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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

A common point of chump bafflement is why we attach so hard when cheaters detach so easily.

I get some very, very long letters trying to untangle this particular skein.

She told me she loved me, and texted the OM hearts and smileys 30 seconds later.

He walked out on four children.

I had cancer and he left me after 25 years.

And my answer to WHY?! is never satisfying — Because They Aren’t That Deep.

But, but, where did all that love and commitment go? Why didn’t they ascribe meaning to all the shared history we had together? How could they say one thing and do an entirely other thing?

Let me amend my answer — because they aren’t that deep and when you aren’t that deep, you’re not that ethical.

Discarding someone doesn’t make you a bad person. Ending relationships (I encourage people to end relationships!) is not in itself toxic. Deception is toxic. Cake-eating is toxic. Extracting value from someone, allowing them to invest further while you blithely betray them is toxic. A deep aversion to vulnerability is toxic. Are you inconveniently pregnant, sick, or bereaved? Awesome time to discard you.

Here’s part of a long letter on got on this subject from “BA”.

Why were my feelings of love toward him so plain and clear to me, when his seemed to just disappear out of sight the moment I broke up with him? Did they ever exist? Why was I struggling with this break up on my own? Where was he, where were his feelings that he’d been pouring out to me right after I found out.. it seemed they disappeared over night?

Why did he go back to the other woman the moment I was out of sight – communicating with her straight after the breakup, and then pursuing her as soon as we had a month apart? Why does he now value the other woman over our 5 year friendship, our relationship and what he described as the ‘only meaningful relationship he had ever had’? Why does he value a rebound relationship, with someone that is clearly second best to him (he took me back when I found out, and dumped her), over our half a decade friendship?

Is he just confused? Does he not know his own mind? Does he enjoy the drama? Does he think i’ll be back?

I expect when it all goes wrong with the other woman, he’ll be back?… and I suppose I just want the strength to be able to laugh in his face, enjoy it, and tell him to go away, when that happens. I’m 27, young, and just want the old me back. There is a hole in my heart where my best friend was and which he has stamped on continuously to the point where I think it might be irrepairable! I have (so far) wasted half a decade of my valuable life on a sociopathic arsehole, and I no longer trust myself to make the right decisions in life. I feel so alone, and like he doesn’t realise what he’s lost/ hasn’t looked back since the day I stopped speaking to him.

BA, your heart is totally repairable. And forgive me (I’m ancient), but I have new shoes that are “half a decade” old. It’s horrible to invest any amount of time in a fuckwit — but you’ve learned a painful lesson that most of us take ages to learn — unchump thyself.

Let’s break it down.

Why were my feelings of love toward him so plain and clear to me, when his seemed to just disappear out of sight the moment I broke up with him? Did they ever exist?

Because he’s not that deep. I’m sure he felt some feels and then a butterfly floated by or a random girlfriend and he got distracted. What “existed” was you being of use to him. That’s nice. Other people are useful too. You’re all interchangeable. I mean, you love your Vitamix, but not exclusively. Sometimes a toaster is called for. If you’re in need of a smoothie, you’ll return to the Vitamix.

Like that, only to get the Vitamix to work you have to lie to it.

Why was I struggling with this break up on my own? Where was he, where were his feelings that he’d been pouring out to me right after I found out.. it seemed they disappeared over night?

You struggle with the break up because you’re a Real Live Person who has actual feelings. That’s good news. You bond. You’re human. Some people don’t. Don’t invest in the freaks.

Why did he go back to the other woman the moment I was out of sight – communicating with her straight after the breakup, and then pursuing her as soon as we had a month apart? Why does he now value the other woman over our 5 year friendship, our relationship and what he described as the ‘only meaningful relationship he had ever had’? Why does he value a rebound relationship, with someone that is clearly second best to him (he took me back when I found out, and dumped her), over our half a decade friendship?

He needs the toaster to work too. Which is also powered by lies. “You’re the most meaningful toaster in my life!”

Is he just confused? Does he not know his own mind? Does he enjoy the drama? Does he think i’ll be back?

Who cares? Do you want a man who treats you like an appliance? Are you confused? Do you not know your own mind? Do you enjoy the drama? Stop untangling the skein.

There’s you and what’s acceptable to you. He’s a liar and a cheat. NEXT! Go invest in a new life.

I expect when it all goes wrong with the other woman, he’ll be back?… and I suppose I just want the strength to be able to laugh in his face, enjoy it, and tell him to go away, when that happens.

No. Because he won’t know where to find you if you do the No Contact right. And you won’t enjoy it because you don’t like people who treat you like an appliance. He has no place in your life. The only response to his crazy is avoiding it completely and refusing to engage.

I’m 27, young, and just want the old me back. There is a hole in my heart where my best friend was and which he has stamped on continuously to the point where I think it might be irrepairable! I have (so far) wasted half a decade of my valuable life on a sociopathic arsehole, and I no longer trust myself to make the right decisions in life. I feel so alone, and like he doesn’t realise what he’s lost/ hasn’t looked back since the day I stopped speaking to him.

He’s not going to realize what he lost, because he never knew what he had.

He doesn’t KNOW you. He doesn’t VALUE you. He is not the MEASURE of you.

Stop giving him that power.

Start realizing what YOU lost — five years of your life to a fuckwit. And refuse to give him one second more. Evict him from your head and your heart. I’m not being flippant, I know this is an emotional slog — but it’s important work. We don’t waste our lives on people unworthy of us. He’s unworthy.

Let’s pray to the sweet lord Baby Jesus that he never looks back your way. Forward march, BA. Forward march.

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.
  • “He doesn’t KNOW you. He doesn’t VALUE you. He is not the MEASURE of you.”

    This can be true for romantic partners, siblings, parents.

    Like BA, I had a particular knot in the skein that I chewed on for like 8 years and in the end

    “Because he was not that deep (and he really did suck)” was actually my answer. He was willing to hurt me profoundly to save himself the discomfort of being found out.

    and life REALLY is short and we must go live it. 2 or 7 or 25 years with a fuckwit is just too long

    • …He’s not going to realize what he lost, because he never knew what he had…

      Wow, thanks Tracy. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to hear that today.

    • Perfect. Clip and save- He was willing to hurt me profoundly to save himself discomfort.

      Yep, he abandoned me and sent me an e-mail because he couldn’t be bothered to unwind the marriage properly. It is so much easier to run away and hide like a selfish child.

      • Yes. What is most important in getting near meh (I’m not quite there), is BELIEVING they never loved you. Never. When the choice was between them tearing out your heart, ripping a whole in your soul, and destroying your life and them being mildly inconvenienced or not getting exactly what they want every minute of the day–they chose to not be inconvenienced or delay gratification. You were not worth a millisecond of them being slightly uncomfortable. When you really believe that it gets a LOT easier to “trust that they suck.”

    • I have a FOO like that. It still hurts to this day but once you realize they are the sick ones you become much happier, love yourself more, and cherish the ones who are human. It hurts like a m$&@@f&$! until you figure it out, but when you do go no contact. No contact here for nineteen years it’s been great

      • Yea, me too…a number of us here realized we were raised to be chumps. I am done with that.

        • Yes, UNM.

          My hardest thing to get over, was when someone was being an ass, to feel REALLY SORRY for them ….

          and sacrifice myself in order to rescue them and make them feel better.

          Its hard to explain. But boy did I volunteer to be the garbage can. Now I can stay calm, leave them to themselves and not allow the discomfort to move me.

  • BA – run baby RUN. I spent 30 years with a user, always believing him when he said I was his best friend and the love of his life. All lies. It was always me doing the work of life and him dealing with all the mean cruel people who made it soooo hard for poor little him. He kept the focus on HIM for 30 years while I took the backseat and made my needs small. The only blessings from that union are my two beautiful kids, now adults, who he abandoned as well. The ex is just a pod person with a huge whole where his soul used to be and I am so glad he is out of my life.

    Your boyfriend doesn’t deserve you and you need to bail out NOW. No contact forever!

    • BA, Whoaminow is right – RUN! The only difference between Whoaminow and me is that I spent 40 years with him.

      You deserve better. Give up trying to understand him and go find your authentic self!

  • It was so difficult for me to understand, how someone can do all the despicable actions while being married.
    I came across the explanation of true love/ relationship vs fake love /relationship
    True relationship is like a tree- it’s stable, and with each passing year the roots are getting stronger, holding the tree in one place.
    Fake cheating relationship is like a boat on the open water, moving whenever wind blows, wherever waves ???? move it.

