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Playing the Victim?

Dear Chump Lady,

During my shock of learning and trying to understand why he cheated on me, when I thought we had a great relationship (he was full of remorse after girlfriend #1 and begged for forgiveness..) — he is now leaving me for girlfriend #2.

I have stated the obvious to him that what he did was wrong in so many ways — and his response is always “Quit playing the victim.”

Hello? Am I not the victim? I am trying to forget and move on (almost a year now), my therapist says I’m doing great considering, I’ve never sunk into deep depression despite it all, and kept being productive in my life.

It makes me so angry that he keeps saying this line! How do I respond?


Dear Pamalama,

I suggest you don’t respond. Get away from this creep. There is nothing more tiresome than trying to convince someone who has wronged you that they’ve wronged you.

Surely he must understand that he’s Done The Bad Thing here. He can’t be that daft? Perhaps if I explain with this color-coded PowerPoint presentation complete with laser-pointer and appendices, he will get it?

Pam, he has a vested interest in NOT getting it.

He would prefer to think himself a Splendid Person and you’re really fucking things up with the truth.

There are his actions and then there is his image. With ethical people, these thing are more congruent — words and deeds align — and you get integrity. With shitty people you get bad actions, lies, chaos — which results in spin. The truth is fluid. It’s about how much manipulation is required to get a chosen outcome.

When he was busted after girlfriend #1, his spin was “forgiveness.” You were still of use, so he chose the inauthentic path of “reconciliation.” Did his actions align with his words? No. Enter girlfriend #2. Did she just spontaneously appear? Sprout from the head of Zeus? No, he was out scouting fuckbuddies while you thought you were in a “great relationship.”

Anyway, all your shiny has worn off and now the new spin is that you’re “playing the victim.” That’s a nod to his worldview. There are no authentic emotions — there’s just playacting. He playacts, so he projects that you must too.

And now a digression about victimhood. It’s very unfashionable to be a victim. We like stories of badassery and resilience. (I like them myself, I’ve fashioned a whole blog out of them.)

But the fact remains, we don’t control if we’re victimized. It means a perpetrator commits an offense against you, and there is ZERO consent. A bomb can fall on your neighborhood, and you’re a refugee — you’re not “playing the victim.” You didn’t ask for bombs. You can be mugged on a street corner, molested by a priest, have your pension fund stolen by some sociopathic billionaire — shit can be inflicted on you.

That’s a basic fact of life. Shitty people will deal shit. You only control how you respond. (See also “Gain a life.”)

Is it especially shitty that they DENY their shitty things? Yes. Let’s take the shit metaphor further — it’s a shit sandwich.

You don’t control what crazy things he thinks. Let him think you’re “playing the victim.” Let him think Esther Perel is the most original, innovative voice of her generation of hucksters.


How do I respond?

No response is a response. Quit engaging. Do you want to chase a man who has two girlfriends that aren’t you? Do you enjoy his blameshifting? Would you like a flesh and blood person to love or a mirage of promises?

ACT on your values. He victimized you — and you can respond with “Please sir, I’d like another.” Or you can take your life back.

Doesn’t matter what he says — if you’re not there, you can’t hear him. You can carry his voices in your head. But you can also choose not to.

Who wants to argue with a ghost?

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.
  • Hitting the nail on the head again today, CL. “There are his actions and then there is his image.”

    One of the most useful mantras to me on the path to meh was “No one knows the future. So predict based on actions, not intentions.” You want to put all the consideration onto what *actually happened,* rather than all the (possibly made-up) “intentions” around it. Deeds not words, y’all.

    • Several ex-mafia members such as Michael Franzese and Louis Ferantte speak, interview, and write books about applying basic Mob principles to legitimate corporations and small businesses. “Words vs. Actions” is one of them.

      Taking away the murder, violence, illegal acts and just looking at their principles of Loyalty, Reciprocity, and Trust can really open up a Chump’s eyes.

    • I played the victim too long and kept hoping things would change. We’ve been married 40 years. Now he’s had a stroke and can’t take care of himself and I’ve found out what a sorry bastard he really is. He’s had an affair for three years and not surenhow many affiairs before that. I want him to get well and out of my life. Wish I had learned what a POS he was long ago and I wonder how I could be so stupid and blind for so long. Please pray for me!!!!!

      • How awful Crazylady, I will pray for you. Are you able to hire a care giver so you don’t have to spend as much time taking care of him?
        How bad was his stroke? and how long ago did he have the stroke? Some people recover from strokes faster than others…,

        I became brainwashed and accepted ex’s abuse as normal. There were times when Cheater and I would be in public and strangers would say things to me about the way he was talking to me or treating me. We were at a 4th of July parade and a young man with his baby was standing behind us and said something to ex about the way he was treating me.
        I also kept hoping things would change, his moodiness, unprovoked rages, criticism, looks of disdain and disgust. He’s a repulsive human being.
        I’ll pray for a quick recovery for your spouse and freedom and much happiness for you!

        • A quick aside that it warms my heart that a young man with a baby would stick up for you without even knowing you. Important for me to remember that there are many fine, honourable, gutsy men who strive to do the right thing.

      • This may seem radical but you do not have to take care of him. He broke the vows that committed you to each other. He can find a girlfriend appliance to assist.

        • You do not!!! Sell whatever you can, the rest of your life is a precious precious thing and YOU should have it. He already told to much of it.

          Sell everything to pay for care for him and head for the horizon and the rest of your cheater-free life.

          I don’t pray but I am sending power and love.

          • Why sell everything to pay for care for him? That’s still being in the role of caretaker!
            Get divorced, divide assets, should be s lest half each of not more for your troubles.
            And get your life!

            • Awakening Dreamer is right. Take care of yourself. Do what the law requires and be free. If you live in a community property state as I do, make sure none of his future medical Bill’s follow you. Praying for the best.
              Note- I am still married to the cheater. Community property laws killed my ability to divorce and also care for our handicapped child. Laws can only enforce so much. Cheaters also cheat financially, hiding money and so on. I do my best to simply live my own life. I am changing my name on here. I have learned a lot from our illustrious Chump Lady. My new name is Beloved. I am loved by my children, my friends and family and by God. I embrace my true self as one who is beloved.

    • So cheater’s military unit has the Latin phrase for “Deeds not Words” as their motto. Of course, walking past that into the building every day and seeing it in his emails and even having T-shirts made for his soldiers with the slogan on it, he must have really internalized it to mean “do the deed” (with a subordinate, no less) and “not speak the words” (lie, lie, lie to avoid being caught in the truth).

      During wreckonciliation, I told him I was no longer listening to what he told me he was *going* to do, but rather I was only going to pay attention to what he was *actually doing*. I reminded him of his whole “deeds, not words” motto and it just really, really pissed him off.

      I pointed out the irony but it was lost on him. A warthog probably would have gotten it, though.

    • So true. Many years ago as a high school student being raised by my grandparents, one of my grandfathers common lines was “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I did not understand it then, but I sure do now!

  • One night stand cheating stinks and I make no excuses for spouses that have had one night stands but when a partner has a “relationship” with someone else, even if it lasted just a couple of weeks, time to move on. I don’t care what load of horseshit they give you, leave them! They have already checked out of the marriage/relationship and are biding their time for whatever the reason. Maybe the fling didn’t work out but don’t believe for one minute it didn’t work out due to their loyalty/love/devotion to you. There will be other flings and one of them will work out and you are left in the dust. Why prolong the inevitable?

    • Exactly – once can be a mistake (I’m not saying it should be forgiven) but if it’s more than once and one moment, then this person engaged in long-term lying and deceiving, both premeditated. Leave.

    • So true. I should have left after the emotional affair but I thought we were good because he “chose” me that time. It was just the beginning of the end.

      • Oh lawd. I found an email mine sent 15 YEARS AGO to some one night stand site. WTF was I thinking accepting his excuse. ugh.

    • I respect your statement but disagree – even one night stands involve a series of actions and choices that are outside of monogamy. No one gets just that lucky out of the gate. Whether that’s mental decisions to flirt, taking off a wedding ring or send dick pics, lots of prep goes into a one night stand. The bridge for me is giving yourself permission to disrespect your partner with an affair or one night stand.

