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Entitlement Reinforcement

We talk a lot here about intermittent reinforcement — that power that makes chumps stay because you get a small pay off. A kibble? For me? 

Wait. Wait. Wait. Nothing. (Tectonic plates shift, the earth ages, glaciers melt…) KIBBLE!

OMG! A scrap! It’s so, so significant because it’s as rare as unicorn teeth. My precious! Joy!

I want to turn our attention to something chumps do that’s going to make everyone squirm. But we gotta face it — entitlement reinforcement.

Every time you accept a lack of reciprocity as normal, every time you spackle over “Well, they would do the same for me… some day” and that day never comes — you are reinforcing entitlement.

You’re modeling — to the narc, to your kids, to innocent bystanders — that their needs are paramount and yours, not so much.

Now, you may get cranky about this, you might drops hints (I have a need… it’s over there, to the left, buried under the sofa cushions), you might huff and puff, you might go out and plant 80 rose bushes to fill your life with joy in other ways — but if you’re a chump you will NOT question this insanity.

You’ll just do and do and do and do, and expect to be noticed, or appreciated. Okay, maybe that’s a bridge too far. Maybe you think, if I Please the Un-pleasable today, I’ll avoid disaster/rage/criticism/conflict/icky feelings… Anyway, you will NOT stop kibble dispensing. Because you’re damn good at it.

Which is why they picked you. You’re an excellent need-meeter and all-around spouse appliance.

And let’s face it, being a kibble dispenser is all-consuming. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a vocation. It will take everything you throw at it, which very conveniently allows you to avoid the directives of your own life. Who am I? What are my talents that need nurturing? Who CARES? There’s a spill in Aisle 9! Go clean it up, chump!

So, entitlement reinforcement. Stop doing it. Hold out for reciprocity in your relationships. Reward the givers in your life, and cut out the losers.

What? But they’ll be so mad if I stop!

Yeah, they will. It’s gonna to be a total onslaught of the mindfuck channel flipping — rage, charm, and self-pity. That lopsided thing works for folks. Entitlement feels GREAT (if you lack empathy), and sharing… enh. What are you, a socialist?

Fuck ’em. RECIPROCITY. Mutuality. Respect. That’s where it’s at.

Now, I’m not saying quit being wonderful. If you’re a good person, you’re wired to do for others. That’s beautiful. Just don’t be a chump about it, okay? Don’t reward jerks with MORE of your wonderfulness. Know your worth.

You know how I know I’m at a chump get-together? People bring PIES. They bring gifts! An elderly Brooklynite recently shared this piece of advice with me from her mother — never come to someone’s house with “swinging arms.” You bring something. That’s good manners. Chumps have impeccable manners. Their arms never swing empty.

Chumps, let people bring you pies. It might kill you. You may feel like you have to go bake them a pie immediately. It’s okay. The world is better for the sharing. The giving AND the receiving.

Don’t accept lop-sided arrangements. Don’t model them. If narcs can’t share the pie, they don’t deserve the pie.

That ends today’s sermon.

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  • I can vividly remember saying to Mr. Sparkles… “You can’t keep putting more on our plate… I’m drowning!” (Mixed metaphor, I know)… but what screams to me is that I was still thinking “our” at the height of the abuse but he was the one holding the hose.

    When I look back, with the gift of hindsight and four years of sorting through this insanity, what I see sometimes startles me. I lost TWO jobs because my focus at work wasn’t on work, it was on planning camps for my stepkids, balancing the household budget, being the marriage police, making dr. appts, planning vacations, etc…. everything but being really great at my job. And you know what, now… I’ve been with the same company for 6 years. They’ve sent me for prestigious training at top universities; my team size has doubled; I participate on global teams as the representative for the US. BUT, with him… I was never good enough at anything and it slowly permeated every aspect of my life.

    And the twist of the knife in the back is that I was showing my family that his behavior was ok. That he deserved unconditional love because of his horrible childhood… that he deserved a free pass on manners at the dinner table because of his upbringing… that he was a lying whore because he was broken inside… I could go on, but you get where this is going.

    I am so grateful that my starting to say NO to him made him finally seek out another chump. I don’t know if I ever would have left him if not for that. I don’t know that me and my son would now be so happy and content in our own home (the walls sing CL!)… and while I’m horrified for his next victim and the one after that… I know that I know longer have the responsibility to try to fill a bottomless pit.

    It’s pie for breakfast!

    • I Can See, I totally feel this in my soul. After 15 years of bending over backwards to accommodate his needs and trying to satisfy the eternally insatiable beast that he was, I was exhausted. I just couldn’t do it all anymore and I started saying No which caused him to seek out a new chump as well. Looking back now being almost 9 months free of his manipulation and mindfucking, I can see the dysfunction so clearly. But I know if he hadn’t found himself another woman and dropped me like a hot potato, I never would have left because I was a champion spackler and rationalized every bit of his horrific behavior. My boundaries were almost nonexistent but infidelity was where I drew the line. As much as it hurt at the time, his leaving was a blessing in disguise for me. My son and I are free to live our lives in peace and freedom. I honestly felt like I had been released from jail, I had never experienced freedom to just be me and do what I wanted and what made me happy in my entire adult life. I honestly feel sorry for his current victim because I know what her life will be like, I know what she will sacrifice to keep him happy. I’m sure she’s a good person, because those are the people he preys upon. But I’m so damn glad he’s not my problem anymore.

      • “My boundaries were almost nonexistent but infidelity is where I drew the line”

        That’s my story and when I drew that line I drew it hard. I too look back and see the disfunction so clearly.

        May you find happiness in just yourself as you work to become the person you want to be.

        If it means anything you might just find someone worth your time and energy, someone who reciprocates, someone who is there to help when there is a problem, someone who makes you feel amazing just by being who they are, someone who makes an effort (effort is super sexy) and someone who appreciates your worth. If you do I hope you enjoy it.

      • Mine left me for another woman as well. Such a blessing in disguise, you’ve got no idea. It’s when you start saying no to what’s important for them and shift the focus on your needs that the monster starts to come out.

    • Hey ICanSeeTheMehComing —

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, both the trials and the triumphs. I have had the same trials, now, with inspiration from your story, I can hope for similar triumphs.

    • I love it but what if he has a new chump and the kids? I have been fighting parental alienation almost 5 months now and I don’t know what to do?

      • Carol, I wouldn’t fight him to spend time with the kids. It sucks but you can’t control him. Just be there for your kids. Be the sounding board and shoulder to cry on. And document, document, document. All the times he is supposed to have the kids and doesn’t show up. All the expenses you incur that he is to pay have. Everything. Once you let go of trying to make him a good parent you will feel a weight lifted. Just focus on being the best parent. I promise it’s enough.

    • My thoughts exactly ICANSEETHEMEHCOMING!

      “I am so grateful that my starting to say NO to him made him finally seek out another chump. I don’t know if I ever would have left him if not for that. I don’t know that me and my son would now be so happy and content in our own home (the walls sing CL!)… and while I’m horrified for his next victim and the one after that… I know that I know longer have the responsibility to try to fill a bottomless pit.”

    • Thank you for this post!! So true!! I have explained to my friends that his excuse of “needing more attention” than I gave him was insane, because I knew then, that all the attention and admiration from every woman in the world would not be enough to fill up the hole inside him. For years before DDay, I made excuses for his behavior because of his tough childhood as well. I should’ve realized that there were problems with his thinking when no one had it worse than him- ever! He somehow could beat everyone’s sad story. (Even though the other person’s was actually worse). I had no idea that the egg shell walking and bar- setting (that only got moved higher and higher), were forms of emotional abuse. I was so geared into thinking he had it so tough compared to myself and everyone else, that I rarely thought about how bad he had been treating me, because it was always “excusable “.

    • I can’t even express how refreshing this web site and these articles are. And as I read through the comments and realize it’s 99% women and their cheating husbands… it just makes me even more upset that I’m the GUY who has a wife exhibiting all of these traits. The sparkly wife that everyone adores and who needs everyone’s love. The one who wants us to continue to be best friends and wonderful co-parents after her year-long affair, and after her next affair the moment I discovered the first one and moved towards divorce.
      My wife has checked all the right boxes: she’s the room Mom, she picks the kids up from school, she takes them to the doctors appointments.
      But what no one sees is that she brings them home after school and let’s them sit on their iPads until I get home from work. Until I make dinner. Help with homework. Engage. Entertain. Bed time routines while my wife is asleep on the couch. Making lunches for school the next day. Owning a business, managing deadlines and employees. Not sleeping at night. Not working out because she “has” to go to the gym in the mornings while I get the kids up and ready for school. While I take them to school and get to work an hour after my employees do. Her being gone all weekend while I stay home and spend time with my kids. How many weekends my kids had to come to work with me on a Saturday or Sunday because Mom is non-existent and Dad has too much on his plate.
      I know now these are all things I allowed. I get it. But as a spouse, as a partner, as a FRIEND, I expected reciprocity. Help. I was drowning, and I had no support, but I didn’t even realize it. I am only 3 months post-discovery and it still amazes me that I expect her to reciprocate once in awhile and it just doesn’t happen.
      I think I am the ultimate chump of all chumps on this site.

      • Daddypants,
        Please don’t feel like the biggest chump of all. Not even close; so please don’t ever feel ashamed of being in this situation. There are chumps who stay for decades and multiple D-days, and are the ones who do everything for the family and the cheater, all while suffering through emotional abuse. Us chumps need to be easy on ourselves. Yes, it is mostly women on this site. But it is helpful to hear men’s stories too. And maybe there are more men than you think that have this happen. They’re probably less likely to come to this site, or just admit it overall. Women are probably more likely to openly look for support for this type of thing. You got taken in by a narcissist is what it sounds like. Welcome to the club. Most people get fooled and used by these people at one time or another. A lucky group of us get the privilege of marrying these asses. I find your strength, integrity and responsibility of character refreshing in a man- considering I hear so many stories of men who are so opposite of what real men are supposed to be, one can lose faith. Don’t change who your are. She’s got major problems that aren’t caused by you, nor can you fix them. Things will be so much better without her, and from what I’ve seen in life, is that people sooner or later figure out who the real version of her is. It just takes awhile. Bless you.

        • Thank you for the kind words. It’s funny, I’ve been with this person for 25 years, and now that we’ve separated she thinks she deserves “Mom of the Year” recognition. She doesn’t see all the ways in which she never participated in our family, and all the ways that I took care of everything while she did what she wanted.
          I find the lawyer/court system to be especially frustrating. She didn’t abuse the kids, therefore she is the clear candidate for primary custody. I am negotiating for 50% and I feel like I have to be grateful for that.
          And now I get to walk into school next to her tomorrow while she pretends that everything is fantastic and I have “chump” written on my forehead. I want to stand on a mountain top and shout for all her friends to hear what she’s done. But I know there isn’t any value or point.
          This whole thing just sucks, and there are no upsides or good that will come out of it.

          • Yes, my ex, who cheated multiple times (which I only found out about after digging more- he only admitted to the 2 year affair because the other woman’s husband was going to tell me first if he didn’t), loves to put on the “world’s greatest Dad” show. In fact, apparently I’m to blame for “breaking up the marriage”, because I didn’t try hard enough to reconcile with him! (Yes, even my ability to not withstand his BS is my fault). Anyway, to this day, the elderly neighbor lady across the street that I used to be friends with sings his praises and no longer talks to me. Another neighbor just last week ran into my ex while he was dropping off my daughter and said to me by text what a good thing it was that my ex wants to be such an active part of her life. Have I mentioned all the crap my ex had done to them? Nope. I’ve told some people, my friends of course, and some of the school moms they I trust. But I know that these narcs run a tough PR campaign, and they will say things about you back that are totally untrue when threatened. I’m not scared of my ex, I have all the emails and pics, etc. that would document my story if I really wanted to be a bitch and show everyone. But really, what good what that do? I don’t need the drama. I do believe people will show there true colors in time. My ex would gain friends and lose them at an unusually faster than average rate. I also do share 50/50. I’m in California and because my ex was willing to fight me for it and he had no substance abuse problems etc, my lawyer seemed to think it was fair. We made the same amount of money, so I get no child support either, we split all costs 50/50. Here is the only/main upside I have found. Now, your kids are a little older I’m sure, mine is only 5. But he pushed for 50/50 and he got it- and so, I went from doing 90% of taking care of my daughter and domestic duties to 50%. He now has to step up to the plate. He now has to pack the lunches on his days, so laundry etc. All the things I managed. I get a couple days off a week, to myself. I still look over the big stuff- school registration, doctors visits- things I’d rather be in control of anyway. But no longer do I take care of my daughter every weekend while he does what he wants. He has to take care of her every other weekend now too. Hope things work out today.

            • Thank you again. It’s refreshing to hear your story and how similar it is to mine. I have the emails and the pictures. I could burn her to the ground. And yet she’s still all over Facebook and social media acting like a Disney princess. Maybe I don’t give people enough credit, but I suspect I’m generally known as “just another dumbass dad” against her sparkly personality.
              Here is my question of the day, internet stranger. We have a tentative custody arrangement in which I pick up the kids on Friday afternoon and keep them until Monday morning. My soon-to-be-ex keeps a busy social agenda, so I also get the kids Wednesday evenings and then usually one more evening a week while she parties. I’ve done the math, and if you ignore the times when kids are asleep, and when they are in school, I end up with 33-34 hours per week of actual quality face-time with them versus my wife’s 20 hours. And of course I work full time, so even if we went with a more traditional schedule (1 week on, 1 week off) I would have a hard time managing that arrangement.
              My point is that we are heading for mediation/settlement in 2 weeks. Should I get the agreement written in stone with me being on duty every weekend for the next 10 years? Or should I get it written in a more equal fashion as the fallback?
              It already sucks having 3 nights a week without my kids around, I honestly can’t imagine going 7 nights at a time like that. But what is better for me in the long run? Just because I can’t imagine a new relationship or wanting to do something fun on the weekends at this time doesn’t mean I will always feel that way.
              Thoughts are appreciated, thanks.

