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Dear Chump Lady, Am I just a chump stereotype?

Dear Chump Lady,

When I found your book I had been one of the suckers that was searching the RIC sites for answers. I had no clue that someone like you existed and those sites were all I could find with my limited computer skills. Needless to say your site is my go-to place now, so thank you, because you have saved my life and my sanity. I thank you and someday my children will thank you.

When I read your book, I was aghast in that I completely identified with being a chump and the fuckwit was just as you described too. In one sense that knowledge came as a huge relief. In the other sense, it opened up an entirely new can of worms for me, which may be beyond the scope of this site.

I was left feeling like I am just a stereotype. That there isn’t any real substance to me — I am playing/was playing out a very predictable role in all of this. Even in my stages of recovery — how I am responding and the time line — is predictable, just like the life stages we all go through in this life…. a two years old’s behavior will be a two year old’s behavior and will change as the child turns into a three year old, etc….

It is a weirder than weird place to be and from which to view what I thought was my life. To try to put it into words — I am feeling used by my own personality/self to play out life as I know it on this planet.

The ‘role’ I used to play was happily married in a committed relationship and now I have been thrust into chumpdom and what I thought was my happily married life was ALL a lie as fuckwit was/is a serial cheater so my past is being rewritten as I discover all of the red flags I didn’t know existed in my ‘happily married life’. And all of this unraveling is predictable too.

‘Nothing new under the sun,’ but I hate feeling like a stereotype — so predictable. Yes, I can see from people who respond here that there is life after D-Day but the question that is looming larger still is will that new life just be another stereotyped role I wander into too?

Sincerely,

Bewildered Stereotype Chump

Dear Perfectly Unique and Singular Person,

I think you’re confusing a predictable situation with being a predictable person. Cheating is a cliche, you’re not a cliche.

People often comment to me about my book, or blog, Wow, it’s like you snuck into my living room and recorded our conversations! Or Were we married to the same person? Or they think Chump Lady has some sort of prognostic ability. Hi, it’s me 6 months later. I didn’t listen to the CN advice, and it went down just like you said…

I don’t have superpowers. All of this chump/cheater crap is predictable and eerily similar, because:

1.) I’m viewing it through a simple lens — manipulation. Not love, not potential, not subterranean FOO forces, but manipulation. I see cheating as an abusive power dynamic. When you work from that premise, the rest falls into place because…

2.) There are only so many moves on the chessboard.

If you want someone to do something, (eat shit sandwiches, don’t ask questions, never find out), and you take honest direct requests off the table (they might say no and exercise agency), that leaves manipulation and force.

Now, manipulation can be backed up with force, or the threat of it. I’ll hit you, I’ll impoverish you, I’ll take away your children, if you don’t go along with my lies. But manipulation is the name of the game. It’s lazier. I weaponize your decency, assume you’ll believe me (and you have vested interests to believe me), push a few levers, and I can get you to be my chump puppet.

Let’s look at the game board. I’ve been discovered as a cheater — I can deny it (gaslight you); admit it, but blame you for it (blameshifting); admit it, promise to end it, but don’t (cake eating, lying); admit it, but claim it’s no big deal (minimizing, gaslighting).

If you resist me?

I deploy the three channels of mindfuckeryrage (force or the threat of it), self-pity (a form of DARVO, deny, accuse, reverse victim/offender), and charm (deception).

If you read on any infidelity board for any amount of time you will see these chess moves play out over and over and over and over and over again.

Does that mean we are all the same pawn? No, it means wake the fuck up and step off the chess board. You’re living in a game.

The biggest problem chumps have after discovery is wanting to believe they are special. That their love meant something (I’m special! He cares!), that their situation is heroic (I am a strong woman loving a troubled man and our marriage will TRIUMPH! And be better than before! ), or unique (He only cheated because of a brain injury/a predatory Schmoopie/his deep-seated fear of intimacy and bees…)

It’s hard to let go of the I’M SPECIAL AND WE CAN BEAT THIS storyline. Because all those notions are much more romantic and noble. To recognize you’re being played for a chump is devastating. And not a popular message (thus the marketshare of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex).

