t st able, and I need stability.” That is so what I felt at the end of our marriage. I often felt like my ex’s life was like a slow motion train wreck that just happened to hit me too.

    • Amiisfree ,

      such a great post , you described in one paragraph ,my last 4 decades , my daily thinking and life

      “In my mind, I knew he was a train wreck and I needed out. I was also grieving a profoundly painful death and mired in undiagnosed severe trauma. I needed love and support and I was vulnerable to things that looked like it, however dysfunctional. It was very hard to think straight. I was really struggling to stick to my guns.”

      i just could not get focused enough ,or unstressed enough , or well enough , to “see” what was really going on . there was enough distractions with taking care of 4 little ones and doing EVERY thing else , and with his “skilled ” lying and secret life , he was using “his nice guy act” on me , to get what he wanted when he wanted . Ted Bundy ,indeed………

  • My default is always “nice” vs. “kind.” For me, “nice” is about impression management. It’s a face people put on for the world. “Kind” is a character trait, and kindness a consistent set of behaviors that mark how we treat others and the environment.

    From “The True Meaning of Kindness”:
    “Kindness” is based on your own ethics, your own values, and your own beliefs.
    “Niceness” is based on how other people see you.
    http://www.becomingwhoyouare.net/the-true-meaning-of-kindness/

    And I think we intuitively link kindness with empathy in action, whereas “niceness” is about how some appears, not what someone does. I suspect that many chumps believe the cheater is “nice” but would never say that he or she is “kind.” That requires empathy.

    • Yup! Evil has a tendency to be unfailingly polite: please, thank you, so sorry, God bless, etc.

      Always that surface dinner party politeness, but never the deeper things. Says “thank you,” but never feels grateful. Says “so sorry,” but never a moment of regret, and no thought of expending effort to make things right. Says, “God bless,” but no faith, no notion of what a real blessing might be, and no deep intention to offer positive vibes of any sort.

      Often, this is all accompanied by deep scorn for people who tend more to the deeper things than to the surface.

      What an awesome thing to leave all that behind.

      Meanwhile, I not only ignored the fire, but withstood endless criticism about my apparent failure to live gracefully and prettily among the flames always licking at my ankles. The problem was not that he set our lives on fire, but that I insisted on coughing, blistering, crying out in pain. Impolite of me, don’t you know. Indelicate. Uncultured. A good woman–the kind of fine companion he sought–would have worshipped both the firebug and the flames, found the whole thing deliciously romantic, thanked him for deigning to grace her with his holy fire, and compliantly turned into a neat pile of ash on demand.

    • Agree. This is a great post. My STBX is Ms. Popular – super nice with a million not very close friends. Lots and lots of impression management – from doing “noble” things only if she stands to gain (like volunteering at a kid’s organization bc of the business development opportunities) to Facebook posts of her happy family while her affair raged beneath the surface.

      Yeah, Ms. Popular is not kind. Certainly not to me. A kind person doesn’t blow up a marriage at the moment her wife became inextricably invested, having just welcomed a baby son. (We’ve been together and childless for 8 years, why now?) A kind person doesn’t deny that son his natural right to an intact home – not without first trying her damnedest to repair the marriage, repair herself. My wife wouldn’t even PAUSE her affair to evaluate the marriage with a clearer head. She just kept riding the affair high and now we’re all paying dearly for it. Zero empathy. Zero kindness. To those who should have mattered most to her.

      • Devastated – I have read that narcissists don’t do children well. In their cycle of idealize, devalue, discard, the devalue can start right at the birth of the first child. All of that extra work and putting another person before yourself… Looking back, I can see that my narc started devaluing me when the first baby was born. Caring for the baby, I seemed to be acting like the boss of him – and nobody is the boss of him! Painful and devastating as it is, knowing the truth is good. She is a classic example of a cold hearted narc. Unbelievable. I’m so sorry you are going through this with a new baby.

        • Light bulb moment!

          The rage fits started in my first pregnancy and never ended but become more and more frequent from there. He was super pissed that I breastfed both kids. Insisted that the 1st be weaned because he was “tired of this.” Told me he wasn’t “attractive to out of shape pregnant women” (I word out up until 1 week before delivery.) After the first said we were not having any more kids because he “wanted me back” (aka wanted to be the baby.) We did have one more 3.5 year later who was a girl- who he never bonded with at all (all women in his life are unworthy sub-par to men creatures or he is screwing.)

          BTW, he was a serial cheater from the day we met, so the affairs happened before the kids, but the nastiness definitely reached a whole new level with kids. (Yeah, I’m one of those spacklers who was “married” for 20 years. before I woke up.)

          Anyway, KathleenK & Devistated, I believe there is something to babies/kids being an accelerator for the disordered as well. So sick…

          • You know, beenchumped, I think you might have hit on something with your “accelerator for the disordered” comment. My wife actually cheated on me previously with a few weeks of intense sexting with her ex right after we got engaged (why why why didn’t I run for the hills then!?!?!). She also exited cheated on her long term gf prior to me (I only recently discovered this bit of critical information). But, anyway, back to your point, it does seem there is some sort of dynamic w my wife at least where the level of commitment results in an equal measure of blowing up/counteracting that commitment. I don’t know…. going to have to talk to my shrink about this one:) or, better yet, take CL’s advice and stop untangling her bs behavior. Regardless, cheating/devaluing/etc. w/ babies in the picture is EXCEPTIONALLY messed up, and so KathleenK and beenchumped, my heart goes out to you.

        • This comment resonated with me. As secondary supply for my narc, I felt that once I became the mother to his children (his greatest aspiration for me and one that, because it was so important to him, I should appreciate that he wanted me in that role), so started the devaluation. I was good in that role but not in any other (partner, lover, homemaker, etc.). He didn’t want to invest in me, what I thought were our goals for a shared future of home and time together, etc. That gutted me for years as I struggled to connect with a man both not interested and incapable. Besides, I was not ten years younger, an airhead and more concerned with my fitness routine than in managing my children, work from home job, household, etc. (And silly me, I did not spend enough time keeping myself up during those preschool years so to quote him “how could be possibly maintain interest?”…yeah, I am still bitter but I am only three months out.)

          • So sorry you are going through this, Kibbled Again. It will get better. Three months out is still early.

        • True. Although serial cheater asshat has always cheated in all of his relationships. His tipping point with me was the birth of our first.

          Your wife needs a mother. You need a true partner. Clearly your relationship goals are not the same and neither is your emotional maturity. It’s very hard to care for an infant when an adult toddler is raging overtly or covertly at you.

          • Whether it’s the baby, toddler or you are taking care of your aging parent, the narc is not getting the attention! Whaaaa!

    • THIS 100%. My mantra. I’ll take kind. My ex still asserts all the time “I’m a nice guy!!!” Like if he says it enough it’ll be true, but nice don’t matter so much.

      I have a neighbor who is not so nice—tends to rub people the wrong way, fairly irreverent. He just showed up unannounced with no fanfare to mow my front lawn, presumably cause I am a busy single mom in the middle of a terrible divorce from a “nice guy” and he wants to help. That is kind. And it’s amazing.

  • Their suckitude is only truly visible from a distance. A far distance. Because cheaters look like ordinary people, have faces like ordinary people, pretend to show emotions like ordinary people, we are inclined to view them as ordinary people. Error. And one that can only do you harm.

    Think they are “nice?” Make a list of every single lie, every single cruel thing they did (e.g., crying about saving their marriage and texting the AP 5 minutes later from the bathroom). What portion of your own brain would have to be removed before you could treat anyone like that? Read the list daily as if you were reading it about your best friend’s spouse. What would you tell them–that their spouse is a nice guy/girl? No, you would urge your best friend to summon his/her self-respect and LEAVE.

    View your spouse (or STBX) objectively, from actions, as one would view a stranger. Read and re-read your list of their lies & cruelty, maintain NC, and the realization of their suckitude will soon reveal itself to you. Then you are on your way to healing.

