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New Narc Strategy? Be Boring

Narcissist GoldfishDear Chump Lady,

I’m writing to ask if you could write a post about how and whether gray rock differs from no contact. Thanks to your blog, I went firmly “no-contact-as-possible-with-shared-custody” very early on. It’s been years since I’ve communicated with the ex via any method other than text or email, and it’s only around once a year (at most) that he’s able to get any reaction out of me beyond the basic “no,” “yes,” and “6 pm”.) But in the last year, as he’s been suing me for custody again, he’s been escalating a lot…trying to get a reaction out of me. And occasionally he succeeds, because at some point I lose my patience. (Nobody’s perfect!)

Recently a friend was telling me the whole point of gray rock is to be BORING, and I realized that when I ignore him, or *almost* ignore him and mostly avoid him, that might actually feeds his desire for drama. No matter how monosyllabic and brief I am, he knows I’m trying not to talk with him, which in his head means I’m reacting to him by avoiding him — and maybe, if he pushes hard enough, he can get a real reaction out of me. So I shifted from minimal contact to trying to be actively, intentionally BORING. My goal is to eliminate any possibility that would let him imagine I’m sitting there stewing, getting angry, or thinking about him in any way. The ultimate goal, of course, is that eventually his narcissist brain will learn, via Pavlovian association, that interacting with me is just no fun.

So, I’m trying this new strategy. Instead of responding in monosyllables or ignoring, I respond to his escalation with over-communication — but ONLY about BORING things. When he bullyingly said I was breaking our agreement by not letting him into my house to look for my daughter’s phone (a baldfaced lie of course; his capacity to lie still boggles my mind!), I responded that my daughter’s phone was in her brother’s backpack, that I had put it there since she had forgotten it when she went to school, and that she might need to charge it because it had been on all day but the charger wasn’t in the bag but she said she had a charger at his house…etc etc. etc.

When he accusingly ordered me to delivery my kids’ uniforms to his house immediately, I replied that my daughter didn’t need another uniform outfit for Monday because she decided to wear her white shirt on Friday but she’s required to wear white on Monday, I’m not sure why, it’s a weird rule, but anyway she only wanted me to buy her one white shirt since she usually doesn’t wear white but it’s still clean but also I will probably get some more in case but anyway he probably didn’t need to wash it over the weekend but he can wash it if he thinks it needs it, but it should be fine to wear again… You get the idea.

Basically, I’m over-explaining with utterly boring, unimportant, and useless information. It’s quite wonderful. I’ve actually succeeded several times in getting him to STOP texting me! Instead of continuing to text me more and more accusatory and escalating messages, he gives up and just replies, “ok, thanks” — or he doesn’t reply at all. Which, of course, is the ultimate victory with a narcissist!

The best part of this, though, is the fact that my son has had some digestive issues over the past few months. This means I’ve been able to text him several long, detailed messages about my son’s poop. The size, the color, the time of day, what he ate, what it looked like he ate…it’s pretty great. I’m really hoping I’ll get a good excuse to send him a picture of it soon.

I would love to read your take on this method! I haven’t been using it long enough to know how effective it will be. Right now, he’s shifting to bullying my friends and neighbors, which is a good sign that he’s feeling like he can’t get a reaction out of me.

Boring AF

Dear Boring AF,

Your poor friends and neighbors. Perhaps you should tip them off and inform them of your strategy? Next time he’s within earshot, they can give a 30-minute summary of a 30-minute TV show, explain the history of Methodism, or offer an exegesis on their gout. The possibilities are endless! Corner him to discuss the finer points of legislative redistricting. Ponder the nocturnal habits of badgers. Invite him in to watch public television fundraising challenges.

He’ll recoil! ARE THERE NO QUALITY KIBBLES?! And go run to the nearest shiny thing.

I applaud your ingenuity. Essentially, you’ve upended the power balance and have returned his aggression with mindfuckery. Freaks underestimate chumps. He could understand you avoiding him, but he probably can’t imagine you’d be boring on purpose. You’re a lesser being of course, so you bore him. Just to greater effect now. Damn.

What you’ve ceased to do is be good kibbles. Try harder to please him, flatter him, indulge his cake-eating. (To CN — I edited out part of the letter where her ex was screwing escorts when she was pregnant.) I’m sure it does infuriate him. I’m very sorry you’re going through a custody battle with this fuckwit. (Document, document, document.)

I can’t say I ever tried this method. (I can natter on about inane things quite effortlessly.) The other strategy I’ve read that works with narcissists, that I positively suck at, is toadying up to them. Tell them how super awesome they are, and how the world will reward them and look favorably upon them, if they’ll just do this one, tiny favor like pick up their child on time. Cupcakes! Confetti! Parades!

Apparently, they go weak for flattery and you can control them. I do NOT advise this. Because you shouldn’t poke bears. I think people without empathy synapses are dangerous and I don’t want them in my life — in a real way or a fake way. And when forced to interact with one (like co-parenting, or toxic family get-togethers), I just summon all my Zen and take a beta-blocker.

So I guess my preferred method of co-parenting with a fuckwit is minimal contact that satisfies court orders. Thank the sweet Lord Jesus for scheduling software. But I’m curious what CN thinks — what’s your narc strategy? Avoidance? Boring blather? Flamethrowers?

I’m all ears.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “The size, the color, the time of day, what he ate, what it looked like he ate…”

    Please, please, please tell me you would occasionally forward a snapshot. Especially if he managed to avoid diaper duty as often as possible.

    Most Cheaters aren’t interested I dreary daily details unless they are the headline act. May I suggest oversharing knitting patterns?

    If you ever get clear of this fuckwit, sometime in the future if he brings up CBT, perk right up and ask him when he got interested in that action. Then drop the subject entirely.

    It totally messes with their heads. Plus it scares most of them off which is a big bonus.

    Wait until the time is right. It may be a decade or more.

    I hope he now has a scorching case of herpes (but you don’t).


    • I second the snapshot!!!! OMG, I totally needed this today as I’m going to court later this week for yet another one of N’s custody shenanigans. (My cheater N has started countless custody battles to keep me in court non-stop for the past 6 years. He even has the audacity to file new motions while he’s already in contempt for last one. *Side bar: could somebody, somewhere please create new laws that limit the number of baseless custody cases a person can file? This shit is expensive. Le sigh.) Anyways, I LOVE this approach! Since I’m legally forced to communicate with an idiot, this brilliant concept of reversing the role from “Mindfuckee” to “Mindfucker” is mighty indeed.

      And this right here is why I ❤ CN – this site helps us chumps find humor while enduring an unnecessary, endless living hell that is callously and unjustly thrust upon us. Cruelty, torment and destruction is what makes them feel powerful over us. Many of us chumps are required by law to communicate with the disordered and I am thrilled to learn a new, healthy way of firing back at these clowns with our OWN wordsalad and laugh at their confusion. ???? Let’s flip the script!

      Boring AF, you’re a genius! ❤ I can’t wait to try this out…

      • I hope it works for you as well as it seems to be for me! 🙂 I will never forget the thrill of triumph I felt when HE STOPPED REPLYING TO MY TEXTS. That has never happened before!

        • Boring AF… ???????????????????????? BRAVO!!! This is me bowing down to you, a master reverse-mindfucker ????????‍♀️

          Love your work. Love what you did there. ???????? Much wow!!

          As I read the post, I was thinking “this chump is putting waaaaay too much effort into analysing what her cheater thinks when she sends one-word messages back to
          him, she’s over-thinking it, making work for herself”. But, as I read on, and as your ingenious plan began to unfold, I was totally onboard with your Boring AF method of dealing with your narc. Impressive! It’s so simple, yet so bloody effective!! This is genius stuff. Love, love, love it, especially the poop conversations ????

          Amazing work ????

      • I know exactly I’m going bankrupt from dealing with my former Narc and it’s now been over three LONG years!

      • Boring AF = Narc Ninja *bows down*

        Carol, I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through the same insanity. It sucks! It’s the same cycle: I win and am awarded fees. He doesn’t pay said fees and everybody shrugs. Narc then files new absurd case. Rinse, lather, repeat. What’s the point of awarding fees if he’s never held accountable to pay them without spending thousands more to enforce them? I had to be Johnny-on-the-spot forking out my savings every time he files, while he’s allowed to coast for some reason. I don’t get it.

        When it comes to custody, he can keep on filing and filing until they turn 18, it’s his right and the sky is the limit; there is no legal way to stop it. Sanctions do not phase them as they will refuse to abide by orders and you have to pay thousands just to enforce them. No lessons are ever learned. The courts are simply a tool for Narcs to continue emotionally and financially harassing their victims. We need to create new laws to prevent legal abuse for people like you and me, Carol. Hugs.