Just because he forced you into an unwitting role (Now starring Bewildered as chump!) doesn’t mean you’re not special or worthy of love. Or that you can’t go on to have an honest relationship with an honest person. Being cheated on doesn’t say anything about you, but it says a lot about fuckwits. How shallow they are, how we’re just two-bit characters in their soap opera dramas.

will that new life just be another stereotyped role I wander into too?

No, unless you’re a two-dimensional person who is defined by others. The cure to this entire chump mindfuck is Know Your Worth. Know who you are, your values, what you’ll tolerate, and what you won’t.

You were always you. Stay true to that person, and accept no substitute game piece.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I think it is predictable because evil spiritual realities are behind it. The nothing new are those plays to destroy. I call it demonic. Evil usually isn’t original.

      • I went to a counselling session, she asked if I had been a victim of DV via emotional abuse – not me! Yes it was dysfunctional, but I had a voice! I stood up for myself! I am no victim! She said ok, let me describe a scenario to you … and in 2 mins accurately relayed my entire relationship with narc no2. So I understand how you feel, being played so easily, following a script I didn’t even know I knew. The fact is these sociopaths who live separate lives and hurt those that love them, have learnt how to say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done to achieve what they want. We might have been manipulated, our responses might have been similar, but they were honest, heartfelt and our own. You loved with your whole heart, I am glad we are the same xx

        • It took me a couple of YEARS of counseling to be able to recognize the manipulation as it whizzed by me instead of in retrospect, when I read some other chump’s story. I, too was played pretty easily, and it’s a “text book” case.

          I think the takeaway is that THEY are the stereotypes, not us. We loved with our whole hearts, and they cannot really love. It must really suck to be them.

          • Love this……Excellent summary of what we have all dealt with. Thank you, The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants:

            “I think the takeaway is that THEY are the stereotypes, not us. We loved with our whole hearts, and they cannot really love. It must really suck to be them.”

            Love to all as we continue to ForgeOn!!!

    • I came to the very same conclusion in my 4-year long post-chumpdom life.
      And I’m not even religious, so that should say a lot.

      It made me understand what religions have warned us about for millennia.

      • Agreed.

        I used to think of it as my husband’s demon. It helped me set my boundaries against that and his drinking. My father was an alcoholic cheater. When I realized that I’d jumped into the family pattern my first thought was “what would work with my father?”

        And the answer, of course was “nothing.”

        Whenever my husband tried to present some new angle or lie or plea to come home, in my mind I would just tell myself “don’t negotiate with his demon.” Because demons don’t negotiate in good faith. They devour.

        And I’m not even 100% sure of my faith most days. A lot of times it’s less than 50%.

        But I could just feel he evil seeping into my life from all of that and I was not willing to tolerate it. I also knew he was the only person who could evict it if he chose and that none of that was on me.

        • Thank you for posting this, Alexandra. You are so right. You can’t negotiate because they only devour.

          I felt I came close to losing my faith as well, but what has replaced it is a purified, wiser faith that sees through a lot of fluff and manipulation. Once you get rid of a cheater, it is good to evaluate all of the other “user” relationships you might have tolerated before in the name of being the bigger person or “loving them like Christ would.” No one is improved by not acknowledging the truth.

          • So true, Finding Bliss. Over a period of time, I re-evaluated my relationships and due to happenstance, crisis, and just plain “I’m done with this”, I am no contact my sister & brother-in-law and low contact with my son. I can live with this.

          • This whole experience is such a rug-pull for people that it is easy for one who doesn’t:
            – hear God’s voice ( albeit rare for me personally, and for those who would have a Mind Screen activated telling them “that’s nuts”? No, person. It’s as sane as can be. Aid with personal concerns and personal growth, and so on, like a good Dad would.)

            – feel His guidance at times
            – or have a strong, Bible-based, informed faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

            ; easy for them to let the overpowering Reality shift in their mind “throw the baby out with the bath water” and abandon what connection they Do have with God. If you’re a Christian, you have one.

            Read about Jesus in the Bible. In the book of Matthew, particularly, you will see what “loving them like Christ would” actually means.

