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“Do Cheaters All Work from the Same Script?”


Dear Chump Lady,

After faithfully reading this blog and thinking about all that we have been through I still have questions.

1. How did all of these cheaters from all over the world basically learn the same script? I read everyone’s posts and I keep hearing the same dialogue that I had with my ex. In some cases, word for word. “I don’t believe you and I are over yet, I just need to do this”, “She is good for me”, “The kids want me to be happy”, “You just aren’t fun anymore”, “I love you, but it’s in a different way now.”

I don’t believe these words are something any parent teaches their child, so how did they all learn their script? Is there a “Narcissist for Dummies” handbook that chumps don’t know about in a secret room at Barnes and Noble?

2. What broke in them as children to cause them to be this way? The best that I can figure with mine was both parents were alcoholics (only one admitted and stopped drinking, forever). The father was not a believer in “time out’s” and used spankings, spankings with belts and groundings for punishment. My SIL told me that my ex was always a liar (probably so that he wouldn’t get hit or grounded). Is this the similar scenario in lives of other cheaters or am I just trying to find an excuse?

3. How as parents can we keep from raising a new crop of narcissistic children? Perhaps it is my newfound perspective, but there seems to be a rise in entitled, non-empathic, self serving, self-promoting, lazy humans. What are we as parents doing wrong and how do we stop it? I don’t want either of my children to end up like my ex-husband or marry someone like him. Perhaps the damage is done, but if there is some magic mommy wand out there I want to use it.

So yes, after almost 30 years of studying this specimen I am still confused. I want to strengthen my picker and not repeat this crap again. And I want to make sure my kids work on theirs so they don’t end up with the same type of person or worse, become that person.

Staying Strong

Dear Staying Strong,

1.) At first dalliance, every cheater is issued a Stupid Shit manual. It’s delivered by turkey vulture, which alights on their bedpost and drops it gently on their pillow. Other Stupid Shit manuals are found under rotten cabbage leaves, and still others can be bought at circuses if you know the right sideshow freak.

This is how lies are born! Cheaters are generally delighted to discover these manuals, because they were wondering how they were going to explain their treachery, but it’s all laid out right there for them. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering — who writes the manual? How do they know who’s cheating?

Hobgoblins. They have headquarters in Waco, Texas, with large printing presses, and an international security apparatus that keeps tabs on the empathy challenged. (Who do you think started Ashley Madison?)

You have a better answer? How else to explain the eerie similarities between every cheater?

Seriously, there’s only so many ways to manipulate someone. (For a catalog of manipulation, check out Dr. Simon’s site.) Convince them to doubt their senses (gaslighting), punish them for truth-telling (rage, abuse), divert them with chaos, insist they take responsibility for their own oppression (blame-shifting).

These dynamics are universal to humankind. And it’s not just cheaters — it’s anyone in any system trying to gain unfair advantage over another. “You don’t deserve voting rights, you’re not ready yet.” The entitled will always seek excuses as to why their entitlement is Right and Proper.

Once you understand cheating as a toxic power dynamic, you understand why all the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say is so universal.

2). No answer. That’s untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Stop!

3). If anyone is handing out “Magic Mommy Wands” I want one to wave over my teenager so he stops using all the towels.

Staying Strong, we can only speculate on what makes people cheaters. If it’s personality disorder, well, there is some evidence that’s genetic. (If you want to read more on that, google “callous unemotional traits hereditary”.) If it’s basic entitlement, yes, I think as parents we can do a lot to not raise a spoiled brat. But consider your own family — don’t you know people raised by the same parents (good or toxic) who raised very different children? If only life came with guarantees!

One of my favorite parenting phrases, along with “Wherever you left it” and “Because I said so”, is “It’s not all about you.” Children constantly need to be reminded of other people’s needs and feelings. It’s Sally’s turn for a ride on the slide! No, the cookies are for SHARING! No, you CANNOT USE EVERY TOWEL IN THE HOUSE AND TAKE HOUR-LONG SHOWERS!

It’s Not All About YOU.

I do think that many cheaters have huge senses of entitlement that were fed as children. You’re a very special child, better than all the other children. They weren’t called out on their selfishness, instead their “superiority” was celebrated and encouraged.

We do children a disservice when we don’t force them to take responsibility for their actions. Every parent knows how hard it is to not rescue or spackle for our kid. “Well, you failed that class because the teacher was a terrible teacher who couldn’t teach!” Instead of letting them learn from consequences — kid takes the failing grade and the humiliation that goes with it.

Will our children grow up to be cheaters? I sure hope not! But of course, part of that answer is US. It’s not just what we say to children, it’s what we DO, what we model, what we tolerate in our lives that teaches them how the world works. If children grow up in a cheater/chump household, who do you think they’re going to want to be? The powerful, “happy” person who gets all the kibbles and advantages, or the  sad, put upon chump, resentfully eating shit sandwiches to keep the peace?

You want to teach your kids to be mighty? Push the mean kid off the slide if he won’t take turns. Stand up for yourself. Don’t take crap — and your kids won’t either.

That’s my hope anyway.

This column ran previously. And we’re still untangling that skein….

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I’ve been chumped twice; first by my ex-husband (multiple times, I’m sorry to admit) and he used all these phrases, until finally he used the big giant ‘soulmate’ ‘meant to be’ ‘together forever’ and had the cheater wedding of the century–with our daughter as ‘best man.’ Well, that lasted about four years until they both cheated on one another–surprise, surprise—and ha ha ha, (not that I want to put anyone here on CN down who caught something from her ex) she has a really bad case of herpes, will be on antivirals the rest of her life, and oh too bad.
    Then I got chumped by my fiancé of nearly five years, whose daughters I had fallen in love with, in addition to my own—and I dare say, I may’ve been the only stable force in their young lives–but now, nothing. Same phrases, ‘his needs’ ‘I work too hard (that’s true, I work in outpatient psychiatry, it’s hard work), but also the lies: ‘you’re an alcoholic’ ‘you caused the rift between you and your daughter’ ‘you never gave me what I needed’—well the last one is also true, because I don’t have a Kik account, and I don’t post photos of my crotch and talk dirty to people I don’t know. They are all cut from the same cloth, and at this point, I say the h*** with all of them. If I need to, I’ll learn to weave my own cloth, just had it.

    • Yep…it’s always their wants and needs weren’t met in whatever way and they deserve their wants and needs more than anyone else does.
      As for the similarity of what they say, I read a comment on the Divorce Minister site that suggested that the reason cheaters all say the same thing is because it come from the same source – made complete sense to me.

    • “If I need to, I’ll learn to weave my own cloth, just had it.”

      Speaking of which, did you catch the Ose vibrator flap at CES 2019? I’m on the waiting list for one. It’s supposed to be commercially available this autumn.

    • “They are all cut from the same cloth, and at this point, I say the h*** with all of them. If I need to, I’ll learn to weave my own cloth, just had it.”

      Great analogy, Lady. Sitting at my loom as we speak.

  • 3). If anyone is handing out “Magic Mommy Wands” I want one to wave over my teenager so he stops using all the towels
    So funny! ????

    • Like a hotel with all the towels! When they were 11, I told them if they could use an iPad/smart phone etc they could use a washing machine. Man they were mad at me. I also told them their future partners would swoon at their self sufficiency and I’d be right here waiting when they came running to thank me for being so mean to them.

      • My boys were 12, and they were shocked I would make them learn how to cook, clean, wash clothes, sew and iron. (Cheater ex was preaching it was woman’s work)

        Yes, my eldest did later thank me.

      • I told my 15.5 year old stepson that he was welcome to learn to drive once he mastered the toilet and the alarm clock. After a month where I didn’t have to wake him for school or flush his waste, he could move onto automobiles. Took 6 months. He’s 33 now, he thanked me for being the only parent who gave him boundaries, goals and then backed it up. Yup, I taught him to drive.

        • There are so many bad jokes about stepparents that I want to say “Thank you.”. My brother’s second wife took on a brood, added to it, and did a great job.

        • ^This. This is brilliant. Thank you Stepmom. I was a ‘mean Mom’ too. “Driving is not a right, it’s a privilege and it comes with great responsibilities.”