    • You are so right Tempest but why is this so hard to do? Now, I would never call fuckwit nice at this point, as a matter of fact he is downright mean. I even told my sister that he was mean three years before I found out about the cheating. It was at my mom’s funeral after he threatened not to come with the kids after a mechanical issue with the airplane left them stranded overnight in Atlanta. As if that were my fault.

      Anyway, I still find myself thinking that he is mean because of me. My behavior caused him to be mean. It is probably not true but I still think it sometimes.

      Yesterday, I walked out of meeting with a therapist for my son who has talked to my son twice and me once. During the session, he described a hypothetical situation and then told me how he guessed I would handle it and how he guessed fuckwit would handle it. He had never met fuckwit but you would have thought he had known him for years based on the accuracy of the reality of his description. I just looked at him and said, are you sure you haven’t met him?

      Later, in the session, he complimented me on the way I am dealing with son and the situation. He said: I think you are doing better than I would. I did what I would normally do and declined the compliment and he said no, really. Now, for the last 24 hours all I can do is think: I really fooled him. I have screwed up so much and I don’t deserve his compliment. How did I fool him. I am going back to talk more tomorrow with son and all I can think is how do I tell him he is wrong and I have screwed up the family. There is a piece of me thinking maybe it’s not me, and I am doing the right things but the “feelingit, you are such a total screwup”voices are louder.

      • The book “I’m Okay- You’re Okay” has hundreds of responses to that critical voice. Its an oldy but a goodie. 🙂

      • The voices telling you screwed up are (a) because you have a conscience and feel compelled to “right” whatever is wrong with you or a situation, and (b) because you probably have heard “you are a screwup” from childhood. Not all, but many of us end up married to the disordered because we had at least one disordered parent who unfairly criticized and/or scapegoated us. At a minimum, we did not receive the normal love and caring from that parent.

        Two things to silence that voice that *you* are the problem: Thought-stopping–anytime you have obsessive or critical thoughts, do whatever it takes to stop that thought. It can mean thinking, “STOP!” or imaging a pink elephant, or thinking about the ingredients you need for dinner. Secondly, used evidence-based reasoning. Consider a situation in which you were blamed or didn’t behave optimally. What was the worst thing you said or did? Was it intentional? Were you reacting to your STBX’s bad behavior when it happened? Consider what you did from an outsider’s perspective, and weigh it against whatever obstacle or bad behavior from STBX that you were up against. Would a stranger think you, or your STBX was at fault?

        Do not absorb false equivalencies. You threw a shoe at your STBX after finding out he had taken his AP to a hotel for a midday romp? Let’s even admit throwing a shoe at someone is not an optimum response. Whose behavior was worse? Are chumps expected to have superhuman self-control and not react to being betrayed with extreme emotion? Unrealistic expectations, and the “you screwed up” Oscar goes to the cheater in this case, not the shoe-throwing chump.

        • Feelingit, this has been my biggest hurt so far since 12/19th when I saw the texts from the prostitute – he lost a glove at the hotel and she was holding on to it and he was happy he’d have a reason to go back!

          The only thing he has said so far was “I wasn’t happy” and “I didn’t like the person you’d become”. While the first is such a lame attempt at communicating to your wife in a crisis (it might be a good opener, but I want a chapter or two after that), the second makes me feel that my trying to get my adult special needs Crohn’s Disease son and myself (tick infections/chronic fatigue) better forced a boring, dull life on him. As a chef by trade, he felt preparing gluten free meals sucked, he hated we couldn’t go eat at just any ole restaurant, visiting folks required us bringing special food. He complained every day. He made all the meals. I told him he make his own meals but he refused to allow 2 meal preparations.

          He wanted to go to bars to listen to his little brother play in the band. He wanted to schlepp around the gigs and flirt with certain old “friends”, he wanted to walk around grandiosely.

          He thought his life sucked at 61. Lousy job, lousy house, lousy social life… He couldn’t believe he was at this stage in his life. All the while he’s leading a double life whoring around with prostitutes, Craigslist bisexual naked pic postings, orgies, going to random women’s houses for sex, Tributes online, chat rooms, live erotic websites, massage parlors with happy endings…. That is only the tip of the iceberg he forgot to delete.

          Who does this to their family. Fucking sick, perverted, disordered narcs/socios/psychos. I told him at one point that’s what he was. He went into a rage (he rarely ever got angry in 30 yrs this charming narc – wants everyone to like him) telling me he didn’t want to know what my therapist says, that he has his own therapist. Well, he was seeing a therapist and a 12 step sex addict group when he was at home. Now that he has a new job and I threw him out 2 wks ago, Find Friends shows me he hasn’t been to either. No surprise there.

          I am so happy I found CL/CN because I would be doing the pick me dance and wreckconciliation. Ugh.

          I may think suicide would end the pain but when I stop and remember the above, I realize he is a very sick man and he showed me who he was before we even moved in together yrs ago and I didn’t realize how insecure he was and the problems it would cause. I need to find that old love letter he wrote me…

          • I’m so sorry you are going thru this. My mantra, which I learned from CL, is trust that they suck! Because they really do and they really are disordered individuals. In time all wounds heal. All the best to you.

  • I believe the resistance to the “Trust He Sucks” philosophy is tied up with our own ego. In other words — “How did I make such a huge mistake? How did I miss those red flags?” Most of my success in life has been based on my ability to quickly read people and judge situations. How could I have such a blind spot when it came to something as important as a husband? That question bugged me for a long time. Back in the dark ages when I was going through this stuff, there was no Chumplady, and the RIC was firmly in control of the answer to “what’s a girl to do?” My culture, family, and religious influences all told me to endure and to try to fix whatever was wrong. I had to rebel against all of that influence, and accept that I had to fix myself, and my attitude, and that I could not fix my husband. I wanted to be married, and have children, and have a life plan that involved both of us working toward a better tomorrow. I had to give up on having a partner, and I had to get out of the partnership I had, if I was going to have any future. I have altered my expectations of what is to come — I think I am on track to have a much quieter, and less material life when I retire. If I had stayed in the burning house, I don’t think my health could have sustained me for any type of a future. I had to get out to breathe.

    I have a friend who (finally) divorced an awful man last year. She knows she had to do it, but she consoles herself by saying that he became ill, and his mental illness was what destroyed the marriage. Looking at her situation from the outside, he was a controlling asshole who lied to her from the beginning. I have pointed out to her that he was not “mentally ill” when he did some of the things he did early in the marriage. It makes her uncomfortable to believe she was a target for him to use from the beginning. Whatever. She got out of the burning house. That is what is important. I will continue to work on her to try to keep her from making the same mistake again. She has accepted that she has to change some things so that she does not get used again — eventually I think she will accept that her Ex Sucked from the beginning. I certainly hope so, because she is a great friend, and I want her to have the great future I think she deserves.

    • I think you are right about the ego, Portia.

      When everyone who loves you can see so clearly that “They suck” and always have and they tried to warn you, but you are blind to it until you are a sobbing mess on the floor, you just feel really foolish.

      And then when you reflect and realize you spackled through everything and those red flags were neon signs, it makes you feel ashamed.

      I am just now getting to the other side. Slowly but surely.

      But there were many nights I lay awake in “shame and embrassment” reliving it over and over in my head, beating myself up over all the missed exits I SHOULD have taken but didn’t.

      People try to say that to stay in those relationships you have to have low self esteem. But I say fuck that. It had nothing to do with self esteem and everything to do with their insidious mind-fuck abuse. And our loving the person we fell in love with. We just hope that if we love them enough that person will reemerge. For me, I stayed longer than I should have because I deeply, fiercely loved that man and the part of him that he showed to me and no one else. I valued our family and what I thought our future would be.

      But reality is different than a future dream.

      And then one day it’s like you wake up from your dream (or you are at your absolute breaking point) and you realize there is nothing to work with, they are not changing back, and you GTFO and cut your losses.