  • Narcs want to annoy you, she’s right try and be as boring as ever. My ex said my youngest spent £15 on a book, he said, too much money, its her money, but he spent thousands on drugs and apparently happy prostitutes!, its pays to remember their thinking, its all about me. Don’t expect sympathy they save that for themselves

  • He actually brought rosary beads, I saw them, he actually crosses himself passing a church. I could tell you things, that he and his acquaintances did, where was god them, he says god helps him

    • I can think of a more likely way he uses those beads.

      There. Now whenever you notice him fumbling with them you can smile and think about where they have been, his hands and his mouth.

    • Narcs specialize in image management. They use religion, politics, neighborhood associations, PTA, soccer club, whatever it takes to try to fool as many people in the world as possible. Take comfort in this: God is watching. Someone who takes these actions not only insincerely, but in order to do greater evil, is committing blasphemy and Mark 3:28-30 says, “He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” Narcs don’t believe in God because they don’t believe in anything bigger or better than themselves. He may fool some people with his false religiosity, but he does not fool God.

      • You are so correct and my ex Narc now is finally showing his true colors he was just proven to be defrauding a bank here in Canada. I was shocked he’s stooping to NEW lies!

  • I 100% agree with this method. It’s like verbal tai chi. I’m not really a tai chi expert, I went to 2 classes be they said it’s like taking you enemy’s attack power and deflecting it rather than blocking it.

    One syllable is a (verbal) block. Whereas Prattling on about stuff, even making your own jokes that You laugh at, is taking hold of the conversation and sort of.. hurling it into the nearest bush.

    Combine this with some of my other fave techniques which are:

    Massively overreacting to things that I deliberately misunderstood (good if you have an over-exaggerating type person to deal with e.g. “you let the children starve” cue: “OMG, my children have malnutrition, how could this happen, why didn’t to take them to the hospital?!”

    My other fave – Asking them to clarify things over and over, usually ended off with “it doesn’t matter” from the other person, conversation done.

    There lots for your tool box, but they are all similar in that you are only giving the other person half of your attention.

    Being boring – being in your own world when talking
    Over reaction – not listening properly
    Asking to repeat or clarify – same as above.

    Once again, they are not central and have to work harder for you to pay attention, hopefully they get bored and fuck off.

    • “Asking to repeat or clarify – same as above.”

      Yah, this tactic was beautifully modeled for me by my Chinese girlfriend, who, when responding to her husband’s claims (in front of me), would emotionlessly ask: “What do you mean, darling? I don’t understand.” With his every claim or “clarifying” statement, she would calmly and quietly repeat those two questions, until in exasperation, he gave up.

      (I add her cultural background because I was amazed at her shrewdness, and had never seen a woman in my cultural background demonstrate such detachment.)

    • This method is genius, it’s a lot of work but it’s fun.
      Some cheaters will try to boomerang even trivial neutral information. They’ll gossip saying we’re dull or stupid or retarded. Who cares.
      However, we must consider that a cheater trying to escalate communication levels or poke an emotional reaction means he’s bored with his new supply. Or most likely he wants to triangulate!!!! He needs to spice things up.

    • I second the overreacting as long as it’s with “concern” and not anger. My ex likes to jerk me around sometimes when it comes to dropping the kids off, and one time he was particularly late, I kept texting him with questions like, “Is everything all right? Do you need help?” I pretended that I was afraid that they had driven off of a cliff. I do it mostly because I want it on record that I was concerned for their welfare while he was being unreliable and extremely vague about when they would return, but frankly, I also like that it makes him look negligent, and I’m calling him out on it without being confrontational.

      When he finally returned the kids, he apologized to me (face to face). Did he mean it? Nah, it was all about image management and making sure I couldn’t use his crappy parenting against him some day (“But I apologized for that, your Honor!”), but I liked that my strategy had him up against a wall so much that he felt the need to cover his arse by apologizing.

      I also use the strategy of never answering or responding to an email unless it has a question. Ex-cheater has sent me many rants over the years, and as long as they don’t include something like, “What time should I drop the kids off tomorrow?” then I don’t respond. I keep it as business-like as possible when we have to interact. That has worked well for me. Thanks for the boring strategy, though. That’s something to think about if my ex ramps up again at some point in the future.

      • Yes, with concern like “OMG you said your tired!!! Are you ok to drive? Does this mean you are unable to parent the kids at this tired time? Shall I call someone to rush over and help you?!?”

        And the one where they are late with no call – yess!!! Come from the standpoint that you don’t know they are a shitty person, you give them full credit for being a decent human being, therefore, their fingers must have fallen off and they are unable to use phone. (You know what I mean, I don’t want to think more horrible scenarios)

        I only call on these technique a few times per year though. But like UX World says, one size does not fit all but this works for the time being.

        “For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.“

  • As I understand it, the purpose of gray rock is to become so boring to the narc that they end up leaving you (for the most part) alone. So I see a lot of potential with this approach, with two caveats …

    1. As much as they all seem to work from the same cheater/narc playbook, they’re not all the same. There is no one size fits all approach when dealing with these people. Like raising a newborn (or training a dog) I think the key is to be super attentive and see which means work best.

    2. Even if you find one that seems to work well, it will likely take a while for it to really take hold to the point where the outcomes are regularvand predictable. From the day I committed to gray rock, it took a good 2 years before the majority of KK’s messages to me were short, to the point, business only. The forums are full of examples to the contrary, where she over explains about RPD and her fab new life, or is just plain shitty (I can’t stop with providing narc PSAs based on my ongoing experiences with her), but for the most part time and repetition have got her to mirror what I’ve committed to.

    • Some of this is, I suspect, the female language thing. Women are generally more wordy than men anyway.

      Because of this, I think many of these techniques will work better for female Chump, male Cheater combinations. But I am happy to be corrected on this.

      • Yeah, with my ex-wife, I have to be as NC as possible (I have two kids, too), not “grey rock.” (with the British spelling, how cheeky!). Any dialog at all beyond the bare minimum invites a flood of responses, and turns into kibbles for her. I employ the least amount of words possible in any contact.

        • Same. Any time spent responding is seen as kibbles. So no response is the best way I know how to say I couldn’t care less about him or his accusations.

          Works like a charm.

      • Lola —

        The blabbermouths that dither on and on, passively aggressively controlling the subject and distracting attention from their shitty behavior, are men, narcissistic and manipulative.

    • Oh wow Ux world, I never made that connection but I think you hit it when you said that KK’s messages mirror yours. Fuckwits messages have a condescending tone but I do see that he has come around to making them more pointed like my direct gray rock communication.

      • As I said, it’s like training a dog. Lots of patience required, expect the occasional act of rebellion. But most narcs have already demonstrated that they’re exceedingly good at mirroring.

    • I found that with my ex polite but not emotional works well. It isn’t monosyllabic but it isn’t chatty either. It’s “Good morning. Are you planning to take son to his baseball game or shall I?” Followed by a simple “Thanks” when I get a response. I don’t ever use his name in my texts. Too personal.

      As you said, cheaters are not alike in all ways and what works for some may be different than what works for others. My approach works well to keep things running relatively smoothly. It also helps that he still has Schmoopie to keep him distracted.

      • I use the overly polite method and a lot of nodding my head in agreement to whatever it is she is saying, means I can get out of there faster.

  • I have engaged in a version of this “boring talk” with my stbx. He has never been interested in my family, and has made clear he doesn’t think much of them (their intelligence, their pursuits, etc), whereas everything he and him family do is important! So important that although he devalued me (on the way to discard), he would engage in image management to appear the good and loving husband, both with them and with himself. So, for example, if he was visiting or traveling with his family, he would buy me a present and send me texts (the only time when either of us were traveling that I ever heard from him). Or, after I’d get home from a visit to my mother, who has had several strokes in the past two years, he’d ask about her, but without really caring or wanting to know.
    Now that I’m living on my own and we are on the way to divorcing, he’ll ask about my family as part of his “kindness eases change” campaign, his version of beneficent noblesse oblige (is that a redundancy?) as he leaves me behind. Last time I was at “our” house, to do some more packing up, he asked about my mother (to appear to be a caring person, you know), and I, knowing he didn’t care one whit, launched into a long, detailed, and boring account, all the while laughing inside because he just had to stand there and take it, because after all he’d been the one to ask, and if he cut me off he couldn’t pretend to care.
    I do think a narc can take kibbles from “no contact”; but a narc can make kibbles out of a crumb, and as far as I’m concerned, no contact is for MY healing. I need to keep away from him and keep him out of my mind for my own sake.