              • Hey Daddypants,
                Well, I am not a lawyer so if your life goes to pieces after following my two cents, don’t blame me! But…for what it’s worth, I would not agree to every weekend forever. She’s already showing she doesn’t really want 50/50, because almost any Mom worth their weight in gold would see to it that the schedule was as even as possible if they couldn’t get more than 50. So, Your are doing her a favor by sacrificing your weekends while she is able to have her active social life. I know it sucks to be without your kids right now. The hardest part for me was feeling like half a Mom, leaving my 4 year old (at the time) daughter with my ex, feeling like I’m missing out on half of her life (because also, he doesn’t let me really talk to her when she’s with him). I still have my moments of sadness when I’m alone, but it has enabled me to go out with friends and dates, without worrying about finding a babysitter, etc. When I have her on my weekends, I’m totally devoted to her, that’s our time. And the other times I don’t have her, I can do whatever I want and prep for her (grocery shop, clean, do my bills in peace) so I can concentrate on my time with her when I do have her. Unless you think your ex would have an extremely detrimental effect on your children- being left alone to fend for themselves for hours while she’s having sex with her new boyfriend, doing drugs in front of them, etc., why make her new life easy for her? You will eventually want a new life of your own and you’ll need some down time by yourself to recuperate from the stress of all this, to get in touch with who you are and who you used to be. She can figure out how good she had it when someone else was taking care of everything for her. My girl is little, so I do a 2-2-3 plan, which means I get her for 2 days, then my ex, then I get her Fri-Sun and then it’s reversed the next week. It might be too much moving for your kids, since they are older, but maybe look into all the different custody plans and what’s recommended for that age range. I also pick up my daughter at school and drop her off, so that we never really have to see each other except for special changes. Which leads me to my next point. Eventually, (or even from the get go), Ms. Sparkles will be asking you for favors. “Can you take the kids this weekend, I have “work”? Or some BS like that. My ex is always asking me to take her, so I like that I get more time technically than 50/50, BUT if I want to decline because I really already have plans, etc, than I have that option. He doesn’t run my life anymore like he used to and like he still wants to do. The fact is, she can’t pretend to be a great mom and not want ANY weekends with her kids?! Sounds like she’s still trying to get you to do all the work. Now, all that being said, if you really feel like you’ll be heartbroken without them every weekend, then do what will make you happy. But don’t pay child support 50/50- pay it at the lower 20% rate or however much time she’s taking, if you’re say taking them 80% of the time. And eventually I’ve heard, the kids will end up leaning towards who they want to live with, which would probably be you anyway. I hope maybe some other people can chime in, but that’s my thoughts on it. ((Hugs))

              • So my ex and I share 1 week on and 1 week off. We alternate dinner with the kids every other Wednesday night so we don’t go a whole week without seeing them. It works because of the reasons Oh Lawd said above. It also works because he moved in with his parents up the street so he has them do half of his parenting, paying his bills, doing his laundry, etc. No wonder he can afford to look like sparkly super-Dad on the outside. I am now convinced by facts that cheater spouses are crap parents. But the law says if there are no cigarette burns on the kids’ arms, we have to accommodate them. I am currently in a custody Cold War with my ex. I knew he was a fake super Dad, but for the first year after separation I kept my focus on helping the kids and myself transition to our new normal. Then I found out he is pursuing an active BDSM and polyamorous lifestyle, even on his parenting days. The lawyers I have met with say that I have a 50% chance of winning custody if I go to court with what I have. I tried to talk some sense into cheater ex (per lawyer’s instructions) but he DARVO’d me, because: cheaters suck. So I served him with papers saying I wanted to change custody. His tune changed, but not his actions. The next step was mediation, which meant he had to agree to some rules of decent conduct, or risk his reputation in the legal community (he’s a lawyer). So far, I have spent $25k to get this result. The next step is to wait and see if he breaks the rules. Now you ask yourself, would a cheater break rules he himself agreed to in a court order? And I would answer: Does a bear shit in the woods? The next step is to wait a few months and hire a Private eye to follow him. When I catch him breaking the rules, I can take him to trial. My trial expenses go down (no need to pay my lawyer to depose 50+ sex partners) and my chances of turning him into every-other-weekend sparkly dad go to 99%. My advice is, trust that she sucks as a Mom, negotiate an arrangement that gives you some downtime to recover, and sets in place some mutual rules of conduct during parenting time that you can catch her breaking later. Pitch the rules as “assurances” you want to give her that you will be a good Dad. Say that you read about them in an article on co-parenting that you saw at the pediatrician’s office. If you can stomach it, present the idea as if she is a great mom and everyone will applaud her for signing the perfect parenting agreement. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you obtain good legal advice first.

              • Thank you both. Sounds like good advice. It amazes me that my wife thinks she deserves full custody, that every time I approach the subject she says, “Standard custody is that you will get them every other weekend and 2 weeks in the summer” and yet every single person who knows us, INCLUDING MY WIFE’S MOM, thinks that I should get full custody. But is that a battle worth fighting? I don’t know anymore. I feel like walking into mediation is me compromising and giving up without a fight. But from the lawyers I’ve talked to, it sounds like I could spend $100k on a court battle to end up within spitting distance of what I’m already going to get.
                Anyways, thank you everyone for your time and input.

  • I needed this lecture about 12-15 years ago, badly.

    I was SUCH a need-meeter and one totally hooked in intermittent, I could live for MONTHS on one compliment. One time, Maj Cheaterpants was on the phone with his sister and I stood outside his office eaves-dropping hoping for a kibble and he said “Uni and I, we kind of work as a good team”

    …and the clouds parted and the sun shined and unicorns pranced and all was well in the universe for DAYS and DAYS…then I scurried along and did whatever he asked of me for the next forever since we were a “team”

    facepalm

    • Yes! Cheater used to drop similar words about us being a good team or us finding a happy medium in life here and there. Usually when we were with friends or family (otherwise inside our walls it was only criticizing). So I LOVED being around people and he was generous in the display of affection (again when surrounded with people). So everybody, EVERYBODY around thought we were such a great team. I thought so too even though I could not understand why his compliments turned into devalue most of the time when at home. Smh!

    • Yeah, Unicorn. 40 years too late for me as well. As I say, we learn to be fair and honest with others, but we do not learn to demand the same for ourselves.

  • What stuns me so many years out is his sense of entitlement to behave as badly as he did – the spending, the cheating, the beatings, the rages – and even just his total lack of manners (like farting out loud in a nice restaurant). I remember one time he was going to “serenade” us at a party with his caterwaaling (sp?) and he kicked my chair and said “shift”! I turned round in front of his friends and said “I think the expression is “excuse me”! That got me a beating later on! But the stunning thing is he really was incredibly inadequate (that may well have been part of the problem) and I allowed him to treat me like shit, I allowed myself to walk on eggshells because of his rages, I allowed him to terrorize my kids. It took some balls to stand up to him but I finally got there in the end. Even now, 9 years later and an ocean apart he still thinks I will “wife” for him! Yeah, you can shove that thought where the sun don’t shine!

    • Yes to farting and burping outloud. Followed by disgusting loud and entitled laugh! Don’t miss that!

      • Is this behavior a characteristic of cheaters??? When there was nobody around who sparkledick deemed deserved to admire his glorious self (of course this never included me, he couldn’t care less what I thought of him) he would fart and burp non-stop. A case study for physiology.

        • Mine did the burping and farting anywhere and everywhere. Also, I remember one time at a family dinner at his parents he grabbed one of our daughters hairs from her head and flossed his teeth with it! You can’t unsee that!

          • I stand amazed that the POS-ex exhibited the exact same farting and belching behavior as all of your cheaters. In the home, at the table, in the living room, saying good night to the children. And would laugh derisively every time.

            The most horrible memory I have for that comes from when I was in the rocking chair in the oldest’s bedroom nursing her. He came in swigging his beer (7th at least), stuck his butt out and threatened to fart right in the room in our faces. I was visibly upset by that and he just laughed out loud at me.

            I was always to blame for making his life miserable by having “no sense of humor” about his farting and belching; being a “prude” about his drinking (8-10 beers at least 3 nights per week and every night of the weekend) and “nagging” him for treating the home like his own personal locker room.

            Good riddance!! And so glad to read that it wasn’t me!!

          • Not only is that gross, but abusive to your daughter! I’d like to rip one of his pubic hairs out and say “use this, you ball less wonder!”

          • These are the people I think are Histrionic Personality Disordered. They are GOING TO BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION NO MATTER WHAT!
            Coworker did the most outrageous things every time she had an audience.

          • Add the Traitor to that list… And he also dug into his earwax at the dinner table almost daily, with the handle of his fork. Whenever anyone said anything about it, he would proudly reply:
            “Do as I say, not as I do”.
            Let go, you’re spot on with Histrionic Personality Disorder.

        • Not my ex. He would never have even admitted to having anything so crass as bodily functions of any kind. I am sure Schmoopie doesn’t ever take a dump either.

      • When I complained about the farting, he would say ” you don’t want me to hold it in and feel sick, do you?!) Yes, I did want him to hold it in. How about just long enough to leave the room?!

        • Oh mine would also add, “I know from personal experience women never fart. While men do have the urge.”

          I can’t believe that I had tried (and failed) to explain to him that women do, but people usually tend to hold such urges and not do it in the presence of others. Smh!

        • Lovebringer69 would wait until I got into the car and then pass wind! No control and entitlement I shouldn’t have been surprised at DDay.

      • That’s so sweet. I always knew I was strong but after so many years with a borderline it was worse than Japanese water torture. At least it started like that but then they get bolder and more violent every time they get away with something else. I only hope we can ALL break lose and enjoy our freedom.

        • Being resilient may be a double-edged sword… But it helps recuperate during post-chump life.

    • Attie,
      I love that you are able to say “I allowed,” because it highlights how we have agency–that we can use to stop the abuse by refusing any longer to take it.
      As for you having “the balls”…I like “tits” or “titsy” as the female equivalent. It took some tits for you to leave, and to say no was titsy of you. (smile)

      • Hey Trying for Mighty (and gossiped to you towards Mighty, if you’re not there already!)

        I too like to find the woman’s equivalent word for “balls”. Would “huevos” work? Cuz that’s what’s in our ovaries, right? (Sorry, I don’t know all of the reproductive science).

    • Attie, your comment struck a chord. I, too, had a rude get-around-me-spouse. When she wanted to get past me if I was standing somewhere, she would yell, in an imperious voice, “EXCUSE ME!” and then run into me as she went by. I would get mad and tell her that was disrespectful and rude, but she’d just act even more like a spoiled diva who got the wrong flavor of latte. “I needed to get past, and you were IN MY WAY!”
      I have an excellent (almost photographic) memory, and I can count on one hand the number of times she said “I’m sorry” in the 16 years we were married. The number of times she said “please” I can count on two. This woman honestly acted like she was some kind of superior being, and everyone else was lucky to be one of her servants.
      I think the CL is on to something. Cheating and entitlement certainly seem to go together.

      • Bingo! I don’t speak rudely to my kids and I wouldn’t even yell at a dog, but the asshole thought it was ok to speak to me like something he just scraped off his shoe – I guess ‘cos he was that special!

      • With mine it’s just “move it” which is actually nice and pleasant compared to when th dog happens to be laying in his path. Then it’s “get the fuck out of my way before I step on your head.”
        Awesome. 😐

      • That is my stepdaughter, to a tee. Takes after her entitled mother, who is now her personal flying monkey. It’s taken four years and a 3,000 mile buffer to fully recover from her last royal visit which included inviting three friends to enjoy our hospitality without discussing it with us (we have 1 small guest room), treating her Dad and I like indentured servants, and actual physical assault. I don’t know if she’s a cheater, but that’s likely. Her husband of two years has divorced her. Her explanation: “He just couldn’t find his happiness.” Our guess: Living with those two bullies was enough to break even a seasoned Marine who survived a tour in Afghanistan.

    • Yes, acts like a Emperor. Can fart, burp out loud. Can order wait staff around. Can insist on the whole kitchen staff at a restaurant be ‘interviewed’ to be sure that no wheat or wheat products touch his dinner……then on the way home he wants an ice cream and eats it AND the cone. Which is made….of wheat.

      But if he wanted to do impression work he would come home with a pie, or a pizza and I was supposed to have amnesia about the 30 cruelities he had inflicted prior. How dare I not appreciate that and him.

    • and all the books I read on Christian Marriage kept telling me to love him more, make him the highest priority after God, go to him if I had a concern (he would rip me a new ass), respect him…none of them warned me that he might be disordered…that he may use his free will to be a selfish nasty person and that God would not deny him his free will.

      boy oh boy did I ever try to avoid rage an criticism by over functioning…I would think WEEKS out of what he might get mad at and try to fix those things.

      One time, we were planning a road trip which included driving through the entire state of Wyoming. Before we left, I had the minivan worked on so it would be in tip-top shape. I actually said to the guys in the garage “please put new wiper blades on, if it starts raining half way across Wyoming and the wipers dont work well, my husband will throw a huge fit”. They charged me for the wipers but didnt put them on and (like clock work) halfway across Wyoming, rain, messy windshield and hatred started spewing from him. It is only now that I realize that his rage was likely because he fucked some gal at work in the weeks before the trip.

      • OMG! This was me too! I did all the trip prep and worried about all the details so as to not offend His Highness. In 2008 at the height of OW#1 (that he had gaslighted and lied about for months so we were in a bad spot but I had no idea how bad, yet) we went on a big camping trip. I spent many hours planning every detail of food and packing for 4 people, for 10 days of remote roughing it in tents.

        I forgot the salsa. You might have thought I forgot the tents given how he acted. It didn’t matter how many details I got right, he was a petulant child because he didn’t get his salsa. He had done exactly zero to prepare, since he was “working late” with the sparkletwat for weeks before, and yet felt incredibly entitled to treat me like shit over a forgotten condiment.

        I know now I was in full devalue status. As if OW#1 would have remembered salsa, she was a dumbass, but it all would have been re-framed and forgiven for her. I was just the appliance, the malfunctioning appliance.

          • Hey, I heard for hours how I didn’t buy sour cream. It started when I walked in the door from work at 7 p.m. Fucktard X had been home since 2 p.m. So, a) he could have gone to the market and bought the damn sour cream, or b) he could have walked a block and bought the damn sour cream at the local liquor store, or c) he could have called me at work and asked me to buy the damn sour cream on the way home. But his way was more fun. For him.

        • Oh yes. Schmoopie’s dog chewed his leather wallet to bits and it’s no big deal. If our dog had done that he would have been mad and it would have been all my fault for not training her right.

        • Camping with a cheating narc…what a suckfest was that is. When packing for us all, I knew if I brought too much stuff I would get shit but if he randomly demanded that I immediately reach into a bag and produce some specific item and didn’t have it, there would be shit for that too, so had to try to bring the perfect selection of things with no mistakes. He once abandoned me in an airport with 2 little kids , 2 car seats and all out carry ons . He was angry because I did something differently than he told me to do it and I was being punished. A janitor helped get us (into a tram) and to our connecting flight. When we got to the gate he was sitting there alone rather pleased with himself. Me thinks that Purgatory included a replay video of that day.

          • A few years before D-day, when we were in Heathrow airport returning from a trip, I had the audacity to put sugar packets that we had not used back into the coffee shop container so that other consumers could use them (I hate wasting food).

            Hannibal harangued me viciously for doing so and I told him I wanted a divorce as we got on the airport shuttle. I was truly befuddled, & asked him, “Why do you care that I put sugar packets back?” Now I know the answer–Power. Criticism would often get me to change a behavior to avoid the criticism, and that was his go-to manipulation.

            Sadly, he apologized and made up to me the entire plane flight home. Wish I’d left his sorry ass that day.

        • The devaluation was constant. I never did anything right according to him and whatever turned out right was ignored. I would pack his food in a glass container and he would change it into a plastic container saying the glass container was heavy. I would start packing his food in a plastic container and a week in, he would empty the food into a glass container saying warming food in the plastic container was not healthy. He flipped the script so many times I got tired. I told him he can take over packing his own food. I was always trying to reach the bar which he had set for me but just when I felt the tip of my fingers touching it, it would be yanked and lifted higher and the game began again. There were two set of rules in our household, his was whatever he felt like and mine were set by him.