      • There are cheaters who only do one night stands so they can claim it didn’t mean anything; a series of ‘one night stands’ that include craig list hookups, prostitutes, strippers, and glory holes. Yea, doesn’t sound better to me either.

        • Kathleen Bauer…’s not better. That’s my STBX. Escorts, Craigslist, Backpage, Leolist. He would say that they weren’t my competition that they weren’t better then me when I asked why?? They were “safe” because he didn’t have to worry about them wanting more from him and they were a sure thing. Ya, safter. Disease riddled hookers that could follow him home to see if it was worth stealing from him or taking his wallet with his ID in it. Exposing me and my kids to that. Now he claims after almost 5 years of this and a history of doing it his entire adult life (cheated on his ex wife the same way too) that he’s changed. He went to a counselor twice, had brainwave therapy, quit his job and started going to the gym that he’s changed. He has control over his thoughts and doesn’t put himself into situations that he could get into trouble. He’s more “AWARE”. Ya whatever. Like Chump-tastic said “actions not intentions”.
          This situation has been so hard. He’s still living in the same house but living separate lives and goes above and beyond to show how much he’s changed. It’s easy to get sucked in but then I come on here and read these posts and it confirms that I need to Trust That He Sucks!!!! I’d never trust him again.

          • And everyone, please don’t ever forget that if they are The Magic Unicorn they profess to be, I mean really really are, you STILL GET TO DECIDE TO LEAVE.

            It doesn’t matter if he was an angel right out of the sky you can still say you are done. Even if he magically did stop sucking you get to decide that the injury was too grave and you can’t live with it. The bell was rung and he can’t undo that no matter how perfect he might really be now.

            After you have been mowed down by a drunk driver do NOT feel guilty about your choice to get up and walk away after even if they really never touch another drop. You can’t undo some things. They can continue their magical healing journey without you just fine.

            • In fact, deciding to leave will actually bring out their real thoughts about you. They usually spin to “rage” if you decide to leave – which means that your decision was the right one.

          • Brainwave therapy ? LOL. Dumbf*ck needs to stick his head in a microwave

      • My x asshat took his wedding ring off while pursuing OW#1, 10 years before abandoning me for OW#2. At the time I asked why he wasn’t wearing it and he lied to me. After 20 years of marriage it apparently bothered him while he golfed.

        See, that is the crux of the problem. I could be as attentive to him as possible and constantly take the temperature of the marriage but if the petulant little selfish asshat dickface child was just going to lie to me then what the hell was I supposed to do?

        None of his lying stopped him from blaming ME for every last thing when it all finally blew up those wasted years later. I was 100% the problem in his eyes and how dare I be offended or play the victim. He had spent years lying and attending to other people while ignoring me but in the end he still wanted me to take responsibility for it all. So he gets to do whatever the hell he wants with whomever, lie to me about it every day, and then decide I was the problem all along.

        Nothing to work with there.

        I have to go talk to my hairbrush.

        • The ring “bothered” him while he golfed. Yeah. I see.
          Sparkledick lost his ring while “twirling” it on his desk at work. I believed him…. Sigh. The word chump does describe us…

          • My ex didn’t wear his because during the winter it became slight too big for his finger and he didn’t want to lose it. I bought the logic at the time, but it was all BS. I remember him NOT wearing his ring to our fist official event as a married couple, just 3 months after our wedding, during the summer and he didn’t wear it then either.

        • “Petulant little selfish asshat dickface child”. Well said, Now IC. Well said. That made me laugh. You made an excellent point. If the cheating pecker necks lie and lie and lie what does that leave us faithful spouses to do. Doesn’t matter how much marriage temperature taking we do. Just more evidence it’s them, not us.

        • Mine said he took his off because his HAIR PRODUCT got under it. Must not have been much with that bald spot he’s sporting….

      • I do not condone or excuse one night stands and totally agree that even the one night stand starts with a period of inappropriate, selfish behavior. However, I wasn’t talking about a series of one night stands, I was talking about a one night stand. Maybe that selfish behavior can be turned around, maybe it gets worse. Crap shoot. I for one would not take the gamble.

        • I don’t even believe there is such a thing as one “one night” stand. There is just the first in a long series that hasn’t happened…yet.

        • Cheating sucks no matter how it’s served. But, when you learn that your husband had a whole other relationship going with another woman for a long period of time, time was taken from your marriage, funds were spent on another woman doing things that you would have loved if your husband did for you, intimate details about your life were shared with another woman, that is particularly gut-wrenching. Suddenly, I find that I could better have healed if he had had a one night stand. It still sucks, but you don’t feel that you were continuously compared to another woman and constantly found lacking.

          And, then there is the added bonus when your husband decides to leave you for that other woman. When you learn of weekends in which they go away because now you are the constant babysitting service in your access arrangement (only to realize that you were the babysitting service to this affair during your marriage too – Wow! I did meet a need. I did serve a purpose). You see money being spent on this relationship that isn’t being spent on your children because they come home telling you that all they do at Daddy’s is watch tv all day and play video games while he’s on the computer watching Netflix.

          Yes, I am a victim. A grave injury was done against me. I was lied to and manipulated. My health was put at risk. Then, my character was slandered in a narrative that was developed by the perpetrator of my injury in order for him to rationalize why I was injured. I guess I deserved being cheated on because I was a strong woman whose husband felt emasculated by. That is what happens to women like me. When we are too competent, hold high expectations, call out our husbands when they aren’t delivering, make more money, we are asking to be cheated on. Or, so I think that’s the lesson I’m supposed to take away from my STBXH’s rationale for what he did.

          I don’t try to call out my STBXH on anything anymore because I’ve been grey rock for most of the last 13 months since he left. But, the legal separation agreement is almost done, and I will be filing for an uncontested divorce immediately. Once his signature is on the dotted line, I think about having that one conversation to just hash it out with him: “So, buddy, based on your actions, what are the lessons I am to be teaching our children about life, love and relationships? Just want to make sure we’re on the same page. Should I be teaching our son that the best way to treat a woman who isn’t making him feel like Superman is to sleep with another woman? Should I be teaching your daughter that she shouldn’t want to be too strong or she’ll be inviting her husband to seek out the company of other women? What should I say to your daughter the day that a man cheats on her (and it will happen to her because men like her father exist in the world)? Should I teach the kids that love can come from secretive relationships that end marriages through lies and betrayal?

          Just wondering, that’s all…

            • These are great questions. May I suggest you consider putting them in writing to him? (or just send him this post).
              You are never going to get an answer that gives satisfaction – really what can he say but twist the narrative even more and say hurtful things back. So why not put it in a letter? Let him think about it – maybe his AP will see it too. You will have said your piece (peace?) and can put your mind at ease but don’t have to worry about whatever nonsense he throws back.

              Just a thought. Good luck with this OptionNoMore. I’m over 10 years out and have gone years with NC. I have an awesome relationship now. But just this weekend my daughter repeated something her father said and it still got to me because it revealed just how skewered his world view is. Stupid waste of emotions on my end. Thankfully, it didn’t last more than a couple minutes.

              Just focus on yourself. You don’t need to justify yourself to a fuckwit. Don’t let him dim your light. Stay awesome.

      • And also remember there can be a residue from one night stands. The One Night Stand partner could cry “Date Rape” or become pregnant.

      • Physics Gal, very well said!! I agree 100% with that. Once they give themselves right to disrespect you that’s is when it is over.

      • Yeah the hooker fuckers are everywhere. Until it happened to me, I had no idea how pervasive using sex workers among “ordinary guys” really was. It makes me despair for our culture in the most heartsick way.

        • Cheater is a pilot who made regular trips to Hawaii. He’d tell me stories about the hookers that would approach him at all hours of the day and night. One story was he walked out of the hotel to go running wearing his college alumni t-shirt, and a hooker approached him then asked if that’s where he went to college, she told him her friend graduated from the same school. At the time I thought nothing of it, ex just telling me an amusing story.
          Hawaii is where we would spend our vacations, staying in the same hotel. He’d like to point out the girls that were hookers, I couldn’t tell them apart from tourists but ex would zero in on them from our hotel balcony, giving me a running commentary on how they operated.. the last time we were in Hawaii as he was giving me the commentary, I felt there was something off, but brushed it aside, as just me. After all, being a Chump, my husband would never do such a thing, he loved and valued his family…,
          With time and distance I see things much differently, including the working girl interrupting his morning run to have a conversation about his college t-shirt and the coincidence that her friend went to the same school.