      And now you have to face all those loved ones and friends, who welcome you back with open arms, but you can hear the echo of what they don’t say out loud: “told you so”

      • Sometimes when I would warn my son’s not to set their hair on fire, but they did it anyway, I could not resist the “I told you so.” But I felt bad — after all, they had burned off their hair! But, I am a chump, after all. What I learned from that, and from the hurt I felt when my mother or a friend would try to warn me about something I was too headstrong to heed, was that sometimes I had to set my hair on fire to really learn my lesson. Something about the smell of burnt hair . . .

        Anyway, the “I told you so” was not really satisfying. I really wanted to love and protect them from their own impulses toward catastrophic behavior. I have to believe my mother and friends also wanted that for me, too. The end result was when I got over treating the pain of starting the unnecessary fire, I was able to reflect and learn (as I matured) and tell myself an altered version of “I told you so,” — the ole “Why didn’t you listen?” That became even more instructive. Nothing like conking yourself in the head with a fire extinguisher! Knocks in a little reality, and some painful learning experiences. Maybe it takes the pain to convince us? Or cause us to be more careful, or consolidate the good values and eliminate the bad ones? Or to give us humility?

        I think if people take joy from I told you so, they are missing the point. It’s not that you could see, it’s WHY you could see. Was your motivation to be smarter than the other? Or to save them pain? Now days I tell my kids not to ask for my opinion unless they want it. But I also say, “you don’t have to take it, you don’t get to be critical of it, and you will be the one who pays the consequences for whatever your decision is.” I have learned one or two things from raising two sons.

      • Chumpedincanada,

        I agree wholeheartedly! It was not “low self-esteem” that got me into my relationship or marriage. If anything I was generally pretty confident, despite factors that often get women down on themselves. I knew what I wanted. I still know what I wanted and I think my boundaries are pretty decent.

        What I did find though is that he would be constantly egging me on for some kind of fight that I wouldn’t give, because it wasn’t in my nature to freak out over every dumb thing. What I did figure out though is that it was leftover mommy-issues to the max! He would talk to me like I was his mother. It grossed me right out. Finally I started even saying “stop it, I’m not your Mom. I’m not saying anything even remotely like she does and it’s like you’re having an argument with yourself!”

        Eventually this just shortened to “I’m not your Mom!” During arguments. Until that crap finally stopped.

  • I think Mr. Chumplady (“Mr. –Lady,” I laugh every time I read or write that 🙂 ) is very wise. That was indeed a really good way to handle it.
    You chose well, CL.

  • When my ex recently tried to Hoover me after 6 months of nc and him dating another woman (but not the OW), I flat out asked him what the hell he wanted.

    Not mighty that I engaged with him to start with, but I was curious to see if he would show any regret or repentance for all the betrayal and lies (the answer to that is NO).

    He answered that he just made contact with me to “say hi and be nice”.

    Me: But you’re not a nice person, remember?

    HIM: but I AM a nice guy.

    ME: A nice guy doesn’t destroy a woman and her children who love him and want a future with him…

    HIM: crickets and then he blocked me

    I find it absolutely beyond imaginable that he thinks he is a nice guy after all the shit he pulls on people.

    I remember when we were dating, he was complaining that his mother had put on weight and was getting fat. He was always on her to lose weight. Let’s just insert that she had foot surgery and was basically immobile for 6 months. She was just starting physio. And also, she was not some docile little puppy. When he started in on her, she would bite back and out him in his place.

    I looked at his big belly and man boobs and had to bite my tongue. Really hard. I offered him two thoughts:

    1. wtf is wrong with him that he cant just love his mom as she is – who is HE to raz her about her weight when he is no athletic God (cue him drinking his 6th beer of the evening)

    2. I encouraged him to set the example. You want your mom to lose weight? Well then let’s pack up the kids and all head over to his parents place and we can start going for evening walks together and maybe that will motivate her. (And he could stand to lose a few, or 50lbs.)

    His response? Dead pan stare. Action? Cue bragging about he can upset his mom in a snap. Snap fingers.

    Me: why in the world would you want to upset your mom in a Snap?

    HIM: (baffled at the question) because it’s fun????

    Me: (Perplexed at my own stupidity for not running from the burning house right then. Nah. Stay a bit longer till he starts aiming the flame thrower at me).

  • My friend, my family, my coworkers, everyone was shocked at his behavior.

    He was the Nice Guy and not just the Nice Guy, but the Nice Non-Threatening Guy. He wasn’t charming or smooth. A bit uncool. One on one, he won people over with his ‘niceness’. but he couldn’t work a room. He didn’t dress fancy, drive a fancy car, or brag about himself or what he owned. No one expected he had enough game to cheat.

    Personally, I didn’t think he would cheat simply because of lack of motivation and laziness.

    We were all shocked to find out about Whore #1. Then more shocked to find out about Whore #2. By the time I found out about the massage parlors and trolling backspace dot com, I couldn’t be shocked anymore.

    • Everyone was shocked by ex’s cheating and then leaving me for Schmoopie as well, my family, his family, mutual friends all thought the world of him and we all thought he was too honorable if nothing else. Boy were we all wrong. As time goes on, however, I can see others (well maybe not birth family) choosing to believe that this was a one off “mistake” of not ending a marriage in quite the proper way, but overall he is still a good guy. That thinking upsets me because I don’t think discarding a loyal wife in favor of trash and tearing two families apart in the process is just a one off mistake that should be so easily disregarded.

  • A very dear friend gave me some great advice on DDay. I didn’t follow it at first because I was still in shock, but it came in handy once the shock wore off.
    She looked at me very firmly and said to me, “It’s ok for you to still love him while you divorce his cheating ass. You can love him all the way to the attorney’s office while signing the papers. You have NOT been happy for a long time, and I’ve kept my mouth shut. But this shit, this you don’t deserve, nobody does. Get out. It’s that simple.”
    Best damned advice ever. It was her version of work it out later that he sucks, just get out of the burning building now. Neither of us had found you yet.
    I look back now and realize I should have divorced him long before I discovered his affair(s) for other reasons.

  • I have had a difficult time accepting that my ex-boyfriend sucks enough to merit my departure from the relationshi (more like an awful business deal written for n the back of scrap paper for me). Coming from a marriage in which I was abused for years, I was.conditioned to accept terrible treatment so I didn’t balk when I was offered what seemed like a good deal from Mr. Nice Guy, who was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When one is starving, dirt is considered an acceptable meal. I ended up being incinerated again because yet again I insisted on staying inside the burning building. I even went back inside the burning building multiple times. I’d even literally dream about doing so. Wish that I hadn’t let myself burn to death. I say this in the hopes that I can give some good ambivalent chumps so useful food for thought. Staying just resulted in more damage–way more damage. I feel as though my exes just pissed on my corpse and threw the gasoline can on my head, thinking ‘She deserved it’ and left into their wonderful lives without a backward glance.

    • One good thing–last night I dreamed that I, RockStarWife, could and did easily play, ‘Beat It’ on the keyboard at a camp. Perhaps ai am gradually feeling empowered.

  • They are NOT and NEVER have been NICE — they are experts at impression management !!

    Except for the very few who REALLY know the true her, everyone thinks my Ex is “Ms Sweetie Pie” who is just the most wonderful wife and mother who unfortunately when she was young was seduced by and married Laughing Gator who is a crazy abusive deadbeat dad who cheated on her and makes her life a Hell dealing with him.

    Of course no one checks any of this out, that she has never won any court hearings, that she was cheating and everyone in town knew it so she had to move 100 miles away, half ass works but always has plenty of money (but not from the deadbeat), etc.

    I used to think that my Ex was SO nice and sweet and it took me 16 years to realize that it was a mask and BS. I have noticed that except for her parents and siblings, anyone who sees behind the mask is quickly and totally removed from her life.

    • Awww so much like my ex. He said she (the mother of his daughter) was a crazy pill poping junkie and he saved his daughter from her. A little digging on my part found that he served 22 months for assaulting ex girlfriend. And that wasn’t the only time he went to prison. Oh and he saved his daughter so his little sister can raise her….then me. Sometimes I want to smack my forehead hard for being such a chump!