          He would ask for my advice and then if it did not work out the insult, being devalued, humiliation and laughing in my face would follow. I realized he never wanted to initiate anything to avoid being responsible in case it did not work out. It got so bad, I stopped doing anything except cooking and cleaning. He started complaining that I do not organize trips, outings or contribute. The rage for that was epic. I told him it does not matter what I do, I am damned if I do or do not do. I was not going to spend my energy organizing or doing anything and end up insulted, raged at or humiliated. He just stared at me. It wasn’t long before he announced he wanted a divorce, packed a bag and left for a week to only God knows where. I started pick-me-dancing and after a week or so, I won the turd and I felt good because he was back home, with me.

          I am 1 year legally separated and waiting for the divorce final decree and I am happier than I have been in a long while. I still miss him sometimes and I am not completely no contact, I know I should. Half way through the separation he asked if I can go back to him and when I did not give him an answer immediately, the rage started kicking in and I turned him down immediately. He has tried coming back with a sad sausage story and I shut it down and he blocks me. After a while he unblocks me and we go back to texting once in two weeks. I am waiting for the divorce to be final and I will go no contact completely.

      • The ex hated family trips, because how did that jive with what he told OW about us and our ‘separation?’. He always tried to cancel family trips, now I know why.

        • We had a long standing family trip planned and he got home from work and said he wasn’t going and tried to pick a fight and he acted like a lunatic freak. I think he wanted to go but had a schmoopie demanding time and telling him to have us go without him. I refused to take the bait and fight, I just left without him and he called and caught up with us… it was one of his very weirdest episodes. Memories like that convince me now that the “serial cheater” thing is true.

          • I too was a chump who struggled and analyzed and tried to understand and account for these sudden fights and pissy moods. SPACKLE! “It’s our vacation–why isn’t this fun?” I cried out so plaintively, more than once.

            I love this conversation–funny in spite of its sad ironies. Sooooo many mysteries solved once we knew about Schmoopie!

            • Dr. Cheaterpants could thwart any happy occasion like vacations and holidays. The kids and I would prep and plan, be giddy with excitement and anticipation, and he would be super sparkly at times (read other people around to witness his awesomeness) and then sullen and pouty intermixed with raging (read not the center of attention). I would wonder how something we could look so forward to turn into something so miserable?

        • Part of my spackle was that I was the mom. I had heard the old adage that people go on vacation to have a good time, moms go on vacation to make sure everyone else has a good time. Clearly I failed at my job even though I was being ignored and gaslighted and devalued. Hindsight is a gift that lets us do better.

          • I absolutely hated to travel with him …he was a monster to travel with. I got to the point where I really believed that I hated travel itself. I love my sons but they are HORRIBLY high maintenance on trips. I used to joke about how I just liked to stay home…I could cope with the nastiness and abuse best at home.

            The year nowdeadcheater died, I had taken my daughter to Paris, just us two and had a FABULOUS time. We stayed in a crappy hotel and had to pinch pennies but it was great. We went to London about 6 months after he died and that was fab too. Went to Italy for daughters Sr yr in HS, but she was grumpy. By then I had become reacquainted with newhusband and he and I started to travel.

            My friends now think Ive gone insane…I n the 5+ years since he died, I have been to Europe or Asia 7 times with 2 trips planned…it wasnt that I didnt like travel, I didnt like being abused while travelling – Oh…now that makes sense.

            • Yeah the travel!! We did a 5 month trip with 3 small kids round australia…me attempting to home school them and obviously do all the same domestic stuff out of a tent the same as at home….what did he say at the end…” it wasn’t as bad as i thought sitting next to you all that time “…. beyond words. Funnily he wrote a journal along the way and reading it the other day it gives the impression he was doing the journey by himself and me and the kids were vague footnotes !!

  • Yes, Chump Lady my entire marriage was lop-sided. Looking back how naive I was. Especially the last 10 years of our marriage. I paid all the bills. He would give me an average of $200.00 a week towards bills. With his extra cash he restored a 1970 Dodge Dart. Had money to go away 4 to 5 times a week. I bought him cell phones, a laptop, cloths, etc. He rarely bought me a gift. While I was struggling to pay the bills. He was out playing Pool with my cousin. When I lost my job he refused to put me on his health insurance. It was too expensive. Yet,I always had him on mine. I did all the chores around the house. He would have a fit if he would have to empty the dishwasher. I would ask him for more money towards the bills. And I was told that if I knew how to handle money better I would not need it. I was forced to take out credit cards to pay my health insurance and taxes. It was used as grounds for divorce. He said I was stealing from him and hiding credit card debt from him. Never told his lawyer or parents that he was screwing my POS cousin.

    He filed for divorce because of credit card debt. But, he sold his Dart and stashed that money in his parents safe. I found out he had $20000.00 stashed in the safe. But, I was hiding money from him. I could go on and on. What a turd I was married to. A man who financially ruined me and cheated on me. And acted like he was the victim.

    • That’s what they do. Abuse you then play the victim. Mine cries parental alienation – he is the poor victim as I turned our daughter against him! It has nothing to do with the fact that our daughter thinks he’s an asshole because he lied, cheated dumped his family and he chose his 22 y.o coworker over her. I remember him getting ready to go see his girlfriend on the weekend and our daughter would be begging him to sit with her and play a game or watch a movie, or go take pictures….. he’d just get so irritated and rush out. He said he was taking pictures at night with his new camera. He couldn’t do it during the day – the sun hurt his eyes.

      She refuses to see him and he makes no effort to contact her. He tried texting her a couple times and then gave up.

      But if he wants some girl he will write pages of sappy love letters. Any letters to his daughter? Nope. He can only do ‘love’ letters to his next victim. Our daughter confronted him with truth – and now, unfortunately, she gets dumped, too. No use in trying to communicate with her – she knows what he is.

      • I hope your daughter and you can change that wording from “she gets dumped” to “Our daughter confronted him with the truth and now she is free of her cheater father”.
        The man who was never there for her and lied to her!
        She now has one strong, sane and tough mother to model resiliency for her. She’s good.

      • My 8 year old is quickly learning that her dad doesn’t care. She asked to spend a night of her weekend with him with her nana instead.

        She is angry that a “fake” family (her words not mine) completevwith a new baby sister has been force upon her.

        Her dad complains about me and blames me for sunburns she gets at camp when I am not there to remind her to reapply sunscreen. If she mentions me, no one acknowledges her.

        My ex complains that I enforce the co to the letter, eliminating him from helping with school drop off and pick up because he didn’t respect my schedule. He thinks his daughter is as that she has less time with him but she doesn’t care and he doesn’t call or email her during my time even when I encouraged him to do so. He’s also entitled to a week vacation with her which he hasn’t even mentioned.

        Yet, he blames me for the lack of respect she has for him. She tells him I am a better parent than he is. He blames me for undermining his authority by whatever I have told her. I don’t need to tell her anything. If he wanted to have a better relationship with her he would pu in the effort. Actually I lied, I did tell her something. I told her to pay more attention to people’s actions than their words. I think if there is any benefit to being a chump it is that I can teach my daughter how NOT to be one.

    • Cuz – your story is very similar to mine! Even the playing pool part!!! Assholes. Glad you got out of that.

    • You have it there! Mine had an classic car as well. He paid an appraiser to say it was a ‘clone’ car and not a real one. It was insured for 36K, but the appraiser said it was worth 5 K. I had my own appraisal done, he threatened to sue my appraiser or call the police on him if he stepped foot on ‘his’ property. Luckily the appraiser said it was also my property and he did the 2nd appraisal. They really are snakes.

      • Yup. When it came to valuing marital property, the X valued his chick-magnet Porsche at $5k. I said, great, I’ll take it! Oops, no, not for you! That was a typo.

  • My absolute biggest regret is allowing my sons to witness this treatment of me for 35 years. I have finally come to realize that I was able to depend on the ex for absolutely NOTHING! I did the child rearing, cooking, shopping, financing, bill paying, gardening, landscaping, decorating and even was the one that had to fire the contractors that weren’t doing their job. In reality, I kept myself too busy to focus on the emotional abuse that he dealt me. I actually (in front of him at a psychiatrist) used the metaphor of a dog that gets abused. Offer the dog a treat and he comes, tail wagging and all is forgotten! That was me

    • NotMyFault, (((hugs))). My son is 10, 8 yo at DDay. While I was vocal as to “why” we are divorcing, I know I have years of teaching and modeling strength. I feel very exhausted, physically and emotionally depleted, but I do trust that these shitty days will pass, the pain is finite as CL says and that my son will appreciate this decision though he feels different about it now.

      • Dear LongTimeChump,
        I am so sorry for all your pain.
        You will feel peace in a time to come, for you and for your son.
        When I read CL, I admire the strength of Chumps who divorce their cheater.( in the cases where cheater leaves my heart knows this is for the best, so difficult, but for the best).
        (Years ago, I was alone, my children were so tiny, one not even born, that when cheater decided to stay after DDay, life just went on for me. I didn’t know, or expect, anything different- confided in no one). The cheating is only one of a Narc’s bad characteristics, don’t we know it)!
        It is so difficult for you right now, but please be encouraged by your own strength, be proud of yourself. Come to CN, the wonderful people here all understand. They will not only lift you up, they will sing your praises, endlessly.
        YOU are so deserving.
        YOU are Mighty!
        ❤️

        • Dear peacekeeper, I know your story and follow your wise and kind words to all chumps here. Thank you! I always look out for you.

          I discovered CL about 10 months after DDay 1, and after false reconciliation and the subsequent DDay 2 in October 2016. It’s been almost 2 years of CL University for me now. I have been an avid reader since and so grateful for CL’s work and CN’s support. They have propelled me to action and I just put one foot forward at the time when I was too broken to act.

          Thankfully, we live in different countries so my world is not poisoned with cheater-breath most of the time. But about 8 weeks in the summer and 2-3 weeks in spring he visits and we are still in ongoing separation discussions (Him putting forward ridiculous new requirements every time and me fighting back). I know it will be sorted out, maybe not at the pace I want, but it will be. I keep getting my strength from here especially before and after engaging with him which leaves me emotionally more depleted and abused. But I have my son, the joy of my life.

          I have been open with him on what happened. He keeps asking questions. He told me the other day that my major decision making (on how to choose the life partner) sucked. I said ” Yes, it may have sucked, but look at the bright side: I have you! If I did not marry your dad, you wouldn’t be here!” His response:” Mom, I still would be, at lease 80% of me would be me because I came from you!”

          • (((((LongTimeChump)))))
            Thank you for your very kind words to me.
            Your son is so wise and mature for ten years of age.
            I smiled at the words in your last paragraph.
            My beautiful daughters are unaware of their father’s affair, however, sadly, they have lived with, and witnessed, his narc like character.
            I have told them on more than one occasion that I would never marry their father again, if I had it all to do over.
            They say, “But Mom, then you wouldn’t have us .”
            “Oh yes, I would” I tell them, ” but you would look different.”
            We smile, together, at my words. They both know that I love them with all my heart. It is quite a bond we share. They are my life’s greatest treasure. Smart, wise and tough, they are. They have had to be.
            I am sorry for the time that you do have to spend with your son’s father. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers for strength as you deal with this.
            Your son is so fortunate to have such a special present, sane, loving parent, in you, his amazing Mother!

    • Notmyfault: I use a dog as an example to explain things too only I think of a dog that has been abused. You can kick a dog every day and that dog will cower down and give up. But one day that dog will get tired of being kicked and it is going to flip out and bite your ass. I am finally at the bite his ass stage. I only wish I could give him rabies like he gave me sti….

      • Give him a lawyer instead. And understand that once you return to a position of strength in their sick minds, they may respect you enough to want to break you again.

  • This is such a great post and sooo true. I remember during wreckonciliation and going to marriage counseling that I told him that I felt like his personal assistance. I did absolutely everything for him at home because he had an “important” job and worked all the time. Ironically it let him stay at work and out of the house all the time to start his affair with the howorker.

    I’m working very hard at staying minimal contact and gray rock. I know it pisses him off that I won’t engage with him. He invites me to share holidays and celebrations, and I decline every time. He wants to talk in person about minor kid things, I decline. He writes me a lengthy email and I give him one line back. I finally have control back. Just be a good dad and continue your financial support because you legally have to. I will always think you are an ENTITLED SELFISH ASS.

    I will now continue drinking my coffee in peace. Love is about reciprocity and giving!!! I pray that I teach that to my two beautiful children. Stay strong CN and thank you CL!!!

    • Reciprocity. I made excuses to myself that it was ‘just her personality’. She even said throughout our marriage stuff like: “you know how selfish I am”. And for some reason in my chumpy self I accepted that as some sort of valid excuse. Looking back after 18 years I can’t believe I put up with that crap- never again !

    • I will continue drinking my iced coffee in peace this morning too! For the last few years of devalue, I would have to remind him each time he returned home from traveling (banging the twatwaffle), that , “you know, I don’t actually work for you. I’m not your employee. ..Remember?” Oh. So. Entitled.

      “I told him that I felt like his personal assistance. I did absolutely everything for him at home because he had an “important” job and worked all the time. Ironically it let him stay at work and out of the house all the time to start his affair with the howorker.”

  • “You’ll just do and do and do and do, and expect to be noticed, or appreciated . . . Maybe you think, if I Please the Un-pleasable today, I’ll avoid disaster/rage/criticism/conflict/icky feelings…”

    Yup, this was my life for more than 15 years. More the latter than the former — I didn’t need to be “noticed” or “appreciated” because I came to define those concepts through KK’s definition of them (lavish praise, constant attention, etc.), and I instinctively didn’t need or want that. But I was definitely guilty of dispensing kibbles just to avoid disaster/rage/criticism/conflict.

    She threw the “happy wife, happy life” line around frequently with a wink and a nudge, but I knew the dark truth that lay beneath all too well.

    What strikes me about this post is the “Well, they would do the same for me… some day” mindset — not because I ever had it, but because KK has latched on to this since the divorce. Every time I do not indulge or accommodate some big thing that she wants (using my home as a ‘bus stop’ for my daughters so she can pick them up at her convenience, giving up my year of first choice of vacation weeks so she can take them to Israel for RPD’s son’s bar mitzvah) she trots out something akin to “I would hope you would be accommodating of [fill in the blank], as I would with you.”

    Open ended words of promised reciprocity are not the same as observed behavior.

    • reading your post and instead of promised reciprocity, my brain saw promiscuity- lol , the minds eye!

    • UX — I think I saw you decided to put off dating. I did not. Wait till you meet someone who recognizes how great you are for just being you. It’s SO awesome. So incredibly awesome!

    • Wow UX, another example of having the exact same experience as you. Mine is always saying things like that now. And I am very much guilty of dispensing kibbles to avoid her rage and conflict. Something I’m working on in myself still.

    • Reciprocity, ha! My “turn” was always “next time”, like “next time we can do/go/see what you want”. It would end up being his turn to have his way and my turn was always “next”. Then if we’d “go” where I wanted, we’d have to “do” what he wanted. If we did something I wanted, he’d make sure it wasn’t fun because he dragged his heels. I learned that if I wanted peaceful enjoyment of anything it had to be without him. This guy, believe it or not, was the life of everybody else’s party, the “good” guy, the “fun” guy and he got all kinds of pity when I left him. I’m pretty meh about him now because I have a life now.