          To ChumpLady & other Moms, what is the deal with the TOWELS!?! Ghaaaaad! I bought color coded towels for my teens and that didn’t really solve the problem. They just stole from each other… sigh.

  • I’ve wondered this too in regards to these gems:

    The kids are resilient.
    This is in everyone’s best interest.
    We’re soulmates, so I believe we will be united again in heaven. We’ll get it right in the next life.
    The heart wants what the heart wants.

    I only wish I had left sooner. Gag.

    • Where did cheaters get the idea that ‘children are resilient’ about cheating? It’s not even as if it is supported by any evidence from the world – and the broken marriages – around them. It’s so puzzling.

      • I also got the kids are resilient, and then proceeded to demonize me to everyone including out son.
        Ex eventually alienated our son from me with his gas lighting and twisted tales making himself out to be the good guy/victim.
        I consider ex’s manipulation of our son as the worse form of child abuse.
        Ex doesn’t care that he’s cheating his son of having a normal relationship with his Mother.
        Our sons future relationships don’t hold much promise. I thought I married an educated, intelligent man. Evidently not.

        • Brit, sounds like you made the same mistake I did; assuming that intelligence and education would also mean GOOD CHARACTER!

          I thought that any person who can think clearly would realize the value of a stable, loving couple, a stable loving home for their kids, etc etc. The higher value of a relationship based on honesty and caring over one based on selfishness and manipulation (ESPECIALLY when that honest, caring relationship included lots of really good sex!).

          Pretty damned obvious to me. Shouldn’t that be obvious to this intelligent, educated man?

          Clearly not.

          • Hey KarenE, yeah I felt similar sentiments too. In my case, she was a “devout Catholic” who was a great role model not only for our daughters, but their friends as well. Was involved w/the church and the school, and we were viewed as one of those “perfect families” in the church. Nowadays: has a tattoo of the guy’s name, which was hidden under her engagement ring and wedding band for God knows how long before we divorced; continues to disagree w/how I think the children should be raised, and forces therapy on my youngest and the family (although both therapists feel we don’t need it); does not take the children to church on weekends she has them. The lines of “I still love you, but in a different way now,” or “I’m not going to stay in the marriage for the sake of the children,” or “you just didn’t listen” all seem hollow now. One day, these people may “wake up” and realize they damaged families, but for now, all of them think it’s all about them and them first.

            • Liars lie. They lie about fidelity. They lie about religion. They lie to and about their children. There is nothing they will not lie about.

              • And guess who saw it first? Our youngest daughter, when she noticed it on the beach after skank took off her rings to get into the water. Try explaining another guy’s name to the children that isn’t their father’s. She had to have felt stupid at that point.

      • They get it from their enabling cheater friends who don’t want to admit that their actions damaged their children in some way. At least that’s where my Ex heard that cr*p.

    • Funny, I got a “the kids are resilient and in a good place” text from my ex just last week. That and, it’s good that we’ve risen above “our” bullshit for the kids’ benefit. I didn’t respond, but there was no “our” in this particular bullshit.

      • I got this, too. “I am not worried about the kids”. Really? You do not think they would be affected by you leaving me, living somewhere else…

          • As a child of bitterly divorced parents I can attest to the fact, that the kids do not turn out ‘fine.’ My older brother drank himself to death and I’ve went through my own casualties. We were never modeled proper behavior on how to be with our partners and it has parlayed into lots of lost dreams and heartache.

            Several years back my daughter left her husband for a boy toy and her four kids are suffering terribly for it. The older teen girls are now alienated from their father thanks to her hijinks and she’s working on the younger two to do the same. She thinks they’re fine. We’ll see about that.

      • Within a month of my ex leaving last year, the school called an emergency meeting with us. Our nine year old son, with autism, had been crashing a chair repeatedly over his head, saying that he didn’t want to live his life. In that month I had already been called to pick him up twice from school due to his behaviour causing classroom evacuations. I had documented four incidents at home of our son self-harming. He also kept blaming me for making him be born.

        The school expressed grave concern for our son’s mental and emotional well-being.

        My ex’s reaction was simply stating that he had not observed any of these behaviours at his house. Then, he had nothing to say to me when we left the meeting. Later I texted him about his thoughts on the matter. His response was that we just needed to play more with our son.

        WTF? He was that much in denial of the impact of his wrongdoing.

        So I went full throttle on the issue. If my ex was going to accuse me of being controlling, then I was going to show him the full extent of what competency in life looks like. Within a week, my son was at a psychologist. I secured a family counsellor specializing in autism who declared that our son was in crisis and that the 50-50 access arrangement was inappropriate as the transition in sleep patterns was too much for him. She called out my ex in lack of consistency at his place and too many hours if screen/tech time. She urged him to allow our son to sleep more nights at home with me because I was in the marital home. I got a lawyer for back-up. It took almost two months for my ex to finally amicably agree to the change as more calls were made by the school.

        Our son improved immediately when he started sleeping all school nights at home with me. Then, concerns began with my daughter. Six months of weekly family counselling. My son receives two hours of ABA therapy a week since last May, and my daughter has a tutor to help catch up what she did not pass in the last school year. I have paid for all of this when my benefits don’t cover it.

        But kids are resilient, he claimed. My answer to him was, No, I am resilient and I am going to do everything in my power to ensure their needs are met as I clean up his mess, no thanks to him.

        One year later, a new normal has been established. My kids are thriving. I have them 65% of the time. They are in the same home and school. I look after all they need. There is peace in our home. We have our faith. They learn good morals. I take them to visit all my in-laws as they have been very supportive of me.

        Kids are not resilient in some sort of automatic way. Their resiliency will be determined in future when we see if they can successfully cope in their own lives. What they are doing now is surviving and grieving with as many supports as I can muster. And, the kids know which parent is there to meet their needs. It’s why they complain more with me, cry more with me, express their thoughts more with me. They know mommy will never leave. My ex thinks he’s doing an awesome because the kids never say anything to him – everthing is “great” at his place.

        Luckily, their father keeps the OW away from the kids on his days. His whole family has made it clear that they will not support his adulterous relationship, and his parents spoke to him early on about protecting the kids.

        So I let him have his illusions. Let the kids have fun with dad. Let them learn about life and love from mom.

  • I they like getting one up on their significant other, telling the om/ow their misunderstood. Not appreciated. Its all about them. According to my ex. Apparently he’s fantastic in bed, er I don’t think so!

  • I too marvel at how cheaters all seem to work from the same script, word for word. It is truly bizarre to me. Things my cheating STBX said to me:

    “My needs aren’t being met / haven’t been met for years.”

    “I only tell you what you can handle.”

    “It’s not what you think.”

    “The reason I lie to you is because of our dynamic.”

    “I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

    “I deserve to be happy.”

    “Kids just want their parents to be happy.”

    “I don’t feel what I’m supposed to feel.”

    And then, after enduring years of his nonsense and after asking him to leave multiple times, I finally kicked him out. His narrative then became, “The reason we are separated is that I wasn’t happy.”

    So bizarre that there is not an original line in his entire script.

    • Only tell you what you can handle. That’s a shit thing to say, isn’t it? “I had to lie to you because you flip out about the truth”. Um, I have no problem hearing or telling the truth – ever. It’s another gem they use after the fact. They hate consequences.

      My other fave was “you need to be the victim, it’s pathetic.” Meanwhile, they get laid by crying about their shitty wives, marriages, being misunderstood, used. They’re all about being the victim when it gets them blown at work. Crying in pain and heartbreak after months of confusion isn’t being the victim.

      • Hollowbunny,
        Yes, he honestly said that he only told me “what I can handle.” Much later, he admitted that he’d gotten that line from a movie. Even his worst lines weren’t original.

        • After DDay, mine started spouting the nonsense our “friends” marriage counselor had been telling them after that wife had been caught cheating. When manipulators hear something they like the sound of, they file it away for later, and they’ve been honing their craft since long before you arrived on the scene. Combine that with “there are only so many way to manipulate someone” and that’s how it can boil down to the Cliff Notes of Shitty Relationship Non-Answers.