          • Not sure if my post is relevant but reading other posts here about hookers brought back a memory I thought I’d share..
            Sorry, it just occurred to me…

            • Cheaters are so much alike!
              I can relate to what you shared. X always made it sound like he was so disgusted with Sin City that he locked himself in his hotel room away from it all. Come to find out that he was not alone in his hotel rooms.

    • I could have forgiven one one night stand (not a series thereof). However, a relationship and double life is something completely different. All of the energy poured into another person… They already are checked out, they are just securing cake or waiting for the other person to fully commit.
      There is nothing to win there.

      • Exactly. I was onboard for forgiveness based on what he “told” me until I learned ( from hacking into emails ) that my ex had a 5 year relationship with another man and they were using each other’s last names. Turns out there were 3 of those “true love” affair partners, in different states, all overlapping in time, PLUS hookups with men whenever he could spare a moment to hop on CL. I wondered why he got fired LOL, he didn’t have time to work!! Even when it was over, and he said he told me everything, he wasn’t smart enough to change passwords on his hookup sites, and just for fun I logged in, and found out more about his escapades. We are finally divorced, after 3 years of separation, but I’m still haunted by how someone I once put all my trust into could be capable of such betrayal.

        • GrandeDameChump – ” I’m still haunted by how someone I once put all my trust into could be capable of such betrayal.” I can relate to this so deeply. This may be the hardest part. All memories are contaminated! Sorry for your losses, but it’s good we know.

  • Sounds to me like he is intentionally trying to knock you off balance. Gives him the advantage. I agree with CL — the less contact the better, in part because then he can’t spin you up then label you crazy.

    Think of him like a tween trying to get a parent all spun up by saying things that are rude, shocking, hurtful, etc. He’s an immature person using childish relationship tools to try to feel powerful and make you feel ridiculous.

    He deserves to stew in his personal BS without you around. I say, let him. He has made his priorities clear, he’s welcome to them.

    • Long ago, I understood that the role of toddlers is to push boundaries: they need to test the rules so that they can eventually grow into independent people. It’s pointless (and actually counterproductive) for a parent to get angry that toddlers break rules: that’s actually their job!

      I try to think of XW the same way: her job / role is to try to suck me into increased engagement and “friendship” so that I will help her more in her new life. Blameshifting is similar: it’s a psychological imperative for them, so hoping they’ll act differently is futile. They have their role, and they’re going to play it. You need to be aware of it so you’re not caught off guard, but there’s no point in hoping it will change.

      And yes, a common thread between the two examples is a complete lack of self-awareness.

  • “Do you think you are showing strength by his petty, weak behavior? It’s transparent and it’s sad that you degrade yourself this way. You are determined to play the victim three years after I left you. You are only hurting yourself. And hurting the girls. I feel sorry for you.”

    This was sent to me 2 months ago — 21 months after the divorce was finalized, 2.5 years after I said “No more” and forced her into a corner that let to the formal break-up, more than 3 years after I confronted her and the Carrot Singer in my driveway.

    You will ALWAYS be called out for ‘playing the victim’ by this fuckwit no matter what. It’s his only way of deflecting attention away from his abuse. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    • UX, that was callous, saying YOU are hurting the kids.
      If she honestly had their best interests in mind, she never would have stepped out on her family. It’s just her guilt she’s trying to suppress by blaming you for how she finally sees things impacting the children.

    • Is there a reason you have direct contact with her UXworld? How old are your kids? Mine are 16 and 17. I shut down even email access August 2017 because of this kind of bullshit abuse. If your kids can communicate, there really is never going to be a reason that important that she should have access to you. Family calendar bitch tell her, if they are that damn busy, unless one of them is in the hospital (and you can then unilaterally contact her) shut that shit down right now dammit.

      • It was received via Our Family Wizard, in response to me reminding her that she couldn’t use my house as a “waiting room” on days that she is responsible for picking up our daughters (ages 16 and 15) from school, unless there is a late emergency or other unforeseen circumstance. .

        So, no texts to my phone or the like. This is the court-ordered agreed-upon means of communicating about the girls’ schedules and money matters.

        • Well UX how DARE you set a boundary on her. How DARE you tell her to act like an adult and organize herself and her day, and not at your expense! She is a selfish narcissistic asshole. I wouldn’t even let her cross my threshhold for ANY reason (late emergency or otherwise). I would tell her that, and the very next time she did I would call the police for her trespassing and home invasion. She has no right to step through your door unless you give explicit permission.

          • I assume UX meant that she is using it as a waiting room for the children when she can’t be bothered to pick them up, not for herself.
            Like my ex – ‘Oh, might be late getting back – can the kids wait at yours, and eat snacks, maybe even have dinner and use the utilities while I claim it as ‘my time’ because technically I have the overnight – (and if I know full well I can get back on time well in advance on the day I will not contact you to let you know that I will pick them up because you’re okay with getting after-school stuff organised and sitting around twiddling your thumbs waiting for a no-show then waiting outside for them wondering where they are until you see my car go past and realizing that I have them after all)? Thanks.’ Or ‘School event tonight, they may as well come to your house and get ready so that you can clean, clothe and feed them then I will show up late to the event as Mr Shiny-parent, then take them home after the event so again it is ‘my time’ for child custody/support purposes? Thanks’. Or ‘X afternoon they have sport training walking distance from yours, so can they come after school and again, you do all the things so I don’t have to come in and waste my valuable time being bored while they train, then I can pick them up because, again, you got it, it’s ‘my time’. Thanks’. Ugh. It’s not about the kids – I love seeing them so I let it slide (and for other reasons like biding my time until some other stuff is sorted) – it’s his entitlement that shits me. Also the fact that this ‘flexibility’ is only ever to suit him, rarely me. If you insist on shared care – then bloody well use the damn share you INSIST on having, otherwise give it up! Okay, rant over. Sorry. Also sorry for long run-on sentences. Thank you.

            • Exactly. It’s “I know I moved to another town so the Chlorine Special and I could buy a condo together, but making sure the girls can get to and from school on days they’re with me was not in our thinking, so I don’t understand why they just can’t come to your house and wait there until it’s convenient for me to pick them up. Why are you being such an asshole about this UXWorld?”

              • “Because it’s still my house and you’re still my bitch, UX. ”

                How they think.

    • My internal response was “Blah, blah, blah, Muppethead. The answer is still no. Buh-bye.”

      Of course, it doesn’t require a response at all.

      Thanks for documenting your argumentative-ness yet another time, Cheater.

      You are mighty, UX!

  • Go no contact. The best argument to have with a fuckwit is a one-sided silent one they are left to have with themselves because you have shut them down without further ado.

    On the topic of shame, I offer this… do you think a person who has the ability to look you in the eye and lie OR put his penis in another woman then dust it off and bring it home to you has any capability to feel shame? I’m not thinking you’ll find a yes to that questions. So really, there is nothing you can say to this fuckwit that will make him see things through your eyes. You don’t share the same values. It really is that simple and you can really can feel lucky that you dodged a bullet and he is now the OW’s problem.

    • “do you think a person who has the ability to look you in the eye and lie OR put his penis in another woman then dust it off and bring it home to you has any capability to feel shame?” THIS!! You hit the nail on the head. Why is this such a hard lesson to learn? It took almost five years for this to sink into my brain…

      • Same here, Saus’. My scenario is the reverse; wife brought home her well-used mouth and vagina. It’s been almost 12 mos for me and it’s proving to be a hard lesson. Hopefully it doesn’t take me 5 years, ’cause this sucks.

  • When the Dickhead first told me he was filing for divorce (D-day was 3 weeks later) and even a couple of months later, he told me that I wasn’t to blame. That was it – no further explanation. It wasn’t until after I started really throwing shit his way that suddenly I needed to own to my part in the failure of our marriage. Suddenly, me being the VICTIM wasn’t all fun and games. That was said in our very last correspondence. However, not once did he give me the courtesy or respect to st down and honestly discuss our marriage or the divorce.