    • UXWorld, I’m not sure I see promised reprocity in that statement. I read it more like “unless you let me do xyz, I swear to say no to the next similar thing you want no matter how reasonable it is”. That’s transactional, not reciprocal. And not suprisingly, they always get their turn first. I get similar bs, but I generally read it as a covert-with-plausible-deniability threat. I generally set up the trade at the time, rather than expecting anything at a later date. E.g. if she wants to get a first choice selection in your year, you trade for one the following year, in advance. Only works if you think the other party will stick to it, though.

  • Raising my hand, I’m guilty. After almost 20 years with Dr. Cheaterpants, I started to get a little uppity again. I started calling him out on his selfishness. Once at a restaurant for a family celebration when he had ordered appetizers, but none he knew I would eat, I asked the waiter to add an additional item. He gave me his signature nasty, disapproving look and said ‘we don’t need all that food’. I told him ‘as long as you get what you want, you’re good, right?’ The kids and I heard him rage all the way home about how I embarrassed him. And I being a good little chump apologized profusely for doing so.

    That was about a year before Dday #2 with yet another schmoopie. I started thinking in my head why I actually needed him as he brought absolutely nothing to my life except high maintenance needs and control along with his large salaray as a doctor (he would NEVER spend a dime on anything I wanted–always his hobbies).

    Thank goodness we remained in the same house the kids and I moved into after the first time he left for a different schmoopie years earlier. Since he’s left, he’s purchased a 5,000 square foot home, $450K, on an acre for him and schmoopie. Our kids are older now, one will be a senior, the other going to college so it surely wasn’t for them. And they can’t stand to go over there. Without me as a buffer, I’m sure he’s quite a fun dude.

    Anyhow I’ve come a long way now. I will never go back to living under the control of someone else and suppress my needs. And yes, he did the same damn thing while married in that he would be a peach infront of everyone else and load on the super husband charm. We were a team in that I would throw up an awesomeness compliment about him and he would spike it home for the score while he smiled ear to ear.

  • I stopped enabling my cheater well before he left for the OW. I’m pretty sure in the scheme of all fuckery that he claimed my assertion of independence as part of his reasoning to abandon the family. That I stopped doing for him and that was yet another sign that I didn’t love him….. or so he told the OW to get her sympathy.

    It was to the point where he didn’t even have a hand in buying christmas gifts for his own family much less our children. I managed it all.

    So when I finally put my foot down and said that I wasn’t doing it all anymore and I needed time for myself….. oh we suddenly had “marriage problems” (No, HE was the problem).

    So I would caution those that are still in toxic marriages to be prepared when you finally say enough is enough and you start to be you again. The house is going to burn around you…. but you rise.

    • Very good points DC, the House was on fire long before you had enough.

      Whenever my adult daughter uttered the words, “You never forgave him for cheating”, I knew the foundation for blame had taken root.

      • DoingMe, I hope you have the opportunity to respond to that by saying ‘Damned right I didn’t! I deserved way more after years of doing so much for him, and having him do so little!’.

    • Exactly. Once I realized I was doing most everything domestic (cleaning, shopping, cooking, yardwork, bill paying, card sending, Christmas shopping, wrapping, gift sending, trip planning, holiday doing) while building a career, and having the Fucktard delegate to ME every favor asked of HIM, I did think he should step up from working 4 hours a day and exercising and tanning, and getting weekly massages. I was told it was the least I could do as he earned more money. BUT seeing as how I paid half the bills, including his weekly massages, that did not fly. So if it should be even steven on the money, how about some effort here? That was my death knell, right there. He dipped his toes in what I had on my plate and found it to be too much to even consider evening out. Time to find a new appliance.

  • Did everything to help and keep that woman in a “zone of happiness”. Thought that that was what a good spouse was- do everything AND be their constant counselor. Looking back I realize that I was trying to continuously exhibit to her that I had value to her (while at the same time she complained to me and her little gaggle of destroyers that I didn’t). Constant devalue, but I “dug in” and “weathered storm” and came up with all the excuses to dismiss her poor behavior. To those of you just arriving to the shit storm, they don’t get better, they get worse- they will never value you, especially enough to be faithful to you.

    • (with apologies to the late, great Rod Serling)

      “You unlock this door with the key of entitlement reinforcement.
      Beyond it is another dimension . . .
      A dimension of rage.
      A dimension of accommodation.
      A dimension of unfulfilled reciprocity.
      You’re moving into a land of both praise and abuse, of mindfucking and gaslighting.
      You’ve just crossed over into . . . the Zone of Happiness.”

    • Ex would always tell other people that he the key to our happy marriage was that he always did what I wanted and gave me my way in all things. It always surprised me when I heard him say stuff like that because it sure didn’t seem that way to me. The things he did give me my way on he resented all the way to DDay and beyond and he obviously never appreciated or even noticed all of the times I gave him what he wanted..

      • Got the same from Golden D##k every time someone new would come over and exclaim about the house and the beautiful gardens that I made, alone and with NO help from him. He would reap the benefits (praise, excuse me, kibbles) of MY hard work and money and imply that he did it all while I watched from the sidelines eating bon-bons. He constantly quoted “happy wife, happy life” to our guests. Happy wife? Oh, were you referring to the OW? ‘Cause I was anything but happy over the last few decades or so. He was almost never home, and when he was I was at his beck and call and the recipient of his rages and drunken buffoonery. He retired with a full pension 12 years ago at 50 and never lifted a finger around the house. Meanwhile, I continued to work because he insisted that we could not make it without my salary and health insurance. I only recently found out what his retirement check is, trust me, it would have covered our needs and even our wants. The problem was, however, that me being home more would have cut into Shmoopie time, Craigslist hookup time, trolling the bars for random strangers, etc. And the reduction in income would have meant he couldn’t be the big-spender (at least $65K dribbled away on her over just the last 5 years) for Schmoopie and her family and friends. And ED meds aren’t cheap. Wonder how he’s going to like living on half of that pension and having to leave the beautiful (new) home I made? House will be 100% mine and cheater-free by the end of the year. And it’s going to be a lot harder for Golden D##k to attract more women when he is living in a crappy apartment with thrift store castoffs and no one to clean up after him or buy him presentable clothes. I know my Meh is coming. I think I’ve earned it.

    • My exw was the same, I tried my hardest to make sure she was happy, then gave up when I realised it was a losing battle. When she cheated I blamed myself for giving up making my needs smaller so she would be happy, but now I know it wasn’t my fault she cheated. I’m glad I had the strength to not totally lose myself in my marriage. Now I’m 14 months out things are a little clearer, as her entitled behaviour and negativity hasn’t changed, I see her nearly every day because complicated childcare arrangements, I don’t miss her at all. Still sad, but feel better.

      • Magical, I’m sure my cheater would say that “he couldn’t make me happy”…which he then used as an excuse to cheat. Blame-shifting. MY side is that he certainly was able to make me happy, and did so early on in our relationship. And then the devaluing started…and I got unhappy. Anything I asked him to do, no matter how small, was immediately moved to the bottom of his to-do list, often resulting in me giving up and simply doing whatever task myself…which, of course, emasculated him. And it wasn’t like I required these things to be done immediately. One thing I wanted was a simple clock/radio that didn’t have signal creep. Oh, HE would get it for me, because HE knew the right kind to get (I didn’t, apparently). Two years later, I finally bought one for myself, because I was tired of waiting. His reaction was that I had somehow “abused” him by not letting him choose the radio. WTF?? He just can’t make me happy….

  • The last 3 years of my marriage, I had more responsibility taking care of my mother. She was in an assisted living facility and I saw her usually 2x a week. On the those days, I wouldn’t get home till 7-7:30pm as I had a 50-minute commute. I can count on two hands the number of times I came home to a warm meal waiting for me. If I said anything about how much I cook and waited on him, he would cook on one of those nights and then go back to the same entitled behavior.

    Hardly ever, did I get the emotional support that I needed. I didn’t get a back rub or a head rub because I had a bad day. But, I would let him put his head in my lap as we lay in bed watching TV.

    One evening many years ago when I was doing Weight Watchers, I asked the ex to go on a walk with me. He informed me that he didn’t need to walk because he wasnt trying to lose weight. That exchange sums up my marriage. Years later, when he was trying to slim down, he told that him and sinister sister were going to do P90x and see who could do better. You can support your sister but not your wife.

    I threw him so much kibble and in the end, it still wasn’t enough.

    • reminds me of the time i asked wasband to change the oil on my truck.. .. his response was “why should he change the oil, he doesnt drive that truck”.. .. “sums up my marriage” is exact right. . .. it did not matter to him that his wife drove that truck home at 10 pm at night. nor did it matter to him that his wife drove his children around every day in that truck. or the fact that i used that truck to pay bills, got groceries, etc

      basically the children and i did not mean anything to him. apparently nothing i did meant anything to him either. .. .. i was just a wife appliance and he damn sure did not want to have to put any effort into it either.

      • Same here MrsVain – ex wouldn’t even wash my car – the same one that drove my stepkids to practices and games, picked up groceries and hauled my butt to work because he didn’t want a SAHM.

        • Been there! My ex would never lift a finger to wash my car or do anything that didn’t benefit him. He also used to do extremely little housework and earned less than me, which led to him quite reasonably paying less of the bills. Of course he always claimed that he did and paid more (until I marriage policed with spreadsheets- such a sign of disfunction that it got to that!)

          He counted washing his own car as his proportion of housework and parenting most months, while I did all the cleaning, gardening, cooking and parenting of teens including one with frequent hospitalisations.

          He would then complain that I never helped him wash his car!

          So glad I don’t live with that leach anymore.

  • My mother was like this. Nothing was ever good enough for her. I used to jump through hoops to try to make her happy. The worst times were when I danced pretty like a trained monkey anticipating in advance what she would want…only to have her walk in, not acknowledge what I did and point out exactly what wasn’t done. It was brutal. I think it trained me for years of jumping through hoops to make people happy.

    Funny thing is once you realize that they will never be satisfied, it is actually the most liberating thing…because then you stop trying.

    Nothing brings out the rage channel more than when you stop trying to please them 😁

    • Your last sentence and all the replies brought a lot into focus.

      At some point in our long marriage >10 years ago, I started withholding sex. I was awakening to the effects of sexual trauma I had experienced before marriage, in addition to our relationship evolving and maturity setting in. I wasn’t willing to never have sex again. I was just trying to get it to be like the way I wanted it. Believe me when I say the sex was good and great at times. But all the times leading up to it were fraught.

      I am not sexually aroused by desperation. I am not sexually aroused by assertions of need. I am not sexually aroused by pouting. I am not sexually aroused by chores with an agenda.

      I am sexually aroused by ongoing respect, kind regard, and affection without strings attached. This is where he failed to meet my needs. As he failed to meet my needs, and I became empowered to ask for my needs, this is when the anger began. The anger is the destructive force of our marriage and the cause of his cheating.

      He could never, ever get what I meant by “I am sexually aroused by ongoing respect, kind regard, and affection without strings attached”. Believe me I tried to help. He could never get past the idea that it was quid pro quo. If he did the dishes, he got sex. If he listened to me talk, he got sex. If he kissed me goodbye every morning, he got sex. If I hugged him, he got sex. If we were still awake in bed at night, he got sex. If he let me sleep in, he got sex. It was always if-then.

      Those are rules. I live by principles.

      OMFSM, this is a revelation to me; not that I didn’t know but that I couldn’t crystallize it. Now, since D-Day a week ago Sunday, it’s all so clear.

      Thank you.

      • Corny, thank you so much for that line ‘those are rules, I live by principles’. It took me way too long to understand that my ex and I simply don’t have the same values. At all.

        I’m sorry to hear you had the horrible experience of D-Day so recently. I hope knowing that CL and CN ‘get it’ is helpful.

      • To this day he fails to understand why breaking agreements (as a way of life) is bad for his sex life. Why making unilateral decisions is bad for his sex life. Why controlling our money is bad for his sex life. Why ignoring my requests (as a way of life) is bad for his sex life. Why if he wants something, it happens yesterday; if I want something it’s a problem (the majority of the time) is bad for his sex life. But then again, he is a one-trick pony when it comes to sex…again, what he wants is the only thing that is important and he doesn’t understand why that’s bad for his sex life….he has moved out and going to two therapists on his own and daily AA meetings. My focus is on me, my daughter and our healing. May the Force be with us!
        PS…..”The Female Brain…..chapter on sex…
        Local neuropsychiatrist at UCSF….he didn’t even get it when I read that to him….

        • “The Female Brain”…..Louann Brizendine
          I read him the chapter on sex. Here! Here is the Golden Key to unlocking my garden gate!!! Nope. Over his head. This book is fun to read in very simple, enjoyable, easy to understand lay-person language. Nope. Over his head. I guess if you are used to paying someone for sex or treating your partner like your right hand it would go over your head…..

      • My ex torched our sex life and never made any attempt to get it back. Shortly after the birth of our daughter I attempted affection towards him. His response? “Oh NOW you like me? Maybe if you were nicer to me I would want to.” He said this to a new mom full of hormones. It was devastating. I don’t even know what I did to offend him. For years on any of my efforts were met with indifference. His snoring bothered me so eventually he slept in another bed and never addressed to issue. One night years later he attempted to sleep in our bed. I looked at him and asked what he was doing? He left the room. I have felt SO guilty for that moment. Maybe I should have let him sleep in the bed. But what I realize is that that would not have solved anything. The larger issue was never addressed and we couldn’t just pick up where we left off years earlier without addressing it.
        And he never wanted to talk about it. Even when our marriage was almost over he could not give me a real answer on why he rejected me sexually for years. It’s one of the most difficult things for me to overcome.

        • You reminded me a little thing that we used do while in bathroom. If I was in there getting ready, he would take shower and I always handed him his towel along with a little fondling. I didn’t know about his ED in the last few months or that he was visiting escorts. During that time, I handed him his towel as usual and I was reaching for him, he growled me that it was really annoying. In 19 years, he never once told me to quit (well, he did but it was always laughing and playing). He was so stern and cold. Immediately, I was hurt and told him that I would never do it again. I didn’t and never will again because the divorce proceedings started shortly after.

  • I did all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, scheduling the kids, running them to practice, etc, etc. Then on DDay, he says “everything has to be YOUR way” and “this house revolves around YOU”. Umm…yes, because you were always at work and someone had to do it!

    I gave up my career to work in the business we had created together, and now I wish I had never done that. Our divorce is going to take close to 2 years to untangle us and working together is tough for me. He treats me as if there’s nothing wrong. Such mind fuckery!

    I would buy him stuff all the time, and yet he wouldn’t bother to buy me anything…..ever, because as he said, “you returned every present I ever gave you….every….single…time.” I guess when we separate everything, I’ll be keeping all those gifts that he forgot about that I KEPT!

  • All this. So much of what CN has noted was my life, too.

    I thought he had an “important” job so I was OK with him working away from home, late nights, never questioning. I see now he was escaping responsibility by being away from the house for 14 hours a day when he was in town, and looking desperately for work away from home whenever he could. The farther the better. Lie to me while he was home, chase co-worker twats, avoid his life. Fact is, my job is more “important” than his and it is really clear to me in hindsight. He must have seen it too because he hated me for my career. And yet any little bit of kibble tossed to me would make me glow with joy. The rest of the time he ignored me.