      • I can only imagine the stories he is spinning about me. No contact or grey rock is the only way. Once removed from the insanity your self dignity returns and what others say doesn’t matter anymore!

    • Laughing Gator,
      Similar situation here. I saw behind the mask (without even digging for imformation). I calmly told him that I knew he had lied after the lies became pathetically obvious. Since that time (around last discard), my ex-boyfriend has blocked (unfriended) me (and my relatives) on social media and blocked me from any form of contact. Was hurtful as I thought that we has been at least friends for decades and we loved each other (at least I loved him). Now I know better. Going to focus on forging ahead alone–need to for my family. Glad your life has improved dramatically, Laughing Gator.

  • I have no problem understanding and accepting that my ex was NOT a nice guy to me. But what throws me for a loop is that he IS a nice guy to just about everyone else and has a huge circle of fans. When that guy croaks, his funeral is going to be standing-room-only, whereas I’ll just have a few family members and a couple of friends.

    I’d love to see a column on this phenomenon, Tracy, because I know it’s not that unusual: how to hold onto “he sucks” when the cheater is so incredibly successful at maintaining the image of Nice Guy — and actually DOES do a lot of nice things — for everyone else but the chump. It makes it much harder to not take it personally and internalize that it was something wrong with the chump instead of the cheater.

    • He “does” because he is addicted to kibbles. He NEEDS quantity over quality because he is ankle deep in character.

      You are authentic and thereby naturally more selective… quality over quantity.

      Run your own race. Don’t worry about his. (And, if you believe in God, remember this: God doesn’t judge our lives by what we did to others… he asks if we did everything we could with the talent he put in US… you do you!)

    • Yep my ex Dr. Cheaterpants will have everyone at his funeral too. He’s such a ‘great guy’, always has a smile on his face, everyone loves him. He’s Mr. Personality and Popularity. Until he does the discard. Anyhoo, I used to think there was something wrong with me since he had a ton of superficial friends and friends du jour. He was always texting them (and not just schmoopie) and going to lunch or to hang out. Of course he didn’t have time for me or the kids unless it was about him.

      I have very few true friends. I best friend and my mom, sister, brother and niece that are a part of my deep inner circle. We chat frequently and do stuff together. The kids and I are at their house or they are at ours. Again I thought there was something wrong with me since I didn’t have this deep pool of friends.

      Now I see that he has lots and lots of shallow friendships and I have a few very deep friendships.

      • I relate to your comment so much. Cheaterchef has so many friendships and I wondered if something was wrong with me that I only had a few core relationships.

        He always called me out about it/tried to *make* me be friends with his group. He’d say things like “She (it was always a she!!!) just moved to the city and needs more girlfriends!” “Why don’t you make plans with her, she’d like that.”

        My priorities at the time were obviously my friends, my partner, my home business, my two other jobs… As an introvert I didn’t have energy to be bonding with people I’d never met!

        Cheaterchef looked like a good-guy at first, always rushing to a friend if they needed to vent. Towards the end of the relationship I loathed this behavior!. Even when I was crying because he’d been missing for days he was still going to different female friends houses to drink and smoke weed because “they were having a bad day.”

        What about your partner??!?!??

        Guess how many of his friends were on his side after I told them what he really was? 😉

    • Yep mine too. Nice to all but always puts his family last. It’s hard not to take it personally at times and question.

    • GIO,

      Thanks for stating so clearly what has been on my mind. My ex-boyfriend is a poster boy (Eagle Scout, military vet, ‘nicest boss ever,’ everybody’s best man. He calls over managers at restaurants to gush about the waiter, leaving a big tip, donates big money to charities in his professional field, and sometimes helped me and acted affectionate at the beginning. Then came the cold, covert devaluation and discard behind closed doors. Even then, the first thing out of some of my friends’ mouth was, ‘He’s a nice guy!’ I don’t say much although I feel tempted to tell them what really went on. I don’t think that they would think, Nice Guy, if they knew. Guess I can understand why they might think Nice Guy–I thought so for decades, too.

      Going to try to forgive him to some extent, forgive myself for yet again not heeding red flags, thus allowing myself to yet again step on a land mine, and get to Meh (or at least the suburbs of Meh).

      • Eh, no need to forgive him. What you want regarding XBF is indifference. That’s Meh.

        When I first started here, I told my story over and over–Jackass this, Jackass that. Now I hardly ever think of him and when I do I feel–indifferent. If he showed up at the door, I would shut it in his face. You’ll know you’re there when he never crosses your mind.

      • Mr. Nice Guy would tell me he got along with everyone but me, that I was the problem and why he had to leave our marriage. That statement and the fact that all the people we knew as acquaintances adore him because he is “such a nice guy.”
        On the surface he’s charming, funny, and able to fake empathy when required.
        We lived in our neighborhood for almost twenty years and he rarely talked or said hello to anyone.
        He didn’t care for the neighbors because they weren’t as educated as him therefore had nothing in common. Up until a few months before he left, he began to say hello walk over to have conversations with them. I was happy to see he was finally coming around and being social.
        Mr. Nice Guy wasn’t just being neighborly he was planning his exit while saving his good guy image. Building alliances and confiding in our neighbors, that I was mentally unstable, he wasn’t sure how much longer he could put up with me..so when he left the neighbors weren’t surprised and understood why.

        • Same here Rockstar Wife and Brit – combine your stories for mine. He didn’t want me talking to neighbors. Two weeks before being kicked out, he helped a neighbor who came over to ask help with a new snow blower. For her sake, I was glad. However, you should have heard the self-aggrandizing he did telling me the story when I got home. Big hand gestures, long tale. What a nice guy he was for helping her. He hated her. She was fat and talked too much. But all of a sudden, he felt bad for her and had to really spend ALL THAT TIME helping her.

          Fuckwit. She brought him pizza gift certificates and liters of soda as a thank you a couple days later.

          LOL. Before I threw him out, I told him he couldn’t eat dinner with my son and I anymore. It’s called separation under the same roof. He cried downstairs all alone he told me a few days later. And he spent the next two weeks using her pizza gift certificates to eat because he had no job, no car (used my son’s old lease which I paid for to extend lease an extra month), no money. Karma’s a bitch.

    • This is what has haunted me every single day for the last 3 years. Consumes my thoughts and gives me anxiety. And to make it worse he rubs it in my face. That everybody loves him and everyone thinks I’m garbage. Why else would all of our friends turn on youuuu, Whatringofhellisthis?!
      I know those people are not really my friends then, but this bothers me to the point that I’m miserable and feel I’m questioning if I’m the bad/crazy one. My girl friend says ok then tell me what you did to him that makes you a bad person?! I didn’t do anything. So yes I can process that. But it wears off and I go back to my original anxiety and confusion. I would love more information on this too. I feel like my brain is betraying me and I’m battling myself. Why do I care that assholes and exfriends think he’s a nice guy?

  • Trust that they suck = Trust that YOU don’t suck.

    For me that was the crux, I had to accept that his cheating, his lying, his gaslighting, his blameshifting, his closeted bisexuality, his desire for group sex, and his desire to appear normal… NONE of that has anything to do with me.

    I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. And, I sure as shit can’t cure it. He is hardwired.

    I’m not perfect, but I’m not an arsonist.

    • I think that was a big part of the key for me was recognizing that I didn’t suck and wasn’t responsible for the state of my marriage or his unhappiness with the marriage or life in general. It is easy to believe that we must have sucked because why else would all of this have happened? Once you realize and come to believe that in fact you don’t suck, the only other explanation is that the cheater sucks (and so does the knowing Schmoopie – so there).