      • I was accused of “wanting to play the victim” and “need to own my share in the demise of the marriage”.
        And …
        “I did not mean to hurt you”
        “I did not want you to find out”
        “I cannot talk to you, because you get angry at me”

        • “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to be hurt”. Yup. They were just protecting us, not their image.

        • “I was detaching from you for over a year”
          You were? I had no idea

          “I couldn’t talk to you about how my feelings were changing because you are so sensitive”
          Instead I’ll just commit the ultimate betrayal

          “You were 25 and I was 18 when we started dating. I was a naive little girl and you took advantage of me”
          We were married for 18 years

    • I’m not sure if any other cheaters told the chump ‘the narrative’ he or she told the OW/OM.

      Here’s what I got:

      I told her I’ve been unhappy for 2 (three) years.
      I’m doing all the things with her I wanted to do with you.
      No one will ever want you the way you are.
      She doesn’t even make money, she buys me pub fries.
      The computer screen froze on s child porn site. They want money; should I pay it?
      You physically abused me. Oh, I mean emotionally abused me.

      He told my son I was ok with him cheating.
      My daughter told me he didn’t want my pension.

      ALL LIES.

      Then the onslaught of harassment of Nanthony.
      You damaged my car.
      You broke in his house
      You hit me
      You’re a hoarder
      I can recommend a hair dresser.
      You’re a frigid cunt who will due alone
      You’re a narcissist.
      Should you drink and drive
      Then she ran me off the road after my daughters show.

      They called the police recently with more lies.

      Then it’s time to make peace.
      He’s willing to talk to me.

      My house is THRIVING. My son is doing amazing and my granddaughter will live with me while she attends college.

      There’s no logic in anything they say or do. My wall is strong because I practice self care and know my tribe and the truth.

    • It’s not how you think it is.

      She takes care of herself,

      You were too independent, I couldn’t do anything for you.

      She’s a really sensitive person.

      If you had anything about you, you would have seen that there was something wrong.

      I didn’t get enough affection.

      It wasn’t done deliberately to hurt you.

      I could respect you more if you were more reasonable about it.

      Arrrggggghhhh !!!

      • ….and the real beezer was – “I told myself it didn’t matter because we would have split up anyway”

        Whaaat ?!

  • I love you but I am not in love with you …(schmoopie is the soul mate)

    I want to have fun and not grow old….( he is 60, overweight, balding)

    And yea – the kids will be ok and the kids would want me to be happy

    I need to forgive myself for marrying him. So embarrassing to read this.

    This after 30 plus years too.

    • Yup, I am convinced that my ex saw the OW as his ‘last chance for a glorious romance’. And he took us all down with this goal.

  • I think most cheaters cheat because they get off on it. After I found out about my STBX and Skankella. I was given the same BS excuses that every cheater uses.
    1. I thought you did not love me anyway.
    2. I thought you would not care if I cheated.
    3. You never wanted to go away and have fun. She liked to have fun.
    4. She was fun to be with. She did not complain and was always in a good mood.
    During his 4 years of playing pool with Skankella. He was extra nasty to me. Blamed me for everything. Would make statements like”of course a person like you would think like that.” I was called an idiot, stupid, liar. I understand now that he had to make me the villain because he knew deep down that cheating on your wife of 34 years with her cousin is a POS thing to do. And him playing the wounded husband who’s wife was a liar and did not understand him etc. This way Skankella got to comfort him and stroke his ego. All at my expense. Gotta have fun.

    • I asked mine “if you didn’t think I cared, why lie? If I didn’t care, wouldn’t my reaction and response to you cheating be ‘shrug, I don’t care?” No response. He jumped thru a lot of hoops to hide shit from an uncaring wife.

    • I’m a cuzchimp too

      She banged my cousin and destroyed my family.

      That was eight years ago. She moved in with him a couple years ago when our divorce was final

      I haven’t seen my cousin since the entire thing started, and he’s terrified to cross paths with me. He should be.

      And yes, I heard every single word from the cheater handbook, line for line.

  • —You need to take responsibility for your part in the demise of the marriage.

    —The marriage was already over.

    —I have not been happy in five years/ten years/fifteen years etc.

    —I was never happy.

    —Sure. I had affairs and am a pathological liar, but one time you disagreed with me/didn’t laugh at my joke/didn’t fold my tee shirts the way I like them/put too much mustard on my sandwich, and that’s what really killed it. Still waiting for a heartfelt apology on that.

    —Affair partner is a great/trustworthy/super special person.

    —Divorce is no big deal. Everyone is doing it.

    —The kids will be fine.

    —Oh, shit, the kids aren’t fine. And that’s because of you. Fix it and make them love and respect me again because that is what a good person would do, and besides that is entirely your responsibility.

    —I will make this fast and easy and be very cooperative. In fact, I will be generous, and it will all be easy peasy.

    —Except, no. You will have to file, I will actually refuse to cooperate at every step, I will hide things and game this to death, and it would actually be fine with me if you were left with pretty zip.

    —I love my kids. They are the absolute world to me.

    —Except, you know, I don’t really have any time for them at all, pretty much everything outranks them on my priority list, they are awfully expensive, and I am wholly unwilling to do any of the work that would be required to repair my relationship with them.

    —But obviously the only reason they don’t want to hang with me and the schmoops is that you are the most bitter bunny ever.

    —The real problem here is that you refuse to forgive me for this trifling thing, but remain unrepentant about your evil and persistent unwillingness to get the mustard level right on sandwiches. Speaking of which, be a doll and bring me one of those. I’m a mite peckish.

        • Yes. Specially the part about how the kids are not fine and it’s your job to fix it and make them love me. It’s been nearly ten years since we separated and I suspect he still blames me about the kids. I don’t know for sure. No contact is a beautiful thing.

    • Oh geez Cashmere we are living the same shit with the kids. After he cheated on wife #3 in fabulous fashion with the transvestite hooker texts and photos of the long term relationship she-male came through on my kids iPad his image totally fell apart. Up to that he’d been pretty good at very covertly and over time starting to turn my boys against me. Now they were working on healing, starting to see him and actually after 18 months of once a month forced one hour meals with him they were honest about their feelings, needs and boundaries. How were they rewarded for this – a decree that since I had clearly told them terrible things “for years” he would no longer help with phone, car or college bills. So just as progress was being made he went back on all his promises to them. So now if course it’s my fault they want nothing to do with him at all. And the emails I get about being a bitter unforgiving, grudge driven liar are pure comedy. I don’t answer so now the kids get the texts where he plays victim and piles guilt on them. The new lines “ family doesn’t give up on each other” and “we need to work to rebuild our relationship” , shutting me out isn’t teaching you how to have healthy relationships in your life” – it’s exhausting for my kiddos. So proud they are strong, now see through it and are setting firm boundaries. All those years of me forcing them into therapy have paid off!

      • @TruthInTheDetails, it sounds like you and your kids went through a huge amount and I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you! My heart goes out to you.

        I believe you meant no harm, but I am responding primarily to ask if you might please use other terminology: please use trans. I’m sure you might not know this because your intent wasn’t to hurt others, but “she-male” and nowadays also “transvestite” are considered hurtful and dehumanizing terms to the trans community. Believe me, I completely understand how affair partners are deeply flawed people with poor values who often themselves enjoy harming others just as much as the cheaters. But not all people from trans communities are cheaters, affair partners, or even sex workers.

        All of that said, I wish you the very best to you and your children as you continue to heal.

        • ‘Transvestite’ is still the term used diagnostically if the person is not gender-dysphoric, but is dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex for sexual excitement. It’s in DSM-V.

          Plus plenty of transwomen who are sex workers do call themselves ‘she-males’ for commercial purposes, because it helps them to attract customers.

          SOME trans people find these terms offensive and dehumanizing, but clearly not all trans people. It’s good to be polite, but it’s a mistake to overgeneralize. The trans community is a lot more diverse than people realize.