    It’s all mind control with them. They want to control the narrative, the divorce, their image and even you. When you don’t play their game, you become a nuisance that must be handled.

    You don’t need to respond. Don’t give him the satisfaction of knowing he affects you by his words and actions. The best response is silence and No Contact if you can. They want the world to believe they are victims of a bad marriage and their happiness was threatened. They needed to go out and be happy again. Boohoo. See, there can’t be two victims, and they firmly want to keep themselves in that role otherwise people might catch on that they really are POS.

    • “They want to control the narrative, the divorce, their image and even you. When you don’t play their game, you become a nuisance that must be handled.”
      This, absolutely. Describes my experience to a T.

  • “I know you are hurt but if you could just get over it…”

    That unfinished sentence right there has bothered me so much. She never finished it but I did for her in my mind over and over again after she said it. If I would just get over it…

    I would tell the kids that this was ok and mom just needed to be happy.
    I would tell my family that we are still buds and she can come around.
    I would tell the church… nothing.
    I would stop telling her to look at the wake of destruction she was leaving behind.

    If I would just get over it… I would disappear.

    Then she could just slip him in my place and have our life sans me. When someone tries to cut you out of your own life you are a victim. Their opinion on it means nothing. When you are ready to pick up all those pieces on the floor and try to put something beautiful back together then you will. Screw them for telling you that the broken pieces are mess and they have guests coming. I am sorry he is continuing to be a douche. Just know that you are indeed right and we stand with you. The lies have no power here.

    • Bravo, Sleepless! Exactly. They don’t get a say in fixing what they broke.

    • Sleepless, that’s a great analogy!! Pick up the pieces, I have a guest coming over! LOL. They trashed the house (her life, the kid(s) life and your life. And they sure don’t want the AP to see what level of mess (shit sandwiches are being served) they have made. BALLZEE!! They expect help in cleaning up the mess!!!

    • Thanks guys. It’s my first post. Just trying to find something half way positive to do with all this… emotion. I am waaaaaaaaay out of my league talking about the feels. lol.

  • He wants to be the victim and he’s probably always been that guy so there’s no room for you to be the victim. He absolves his behavior if he’s your victim.

    Cheaters hardly ever own their bad actions. Even when they do, it’s usually conditionally with blame assigned outside themselves. It truly is a character issue and I think it’s consistent across their lives.

    You can’t teach character to an adult. With children though, I think you can by modeling strong character and by taking a firm position in not allowing blame shifting for their actions. You hear a lot about this, too when it comes to children when you hear a parent blame a teacher or a coach or another child for their child’s behavior or performance. I wonder how that connection couldn’t get wired into a forming adult and also wonder if it influences cheating and the way cheaters so easily absolve themselves from their actions. I believe it does.

    • Character is your relationship with yourself ….and what you do when no one is watching

  • Your feelings are yours alone, no outsider can tell you how to feel, especially the cad who initiated the conflict.

    The other side of “There are cheaters actions and then there is cheaters image.” is “there are your feelings and there is how you present yourself to the world” too. You certainly can feel like a train wreck and still put it together enough to get through your responsibilities. Many of us chumps do, everyday.

    This is not a “plaster on the smile and go all day” advice. It is accepting that your recovery is a myriad of stages, some going on simultaneously, and each deserves it’s time and space.

    I think what he DOESN’T want you to do is play the victim because it accentuates his abuse.

  • Dear Lama,

    Yes, he’s the crazy one. You are not. You are the victim here and as victims are entitled to do, you, too, can walk away.
    Confronting will not help. Spilling your guts won’t change a fucking thing.
    You can stand on your head and spin and it will only aggravate you, while he leans back and smiles with glee (you know that narc smirk-smile, i presume). He’ll continue to DARVO the living shit out of you and if you weren’t depressed before then get ready for the ride of your life. You have your truth, he has his image. The disordered don’t let the reality of their actions influence them.
    Ask me how i know.
    Last year around this time my “husband” started a new job. It was supposed to bring us together, closer than ever, because he’d worked long distance trucking and came home every 2-4 weeks for a day and half.
    I shit you not, the 1st week of his new job i felt something had changed. It progressively got worse and worse….you know what i mean. The moods, the snappiness, the covert putdowns. When called out on it – i sat him down and outright asked “have you been aroused by someone?” – he went into a yelling fit and threw a glass of water in my face, screaming stfu, I’m the crazy fucking fool to think such a thing!
    Time passed and there were red flags, i posted about them here… like his messages being deleted but i saw the message log that showed 50-80 messages back and forth with the female colleague he shared the truck with (she was day shift, he was night). His daughter arrived to spend 2 months with us… i saw the texting continue and he kept lying, saying “it’s just about work” ???????? i begged him through snot and tears, what’s going on??? Nothing, according to him…
    Every night i saw him off to work, took care of his daughter like my own child, i was braiding her hair while this dumbass was chatting his howorker up. I waited for a call, a text, a lifeline like there had been before. All i got was silence…
    Daughter flys home and it’s just us…the nasty behavior towards me continues. I keep seeing the logs…
    On our solitary “date day” that i came up with and paid for, before we left i heard his phone go off while he was in the bathroom. He was texting the whore on our fucking date day.
    Soon after that shit got turned over and everything i suspected was proven true. I recorded our convos about it.
    Workplace emotional affair. Sexual talks during shift change. Pics exchanged (our family vacay pic from 2 years ago, him and his 2 daughters were sent, my son and i cropped out. That one hurt the most). And there’s *so much more that happened*….
    I cried and cried. I raged. I shut down.
    This is all after our”fresh start to reboot the marriage after many mistakes” (his).
    This is my past year in a nutshell.
    The reason I’m telling this story is because you’ll recognize the pain and trauma.
    And do you think he cares??? He’s been darvo-ing, blamshifting, rewriting history, erasing history ever since!
    Best is not to engage with this type of lunacy. The only one who’ll go nuts over it is you yourself.
    Walk away, clear your mind and try to heal.

    • MG, I got a chill when you said ‘you know that narc smile, I presume?’ I never once saw my sweet, honorable, thoughtful husband with that smile until D Day. I refer to it as ‘The night of 1,000 horrors’. I was in trauma-induced shock and standing in my kitchen. I’d just learned of the other woman, learned he was leaving me and our 1 and 2 year old babies for her and moving to the opposite coast. I uncharacteristically snatched his phone out of his hands to see if I could find the texts or emails when…
      he smiled. That above-it-all and amused by something horrifying smile. He was AMUSED at my trembling voice and hands. I try to remember that moment when I miss my intact family. Trust that he sucks, to me, means remembering that smile.

        • I was sitting at the kitchen table, choked up after crying gor over an hour. He stood by the counter “wahwhaeha, crycrycry, boohoohoo”

          • I am so sorry, Mg. What a horrible, horrible human being. The cruelty and meanness are so devastating to witness and so hard to understand. That’s one thing I will never, never, never forgive.

          • i wont forget the feeling after he admitted to an EA with AP#1 and i asked to see the facebook messages between them and he gave me that fucking smile and told me “i deleted all of them”.

            • If i ever get in a relationship again, very big if… the second someone cracks that smile i *do not give a fuck* about how long we’ve been yogether, what history and memories we share, etc. It’s grab your coat and walk the fuck away.

              When i was interrogating him about the ea and asked for specifics i got a bunch of “we just talked general, this and that, back and forth, yadayada…”. No point in believing a flippin word out of their mouth.

      • When in the days after discovery i demanded to see his phone and he said no, i broke down into tears, he cracked that smile with glee and said “here” he handed it over and while smiling at me said “pathetic”. That is how our betrayal and trauma is viewed.

      • It’s that smile as to why you can see that some people lose all restraint and lash out physically against a narc. I do not blame them in the fucking slightest for doing so, either.

    • Yeah, there were times when my cheater would text his bitch when we were on date nights, saying he wished he was with her instead. I’d come back from the bathroom and he’d have the classic cheater smirk on his face. I had no idea what it meant at the time but it scared me. I believe he sometimes asked me out just so he could do that. These sick bastards get off on deceit and betrayal. I believe you have to be wallowing in hate and evil to do a thing like that.
      Your ex sounds like the scum of the earth. You’re well rid of that nightmare.

