Dear Chump Lady,
My ex cheated on me relentlessly, with a mind-boggling amount of women. We had four D-days before I had the strength to get the hell out of there, so yes, I’m a super chump. It’s been a couple of years, but he still reaches out and seems clueless as to why I hate him.
Recently, he texted to congratulate me for bringing HIM success in his new career choice… which is the same career as ME. I looked at his social media and saw that he’s friended all of my professional contacts, and even had the balls to ripoff one of my pieces. (I’m a commercial artist). He’s also bought the men’s version of a very distinct clothing piece I wear. (I know this is petty but WHATTHEFUCKKKK).
Not surprisingly, things did not end well between us. It feels melodramatic to call it harassment but I FEEL harassed! Why is he copying me, and how can I deal with him forging into my industry when all I want is for his sadass-self to disappear? I already hide from so many of my once favorite places, because I know I’ll run into one of his dozen cheating partners. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing I give two-Fs, but WHERE IS HIS SHAME?! Also, his work is embarrassing, and I hate the idea that he’s telling everyone that “I taught him everything he knows.” I just want to be classy and hold my head high, but God it’s exhausting.
Love your username. Yeah, an ex going all Single White Female would make me feel stabby too. I wrote about this copycat phenomenon in “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” (The cartoon I used here “An Array of Jennifers” comes from that chapter.) The same thing happened to me, and it happened to my husband with his cheating ex too, so apparently the appropriation of your core essence is a THING. Either that or changelings are real. (Keep watch over your cradles, mamas!)
So, what the fuck? Why is he trying to morph into a off-brand Stabby facsimile? Why is he professing to love the things he was indifferent about (or perhaps even hostile to) previously? Why is he stealing your coolness? Because he has no self. He’s just a conglomeration of appropriations.
Hang on, Tracy. He has a self — he’s a serial cheater.
Well yes, Stabby, but those dating profiles don’t write themselves. He needs quirk. He needs your quirk. He requires the facade of character. You can’t expect a shallow nitwit like your ex to actually invest in real interests and develop talents — no, he’ll just steal some of yours. It might help polish his veneer of humanness.
Back in the earlier days of my chumpdom, when I didn’t understand the wisdom of no contact, I took a glance at my ex’s dating profiles and was ASTOUNDED to see him list obscure singer-songwriters I like and claim he enjoyed trips to the Neue Gallerie. WHAT?! As I wrote, the man wouldn’t know an Otto Dix painting if it bit his left nipple. Why was this freak appropriating my interests?
Same reason yours is. It’s a masterstroke of mindfuckery. First off, he’s creating a chump decoy. Mine wanted to attract another “arty hippy chick.” I was prime kibbles. So just list all the stuff Tracy likes, and the chumps will alight on his freak pond.
Your ex did one better — he became an arty hippy chick, all the better to meet other prime kibble sources like you. He probably misses your kibbles.
The other reason copycatting is masterful mindfuckery is that it upsets you. And it probably upsets his latest round of fuckbuddies too. Who can get him over the tragic breakup with Stabby The Artist Who Didn’t Sufficiently Appreciate Him? Ooh! Pick ME! I’m special! Wearing your signature look signals to the Schmoopies that they have to pick me dance harder. Take it off! Pick ME! This is a winning strategy for fuckwits — it keeps everyone off-balance.
How can I deal with him forging into my industry when all I want is for his sadass-self to disappear?
By ignoring him. By having iron boundaries of NO CONTACT. He shouldn’t be able to call you, and you shouldn’t know what the hell he’s wearing, or who he is talking to. If some mutual acquaintance reaches out and tells you what he’s up to, shut that down. “He’s pathetic and I don’t want to know what he’s up to, now or ever.”
It bears repeating — there is no louder “fuck off” to a narcissist than silence. Don’t react to his provocations. Don’t take the bait. Don’t warn everyone. Just. Keep. Being. Cool. He can’t be you, he doesn’t have the raw materials. His act is pitiful, and anyone who falls for it is an idiot you could never respect.
Remember “forging into an industry” is WORK. And these freaks don’t like work. Effort is for chumps. Wait him out, and he’ll change his focus. (Look! Shiny thing!) I promise you, he can sustain an art career about as well as he can sustain a relationship. Relax.
WHERE IS HIS SHAME?!
Oh, right there next to his wood-burned dog portrait on Etsy. Hey, this could be a Friday Challenge — WHERE IS THEIR SHAME? It’s there in his art installation of cigarette butts. It’s pickled in a tank of formaldehyde (Damien Hirst joke for all you art nerds.)
Stabby, he has no shame. Trust that he sucks. His talentless, cheating ass is out of your life. Be grateful. Keep rocking your originality. He’ll keep sucking. Nothing to worry about here.
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