          • I definitely mean no harmful intent as I am fine with whatever honest life choices people make fir themselves. There are two different types he likes – the transvestite hookers (evidence of $ exchanging hands as a result of answering ads in zeros and TER) and the other one as Lola said – a sex worker clearly who he thought he was in a relationship with. Clothed you would say all girl , but the pictures shared on my young sons iPad showed big fake boobs, long hair, pretty girlie everything but – sorry to be crass- big dick and balls. A she-male for making money. I’m sorry if I have the term incorrect. Analysis of cell phone records show this person in his life spanning at least six years and two marriages while he pretended to be hubby and father and typical suburban happy family of the century. I’d maybe be able to dig up an ounce if respect if he would just be honest. My daughter saw the pictures too and didn’t tell me for months. Wish I could unsee but trying to describe appropriately without meaning any offense is not easy. You are correct – I mean no harm to the community who lives their lives honestly and openly and legally.

            • I’m so sorry you went through this! It sounds truly traumatizing. 🙁 Especially seeing the nude photos. I also ran across nude photos of one of my serial cheater’s affair partners and I deeply wish I could unsee that! While i’m practically vomiting in my mouth from seeing the photos, cheater then had the GALL to ask if I thought the affair partner was hot. Sick predators the lot of them!

              Thank you for the apology as I know you meant no harm to others. If it’s at all meaningful, many trans women do look precisely as you described because that’s what happens with hormone treatments. It’s just so sad your ex used this one trans sex worker for his abusive BS. Or any sex worker. Or anyone. Cheaters are so awful and predatory they destroy anyone and anything they touch! I feel like your cheater a-hole is making a mockery of the trans community in addition to destroying your family through his selfish actions!

    • Heard many of the same things,

      You never loved me..

      You’re never happy..

      I can’t make you happy.

      Well, we weren’t getting along..

      People get divorce all the time.. son will be fine.

      I’m concerned about your mental health..

      I want something different.

      I want someone I have more in common with.

      I don’t feel butterflies in my stomach when I’m with you.

      You’re a pathological liar..

      I have so many resentments towards you, remember that summer in 1994 …,

      Leaving you was the best decision I’ve ever made, I’ve never been happier in my life..

      • She is warm and fuzzy and you aren’t…..

        You once said 10 years ago that maybe we weren’t suited to each other (after he sued a neighbour for a dog bite… ..ahem…. really just a tiny scratch)

        Your depression proves you have a major mental illness

    • @Cashmere

      I think we married the same person. I got every single one of these sentences spoken in various levels of sad sausaging, contempt, and, yes, hate.

    • OMG! I got the “you didn’t fold my t-shirts properly” AFTER he’d shown me how he wanted them folded. I told him he had shown me what he wanted and he said, “well, I changed my mind “.

      • Apparently, I passed Folding 101 with him, but hanging? Not so much. After being schoooled in proper hanging techniques like which way a shirt should face on the hanger, he changed his mind about that after his affair. Shirts should be facing the other way on the hanger and I’ve done it wrong our whole marriage.

    • Why do they always feel that we were instrumental in the “demise” of the marriage? I never cheated, abused you, or made you look beneath me to anyone around us. Yet we are asked to “own up” to the demise of the marriage? #deflection is such a bad trait they took on, and no one else can make them see what they did was wrong.

    • I am not attracted to you; you look old; she makes me feel young (15 yrs his junior); I love her more than I have loved anyone and would do anything for her; I feel like a man child because you are too generous (try getting a job and contribute); I don’t have to do anything i don’t want to do (like living by my commitments);

  • Bad people will always come up with reasons to rationalize their bad behavior. My cheater XW said a whole bunch of stuff and sort of observed me to see what would stick Dday and post Dday.

  • My X was annointed KING by his parents (1940’s post war) when he was born. His mother ruled the roost. He father was weak. His older sister was treated like a slave. She actually went to work after high school to support her brother the KING through college (ritzy private) and law school, as he was the worthy one. He never worked a day before graduating from law school.

    He paid them back by completely ignoring them the rest of their lives.

    I did not know these dynamics until long after being love bombed and taken in by his stories. I was a goner…

    He was so entitled. Funny how that did not work out so well at law firms. They expected hard work. He did manage a few lucky wins, and would move up until he didn’t. Men hated him. Women loved him.

    I was a complete wreak for nearly three decades. Whip lash. Loving to hating to using to ignoring. He was that way with his kids. Whatever it took to get him what he wanted, that is what he gave. Nothing else mattered to him. Ever. He has no conscience whatsoever.

    Was he made that way or created? Both. He is a very nasty piece of work.

    • Dianne,
      Brilliant post!
      “annoited KING” by his parents.
      Add to that ,adopted, and a massive hate, thru denial, of his birth mother making him a mycinogist, making me the female he followed through with. He pretty well hates all females, pretty well hates most people and most things.
      He is entitled, selfish, grumpy, ignorant, so many other characteristics come to mind. So little “paper and time.”
      The most painful to me, is the way out children have suffered. I was and am, an adult. I walked into this unknowingly, but still, I was not a toddler, I was not unborn , ( as my children were).
      To add to the frustration is why did I have to learn so much, so very very much, so late!

      Many hugs to you Dianne, that X before the word husband looks Mighty good!

      • I have seen so many adopted children/adults who both hate and love their adoptive parents and natural mothers, and extract a strange combination of entitlement (you owe me!) and self disgust. It is really a mess. And very hurtful to everyone.

        My father was fostered out as a toddler and never learned how to love. His mother kept his younger sister, and that caused so much hurt and confusion. I spent my childhood trying to get my Daddy to love me. Being trained to spend decades trying to get my husband to love me.

        I am sorry for you and your kids.

        Is there one person on this site who would let a sibling work and give up their lives to send us to school? And one of is who would have sat on our behinds for seven years while they did so?

        How screwed up is that?

        • ((((Dianne))))
          I doubt there would be one Chump on this site who would ever do that to a sibling. Chumps, are not built like cheaters.
          We would never knowingly hurt another human being, especially one we deeply cared about and were committed to. You and I surely know we aren’t the one to break the bond.

          I am so sorry for how you were treated by, how you were neglected emotionally, by your father, and then by your husband.

          My cheater’s birth mother kept his older sibling but gave him up for adoption. I am certain that also never helped his situation .

          The thing is, your cheater, my cheater, they found a good loving partner in you and I. They had every chance at a good life with a woman who loved them. They blew it.
          Sometimes it is just too hard to find more words to say.

          Thank you for caring for me and my children.

      • Mine is considered “the golden child” by his three sisters and one gay brother. He’s athletic, joined the military and became a pilot. His father was domineering, cruel, punishments were severe, ridiculed his boys. His parents didn’t want their children to socialize with other children growing up, they were isolated until high school.
        His mother was controlled by her husband, she had no opinion of her own, wasn’t allowed to shop, he decided what she could and couldn’t eat at home and in restaurants. She got panicked one night when after dinner when I offered her a brownie, saying no, her husband would be upset. It was pitiful. His Dad made her get up at 3:00 am to make his breakfast when he went fishing, then pack his lunch. She was treated like a dumb animal..
        Ex told stories of when he was growing up how he tormented his sisters and he was never held accountable. Ex had no responsibility growing up, Dad filled out his college applications and his forms to join the military. He had no idea how to write a resume when he applied for his civilian job, I put his resume together and helped him with his applications, went shopping for clothes to wear for job interviews. He was clueless.

        His only other job besides the military was in the warehouse at Montgomery Wards one summer,, he bragged about going to work, slipping away and sleeping all day on the mattresses until it was time to go home.
        Sadly I laughed when he told me this story instead of paying attention to what were huge red flags.

        His entire family is negative, miserable, woe is me, they’re all martyrs, complain about everything and everyone as soon as the person leaves the room, even each other. I’ve never seen a family so unhappy. They only time I’ve seen them happy is when they’re ridiculing someones misfortune.
        More red flags I should have taken seriously and ran.