    • “…a narc can make kibbles out of a crumb”

      Yes. This is one of those universal features of the narc condition. And when there isn’t a crumb offered by an external crumb appliance, they create one. I call it “auto-narco invention”. (I know, there has to be something better.) But I believe it’s really a thing with them. Like the mental process behind compulsive OCD thinking. Their compulsive self-flattery thought fills in the gaps between external sources of supply, like a scuba tank providing oxygen between times coming up for breath. (Whereas we developmentally produced gills between age 2-4 that enable us to derive a constant source of affirmation and meaning from the liquid reality around us.) Their process just hums like a fan in the background and consists of tiny little thoughts that constantly run, like: “By turning right at the light and then making a u-turn and another right, I just got around that red light. I sooo surpass ordinary drivers who just sit at red lights”. Or, “I can pack a travel bag so much more efficiently than anyone else I’ve ever known…look at that I just did it again”. It’s a constant silent narration they maintain with themselves, not unlike an OCD victim constantly questioning whether they unplugged the iron.

      • TKO, this just changed how I view the world! It is so true. The flip side of this is that they train chumps (through persistent abuse, gaslighting, and intermittent reinforcement) to constantly doubt themselves and take blame, and wonder how they can fix things! So the chump also has persistent self talk that keeps us stuck in our patterns with them. Now that I think of it, sometimes the narcs I have known have actually let this running narrative come outloud about how great they are in these small ways. Brilliant.

  • Wow, that is good. At some point, hopefully he’ll just move on – from the neighbors too.

    For years, I tried every which way to get my X to understand what he was doing to me/us/himself. Until I read Chump Lady’s book and many others on narcissistic abuse. And then I didn’t. Total gray rock (NC wasn’t an option because we have children and worked together). For over a year until I could move out. I lost a lot of sleep, time, money (costly divorce) during that time, but I was no longer losing my dignity by handing it over to him.

    I finally figured out that in our relationship, I always felt like we were playing chess. It often felt like I had only just figured out that I was in the game after he had already made a few moves. Interestingly, he loves games and can’t stand losing in real life – his double life was a game of sorts.

    So my strategy is that when it feels like chess, make sure that I am totally OUT. My body language, my energy, and my mind are not in that game. It helps me a lot.

    • Finding out you’re playing a game unknowingly when he’s already 10 moves in. Yup. My ex cheated at solitaire. I saw it. And after the 5th or 6th time I saw it, I asked him why he was cheating on himself. “Because I don’t like to lose.” Still boggles my mind.

      • Yeah, my ex initially couldn’t understand why an adult might let a 4 year old who was just learning win at soccer or checkers. He expected to pull out every skill and wile he had to win!

    • I also felt like I was in a game of chess, and that he had been playing several moves ahead before I even knew there was a game. Then I realized that his level of manipulation really isn’t that complicated (thanks to CL’s explanation of flipping through the mindfuck channels.) I was overthinking things (aka untangling his skein) and giving him way too much intellectual credit. ????

      • Exactly, Hopeful! My ex wasn’t several moves ahead of me in chess. I was playing chess (complex real life, where forward thinking is required, etc), while he was playing, hmmmm, I guess Snakes and Ladders. And cheating at it. While telling himself how amazing he was.

        And he’s still SO MAD that he lost so much! I untangled for so long, but he’s really very very straightforward and very very stupid (which is quite different from not being smart).

  • On the rare occasion when the Twat has caught me out on the phone (usually calling me at work from a number I don’t recognize) I find myself (unintentionally even) going into full on drone mode. Think the tone of voice of the guy reading out the football scores, or the vicar droning on at church or Songs of Praise … or anything that could put you to sleep at 100 metres. It now happens automatically. I have no interest in him or his pathetic little life and have no intention of engaging with him about mine. He still hasn’t totally caught on though as he is a bit thick, but I find my reaction quite fascinating. Pity our kids are grown up as I would love to bore him to death with vivid descriptions of poo!!! Well done!

  • They do respond to flattery. Even if you had just called them an idiotic dweeb with a bad haircut the day prior. They just can’t resist the flattery. They really don’t get how much we loathe their dumbass. But i agree with CL. Its best not to try to feed the animals.

  • Tracy,

    My gut seems to be telling me that, given that cheater had no qualms about deceit and mindfuckery, that makes it fair game for the chump to do any of that back, provided that they don’t break the law, and don’t do any collateral harm to anyone else (kids, friends, etc.) The cheater has already made it clear through their actions that they don’t respect the normal bounds and conventions of human interaction (don’t lie, be good to one’s word, etc.), so it’s open season for doing the same back to them. It’s not taking the high road, but if a cheater is continuing to behave in a reprehensible manner, and the chump can stop it or redirect it elsewhere, power to them.


  • I actually love the approach that “Boring AF“ is taking. I, too, could blather on for hours about completely inane and useless subjects like the root systems of trees with Dutch Elm disease, how long it would take for a 4.375” worm to circle the globe, or the Top 10 reasons why pink silicone cupcake liners are better than paper ones but blue ones are not.

    However, I have been 100% zero contact for 4 1/2 years, and that is what works best for me. I would never break ZC in order to take up this new approach… but I giggle with glee at the thought of it! If I ever change my mind, I will definitely start with the subject of poop – perhaps with a video to make sure my point gets across.

    • I don’t think you have reached boring yet. Very intrigued by the whole cupcake thing. Is pink really better? Wouldn’t the worm drown? Can some worms swim? So many questions

  • I do think there is an important distinction between ignoring them, which is a kibble festival for them, and going no contact, which is kibble famine.

    Ignoring is actually a way of trying to get attention, sort of like the silent treatment. It’s a punishment in search of a reaction.

    No contact is just being wholly uninterested and staying away from their ick for your own benefit. They might try to play that for sympathy for a little bit–the chump won’t even talk to me, boo hoo–but they just have zip to go on after a bit. I mean, nobody really expects you to be besties with a former partner who is all involved with someone new.

    Mostly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to engage in deliberate games of any sort with them. Opting out of their games, as SharylK suggests, seems way safer and smarter.

    Plus, honestly, I don’t want that creep to have access to any of my world, not even its dull details.

    • Unfortunately I can’t go TOTAL no contact since I have two minor kids with him! But yeah, NC would be best for sure. But if you’re able to just not contact at all, congratulations! I’m counting the years till I can do the same.

    • Fortunately my children are all over 30 and have lives of their own. I do not need to communicate with the dick. As you say, No Contact is the best strategy if you can do it. I can. It was mostly for my own healing because had there been any contact, the mindfuckery would have continued. I don’t see myself as strong as the others being able to manipulate back at the dick. He would have put me through the shredder. Almost 4 years since DDay and I think I’ve survived. Were I to run into him, I would probably look askance immediately because he is now insignificant and not worth my time.

      • I am among the lucky ones with grown kids, but the last one only reached 18 recently, and divorce is ongoing, so the total and complete NC achievement is still not unlocked.

        However, I keep things very factual when I must communicate, and tend to run things through my lawyer first, most of the time leaving things entirely to the attorneys.

        Know how I know I really need NC for myself? Every single time an email (the only path open) from him appears, I am afraid. That’s what a creep he is, so NC is wholly a gift of peace and escape for myself.

        He’s a slippery killer eel, so I never toy with him. Simple, clear, very short on pronouns, and out. Since he regards every teensy opening as an opportunity to try to get me back in striking range, I gray rock the hell out of everything, but respond very seldom even at that.

        This was a big issue in deposition. Why am I so mean? Look at those unanswered emails! OMG!

        Easy to deflect. I have denied no necessary info.

        • Cashmere, I’m 3 years out, and when I got emails I would nearly pass out with panic as it would always be something nasty. Lucky for me, I had this site and supportive friends who would either read it first for me or stay on the phone while I opened it.

          As you find your self worth again and see what idiots they are, it really does get easier.

          • I’m coming up to 2 years in November and I still get anxious about emails. The first thing I do when I open up my emails is check for one from him to get it over and done with, and often I avoid my emails out of fear of one from him. They are no longer full of rants, or mindfucks, in the last 8 months – I suspect since I handed over a tirade of his to the family therapist to demonstrate his emotionally abusive ways, as he presents so differently to people who don’t know him. However, I still find them triggering. When he wants something, he is polite – hello/thank you. Otherwise they are short to the point of rudeness. I think it is triggering for me as he was very passive aggressive and I see that in his email tones – it would be ok if they were consistent. I don’t reply to those that don’t need one and use the same tone in all of mine – I am more polite than him in that I always say hello and thank you (but no names). I think this is gray rock, although I am not sure. My children are 13 and just about to turn 16. Eldest has had no contact for 8 months. Youngest is progressively more anxious and reluctant about going, but harder for her. She is more caught in his (and his OW’s) mind games, and I just have to watch, without comment, as there is no mediating on their behalf, waiting to see what eventually falls out, hoping the damage is not too severe. Wandered off point – I can’t wait until I never have to have any contact at all. I hate it – another 5 years, at least. Don’t want him to know that though. He’d be far too delighted.