      • Yeah, dupers delight. You don’t even know you’re in the pickmedance arena. They laugh at you being so in love and trusting and naive.

    • Mg I’m so sorry you went through this. I went through the same thing. Trucker “husband” that worked out of town and only home on some weekends. Emotional inappropriate affairs with female coworkers. He cheated while on the road with hookers, craigslist etc. but then decided he “needed” to be home. He didn’t want to lose another family because of being away. Once he was home he started chatting up hookers at the truck stop, still going on Leo List. I was home sicker then a dog and he always said he regretted not being around when I was sick to help me with kids (mine) etc. Well, I’m sicker then anything and he’s leaving home early and coming home late because he’s meeting hookers. I was lying on the couch and his phone goes off. It’s an escort sending him her “menu”. I was so MAD. He claims he just looked never met them. The one hooker he arranged to meet it was to give her a gift card for food because she was down on her luck and living in her car. Ya…… first alright.
      I hope you’re doing much better. Did he ever get together with that ho-worker???

      • Thank you. I did this with him for 5 years but with this last one my heart just caved in. He’s still trying to pretend like everything is fine, talks about our future together, etc…i just sit and stare like a zombie, just biding my time til enough $ for divorce and place of my own. Without blinders he’s just gross to me now.

        He said nothing happened, but i know the bitch egged him on and enjoyed it just the same.
        I found a pic of her that she sent, the “shoot from above angle” to make her look thinner and her boobs more promiment.
        He said he would have liked to meet her in private but “knew that would be totally inappropriate” ???????????? as if masturbating to the bitch in our be is somehow better, or calling/texting her every night instead of the wife…
        The lack of sexual contact between them doesn’t change a thing imo, durimg the ea he just lied, gaslighted for months and even did physical abuse to me, like i wrote above and a few other things…he used me as a meat tube in the mornings when she got him sexually excited before he came home.
        Because of his porn addiction and nasty behavior towards me and the gut feeling about this ho and the secret messaging, i packed him up last summer and was on the verge of separating…he asked this bitch if she knows a place for him! So supposedly she asked him what’s up…he said “my wife has rules and I’m wild, she doesn’t like that i masturbate every day before sleep and we don’t have sex often” her reply??? “Oh, that’s normal, i do that every day, too”. He said this is just “normal convo” between the dudes at work… ???????????????? never in my almost 40 years have i talked masturbation habits with colleagues. He admitter to her that her perfume lingering in the truck “drives him crazy”. Yeah, no sexual talk, eh??? He denied saying any and all of this in later convos. Too bad i have the recordings.

        He denies it but i know he probs used to hit up strip clubs and such. He’s admitted to massage parlors (the happy ending kind) before we were together… what i know is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

        Last word of note: when i told him I’m texting the bitch that she can have him, he flew into a panic frenzy. He called her to say his crazy bitch wife thinks they’re havimg an affair…
        The fucking whore texted him
        “I don’t know why your wife is jealous, I’m a happily married woman planning a 2nd baby”. Bitch, let’s show your husband the pic you sent and the text message and call logs of how much you two fucks “talk about work” and see what he thinks!!

        • Who knows why she wrote that possibly written “proof” that its innocent in case she’s exposed to her hubby but I don’t believe for one second that they are innocent. Mine told me he avoided the one he was inappropriate with and when they went away for almost a month on a job with another crew he shared a truck with her day/night shift until they were all working during the day when it was almost over. I saw his texts to her and they were anything but innocent or that he was avoiding her. He talked about doing dirty things to the pillow she left in the truck, found her underwear in the dryer after he did laundry after her etc. Saved her seats at dinner and on the bus to the job site. Let her follow him to and from the job site while gabbing the whole way on the CB. Her responses were a bit more reserved because she knew who I was. She also had had an affair with a married coworker for the same company while she was living with her boyfriend. It didn’t go over well at all. I told him at that time he could have her, she looks like a troll and will screw anybody. If that’s what he wants go for it. I just told him after this last DDay that I now all about their texts. He was shocked and worried about how I knew. I never tell him my sources.
          I’m with you. We are in separate bedrooms but still living under the same roof. I’ve asked him to leave but he quit his job before Christmas and is now working on himself. I’m working on finances and getting an order from my lawyer to have sole possession of the home and make him leave. I’m planning on hitting him with my financial offers by the end of this weekend.
          They just don’t get it. Being in the job that they are in it’s too easy for them to cheat on the road. Mine did the massages with happy endings too. Makes me sick. Even when he was home for a few days he went to one. It’s all about them. Like you, they want to be home but can’t change their screwed up behavior. It’s a sickness alright. They are entitled. Well, we are entitled to to not have to be around pigs like that.

          • Yeah, the bitch was probably covering her ass.
            I have to say, i have no problem calling a bitch, bitch, in this world of “women should be lifting each other up” ???????????? cause the howorker in my story, major bitch.

            They didn’t spend time off in other places like that, but I’m sure the morning shift change chat was all but g-rated.
            I never saw their texting aave 2 like 2 neutral and lots of “jajaja” back and forth ????????. He was very careful to delete everything before i got to it.
            But no matter, i have my recordings as proof, his voice admitting to stuff, trickletruthing to other things. He can try and deny all he wants! I’m not the crazy one!!

        • Show him, by all means. Do you have his address? Print it all out and send it to him. He deserves to know what’s going on.
          Funny, my cheater talked to his howorker AP about how he masturbated every day as well. These creeps think women want to hear about them jerking off? Gross. What he didn’t tell her was he was using sick, misogynistic porn to do it with. She’d have run away from him fast if she’d ever seen the vile stuff I found in his google cache after dday.

          • I found his Facebook and i tried hunting down his phone and address, but no luck.
            I will compose a message once our divorce finally blows over and i can type stuff up coherently, though I’ll probably need a spanish speakers help, as by the looks of it he only speaks spanish and mostly broken english. I want to make it abundantly clear that his wife is a whore in only so many words.
            Sadly i don’t have a printout of texts, as he was verrrry careful to delete those, but i will try and grab a screenshot of message logs.
            To anyone suspicious of cheating going on, in android call menu there’s a hidden area, you have to click “show all text messages” and it lists them time stamped, incoming and outgoing indicated. That’s what did them in.
            I will also send him the cleavage selfie i saved that she sent. I’m suuuurreee all happily married women send pics like that to “just colleagues” ????????????

  • If you look back over your marriage this is how he always talked take you. If you got a little upset over a situation, not necessarily about him, he would probably say, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”. I guarantee if you sit down and give yourself some time you will realize that he’s done these little put down the whole time you were married. The further out you get from this the more you’re going to realize that you were married to somebody who like to use tiny little needles to stick in you. Now that he’s gone don’t let him do it anymore and you won’t bleed anymore.

    • Let Go,

      It’s true, I think back about how he was always “such a good husband” but see so many instances of little things like this. Told me to get off the couch when I was sick because I was going to get everyone else sick (not taking care of me to get me better). Every time I wanted to discuss something he’d cross his arms and sigh (ugh, we have to talk again) and of course, nothing got fixed. I couldn’t take up his time at work because he was so busy and important so I would call him and update him and quickly get off the phone (God forbid he spend five whole minutes making me feel like I mattered). Little things, all the time, that showed me that I was just kind of annoying and I was obviously not that important.

      • So many little triggers in what wrote and I empathize with all of them. The Dickhead would get downright pissed if he got sick and would accuse me or the kids of making him deliberately sick. One Christmas, my mother stayed with us and had the high-contagious stomach flu only she didn’t know it when she came. She got sick a day later, me and the stepkids got sick a couple days later, and he got sick about 2 days after that. He was cussing my mother out (thank goodness she had left by then) and acting like she sat on him and deliberately got him sick.

        Throughout our marriage, he has worked in factories and I never called him unless it was an emergency. It was understood that he was busy and he just couldn’t take a phone call while working. We texted but that was about it. Once I started looking at phone records, I discovered that him and his sister were talking up to an hour every day toward the end of our marriage. Just pisses me off!!!