            Jesus challenged people who were using others, like the Pharasee ruler-priests of 2000-years-ago Israel. He cared about them as beings, but he got in their face!

            “Turn the other cheek” is misunderstood and intentionally used to make people feel like they shouldn’t fight back.

            Jesus said that persecution was coming, and he told his followers that if they didn’t own a sword, they should seek something and buy one.

            God the Father has the same opinions as the Son, which Jesus also spells out.

            God wants you to care about others. He wants you to have compassion for that customer service person having a bad day.

            God also plainly wants us to challenge real Evil (not just hate who your politicians and press tell you to).

            And God is big on you defending yourself when you’re attacked. Seek Him out by praying with sincerity. He watches what happens to the sparrows, and He cares about you much more.

            • This whole experience is such a rug-pull for people that it is easy for one who doesn’t:
              – hear God’s voice ( albeit rare for me personally, and for those who would have a Mind Screen activated telling them “that’s nuts”? No, person. It’s as sane as can be. Aid with personal concerns and personal growth, and so on, like a good Dad would.)

              – feel His guidance at times
              – or have a strong, Bible-based, informed faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

              ; easy for them to let the overpowering Reality shift in their mind “throw the baby out with the bath water” and abandon what connection they Do have with God. If you’re a Christian, you have one.

              Read about Jesus in the Bible. In the book of Matthew, particularly, you will see what “loving them like Christ would” actually means.

              Jesus challenged people who were using others, like the Pharasee ruler-priests of 2000-years-ago Israel. He cared about them as beings, but he got in their face!

              “Turn the other cheek” is misunderstood and intentionally used to make people feel like they shouldn’t fight back.

              Jesus said that persecution was coming, and he told his followers that if they didn’t own a sword, they should sell something and buy one.

              God the Father has the same opinions as the Son, which Jesus also spells out.

              God wants you to care about others. He wants you to have compassion for that customer service person having a bad day.

              God also plainly wants us to challenge real Evil (not just hate who your politicians and press tell you to).

              And God is big on you defending yourself when you’re attacked. Seek Him out by praying with sincerity. He watches what happens to the sparrows, and He cares about you much more.

              “Seek”

      • I don’t consider myself religious either but I clearly remember the day when I looked into his eyes and felt a chilling fear run through me and the words ‘he has been taken over by something evil’ ran through my mind. I had him elevated to the level of being a saint so when his aberrant behavior reared its ugly head I seriously considered that he had a brain tumor or something….Now I know many of us think the same thing – being fooled by their charm.

        No saint but I still question the part about evil and don’t dismiss it like I used to.

    • Well said Divorce Minister. You can see the same patterns of evil for thousands of years. But humans pass and new ones are born , so it’s a constant cycle of life lessons over and over again through the ages

    • @Divorce Minister – YES evil is absolutey behind this. Predictable, destructable, demonic, unoriginal, Spot On…..

    • Yes! and once you see, you cannot unsee. “I see dead people”…. well, yes, In a way? they are dead because they don’t have a conscience. When you don’t have a conscience you are wide open for take over from these evil entities, and you’ll never it, you are just a pawn. That is why in one sense I pity them – but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever go near one/them again.

  • That is the hardest thing–to realize you are not in a relationship. You are in a game, and you are losing.

    Knowledge is power. Take back your power. Step off the chessboard.

    I am one who spent way too long thinking I could save the Cheater. And every time I turned around, I’d find some new shenanigan. I think Chumps take the specialness another way too–we think the Cheater is only bad to us, that somehow it is something in us.

    The most shocking thing the past few months has been for me to see Cheater treat our children the same way he treated me–discarding them as soon as they gave him anything less than full adoration. I don’t know why, but I always thought he was a great dad, even if he was a shitty husband. I never thought he’d do that to them.

    But now, here we are. And the prophecies of Chump Lady came true–bad character is bad character and it will come out eventually. He wasn’t a good Dad–he just had good kids who tried hard to make him happy. Just like he wasn’t a great husband, he just had a good wife who covered up for him a lot. But eventually, we can’t cover for him anymore, and there he is–the monster he always really was.