    We did extraordinary things together as a “team” and people would comment how well we worked together. I see now it was me. He was really not around much. Sometimes he would be around to reach high things or lift something heavy occasionally, but mostly he would find ways to avoid any actual work. He was the one who decided we were going to move to a bigger city back in 2003 for his career, but ended up backing out because he found a huge house that needed full remodeling and he wanted us to buy it. I spent 14 years remodeling everything in that huge house ALONE because he was so important his job wouldn’t allow him to be there for contractors and repairs, ever.

    After 14 years of working on the house I was abandoned there and left to fix the last $35K worth of stuff in order to sell it for the divorce, again with exactly zero help. During all that fallout he acted like it was MY IDEA to buy the albatross in the first place, and when I called him on that complete bullshit he simply said, “Yeah, but you didn’t argue against it!” Therefore it was somehow my idea, remember it is never ever his fault.

    Yet whenever he would be kind, fleeting moments, I felt that my life was worth it. I figured that is just how he is, he withholds affection, but I know him better than anyone in the world. I thought if I just put my head down and never complain it would all pay off. Just when I thought I would get the big payoff of an early retirement he poofed on me to chase a co-worker twat half his age, and blamed me for it all.

    I was married to my abuser for 28 years. I never said, “happy wife, happy life.” Not one time. He called me by my actual name so infrequently I can count it on 2 hands. One of those times was in the e-mail he sent me as my out-of-the-blue departure notice.

    I can’t believe I put up with all of it. No more. Life is not a waiting room.

    • Years ago, I had to pick up an expert from out of town and defend his deposition. During the ride from the airport and the lunch break, he said things that floored me. “Being married is the happiest way to live!” I was interested in hearing the why’s because that was not my experience at the time. Turned out he and his wife were crazy good to each other and his wife was a twin, so her sister and husband were their best friends, for years. So, it was all about supporting each other and having good external support.

      “Happy wife, happy life” is something different. Almost a threat.

    • Oh yeah…brings back abuse memories…i was so at his beck and call he barely had to say my name but by the time he fucked off and immediately started with the formal legalese it was all first name all over the place. And to the kids it was “your mother” . So dehumanising… they do it deliberately to minimise our meaning.

  • This article hit me so, so, so hard. I did everything for him and still he didn’t stay. I coughed up my finances to organise trips and dates and NEVER did he take me on a date back. NEVER did he buy flowers. NEVER did he respect a Skype date. We were in a long distance and I would be the one travelling every month to see him every. single. time. And I would clean his house and cook when I reached because he couldn’t be bothered doing so.

    The worst thing was – and in my mind it felt perfectly normal – I suppressed the grief of losing a parent so I could help him through his worst moments. I thought I’m ‘investing’ in the relationship. It was so fucked up.

    I always thought, let me keep on giving, I’m not doing enough etc. And when I had the audacity to expect that he should be there for me when I did break down over my parent’s loss… I was asking too much. I always felt I was asking too much. He told me ‘I should not have expectations’ . On D-Day he did tell me he didn’t want me to lean on him when I was grieving and that OW made him laugh, and I felt I hadn’t given enough and that’s why he left. Wow.

    To this date I have echoes of that feeling, that asking him – the man in my life – to be there when I mourned was too much. But then I remember someone on CN saying that he was a black hole into which I was pouring myself, and it would never have been enough.

    Did anyone ever feel that they were asking for too much?

    • Chumpyte, I think that you wrote my story! (especially in regard to my last boyfriend)

      If imagining that receiving crumbs was love was an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medalist over several Olympic games.

      Reciprocity? What’s that?

      Chump Lady, thank you for reminding me of what I needed to hear.

    • ‘INVESTING!’
      Yes! This!!
      Because isn’t that the POINT of MARRIAGE??
      Short term sacrifice for long term pay-off?
      Why invest your entire self in something that can be entirely destroyed on the whim of a Fuckwit?
      Why are we chumps? How could we have known?
      Because we actually did what we signed up for? Because they vowed NOT to suck and then took advantage? Because the nuances of healthy boundaries and family law are intentionally and deliberately withheld from us?
      It’s bullshit is what it is. My children were entitled to an in-tact home and extended family that I planned, sacrificed for and invested in my entire life. They suffer for that?
      Triple-decker shit sandwich.
      These fuckers need to go down. I didn’t ‘enable entitlement.’ I lived up to my end of the bargain. And like most of you, I was an ace. No-fault divorce is unconstitutional and evil. If any other contract than marriage was breached in these ways, there would be hell to pay. Risking our heath, fortunes, tits, tummies, and thighs for this shit? Feminism has failed women and children.

  • I think chumps used to think it was their fault that their spouses cheated. Its about the cheater, not the cheated. I think cheaters are very manipulate, twisting what you know and don’t know. Frankly I think its a form of hell on earth. No contact works, even if you have kids, we only discuss the kids. I have unfortunately realised my ex will never disclose the truth, even with evidence, too selfish to consider someone else’s feelings. Evidence medical reports, abuse from ow, etc, medical report was sti.

  • I had the perfect chump upbringing. It was all about my mom growing up. She was always sick. She used her sickness to manipulate people. She wanted me to be a nurse (to take care of her, of course). I took the prerequisites, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to do something else. She said they wouldn’t help me with school any more. So I got a job and quit school. She played the sick, helpless victim, but she was the controller! I learned to put my needs last and not stand up for myself. When I did stand up for myself my mom cowered and said how ‘mean’ I was. She said she had been hurt so much in the past by others, she was so fragile, if I confronted her on anything she wouldn’t be able to take it. She was always on the verge of a heart attack/stroke from me not doing what she wanted. When my first narc husband told me that he’d been hurt so badly in the past, he was so fragile….. blah blah blah….I was like, oh no I married my mom….. And then that was a horrible disaster with him threatening to kill himself. I called 911. He never did that again. I had learned to call my mom on her bluffs and that stopped some of her behavior. But oh man – then I went on to marry another one. Stand up to them and pay the consequences! Oh my gosh – I have gone through some hell, but I can’t imagine telling anyone, “I’ve been hurt to bad, I’m so fragile, I would just die if you were mean to me…” If I were to hear that I now it would mean to be: I will destroy you if you challenge me.

    My daughter and I are in counseling. I want her to be able to stand up for herself. My locking her dad out of the house was the first step in showing her not to accept abuse. Divorce is final now. It’s just incredible how deeply ingrained those chumpy behaviors are.

    • NoMore,
      I too had the perfect chump upbringing, except it was my alcoholic father who demanded our attention in my family. I was expected to be good and to be quiet. NEVER was I allowed to voice my needs. My mother told me to be quiet, that I was talking back. NO! I was trying to be heard.
      Married a selfish child, whose career was the center of our existence. He love bombed me in our short courtship and when he turned back to his career, I was just the support who brought all the goodness into our marriage. He financed it. So many times, I tried to change the dynamics of our marriage, begging him to come home once a week at 6 pm, to find a job closer to my home, to leave the job at work. I stayed home and did everything for everyone and when I needed a little help, he always expected that I would fall into his arms for payback sex. I told him intimacy brings intimacy but he just did what he wanted and I always gave. I moved away from family and friends many times for his career, always finding new friends for our social life and giving color to our black and white world. I was his unpaid assistant at work. And yeah, he would thank me at his awards ceremonies and would “do for me” in front of others, but he rarely did for me without the audience. I wanted to know why he never had a list of things to do for us, when that was the only list I had.
      Eventually, I decided to just be quiet and stifle my needs just like when i was a kid. Happy marriage? Maybe to anyone looking at it from the outside.
      When I discovered that he had been on dating sites and had cheated on me early in our marriage, I left him because I knew how much I had given up for the intact family dream and a financially secure life with a guy who was stingy. I might have been hushed in my marriage but I was screaming inside to get out. He told me that I was the love of his life. Yeah, because he could focus on his true love, HIMSELF.
      This topic, entitlement reinforcement, is my big problem. The inconsistent reinforcement of my original family’s love and the demands in my family to be quiet and not heard, set me up to be the perfect member of Chump Nation. It is toxic to be involved with someone who dangles intimacy and companionship as an occasional lure to keep you on that fishing line. Call it kibbles, call it manipulation. I call it BS.
      The mute child is still inside of me, but I am learning to listen to her and respect what she needs.

      • Right there with you, raised to be a chump. Mine is s slightly different story but one fact at the heart is the same, I was raised not to have needs. After being told for years I was whining, being too sensitive, just looking for attention, I just shut up. It was easier to say nothing than constantly be the source of rage for wanting a little consideration that I might need something as small as not to be abused by a sibling, or as my mother used to call it “oh, it’s just sibling rivalry, whatever you did to make her mad, don’t do it and you will be fine.” The more I perked back the layers of my upbringing the easier it is to see how I became a chump.

        Listen to that mute child inside you. She has a lot to say. It won’t be pretty but if you let her speak she will explain so much to you. Kero moving forward.

        • I could have absolutely written this post. My mom is a huge narcissist. Thankfully I learned to how to set boundaries and deal with her about 12 years ago. It’s all coming to good use.

    • Is there any consensus here that chumps are often made by narcissistic parents? Maybe another topic for another day, but it seems many of us did marry a narc parent substitute without realizing it, hoping for acceptance at last.

      • I’ll vote a yes to this – I was labelled “too sensitive” from a very young age. My mother had days long rages where her emotions reigned supreme through the house and I learnt to tip toe around and not have any needs of my own. Even so, a lip wobble or blinking too much would be construed as weakness , or worse, rebellion and would precipitate more rage.

        I was born a chump, raised a chump, married a narc cheater. What I do from here on in though, is all mine.

      • sorry for the double post, my orginial response to survivor got posted below for some reason. so i am trying again.

        no. i have great parents. they are my lifeline. although they were/are a little old fashioned. dad works, mom stayed home with the kids and did everything else. dad made sure everything in house and yard were working. my dad built my mom a 2 story house. .. . my mom honestly believed that a girl biggest accomplishment was getting married. she actually told me once that i would be much happier if i got married (i was 25). .. it was just how she was raised and how she believed. my dad was like this also but he had no sons. so my sister and i were also raised working on vehicles, mowing the grass, and were by his side while he was fixing things. .. . i was one of the few girls in my little small town that knew how to change the oil, fix a flat tire and mow the grass. When i was in high school, i used to force my friends to mow the grass. it boggled my mind that they did not know how to do it.. ..

        my problem is i have bad taste in men.. .. haha, no, my problem is i see the good in everyone. i also believed that love would fix anything. so i gravitate to men who are damaged and had bad childhoods. i used to believe that my love would fix them. .. . it literally took me years to figure out that wasband was using me, was using my kindness and my forgiving heart against me so he could go do it again. i stayed for 15 years because i turned a blind eye to all the shitty, hateful and selfish things he did. .. making excuses. i was convinced that he “just did not know any better” because he did not have good parents to teach him.. . in fact it was one of the things he used to keep me in line, to keep me guilty. he would throw it in my face how “not everyone had the perfect childhood” or how “not everyone had a good childhood like you” and i would feel bad for him.. . which he would use to feel better about his guilty shitty behavior.

        i was a champion spackler. i am strong and independent. i do not need validation from other people. i KNOW i am good. i was taught that when things break you fix it. i was taught to never give up. i was also taught that marriages are not perfect, and are hard work.. .. oh, ya, i was taught that if you work hard then you will be rewarded.. .. i work hard, i pay my bills, i keep my promises. and i dont ask anyone for a hand out. .. .. perfect character for a covert narc to take advantage of. i would have stayed married, i would have never gave up. But infidelity is where i drew the line. (and if he ever hit me, but he never did raise a hand to me, although i hear he beats the troll often). although i suspected many affairs, i only KNOW of 2. the first one, i begged him to come home and not to give up on me and the family. .. the 2nd one, i filed the divorce papers the day after i found out. .. . hardest thing i ever had to do. but my parents raised me to be strong.

  • OMG this is so me! I have always loved giving things for people (not just spouses or SOs) or doing things to “help” them, but have always HATED getting things (in return or otherwise). Idk why I am like this! I also never come to someone’s party or gathering without bringing SOMETHING. Never.

  • Did anyone ever feel that they were asking for too much?

    No, but I have sometimes felt I was asking for more than he was capable of giving. Eventually I told myself & pointed out to my FUU that the only way to get better at something is to accept that discomfort is part of the learning process. That extending yourself a bit isn’t going to break you.

    Of course he tried to turn that around & dump his responsibilities on me, but I wasn’t having it anymore. For me, it was no longer playing social secretary/living calendar. You handle your family’s birthdays and stuff, I’ll handle mine.

    Oh, the women in his family were LIVID that I stopped doing that 4 or 5 years into our marriage. It was expected of me. I pissed them off when I said, “He grew up with you, if you and your birthday is important to him, he’ll remember it. It’s not my job to treat him like an irresponsible child. He’s an adult. He can write it on the calendar, but a card, write a message, address and mail it ALL BY HIMSELF. I’m his wife, not his wet-nurse.”

    So pissed off. You would have thought I pissed in the punch bowl.

    That tells you something about his family right there.

    • if you and your birthday is important to him, he’ll remember it. It’s not my job to treat him like an irresponsible child. He’s an adult. He can write it on the calendar, but a card, write a message, address and mail it ALL BY HIMSELF. I’m his wife, not his wet-nurse.”

      This! His mom and two sisters never said anything to me. The ex and I went through a rough patch about 11 years and stopped doing anything for his family unless he initiated it first. It’s not like he ever called my mom to arrange anything – why, that idea is absurd. So why in hell should I do it for you? It’s your family, deal with it.

    • @NoShitCupcakes, “So pissed off. You would have thought I pissed in the punch bowl.”

      Lololol, that really hit my funny bone this morning! Thanks! So true, ha! :))

  • Who am I? Who cares?!
    This is me.
    When I finally drew the line, when I finally held my ground and demanded the slightest bit of reciprocity, respect – shit in Fuckwit’s case it was simply safety!!! – it was like I dropped a nuke. There was very little channel flipping. It was pretty much all rage all the time – like the president was on TV in the 70s. How DARE I???
    This was with not only Fuckwit – but family and friends too. I was a great chump, but in such denial. It was how I was raised for sure. Took me a looooong time to accept that.
    Maybe I still don’t know my worth yet, but I know I’m worth more than that.
    Still too embarrassed to admit what I tolerated. I truly thought I was doing the right thing, ‘taking one for the team’ (fuckwit’s favorite phrase.)
    There is no more family, I was recently informed by my brother. And guess what? It’s all my fault! The hilarity of it is lost on everyone.
    Because entitled fuckwits can’t survive without Matriarch Chump! And I’m so free I’m almost lost. They got hoovering going on from friends and family members literally Coast to Coast. I disabled my voicemail.
    I owe entitled assholes nothing. I finally respect MYSELF.