        My biggest regret is having a child with ex, children suffer the most in divorce with their world as they’ve known is shattered so much worse for them when they have a disordered, manipulative, vindictive parent who poisons their minds with lies and retelling history.
        Our children are left with the additional stress of dividing their time during holidays birthdays and celebrations. Life is difficult enough without the additional drama.
        Cheaters and their book of tricks don’t make for good role models for our children,

    • My cheater ex’s mother used to call him prince. “Yes Prince.” “What was that Prince?” How fucking lame is that? His sister didn’t get called princess, nope, just Jenny.

    • Yes. And the cheater starts with one tiny compromise. Then another slightly less tiny compromise, building a staircase, step by step, until complete destruction of the marriage.
      It always starts with one small wrong decision. DECISION being the key word.

      • Yes!!!! That’s exactly right. One tiny compromise, one tiny transgression against the chump and the agreements that were made and then it continues like a snow ball. And the cheater, instead of looking at their wrong-doing and being responsible for it, will justify it and then continue to make themselves right by continuing to do it. And then, they have to make the chump look bad and blameshift in their head to justify their crappy behavior. It’s a slippery slope and always turns out badly.

    • Divorce Minister :
      I think the Devil IS behind it all.
      Adultery is beyond evil because it causes so much excruciating harm to others. It is mentioned in the 10 Commandments for a reason.
      I still have a copy of an email I sent to a friend more than 10 years ago, after realising how alike the majority of adulterers are.
      In it, I wrote that the similarities (which echo the traits and conduct of psychopaths, sociopaths and malignant narcissists) were so jaw-dropping, that they must have all learned their ‘craft’ (oh boy, are they crafty…) at the School of Satan.
      Some scrape through. Some probably get a certificate. Others (my ex and his ho-worker included) – graduate with a PhD in Wickedness.
      Whatever, Old Nick’s ‘best’ students are not human anyway.

      • I deny the Devil or demons are making them do it as that is a way for cheaters to try and excuse their behavior. They had choice in the matter is my point. They did not have to partner with darkness but they CHOSE to do so anyways.

    • I’m not a spiritual person myself but I do agree @Divorce_Minister. Infidelity is evil.

      Deliberately hurting another person over a period of time I believe covers the criteria for a cardinal sin if I remember correctly.

      In many ways I was fortunate in that I never got any blame-shifting. She did try to explain to me that since she had forsaken her vows that it was OK if I did too. She didn’t buy my argument that it didn’t work that way. My vows were mine and were not conditional on her’s.

      While there was no blame-shifting to me, I’m confident that she never has held herself accountable for what she did

      What I do and what we all are working on I think is changing the narrative. When I hear guys in the barber-shop joke about infidelity I stop them and explain that – hey – I was suicidal. I had to go and subject myself as a middle-aged apparently respectable guy to STD tests. Which in a small town undoubtedly gets noticed.

      The theological argument could be made about who planted the seeds of evil. Whether evil always existed within them and they made the choice to allow it to flourish or whether they embraced it when presented externally. I certainly don’t know the answer to that.

      Because I love bad analogies, certain viruses are designed to only lock on to particular molecules. As are the anti-bodies. So the illness or perhaps the cure (not regularly accepted here) requires an available host.


      • I think it’s a great analogy. I often think of toxic relationships in terms of magnets. Before I fixed my picker, the narcs came flying across the room and CLICK! attached to me as their receptor. Then we were so strongly attached that it was nearly impossible to pull us apart. But…after I went through this hell the second time and did what I needed to get healthy, I now REPEL those very magnets!

      • BT, thank you for your courage in speaking up to other men about being suicidal, and shutting that shitty joke narrative down in the barber shop.

        That took a lot of guts. Well done.

  • “Our marriage was over anyway.” (I didn’t get that memo until dday)

    “I’m sorry you were hurt.” (By this nebulous thing that no one in particular did)

    “We’re not done yet. Maybe we’ll get back together someday.” (Sure, right about the time you find all those snow balls in hell.)

    “I didn’t go looking for this. I’ve never done this before.” “It wasn’t about sex.” “It’s not what you think it is.” -Got all those in a rapid fire succession.

    He cheated with someone he worked with so nothing he did or said was remotely original. Just your typical coward, reading the same script as every other cheater. It was fun watching him flinch when I said that.

    • My ex spent several days explaining that we just weren’t sexually compatible and that’s why we wouldn’t ever be able to reconcile (after 20+ years if an active sex life that lasted until several months after he started poking strange) and then the next day he said “I hope you don’t think this is all about sex”. Gosh, why would I think that?

    • To add:

      “ I haven’t loved you for years..”

      “ I was always going to leave your mother.”’(he told my 12 year old daughter this).

      “ I love your like a sister..”

      “ kids are resilient…”. My daughter developed a severe eating disorder and separation anxiety.

      “ You our on weight. I warned you for years.”

      “ There are a million things about you why I left you.”

      And so it went on. A million reasons why I wasn’t good enough for him. The only missing detail in this detailed line of verbal assaults was that my EX was fucking the help at work. He had forgotten that small detail when doling out the sanctimonious verbal barrage about my misdeeds.

  • A VERY wise woman once said:

    “To understand personality it is necessary to study character formation.”


    “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

    Pearls from Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

  • I am finally in a place in my life where I am old enough to have some “circle of life” perspective. My sons are old enough to have come back to me and actually say the words “I appreciate all you did for me when I was growing up. I know you worked hard to provide stability and love for me and went thru some unbelievably tough times.” My favorite, from my oldest son when he married last year, “I want to be a better husband and father than dad ever was.” The kids are watching, and listening, and you have to keep the faith. Even when they want to use all the hot water and towels. Eventually, they grow up.

    I was raised in a home where parents had rules, assigned chores, and sometimes used spanking as discipline They also taught values. I don’t share ALL of their values or ideology, but I got the point. So far I haven’t felt the need to change my basic parenting view: I taught my children to know the difference between right and wrong, and to do the right thing, They have pointed out that sometimes they are punished for doing the right thing in a world which only cares about instant gratification, but I assure them that when they achieve my ancient status, and can still look at themselves in the mirror and know they did the right thing that it will mean more than any material possession they will ever have.

    Their dad is old and sick, and feels alone most of the time. He is reaping the crop that he sowed. My sons still love their dad, but have no delusions about him as a parent or a role model. I don’t think they want to end up like him, with a younger wife who is doing what little she has to do for him, while hoping for a sufficient pay out after his death for her to live the rest of her life comfortably. I wonder sometimes if she would make the same choice again, now that she knows the real price she has had to pay? Probably, because she will probably have enough time to latch on to another old codger in bad health with some decent assets, and I think that has been her whole life plan. Whatever. I live a simple peaceful life, and I can tell you — quit worrying about WHY someone is dysfunctional. Just get away from them, and live your life according to your values. You cannot solve all the problems of the world, and it is not your responsibility to do so. Take care of your own business and be responsible for your own decisions. That is more than the minimum that is required and less than sacrificing yourself for nothing.

  • “I’m not happy” “Are you happy?” “Shouldn’t we be happy?” “I hope someday you’ll be happy”

    What is it with happy? If you feel that you need to get a divorce to be happy, fine. But why does it always have to include hiding money, and lying, and cheating, and manipulating others, and running around with other people’s spouses? Is that the secret to happiness? Can’t you just divorce your spouse honestly and fairly without all the bullshit? Wouldn’t being upfront and truthful help make you happier in the long run?

    Funny, I lived in the same marriage and I wasn’t always happy — who is? But somehow I was able to avoid the multi-year workplace affair, the hiding of money, the scheming, the hiding, and all the other bullshit that goes along with any typical affair.

  • I wanted everything and more.

    She didn’t judge me.

    I just wanted you to let me do whatever I wanted to do. I always came back home!

    It made me feel like THE MAN.

    I don’t know… I just saw her and I was attracted to her and I went for it.

    I compartmentalize things. I’ve got you and the kids over here and the other women over there. One has nothing to do with the other.

    I saw you as a shiny, pretty vase that I kept up on a shelf. Then when I needed you, I’d take you down, polish you off and show you off. Then when I was finished, I’d put you back on the shelf.

    I married you because you looked good and that made me look good.

    I wanted to run and you wanted to walk. So I left you behind to run while you walked.