  • It would not work with the ex. I feel it would make him feel important that he was getting any interaction and would latch onto and twist it somehow by picking out bits and pieces he chooses to zone in on. Zero contact is the only way to deal with him.

    • What would we do if they actually started responding to it by trying to carry on an actual conversation regarding the topic? “Oh yes, well let me tell you about my poo…”

  • While I like the idea that this technique could work to reduce the narc’s propensity for abuse via email/text, it seems like a lot of work. I’ve been trying hard to minimize the effort that I put into communicating with my ex. My wonderful partner recently encouraged me to switch all communications into an app. I sent three choices of apps to my ex and informed her that I would be switching all communications to the app of her choice by X date. She chose FamCal, and on the date of the switch I set up the calendar, sent her a test message in the app, and blocked her.

    Now I no longer have to endure her abusive texts and emails. No more pop-up messages or the cringe I get when I hear the sound I assigned to her on my phone (sound effect from a horror movie). So far it is working well. I’m certain that she has sent me a barrage of texts and emails since I blocked her, but I don’t see them! Woohoo! My stress level is significantly reduced.

    Anyone else doing something similar? What have you learned?

    • That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. It’s in my current counter-proposal: all communications have to go through an app.

        • I chose a fart sound not long after we separated but had to change it back as I realised my kids would likely work it out after not too long. Shame. Jaws/horror would have been more appropriate although he did fart a lot – and it made me laugh!

  • BAF, you are a freaking genius! ????

    NC is great when possible. When not, your way is the best Option 2 I’ve heard yet.

    Boo yah!

  • This is a top tip given to women escaping domestic violence.

    Because most violent man have shark like brains, they are continually on the prowl for new stimulation. If you do not provide that stimulation they will seek it elsewhere.

    In that very dangerous time when a woman is trying to leave, domestic violence counselor s advise to answer the phone in a flat monotone voice. To discuss things like how you could not get a hangnail clipped. The great sudsing action of your laundry detergent.

    It reminds me of encountering a grizzly on the trail. You slowly slowly back away…. doing nothing to excite their senses. And because men who beat women and children are predators, this makes sense.

    My older sister was beaten for years by her husband. We would beg her to leave. We discovered the “be boring technique.”

    We do believe it saved her life as he was homicidal but he eventually only used the gun on his self and blew the back of his head off. The day he died was the day she was set free as well as my nephew.

    • That’s a good analogy – the grizzly. I’m so glad for your sister that he blew his own head off! Freedom is sweet (ask me how I know)!

    • Bessie, thank God she escaped with her life. And a very helpful strategy to share with others, thank you!

  • I would recommend against any contact with him, while going thru a custody battle, who knows how one wrong word could be used against you. My ex could twist anything around, talking about the kids digestive habits could end up with your defending yourself because he is suing you for Munchhausen syndrome. because clearly you are very wrapped up and seeking attention with this small issue…. I know it boggles the mind how much they will stretch things to hurt us and if saving their money is involved, expect it to get down and dirty. Remember that you are never going to get as low as they are willing to go to win. It is like bring a stick to a gun fight.

    Play the game of responding in the least amount of words possible. and like CL says document, document, document.

    Good luck.

  • The day I packed his stuff out of my house, I told him he’ll never have the pleasure and the honor to see my face or hear my voice again. That was two years ago.
    It made me feel so empowered. I freed myself. He is so toxic, venemous like a snake hiding under a rock. The serial cheater, massive financial fraud hundreds of thousands of euros, always with a sweet cute smile on his fake face was out of my life. I need physical and mental distance, I know he’s kryptonite.
    Only that our daughter’s graduation day is in October. I think that I’ll stick to total NC. I still think he doesn’t deserve my golden pink aura. We’ve never been in the same room since I threw him out,(gently and softly but I did it).
    On graduation day he’s going to wear his sweet little innocent face with all family members and friends. But if he tries to speak to me: I’ll just turn my back on him or..I’ll say “I’m busy” (then I’ll open my purse and put on some lipstick). I’ll use lipstick like DDT.
    Narc injury alert…then? Of course I don’t know what to do. I’m not good at making up boring stories, even if as described above, I consider it an excellent tactic.
    I’m still in no contact mode, I’m so deeply convinced he doesn’t deserve to hear my voice, he doesn’t deserve my presence in the same room. He had years of my good stuff: sincere love, kind words, selfless behavior, playful moments, a warm luminous house, cheerful intimacy, fragrant baths, fresh laundry, not to mention delicious superlative cooking. (Sex on demand and instant loans, too). He doesn’t deserve one milligram of that goodness anymore, not even silly boring greyrocking.
    * Thank you Chumplady and chumpnation, you’ve saved my life.

    • Oh god I would never try this technique in person. In person — which only happens when required by court order — I am monotone, no eye contact, and ugly clothes. This technique is for texting only!

      • It would be fun. It’s a great texting technique. I’d love to bore him to death, too. I find him so repulsive even just looking at his profile pic.
        Hope his new shiny partner will bore the hell out of him. Live boredom, for real.
        Thank you for sharing, BAF. Your ex is trying to triangulate and provoke more chaos. You’re too smart to play his games. Wishing you all the best.

    • Get a wingman or wingwoman to go with you to the graduation. Anytime EX tries to talk to you or muscle into conversation, your wingman’s job is to interfere.

      “Say, have you met Chaz? Come meet Chaz.”

      “Who is that person over there? I’m dying to know. Looks just like that presenter on 4, wouldn’t you say?”

      “Do you know where the loo is? I thought it was over there but I was wrong. No, I don’t see it… can you show me?”

      “Did you get that jacket in Paris? I heard there was a great shop there and it looks like it might have come from there. No? Then do tell!”

      You get the idea. Your wingman’s job is to keep the EX way from you and your family. 😀

  • My ex hates to think he’s being mocked or fucked with. I know him and I know how dangerous or not dangerous he can be. I wouldn’t have ever done this had I thought that it would lead him to do anything dangerous to me.

    But I fucked with him when he had attempted to contact me, which was only a handful of times, I think because of my responses. I responded to him with ridiculousness and/or ramblings. The first was to ask on an extension on when he could get his things out of the house (the date was something that I included in the seperation agreement). I responded back “I’m thinking of changing toilet paper. I mean you know that I love Scott, but I don’t know. Maybe I could give Charmin a chance? It can’t be that bad. It seems like a popular brand. And those damn bears in the commercial are adorable!”

    Once, he contacted me to ask if I had found his phone charger and I responded with a gif of John Travolta dancing in Saturday Night Fever.

    Then the last time he contacted me about getting a copy of the taxes, I sent him an apple money request for 100,000.

    I never heard from him again.

  • In the “Pick Me” dance, the Chump tries to be sparkly, conversationalist, pretty/handsome, engaging, interesting, taking on the same interests…. . . This is full circle! Love it!

    • I can’t tell you how many times I was gaslit with random crazy bullshit so this sounds like the PERFECT exacting revenge.

  • TBH tho…. I’m exhausted at the thought of all the energy I would have to put forth to bore him to death. Maybe that’s bc I’m exhausted all the time anyway and doin yet another exhaustive thing feels like literally killing my self. Maybe in the future I’ll try this, or on a day that I’m not so tired.
    All great advise. Thank you CL and CN

  • Spot on BB. That strategy worked for me too. Viewing abuser like a bear is a grrat great description. Back away slowly trying not to excite them. All cheaters are abusers though, not all are physically. Never-the-less, I’m betting the same ‘act like he’s a bear’ strategy would be helpful with many of them.

  • Since I am STILL living with my sorry ass cheater narcissistic fuckturd, I can vouch that the boring method does work.

    When fuckturd is on a streak and I just want him to shut up or stop picking on me, I will start answering questions or accusations with things that make his eyes roll. I continue on anyway like what I’m saying is truly interesting and important up to the point he raises his hand and says “enough already!” I smile and say, “well, you know what I’m mean” or something totally benign. Then I’ll make an excuse to leave the room and he allows me to leave without more conversation and the best part is that he will not hunt me down the rest of the night to pick more fights. He leaves me alone. He’s learned that if he tries to pick a fight, I’ll find something in his claim to go stupid on and start overexplaining and go down rabbit trails with red herrings and other assorted irrelevant crap.

    Since I still have to live with him for a while (details, details), being boring is the sanity move. I can only do it when he’s really on a bender rant though because when sober, he sees right through it. Used carefully, it’s a great thing!