  • I think sometimes it was when I did push back a bit and started sticking up for myself that he gave himself permission to wander because I was so “selfish” and wasn’t thinking of his needs. After I agreed to uproot the family and get a new job half way across the country so we could move to the state where he wanted to live, I did insist on in living in the neighborhood I wanted to live in so we would have neighbors, good schools, and I could bike to work. He resented this because it was what I wanted instead of more or what he wanted. He also didn’t understand why I insisted on putting AC units in the kids bedrooms too instead of just our own. Why should they get to be comfortable too? That costs extra. “She isn’t taking my needs/wants/opinions/delusions into account. This proves she doesn’t love me so I am free to go chase strange. Furthermore, she only gave me three kids instead of the four I wanted and she wouldn’t quit her career because I thought she should. She also wouldn’t let me swear at her so I couldn’t communicate my true feelings. How selfish. Schmoopie cares for me. Schmoopie will always want what I want so nobody will ever have to compromise. Schmoopie will always put me first in all things because she is a generous kind person who fucks other people’s husbands and tears families apart to get what she wants.” Ex is totally delusional. I was a chump and did much of what Tracy describes, but I am actually proud of having stuck up for myself and the kids at least a little towards the end of our marriage even if it did push him over the edge by giving him an excuse to go fuck strange. I am generally easy going and I genuinely want to make other people happy, but I do have my limits and will eventually push back if pushed too far. I do need to work on getting the kids to help out more around the house though. I still have a problem with accepting generosity and/or asking for help from others. I still have work to do.

  • intermittent reinforcement = hungering for the crumbs that we sometimes get and sometimes don’t. For me, I realized those crumbs represented hope that maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Maybe it WAS just me being “overly demanding, needy, negative, “ etc.

    When you love someone, you hold onto hope for a loving, reciprocating relationship. Amplifying that hope to the point where you will overlook abuse, and cling to any sign from that there may be a chance of redemption.

    I think the ability to self-reflect is for the most part a healthy quality, but in a one sided relationship it becomes the means by which crumbs are the hook, and self reflection becomes self blame. “Oh look, they are being so nice, maybe I am overly critical at times.”

    Crumbs allow us to avoid the feeling of starvation and push the hunger aside. When we know to expect the reward after taking a certain action, we tend to work less for it, but when the crumbs are inconsistent, we keep pushing the lever wondering if this time it will produce the crumbs we so desperately need. I described it like this to my counselor … “ It’s like he’s sitting at the head of the table with mountains of food piled on his plate and I’m standing off to the side like the dog. I’m Sitting and waiting patiently for him to glance up, notice me and throw me a scrap (usually in annoyance). I gobble it up, and feel thankful I got anything at all! Then when he’s finished the meal and I’ve resolved that there is no more, I stop begging and think there’s always the next meal. I’ll try to please him so next time he’ll be more generous. He gets up from the table, bends over, pats me on the head and says “oh aren’t you such a good doggie.” It’s like I am being conditioned to expect NOTHING, and when I expect NOTHING, I’m rewarded.

    Reflecting on that does make me feel pathetic, but it also reminds me that I will never again be that begging dog.

    • Got-a-Brain,
      Thank you very much for writing this post: ‘For me, I realized those crumbs represented hope that maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Maybe it WAS just me being “overly demanding, needy, negative, “ etc….When you love someone, you hold onto hope for a loving, reciprocating relationship. Amplifying that hope to the point where you will overlook abuse, and cling to any sign from that there may be a chance of redemption.’ Me to a T with my last boyfriend. I was so ‘enmeshed’ in the fantasy that when my boyfriend discarded me the last time, telling me ‘I love you,’ without any elaboration just half an hour after telling me that he ‘didn’t see me in his future,’ I smiled (and felt hopeful?). What the heck was going on in my mind? The depth of denial in me really disturbs me. A year later, I still feel as though I were hit by a jumbo jet. But I don’t blame myself so much for not being able to hang onto lying, disrespectful Mr. Nice Guy.

  • Dang, this comes two days after I emailed the asshat that he was selfish and entitled. I gave, gave, gave, and then he had the audacity to say that that was part of the problem. No, asshat, the problem was that you NEVER gave. I did every single thing around the house, with the child, moved multiple times to support his career climb. He was always pleasant, until his DDays, at which point I was making him miserable and he had to escape into someone else’s vagina. That he wasn’t attracted to me and there was not intimacy. He was even selfish in bed. Last night I was up half the night having imaginary arguments with him. I was close to Meh but he is moving the last of his stuff out of the house this weekend and it is setting me back in some ways. I will never ever be in a relationship with someone who gives nothing but scraps of kibble. I’m turning his office into a yoga/meditation room.

    • Jennifer, I promise you, there will be a day when you wake up and laugh. He’s gone and you feel okay! Life will get better. You’ll keep mourning your life as you thought it would turn out, but you’ll stop mourning that man more quickly. Hang in there. The hell is finite.

    • I gave and gave and gave too and on DDay, he had the damn nerve to tell me that he was moving 10 hours away to live with OW because he had to something to make himself happy for once. He said he spent his whole life doing what I wanted him to do to make me happy, so he had to do this for his own happiness. All I could think was what the actual fuck?! I couldn’t even say anything at the time because it was just so completely ludacris. He was the most selfish person I’ve even known and all he EVER cared about was his own happiness.

      Mine is now in the process of finally getting the last of his crap out of my house and life is so much easier when I don’t have to see him or have contact with him.

      • After doing so much thinking over the past 6 months, I realized that not once had this man ever done something significant for someone else that did not benefit him personally or his career in some way. He would sometimes bring me ice cream when I had a headache, but other than that I’ve realized that he is an emotional black hole. My friends can bring me ice cream.
        It is really weird how we all get used to this behavior and the spackling that it takes to cover all the cracks. I just can’t believe I did this for 20+ years and two DDays. So glad to finally realize I deserve more.

      • You must have gotten one thing you wanted one time many years ago. That’s what counts as “you always get what you want” to these people.

  • I’m putting lack of reciprocity and failure to apologize as the two big red flags in any potential future relationship. I think they’re intertwined.

    Chumpy me felt so sorry for CheaterX. He had a high stress job. He was nice to people all day and would come home so tired and mentally drained. Sure, he snapped or got grumpy. But that was all because he was just too exhausted for me to expect anything different when he first came home from work. I’d just make sure that everything was just as he’d want it. Then he’d recover after he’d had a bit of rest and recovery, and then he’d apologize for being grumpy.

    Right?

    Nope. It was only after I discovered his cheating that I recognized that his failure to apologize was just another way in which he demonstrated his sense of entitlement. It was okay for him to treat me poorly when he had a bad day at work or if he was tired. I was the spouse appliance, emotional punching bag. And no,he did not apologize.

    This flew in the face of everything that my family raised me to expect. I have a lot of siblings. We actually like each other. One reason is that we were taught how to apologize to each other and that we needed to be gracious when someone owned their fault.

    So, lesson learned. People who treat you poorly and expect you to take it are entitled. When you suck it up and taken it–probably spackling like crazy–you’re just reinforcing them.

    When you assert your self worth and that you should not have to take it, and they defend themselves instead of apologizing and changing their behavior, well, then they’re showing you their true colors.

    • “I’m putting lack of reciprocity and failure to apologize as the two big red flags in any potential future relationship. I think they’re intertwined.”

      Apologizing too much and for things outside of (his?) control is also a big flag. That leads to self-pity and a victimized mentality. Which is just as tiresome as an active taker. It’s taking, but it’s more like endless nibbles rather than big bites.

      IMO.

    • My exw was in a customer service type job, and would come home in the blackest of moods, hated people, hated her boss, hated her job, I would remind her that our house was my and our childs home too, so please consider us when she got home, and not be such a moody grouch as soon as she walked in the door. Instead we got the silent seething and bickering instead. During “reconciliation” the MC told me to allow her to rage at us when she got home as she was polite to customers all day, my daughter and I clearly didn’t matter (!!!), but my daughter and I don’t have to put up with that crap no more!

      • Oh please. Harem Pants was a counsellor, and that was his excuse for a torrent of complaint and recrimination for me every day when he finished work. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to listen to it; I was manoevered into that role within a week or so of meeting him.

        And I took it. In spite of everything I had learned here, I took it.

        This is why I simply won’t date any more; my picker is so broken that it needs a really long rest, permanently if possible.

  • There are Givers. There are Takers. There are Matchers.

    Within the Givers group, there are Givers who can only give to Takers. That’s where I was. I was conditioned by my parents to be this way. They were Takers and I existed only to give. I knew this going into my marriage, but I hadn’t been through any professional help. So I got swindled by a Taker, who hid that really really well. He made me believe that his not ‘giving’ to me was my fault.

    Thorough therapy and mentorship, I realized that only helping Takers doesn’t make me a nice person, because I’m ignoring or passing over the other Givers in my life.

    When I opened myself to Givers, it felt so uncomfortable. All of my instincts were telling me that these people wanted something from me, they were using me that’s why they were being nice. This was all a symptom of the way my parents raised me.

    But opening myself up to other Givers has changed my life in so many ways. There’s no more minefields to navigate. I’m given help even when I don’t ask for it. I have friends who will share a burden with me, rather than pile onto it.

    • “There are Givers. There are Takers. There are Matchers”

      Love this! I was also definitely the giver. Now I think I’m more of a matcher. I expect reciprocity and I’m not giving one more ounce than I get in return. It took me a long time to not feel selfish and guilty for this, but I’ve gotten there. Of course there are the Esther Pearls of the world who would have us believe this is some sort of flaw keeping “real intimacy” at bay, but I don’t consider one sided relationships intimacy. You can’t turn a lock without a key, and you can’t have intimacy without reciprocity.

      • Just be careful about that. When my ex was going on about all of the things he did for me that he thought I didn’t appreciate I tried to point out the things I did for him in return for which I got “It’s not a contest”.

        • Or tit for tat. Dr. Phil refers to it as scorekeeping. F*ck Dr. Phil I prefer Dr. Drew Pinsky’s advice, even though he is not a psychologist or psychiatrist. “Healthy relationships are built on reciprocity and mutuality.”

  • I LOVE this column. That is me in all my relationships until I found this site. I can still recall a thousand times where I was so hurt by the lack of care for my feelings and needs. And I stuffed it down because, well it’s not that big of a deal. After 34 years, yeah it is a big deal! You can only lie to yourself so much on the some day they will return the favor theory. I had purchased a car that I wanted to restore 18 years ago. During that time x restored/ purchased numerous things for himself. On dday I brought up that car as an example of how it was always about him. His response was to say he never knew I wanted to restore it. Carting it around for 18 years and asking twice a year if we could do it….WTF. Thanks to CL I have firm boundaries in place and insist on reciprocal behavior. I didn’t realize how much my kids had learned from him until the first time I stood up for myself. When they flipped to instant rage like he did it was a real eye opener. Never again will I make my needs small in any relationship. That is the best life changing thing I have learned on this site. Today’s column rocks!!

  • Love this post! When so many of us find our lives easier after the cheaters are gone, isn’t that a wake up call? 20 years of doing everything, working, shopping, cleaning, cooking, arranging play dates, camps, pickups drop offs, and spending real time with kids, when he left, I had less laundry to do and one less man to cook for! And while he wasn’t horribly destructive with his words, he was so rare with his compliments. Always looking at and paying attention to something else, his cars, his musical instruments, later, his women….,,After three years of devastation after DDay, my self esteem is rising fast with him out of my life…..

    This post is the crux of it all. We were so nice, and so good at meeting their needs, they married us, then kept us around while they went out for cake.

    Personally, I like a world of chumps. I want to marry a chump. I don’t want to give less, I want to be with others who give more too. I’ve made a new friend who treats me like I treat her. While not a romantic relationship, I’ve declared I will never date anyone who doesn’t make me feel like she does. And if I never do, at least I’ll be surrounded by wonderful friends!!!!! Realizing what I deserve really is the gift hidden in this s***storm!

    • Getting There,
      I am glad that your life has gotten considerably easier in some ways!
      I, too, wanted to marry a chump after my abusive, adulterous husband left. I thought that I got that wonderful chump in my friend of 30 years–instead I got a chump who occasionally threw me crumbs, maybe even thin slices of bread (decency/affection?) but who often treated me like garbage. I was so stunned, like a deer caught in headlights, in this relationship for a few years, that I couldn’t even ‘process’ the disrespect (insults) from him and his frequent ‘managing down of my expectations’ from him. Things like, ‘Even if you lived next to me, I would have virtually no time for you. (This after I moved to his county.) I thought that he was just telling me that he was very busy in his executive job; now, thinking about this statement and many similar ones, I highly suspect that he was ‘dropping hints’ that he didn’t want to be with me, hoping that I would dump him so that he wouldn’t have to ‘look like the bad guy’ for discarding me. If I had been a self-respecting person, I would have dumped him, or more likely never gotten intimately involved with him. I don’t know why, considering how he treated me, how excited (giddy) he acted when he told me that he had found someone new (who worked for him) to date and screw, when he dropped off my stuff, I still grieve him a year later. Intellectually, I know better–that I deserve much better and that if I met someone who treated me decently, I might feel quite happy and ‘know’ real love from an intimate partner, but viscerally, I still feel really sad, somewhat guilt-ridden (‘I must have done something really wrong for him to feel and treat me this way’ mentality), angry at him for behaving this way (treating me like a disposable plastic toy for years to discard when something shinier caught his eye), and angry at me for tolerating horrendous behavior. Today, feeling all these
      things and grieving the loss of my last living grandparent, who died last week, I felt nauseated, as if a lump was in my stomach, and felt like crying at work. Considering his attitude and behavior, I should have kicked him to the curb long before he kicked me to the curb.

  • The cheating is horrible and finding out about it, for sure, shreds your heart.

    But the entitlement reinforcement is why so many chumps after D-Day have to rebuild their lives from the ground up on every front. Jackass cheated and that felt like it would kill me. But XH the substance abuser felt entitled to take, take, take while increasingly resentful about giving anything. What should have been the end for me in that marriage was the holiday when my mother, who had dementia, fell and broke her shoulder, which required surgery over a holiday weekend. This was only weeks after I forced her to go into a dementia unit because she couldn’t be alone in the house anymore. She made it through the surgery but she was driving the hospital staff insane with her nonstop hysterical ravings. They weren’t kind to her, and I tried to be there as much as possible to do for her and also try (unsuccessfully to keep her calm. I had everything ready for a “family” Thanksgiving dinner for X, stepson and his family, but I wanted to set the table, say hello and get back to the hospital. X pitched a massive fit and said he expected me to eat dinner. So I ate dinner, cleaned up, and went back to the hospital. He never even visited. A few days later, I was up in the middle of the night arguing with the night facility director, who wanted to put her in hospice because she was declining so rapidly. I insisted on a 24/hour duty nurse that we would pay for (knowing my BROTHER would pitch a fit over $$) and we got through that crisis. But I was such a wreck that one day I went to the hospital and left the car running in the parking lot.

    I should have ended that marriage right then. Had his sainted mother been in the hospital, he would have expected me to dance attendance on him–and her. I can think of one time when I truly needed him to help and he did. But I let that one instance mean way too much when day after day, it was all about what he wanted.