    I got it.

    It made sense to me.
    No more “WHY’s” in my case. It’s all clear.
    For my values are my roots and they only get stronger.
    For my husband -whoever came his way was the best new thing worth jeopardizing everything in his life.
    It’s unfair, sad and fucking frustrating.
    But I finally got it.

    • This. Thank you – that’s a wonderful way of putting it. The scary thing is, I was actually thinking *I* was the freak to feel that love should be like that tree. All her excuses, blameshifting and the toxic online podcasts/forums/advice I went looking for to untangle the skien really started me thinking I was the one with the unhealthy mindset. Roots? You’re just being overly sentimental! If a toy gets boring why not chuck it away and get a new one? Why keep hanging on to that old, moth-eaten teddy?

      Ex-W never got why people found values in teddies or dolls or even toys. That should have been a red flag right away.

      It’s good to read things like this and realise (hope?) that you *are* actually the normal one to think relationships should work in this way.

      • Does it even matter who is the “normal” one. Which kind of person would you rather be? Personally I would rather be the one who is capable of loving others.

  • It’s a hard thing to process, the fact that you never really mattered to them because they are just not capable of bonding, especially when they are so good at lying and faking the opposite. The fact that as good people of good character, we would never be able to to inflict such pain on another human being makes it hard to understand how anyone can behave so horribly towards a person they supposedly love.

    We’re not wired that way, they are. The only way to heal fullyis to go as NC as possible.

    • Hey, Tessie. Good to see you. I don’t always get to all the comments on the main board. Hope you are well.

  • Perfect timing!

    My beloved smart-as-a-whip kick ass therapist, whom I have known, loved, and implicitly trusted for many years, recommended a very valuable chump resource yesterday which sounds like it applies to this very issue.

    By Marsalis Fjelstad:

    “Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How To End the Drama”.

    She gave it 100 stars…

    “WHY?” will drive you insane. Trying to understand effed-up by applying logic and reason is a recipe for ME to ride the train to Crazy Town! The better strategy IMHO is accept that infidelity is effed-up, and ask
    “NOW WHAT?”

      • I LOVED that book. My ex is diagnosed bipolar BUT he ticked every damn box for borderline personality disorder too – it explained so much! 100 stars from me for that book too.

    • This book is in my Amazon books I want to read some day. A few people have said to me, “Stop reading all those books about narcs!” Narc/socio/psycho books are not the only books I read, but I have 50+ years of untraining to do and it’s going to take time to deprogram and learn new healthy ways of being in a relationship!

      • I have two books on narcs. They helped me see him in a different light and why things happened as they did. There’s nothing wrong with having knowledge. You encounter narcs in families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. I would rather have the tools to see them than to have one ever take advantage of me again.

      • Well, don’t read the books if you are using them to untangle the skein of fuckedupedness. It’s not about THEM. It’s about helping you to shift your thinking so you can let go of them, for good.

    • Ooh, this looks REALLY good. I have read a lot on narcissists and borderlines and feel I have a pretty good handle on them, but even so, reading just a few pages in the preview and I’m laughing to myself about how uncannily it describes MY experience in relation to them. Wow. Thanks for the recommendation, Velvet Hammer!

    • I just downloaded it and read the first page and OMG! I’m not usually quick to give a book so much credit but I’m stoked to read this one.

  • Tracy, this says it all; THANK YOU for this critically important reminder!

    “He’s not going to realize what he lost, because he never knew what he had. He doesn’t KNOW you. He doesn’t VALUE you. He is not the MEASURE of you.”

  • My opinion is they tell you want you want to hear, then do what they want. When he’s dumped or finished with the ow, he probably thinks he can come back to you. It’s all about them, or worse they will say if you really loved me, you will take me back or try and use the children, my ex was complaining about bills, but you cant say its your fault, you cheated, drugs prostitutes etc, he choose his life he can’t see or won’t see his faults, he doesn’t see he choose ow, over me, but why should he pay bills, for his own flat, your an adult, he choose his life, live it dickhead!

    • I heard this once, may have been Chumplady, can’t recall but it stuck with me. It’s not that they don’t know what’s wrong, it’s that they don’t agree they had anything to do with it. Narcissistic people just suck.

      • That’s Dr. George Simon’s quote (Chump Lady interviewed him). “”It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”.

        It’s a great quote and I have reminded myself of it often. They can see and know what they are doing, but the disagree with you that it’s wrong. But I guarantee if one of us did the same, they would see it in a different light!

  • I keyed on this (“He doesn’t KNOW you. He doesn’t VALUE you. He is not the MEASURE of you.”) as well.
    After 45 years together, he didn’t even KNOW superficial stuff like my favorite color, band, author, movie, etc. You know, stuff that someone could find out by asking questions about the other person? But he never asked for any of those answers from me, because he didn’t care about anything but who he was going to fuck that day. And if that’s not a wake-up call to how little he VALUED me, then let’s throw in the inconvenient fact that he cheated and lied and abused me from the literal day we were married. I used to MEASURE my value by the value that I added to our marriage and family. Now that is gone also. I just need a new measuring stick, I guess.

    • oldcrone–That CheaterX didn’t know very basic things about me should have been a red flag, and I didn’t think about it until reading your post.

      When he first came to town, I was biking 5 miles to a horse riding lesson. I discontinued the next year due to finances, and the fact that I was getting to the point where I’d need to own/rent a horse in order to improve. Two years after I stopped, he gave me riding gear. In a small voice, I commented that I wasn’t riding anymore. His response? This was in case I started up again.

      There were a lot of other things that he could have gotten. I gave him a list of them. Did he bother to look at it?


      And that sums everything up. He wasn’t at all curious about what I liked/disliked, and when I let him know, he didn’t bother to listen.

        • Yup

          Gifts from narcissists. Golf clubs because he likes to golf. A blue silk scarf because it’s her favorite color. Record albums (remember those ?) with the shrink wrap removed because it was music he liked and he wanted to make a cassette copy for himself. A “Stretch Armstrong” toy (the one marketed for boys) for his 13 year old daughter for Christmas.

          Shaking my head

          • First ex. – A skillet for Valentine’s Day and no card — for his fried potatoes.

    • I think this is why these narc users are such bad gift givers in general. They don’t know people well enough to think about what that person would really like. Early on, Dr. Cheaterpants bought me jewelry and flowers which is pretty easy really. For his family, he bought gift cards only. I did all the Christmas, Easter Bunny, Birthday shopping for the kids.

      He would give a lot of cash to some folks for holidays so I thought he was generous. Really it was image management so they’d think he was a rich doctor and sooooo ultra cool. He’d give $500-$1000 in a card to each of DD14’s 20-something asst sports coaches for Christmas. This included young schmoopie he was chasing like the predator he is.

      • And to clarify because I’m a chump, I have a few people I give gift cards to for gifts. I know that’s what they want and they like to shop the sales after Christmas at their favorite stores. Didn’t want to knock gift cards as a gift. Just want to clarify cheater doesn’t really know (or care to know) anyone deeply enough to be able to surprise them with an awesome gift….

      • Yes, he was a terrible gift giver, on the rare occasions (twice in 45 years) when he actually gave me a gift. He did appreciate the many, many, many thoughtful gifts I gave him on his birthday, holidays and random times throughout the year (I called them “just because I love you” gifts).
        Because he was an absolutely evil asshole, he actually had me shop and pay for gifts for his long-term affair partners. Of course, I didn’t know that he was fucking them, I just thought he was a “nice guy” who wanted to make a “poor single mother’s” life a little better. He even asked me to find a “meaningful gift” for Mother’s Day for the latest one, who was our neighbor. Aw, how sweet. I noticed that I, the actual mother of his children, did not get a “meaningful gift” that year or any other year. Guess she just wasn’t the shopper that I am.

        • Our last year together the only thing I asked my wasband for as a Christmas gift was to patch and repaint the 2 holes he had put in the dry wall. You know the ones he had been promising to fix for 2 years. He didn’t. He did however, buy shmoopie a spa weekend and skipped going to Christmas Eve services with my and the kids to spend the evening with her. They are what they are. Never look back.