    • Ah the benders. Mine would say things like “black is white don’t you agree”? and I would think WTF. So I’d say “no black is not white, it’s black”. And he would go off on some totally incomprehensible rant. I remember one time driving home from dinner in the city in winter. He claimed he was cold so he opened all the windows in the car (it was snowing – I was driving) and then tried jumping out as the car was slowing down (but still moving) as I approached the toll. Didn’t remember a thing the next day but he did seem to have the guardian angel of drunks since he got away with all of it without getting hurt!

      • Well, you have a lot of material to use to fling back at him now. The best part is, he won’t even remember he was the one who originally said the shit.

        I am getting sick a kick out of thinking about mindfucking Fuckwits back! ????

  • I’ve actually been completely NC for over 3 years, until about a month ago.
    Backtrack to moving out day for my narc ex…I was broke from scraping together enough money to buy out her equity in the marital home. We had 4 dogs at the time and she kept threatening to take the only dog who enjoyed our large yard…because he was a gorgeous pure bred (rescue) and the others were basically mutts. Then, on the day she moved out, ( she was actually giddy and ecstatic) she looks at me and says, “Oh, by the way, I wont be able to take any of the dogs.” ( She was too busy traveling between retreats because she’s so “spiritual” dontcha’ know.) Like most of us, I had realized something was amiss with her and I had been devouring books on narcissism. I read somewhere that you could manipulate them into doing what you want if you emphasized how beneficial it would be to them or their image. So I said, “Narc, why don’t you take the smaller “dog appliance”, (the one who was very destructive and peed all over the house), he can be your little mascot and travel with you wherever you go!)???????? This was HER dog originally. It worked. Kind of. She took him with her when she left, then texted me weeks later to tell me she was going to give him away. I was furious but determined that this was on her. I had my hands full and didn’t offer to take him back.
    Over the past 3 years she has continued to go out of her way to drive by the house. I’ve ignored it until this last time. She actually had the nerve to stop by the driveway and attempt to engage my partner in conversation about the dogs…how are they, blah blah blah. Then actually had the gall to ask her, “So how are you two doing? Doing OK?”
    I basically broke NC to tell her if she didn’t stop stalking me I would go to the police, and that the “dog appliances” were nothing but an inconvenience to her at the time, so stop using them as an excuse to drive by here.
    Maybe I should have ignored it, but it felt like she went too far this time.
    Back to NC now, but you surely can manipulate them if you want to. Maybe it’s another way to take back your power, and have a good laugh at their stupidity too.

    • I did get ex to agree to buy the kids clothes during mediation by telling him they would be better dressed that way as he has better fashion sense.

  • NO
    No no no

    With each extra word you put in writing, you give him hooks to drag you down. Don’t.
    Anything you write to him he can use against you. He can call you crazy, incoherent, insane etc. Anything he puts in writibg becomes docum He is suing you over custody. Don’t play your children’s fate at the roulette.
    Seek advice from a lawyer who specialises in divorce from difficult personalities. You’ll know exactly what to do.
    You can also read Splitting, it explains how to approach these situations.
    Basically keep calm, keep contact to minimum and document.

    • Enraged, I agree. With kids and custody involved, NC is the only way to go. Putting things in writing seems dangerous.
      In my case, no kids, and she’s already convinced everyone I used to care about that I’m the crazy one…and I’m pretty much at meh with that.

    • Many of us are making light of all this but, I agree about nothing in writing & being careful during custody matters. Once the divorce is final though have at it!

    • I agree with Enrage. Any inch given they will try to take a mile. And anything can be twisted around by the twisted. I made the mistake of trying to get closure, sent an email stating all the horrible things he had done. Didn’t say he was sorry and glommed on to one thing I said about one of his past girlfriends. The whole thing was lost on him. Then after that he kept emailing me. I went back to full NC, and it will stay that way as long as I can swing it (we have a young child together but he has no custody rights).

  • Hey chump nation, I’m sorry to go off topic, but I just saw that the guy in Colorado that killed his wife and kids admits to having been involved in an affair. You know, as this tragic story developed I just knew it.

    Trust yourselves chumps, bc the ones that cheat really are malevolent. They are so malevolent that they never break role to let on that they get rules of fairness and decency, much less love and respect.

    Praying for that poor woman’s soul, and those innocent children.

    Thank you, chump lady, you are making space for the truth.

    • I KNEW IT!!! He had to get rid of them all so he could start fresh with Schmoopie.

      He’s now trying to say he killed his wife because he found her strangling the babies. Such a sick fuck.

      RIP Shannan, Celeste, Bella,and Nico.

      • He had to kill her because she killed their kids — & then dump/hide/bury the bodies, not call the police, & lie to everyone that he wish they were found. Yeah right! Deranged!

    • Scott Peterson comes to mind too. Always remember, Narcs and Psychos are dangerous.

    • He’s also accused his wife of killing their daughter because of the affair and that ‘made him’ kill her and…

      I hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars.

      • The cheater handbook played out to the psychotic extreme. The ultimate smear campaign against his wife: attempting to destroy his wife’s reputation after making her disappear, to justify his actions. I too knew it was him on sight, and that there was another woman. The interview with the police was clearly image management as he flexed in a clean shirt, without a genuine emotion in sight.

  • Now that my divorce is final and our house is sold, there’s nothing the X and I have to talk about. It’s all NC for my piece of mind. I never thought this day would get here. Thank goodness it has finally arrived.

    • Congrats, MissBailey, you hung in there and made it! Freedom is so sweet.

  • Right after the divorce was final my ex insisted that I contact him BY PHONE regarding our daughters. My method of communication was email or text. He INSISTED on a phone call to discuss our children. When I continued with the email and or text method he complained. He then stopped answering me and instead would tell our children to tell me that if I wanted an answer from him that I would have to phone him. NOPE!!!! Not happening. I continued to send texts and emails regarding school and health issues and he continued to not answer. So I made decisions on my own. It did cost me a few bucks when the senior prom came around but it was the price I had to pay for freedom! SO WORTH IT! Eventually, he understood that I was serious about no contact and he relented.

    • Good for you for holding your ground! Sometimes the extra money or extra effort is worth it in the end. That’s what I keep telling myself.

      • Kimmy, I do the same thing. My reasoning is that there is no room for misunderstandings if it is written or texted. My son, like your kids, gets put in the middle with his dad along the lines of “hand the phone to your mom”. I refuse to take the phone and say, “have your dad text or email or the arrangement is not made as far as I am concerned”. I have also asked my son (now 15) a rhetorical question: am I unreasonable to want things in writing so that there are no mixups? He actually sees my point.

    • Just state in the email, if I don’t get a response from you I will assume it’s fine by you for me to do such and such. You have it in writing that you informed him & if he didn’t agree with something about the kids he had the chance to tell you. Thus, he can’t use whatever it is against you in court down the road.

  • Generally my method is a scheduling app (Our Family Wizard) and grey rock. But I did have some fun once.

    A few months after I left, my ex apparently decided Schmoopie wasn’t so sparkly after all, and started begging me to come home. We should be raising our kids together, he said, despite the fact that I’d always raised them alone. I was tired of reading that shit and was grossed out that he was now trying to cheat on Schmoopie with me. So I told him I was going to forward all future messages of that nature to Schmoopie. He said he didn’t care. So I did it. He and Schmoopie didn’t last long after that (yay! she won’t be around my kids) and I haven’t received any love letters from him since then. I win!

    • Did he hate you after you sent Schmoopie the messages? Mindfucked him back. ha, ha

      • He couldn’t say a word about it because Schmoopie was married too and “they weren’t together.” I was inventing it all in my head, of course, which is why Schmoopie’s immediate response was, “Was this message from today?”

  • Apologies if I double post, I think my original poofed.

    I’d be extremely cautious with trying to outwit a narc as their minds can twist your words and use them against you. I would only use this method if absolutely necessary to get him off your back.

    I think of it like using Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Useful in low danger situations but I’d never try it with the 3 headed dog Fluffy!!

  • I’ve found this strategy also works for me, Boring AF, at least partially. The ex only rattles my cage every six months or so, usually because he got some kind of wild hair up his ass (someone told him I’m happy, he needs money and wants to stop paying child support, etc.).

  • No Contact and 180 are the first survival lessons I learned. About 2-3 months in after xw moved in with Camperboy, I learned of Gray Rock method for dealing with Sociopaths. If I recall properly the method was formulated by Psychiatrists to help law enforcement in dealing with them. You know the serial killer end of the Sociopath spectrum.