    I could go on and on forever with his bull shit.

    • Yup. It’s that “compartmentalization.” It’s how they’re able to screw their family over without looking bad. At least in their own minds anyway.

      They know that society in general is quicker to forgive someone who hurts their spouse than they are to forgive someone who hurts their children. So the way they frame it is to basically try to convince people that the things they do happen in a magic vacuum where the consequences are 100% to the marriage, not the family as a whole. They simply will not admit that the family is a whole unit and that the disrespect, inconsideration, dishonesty and adultery that they take part in has an impact on everyone in the family, not just the apparently disposable spouse. I believe it was Dr. Drew I heard say that an affair is an assault on the entire family. Cheaters can’t have that kind of thinking applied to cheating because it ruins their hope of convincing people that they’re still okay because they didn’t technically hurt the kids.

      It’s all just a cheap defense of their public reputation and it comes from the fantasy land that they live in where they get to do anything they want with no consequences for themselves, only to others.

      • My cheater has always been great at compartmentalization. Yes, he also thinks that he can plug me out of the family and continue with the kids. He truly believes the kids are not impacted.
        That the cheating and lying and the abuse becomes unnoticed.
        That he still can come out the hero with maximum admiration by everyone.

        My STBX absolutely believes that he is not to be blamed. And it is all my fault.

        • XH is exactly the same! I tried to get him to see how his behavior was going to impact our daughter and he was so blinded by his new love that he never thought about what his actions were showing her or what it would do to her. Now that she sees him for what he is and knows he will try to manipulate her and wreck her emotionally, she wants nothing to do with him and he’s playing victim it’s all my fault. Not true, he brought this all upon himself.

      • Oh God that is so true….they think by saying they left you not the kids it absolves them from being a scumbag cheater and in their minds an effen hero.

  • Oh, and I just love when the say, “It’s not like that.” Yeah, when you hear one of these snakes say that, rest assured that it’s EXACTLY like that. Especially when it involves other women. It’s like that lame line is on auto response any time they’re being questioned about something they’re guilty of.

    • I got “she’s not like that” when I demanded to know if he used protection when he fell into strange…

        • This is a corollary to “It’s not what you think.” As it turned out, it was always EXACTLY what I thought.

          • Others are free to agree or disagree, but I truly believe in intuition and generally speaking, when something doesn’t look or sound right, it’s your intuition warning you.

            So when your bull shit radar starts beeping and the “not like that” crap starts, go ahead and let them tell you all about how it’s not like that. Why? Because that’s how you’ll find out exactly what what it IS.

      • My last cheater actually said”She’s not like that,” and she was an actual PROSTITUTE. Uuuuh, yes she is. He really thought hiss magic dick was “helping” her and she cared about him. Sure. It couldn’t possibly be the $800 an hour she liked. Yet, to hear him tell it, I’m the one who is stupid and just doesn’t understand.

  • No originality from my EX but the best one was “I love you but I’m not in love with you”. Let us not forget the most original one ever.

  • When one isn’t too busy dealing with the emotional trauma of it all, it is actually quite fascinating trying to untangle the skeins of both the cheaters and quite frankly us chumps too. Someone doing research into the minds of cheaters and chumps could mine a lot of data from this site. It really does come down to human psychology. There are only so many ways in which people can interact with the world so we tend to fall into certain personality categories that psychologies have been studying and attempting to manipulate for years. The fact that people are capable of empathy and morality and even the recognition that others have feeling, desires and needs just like us, is really what sets us apart from other animals. That, however, is at war with our mutual desire to live comfortably ourselves.

    There are many parallels among the cheater stories, but they are not actually all the same. There seem to be several cheater personality types, but each type has many occurrences and so many chumps can relate to many other chump stories but not all. There are some ways in which all of our experiences overlap and other ways in which they diverge. It is also interesting to note all of the ways in which the cheaters differ. They are young, old, skinny fat, of varying nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. Some are overachieving CEO’s and others are layabout house bums who can’t hold a job. Each of these types may fall in each of the cheater categories. The one thing they all have in common is that they cheat which requires a certain level of selfishness, feelings of entitlement and lack of empathy at least in the moment. The level of abuse they inflict and the ratio of rage/charm/self-pity may vary, but they all make excuses for what they have done. Some are more manipulative than others. Some are deliberatively manipulative, some do it subconsciously. Some are more cowardly than others. Some are cruel, some honestly think they are the victims. Some are calculating and know exactly what they are doing, others are just clueless and too self-absorbed to recognize or care how their actions are affecting others. In spite of these differences, they act in similar ways and say similar things in order to achieve their objectives (to make themselves feel good with no consequences).

    The scary part is that sometimes I think us chumps have a manual too (RIC?) We tend to accept the blame for other people’s bad actions. We self-reflect too much and try too hard to fix the unfixable. We want to be good people. We don’t want our partners to regret us and so we focus on the needs of our partners and try to make their lives better without paying attention to what they were doing for us or to us. We want to fix problems, compromise and work things out. We recognize that we can’t always have what we want. When things blow up we examine our part in that and sometimes blame ourselves for being mistreated. We take our good nature too far. Luckily we have Chump Lady’s blog and book as the antidote. Again, we also have our differences. Some kick the cheater out at the first sign of trouble. Others hang on through multiple DDays and years of abuse. We also fit into several subcategories, each with multiple members who can relate to each other’s reactions to infidelity trauma. We also vary in terms of age, looks, nationality and ethnicity. Some of us are also CEO’s, some of us have chosen to work in the home focused on raising a family. Some of us are overachievers, some prefer to live a simple more stress free life. What we all have in common, however, is that we understand loyalty and commitment and we did our best to live up to those ideals while our cheaters were making a mockery of them.

    • Yep. Here is my cheater:
      – lightly overweight, but not bad looking
      – educated and intelligent
      – successful
      – entitled
      – thinks he is incredibly funny (but mostly at the expense of others)
      – thinks he is always right
      – always has an enemy or someone that wronged him
      – controlling
      – thinks rules do not apply to him
      – manipulative
      – is always the best
      – requires admiration and attention
      – always the victim

  • I wondered the same thing–how they all learned the same lines. I think it’s interesting what you said, Staying Strong, about time-outs versus corporal punishment and learning to lie to get out of punishment. I worry about my kids being narcissists like their dad. I used time outs. I used positive reinforcements with my kids. But when they did something absurdly destructive, like most parents, I would yell. Make them clean up their mess. Take away phones, etc. My cheating ex never backed me up because the trivialities of children paled in comparison to being the glorified at work….and watching porn…. Long story short, kids lie to get out of being yelled at. To get out of having their phone taken. To get out of not missing one party of a not-very-close friend because they are behind on schoolwork. Most people grow up. Narcissists don’t. My ex did have a distinctive parenting dynamic and it wasn’t yelling and it wasn’t time-outs and it wasn’t spankings. It was constant fawning. Whatever he did was because of his amazing talents and brilliance and anyone who criticized him was the enemy. If he missed family trips because he was constantly traveling for work, it was because he was so important, not because he was fitting in a double life. He could do no wrong and he was entitled to everything. And thus a narcissist was nurtured.

    • Yes. That description is what I recognize. My cheater actually for years told me job was less important than his. I
      They had a lot of team workshops with a lot of game competitions and… he was ALWAYS in the winning team. He would always tell success stories. There was never really a story about how unsuccesses like most people tell stories. Sharing odd situations or missteps. He never did that. It was always full on glory and him saving the day. And apparently he saves the day EVER DAY.

      • ((((inescapable))))
        In reality they save the day, every day, in their eyes only.
        In my eyes, every single, solitary , supposed to be happy, family event or happening, or something requiring shared human support, kindness or love, the cheater is never there, even when they are physically there, they are NOT there.
        Only a Chump understands these words I print, etched in my heart forever.
        I did this the other day, I went over so very many family happenings and every time, every single time, I remember being tainted or ruined by something cheater did or said or did not do or did not say.

        Sometimes trusting that they suck is just not enough?