      • I think you hit it on the head, regarding their inability to give gifts. Jackass was horrible at it. He thought scratch-off tickets made good gifts…

        • They do make good gifts for Jackass to give.
          Because something you stopped in to a convenience store to buy, thus saving yourself time and energy that could be going to your own pleasures, is the best solution when you haven’t planned ahead, or given the recipient any of your precious consideration.
          I would have loved getting scratch tickets from Mr. Magoo, showing me that he expended some of his effort for me. But that would have required him to actually have to step into the store. Too much trouble for oldcrone, she’s not worth even that.
          So every year I bought myself a gift from him. He usually didn’t care enough to ask what “he” bought for me, until the kids got older and he would whisper “What did I get you?” before we gathered together to unwrap presents.
          The two gifts he gave me? An iron skillet that I didn’t need or want, as I already had one. And a flannel nightgown that I could have sworn was a gift to his mother the year before (not from us). I remembered it because the pattern was especially ugly. And it didn’t fit her. It didn’t fit me either, but so what.

  • OP – I’m only a little bit older than you and I’m also a baby chump (found out relatively recently). Please read as much as you can on this site. Listen to the stories of other people in the comments section.

    This likely feels like the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through, but please take advantage of the fact that you found out early. The only thing that keeps my head above water on rough days is that I know now, at age 30 w/ no children and no shared property. Run. You have been given a rare gift – it’s a view into the future.

    I can’t really make out when he stated seeing someone else-but the term ‘other woman’ leads me to believe it was while you were still a couple. In that case, think about what you’ve said : He was cheating and had someone lined up and stated dating that person. Then dumped her when you said you’d take him back. That doesn’t sound like confusion-sounds very conscious and deliberate if you ask me. And no, it’s not because “he’s young” or you need to give him time to mature. You don’t need to waste your life (and possibly your health – get checked for STD’s please – sucks, but it’s necessary step).

    Also- getting married won’t ‘show him the way’ and neither will having a baby. My STBX and I were seriously picking dates to start trying for a baby, all while he was getting drunk & sneaking out to meet up w/ random people for sex while I slept.

    I also vote for No Contact (tried being cordial and just speaking w/ mine because in my head, we were ‘so close’ but it was like rubbing salt in the wound every time, and he totally took advantage where he could). Sorry you’re going through this.

    • That taking advantage point is spot on! I too felt we could end things amicably – after 23 years of marriage (24 officially before divorce was final), but I finally wised up to the fact that he was using my good nature and desire to be a good person to his advantage. Essentially he was keeping me on the hook for whatever time he needed me to be there to give him kibbles. So when I went fully NC and stopped trying to untangle the skein – my life improved drastically! Bye B*tch was my attitude and that has been my saving grace. CL is right – they are just not that deep and we don’t need to waste our hearts trying to project traits on them that are simply no there.

      • Good for you! 23 years is a huge investment and when we normally are super accommodating, accessible and compassionate, it’s not easy to turn that off, but yes-so liberating!!

      • It’s a tough lesson but chumps need to learn not to protect their goodness and capacity to bond onto other people, period. The idea is to actually get to know a person and keep yourself in observation mode until you have a lot of evidence, and not all of it “what he claims” and “what he says.”

  • This was very hard for me. I remember when I found some texts where, he was texting the OW to meet up with him while I was at work and LITERALLY one minute later texted me how I was the best wife ever and how much he appreciated me. That messed me up for a long time. WHO DOES THAT? Only pod people with no real feelings, it was a smack in the face that he didn’t mean anything he said, it was all relationship management to keep everyone where he wanted them and really displayed the depths of his depravity, he had no real feelings for anyone. It was all about him and only him.

  • What I found one of the hardest things to get over. Is how I was so replaceable. We were married 34 years and had two children and grandchildren together. I adored him. I never would have thought of cheating. And I had many opportunities. I would tell them that I was happily married. I never even gave it thought to replace him with another man. Even through are rough patches. But, when I went through early Menopause that kicked my ass. Instead of my Ex supporting me and understanding how hard it was for me. He chose to sneak around with my oh so willing Cousin. His excuse was I was depressed, did not want to go anywhere and he thought that I did not love him anyway. She liked to have fun. Yup, fun at my expense.

    My advice to you is be thankful you found out now. Not waste 34 years with a man that doesn’t value you. Go no contact. Do not give him the opportunity to keep you on the back burner just in case it doesn’t work out with the OW. He already showed you what he thought of you and your relationship. Keep your chin up. And you too will realize you are so much better with out the lying cheater.

    • Early menopause for me too, CuzChump. Had my babies at 35 and 37 and finished menopause at 41. That’s when he started replacing me with porn because three small kids plus menopause was too hard. I suppose I can date his discard from then, 11 years ago, because he knew how much I hated porn. It should have been a deal-breaker back then but I suppose I was just too tired.

      • Another early menopause, no kids, finished at 39. The Dickhead was 33. I suspect cheating happened around this time but have no proof.

      • Yes, looking back I can pinpoint the time when he started to check out of the marriage so to speak. I was just to dam tired and dealing with my severe symptoms of menopause that I did not catch it. And I trusted him. I was 42 when I stopped getting my period. But, it took years before I felt like myself again.

    • Me too with early menopause – but it’s funny how much my awful emotional symptoms became manageable once I escaped abuse, manipulation and gaslighting.

  • BA, I’ve given up trying untangle that skein because it’s one ugly mess that would reveal an even uglier mess.

    In the beginning of the this debacle, I kept saying that I know he loved me. I could see it and I could feel it. I still believe that. But. here’s what I believe and know. If you truly love someone and they are a part of you, you will not cheat…period. I was still in love with my husband after 18 years and I had no desire to be with another man. NONE!

    He didn’t love me enough to keep his dick in his pants. He didn’t love me enough to put his needs and wants aside for me. Hell, he didn’t even love his own kids enough to put his wants aside for their needs.And he sure as hell didn’t respect me enough to treat me like a freakin’ human being.

    In the beginning, I wanted the nightmare to end, to wake up from a bad dream and see him standing there with open arms. I wanted him to look me with his tears in his eyes and sincerity in his voice as he expressed remorse for the pain and hurt that he caused. That never happened and it never will. Now, I wouldn’t believe him even if he was the last person on earth. I will never again be able to trust his words or actions. He’s proved to me that he’s not of value now and never will be.

    Please go No Contact, block on social media. You don’t need those constant reminders in your life and he doesn’t deserve to be part of yours.

    • Re: “If you truly love someone and they are a part of you, you will not cheat…period.”

      The sad truth is my Ex-wife used this against me. Since she *was* tempted to cheat she told me she wasn’t sure if she did love me anymore and so I had to excuse her whilst she sat on the fence. Cue big, fat prod for me to do the “Pick Me Dance”:

      “I’m getting tempted by this guy here Billy. Must mean I’m starting to fall out of love with you. What’ya gonna do about it, eh?”

      I think people can be tempted. Anyone can, especially at times we’re feeling stressed or low. But, yes, a truly empathic person doesn’t use that as an excuse to do the dirty. Myself, even if I got tempted or considered cheating there was always a physical gut-punch that stopped me short. Quite simply, I thought how my ex would react if she found out. That was unbearable to me. It made me feel physically ill. Unfortunately she didn’t have the same wiring. Her response wasn’t “then I’d better not do it” but “then I’d better not tell Billy about it”.

      • Shitty people will use whatever they can to justify their shitty behavior. Your X diplayed shitty behavior by not being honest, by not looking at you and valuing you as a person. That is her horrible character, not yours.

        We all deserve better.

      • Billy–Cheaters are adept at logical fallacies. Your X subscribed to one known as “affirming the consequent.” In any conditional, (If X, then Y, as in “If you love someone, you won’t cheat on them”), if you affirm Y (consequent) it doesn’t follow that X (antecedent).

        Take this example, “If it’s an apple, then it’s a fruit. It’s a fruit, therefore it’s an apple.” Wrong–it could be a pear or a kumquat or a persimmon.

        My X, Hannibal Lecher, actually taught formal logic at a high level, and yet everyday discussions with him (even before D-day) were fraught with logical fallacies. More than the relief of freedom from his emotional abuse, or his criticism, I am relieved my life is now filled with sensible people & experiences.

  • ‘He’s not going to realize what he lost, because he never knew what he had.’

    I accepted this fairly quickly, after DDay #2 and 14 years of his being an entitled grouch.

    But OUR KIDS?????