  • I did all the kid / household work (yes, male chump in a complete gender-inverted marriage) and couldn’t figure out how to ask her to contribute more. Deep down I knew that I was more committed to the marriage than she was, and was afraid that if I asked more of her she would just cut and run. As she did, in the end. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I had broached the idea of her doing more (occasionally picking the kids up from school; cooking once or twice a week) just before she bailed on the marriage. I just wish I had had the courage to ask for more 10 years ago: I am sure it would have provoked a crisis in the marriage, but this would have either led to a more balanced and reciprocal marriage (doubtful) or to a much earlier divorce that would have given me back a decade of my life (most probable).

    But I want to raise another point about entitlement reinforcement: the clash between swollen entitlement in other spheres of life (for instance, work) and at home.

    My XW’s affair really took off when she was being actively courted for her dream job. She was being flown around the world, offered millions of dollars to start her new lab, wined and dined by various deans and department heads, bought out of her existing job, lavishly praised and sucked up to. She moved ahead of the rest of the family; meanwhile I was back home, pretty grumpy that I was taking care of three kids by myself while working a full-time job and preparing for a cross-country move. She just couldn’t handle the contrast between work (including co-worker AP), where she was a superstar who could do no wrong, and home, where I was (for the first time) asking her to do normal family scutwork like figuring out how to get the kids enrolled in their new schools. I suspect she contracted a case of swollen ego and couldn’t reconcile her treatment at work (superstar!) and by the AP (he loves me even though he’s married to someone else!), with her role in the marriage (subpar spouse who was being asked to do modestly more).

    I never got access to the texts between XW and AP, so I don’t know exactly how big a role he played in nurturing her metastasizing entitlement, but surely that was also a big factor. (I know there was plenty of it going on because the AP “accidentally” forwarded a string of their sexts to his then-wife shortly after he’d left her.)

    So yes, we chumps feed their sense of entitlement that leads to them thinking they “deserve” a newer / better / shinier marriage, but there are also other factors pushing in that same direction. We need to do better – to demand reciprocity in the relationship – but it’s not all on us.

  • This column hit a gargantuan bull’s-eye with me; I’m only sorry I didn’t see it back in 1974 because if I had, my life would’ve taken a completely different trajectory.

    Truth bomb: I was a 24/7 cake and kibble dispensary for 40 years. I was so proficient with my skills as a “need-meeter” that my XH kept promoting me! The more I did, the more responsibility he subtly offloaded onto me. And the more he offloaded, the more I was willing to tackle… supernatural mother of triplet sons, loyal and trusting wife, successful business owner, exemplary cook, enviable social secretary, organizational legend, family travel agent, and master of things great and small.

    I saw all of these efforts (and more) as my humble contribution to our long and successful marriage. You know, “Behind every great man…”. I figured the more I could take from his shoulders, the easier his life would be, right? I always put his needs before mine. After all, he had a stressful job, a very long commute to work, a second job when the triplets were all in college, then two years of graduate school while still working full-time, and he took care of our yard every weekend. I actually saw our division of labor as being “balanced”.

    What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was in a near-constant state of having to prove my value to him, always seeking to validate my existence, and demonstrate that I was, in fact, indispensable. The trouble is, by tacitly agreeing to give and give and give to make him happy, *I* began to disappear, slowly morphing into a colorless, one-dimensional cardboard cutout of someone who used to be me. I forfeited my own identity to be the nondescript background music in his elevator. How did this happen? One. Day. At. A. Time.

    I guess I did such a great job in my role as as Blue Ribbon Wife Appliance, he felt entitled to craft a completely secret life, “trying on” affair partner after affair partner until he finally found one who fit well enough and could replace me. Once he did, he couldn’t wait to get rid of me. Without a shred of remorse or concern, off he toddled toward the new! and shiny! married Howorker who was more than happy to step into my shoes (with a big divorce settlement check in hand from her own XH), guaranteeing them a comfortable life together in her riverfront condo.

    I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anybody. But there is a happy ending. Today (6 years post-D-day and 3 years post-divorce), as a confident and self-aware woman of a certain age, I have reclaimed my indomitable spirit, have rekindled my former light, and have come home – to myself. Oh, I still give generously to those I care about, but I also take what I need to remain balanced and whole.

    • My Red Sandals,

      I am so glad that you feel this profound, positive transformation!

      I fell for the ‘Behind every great man is a great woman’ motto. I thought that if I emotionally supported him (complimented him on his positive qualities and behavior), made his life easier (cooked for him, helped him garden, drove up to see him at least once/week, planned celebrations to honor him, etc.), especially considering that he was abused and chumped by his wife (his partner that immediately preceded me), he would love and appreciate me. In hindsight, I think that he appreciated me LESS for contorting myself to make him happy. He might have appreciated me more if I had spent all that energy trying to support him improving my life. Then maybe I would have been the (even more) impressive Ungettable Girl. I am working on becoming super-competent, super-successful Independent Girl as I cannot depend on the men in my life.

      • My ex said he wished he hadn’t been so nice to me because then maybe he would have gotten better out of me. I think the opposite is true. If I hadn’t treated him so well maybe he would have been too busy trying the please me to have time to go off chasing strange. That’s not the kind of relationship I want to have, however.

      • rockstarwife:

        You said your ex appreciated you LESS for contorting yourself to make him happy. That’s exactly what happened in my case; the more I twisted myself into a Bavarian pretzel, the less he appreciated me, the more he devalued me, and the busier he got behind the scenes with his APs.

        About a week after he moved out, he called to find out how I was doing. Of course, I was a pathetic train wreck.

        I told him I missed him.

        There was nothing but cold dead silence on his end.

        So I asked, “Do you even miss me”?

        He said, “I miss all the things you used to do for me”.

        I didn’t fully process those heartless words until months later… I was working hard to figure out who I wanted to be, and that’s when I finally realized that for 2/3 of my life, he viewed me as little more than a glorified project manager. That quickly put me on the road to Zero Contact.

        • My Red Sandals,
          What a cold-blooded piece of garbage your ex was to you!
          I remember a few times telling my boyfriend as I hadn’t seen him for a week that I missed him and him repeatedly responding, ‘It hasn’t been that long’ even after me telling me that his response was hurtful. He couldn’t even act grateful for a sincere compliment! How about if one can’t authentically muster, ‘I miss you, too,’ ‘Thank you.’ I thought that most people learned those responses (niceties at least) as kids, generally from their parents–and his parents always seemed quite nice to me and people in general.
          My boyfriend, at last discard, also asked me, ‘Do you love me?’ to which I enthusiastically responded, ‘Yes,’ His response: ‘You love me more than I love you,’ and ‘You’re a good kisser’ right after I kissed him followed by, ‘I DON’T want you.’ Why bother asking me if I loved him if he was dead set on discarding me? This felt like a cruel, narcissistic gesture on his part.

  • I absorbed all his negative emotions and then managed them to the point where when I kicked him out I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to name my own feelings because his feelings were what mattered – not mine. I had the hardest time at first even recognizing my negative emotions because I was punished for over 20 years for having those feelings. Talk about entitled! I now see this as a very important red flag with relationships – if a person reacts punitively when you express hurt or anger or irritation they are expressing entitlement.

    I have to be careful now when someone close to me has negative feelings that I don’t absorb those. It might be one of the most difficult boundaries that I’ve had to learn to build.

    • Cleopatra,
      Thank you for bringing up a very important point. ‘if a person reacts punitively when you express hurt or anger or irritation they are expressing entitlement.’ I don’t think that I could even identify many of my feelings/thoughts in my relationships, especially my last one. My boyfriend severely punished me, made numerous excuses for his lying, and then shut me out of his life forever. I hope that someday I will feel glad, or at least relieved, that he did. (I’m still numb/heartbroken.)

  • This is a good reminder as I am navigating a new relationship. I’m worried that I will fall into old patterns and my friends and family are worried as well. It’s hard for me to allow people to do nice things for me. In one of your posts you included the following statement. I printed it out and I keep it on my bulletin board as a reminder –

    The problem of “missing” the mind fuck is YOU. Your ex’s mind fuck works because you do not know your worth. Because insults and abuse are NOT outside the bounds of your normalcy. Because somewhere, somehow you think that Assface who got that close to you, and professed to love you, rejected you because of something lacking in YOU – not HIM. Fix that.

  • “Every time you accept a lack of reciprocity as normal, every time you spackle over “Well, they would do the same for me… some day” and that day never comes — you are reinforcing entitlement.
    You’re modeling — to the narc, to your kids, to innocent bystanders — that their needs are paramount and yours, not so much.”

    OMG I needed to read this today……………..especially that their needs are paramount and mine, not so much….. I am accepting unacceptable behaviour from my daugher and an interest of the opposite sex……….

    GOTTA SHUT THAT DOWN…………..2×4 to the head!!!

  • Ayn Rand touches in this in her collection of essays titled, “The Virtue of Selfishness”

    Basically, chumps tend to have an altruistic view of the world and that serves collectivism more than focusing on individuality and self interest, often tontheir peril.

    She maintains altruism is fine, as long as your fully aware of what you’re getting into and it comes from you and not outside pressure as a way to conform… precisely because of the advantage that can be taken by others.

  • If I had really paid attention to this I would have never married my Ex. I cannot really think of one thing that he ever did for me that did not benefit him in some way. Even in our first year of dating. I got him tickets to a playoff baseball game because I knew he loved baseball. I jumped through crazy hoops to get those tickets. For my birthday he took me to a steak house. Did I ever mention liking steak? Nope. He liked steak. It because a joke that he would take me out to a restaurant he liked for MY birthday. And that’s exactly how I let it happen over and over. Make light that it was funny, but really what I should have done is say NO! I would like to go somewhere I like for my birthday.

    When I was pregnant, I once asked him to go out and get me ice cream. Nothing more stereotypical that that! He straight up said no. He would not go out and get me anything.

    Eventually I started doing this. Planning what I wanted for things or doing things for myself or asking him to contribute more and like everyone else has said, that’s when the rage really started.

    I can be angry at him that he never did anything for me, but I also have to own up that I never stood up for myself. Now I see him with a new woman who he has a new baby with and it seems like she is getting him to do more things. I think he may actually respect her more because she stands up for herself more than I ever did.

    • I could have typed your exact experience in here. Every Christmas, every birthday I spent planning something special or having something specially made. He frantically searched the Victoria’s Secret catalogue a day or two before gift-giving time, and always paid the $20+ extra in rush shipping since he didn’t give it any planning whatsoever.

      I also spent all my free time assisting him or accompanying him on his hobbies and interests. My sister is a counselor, and she really encouraged me to start saying “No” when activities I wasn’t interested were on the agenda–nicely, and only sometimes, and accompanied by my occasional requests for him to join me in things I liked. He rarely did. But I think he truly started looking elsewhere when I wasn’t just following him like a combo of lost puppy, unpaid executive assistant, and tool gopher.

    • Cancer Chump,
      I have had very similar experiences with my exes, especially the last one. I wish that I had realized that by not working so darned hard (and compromising me), I likely would have been treated noticeably better! My last boyfriend chased women who treated him bad. It’s taken me over half a century to fully realize how this works and respond accordingly–I’m a super slow learner! Wish that I had realized and lived accordingly when I was young and ‘in my prime’–maybe I would have found a decent partner. Now nobody close to normal and compatible seems to notice me. Probably doesn’t help that just about the only men I have met in the last year, in spite of me trying to do a lot of different things (I am far from a hermit) are quite seriously mentally ill (psychotic?), have done time in jail, or have spent long stints in rehab.

  • When we were first married, I can remember trying different recipes. If something turned out really well, the best compliment I ever got was ”This is good.” On occasion, I would hear from someone else how he told them how I had made this amazing meal. I used to cling to those comments.

    I still can’t grasp why he would keep compliments from me. Any he did give we’re so far and few between that I am guilty of giving them so much more worth that a simple compliment deserved.

    All about control…and very little to do with showing appreciation for someone you love.

  • This.
    This is me.
    23 yrs together, 18 yrs married…now, 6 years on, and I still permit the entitled behavior for “the good of the kids.”
    No mor. After the last experience where he came to DD’s graduation when she did not want him to come, we had a conversation.
    I told him I should not have to constantly change plans when ex changes his.
    I told him starting with the next visit, ex is completely responsible for DS during that time.
    Finally after 29 years, I have a voice.

  • Once again, brilliant work by Chumplady!

    I just ended a relationship with someone that appears to have been a narc (second narc post divorce). I caught it early this time (about a month into relationship). This one conveyed his needs. He was so communicative – fabulously appealing after being married to an ice-ice baby, conflict-avoidant sociopath. I was wooed with long talks of “Love Languages”.

    This narc had never married nor been in a long-term relationship (he was 52). But he was so shiny! He went to the best universities. He was a CEO. But I felt exhausted dating him. Really, I was just a kibble dispenser. The communication on his part only pertained to his needs. I felt like I was having a discussion with my boss – it was constant feedback of where I was lacking – like a performance review. I’d change one thing, he’d find another issue with me. My needs were communicated, but ignored. If I pushed back, ultimately, there would be no dates during the weekend. I think I was being groomed to be an appliance. Finally, I caught on and dumped his ass. I kept reminding myself that Chumplady said you have to look for reciprocity and mutuality. There was none. Next!

    • I get how absolutely exhausting that must have been for you! 3 years out from Dday and I’m still exhausted.

  • Excellent post. I lived this completely. Even taking cheating the out of the equation the relationship was completely unsatisfying. But, the intermittent reinforcement had me locked in. My ex worked his was up to the top of his profession with me as an “unpaid assistant” (good term used by a chump above). Nevermind that I had a career of my own. I justified his lack of reciprocity as 1) he’s working so hard/so many hours (one day he’ll slow down and will be able to give back — yea right, wasn’t working nearly as hard at his job as I thought since he had a second job — chasing pussy) and 2) the “guys are just wired differently” argument (they just don’t get it). So, I utilized my support system of friends/family for most my emotional support.

    Oh, but if people were around . . . He was Mr. Wonderful Nice Guy (sweet and loving as good be).

    • I kept telling myself that one day the ex would run out of friends and finally notice that his wife, who loved him dearly, still wanted to be his friend despite his self-centered ways. It never happened.

      • Miss Bailey,
        I had hoped that someday my boyfriend would really appreciate the fact that I dearly loved him. Didn’t happen. Instead, he occasionally mentioned that he liked Paris because that is where he first had sex with an old girlfriend (who I knew and was eventually also discarded by him) even though I didn’t ask for details, he thought of his abusive, adulterous ex-wife while we were on vacation, a vacation in which I had to go to the ER for a very serious and extremely painful case of bronchitis (I guess that I ruined his vacation), and considered meeting his ex-wife for dinner (without me although she had left years earlier and he and I were a couple). I used to feel upset that he valued his abusive, adulterous ex-wife way more than he ever valued me. Now I mainly wonder why I was so co-dependent that I put up with his horrendous treatment of me for years. I feel permanently scarred, cynical, and distrustful of all men, with the exception of a handful of men who are relatives or long-term friends or consistent, considerate colleagues.

  • We did have reciprocity in our marriage, but he only noticed one side of it. He felt unappreciated for all of the things he did for me because he never noticed all of the things I did for him in return to show my appreciation or just because I loved him. I guess I was just doing it wrong.