    So during one of her mailstop visits in November where she was gloating over the pile of battered human wreckage she’d left behind, I tried it. I didn’t do it perfectly but I saw that it worked. I tried it every time she showed up after that, as I was starting to gain some skill in 180. I think Gray rock is an extension of the 180. I recall Tracy stating, “No contact is a natural extension of betrayal”. So the scales of sanity were starting to tilt to logic for self preservation versus hopium dreams of R and a chastened wife returning in sobs on the floor begging my forgiveness. Didn’t happen. I blocked her on social media when she started posting pictures of her new truwuv. I knew the Pain shopping had to stop if I was going to be healthy again. It was a major hurdle for me.

    On the 15th of July I was at a place in my healing where I was able to go full NC. I’d made a trip to a music event that weekend with my best male friend and we were driving back. I had minimal contact for about the last 4 months before the D was inked…mostly trying to avoid pick me dancing with a remote ww that was emeshed in her fantasy venture. I deleted her work telephone numbers and blocked her from contacting me on my iphone. No texts, No calls helped. Email or a F2F meeting are her only options of contact since then. My attorney’s paralegal texted me and let me know my D had been signed on the road trip there. It was like heaven smiled and said, OK you’re done, Enjoy your weekend!

    xw stopped by here on Saturday about 10:30. I do not allow her into my home. She has to conduct her business with me outside. This round lasted 2 minutes. She made a poor attempt at hoovering handing me a ziplock bag of inkjet printer cartridges. Then probed my reactions looking for some Kibble. Kibble Famine. I love that btw. I told her her mail was in the mailbox. I quit bringing it up to the marital home for her weeks ago. It was another step in my independence from her and my devaluing process of her. I also spoke with my mailman about how to get her mail returned to sender because she no longer lives here and abandoned me. I have to change the mailbox names to make it easier for the post office people to separated out mails. Her’s is mostly bills from her financial infidelity and occasionally a feel good purchase she made of some kind of image management crap or side piece gifting for triangulation purposes.

    She attempted some charm/pity channel manipulation to get me to ‘come off an air-conditioner’. I rolled my eyes, turned away and shut the door in her face. She bolted and I had to scale down the hyper-vigilance that switched on in me when she surprised me with her visit.

    On another note, I had a lady friend stay the night here and word definitely got back to xw. Then another female friend of my daughter’s came to help me move some things from the marital home. xw’s switzerland daughter showed up to see who was with me then left without saying a word. Not that it matters one iota that xw gets a twinge of jealousy over me having lady friends show up, but it did feel good to know that she was affected. I’m positive Switzerland daughter was spurred into action by xw or her worthless husband. But at this stage I’m like MEH. Whatever.

    Now I am at a place where I do not want any contact with her Ever. I look at xw with contempt now. She senses it. Run away little fantasy flower. No Kibble here today. Flee from my sight. I have nothing to say to you. You are not worth my breath.

  • I’m with the people who say less contact with these fuckwits the better, but have enjoyed reading all the stories on this topic..well done people!

  • “No matter how monosyllabic and brief I am, he knows I’m trying not to talk with him, which in his head means I’m reacting to him by avoiding him — and maybe, if he pushes hard enough, he can get a real reaction out of me. So I shifted from minimal contact to trying to be actively, intentionally BORING. My goal is to eliminate any possibility that would let him imagine I’m sitting there stewing, getting angry, or thinking about him in any way.”

    I’m not fond of this approach fir a few reasons:
    1. Writing even a boring text or email requires energy. Kibble.
    2. Providing details and explanations regardless of the content means you care. Kibble.
    3. It’s not your job to control a narcissist or attempt to manage his behavior. Impossible.

    If the goal is to stop reacting to his rages, rants or abusive behavior then you need to react differently, ignore, or report. I view what you are doing as managing his image. Not your job. Dad’s an asshole.

    In the extreme case another chump previously wrote about this strategy worked because she feared for her life and was advised accordingly.

  • I have written about my turnaboutfairplay mind fuckery. I am so happy to see others doing it. I was fortunate, as mine was so easy and it played out as if it was script being followed by the cast of characters. Simply-I was made an AF without my knowledge. When I found out I ended it and told him to leave me alone. He didn’t, it was phone calls and texts and letters in my mailbox. I had told him that if he didn’t leave me alone I would tell Irene, the woman who was providing him with hearth and home-all hers. When he placed a letter in my mailbox accusing ME of STALKING HIM, I followed thru, and Irene got everything including some of his over 2000 emails, letters and even a pix of all his clothes strewn across a chair-(unmade bed in the background, yeah, part of the mindfuckery when I ended it).. These people are extraordinarily stupid and expect the AP will kept their cheating secret. Nah, I won’t and I didn’t. One wish-to have been there when he had to explain the pix, why his work clothes, pants, shirt, undershirt, vest, socks, jockeys and gun in the holster Irene had made were not on his body and why wasn’t he at work?

    • I love this! He was a lying asshole, but he expected you to continue to be discreet and polite.

      Nope, discreet and polite is what respectful people get from you! The assholes get their masks torn off!

  • I went No Contact when I filed for divorce….best decision ever.

    Although, during proceedings, her brother texted me and stated what kind of total asshole I was because I wasn’t at my Mother-in-law’s birthday party.

    “I am too busy right now. I am watching a documentary on the many uses of dairy cattle manure by the Lancaster County, PA Amish.”

  • Hi, you are much more evolved tHan me in interacting with fuckwit. I can barely squeeze out a Head nod when I see him at grandkids sporting events. Then spend the rest of the weekend obsessing about the painful past. Does anyone have a suggestion for getting this asshole out of my head? It is driving me crazy. I almost don’t want to attend family events. I thought after divorce this would get better.

    • I feel for ya, Thrive. I’m freshly divorced and only 3 month from D-Day. A couple week ago, someone posted about picturing yourself as a formidable castle surrounded by a moat filled with alligators. When he tries to come riding in on his magnificent charger, shut that gate, draw up the bridge and put those gators on attack mode. Protect yourself and everything that you hold dear to you.

      I know this is easier said than done as I’m still struggling with loss of my husband (the person that he was), the loss of my marriage and the loss of my family (helped raise my stepkids). I struggle with the loneliness of living alone and trying to rebuild my life. I tell those close to me (some not close ) that it’s one day and one step at a time. And yes, I tell them that I’m a chump. The X did nothing to protect me (only protect his image) so why the hell should I try to protect his reputation.

    • I also found it hard Thrive to run into XH. I was NC, but there were some family events where I couldn’t avoid him. But over time this has significantly improved. Now instead of a weekend of upset, it is only a few minutes after an event. I see things so clearly now and he is unworthy in every way. You will get there too, I promise.

      • Thanks. Looking forward to a few minutes rather a weekend. It just takes so long to recover. Some days are good but the. I see him a soccer game and I’m off . Oh well this too shall pass. Hugs!!

  • Richard Grannon (spartanlifecoach on youtube) describes this as being the oatmeal of contact. If you can’t be no contact (because you share children with the disordered), then be oatmeal. Plain oatmeal fulfills all the requirements of food, but is boring and unsatisfying when you’re jonesing for birthday cake.

  • The old joke is about how you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice. Remember your narcissist has been practicing since childhood. They could do a Carnegie Hall show on narcissism. This is about power. They are never going to let you win. They can’t. You have to be very practical about what you are dealing with. You cannot ever let them get to you emotionally. One suggestion I have is to breezily say, as the kids leave for visits, “Hey, how’s it going, it’s going fine over here, love you kids, see you Sunday.” and leave, BUT, they will ratchet it up. One way or another they are going to try to maintain power over you. They might make sure the kids tell you what a great time they had. Answer, “That’s nice.” and change the subject. Have some chocolate pudding ready and let them eat it immediately. If they bring home gifts have a box large enough to put things in and say, “That’s nice, why don’t you put it in your box so you know where it is.”, and then give them chocolate pudding. Chocolate soothes nearly everything. You just totally disengage. And use chocolate.

  • This is an ingenious idea ! Drown the narcs in minutiae ! Be a dullard !

  • Perfect image maintenance narc – take the kids, run like hell and don’t look back.

  • How about labor/birth stories. That is usually a good way to get any man to leave the room. It works better if you have another woman as an accomplice though. I am not sure what the male equivalent might be that would get a woman cringe and leave the room.

  • My posture with the Douchebag is emoji with drool. ????. I hope it comes through on my post. When DB comes by the marital home that I am keeping to get his mail (still), “Oh, was that your mail? Sorry I opened it. I thought it was a bill and you know how terrible I am at keeping up with the bills.” ????. “Oh did you not want me to pack all that shit that neither you nor I want in your boxes with all the stuff you do want so that you will have to cart it away and I don’t have to bother with it?” ???? Duh I am so stupid. On and on. He treated me like I was stupid for years. Payback.