    He walked away from them, one giant step at a time, until it became super clear to the kids that he wasn’t actually interested in their well-being, only in occasionally spending a little time w/them and having fun and taking selfies w/them to show the world what a great dad he was.

    This will forever be beyond my comprehension. Those kids loved him to bits. He seemed to love them too, in his own rather fucked-up way. I kicked him out, never imagining he would do this.

    I had to walk around for a couple of years, muttering ‘it is what it is’.

    • My theory is the kids remind them of their failure as fathers and husbands. It affects their poor widdle feelings to see the kids. They know they are abject failures and total losers and it makes them feel bad. So they put their precious fee-fees above those of their children and just ignore them. They are the scum of the earth.

      • I hadn’t thought of it like that! I wondered why my ex was basically avoiding our grown kids and seeing them on rare occasions – yet acting like he was a proud dad to the public. Probably is a lot of guilt and forcing them to face their BS. Just gets the mama bear side of me so upset, but I have to let them manage their own relationship with their Dad and figure this out. All I can do is be there for them and be a consistent parent. Which I am more than grateful to do!

        • I honestly don’t think they have any more guilt about abandoning their kids than they do us. THEY AREN”T THAT DEEP. They never cared about them either. They do not care about other people beyond what they can do for them. This is incomprehensible for a normal, real, parent–but I think it is true.

          • I agree with this, especially if the kids personalities align more with us than them.

            My ex has our daughter EOW yet asks nothing about her life outside of the time she spends with him, UNLESS it is something that he is particularly interested in, like a sport. He only takes her to things/places/movies he wants to go to. HE is truly only interested in developing a relationship with her when she is invested in his interests.

            He also has started using the same tactics on her that he used on me, recently telling her that all he wanted for Christmas is for her to be nice to him. When she asked how she wasn’t nice to him, he had no response. When she was a newborn he rejected affection from me, telling me that he would only be affectionate if I was nicer to him. But when I asked what did, he could not or would not give me an answer. I recognize this as the beginning of my discard and know that he is now beginning to discard our child. It’s a hard thing to watch.

            • Uhhh, paging Dr. Freud! Geez, what kind of mommy issues does your ex have? For him to continue to abuse women, regardless of who they are to him, in such a plotted cycle… His mom (or lack there of) really did a number on him. Here’s hoping your daughter sees through his act, quickly.

            • Omg CC
              The “ I only need a nice way” while doing everything to destroy anything that was peaceful….
              Constant changes .. this week “ nice” means greeting him at the door ( no joke) , but next week greeting him at the door was not what he needed, it was “ x y z”
              I felt like a stupid puppy trying to follow the always changing expectations….
              So exhausting….

        • Not so much guilt as shame, I suspect. Guilt is a motivator to change, but shame just motivates the transgressor to run away like the coward he is.
          I admire your patience. I would have just kicked the bastard’s ass. I suspect your approach is more sensible. 😉

      • Chump kids are the ultimate vessels for fun and drama creation, ‘til we’re not. Cheaters see us as a way to triangulate boundaries and torture the chumped spouses even more, use us as bad guys or burdens to look like a hero to their lastest conquest, or just create problems only they can solve. We chump kids also serve as great image management appliances; when you have lots of weekend fun pictures on your desk at work, or at home, you look like a great parent to the peanut gallery; who would ever question a great parent could be a shitty person?

        The gig is up/ or never progresses when we a) are never into what they want to do b) question who they are as a person or their actions c) need them to be there through developmental struggles or life pains d) or we are no longer instrumental to their image management.

        Chump kids get stuck in a Why loop, because instead of losing our spouse or “best friend,” we are losing our parent; we didn’t want them to love and cherish us, we NEEDED them too, and they let us down. We also get societal/mythological pressure to constantly “honor” a cheating parent, and make us feel bad when we don’t.

        Well, lots of us chump kids see the gig is up once we are in our late teens/early 20’s that we grew up with a parent who is selfish and destructive. We also realize that “honor” is way down the moral alphabet and our cheater parent should start with “atonement.” We also see the actions of our chumped parent and understand their pain and struggle to give us some normality when dealing with a psycho.

        Cheaters can’t stand us because we are people who demand they act like a human beings and put some effort into a relationship; this is something they can’t image mange away, use sex as a power card, or play the friend game. They have nothing in their insidious bag of tricks to manipulate us if we don’t let them, so we complete the use, abuse, discard pattern all over again.

        Jokes on them; we usually pick their nursing homes.

        • RaesofChumpshine,

          (I love that by the way) I was going to take parts out of your post and quote them, but then I realized I was basically just going to repost the whole thing because there is so. much. truth. in your post. I feel terrible for my kids who are going to grow up with a half-assed dad. They got chumped too. Shame on him with all his talk of “family first” blah blah blah.

          I hope my kids pick a really really great nursing home for that asshat. Fingers crossed that they ask my advice.

            • Amen to that– I tell my kids that they don’t owe their father anything. I’m raising them (one of them full-time), he provides the bare minimum required by the state for child support, and even their college savings accounts have been funded by their grandparents. He’s done nothing but be an asshat for the past seven years, and he’s slowly but surely destroying his relationship with our kids. My kids should not feel pressured to care for him in his old age if he ends up alone; he’s done nothing but make them feel upset and unwanted.

              • My mom said the SAME thing, word for word. I still can hear my mom’s voice when I said I never wanted to talk to him again: You don’t owe your father anything. That is a mantra every chump child needs crossed stitched on a pillow.

          • @sisu it’s my unfortunate pleasure to give a view from the other side. With one sane parent, love, and therapy chump kids pull through for the wiser.

            • I appreciate your point of view. It gives me some insight as to what my step kids are experiencing.

        • Raes, thank you for this. It’s very hard for me to watch my ex “parent” (using that term very loosely with him) our kids only when it’s convenient for him (or when a photo op is involved). I try to articulate what you have to my kids as best I can, so that they don’t blame themselves for their crappy relationship with ex-cheater, but I’m coming from a situation where my parents have been together for 50+ years, and my dad has always been a stable, supportive, and loving figure in my life. I can’t relate to what this must be like for a chump kid, but you have articulated it very well. Thanks again.

          • @movingon you may not know what it’s like to have a shitty dad, but you also don’t know what it’s like to realize you have a mom who is strong enough to be two parents, and support you fully even through immense personal pain and struggle. To have a mom (or chumped dad) like that, it’s kinda tops.

    • I really wonder how much “love” the Dickhead has for his kids. They are 23 and 22, and he still likes to relay the story of how he got tricked into being a father, both times. He was married to the first wife, had daughter. In the process of getting divorce, first wife gets pregnant with son who is born in August – their divorce was final in April. His version is that she was birth control and didn’t tell him that she stopped taking it. He will never let go of the story. I suspect in his mind, he uses as validation when he doesn’t want to do something for them or being there emotionally for them because, well, he got tricked into being a daddy.

      • I want to add – being away from him has allowed my mind to “hear” his stories differently. Knowing how he is now, I have much more sympathy for this first wife than I ever did while we married. H says she cheated so he cheated. I have feeling he cheated and she never did. I was so blind for putting my trust into the hands of the wrong person.

        • My ex also said his ex-wife cheated on him. He admitted to me he cheated on her ONCE. Um, no, that’s not what I’ve heard from other sources. Like you, I believe she never cheated on him, and I too have much more sympathy…actually, EMPATHY! for her than I ever did before.

      • He is an extractor …. he extracts everything from everybody he encounters. Money, attention, objects that he wants. You name it… he will steal it!

  • I am at this point with my cheater. I need to figure out why my life was destroyed. Looking back on our marriage, he used me to do the adulting, for meaningless sex, and to be the crutch that would fill up his emptiness and mitigate his numbness by exposure to my much more vibrant personality. He had low dopamine based depression all his life and started using a lot of porn, gaming and finally cheating for dopamine highs. Then, of course he would need more to get the same effect as he had messed up his dopamine reward system with overstimulation. Highs were more important than our family, even than my life as he knew his coldness and cruelty made me suicidal and the stress made me unable to recover from a serious physical illness.
    These selfish twits SUCK, royally. They are unlikely to ever change. That’s all you really need to know to decide to walk away and not look back.