    • Thank you Let Go, I needed to hear this today. This speaks volume to me and sums up my marriage to the shiny ex Turd. Although I’m still feeling so angry 6 months post D Day 1 that he has been playing the perpetual victim his whole life and winning at it, I am no longer stuck with an asshole who took pleasure sticking tiny needles into me every single day.

  • Sociopaths hate vulnerability. The bring it upon you so they can judge you for it and feel superior themselves.
    “Quit playing the victim” translates to “you annoy me and are worth nothing, how dare you speak ill of thy master?”
    It’s a warning before they inflict more punishment for not playing nice in the dollhouse they call a life.

  • Responses like his are meant to trick you into introspecting, something non-disordered people do quite readily. We want to make sure we didn’t miss where we did some horrible deed without realizing it. Disordered people, when faced with statements of fact that don’t match their crafted image, fire off these introspection weapons so we go inside ourselves and stop pointing our fingers at them. This is why I have a rule: I never defend myself to the disordered. If you need to have an interaction with a disordered person and they fire off one of these gems, you stick to the original issue without fail, even if you are accused of the worst wrong-doings. However, it’s useless to go to a disordered person to get validation that they did something wrong, so don’t waste your time.

    • My ex did that to me all of the time and I always fell for it. I so wish I could go back in time and hold my ground and keep the focus on what he was doing wrong.

      • Mine did that to me too. I would have caught it if I
        a) didn’t love him and admire him so much and
        b) it came from someone OBVIOUSLY disordered

        He was so sparkly and such a “good husband” so often that I didn’t see all the shitty things.

        I only truly learned how to see through it after he cheated and left and I learned all about DARVO and started reading chumplady religiously.

      • Chumpinrecovery, what you’re forgetting, when you say you wish you could have stayed focussed on the REAL problem, when he was de-railing the conversation, is that nothing would have changed. Even if we managed to avoid all their manipulations, distractions, and DARVO, NOTHING WOULD HAVE CHANGED. They are who they are, and they will NOT give us validation, nor admit they were wrong, nor change their behaviour. If they do any of those things, you can guarantee one of two things; either it’ll be followed by a ‘but that was because….’ that firmly lays the blame at someone else’s feet, usually yours, OR that insight will last about as long as a soap bubble. Next thing you know, they will have returned to their convictions about how awesome they are and how everything is your fault.

        Gotta remember, it’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they don’t give a fuck!

        • I just mean that I wish I had stayed focused on the real problems instead of accepting that I might have been the one doing something wrong thereby wasting my time on introspection.

          What finally shook me out of it was a couple of weeks after DDay when he turned to me and asked “have you done any self reflection at all?” as if he didn’t think that I had. I, of course had spent every waking moment (and many sleeping) since DDay self reflecting to figure out what I had done wrong. It was at that moment I realized two things A: He hadn’t done any self reflection at all and B: He was never going to appreciate or even notice mine.

        • “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they don’t give a fuck.”

          Dr. Simon, please update your motto to reflect this amazing new phrasing.

      • My X’s arsenal was filled with projection, word play and the silent treatment. He used to call me a liar all the time, to the point I was seriously questioning if I had a split personality. He would pick apart any and all response that wasn’t to his liking, surgically examining my choice of words to the point I was afraid to speak up. When I hit a nerve, he would give me the silent treatment, sometimes lasting for months. It was always me who caved to a minor (to his major) infractions in order to move forward.

        One day, it occurred to me that his arguments were the equivalent of “I know you are but what am I?” and repeating every word I said. It was that day I checked out of the arguments for good.

        No longer engaging in his disordered and delusional arguments bugged him more than anything. Who knew he had been subconsciously begging me (through his actions and words) to go no contact!

    • “This is why I have a rule: I never defend myself to the disordered.” Bingo! This is a ploy used by people when they don’t want to be accountable for their behavior. It is the go to strategy of toxic people. If you are in any situation where you are forced to interact in this manner, the best response to this deflection when it occurs: “I may do/be that and we can discuss me at a different time. Right now we’re talking about you.”

      It is pointless to debate things are not accurate or true. Why debate a lie? That’s all cheaters have – lies, excuses and shit for brains.

  • My x wanted me to take some of the blame for her cheating. I refused. She the. Said I pushed her into it. I didn’t. Then she said lots of people cheat and she won’t be judged. She wanted me to live in the basement and maybe things would improve. She says I have narcissistic tendencies. Whoever I thought she was disappeared. I now practice grey rock. I still snoop a lot and I’m working on stopping. Sometimes I see she likes something on Facebook that shows she’s depressed. I did get $47,000 from her, lol.
    I’m moving on. It’s hard but when I’m 50, I’m going to look back and see how better things are without her manipulating my life and creating drama and chaos.

    • Oh, she called you a narc? Classic projection.
      I do think it’s harder to start over at middle age and older than it is when we are younger. For one thing, the chances of finding another partner decrease. But you can do it and you will thrive without trash like that littering up your life.

      • Yep. I had nothing but two kids when I kicked my first cheater to the curb. I didn’t have a house, a car, a settlement, or anything but our clothes and a set of dishes. But, I decided I’d rather live in a cardboard box under a bridge than with some man who apparently never thought I was worth having at all. It didn’t come to that–but I still think we would have been better off without him, even if it had.

  • He sounds like a cold-blooded sociopath.
    My cheater jerk tried that ploy right after dday, saying I was playing the victim. My daughter heard that and responded; “Hey asshole, she IS the victim. YOU are the perpetrator. Get that through your fat head!” He never tried that one again and admits he was terribly wrong and 100% to blame. Pamalama, I wish you had an advocate like that speaking up for you. But this guy sounds like nothing would make him admit his wrongdoing anyway. He doesn’t seem have a conscience or any concern for anyone but himself. I’d feel free to let everyone he knows hear about it. Tell them how he conned you into fake reconciliation after an affair, then coldly dumped you for yet another AP, and despicably accused you of playing the victim when you objected. People need to know that this guy is a con artist and a most likely a sociopath so they can be wary of him.

    • My cheater’s line was “You just want to wallow in your own self pity.” Right. I suppose I should have been joyfully appreciative of his abuse, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

      • Ugh! They are shameless in their desperation to evade responsibility for their vile behavior. They are the ones wallowing. They wallow in the filth of their amoral, disordered lives. Fuck them one and all.

  • This is how shitty people justify their shitty behavior. Not just cheaters. They have to believe that their victim deserved to be cheated on, harassed, driven out of a community, sexually assaulted. If the victim is blameless, then the cheating is indefensible. The cheater is the bad guy (or gal). And they can’t have that.

    • Yup, only the ‘perfect victim’ is allowed their human rights. Sigh ….

      It actually annoys me when there’s some tragic shooting or accident, and the victims are all described as these perfect angels, amazing, special …. We need to admit that some victims are assholes, all are imperfect, and they STILL HAVE THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS, they are still victims. We all have the right to our lives, our safety, to make our own decisions about our bodies, to honesty ….

  • Pam, “There is nothing more tiresome than trying to convince someone who has wronged you that they’ve wronged you.” Ask me how I know….

    And that is all you need to know to “gain a life”. Trying to convince these jerks about anything will just result in a waste of your precious time.

    They do “get it”, and since they are entitled narcissists they will do anything to look good: lie, blame shift, play the martyr, an endless repertoire of strategies, all of which involve your suffering if you go along with it.

  • I’m still in the midst of the blaming. We are separated, but have kids and work together, so minimal contact.

    I’m left with the realization that even if he stopped the insane blameshifting and cried, begged and pleases to return that I would stil, on,y get the shit sandwich.

    They can’t unscrew someone else. The hurt and betrayal cannot be taken back. So what do they have to offer? Used goods that have already shown they are broken.

    I’m continuing to work on trusting he sucks. Pamalama, we deserve better.

  • I wish this column and all the comments ran on the front page of every paper for all the world to see. I wish I had the guts to put it on my Fakebook page and mail a link to all my “friends”. Brutal truth on both sides…they suck,always will…and we need to somehow get over it. Victims are not always weak, and power is not always an attribute. You all give me hope that it will somehow get better.