  • What I got:
    “I haven’t been happy in years.”
    “I fell out of love with you a long time ago.”
    “I’ve actually hated u for years.”
    “The thought of working on our marriage makes me sick to my stomach”
    “I should’ve left you a long time ago.”
    “My affair has nothing to do with her and everything to with the fact that our marriage was already over.”

    “I was going to leave u anyway.”
    “Our marriage was dead.”
    “You only live once and I deserve to be happy.”
    “I’m only happy when I’m not with u.”
    “When I hear u come home I get sick to my stomach.”
    “The kids will be fine.”
    And when asked why he didn’t tell me he was unhappy or suggest that we go to marriage counseling, “Because I didn’t want to.”

    Well fuck you very much.

    He is:
    A scary good liar – If I hadn’t known the truth about things, I would’ve thought he was telling me the truth when I asked certain questions and actually knew the truth.
    ALWAYS miserable and never happy.
    A manipulating artist
    Can never please him.
    Would never compliment or do/say anything nice to me.
    Constantly criticized me. I couldn’t do anything right – ever.
    Would never except blame ever or show any remorse.
    We always had to do what HE wanted

    Our marriage therapist diagnosed him with NPD and Sociopathic traits which brings me some validation (after he agreed to go to MC just for image management. He quit, but I still see her individually).

    I do worry about our kids having NPD and I’m trying to model honesty, integrity, caring and compassion, but in their eyes their dad can do no wrong. He has done everything in his power to turn them against me. I pretend like he doesn’t exist to my kids and I don’t bring him up. I even have my parents do the weekly “exchange” so that I can avoid contact.
    What better humiliation than to have to face your in-laws of the girl you fucked over every week? ????????????

    • Yes, we were indeed married to the same fuckwit.
      I could have signed your entire description as my own.

      These disordered people really are dangerous. I am also worried about my kids. He is so good at treating me like a hair, he picked off his shirt. He really thinks that he can leave me independently of the kids. He fully thinks that the kids will be fine and are not negatively impacted.

  • “I want to strengthen my picker and not repeat this crap again.”
    Redirecting from the untangle to what I have the ability to change- the options appear to be as follows:
    – Stay single (I’m 40) and build my life around this plan:
    – Date very casually, with stainless steel boundaries;
    – Date with intent to meet someone for long-term partnership (unconsciously trying to re-do the past? Is the meh solid?)
    – Stay single, focus on health, family, growth-revisit dating later on.
    What’s the CN practical wisdom on broken picker repair?

    • Date. Talk. Learn to discern the difference between actual conversation and “love bombing”. After a while, you start to pick up on the flags that alert you to personality traits that you don’t want in your life.

      Keep in mind that everyone is human, with flaws (including yourself).

      Ta Dah! Picker Fixed!

  • Other favorite parenting gem, “Who ever said life was supposed to be fair?” (in extreme circumstances, follow with examples–genocide in Syria, people being shot while at an outdoor concert or in their schools, the Holocaust; starving children in Africa).

  • One of the best healing tools for recovering from my ex wife’s affairs. Is reading the playbook for cheaters written on the Chump Lady blog. It woke me up to reality and showed my situation was no different. Taking the “Red Pill” from Chump Lady, showed me their is a much better life.

  • My cheater XH was a very much wanted only child and grew up with privileges that most of us only dreamed of as children. A lake cabin, water skiing, snow skiing, trips to Disneyland, help with college, etc. He isn’t a cheater because he was abused as a child. He’s a cheater because he believes he’s entitled to everything and anything he wants.

    • Mine was an only child too. I’m sure not all only children become rampantly entitled adults, but seems like it can foster a propensity for it.

  • DH: I was unhappy for 10 years.
    Me, a week later: Were you really unhappy for 10 years of our 18 year marriage?
    DH: I didn’t say 10.
    Me: yes, yes, you did.
    DH: I misspoke, I meant 5.

    I read somewhere that their unhappiness always happens in 5-year increments. Never one year, or 8 year – always, 5, 10, 15, 20, etc.

    • And the amount varies. My cheater started with five, then 10, then 15… then it was that he was never happy.
      Never happy? Why did you ask me to become your girlfriend and then wife?

      I had asked him for marriage counseling 10 years ago. And… he did not want to. He basically only considered his own comfort level. His own perspective. And it was inconvenient for him to work on him. It is so much easier to criticize and blame your wife for everything.

      I once read a book. It was actually on career, but he reacted negatively on many books I read… he did not like that I read about career development. And he threw my book out of the window. Just like that. I also read books on improving my marriage. He felt that the pure aspect of reading these books was an attack on him.

      It was my role to make him less unhappy.
      It was my job.
      I sometimes cannot believe that I did not leave him.

      • All of this!
        We were married to the same fuckwit!
        My cheater used to make fun of me for reading. And for organizing my office and paying bills. You know, adulting.
        God forbid I wasn’t paying attention to him!

        • The worst part for me was that he talked negatively about everything I liked.
          I started running and he called the fact that I ran an obsession. I did one or two races a year, yet, it was too much for him. The same with my career. An obsession. The fact that he worked more and was traveling more was not to be mentioned in the same context. He was important. I was not.

          He hated that I worked for so long until he realized that I earned a significant amount of money that gave him more freedom to spend. We lived worry free precisely because I worked. When he realized it he stopped badgering me about wanting to work and to actually want a career.

            • In the 1970s I bought the book “Superwoman” by Shirley Conran. Many years later my ex saw it on my book shelf and threw at me the fact that I “felt women were superior and all that “feminism” shit was pathetic”. So I opened the book and the page it opened to showed how to re-wire a plug! The whole bloody book was about practical things (since I had moved out to Switzerland on my own at age 21) – but since he hadn’t read it – no, hadn’t even opened it – he just assumed in his pathetic little man’s inadequate mind that it was a feminist manifesto!

            • Is that why they suddenly get mean and/or cold when you go No Contact? Loss of the control they thought they had?

              • Yes, and you’ve delivered a narcissistic injury by refusing to acknowledge their greatness.

  • Wow this is the letter I’ve been considering writing to Chump Lady. I’ve got my views so haven’t, but it’s always good to think about these so we can move on and be the best parent we can be!

    1. The script – well not all NPDs or ASPDs are cheaters, and not all cheaters are on the Cluster B spectrum. I think we all have collectively encountered the ones who are.

    2. What makes them like this? A lot of research points to their mother. My ex was beaten too, by a big noting alcoholic narc father. I hadn’t thought of how this might drive someone to lie as a survival mechanism but it makes a hell of a lot of sense.

    I think his mother took the drunk beatings too, while also drunk. I think she would cower with her two sons and they would try to protect her.

    Cue childhood confusion as the kids would wake up the next day and parents acting as if nothing had happened and mama all loved up making daddy’s lunch and giving him a big kiss before sending him off to work. No doubt the prior nights beating was never discussed (under carpet sweepers that family) and even more romance when daddy would bring flowers and a new set of fancy underwear him for mama that night. Possibly followed by another beating.

    So while I thought it was my FILs violence that made my husband who he is (he even sat in therapy with me declaring how he promised himself then he’d never be like his dad! No fists or kicks, not physical ones, but his verbal and sexual asssults on me were next level, hence therapy together. He seriously didn’t see the connection!) in my heart I believe it was his mother’s confusing love hate relationship with her husband and the mixed messages she sent to her sons that caused it.

    As I look at all the narcs I know I can always find mummy issues in the background. My dad one, likely not NPD so probably 4 out of 9 on the DSM instead of the necessary 5. His mum died when he was 8 months old and he got a battle ax of a stepmother a year or two later. I love my dad but his controlling is annoying. He does have empathy though hence likely not NPD.
    Research supports this theory, which segues nicely to number 3.

    3. I’m codependent. Why else did I stay for 15 years. My family is riddled with narcs, psychos, borderlines and codependents. It’s terrifying! My poor kids don’t stand a chance with the genetics from both sides coming through!

    My son (6) was conceived and born in the middle of a 3-4 year affair I thought I had stopped his dad from doing a year prior. He came out with the same colour hair as Ginger Rogering (special! She has no kids of her own) and it was still going a year later when we got married! I’m convinced the environment our kids are born into shape their life. I love my boy with all my heart!