    • Chumperella – I will bet you a nickel that the porn and screen addiction came before the ‘low dopamine’ thing – and to be honest, there’s no blood test for that, so it sounds like self diagnosis, or a quack shrink. DSM-V has no such diagnosis as ‘low dopamine based depression’.

      What we do affects our brains, and vice versa. Cheaters have documented tendencies to look for biological excuses: bonobos, ‘unusually high’ sex drives, sex addiction, or whatever this week’s psychological trend is.

      If he’s been chasing highs since childhood, he’s set himself up for depression – and he can retrain himself to stop seeking highs and work on emotional self regulation instead. But why do that when it’s so much more fun to hide behind a bogus diagnosis, and keep doing exactly what you want?

      I would stop untangling the Dr Science skein. You have done brilliantly to get the hell away from this petulant man-baby.

      • Bravo, Lola! You wrote what I was thinking. My ex also has “depression”. I’m pretty sure he means “boredom”.

        • I just finished reading a book, “Women who love Psychopaths” by Sandra Brown. I highly recommend this as it is full of scientific studies of the women who are the survivors of these relationships. It was very insightful. And the results were very enlightening!

          • I just finished reading that book! I liked it. I’ve also read The Sociopath Next Door, Leave a Cheater Gain a Life, and Psychopath Free (which I’m now reading again).

        • Depression is real enough; I think plenty of Chumps can testify to this, having been profoundly depressed themselves.

          What’s not real is using it as a pseudo-scientific justification for behaviors that come out of shitty character and entitlement.

          Nor is medicating with people as a ‘cure’ for depression.

          I don’t know how many conditions I diagnosed Cheater #3 with so that I could ‘understand’ him and his shitty behaviors better. Cushing’s Disease was probably the best one.

          Right up until he admitted to me, in response to a direct question – in my garage one day – that he’d been manipulating me and managing down my expectations.

          Pretty hard to find that diagnosis in DSM-V, except under ‘Personality Disorders’.

          • Wow! He admitted that? That says a lot.

            My ex wasn’t diagnosed with depression, he diagnosed himself…and no, he isn’t a medical professional.

      • Hi Lola. Actually, he had almost all the symptoms of low dopamine when I first met him and throughout our long marriage. It just wasn’t recognized then and we knew nothing about it. I suspect it may be genetic as his dad had the same symptoms. Low dopamine is one of the causes of depression, it’s just less common than low serotonin and produces more of a numbness and empty feeling than sadness. That is why the drug Welbutrin is so popular. It is currently the only anti-depressant which is also a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. So it’s not quackery. It also isn’t an excuse for his behavior, nor has anyone ever suggested it was, thankfully. He should have gone to the doctor about his feelings of emptiness instead of humping a howorker to “feel alive”. He shouldn’t have self-medicated with porn and excessive online gaming. He could have talked to me about his problems and I would have helped him to kick those habits and get on Welbutrin. He knows I would have been more interested in helping than in judging. I’m a fixer by nature. But no, he chose to betray me instead, for over five years and would have kept on indefinitely if I hadn’t caught him. The kicker? His mistress stopped having intercourse with him within a few months and eventually wouldn’t even kiss him. He STILL preferred her to me because the very act of seeing her and getting away with it got him high. Classic cheater’s high fuckery.
        So yeah, he sucks and in terms of the cheating and the emotional abuse, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the neurobiological and psychological problems that helped make him as sucky as he is. The main ingredients here are none of those. They are lack of moral character and lack of concern for others. I do want him to get better so he’ll never do this to anyone again. He dumped his ho right after dday, has kicked his compulsive habits, is in therapy and on Welbutrin, but remains a dishonest, self-centred dick who I trust about as far as I can throw him.

        • The dopamine and serotonin theories are theories only – neither has been proven. I get concerned when people describe these things as fact when they’re unproven – even health professionals. I work in mental health research, and 99% of what people believe to be fact is actually drug company advertising.

          • Are you saying it’s not proven that depression has a neurobiological basis? Huh? Call me crazy, but if you give people a drug which boosts a neurotransmittor and that stops them from being depressed, it pretty much proves that an insufficiency of that neurotransmitter caused the depression. Since I’ve both seen and experienced it, I can attest that it’s fact that this can indeed happen and is not just drug company propaganda. I would agree that they overstate the effectiveness of these drugs. They don’t work for everyone. They also downplay the side effects. I had to stop taking them due to a severe case of serotonin syndrome. They can be dangerous but have also saved the lives of suicidal people, my own daughter included.

    • Trust that he sucks.

      And put your energy into learning what these wastes of human flesh are. There’s your answer to why your marriage was destroyed. You were not married to someone who can operate on your level. It’s like a car with two flat tires. You can’t get anywhere.

      • Oh, I do indeed trust that he sucks. That’s why I’m leaving his low dopamine dopey ass as soon as I find my dream house, which he is paying for but will belong to me. He will live in some crappy apartment and pass the proceeds from the sale of our current abode to me. He may suck, but he does have his good points, and one of them is knowing when he’s beaten.

  • My ex dropped the bomb on our daughters 8th birthday. He told me he was leaving me on my birthday. He filed for divorce on the 10th anniversary of the day we laid our son to rest.

    He values the children as much as he valued me. The children are still of use to him, and don’t give him problems when he wants kibbles. So he still “loves” them. He will get kibbles from them for a long time, so will “love” them for a long time.

    This is finally clear to me today. He’s making my kids pick-me dance with his wife appliances kids…. and that baby of hers… that I KNOW is not his, when he gets tired of the WA, he’ll get a paternity test done and “discover” she’s not his and will use that to control his image as to what a wonderful human being he is and how she took advantage of him.

    This shit writes itself…

    • I’ve always felt like a bit of a bitch to insist the only way I would sign the divorce papers was if he agreed to give me the grave plots where our son rests. It was all I wanted out of everything we had. He always wanted his ashes buried with our son’s plot. And I could have the one next to him. I did not want to be buried beside that man for eternity, but now I realize I also refused to allow him to manage his image after he was dead.

      Good call.

      Now I’m sure he just uses it to tell his wife appliance what a horrible human I am for keeping him from Lyon beside his son.

      Whatevs. When he’s dead, he’ll finally shut up about it.

      • “Whatevs. When he’s dead, he’ll finally shut up about it.”

        Let’s hope so. I sometimes wonder if they won’t figure out that they’re dead and will complain until the end of time.

        I’m sorry about your son. Good thing you got the plot though.

  • The shallowness, the total self absorption, and secret agendas to feather their own nests at the expense of others. I had no idea people like this existed. Too bad we projected our own values onto them.

  • Dear BA, You were his best friend, and you considered him to be your best friend.

    He wasn’t on board for that. My best friend would never stab me in the back and walk out on me.

    When you are in a relationship with someone who is shallow, who can’t bond, who can discard us and jump to the next host like a flea looking for a better meal, you need to sort out the person you’ve thought he is from the person he actually is. Someone who would drop you after 5 years without a thought.

    I’d hazard a guess that after 5 years, you were expecting the relationship to move to another level. Hence, the flea jumping to a new host. He can’t “adult.”

    He is not and was not “your best friend.” An imaginary friend would treat you better.

    • “..someone who is shallow, who can’t bond, who can discard us and jump to the next host like a flea looking for a better meal…”

      The truth. Dickhead is with someone that he met 3 weeks before he filed. That’s just the person he’s chosen to stay with. There are others that didn’t rate a longer-term relationship.

      • Because they weren’t willing enough hosts for his parasitic kibble needs, I’d wager.

  • I’m a newly minted chump (8 months) and this reminder is spot on.
    Do I still think about him? Yes.
    Do I want to make contact? Yes, but I hold the line and don’t call/text/email/snoop. I want to heal from this abuse. I refuse to be a repeat chump with him or anyone else. That means doing the work.
    No contact says I value myself.
    No contact says I know myself.
    No contact says I measure up because I care for myself.
    This shit works. You will be amazed at who you become.
    We can’t get the lost years back. But I’m not donating any current or future years to that shit show!

    • Yes and yes! Early on in my NC voyage when I was having a very hard time with it (like you describe, Chumptastic Voyage), I reminded myself that every moment I spent thinking about my ex was wasted energy and a moment that would be better spent helping myself heal. And I second that it’s amazing to see how you blossom once NC frees you to really be yourself again!

      • Ivy, I’ve read your posts for months, you are also mighty, and funny!
        We don’t have to do this alone.