    • You weren’t doing it wrong. He just didn’t care or took it for granted. You were doing what your chumpy heart would have done for anybody else who would have noticed your kindness, generosity and love.

      • There was reciprocity in my marriage as well…. however, my efforts and acts of service were always taken for granted. I was told he didn’t care that you cook, clean, or buy him gifts! He told me he wanted quality time with me and touch…… this from the man who rather jerk off to internet porn than have sex with his wife…. only wanted me to scratch his back and cuddle with him…. if he so deemed my worthy of sex we just might have it…. as far as spending time with him I was told I was needy…. so I tried to give him some time to himself sometimes…. just no winning. lol

  • Leaping in with the nerdy science part of intermittent reinforcement, known as either Variable Ratio–VR–or Variable Interval–VI–reinforcement.

    The graph below shows that responses (e.g., Chump trying to please the abusive spouse) are highest under Variable Ration/Interval reinforcement, and (on the right of the graph), extinction of those behaviors when they no longer pay out (e.g., Cheater is devaluing the chump) also takes longer.

    In other words, we are kept hopping for precious little reinforcement, and once reinforcement stops entirely, we keep jumping through hoops hoping…”this next piece of good behavior might bring a pellet, or this next one, or this next one….” It is the unpredictability of the reinforcement that cements the behavior.

    graph

    • Yes. It was the rotating kibble that kept me in hell. When I refused to “chump” the mf’rs knew the party was over…and so did I.

      Grrrrrrrowwwllll.

    • The intermittent rewards are not something seen in natural systems. The brain struggles to find a pattern over and over, and eventually determines that there is no pattern. All mammals have a mode of ‘playing possum’ that is triggered by this enviornment. They will shut down to conserve energy because this lack of a pattern indicates that one has been cornered by a large strong smart predator.

      Snapping out of this state is not easy. People who study victims of plane crashes and other disasters were very surprised to find that they dither, talking on their cel phones, organize their desks, or talk with their neighbors instead of walking to safety.

      It takes a lot of rehearsal (safety drills) and sometimes a loud noise and strong direction to get those feet moving. Even so, the brain may be shutting down eyesight to hide unpleasant and confusing sights or creating strange hallucinations to soften and explain the upsetting imagery coming in.

      • Cupcake,
        Thanks for summarizing these study findings. They might explain why I kept hanging around my boyfriend after many rounds of being treated like an emotional punching bag. I look back now and wonder why I would tolerate behavior like the behavior in the following situation:
        Boyfriend/friend of 30 years): ‘I don’t know why I felt as though I didn’t want to be seen with you (my ex-wife who left me years ago to see you with me) in the group photo at the party. I was afraid that somebody might see us together in this group photo of 30 people on somebody else’s social media site. You were very social at the party–much better at socializing than I was.’
        Me: ‘Thank you,’ thanking him for the compliment (kibble) about my social prowess, while thinking, ‘I’m glad that he can vocalize his thoughts and be open with me,’ instead of WTF, my partner who I thought I knew for 30 years and would throw myself on a grenade for because his life was more valuable than mine and the world would suffer more if he died than if I died (I really thought this thought!) is treating me like garbage? How DARE he? Who the H–l does he think he is?’ I wish that I could go back in time to tell him to go to H–l. I was too nice and chumpy to do that. Fortunately, I experienced a small saving grace today–while going through my email inbox, which is brimming over with email as I am way behind on almost everything, I saw a couple of photos of him and thought, ‘He wasn’t all that great looking (now graying, overweight, flabby, with awful character cleverly hidden from those he cares to impress, not the person I thought I met 30 years ago) and I thought, ‘RockStar(Wife), you’re pretty good-looking (for a woman your age who was not surgically worked on) and loved him tremendously for years–why didn’t he appreciate you?’–not that looks are very important nor the most important thing, but at least I felt as though I wasn’t missing as much as I often think I do.

        • Wow RockStarWife, that is so hurtful that he wouldn’t be in the photo with you. WTH about the zinger of putting his ex wife’s feelings over yours? I wonder if he was also punishing you because you were feeling confident and didn’t want you to get credit for your victory at making friends at the party. I think he must have known that saying no to the photo was outrageously rude, or he wouldn’t have parted with a precious kibble to throw you off the track.

          On the subject of images: real and fake, I remember about halfway through my marriage I started attending church and was fascinated by some teen girls who would come to church not just in clean, pretty clothes but also with makeup and bows in their hair. They were so confident and joyous and creative in how they dressed. I could see how this quality was dead in my life and I could barely function for the fog of depression. I had used to wear colorful, interesting clothes but he just mocked them and steered me towards navy/ beige/ white/ red/ black. In the end, he would set my clothes out for me because “You have bad taste”.
          I tried to get him to go with me, but he preferred to have me describe the sermon when I got back and shoot it down point by point using ‘philosophy’. Really 90% of his life is devoted to having one over on somebody. He really can’t just let somebody be happy and enjoy learning about them. He kills joy.

          I look at him on social media occasionally. He has a new Stepford wife. She looks just like I used to. It’s weird to see. I also feel like I know what went into getting those supposedly candid photos taken- the stress the retouching, the yelling, the glaring.

          I am free to get old (though I am a gym rat so for now I am turning back the clock) and dress as crazy as I want. Huzzah!!

          • Thanks, Cupcake. My boyfriend, like your ex, turned out to be quite controlling, too.–what I could drink while cycling, what I put/did not put in my car trunk, whether I wore lipstick or not while exercising, which of my friends I should keep as friends…writing this and seeing what I have written makes me think that he and our relationship were a bit pathological. I hope that your life is rapidly improving!

    • As an undergrad, I remember experiments of rats pressing levers in different ratios in return for sweetened condensed milk. VR/VI indeed yielded the most prolonged and frequent responses.

      I now feel like burning the lab down. Does this make me a bad person?

  • I was still doing the whole kibbles thing even after we broke up and were divorced. I didn’t go full no contact because he called it “childish” that I relegated him to email status only; so I relented and allowed him to call and text me again.

    But that changed when he messed up my daughter’s graduation. It was like someone flipped a switch – I saw him for who he really was. Instead of calling him to vent my rage at him daring to choose to go to the ER for his poor whore’s wisdom teeth pain instead of his daughter’s graduation supper (planned especially by me since he wasn’t invited to the normal reception), I blocked him on my phone. The relief was immense.

    About a week ago, I got an email from him that said, “What’s the deal with you blocking my phone calls and texts?”

    You know what? I didn’t bother answering him. I’m not going to get sucked into his game anymore. I am done. D.O.N.E.

    My daughter is 18 and off to college next month. There is absolutely no need for me to connect with my ex unless it’s an emergency about my daughter.

  • Yep, this was my life. I spent 18 years married to fuckface, and at least 13 of them consisted of me taking on more and more and more. I earned the money, I managed the household, I took care of the kids, I handled the administration of life, I watched the kids while he went out “for work”…. It never ended. I got more and more annoyed as the years went on, the children increased, my work got pushed to the margins (even though my income supported us) and he did nothing more. I would say I AM OVERWHELMED, I NEED HELP and he would just ignore me. I dreamed about leaving him but thought this is my family, this is my life, I’m here for good. What a fool I was…

    He did me such a favor by cheating on me. I had an easy out, with no guilt or second-guessing on my side. When I told people that he was cheating on me, my friends all replied with, “But you do everything!” Yes, yes I did. Even down to getting him a therapist a month before I found out he was cheating because he asked me to, because he was so upset and in such bad shape and couldn’t navigate this country’s healthcare system. I spent a day calling therapists to find one who took our insurance – I knew while I was doing it he would never do anything like that for me. When his mother was dying and I arranged – and paid for – trips for our family of 5 to go see her twice a year overseas, and I set up and paid for a private nurse for her, I knew he would never do anything even remotely like that for me or my family. He wouldn’t get his damn driver’s license to help ferry the children around, god knows he wouldn’t do anything that may not directly benefit him.

    I’m not actually that nice. I am not a real Giver. It pissed me off that I was doing everything and he was sitting on his fat ass ignoring the mess and the children. I was not kind to him when I felt like I had too much on my plate. While I worked my ass off doing everything, and he had a little job at a non-profit doing something he liked, he would talk about getting a beach house. A lake house. A this, a that. Never considering how anything was going to be paid for – ME. My hard work. My exhaustion. Finally I told him to shut up or make some money to make these dreams come true. Probably around then he started cheating. He always told me that I was obsessed with money – it’s so clear that he was. I just make money so I can live comfortably. He doesn’t know how to make money, yet he wants to live high on the hog and show off. He would always boast about stuff and I found it so embarrassing.

    He didn’t even treat me like I was a human the last year he was here. Throwing him out of my house and my life was the best thing I ever did. I’m still dealing with the new life I have, and unfortunately he’s still in it because of children, but grey rock all the way, and I have nothing to give him. No more entitlement kibbles. He can have a bag of used kitty litter instead.

  • So many examples of this behavior flashed in my mind while reading the comments. The worst-pretending to be a giver, while weaving in the reinforcement. “You look so tired, I will help you with X/Y/Z.” Consistency? Nope. Follow-through? Nope.
    “But you don’t really love me, you just keep me hangin’ on…”
    Good news: hip to the tricks now, aren’t we.

  • This whole post was actually quite triggering for me. I can see powerful family of origin stuff here.

    All. Those. Behaviors. Over. And. Over.

    Arrgh. I am still aghast at how easily I fell for Harem Pants last year, even after he told me that his sisters always said of him, “Harem Pants doesn’t share”.

    This is the man for whom I googled ‘narcissist traits’ within a week of our first date, only to have my Idiot Matchmaker Friend spackle over it enthusiastically.

  • I don’t have to deal with cheater ex anymore, but there is an old friend who has gotten more and more entitled as time has gone by. The final straw was a doing a really crappy thing after I had really put myself out to show support and celebrate a milestone in her life. After that I have just backed off, no drama, no fuss, just a gradual fade away. Confrontation would get me nowhere.

    Here is the most recent example of entitlement. In the past, I would call her and she would not respond for sometimes weeks at a time. In the last day she called me three times to get an update on my son who is having a tough time right now. I have been really busy and didn’t notice till the next day she had called. I did get back to her, early the next day. She was irked. Why didn’t I call back?

    Yikes! Guess those rules only apply to me. Ahhh, no. Back to fading away………..

    • After cleaning house of ex, I cleaned house of ‘friends.’ Friends who are one sided. Selfish. Complaining, Inconsiderate. One is a coworker who always asked me to help her. But when I needed help – one time really needing a ride one morning. But she couldn’t come to work on time to help me. She came to work 2 hours late every day. It was ok with her boss. And then she retired and left early leaving her boss with no one to train the new person and she did not care. I said that’s pretty cold considering your boss let you come to work 2 hours late (and she got paid for it) every day. She didn’t like that. In her mind she was jusified screwing her boss over because her boss did something rather insignificant she didn’t like. She was concerned with “what’s in it for me” all the time. Fading away…… I think, too, that my ex did me a favor by cheating. I am learning to have value for myself.
      After months of nastiness and threats and bullying with this divorce, my ex gave me a compliment. And it just made me so mad, and then I laughed at the absurdity.

  • I thought I had reciprocity with my STBXH. Looking back he would nice things for me, like service my car and make me hot drinks.

    1) He really liked messing around with cars, he would spend his salary on cars which he would fix up, whilst my salary was spent on paying the mortgage.
    2) He liked hot drinks so would make me one at the same time.

    In eight years, I realised I never, ever picked the movie we went to see. Always his choice – I would try to choose and he would reject my choices unless it was something he liked. I saw lots of crappy flicks I hated because he would whine if I objected. And I didn’t want to make a fuss. Same with takeaway food. He went shopping with me exactly thrice (once was for an engagement ring). He didn’t like hot weather so holidays were always to cold places (unless cheaterX’s friends were going to tropical islands, in which case it was ok). 7 of the 8 Christmas’s were spent with STBXH’s friends. I would wake up at 4am to support X’s sporting events, and then be criticised at 6pm for not having the right type of dinner on the table.

    I was bought off by oil changes and cups of tea. I valued myself so little, it’s embarrassing.

  • Regarding the non-swinging arms topic, don’t forget that there is a difference between kindness and niceness, as Chump Lady herself has blogged about.

    Visiting someone bearing gifts is a social politeness. Of course it can be a genuine warm desire to bring joy to your host, but I’d suggest it also falls into a category of desirable social constructs. As such, those who know the social rules and want to look good (impression management) will always follow these rules regardless.

    It’s a special kind of disordered to know what socially-desirable behaviours are, and to flout them anyway. But that’s not to say the socially manipulative and mildly narcissistic among us are in this group. They know what they should be doing to look good to other people, or win people’s favour- and they do it, for their own reasons.

    Finally, I always remember Chump Lady’s example of a kind person who isn’t necessarily ‘nice’. The gruff man who goes out of his way to help you when you’ve fallen over. Don’t judge too quickly those who arrive at your house empty handed (although it is rude if you’re hosting dinner or a party…). Consider their behaviour overall.

  • no. i have great parents. they are my lifeline. although they were/are a little old fashioned. dad works, mom stayed home with the kids and did everything else. dad made sure everything in house and yard were working. my dad built my mom a 2 story house. .. . my mom honestly believed that a girl biggest accomplishment was getting married. she actually told me once that i would be much happier if i got married (i was 25). .. it was just how she was raised and how she believed. my dad was like this also but he had no sons. so my sister and i were also raised working on vehicles, mowing the grass, and were by his side while he was fixing things. .. . i was one of the few girls in my little small town that knew how to change the oil, fix a flat tire and mow the grass. When i was in high school, i used to force my friends to mow the grass. it boggled my mind that they did not know how to do it.. ..

    my problem is i have bad taste in men.. .. haha, no, my problem is i see the good in everyone. i also believed that love would fix anything. so i gravitate to men who are damaged and had bad childhoods. i used to believe that my love would fix them. .. . it literally took me years to figure out that wasband was using me, was using my kindness and my forgiving heart against me so he could go do it again. i stayed for 15 years because i turned a blind eye to all the shitty, hateful and selfish things he did. .. making excuses. i was convinced that he “just did not know any better” because he did not have good parents to teach him.. . in fact it was one of the things he used to keep me in line, to keep me guilty. he would throw it in my face how “not everyone had the perfect childhood” or how “not everyone had a good childhood like you” and i would feel bad for him.. . which he would use to feel better about his guilty shitty behavior.

    i was a champion spackler. i am strong and independent. i was taught that when things break you fix it. i was taught to never give up. i was also taught that marriages are not perfect, and are hard work.. .. oh, ya, i was taught that if you work hard then you will be rewarded.. .. i work hard, i pay my bills, i keep my promises. and i dont ask anyone for a hand out. .. .. perfect character for a covert narc to take advantage of. i would have stayed married, i would have never gave up. But infidelity is where i drew the line. (and if he ever hit me, but he never did raise a hand to me, although i hear he beats the troll often). although i suspected many affairs, i only KNOW of 2. the first one, i begged him to come home and not to give up on me and the family. .. the 2nd one, i filed the divorce papers the day after i found out. .. . hardest thing i ever had to do. but my parents raised me to be strong.

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