    • Same here, Icansee, down to the details, including closeted bisexualality. His ex-wife confirmed it for me! Damn, wish I’d known. He blameshifted his acting out to “I wasn’t happy for 7-10 yrs” which led me to think I caused it by becoming holistic. Ya, he didn’t want change. He’s a man child. He’s stuck at 19yo. He wants no responsibilities. He wants to schlepp around. Beer belly, bald, missing tooth, bad smelling tooth infection of years, stinks like smoke, baggy underwear, gay poses in the nude, bending over buck naked to show his asshole when putting his clothes on, makes love like I’m a prostitute (now I know where that comes from!), flirting with the 20-30 yo girls at the farmer’s market, the butcher’s, the barber shop and most likely the massage parlor! Ugh. Someone, help me get over this SA/divorce hump in a hurry!

  • I try to remind people of this all of the time: Personality does not equal character. A nice person isn’t always a good person. Ted Bundy, by all accounts, was a “nice” guy and we all know how that ended. Narcissists and sociopaths put up smoke screens so that others can’t see their real character. They are about as emotionally deep as a parking lot pothole.

  • I think for me, I didn’t see things clearly until I had been NC for awhile. While my XH said devastating things to me when I learned about his infidelity, it’s like my mind could not process his words and somehow I ignored what he was really saying. I was churning constantly inside. Then after I decided to go NC (before I had heard of Chump Lady), it’s as if a fog started to slowly lift. Once away from his words, I became very angry about how I had been treated, then I started to see that he truly sucked. Incidents from 33 years of marriage that I had spackled so skillfully came back (often in my dreams), and I saw everything for what it really was. I wasn’t able to see how much he sucked initially, but I knew I couldn’t stay in the marriage. Then with the space to think my mind was freed to see reality.

    I really believe we go through a process when our marriages or significant relationships end. For some it is very fast, for some like me, it took several years. However it goes, we do arrive at seeing things clearly. Thank you Chump Lady for helping people move in this direction.

    • Finally Free, you described how I felt during the period of time while Mr. Nice Guy X said the most degrading things to me and treated me with such disrespect. I wasn’t processing what I was hearing and ignored the truth. Spackling, not wanting to to believe his words and blatant disrespect.
      I wanted to believe he was the nice guy that I once believed he was and who he presented to the outside world. The nice guy I married wouldn’t have been this cruel and callous.
      If Mr. Nice Guy actually thought these horrific things of me then there had to be a reason.
      Some people actually said those words, well, Brit, I have a hard time believing Cheater would leave you without a good reason or you must have done something because he’s such a “nice guy.”

      It took me far too long to see the truth of who he is and he used my naivete to his advantage.

      If it wasn’t for finding CL and CN, I would probably still be wondering what I had done to make
      Mr. Nice Guy discard me like a piece of garbage.

      • Brit, I just got off the phone with my STBX’s ex-wife. She told me their adult son, whom my STBX never visited for 33 yrs, recently talked to STBX’s brother who said that the divorce was because we both had issues. That’s the same brother, who right after D day, emailed STBX to assure him that this was just something he could sweep under the rug!! Sick.

        My STBX, in a fit of rage the other day, screamed he didn’t like what I was telling people about him. What? That he had been with prostitutes, orgies, massage parlors, gay hookups, tributes, strange women’s houses for anonymous sex? He’s been telling folks we’re filing for Uncontested Divorce and Filing Due to Irreconcilable Differences. Awww, sorry fuckwit, I already told those folks the truth. If you want to go past those qualifying events, go for it. If you think folks are really going to think that whoring around at that level is an okay response to your not being happy in a marriage, you need to try another reality check.

  • In honor of Transparent Tuesday, we shall follow our Fearless Leader Ms. Tracy down the Rabbit Hole of “Assholes Pretending to be Nice(tm)” aka, “Mostly Asshole with Periods of Intermittent Bull Shit.”
    In it’s most practical form, “nice” is a matter of perception and we’re very good at DEception-of ourselves first. (No, I dunno why that’s Standard Equipment on Humans. I didn’t make it; I didn’t break it.)

    See where you’re sitting/standing/walking/driving-pull over, don’t read and drive, it’s not that important-so what ever you’re doing right now whether it’s systematically wasting time in that stinky bathroom stall or getting ready to get outta bed or get in it, doesn’t matter: Look around. Everything looks solid, right? What you feel under your butt, your legs, what ever is holding you up whether it’s at 30,000ft. or 3 ft.? No, it’s not solid. It’s actually a bunch of atoms and their components frantically atoming and packed in a particular manner that give you the *illusion* of being solid. Which is a good thing because otherwise, you’d have a Perceptual Perpetual Pissing Contest with the entire world: “You can’t fool me, couch! Ikea LIES! No you are NOT solid wood with pressboard components!” “No vehicle, you are not a rock! You are a incestuous marriage of Monsanto and ConAgra! Gotcha” etc. Meanwhile, we are constantly being bombarded with electromagnetic and other kinds of rays (ohh, for a targeted gamma hit!) flowing through your body which you can’t see either. That doesn’t mean none of this stuff is happening. It is. That’s just science-and the Flat Earthers, please feel free to walk to the edge and jump.

    Consequently, we are blessed with impaired perception. Sort of. We see what we need to see to function in our everyday world. We perceive like a well sedated, well managed ADD organism so we can get through the day secure in the knowledge the sun will rise in the East, Gravity works full time to ensure we don’t fly off into space as flaming human meteorites etc. without us having to do a thing and this stuff is all solid. (Even though it isn’t, really.) Perception is what creates our Reality. We believe what we experience through our senses because those are the only one’s we have and lemme tell ya, we are so adverse to changing our perceptions we’d rather test gravity for example than just accept it. Oh c’mon, admit it-when you were a little kid you wanted to fly so you devised your first science project and just flapped your cardboard wings at the top of the stairs/retaining wall/whatever and the next thing you knew you were in trouble and the Emergency Room. Experience trumps words, so secure are we in our triumphs-and tragedies of the limits of human perception. In fact we so value our perceptions even the gawd of a certain belief system remarked, “Blessed are they who don’t see but still believe.” (Para, I think) So there. You were warned.

    When you have an abiding overwhelming *need to believe* someone is a “nice” person despite the reality they are behaving like a nasty person, you are emulating another perceptual problem similar to my schizophrenic sister in law who I love dearly-when she’s taking her medication. Without her medication, her perceptual wiring goes rogue free range apeshit and she becomes a regular Edwina Scissorhands because that large monster (some perceptually distorted version of me) is colluding with the voices in her head telling her that “Hey Barb? Where’s your Haldol? Did you flush it again?” is actually “IMMA KILL YO ASS RIGHT THIS SECOND BITCH!” And she responds accordingly. The only difference between your perception of “nice” and her’s is a bottle or two of “Quell That Greek Chorus The Hell Down” and a wiring mishap.

    So just keep science and wiring in mind when your need to believe your perceptions which are colored by your experiential limitations are correct. Everything you think and thought you knew about yourself and the world is about 99.9% wrong-and that’s OK. We have this lovely ability called neural plasticity (yep, even as groan ups) which allows us to learn from our perceptual fuck ups. If they persist, we call them delusions and hallucinations and we medicate the living shit outta ya with a locked and loaded medical blow dart from the other edge of Reality called “Oriented x3.”Your choice-and sometimes, not.

    Nice people assume other people are too and as a result, they get in deep shit periodically. If you received a phone call right now telling you you’ve just won a million dollars in the currency of your choice from a Lotto in some country that also sends pirates out in “next generation” row boats to hijack huge ships just waiting to play “Blow, Blow Blow Up Your Boat” with their industrial sized water cannons, would you believe that? Well, you already have-and handed over your life to someone no different than those “nice” people.
    Objectivity is to Perception as Hubris is to Humility and Humanity. To Err is Human. To Continue to believe despite Objectivity is Hubris is action, Humility getting an asskicking and your willing cooperation with your own home grown Nigerian Scammer.
    Be the water cannon: Load, Lock and capsize that “nice” who only wants “the best” from your willing cooperation to exploit-for their nasty selves. Nice behaviorally consistently demonstrates “nice.” Nasty wants to make sure you never hit “mute” on their vibrations in air called bullshit excuses and just keep inhaling their stench while they continue to steal your heart, your kindness, your empathy, your resources and use them as Weapons of Ass Destruction on you. That is NOT “nice:” It’s morally, ethically bankrupt and a crime against your very humanity.
    Even the UN would vote for terminal sanctions on that shit.
    My brothas and sistas, all in favor, say “OHHELLYEAH!”