  • “..someone who is shallow, who can’t bond, who can discard us and jump to the next host like a flea looking for a better meal…”

    The truth. Dickhead is with someone that he met 3 weeks before he filed. That’s just the person he’s chosen to stay with. There are others that didn’t rate a longer-term relationship.

    • “That’s just the person he’s chosen to stay with. There are others that didn’t rate a longer-term relationship.”

      You mean others who he sucked dry too quickly or who tossed him out, right?

      What a dick with ears.

  • Put this quote in a comment not long ago, but here goes again (thank you Dr Selma):

    …The distinguishing characteristic of the diseases of nonattachment is the incapacity of the person to form human bonds. The life histories of people with such a disease reveal no single significant human relationship. The narrative of their lives reads like a vagrant journey with chance encounters and transient partnerships. Since no partner is valued, any one partner can be exchanged for any other, in the absence of love, there is no pain in loss. Indeed, the other striking characteristic of such people is their impoverished emotional range. There is no joy, no grief, no guilt, and no remorse. In the absence of human ties, a conscience cannot be formed; even the qualities of self-observation and self-criticism fail to develop…
    Selma Fraiberg

    • This is a PERFECT description.

      And I hope Chumps aren’t fooled by 20-year, 30-year relationships. You thought the cheater was attached because you couldn’t imagine a person like the one Selma Fraiberg describes.

  • This post reminded me of something that happened a year ago. I left my purse in a shopping cart at a mall. I did not even realize it. I received a phone call as I walked in the door. Two young women in their early 20s not only found it but waited at customer service until I got there. I was so thankful that I got to say Thank You. I hope good people are in their lives.
    People who have no values value nothing. As CL says everyone is just an appliance. The best suggestion I have is to spend time with their families. It’s the small little remarks that start coming out that will tell you a lot about the person you want to be with.
    (Well, no, he never shared his toys and would not to let anyone drive his car or use his games. She never once asked if she could help. The whole time he was living here he never tried to get a job. I had to nag him to do simple things around the house. He never says please and thank you. She is always arguing with everybody because she is always right.)
    Do these remarks ring a bell. Pay attention to the little things. Disordered people can only hide it so long. The red flags are there, it’s just that we choose not to see them.

    • Very well said. The red flags are there, it’s just that we choose not to see them. And it’s the little things, that reveal so much!

    • So true.

      My ex mil used to tell the story that when my ex and his sister were little (he was 2 years old and sister was a newborn) that she would just get sister settled and sleeping in her crib and ex would run in and bite her hands through the crib slates. Sister would scream and ex mil would run in the room to find 2 yo old ex laughing and biting sister. No remorse.

    • I had a long relationship with a man who had a lovely daughter. (He was divorced, of course). This young woman married a boy she met at college. At the rehearsal dinner, his mother said, “We’re so glad he found ‘Laura’ because he’s not ready to be on his own.”

      The first thing we did when we got in the car was look at each other and say, “Well, that’s not going to work.”

  • BA, I can’t remember where I read it (here?), but somewhere I read “Past behavior is a strong indicator of future behavior”. You may have lost 5 years to this fuckwit, but it wasn’t 6 years, or 8 years, or 20 years. And you have an incredible opportunity to find somebody who will value you as you DESERVE to be valued. You deserve to be the sole focus of your future lover, not some stale side dish at a cheap all-you-can-eat buffet.
    And keep an eye out for red flags, pay attention to them, and throw away your spackle.

  • “Deception is toxic. Cake-eating is toxic. Extracting value from someone, allowing them to invest further while you blithely betray them is toxic.”

    Thank you for this, CL!!

    I need this kind of reminder. I tend to be too compassionate (“he’s mentally ill”) and while I’m done with the Python and plan total NC once the divorce is done, I still feel a need sometimes to be kind.


    I need to keep it civil, but my proclivity to be kind needs to be resisted. It will only reinforce his sense of centrality, and possibly invite attempts at hoovering. I put up with the toxicity he injected into my life for too many years. Turning the other cheek just got me slapped again on the other one.

    I repeat this often (because I need the reminder): mental illness may explain, but it is NOT an excuse.

    Now I will also remind myself: I don’t need to be kind to a TOXIC lying cheater. It’s like patting the head of a snake.

    • Lord, me too.
      Husband pretends to have a mental issue and I am an empath.
      He may or may not have frontal lobe dementia, but he is such a heel and bum to me and our family.

      But he has already extracted so much from me, while flying around the country banging women.

      So done.

      • bostonirisher, I’m actually fairly certain that the Python has frontotemporal dementia, or FTD (significant deterioration in personal hygiene, new sweet tooth/massive weight gain, saying outrageous/inappropriate things at work – which caused him to be fired, etc.).

        But he was a narcissist before the FTD: I found out last year that he was lying to me about his past from the very beginning of our relationship.

        His brain is just more broken now! I’m so done too.

    • Remember the difference between “kind” and “nice.” With a disordered person, the biggest kindness you can do is to maintain your boundaries and refuse to enable them in their delusions, disorder, manipulations, etc. Insist on the child support deducted from the paycheck. Require them to either stick to the visitation times and custody days or get nothing. Don’t indulge them in their manipulative, chaotic behavior.

      Most of the time, chumps think they need to be “nice”–to change the dates, to allow the times to wander, to understand that a trip to Vegas left nothing to pay the share of football equipment.

      “Nice” is our version of impression management. It’s people pleasing. It’s fear of the anger of other people. It’s giving up ourselves, putting our ourselves at risk to uphold our sense of ourselves as “good,” rather than to help the weak or the vulnerable. Cheaters are grownups perfectly capable of setting up dates with affair partners, handling profiles on hook-up sites, siphoning money and covering up their tracks. They don’t need us to fix them. They are fine with what they are.

    • Yep. Also, kindness backfired like everything else too. My early instinct to be empathetic and kind were met with scorn and insults that I was being fake. Then when I shifted to polite neutrality I was name called for being cold and distant. They are masters at moving the goal post.

  • Good one. Really spoke to me that the only thing that existed was his use of me. When “we” were preparing for my retirement and I said he would have to work to pay his health insurance I saw his sphincter slam shut. Our whole 30 yrs, his money was his and mine was ours. I truly believe he just enjoyed the ride until tramp wiggled her butt in his face and he followed like a lap dog. Wife-what wife. He even lied to her and told her we were divorcing without notifyitme of that. She saw $ and hung in until she realized I had all the money. Oh well. Moving forward to a rat-free life. Hugs

    • They lie to everyone. The Python still tells his victims that he is divorced (nope, not yet).

      On D-Day #1, the woman who had sex a few times with him before finding out he was married was very kind to me. When she caught him in a lie and did some digging, which revealed his true marital status, she came to the house – he was on a business trip – so I would get to tell him he was busted when he got back. And she brought me a pound of chocolates to soften the blow.

      You can’t make this shit up.

  • Something that helped me with getting passed my last asshole cheater was reminding myself he’s not sorry. Knowing his lack of remorse just made me angry, and that anger replaced the love I once had, and eventually the anger gave way to thinking of him and any relationship he has as a dumpster fire, which became “good riddance, dodged that bullet.”

    Every time he had done something shitty “I’m soooorrryyy” …no you’re not.

    When he told me he was “accidentally” seeing someone else, several weeks after he’d actually started seeing her. “I’m sooorrryy”…no you’re not.

    “I didn’t mean to and I’m sooorryy.” …yes you did and no you’re not.

    Follow the They’ Not Sorry road to That’s a Dumpster Fire town.

    The next town over is Meh.

    • Kara,

      You know what helped me realize he wasn’t sorry? Every single time the asshole never bothered to say “I’m sorry”. I even asked him one time why he never apologized, and he said “For what?” (still gaslighting me about the affair)

      I projected so much goodness onto him that it still took me a long time to realize he wasn’t sorry.
      As the fog cleared and I would read CN everyday and I would see even the worst cheaters apologizing and begging for another chance, and mine was doing none of those things. He. Is. Not. Sorry.

      Thick skull over here.

      • Projection is an amazing thing. When the ex said “The piece of paper means nothing to me” i.e. our marriage license, I heard “The emotional connection is infinitely more important than the legal one to me”. I suspect what he actually meant was “I’m married to you but it means nothing to me, I want to have kibbles too”. He did mention at one time that we should renew our marriage vows, and I am wondering if he meant to alter them to an open marriage. Fortunately there was no time for that particular headfuck before the end!