    • I had a similar experience this weekend. I took his family pictures and a couple other items his family gave us to him- had my done give them to him. He bitched that it wasn’t fair I get to choose what he gets. I told him he made me laugh talking about fairness and to not botch our son out. That’s the last box he gets from me. He conveniently left everything at my house and bows wants it. Nope-going to good will, habitat for humanity

  • This is by far the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with from my ex. The challenge with no contact and even boring is that there are a lot of things not covered by the divorce agreement that require both parties. There are so many things that come up that require his attention or agreement, and he has no care for the kids interests. My son wanted to do tap lessons. I found a class on my days. He loved it. He graduated to an advanced class on my ex’s day. My ex did not want a son doing tap dance. It took a ridiculous amount of my time and energy to make it happen. Gray rock or NC in this case would mean that my son lost out on tap. My kids do musicals at the local community theatre. Participation requires daily rehearsal which means that I need my ex to do his part to let the kids go on his days. Every time, it is a nightmare. I haven’t figured out how to get my kids into the opportunities that they want without engaging with my ex. Any advice is appreciated!

    • This is just one aspect of co-parenting that drives me bonkers. I had the same discussion with the X about his kids while trying to to parent with his 1st ex-wife. Those kids shouldn’t have to skip out on experiences because their parents are divorced and not even living in the same city. I can’t tell you the number of miles we put on our vehicles going to practices, games, sporting event, ice skating lessons, etc., And, we lived a little over an hour from his two kids.

      If he truly cares about his kids and their lives, he can make the effort. If he tries to pull any lines about how they are now from a divorced family, remind him that they had no choice in the matter and as parents, the least you can do is try to make sure that they have a rich and full childhood.

      • I have no solutions. I had a single dad chat me up last week and he was just enraged that his ex moved to another neighborhood and he has to drive TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES!!!!! to get to his kiddo’s school. He looked surprised when I didn’t sympathize and agree that his ex was inconsiderate. Since I drive 35min without traffic to reach my kiddo’s school because his dad zones to an amazing one and I didn’t want to pass that up, his convo took a fun turn for him.

        I’m always surprised by parents who expect this whole thing to be easy. My mom must have driven 4 hours a day minimum sorting all of our stuff out. Good parenting sometimes involves a lot of time and tire wear, period.

  • “You wan’t to switch out visitation days?” “Well, let’s see…if you take them before the appointment that they have for their check-ups, then that means that they won’t be able to go to their friends party…the one who turns 14 next week…the one who got an “A” on his Science project and cut his hair like a bowl. I don’t know why he did that, some say for attention, others think maybe he was trying to copy Jackie Chan (but if you asked me, there is no resemblance since he is a blonde) although he does have a similar body type don’t you think? I also don’t know if his grade point average in science was really his own doing since the Science project was mostly done by his dad and brother…but I suppose that it really does not matter given there were no rules spelled out against getting help…although how much “help” they could get should have been factored in don’t you think? I would bet that if our kids had had the same amount of help (I am no good at Science though), that they would have ended up looking a bit like like Jackie Chan too haha! So anyway, we were planning for the party and some shopping for a gift, but could not really decide what kind of gift to get since we don’t know if all of this has affected how he now thinks about turning 14. So the shopping will likely be a huge stall for the moment, but once we do decide what to get him, then I am not sure where that will put the kids regarding your request to switch out dates? Whenever I try to press the kids for their gift suggestions, they seem to draw a blank…so I go through a list of things that I think Jackie Chan as well as what 14yr olds might like. Still no reaction. However, I read a book a couple weeks ago that suggested that this age group really does not know what they like or want for more than two days tops! THAT explains why daughter wanted those leggings last year, the red ones, then would not wear them…not even at Christmas. Christ, just when you think you have them dialed down, they change the entire landscape! I will have to get back to you after I see where this is heading…or not. It is more likely not, because of all the upheaval, but things change in life so rapidly. Like when my uncle found that he was bitten so badly by bed bugs last year remember? Well, he went on Youtube to find remedies that did not include spending thousands for an exterminator that charges no less than $2000 to treat them four times…only to find out that they go into hiding into spaces smaller than the thickness of a credit card, AND all the while laying new eggs! It takes 400 days to kill off an infestation of bed bugs because they can live off one feeding of human blood that long (they don’t go after pets because they are so flat that they cannot turn themselves to navigate through hair). This means going down to the fabric store and buying no less than 12 yards of clear tablecloth plastic (you gotta make sure it is 54″ wide). Then covering the entire
    bed and headboard/footboard, sleeping on top of that plastic for 400 days! Holy molly! I imagine he should not have bought that antique furniture…but who would have guessed? He could throw it out, but at this point, it would do no good because bed bugs also hide in the cracks of base boards!

  • YES!!! Thank you for posting this – our exes sound identical (right up to the escorts). I realized early on that the short answers were just fueling the fire and he was using them to make me seem angry and unreasonable during our divorce, when his lawyer started referring to me as “uncooperative” and I could tell I was considered a bit bitchy (despite giving him all but one of our assets, and agreeing to no child support and partial reimbursement of kiddo’s expenses just to get him out of my life – he was violent, I could cover expenses, I was tired). So I’ve been doing what you do since and it is GLORIOUS. He hates reading a lot of text, so the longer and more inane the better. Plus I sound friendly and very stereotypically female and domestic when I blabber a lot in these messages, which my lawyer and mediator seemed weirdly placated by (considering they’re also professional moms). I have not sent lengthy poop descriptions – I’m not this advanced – but I SHALL as soon as I have a fitting opportunity. Lengthy food and meal descriptions, clothing stuff, potty training stuff, etc. Just all the details you’d want the babysitter to have before her first time over.

    It’s almost to the point where I have to kind of wait to hear back from him and he rarely engages. I can hear his wince every time he opens a message and sees a wall of text. I never ever would have imagined things being this workable.

    Interspersing the occasional flattery is fantastic if you have something specific coming up very soon where you need him on (relatively) good behavior, but his moods cycle harder than Lance Armstrong, so I try to time my more abrupt (yes, no, stop) messages and the less inane (why did you create trades on the parenting-app calendar so it looks like I’m giving up my time to you when I’m not?) with the lower-contact / lower-stakes times of our month.

  • FYI, you do NOT need to get the thickest and most expensive clear plastic…but it HAS to be clear so you can catch any nocturnal activity when you get up to go pee at night, or see anything hiding or squashed under it. The opaque plastic is too crunchy sounding and does have a tendency to tear with the slightest of bed top activity. But the tablecloth clear plastic is far more flexible and tougher to rip. The cheapest is $2.99 a yard, and goes all the way up to $8.99 a yard. This is one of those rare situations where more expensive does not mean better or more effective. As for my uncle, he was one of those unfortunate souls that is more highly allergic to bed bug bites than the average person. His hands, arms and face were so swollen like he had been attacked by a swarm of angry bees. It took three weeks for swelling to go down, and he has scars from the burning/scratching to this day. The diatomaceous earth that was suggested on Youtube takes too long to kill them before they lay more eggs. But there is another product that works on contact within 24hrs. But the key to either of them is the actual CONTACT…they have to get it on them. But rubbing alcohol (91%) sprayed on them kills on contact…at least the ones who you can see running, but not the ones who are able to escape. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you find out that you are living with bed bugs. They are experts at hiding and also at survival, going “dormant” when temps drop and becoming more active when weather is warm. They cannot really see…but they have sensors that detect CO2 when a “host” exhales during sleep. I hope this helps.


    This is how I communicated with my ex. It stopped any kind of requests and unnecessary communication cold…especially when I wrote in CAPS.

    • Sweetz, your droning-on text examples were funny as hell! Thanks for the chuckle .. and I learned something about eradicating bed bugs too 😉

      • Welp…I don’t know if my droning on and on was the straw that silenced the Ex and put a stop to his control tactics…or if his whore thought that I was just being too “warm” and “friendly” and she may have been the one who actually nixed all communication. But it DID work after about 5 or 6 times. It was actually FUN for me to do…taking him on the same rabbit trails that he used on me for years when I’d ask for straight answers to straight questions. Somehow, I think the ex was probably both entertained as well as frustrated, but with nothing to show for contempt except a lot of rambling. He never did get his way with anything other than what was originally in writing because he never got a clear answer when he tried to change it.

  • This is exactly what I needed today!
    I sympathize with this poster, as my ex gets butthurt and punishes me further when I ignore him. Although it’s not my job to manage what he thinks, I feel that by ignoring him, it means I’m still not meh. I had considered going the fake flattery route, but it feels like icky bullshit to me. Gross.
    I considered asking CL’s opinion, but my question’s been answered.
    I will employ this method.
    Thank you.