    • Tundra Woman! Welcome back, haven’t seen you around for awhile. Missed your sharp perceptions delivered with rapier wit.

  • “TRUST THAT THEY SUCK!”

    Oh, how I wish I’d learned that valuable lesson back in 1974 when, as a naive and introverted college sophomore, my XH began vigorously pursuing me. Yes, there were some red flags, but I ignored them because he was “sooooo nice”. I was completely swayed by his charm, his generosity, his clean living (no drugs, alcohol, gambling or nicotine), his creativity (he acted in community theater), his ability to navigate all types of social situations (not my strong suit), and as silly as it may sound, his spacial awareness and amazing sense of direction (I am so directionally handicapped, I’d probably have to stay home for the rest of my life if my GPS ever went missing). We dated for 2 years and got married during Christmas break of our senior year.

    Like most couples, we had our share of challenges (including meddling MILs, 2 second-trimester miscarriages followed by the birth of triplets, losing parents at a young age, major illness, 2 cross-country relocations, various challenges at work, etc.), but for 40 years, we weathered our joys and sorrows together. My XH was solid… he went to work every day, made a good living, came home to me every night and slept beside me in the same bed. He remembered every single special occasion. He took great care of our vehicles and our property. He handled our finances and got us through 4 years of having 3 kids in out-of-state colleges at the same time. He showered daily and took pride in his appearance. He was kind and generous with family and friends. He highly praised and appreciated whatever I prepared in the kitchen. He regularly told me I was an amazing wife and mother, that I was his “safe harbor”. Thinking I had a pretty fantastic husband, it wasn’t difficult to give him grace and overlook the little annoyances.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he was a complete imposter.

    On one hand, he presented as a great guy who was totally committed to his wife, spent oodles of quality time with his 3 sons, and was a thoroughly responsible and dependable man who regularly went to church and professed to love Jesus.

    On the other hand, he conducted a secret life with the stealth of a well-trained KGB agent. Apparently, his cheating began during our dating years, and continued right up to the last day of our marriage. In the end, he admitted to having 14 affairs, all with women who knew me and our sons personally… 12 of these women were married with their own children/grandchildren (including friends we vacationed with and a handful of his work colleagues), 1 woman was divorced with a child (she was our sons’ soccer Team Mom), and the last one – our most trusted babysitter – was 19 and single. He slowly and methodically siphoned off who knows how much cash from our joint assets, jeopardizing our financial future. He risked bringing all kinds of lovely STDs home to me, and perhaps even created a love child or two. Where the man found the time to successfully manage such a cunning and deceitful life alongside his prim, proper and respectful one is still a mystery. Talk about operating on the Dark Web!

    It all came out on a routine Wednesday evening, after we finished a perfectly lovely and relaxing dinner together. He announced that he “needed time and space” and was moving out that weekend to “figure out what he wanted”. I even got the infamous “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” line. Well, anybody who’s been part of this nation for more than 5 minutes knows exactly what that means, but at the time (pre-CL/CN), I was clueless. It was like a concussion grenade went off, right there in my dining room. Boom, even the chandelier was swaying! When I asked him if there was someone else in the picture, he swore to my face there wasn’t. Little did I know he’d already been with AP #14 for 6-7 months at that point, and they were actively planning a new life together. Three days later, he did leave, all the while telling me “we’d go to counseling and work it out”. We did go to marriage counseling for 6 agonizing and fruitless months; he never took a single step toward real reconciliation. Looking back, he was clearly “working it out” to benefit himself so he could dump me and be with #14.

    You all know how hard D-Day is, and how having your life suddenly upended is a surreal experience. In addition to finding myself alone in our beloved family home, every thoughtful, kind and loving thing he ever did came into question. Was every gift simply covering up something sinister? Yes! Was every compliment a ruse? Apparently so. Did he ever tell me the truth about anything? Maybe, but only if it served him in that moment. Later on, his favorite line to me was, “Well, I meant it when I said it“.

    After a 3-year separation – I went Zero Contact 15 months in – we were finally divorced 2 1/2 years ago. He married #14 about 6 months ago, after her own divorce was finalized. She ended up with a very handsome settlement from her rich attorney XH, and now she and my XH are happily living as man and wife in a free and clear riverfront condo. I have no doubt that he has her completely snowed, and she thinks her life with him is perfect. Good luck, Honey, some people never change.

    In the end, it was all about impression management. It took me a while, but I have accepted that he had no real love, empathy or respect for me. In reality, he was incapable of doing so. He is sad, self-absorbed, superficial actor of the highest caliber who enjoyed using people and playing games to get what he wanted, and more importantly, to project a certain image. I am so grateful he is out of my life!

    • Wow! It’s frightening how some of them can wear the mask so successfully. I’m glad you are away from him!

      • Dear Glad, it does boggle the mind just how disordered these people can be… I didn’t put it together until fairly recently, but in the last few years of our marriage, he started to have serious panic attacks, the kind that had to be medicated. I now believe that his double life was slowly starting to catch up with him and the stress was causing his life to unravel.

        • Mine lost weight, well muscle mass, from not eating breakfast or lunch and barely touching his dinner. He was skinny fat. Still had that liquor gut. I kept telling him unhealthy it was for him to skip his meals like that. As I look back all the signs started at the same time. No wonder I was so confused in my marriage. I had no clue.

          And he developed this tremor in his hands. I always noticed it was worse in his office. His father, uncle, and grandfather all had early onset Alzheimer’s. His father also had Parkinson’s. I thought mine was developing Parkinson’s. I kept asking him why he had that tremor but he didn’t know why.

          Now I realize the anxiety from leading a double life lead him to be anorexic and develop the tremors.

      • That’s a chilling story. But how mighty you are to have gotten away from him and started a new life.

    • My Red Sandals,

      Has someone made a made-for-TV movie about your life?

      You sound incredibly calm about your situation!

      • Dear RockStarWife,

        Nope, no calls from Hollywood yet. Based on the kinds of things I’ve read in this community and elsewhere, I actually think my story is rather tame. After all, my XH never beat me, threw my stuff out on the front lawn, called CPS on me, or abused my children. But there is still a lot I don’t know… and at this point, I don’t really want to know. For example, did he have sex with any of these other women in our bed? Maybe so, but at this point, what does it matter? Did he hide financial assets that didn’t come out during discovery? Could be, but why reengage with him (and risk my mental health) in order to find out?

        • Red Sandals, thanks for posting your story. In many ways, it is a lot like mine. I am just going through the divorce stage now and I wonder about a lot of what went on during the last 20 years of my life.

          I am seeing the rage from him now, but during most of our marriage (until D-Day #1) he was a good provider, father and supported me and what I was doing. I think about events, gestures, vacations and it makes me sad. Since they are not capable of really loving someone else, I guess it was just all a nice place to live for him. No depth at all, really.

    • Wow.

      I got the I need time and space to figure out how to live life sober after he joined AA after years of his being a drunk and me rescuing him from DUI’s, you name it.

      I got I am moving out to a little cottage that Annie in AA owns to figure out my life. I need alone time and space to process my new sober life.

      I got him saying how I was a saint and when I died if I wasn’t made a saint, there was something wrong.

      What?

      Truth was he was fucking that woman in AA who owned the little cottage. He was also fucking other women in AA. He was fucking the clerk at the convenience store. He was fucking everyone.

      Of course he needed that little cottage away from me. LOL

      Oh and Annie? Wasn’t her name at all. Lies, lies and more lies.

  • Well, NOBODY ever thought my ex was nice. Ever. But I loved him a lot. And when I found out about Affair #2, 7 years after #1, it was on the heels of the best year we’d had in a long time. (Well, that better year was because I’d given him an ultimatum that if he didn’t treat the kids and I better, I was out. But hey! I never said I wasn’t a huge chump!)