  • My cheater XH ‘let’ me catch him cheating because, you know, that was soooo much easier on him. He also went from my bed to hers within 24 hours never missing a beat. I’ve read it here before; it didn’t hurt him to hurt me. I had to come to the sad realization that I never meant squat to this man and that I was easy to replace. I had a fake husband and a fake life and a fake marriage. That is my bottom line. So glad I found CL and CN to have it make sense to me.

    • A brave admission. There are plenty of wobbly seasons when we miss the Lie, but if you can hold on to the reality, they pass more quickly.

  • Some people are just in it because things are convenient and easy for “now”. But that doesn’t mean, they won’t bail when things become inconvenient for them. These cheaters never really bonded or attached in the first place, and by the time they leave, they have already checked out a long time ago.

  • My x (38yrs together & now 8yrs since d-day) used to rabbit on about people of substance and I assumed he must have been one of them…

    Rookie error!

    He moved on with the OW who was bonking him for 8yrs possibly more… abandoned with gusto….

    I have spent far too many years grieving and trying to understand how could a man of substance do this?

    Fact… he isn’t.

  • Chumps temporarily fill a void in cheaters. Period.

    Each of us have our own reasons as to why we have the need to fill it.

    There is a great book by Shel Silverstein called the “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O”

    Please read it, chumps. He was a very insightful man.

  • Don’t waste any more of your precious time/thoughts/life on the likes of him. Some people simply are black holes – an empty void inside. To them, others are merely suppliers/appliances to be used as long as possible for selfish reasons. There are no true deep-seated feelings. It’s all superficial – they love what you can do for them and they go through the motions (faking having feelings) just enough to keep you hooked. When you catch on to their M.O. and put an end it, they quickly move on to the next supply… It’s the nature of the beast.

    The sooner you come to this realization, the better. Cut your losses and move on with your life. They won’t ever change and it’s not worth trying to understand how or why they are the way they are. Spend your time healing your wounds and understanding the red flags you missed so you won’t fall into the same trap again. You will get through this! xo

  • I have learned that the reason I was so replaceable is that I wasn’t meeting his needs. That was the hardest fact for me to accept. My first inclination was to rationalize all the ways that I was meeting his needs, but the truth I have learned is that those are the needs I think are necessary. They are the needs that most people who understand mature love, adulting and life-long relationships understand need to be met.

    Reality check here is that my husband had the following needs (from what I can gather):
    – to not be overwhelmed by too many responsibilities at the same time
    – to be more overtly recognized for the things he does because he thinks those things are really important
    – to have fun more often
    – to take more breaks from home responsibilities
    – to give less attention to extraneous demands – familial obligations, community involvement
    – to not be overscheduled – or have the kids overscheduled
    – to not become burdened by home improvement projects
    – to have someone who admires him more as he is
    – to have someone who laughs more often and is more willing to live on the wild side
    – to not make a big deal about problems – let things slide because it will pass with time

    He got me…an overachiever, super responsible, accomplished, community-minded, family-oriented person. He admits that I checked all the boxes of an amazing woman – pretty, smart, great job, family loved me. Then, he realized after the first couple of years that it’s a lot of work to be married to someone like me because there are expectations.

    His needs didn’t include the demands of a child with special needs, a daughter born two months prematurely, a sick parent, a house that was a fixer-upper. In 11.5 years of marriage, he was laid off twice and then went back to university full-time, while my income steadily increased (I always outearned him and then I really, really outearned him). I started to put more pressure on him to get things done, to do more around the house, to account for more with the kids.

    Meanwhile, this early-40s man finds himself back at university, depending on his wife financially, surrounded by young people and their dreams. He comes home to a fed-up wife who isn’t having so much fun because I felt like I was carrying a massive load and trying to be all things to all people.

    That’s right I didn’t meet his needs…BUT THAT IS HIS PROBLEM because his needs are immature.

    He short-wired. I don’t think he has a personality disorder, but no doubt he is a man who is weak-willed, lacks initiative, and has lost his moral compass. Because he is weak-willed he sought out the company of other women to meet his need to escape it all. Because he lacks initiative, he couldn’t just up and leave the marriage with some semblance of honour and respect (No – he needed me to finance his schooling and get a job). His moral compass became more skewed as his cognitive dissonance grew. He knows that what he’s done is absolutely shitty, but the fix that he gets being around this other woman is amazing. The excitement of the affair replaced the pornography that he was using previously. He thinks he’s happy.

    No, I didn’t meet his needs as they are now. She does. She doesn’t have custody of her kids so he hasn’t seen how she actually parents. The way they get to be together is no different that his single 20s days. The only difference is that he has certain days he has the kids so he doesn’t see her on those days. They get to hang out, listen to music, watch movies, drink wine, talk, be the centre of each other’s universe. I remember when he and I were like this – in the days before kids. But, that’s what he thinks is love. That’s what he is craving – an emotionally immature existence with an equally emotionally immature woman.

    He didn’t discard me all of a sudden; it was gradual over the years. Likely it started with the initial demands of parenthood. He tried to put up the front that he was handling it all well and that this is what he wanted, but he struggled. Every conversation I made him have to address our issues was torture for him. He didn’t want to face problems, but to bury his head in the sand. It’s what his family has always done. I wasn’t satisfied with that because it’s just not how I operate.

    He discarded me…thank God because he wasn’t meeting my needs. I need a man “with bigger hands” – a king who acts with integrity and honours his queen, not a knight in shining armour who just wants to rescue pathetic damsels. She can have him for as long as she meets his needs for fun, fun, fun. None of this needed to turn out this way, but it did because he made it happen. I know I am a good person and a great mom…there is an amazing life coming together for me and laying itself out for the years to come.

    • Option No More, I read his list and thought, ‘Diddums’. Da poor ickle man – he has a sadz.

      Grown up life, on the other hand, has a way of not being what we expected.

      I have noticed that these ‘passenger’ type men seem to choose very competent women, who then basically do all the heavy lifting in the relationship. Then comes the discard because they’re no ‘fun’.

      Yes, it would be lovely to go through life as a sort of permanent fragrance advertisement or perhaps a high end coffee commercial. But families and children and communities and lives are not built this way. Nor is real love.

      • I’m a very competent woman in many ways, but was discarded because I wasn’t “making him happy”. This really chaps my hide since I too was extremely unhappy. But, I found ways to make MYSELF happy (while still doing the adulting and heavy lifting), and he focused on his friends (and apparently the OW and, most likely, numerous OW). Yes, folks, the late 40s man was playing with his friends in my basement. Ugh. So glad he’s gone. Now I get to do all the adulting and heavy lifting without the disappointment of expecting help but getting none.

        • Yes. I was discarded to, because I did not make him happy. Because of my failure to seek and receive physical intimacy. Because I had anger issues…
          In hindsight, he started the discard process as soon as I established myself in the US. The more I made a life for myself, the more he hated me for it. He had to belittle every single accomplishment. He hated my friends. But what he hated the most was that I had my own opinion and expectations. He could not tolerate any disagreement. He could not handle me criticizing him. My priorities, if different from his, were just based on wrong values. He was constantly bored and needed to overcome his boredom by me entertaining and admiring him. He loved to be admired. He hated to be asked to do something.

          In his mind I was the drill sergeant, the attacker, the evil witch. I was somehow standing between him and his happiness. That he so much deserved. Without lifting a finger for it.

          • Yes. So true. I’ve known these men to discard their wives even without an OW, because they have simply grown to hate them for ‘standing between them and happiness’. They go off and pursue happiness and the bachelor life for the thirty seconds or so that it takes them to realise that laundry doesn’t do itself, and then suddenly there’s a Nice Lady who takes the place of the discarded Wife Appliance.

            The ingratitude is dazzling. So is the man-babyhood.

            Fellas, I love you, and don’t worry, there IS a female equivalent: the Barbie Doll you married because she was gorgeous and crazy about you, and you were punching well above your weight, only to discover that she couldn’t stand not being the center of attention – ANYONE’S attention – for more than around a minute at a time.

            Your job was to enable, worship, praise, adore and basically make the world safe for Barbie, but it was never enough, so Barbie and her new best friend at the gym found other ways to pass the intervals between you adoring her.