    • I just posted on my FB Chump Lady’s Huffington Post article titled “4 Ways to Reframe Abandonment”. Great perspective. Give it a read.

  • No Contact is the path to the truth and the light.

    He lies. You know this. He obfuscates. You know this. He is a crappy human being whose intentional actions hurt you. You know this.

    Why do you feel you owe him anything? You don’t. You don’t owe him any interaction at all. It’s just kibbles for him and he enjoys watching you soon yourself into a mental frenzy trying to convince him that he is to blame.

    Stop giving him that power. Stop giving him space in your head. Stop responding to him and stop the insanity. Step away from the disorder and keep moving forward toward the place where you gain a life.

    You can do it. All you need to do is go No Contact, the path to the truth and the light. Go into the light. There is peace in the light. You will be surprised how quickly you begin to heal inside the light.

  • The world is too damn big with many GOOD people that have been used and abused to tolerate the bullshit… lift that head and walk straight out…

  • “Who wants to argue with a ghost?”-CL
    This is difficult to admit, but trying to figure out why he treated me this way kept me connected to him (aka: untangling the skein). It also blocked me from feelings I needed to feel. The paralysis of analysis-as my father used to say. The “leave a cheater-get a life” is powerful- it’s the gift of filling your head, heart, life with self-care. “Donating” my head and heart to someone else, especially someone who willfully harms me (ghosts)- I don’t want to live like that anymore.

    • Thank you. I like your insightful line “why he treated me this way kept me connected to him”. I have to have as little contact as possible (we have joint custody of a dog. ha!). I also believe Chump Lady’s point that ~ in the beginning we want to think we can control some of this shitsandwich by being in contact, but a ghost doesn’t care.

    • And it’s ongoing work! When well-meaning friends and family want to rehash what happened in my marriage and trash my ex, I’ve taken to cutting them off and saying “you know, my work now isn’t to figure out why he did what he did, but why I tolerated it.” It’s part of my whole “he will no longer live rent-free in my brain”program.

  • “Quit playing the victim” is Cheater-speak for “it’s not what I did; it’s your reaction to it.”

    Your cheater doesn’t believe that he did anything wrong. Nothing you say will convince him. As CL says, you can get out the PowerPoints, and you’ll still accomplish nothing. Why not? Because cheaters operate from a sense of entitlement.

    When you operate from a sense of entitlement, you put your desires before anyone else’s. A cheater is perfectly able to say that cheating is generally wrong, but not for them because they’re Special and they Have Needs or the Relationship is Dead or some other lame excuse. How dare you try to tell them they’re wrong? What about THEIR needs? They tell you your reaction is way out of line and you need to get over it.

    All this means that you don’t owe him a response. In fact, the best response is No Response because that demonstrates to him that you don’t believe he is worthy of a response because he isn’t worthy. You deserve a man who commits to you, not someone who likes to keep his options open with Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

    Start up with No Contact and keep on going. I would recommend therapy if you’ve had a run of bad luck with boyfriends. Long term, that will help you recognize bad relationship prospects earlier on. In the short term, to deal with the heartbreak, take time out each week to do something for you, whether that be checking out the cute eatery, go zip-lining, or whatever else is on your local bucket list. Do something that makes you feel badass.

    But for now, don’t respond. Responses give him power. Not responding gives you your power back.

    • That is exactly right. They don’t think they did anything wrong. Mine didn’t outright accuse me of playing the victim, but he refused to take responsibility for having done anything wrong himself. As long as I wasn’t overtly blaming him he would be relatively reasonable and tell me that none of this was my fault. Anytime I called him out on his bad behavior, however, then he would get defensive and suddenly I needed to “own my part” and we were both responsible for the marriage deteriorating and he would wail about how much he had been hurting when he strayed, and boo hoo poor me. Any attempt at logic was lost on him. The power point presentations were a waste of time too.

  • “inauthentic path of “reconciliation.”

    The sooner you realize this about your cheater the better off you will be in all ways, shapes, and forms.

    They are NOT sorry about what they did. In fact they are proud of it. It fed their ego. They brag about it to others.

    They are only sorry that you found out.

    • Exactly Zell.
      Caught my cheater red handed – told him to pack his bags – 2 year affair with ho-worker him 43 her 26 and he had promised her kids (ours were 8 and 10). The inauthentic path to reconciliation was my cheater wanting to come back home and asked me for a list of demands. My response stop cheating and leave job. (Stop working overseas 8-12 weeks at a time) – He wrote back “ok leave job and be nice” – I called to speak to him about this he sounded different (low voice). I asked if he was willing to leave her and job – he said “Im thinking about it”. Later that week at a sport event for our 10 year old daughter I grabbed his phone – skype convo with his ho-worker revealed 2 days prior her applying for permanent residency in my country.
      stbx told a mutual male friend ” Im living in a shithole missus caught me cheating on her” the male friend responded “these things obviously happen for a reason – enjoy the freedom bro” . Yip sure he’s the victim.

  • When my X said to me that I should just choose to be happy, I took that to heart. I’m complaining too much, no one has it “good”, I should appreciate what I have. Then I choked on the turd sandwich he was trying to get me to eat (accusing me of having affairs while he was the one chasing strange) and walked away.

    For the past 3 years he’s been whining to all who would hear how he’s the victim. His X wife, his girlfriends, they are all mean and cruel and abusive. Poor him, he’s just trying to be a nice guy, and he is just gullible…..Yeah those web page hook up sites just fell into his browser!

  • Wow, this is such perfect timing. The STBX just screamed at me last night that I am “always the victim.” Once again, I got sucked into trying to make him see that taking off his wedding ring and going to bars to pick up women, sleeping with them and and then coming home and having sex with me was WRONG. So clearly I still need to learn the lesson in today’s column. Thanks for the 2×4!

  • You can’t reason with crazy pamalama. You can’t make sense from nonsense. It’s crazy making. Take a hint from your brain telling you that what he is saying doesn’t make sense, then quite processing it.

  • Mine tried the victim line on me. I laughed in his face. I saw what he was doing. Trying to flip the script. Such a weak man.

  • I was being called out as “wanting to play the victim” and that I need to own “my share in the demise of the marriage” and that “our marriage was over 5 years ago” and that “I had humiliated him”.
    The main point is that they feel entitled to what they have done. They lack the emotional and mental capacity to ever be able to self-reflect.

    I am still in a traumatic shock about this. And all I want to do at times is to yell at them: “Really, you broke up with me and forgot to tell me? You think just because you declared in your mind we were over that gave you permission to lead a double life?”

    • Exactly. And you yell that into the wind, at a therapist, or at a friend to decompress. But, these truths are always wasted on cheaters and ultimately just either give them more kibbles (she loves me so much that she’s so angry) or fuel for their missives (see, I knew what an angry husband he always was…his fault!!). The best gift I gave myself was shutting out my ex from my emotional life as soon as possible. It saved me.

    • Everything your idiot told you mine told me. Been four years. I’m relieved and he’s still not happy go figure.

  • Ah yes, the ole “don’t play the victim” card. I know it well. It was a recurrent theme during our divorce when I dared to request half our stuff, some child support, his cooperation. And CL is right, that card can only get played if you show up for the poker game. There will be times when it’s unavoidable, such as divorce mediation and negotiating custody, but with principles of no contact and zero response, it will pass. Before you play your hand in response to the “victim” card, ask yourself–does this attack warrant a response? The answer is always no. Even if it’s cleverly buried in custody emails, as mine often were, you can parse it out and respond to only the absolutely necessary items in the most neutral and business like fashion. Pretend like these attacks don’t exist, be a robot answering essential questions. But archive all this correspondence in case you need it later.

  • NotANiceChump – kicking goals today!

    “And it’s ongoing work! When well-meaning friends and family want to rehash what happened in my marriage and trash my ex, I’ve taken to cutting them off and saying “you know, my work now isn’t to figure out why he did what he did, but why I tolerated it.” It’s part of my whole “he will no longer live rent-free in my brain”program.”

    Yes. This.

    Bear in mind, though, that the well-meanings in your life might be trying to find out how you’re REALLY traveling.