    My head knew I had to leave him, even though my heart was still puffing on that hopium. So what I did was walk through doors on my way out, but not close them behind me. I told myself; I will confront him about this affair. Then it’s up to him how it goes. Unless HE jumps in to try to fix etc, then I will keep walking. Then I will leave, unless HE jumps to convince me to stay. Then I will organize the legalities and finances. HE can talk to me about repairing, if he wants to. He wanted to talk about ‘trying again’? I listened, every time, but it was up to HIM to take responsibility, to want to change, to take action to change.

    Basically I got me and the kids out of the burning building, and watched to see what he’d do.

    This was a huge shift for me; after Affair #1, I took the lead on everything, because I assumed that what needed to be done was as obvious to him as to me. He did as little as conceivably possible. I made that reconciliation super easy for him; he loved that!

    Of course, every chance he had to do the right thing, he did exactly the opposite. But this time I let him, I left it up to him. I also stopped talking so damned much, and really really listened to him.

    And that is how I finally grew to know that HE SUCKS SO BADLY!

  • I love you Tracy!

    I only have a minute to post but I want to say a few things: first of all my chump buddy IRL and I talk about your posts and the forum posts all day long. I sent her a very uncanny comparison of your cartoon to my ex and it looks like you drew him! I wish I could post it here but of course I can’t.

    Also, I’m involved in a very large professional women’s group and a woman posted that she was chumped and I sent her links tohere but she said that this was just too harsh for her. I had a long conversation with her this morning about Trusting that he sucks, but she’s just not there yet. Anyhow I just want to say from the land of meh that you saved my life, the chump nation saved my life. I’m so happy today and I’m getting ready to move into the home of my dreams with the man that I love and my daughter and his son I have a fantastic job, a promotion, and I’ve never been happier or healthier. I am loving life!

    For you newcomers, hang on! As soon as you can go no contact and complete your divorces you too will reach heaven on earth. I had 26 years of sunk costs, 25 years of marriage, 4 children, houses, businesses, etc. etc. etc. It all came crashing down three years and three months ago. I walked through literal HELL to build this happy post DDay life.

    Just remember that no contact is the only path to truth and justice and peace. Hugs!

    • At first it is hard and seems “harsh”. I felt that way about another website I initially visited after Dday. My brain just wasn’t ready yet for the things that I would read there. It takes time.

    • Mother Chumper,

      What an amazingly signicamt, quick turn around! May I ask how you met your new husband and how you made things go so well in your career post D-Day?

    • Yes, hopefully she will come around. It took me a couple months from finding the site to being ready to read it and finally realize what a treasure it is. It is a process.

      I love reading your posts mother chumper. I am in the horrible storm of the divorce and you are an inspiration to me.

  • By Dday 2017 I already knew cheater wife wasn’t a nice person. I just didn’t fully realize the disordered aspect of it. That actually caused emotional problems for me, as I momentarily saw her “sickness” as something I would/could help her with (put myself last yet again). Once I found out she wasn’t really sorry for what she did I got out of that ‘burning house’ to save myself and my kid.

  • In a (rare) moment of honesty, my cheater actually blubbered to me “everyone thinks I’m this nice guy but I’m not!!!!” He wanted me to pity his sad sausage self, but at that point it no longer worked on me. It WAS so confusing, because he could be nice, gentle, and go out of his way to help others. But I’d guess that most of the time, it’s because it benefited him in some way to have that person in his pocket (kibbles). Then he’d be remarkably cold and callous, and that person would struggle with the cognitive dissonance too. Nice is as nice does. “Acting” nice does not mean the sum total of your actions are nice. Enter mindfuck. But after a while it gets easier to understand, then your mind is no longer fucked. It’s gloriously clear.

  • Asshole Olympics. My XH represented USA in the opening ceremonies, proudly waving the flag in his tacky track suit. He then accidentally hit then tripped his brother, the torch carrier, and burned the entire stadium down.

    Apparently even THAT is all my fault.

    • It’s o.k. The entire family will have another opportunity at the summer games liar Olympics. 2020 GOLD!

      • Oooh, that sounds like a potential Friday challenge! The Cheater Olympics! What events would your cheater excel in, where would they win medals, and where just ‘also-ran’?

  • Glad things worked out for your cousin. Not all cheaters are monsters, some are good people that have made a mistake, a horrible mistake, a selfish mistake. I lived through 281 days of infidelity, I knew it was going on for 237 of those days. It was hell, horribly humiliating, emasculating, pure mental hell. My cheater knew it was killing me but she didn’t stop and didn’t care. It put stress on our son because we fought over her betrayal nearly every night and sometimes during the day. He could hear us from his bedroom.

    I stayed and she stopped and became transparent with her electronics. She did continue to lie by omission about the details of her infidelity, but eventually she started telling small bits of truth. I still believe in my gut that I don’t know everything and that is bothering me. I understand that is uncomfortable for her to tell me the details. I continued to snoop and I found recorded messages about plans to meet in person, secret messaging apps, dick pictures and wackoff videos. I had to find this garbage on my own. She was even having phone sex with these men. It really hurt my self esteem because I must be a really bad husband to drive my loving wife to phone sex with men she is meeting online. She would go out of her way to have the phone sex with these scumbags, she would leave her desk at work and go to her car just to get the guy off over the phone. Seriously, WTF!! I have never had phone sex, a girl tried when I was young and single but that is its, who the hell does that?

    Now things seem better, she is apologizing on her own out of the blue a few times a week. The problem I having now is forgiving her and trusting her. How can she say she sincerely loves me and cares for me after 281 days of hell? Who has phone sex with random men, sends them sexual messages nude pics and has live online skype masturbation dates? How do I know she really didn’t meet one of these guys in person? There are tons of red flags that she did, and I know that she will never admit it if she did, she will take it to the grave, she is the most stubborn person I have ever met.

    We have been together for 20 years and this has never happened before, so it could be a fluke like my cheater proclaims, just a “bump in the road”. It could be that she did have “temporary insanity” or a “midlife crisis” or she got “addicted to the attention”. These are the excuses she gives for her behavior. I point out that she knew it was killing me, causing fights and stress in our home with our son and she wouldn’t stop. She just responds with the “I was addicted and couldn’t stop” bullshit. So that is another thing I’m struggling with, who in the hell becomes addicted to phone sex, sexting, and live skype masturbation with people you don’t know in real life? Also I must be a really bad husband that my wife would pick that over our marriage for so long, 281 days is a long time to pick that shit over your spouse.

    • Sorry to say but it will happen again and each time the anti is raised. Maybe this time it was just phone sex, but next time it will be more. I hope for your sake you are planning an escape from this extremely selfish self-serving person. The building is already burning! Get thee to safety!! Best of luck TxGuy.

    • Honey… Please trust that she sucks. We are here for you when you are ready to face the facts.

      Tracy always asks, “Is this relationship acceptable to you?”

      I always ask, “Is this how somebody who really loves you would treat you?”

      You don’t even know me, and I think you could answer this question for yourself… Would Sunny treat me like this? Think about it. And big hugs.

    • TxDude, The problem here is she doesn’t care about your feelings. You will never trust her again, believe me when I say it, and chances are she will do it again. You deserve someone who puts your feelings first. You need to protect your heart. Other chumps here have a list of things you must to if you decide to wreckoncile. The first thing is a postnup. She needs to start proving to you by her actions, not her words that she is remorseful.

    • What a cold, calculating freak she is.

      So sorry you’ve endured this abuse. And I feel worse that you are still there. You deserve better.

    • TX

      There are no mistakes. Accepting responsibility for her ‘mistakes’ is pure spackle. She made every decision and continued to stay because she ALLOWED you to accept the blame for her actions.

      You’ve got nothing to work with, unfortunately. You want to believe it’s forgivable and she views it as a pass with no consequences. You know this deep down. It’s a losing game. There’s always a next.