    I also have both my kids horoscopes, very specific to the time and place they were born. I have mine and it is absolutely my blueprint in life so I believe it. I realised this at the age of 47 so it’s not like I became my horoscope. Some people believe some don’t. Regardless, I do.

    Here’s the thing. My son likely to have anger management issues, suffer from idealised love, and be a cheater. If I can be the best parent I can be then hopefully he’ll just be a cheater who gets angry, maybe narcissistic, but hopefully not disordered!

    The codependent in recovery me knows I can not change him but being a good role model is all I have to work with. Dumping his NPD/ASPD Dad is hopefully the way I will achieve this.

    My daughter (12) has extremely high empathy ( even her chart says so) but is also very very controlling. That’s codependency right there.

    I will be talking to them both about what happened when they are old enough. Hopefully they will have worked their dad out by then (all my friends who have been here have guaranteed they will, as their kids have over the years). My 12 yo currently resents me for dumping her dad. He’s clearly playing the pity ploy on her. Evil mummy doesn’t want us to be together.

    I’ve had a good psychologist. She has focused me on being a healthy happy parent to overcome this fear. It’s all I can do. It’s all we can do collectively.

    It sucks! But I stayed with my cheater 7 years too long (15 years all up caught him cheating then got pregnant with my son having angry jealous love bomb sex). I stayed for them. Timing is everything though. I can now afford to buy him out of our house and my career advancement means I can be a solo mum without financial suffering. I can’t control how he parents them now (also part of why I stayed I could counter his blaming and shouting on the spot – codependent me!) but I can be a 100% healthy role model to them 50% of the time rather than a 50% role model 50% of the time (I couldn’t be at home to counter his behaviour towards them all the time right?)

    That’s an opportunity I didn’t have before. It’s all I have. And I’m taking it as a gift for me and my kids. I’m breaking the cycle. That is now my life goal.

  • I see a lot of familiar phrases on here. Maybe someone has heard something similar to this: “You don’t make me happy,” followed by, “You’re not happy,” followed by, “I’m tired of feeling responsible for how you feel.” Mindfuck.

    She lost her shit when I said, “No, dear, I didn’t make you unhappy. You were unhappy, and I was sitting next to you.” One of my stronger moments.

  • “I’ve put in 15 years and now it’s time to get the love I deserve.”

    “You don’t appreciate what I provide and you don’t give enough love and affection.”

    “You weren’t happy in the marriage either.”

    “I didn’t need to work on anything, because I knew you wouldn’t change.”

    “I’ve been unhappy for 5, I mean 10, I mean 15 years.”

    “I left you, not the kids.”

    “I haven’t done anything to hurt the kids.”

    “You always want it to be about the OW, but it has nothing to do with that. You let the marriage die.”

    “You never take responsibility for your part in the death of the marriage.”

    “People get divorced every day. You need to move on.”

    “Oh, so now you’re going to be the bitter wife? Always the victim, aren’t you?”

  • “We just drifted apart”

    “We never talked anymore”

    Hmmm maybe because you were online until wee hours of the morning chatting up women online

    “I’ve been unhappy for years”

    “I never wanted to marry you”

    Yep held that gun right up to him and made him do it. eyeroll

    “She’s just a friend”

    Of course. I chat with all my friends of the opposite sex about oral sex

    “You just don’t want me to have any friends”

    how dare I be upset at sneaky “friends” of the opposite sex that he trashed his marriage to! Man I’m such a buzzkill!

    “I feel like I’m in a prison”

    “You’re just too old for me”

    “I want children and you’re too old”

    Insisted for over 10 years he never wanted children. I was willing. Waited until I hit menopause and decided he wanted children.

    Summary: They all say the same selfish crap. Trust that they suck!

    • We were disconnected

      She is just a close friend

      If you dont trust me Im gone

      I would tell you if I fucked her

      Life is dull when you have the perfect life

      People have sex

      I enjoy fucking you

      Fuck you women are stupid

      I love you but yeah its a diferent kind of love with her

      Give me two more years

      I dont give a fuck about the kids (age 6 & 8 when cheating started 2 years ago)

      You are not perfect stop blaming this on ho-worker

  • And now we find out that wife of Amazon owner Jeff Bozo (pun intended) is a chump as well. Looks and money don’t matter ladies and gents. 25 years of marriage and literally have everything a family could want and imagine. But he still couldn’t have respect for his wife and file for divorce. It is a standard playbook, from the billionaires to the poor. From men to woman, the feeling of entitlement and selfishness is standard. I’m sad it’s so common. I’m sad that it is glorified and generalized.

    • Yes – that’s the part that is tough to understand. Why not end with respect rather than chumping them? Apparently, the cheater is smarter and possibly wiser than the average Joe but still did this.

  • Sorry but no one broke them. MRI studies are showing brain anomalies so, many are BORN that evil. Never feel sorry for them. They could change they JUST DONT WANT TO

    • Meh – here’s the thing – neuroplasticity suggests that we are to a large extent the changers of our own brain architecture. The brain changes all the time; MRIs just provide a snapshot in time, and can’t be considered as fixed.

      So brain ‘anomalies’ can actually be created and sustained by our choices and behaviors, as well as propelling us down the path of least resistance.

      So if you keep choosing shitty things, shitty things becomes your default setting, and it takes real effort to rewire.

      Effort is not something people are good at, especially if the default setting works for them.

      I’m not sure anyone is born evil. I think some people are born with innate tendencies towards some types of poor choices that are probably partly inherited, and environment can take care of the rest for better or for worse.

      But environment switches genes on and off too, and that effect can last.

  • Of course there is no excuse for cheating, and of course we all know how traumatic being cheated on is. But, as someone who studies trauma, I do think it’s important to examine the causes of cheating without taking any blame off of the cheater. Oftentimes it does seem that cheating is caused by trauma from someone’s early experiences with either family or romantic relationships. I know cheaters who’ve cheated because of sex addictions that were due to early trauma. I know cheaters who’ve cheated because of abandonment and/or commitment issues from trauma. I know cheaters who’ve cheated because of insecurities from sexual assaults/other major traumatic events. And, of course, there are cheaters out there who cheated out of boredom or some other sad excuse. None of them get a pass, none of them get to shift the empathetic focus onto themselves, etc. but we do need to discuss how trauma does affect people’s abilities to have healthy relationships. I’ll never forgive my cheater, but watching him process his trauma in psychoanalysis sessions allowed me to understand how things went so wrong for him. And it allowed me to move on, and start looking into my own trauma as well so that I can do my part towards having the healthiest relationships possible. Anyway, just wanted to give anyone who’s still wondering why something to look into.

    • Uuuum. Yeah, they did want to hurt you. The evidence is that they knew this would hurt you. And they did it anyway. An affair requires planning and effort and deceit. That is premeditation. When you add it to any crime on the books, the sentence goes up because the penal system is well aware that planning to hurt someone means they did WANT to hurt them. Cheaters couldn’t logic their way out of a wet paper bag.

  • I’m late to the game here, but wanted to add because it combines two of the topics: (1) Blame-shifting is a big red flag, true, but quite often means accusing you of the very things they’re doing themselves, one of which is (3) Making It All About You. I can’t tell you how many times this was said about me by my (several decades older) abuser, to the point that I not only came to believe it, but specifically and frightenedly shut up about what was happening because I didn’t want to Make It All About Me. In fact, I remember an article on the Girl Scouts’ website saying one major reason girls don’t speak up about bullying and sexual harassment/assault is that they were afraid of being seen as attention-seeking. So as we’re teaching our kids not to be narcissistic, it’s important to ALSO teach them that looking out for themselves and protecting their own safety and boundaries is their primary responsibility as adults–it’s not just about NOT transgressing against others, but also knowing how to respond when someone transgresses against you.

    Obviously this isn’t meant as “Don’t set boundaries with children”–just make sure that it doesn’t come across as “Only MY boundaries count, not yours, so stop making it all about you.” I’m sure nobody in Chump Nation would make that mistake intentionally, but it’s important not to make it by accident.

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