    People with a long history of spackling also have a long history of not being entirely reliable in what they tell you about how they’re traveling. Expert spacklers can extend their spackle into the recovery process, where the Chump tries to make out they’re doing a lot better than they actually are.

    Sometimes things emerge in these conversations that were being spackled over by the Chump – like, unnecessary contact with the ex, doors left open for the ex to abuse the Chump, etc.

    Chumps can find this embarrassing, because on some level they know they’re still being Chumped by the ex because of unspoken secret hopes and fantasies, and they’ve fallen for it, and are ashamed.

    DON’T be ashamed. De-spackling is an entire process of learning to be honest with yourself about your own mixed emotions and intentions, and then learning to be equally honest with other people about this.

    It can get you a lot of good help, even if it’s slightly unwelcome. I am a dyed-in-the-wool long-time Well-Meaning-Friend-and-Relation, and I’ve been on both sides of the equation.

  • Cheaters are the victims…
    of their own stupidity.

    They can say whatever they want.

    It doesn’t matter.

  • Chumplady, thank you for all of these terms. They give us vocabulary to define what we’ve been through, and help us understand what happened, and what to avoid doing.

    sparkly turd — fits him to a “T” (haha)
    don’t try to untangle the skein (he’s messed up, that’s all you need to know)
    accept that he sucks (and your love can’t fix him, he meant to do what he did, and he doesn’t really care that it hurt you)
    Meh (a great place)
    No Contact (the medicine)
    on Tuesday — not a holiday, special day, it just kind of happens
    dumbass or co-cheater (I prefer to Schmoopie, which is kind of sweet and innocent)
    spackle (the excuses give to the guilty, like putty applied to the cracked wall)
    blame shift (like Bezos did with the media coverage of his cheating)

    I hope that cheating is the next social ill that it tackled on our National stage.

  • This post arrived at the right time. I was thinking today that if I had started dating my last partner (boyfriend) any one of four times over thirty years, critical points in which we missed each other due to our military moves, if only I had stayed in a geographical area a bit longer or had dated my last partner instead of my now (abusive, adulterous) ex-husband back in 2004 when my last partner and I were in the same region again, both childless and never married/divorced, maybe things would have gone all right and my last partner would still be with me, not with his new (second) wife. However, I realize that his lying and manipulation of intimate partners started decades ago and still existed until 1.5 years ago (and may still be present in his character) so maybe I would have just gotten together with a (this) jerk that much earlier. I need to remind myself of this every time I miss him and wake up from a dream about him being with his new wife. I still often wonder why the him I knew was so different than Mr. Nice Guy that virtually everyone else knew. It’s tough to deal with Valentine’s Day occurring this week, the first day four years ago that I realized that I was romantically attracted to my friend of decades—the relationship seemed like such a beautiful, right thing then. Obviously, my picker was broken and my judgment of situations was WAY off! I guess that I should be thankful that my abusive ex-husband is leaving the country for a six-week long business trip on Valentine’s Day. As Ann Landers or Abigail Van Buren said, ‘If you can’t be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you don’t have.’ The greatest Valentine’s Day gift this year would be a good, family-sustaining job! I hope that everyone here get’s a well-deserved happy V-day!

    • RSW, great to hear from you. One of my hobbies is counterfactual history – the what ifs.

      There’s a thing called a ‘second order counterfactual’, which posits that, even if X, Y and Z changed, history would eventually ‘join up’ again further down the track to produce basically the same story.

      I think we torture ourselves imagining ‘what if’ and it’s always better than what we have.

      It’s just as powerful, as you say, to imagine ‘what if’ and it being a hell of a lot WORSE than what we have.

      That’s most definitely true for my life.

    • RSW, I’ve followed your healing process & related so deeply to the repeat offending we’ve caused ourselves. You are truly courageous and genuine in everything you share. I appreciate the openness.

      It’s almost 2 years since my husband took his ring off and apparently when he did that, me & everything we’d shared before it just “disappeared”. Our marriage no longer existed. At that point, I was not aware of Ms Slimy & he was playing Mc Smarmy to a tee. He was my second and the one I believed was the “happy ever after”.

      Number 1 was overt, openly abusive & violent (short version for here). When I hooked up with my not yet ex husband (my friend who turned lover & then husband) I thought it was a real fantasy come true. I didn’t see the mirage & spackled hard over every red flag. We were “friends” first. Apparently. We had a child ten years after the two I’d had with the overt man. She’s now 7.

      Valentine’s last year I was still “trying to work it out” living together & sharing a bedroom. But it had been a year since his announcement that he wanted out. I suspected & I decided to find the evidence I needed. I did. I found a LOT more than I expected. On Valentine’s, I moved out of the bedroom for good, I was done. I realised, with what I found, that my friend was not my friend. I was a friend, he feigned friendship to use me.

      I’m a bit triggered by this time of year. I’m living separate, got a good rental after lining up all my ducks. Look after my kids, all 3. And hear from my 7 year old about her time with schmoopie. Originally, I had nothing to stand on when this began. I’m still building my new life, free.

      Now, as I prepare for the formal divorce that he’s done nothing toward, I am starting to feel grateful. I have freed myself of those who call themselves”friends” including him. It’s a tough lesson.

      You should pat yourself on the back because you know and are capable of being a real friend! Despite all odds, you’re healing & working towards a better life. That takes courage.

      Please have a happy Valentine’s!! I love you! I’m planning on giving to myself this year, I deserve it!! So do you!

    • I don’t celebrate V.Day.

      It’s over priced, commercialised crap for something you should be doing every day of the year, not because someone says one must participate in a “pick me!” dance to outdo others. It’s basically about external validation.

      Frame that day (and every other) as you kicking arse and taking names. And those fuckers definitely deserve their arses kicked!

  • This is why I love CL. Every time I think I’ve found a place that gets my experience, a point of view that gets it AND shows me how to think about it in a healthy way, a post like this comes up and just reinforces everything. My stbx said exactly this to me – “stop playing the victim”. I find it comforting to realize what a cliche she and her cheating partner are!

  • I don’t give a crap if he thinks I’m playing the victim, as long as my support checks keep coming.

    I do care that my teenage daughter says it; I can’t defend myself without inflicting more pain on her. She has reconciled with her father, after 1.5 years of rejecting him because she felt he betrayed HER, which I agree with.

    The therapist she went to has her own mommy issues and told her his affair had nothing to do with her, which may be true but it had a HUGE impact on her and her life. My daughter spit out shit that the therapist should had never said to her.

    He couldn’t be happier to play devoted dad, even though I raised her pretty much solo for 15 years while he traveled and had his multiple affairs. He has the big job now, the girlfriend and his daughter. Meanwhile, I’m stuggling to heal, deal with a long list of losses (my home, my lifestyle, my future, my career, my identity and the death of my mother which happened in the midst of my separation.)

    My daughter kept it together throughout my breakdown, selling the house and ski cabin, and adjusting to a radically downsized lifestyle. Although she lashed out at me, she still managed to keep her grades up and didn’t act out in other ways. Her ability to cope is a testiment to the parenting I did. And he has the gall to tell me that I “sat on my ass for 15 years” when I was raising her by myself, managing two houses, two dogs and developing two business plans.

    My daughter is able to compartmentalize his behavior and he keeps the OW away from her. I started to date and although we never discussed it and she never met anyone, she was clearly angry about it. I’ve pretty much given up dating until she’s off to college next year.

    • It’s hard when you have a new relationship that is healthy and positive … and your kids can’t accept it. Worse yet when they equate him with Schmoopie … for example, when it comes to inclusion or non-inclusion in wedding invitations. It seems so unjust. Don’t I deserve to be happy now … especially after enduring so much trauma and heartache? If Schmoopie isn’t going to be invited to the wedding, why does my boyfriend have to be excluded? (I was told that it was the “fair” thing to do.)

      I know that, for my kids, my new boyfriend is just another nail in the coffin of our former, seemingly-happy family life … and just more change to endure. Maybe yet another sign that there is absolutely no hope of reconciliation with their father. And, despite knowing that their father has behaved abominably, they don’t want a 2d father figure. I just have to hope that, with time, their resentments will subside.

      And therapists! They wield such power and so often do great damage. And it’s so hard to argue against the “professionals.”

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