      • Defending a monster shows just how much power and control you’ve already lost. You’ve come up with numerous ways to account for her disordered actions including self blame.

        Check your credit report and look at your finances. Denial isn’t your friend. Get STD testing.

    • TX Dude,

      Please help yourself. Do this mental exercise: assume the role of your guardian angel. Your only job is to protect TX Dude from pain, bad situations and bad people. What would you do?

      Your wife has used her free will, her agency, to hurt you and your family. She has shown you exactly how unimportant you and your family are to her.

      What are you waiting for? Stop being paralyzed by the shock of it all, by your fear of the unknown. It’s time for you to find your own agency. Protect yourself. Be kind to yourself. You and your son deserve better.

      Also, for your son’s sake don’t allow him to learn the wrong lesson. What would be your advice to your son if his wife was cheating on him? Is this the life you want for him? Sadly, chances are very likely this WILL be his life unless you demonstrate to him by example what is (and isn’t) acceptable behavior from a spouse. He’s waiting for you to stand up and do the right thing. Make him proud!

      Lastly, you need to stop seeing your wife as the person you want her to be. You have to see her for the person she is. Do not seek comfort in the source of your pain.

      Filing for divorce. It takes maximum effort. Years from now you’ll be so proud of yourself and your son will be, too.

      Godspeed, my friend and fellow chump.

  • My Mr nice guy ex just dropped DS Home with presents for me for Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday. I can sometimes be convinced by his image management, I then remember what he did to me and go back to trust that he sucks.

    I sometimes think I gave up on him to quickly after D-day. Today’s post shows me that I did the right thing. He choose schmoopie and that was me done with him physically. I am still not at meh with it all emotionally.

    • TX Dude,

      Sorry that you joined the Chump club.

      Yeah, not all cheaters are monsters if your definition of a monster is a serial killer.

      But cheating is a mistake? You wife trips and falls on penises? Repeatedly butt dials sex? I hope that she does not mistakenly financially clean out your bank accounts by mistake.

      I thought that me hitting m’s instead of n’a on my keyboard was a mistake,

  • It took a while for me to Trust that He Sucked.

    I knew I had to divorce him. That wasn’t a question. I could not reset the clock to before the betrayal. Where there’s no trust, there’s no marriage. I knew that what he’d done sucked. I just didn’t grasp the full horror of just how badly he sucks.

    Back in the early days after Dday, I looked at CheaterX as someone who had a lot of stress at work, who was possibly in depression after the death of his remaining parent the previous year, and as someone who was vulnerable to Schmoopie, a single mom with a medically fragile daughter, who also happened to have a track record of bad credit and dating married men. I’m sure she played up the Damsel in Distress while he played Knight in Shining Armor. Even so, he could have and should have said “no.”

    It was only during a consultation with one of the lawyers I interviewed that I achieved satori. CheaterX had just co-signed a car loan for Schmoopie. I wanted to know my debt liability under our state’s laws. When I told one lawyer about this, her jaw dropped and said that Schmoopie must have seen him coming a mile off. I started to say that she had a track record of picking losers, and that Nice Guy CheaterX would have been a real change. I was half way through the sentence when I realized that Schmoopie’s radar was still set at bottom feeder.

    Water seeks its own level. Schmoopie seeks out men who’ll cheat on their wives.

    Tracy’s right; once you step away, you can start to understand just how bad it sucked.

    They are not Nice People. Not at all.

    • Dr. Cheaterpants picked the dumsels in distress too. The first schmoopie was twice divorced howorker with known history of cheating on both husbands, couldn’t have kids so I guess cheater thought she’d be a great mom to our 2 & 4 year old kids. Then second schmoopie was DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach that was never included with the team and no one ever did blah,blah, blah for her. I kept a secretary of his from getting fired because she’s a great person and her husband sucks, she needs this job for her kids and administration is targeting her—I stuck my neck out at work to find out she was falsifying information and company resources.

      Yes I thought cheater was naiive to these women who thought he was awesome with that MD at the end of his name. Now I think he was the predator after these underling type of loser women.

  • I am probably similar to Chump Lady’s husband’s style of diplomacy in persuasion – gently, gently.

    But I’ll tell you what kind of friend I prefer to hear from when going through crap like this… someone who tells it straight! Someone who gets enraged on your behalf! Someone who can validate your feelings for you – feelings you might be trying to suppress for the convenience of others. Or feelings you’ve been trained to minimise.

    I’ve had to talk down a couple of my friends from taking revenge actions against the cheater – from contacting the cheater and giving them a piece of their mind, to another who wanted to hire someone to slash his tyres… and although I didn’t let them do it, I love them for their reactions. I also raise my glass to my friends who rage on my behalf and call him all the names under the sun. Thank you.

    Chump Lady, keep doing what you’re doing. We love your direct, no-nonsense approach, that’s what a good friend does and that’s why we keep coming back.

  • To Hero out there — who donated to the blog from their cheater’s account — I wanted to say THANK YOU and I hope you see this, because my note just bounced with a “mailbox full” error at your end.

    It’s a BOLD person who uses their cheater’s credit card to donate to a chump site. You rock.

    That is all.

    • Wow, Hero. That takes chutzpah!!! I love it.

      Also, Tracy, my respect for Mr. Chump Lady has now risen even higher after reading about his courtroom skill. As soon as I read that he too has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature, I knew I already liked him.

  • Chump lady, I want a naked, aging cheater, wearing only socks, with a trust that he (wait for it) socks cartoon! LOL 😂😂😂

  • I spackled so much for my fuckwit and did a lot of PR management for him. He was never there for 1:1 support for me. Ever. He liked to be portrayed as a GREAT GUY! but he never did the work with me to create that image, only with other people. Staying out late drinking with work friends and his EA friend of the moment (micro affairs, so many of them). His Santa Claus booming laugh at all their fun jokes. What a GREAT GUY! So NICE.

    When our youngest daughter nearly died of pneumonia as a little girl, he broke down completely and cried like a baby in the hospital waiting room with all our relatives present. What a GREAT GUY! How loving and brave for him to show his emotions. The fact was that it left me having to be the Parent-Who-Pays-Attention, the one who has to take in all the details of treatment options and next steps. I was not allowed to be emotional, he had that role completely covered and needed comforting of his own. I figured I would get my time when we got home to blubber and curl up, I was of course very empathetic to the horror we were living through.

    Of course I didn’t get any support from him. When we got home the fuckwit slept on the couch in his clothes and wouldn’t comfort me and didn’t want to discuss it. I spackled over that thinking he was such a GREAT GUY and obviously this trauma was just too hard on him. But it was just him hiding and abandoning me. By avoiding me and ignoring me, (a standard tactic he used right up until the end), he didn’t have to be there for me and I am sure that never occurred to him that he should be. He was sad, I believe that for sure, but he couldn’t face it. He turned into a child and simply refused to step up and be the father, the husband, the strong dad. He abandoned me during that trauma, like he poofed on me in the end.

    There are so many examples like this over 31 years. And he will be exactly that same GREAT GUY! with his little 25YO sparkletwat who won’t hold him accountable.

  • Here’s the thing. The arsonist has polluted your otherwise healthy and happy mind with valid visions of his various and hedonistic/immoral actions. Even if you sincerely WANT TO you will never get away from these foul realities they are now part of your life story. So, is it better to start fresh with a clean life story, more careful and aware and with someone else who presents a clean life story – including maybe just yourself? Or are you better off trying to rewrite a life story with your arsonist, and limping along with a known cheat, liar, human being buyer, or whatever you want to call them. It takes a leap of faith, but not a big one, to believe there is something better out there for you (and me). I am nine months post DDay and starting to see that even if I desperately want this to heal, it will always have a HUGE ugly scar to remind me. So, you fellow chumps, I wish all of you strength to move on to something better. Even the bible allows for divorce in the case of adultery. You just have to believe there is something better out there – a clean life alone, a clean partner with whom to share a real life — not an unreasonable belief.

  • Best advice I ever got was – just think with your head first. The heart will catch up with your head eventually.

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