  • Mr. BusinessTravelsCheatersPants was living in the same state as mine after divorce for a year. 21 days ago he was able to move to howorker’s state. He used to call kid everyday if kid didn’t pick up he used text me, to call me & I didn’t answer. I am keeping a calendar with these emojis ????????????‼️ It’s feel like a second liberation after divorce! 21 days in a row NC. It feels so great. He is now with howorker on a short leash! They work at the same place, sleep together at HER house, eat together. If kid doesn’t pick the cell he doesn’t dare to call me ????. No more traveling or secrets meeting @ hotels paid by corporate cards for them. She got him now 24/7. Let’s see how much it will last! No my circus no my monkeys! I need my child support so I wish she could stay with him the best years of her life & then figured out that she lost her youth with a loser.

  • I too enjoy strict NO Contact. On the day X walked out, I gave him exactly what he wanted. My absence. I threw everything of his into trash bags; that was a healthy response to his crap choices. He was/is no longer the man I married, nor the man I spent most of my life with…that man is gone. So, I treat him like the stranger he is. I don’t do anything with him. No phone calls, no conversation, nothing. I look at him and see nothing. Once in a while, I’ll email to address the QDRO which has taken him ten years to address. When my youngest graduated from college, X, Owife, and his dysfunctional family showed then sat down right in front of us. Granted, we were in a dark auditorium, but when my eldest texted, “WTF?” we got up and moved. Enforce healthy boundaries, folks. I am not going to play happy because of what he did and I no longer give a flying fuck. I lived a lie married to him-though he had me fooled, I actually thought he was “working hard”and playing “racquetball” for hours and hours on end-but I will no longer allow him to poison my life. The best lesson here? I no longer tolerate mean, stupid, or toxic people. I hang with those who love and treat me well. Chumps, we deserve better.

  • I have had very few actual phone conversations with exh2/The Evil One in the last three years, all of which I am 99.999999% sure that he was recording, so I made sure to counter-argue with actual facts or even better, repeat the same answer to his question, no matter how many different ways he asked it. The last phone conversation had to be over two years ago about dd’,s medication change.
    Text messages, never email, are what I get from him. I use a free app called text-to-email where I download/upload entire threads of text messages and download/upload PDFs that I email myself and a couple close friends to hang onto. He and she have “trust that he/she sucks” ringtones, and when they text, they are the only ones that have the Law &Order “doink-doink” sound, so I know it can only be one if them, and no one else.
    I’ve been meaning to post in the threads about this, but iver the last few months, DD exchanges have been with the OWife, Mrs. Dumbass. We speak only of DD, but she’s revealed a few nuggets about life with TEO, that I realize she’s more like me than I realized, LOL— she listens to him rants and bitches, she does the opposite, LOL. Supposedly, he’s in the road during the week, so I’m thinking like I did, she and her kids enjoy the peace and quiet….I’m grey rock with her, and she is always polite, but they way she still tries to love on DD, or tells her she loves her is laughable, DD has zero liking to her— even now, three years later, she still protests when it’s their weekend, “No daddy pick up! No (Mrs. Dumbass) pick up!”

    I guess the fun if trying to engage me has run its course, so he just sends out his minion appliance wife to run errands for him, like picking DD or dropping her off.
    I guess he’s bored with my anti-social ass with him. Not engaging in conversation, not responding with, “oh no! Tell me everything that happened?!” Things like his wreck on the interstate, him being unemployed, his inner-discoverues if truths regarding his family— things that I already knew or had realized years before, but he never wanted to discuss with me, etc.
    He never asks me about myself or my life, not even, “how ya doin’, Mol?”
    The more important part is that I never have and never will offer him any information about my life. He still skulks around my Facebook, IG, Pinterest board dedicated to Narcissistic Abuse/Divorce Recovery, my Twitter, he’s blocked of course, and I’m set to private, but him being an evil genius (insert Dr. Evil here), and a cyber-slueth (allegedly), I’m sure he gets around it, but I don’t even care anymore. Let him read all that he’s taught me about being with a narcissistic vindictive sociopathic cheating dickwad for 13 years. That’ll be fun for him.

    He has zero interest in his autistic DD, he doesn’t contact her school to check on her progress, IEP meetings, nothing. He goes months without paying child dlsupport, but bitches about haircuts, shoes, clothes that I buy her— infrequently, of course, but still.
    I am boring. I work, I come home, I take care of DD all alone. I finally have peace and quiet, routine, schedule. Every other weekend, I have ansicial life, but barely. Hell, just walking the flea market on a Sunday morning drinking Dunkin donuts is good enough for me.
    A quiet, peaceful, boring cheater-free life is just fine for me. Never good enough for him, but from what I can tell, he has it even worse with Mrs. Dumbass’s two kids and a senile granny at the house.

  • I forgot to mention something else— he has o er the last few years tried to talk to me about stuff going on with my friends— one friend’s son has been in legal trouble as of late and TEO will send me screen shots of his kugshit asking me about it. I reply to him, “no comment”, it’s none of his damn business what’s going in with her son, she had chemo/radiation last winter, he never once asked about her then, so fuck him trying to ask about her son…
    Also,.a colleague was.involved in a local scandal a couple years back, he posted on his Facebook declaring that it was ME and when the truth was revelaed he got called out by some of my friends, but he never apologized nor did he take the post down until weeks later, ass
    He claims he has a buddy-cop, whose married to an Autism specialist, but who knows what the hell is that supposed to mean or true

    • that was supposed to be to the lady whose ex has rapidly changing moods.

  • My EH repeatedly hated me over explaining anything during our marriage – despite the fact that his actions and behaviours pretty much caused me to over explain constantly in order to ‘justify’ the simplest things in every day life as he would always challenge simple innocuous things – even asking why I had put on or not put on the tumble drier at certain times.
    He hated, hated, hated me over explaining and would become exasperated. Then when I’d finished he would succintly put my response into a simple statement and complain he couldn’t have a conversation with me because I waffled on too much!
    Funny, he was the only person I ‘waffled on’ to!
    Looking back I can now see that these exaggerated explanations caused him issues because if I was talking all that time it became about me rather than him as he would see this as me monopolising a conversation! Also, his actual questioning over mundane things was obviously a form of control.
    He would always want to know reasons why I hadn’t done certain tasks so I would reel off a list of stuff I had got done and therefore why I hadn’t gotten around to specific things.
    This was really demeaning because if I had a day off work he would give me a list of things he wanted doing (and then bitch if I didnt do them) but if he had a day off work he would slope around the house all day and do fuck all saying he wasn’t doing anything on his day off. But he expected me to do shit loads on my days off.
    His level of entitlement was fucking through the roof.
    Luckily, its now just over a year that me and daughter moved out and we have never felt better being out of reach of that emotionally abusive bastard.

  • I learned about grey rocking early on in the separation and decided to give it a good go. Rather than 1 or 2-word answers I would give really BORING but short ones, I only ever fought over something if it was drastically important to me and the kids, anything else Meh who cares! I didn’t tell my kids when he was coming so whenever he turned up YAY! It didn’t bother me that he was an hour or 2 late because the kids hadn’t been expecting him at all… so no skin of their nose and no skin off mine. I basically just stopped fighting him. He didn’t want to pay child support, that’s fine, the agency will get to it eventually (inside I was seething but in Aus there is little the govt will actually do), he wanted to talk about how crappy I am *click* phone gets hung up, no actual reaction just not engaging. He wanted to tell me how AWESOME the new gf was *click* he wanted to tell me how much happier he was *click*.

    But I went even further, I sabotaged my appearance around him, no makeup, gross hair, baggy clothes that didn’t suit (thanks to Mum’s castoffs this was pretty easy). I didn’t realise how effective my grey rocking had become until he surprised me by getting back to the house early one afternoon. I lost almost 20g on the heartbreak diet within months of him leaving. While he had the kids I had gone out with a friend, and so I actually looked the way I normally present to the world… he literally did a double take (full on Hollywood open-mouthed shock). That afternoon he was supposed to be handing over some signed forms for DD but instead he insisted on US going and getting them witnessed (which was totally unnecessary) and then he insisted on seeing the kids into the house (he had never bothered before) and then sat on my couch to play with them and started rabbiting to me about how much weight he had lost since we broke up and about how he and the new girlfriend went running together (my hobby before he left that he REFUSED to do with me). He was trying to compete with me, impress me and/or hurt me with his “new better life”… but he was about as transparent as a pane of glass. It was ridiculous, so I kept it up. These days he is in jail so no doubt any female with a pulse looks good at the moment so it might be less effective. But It amazed me JUST how SHALLOW he really was.

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