            Once you start putting boundaries in place, Barbie – or her smarter sister, Polyamory Pollyanna (see JB’s story a week or so ago) – turns nasty real fast. You become the very, very bad guy.

            OH I AM SO GLAD I AM SINGLE. Tis the season to be single, tra la la la la etc.

            • Lola – I’m SOOOOO glad to be single too! 9 years and counting and still haven’t changed my mind.

          • Yep. But damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I was criticized and belittled for not working on my career (cause his image needs a professional working woman nearby) then chided when I did (cause I couldn’t adore him 100% of the time anymore and he had to inconveniently share in parenting).

            You can’t ever win with these types.

            • Yep! They see life as a zero sum game and they have to have all the control, and the whole point is to keep you off balance and themselves feeling superior to you and more in control than you (so they always move the goalposts). They literally HAVE to win, and if they see you as ‘winning’ in their mind, that means to them that they are losing – because as they see it, only one person can win, and it has to be at the EXPENSE of the other person. (Yes, they really do live in such an f-ed up reality!!!)

    • The ex to a T. Sadly he didn’t actually make sure the Dream Princess actually wanted him before he left me. He tells me he like people who are ‘doers’ like herself,who go on long rides across countries to raise money for charity and to plant forests. Not doers like me who run the household, look after the kids etc etc etc and who ultimately ask him to leave, continue to run the household, look after the kids, separate the finances, ultimately apply for divorce. Cause I’m not a doer! Hahaha 😀

  • This is hitting the nail on the head today, last night around 9 o’clock I received a strange text from my soon to be ex “”I will always remember you “ thought to myself strange, then thought I hope to God he is not trying to commit suicide with that kind of cryptic text but then I realized that’s the 28th the next day was going to be my 22nd anniversary today and I had forgotten I didn’t answer I just want to bed chuckling to myself, this is from a guy who I’ve been separated from after five failed attempts at reconciliation with 5D days who has been ghosting his own children for over a year and a half ????oh please! He’s had more girlfriends hookups and hookers than we had anniversaries I found out afterwards, he’s got a current smoochsee he’s had for at least a year always dragged his feet on our divorce I’ve done all the work but that Work got me a 80/20 split for me along with
    custody of the kids so whatever, he could never really remember we were married anyway you know with all the dating going on apparently. Jokes on him our divorce will be final will be final in less than two weeks which will be a shock for him Since he doesn’t realize the paperwork up file regardless of his shenanigans to avoid being served but hey I don’t miss him and I truly don’t want to remember him Amnesia sounds great I’m out now he is a NO DIVE Zone because he’s only is deep as a puddle ????

  • In my experience, being the chump makes it much easier to detach than being the cheater.

    As our marriage counsellor told me when we first separated, my grief is innocent and pure, while my cheating ex-husband’s grief is compounded by guilt.

    In the three months since we separated from our 9 year relationship, I have embraced joining dating apps, spending lots of time with family and friends, finding new hobbies, and thinking about him as little as possible.

    But yesterday, when he finally got the last of his crap out of my spare room (I’m keeping the home of course and am now celebrating that he has no footprint in it at all), he was playing all the games – especially self-pity.

    “I didn’t want this divorce”, “I miss you every day”, sobbing, crying, the whole shebang! I called him out on putting on the pity act and he wailed “it’s not an act! Why do you think it’s an act!”

    I stayed neutral, already having moved on, and simply chuckled to myself “if you didn’t want a divorce and miss me everyday maybe you should have thought of this before your affair”.

    He and his emotions are not my problem!

    • I am a little alarmed at the words ‘dating apps’, ‘three months’, and ‘already moved on’ in the one post.

      Is it just me?

      • Yeah, yeah, no smart chump is ever supposed to do online dating according to some of ya’ll, BUT here’s where the advice we dispense here gets weird: If she had instead written “I started going to a bunch of my hobby meetups to make new friends” many of ya’ll would be applauding her. Even though that’s just a sneakier, more subtle way to meet menfolk “too soon” or whatever while appearing to be just super into her hobbies. Old timely chumps are bizarrely fine with meeting men in real life under the guise of hobby pursuit, but cannot abide the idea of anyone online dating. The disordered prey on us everywhere, including hobby groups and online dating. /end rant

        • You’re exactly right. Some Chumps are honest about their intentions, and others are self deceiving. I love Chump Nation because it’s like huge group therapy – someone out there hears their own bullshit coming from a stranger, and it’s such a wake up call.

      • My Dday was three months ago. Ex moved out two months ago. I’m nowhere near “meh” and have been NC for only three weeks.

        Dating apps? Nope! I tried them in my mid 30s and found only creeps. I’m not searching for a man, I’m searching for contentment : )

    • “As our marriage counsellor told me when we first separated, my grief is innocent and pure, while my cheating ex-husband’s grief is compounded by guilt.”

      That’s a good one. So true.

  • My adult boys, with whom I have never shared the reason for our divorce, have a good relationship with their dad. But even they have NAILED it when it comes to his personality:
    “I’m convinced Dad hasn’t changed much since he was three.”
    “Dad is just simple, he doesn’t have the capacity for self-awareness.”
    “He will never be a good judge of the quality of life we had as a family. Dad can only see what’s in front of him right now.”
    I am six years past D Day and four years past the day I finally walked away. And until the men who are my sons started telling me recently who they saw their dad to be, I blamed myself because I couldn’t measure up enough to keep him. Because that’s what he told me.
    It’s not me, dear. It’s you.

  • “He doesn’t KNOW you. He doesn’t VALUE you. He is not the MEASURE of you.”

    Don’t give him one more second

  • Wow CL. Such Powerful Truth.

    He’s not going to realize what he lost, because he never knew what he had.

    He doesn’t KNOW you. He doesn’t VALUE you. He is not the MEASURE of you.
    This right here!!

    Stop giving him that power.
    Not about them. It’s about us finally!

  • Talking of competent women, I moved to Switzerland when I was 21 – got the job, the apartment, the whole shebang. No big deal really but I did it, so I was running my own life totally from then on. When I got married I still ended up doing everything “because it’s easy for you, you speak French, you’re so organized, you’re so …..”. This despite the fact that he could take French lessons 5 times a week, on work’s time and for free. That didn’t go very far as you might imagine because that would take effort on his part. In fact what used to piss me off was how (apparently) everything was “easy” for me. Strange that, because the harder I worked the “easier” it go for me and the “luckier” I became.

  • How do serial killers get away with crimes for so long. It’s the same thing. Once you accept that it was ALL a scam right from the very beginning when you met them, the easier it is to accept and not be stuck. You are dealing with someone who doesn’t do empathy- they just know how to mimic it and scam you. Be happy that you got away alive. If you knew what they really think in their brain it would chill you to your very core.

  • One of my friends and I were talking about this subject the other day.
    How can we be so invested and they can just walk away and there are no consequences?

    When I dumped ex narcopath for the 5th time, the CONSEQUENCE to him, SHOULD have been the crushing absence of ME in his life. He cried about it for about 2 weeks (his usual), and then he got angry and said I “ran out” on him. He forgets about the cheating and drinking, and humiliation, etc. As usual, HE is the victim.

    My children are 5 and 10 years old. I do a lot of teaching about consequences. There are “natural life consequences” ex. if you touch fire, you will get burned, and there are “consequences of bad behaviour” ex. if you slap your sister, you are in a time out and removed from the “fun” of being with the rest of the family (also social isolation).

    In the case of my young 5 year old son, he has no currency to punish, other than ME. Taking away toys, he doesn’t care. Losing electronic devices, he doesn’t care. Not being able to talk to or touch ME, kills him. He will do anything to make it right, correct his mistake and be able to be around me again.

    As for ex narcopath, that should have been his consequence. Except, due to his being a narcissist psychopath, he changed the rules. He professed to experience the consequence of not having me, all the while, behind the scenes, he was setting up a replacement, and then SWITCHAROO, new me in the form of a new victim, instantly takes my place. Now who feels the consequence? Sadly, me. Hence the crying, heartbreak, rage and depression. He gleefully rubbed it in my face.

    However. Because he takes with him his crap life skills into each relationshit, he always blows it up, and comes crawling back. I no longer entertain any conversations with him, and he is blocked. He can circle around to another ex.

    My therapist believes my relationshit with ex narcopath was doomed from the minute I met him. There was no chance because I was trying (him faking it) to build a foundation on a shallow puddle of piss.

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