    • …Just like he wasn’t a great husband, he just had a good wife who covered up for him a lot. But

      eventually, we can’t cover for him anymore, and there he is–the monster he always really was…

      Wow. Thank you for this. What powerful words.

    • Very powerful Carol39, I agree with Jodi.

      Sparkledick’s father was exactly like him, sparkles used to criticize him and complain about him so I was confident that he had leaned a strong moral lesson through his father’s evil.

      Nowadays I think sparkles was, in truth, upset about what he lost (the family suffered big financial losses because FIL’s last OW was very sly and FIL abandoned his business for her). There was even a red flag for me: I warned sparkles and his brothers that their mother was actually going hungry and no one lifted a finger to help her. Awful behavior.

      MIL finally gave up the pick-me dance and through divorce got alimony and only one of my 7 BILs helped her with that. Sparkles was totally indifferent.

      • ClearWaters…x was the same way…his dad cheated and everyone knew it including x, his sister and his mother….MIL was a doormat and blamed all the OW for them “poontanging” in front of her wonderful hubs (that was from Smokey and the Bandit not her BTW lol). Like your x, my x was supposedly incredibly embarrassed and hated his dad with a passion for what he did to mom. Little did I know 9 years later i would get dumped like a stale jelly bean by x for the OW.

        I never played the pick me dance. In fact, when he told me over the phone he was leaving my sorry ass i just said “ummm…ok…” I was in utter shock because we hardly ever argued and i thought my marriage was happy! I did so much for us and him and in the end got thrown away like garbage. I definitely learned some valuable lessons and I am still discovering me.

        x is a statistic…he married the OW, she is still waiting on her immigration papers so she can live here in the USA (shes in Japan) permanently, he’s paying child support and i got part of his retirement, he still hasn’t learned..all he did was replace me with a younger wife appliance and he’s desperately trying to grasp onto his youth vicariously thru her (she’s 27, he’s 39).

        I’m making my way to the front row of this clusterfuck, spilling buttered popcorn along the way…i can see my seat up front and im almost there…Anyone wanna come sit with me? I have some super yummy popcorn drenched in butter and an ice cold Pepsi! All is ask is that you don’t tell me the ending because you already know, OK? No spoilers!! LOL!!

        In the words of the beautiful and witty ChumpLady…”The Karma bus is at the top of the hill and revving its engine”..Sounds like an action packed movie! #nomoremoves #isuckatchess #sadsausage #chumpnomore #karmabus #vroomvroom #igotthis

        • YO!!! lasvegaschump! Throw something on the seat next to you, I’m on my way! Front row seat sounds good. Guess I better grab a fresh tub of popcorn on my way in, since you’re spilling yours all over the place! Can I bring beer?! I guarantee we will pee our pants laughing!!

          Yeppers…..cheaterpants always said what a jerk his dad was / never wanted to be like him / all that poo. Well, guess what? I believe he out-did his dad! LOL! Oh, well….Silly him

          Love to you as you ForgeOn! to a much more joyful life

          • How funny and not in the haha way. My cheater’s dad ran off with his 20 year younger secretary, leaving his sick mother. Cheater told me his father humiliated the entire family and brought great shame to them and never really forgave his dad for that. What do you know? The apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.

    • Very powerful words! Thank you. I’m going to commit these sentences to memory.

      CL is correct as always, it was a game, we were moving pieces, it wasnt love. It’s difficult to look back on a life with someone, whether it was a few years or a few decades, and wonder “was any part of it real?”

      My fuckwit had me convinced that I was unlovable and a difficult woman. Now that I’m free of him, I can see that I’m none of those things. Many days (most) are very hard, because I’m dealing with his lashing out at me, and picking up the pieces of my kids after they spend a week with him and his bad parenting. But I am now more of myself than I ever have been. I’m not trying to play the role of supportive wife to a fuckwit who was never happy with anything I did, and constantly criticized me. THAT made me anxious and feeling crazy.

      I am not a difficult person. I am loveable. And I didn’t deserve what happened to me.

      • I was told that no one in their right mind would fuck me. Ex told me repeatedly that I was never happy, and he could never make me happy. At the time I felt happy.
        He complained that I didn’t run up to the door with a kiss to great him when he came home.
        We never had that kind of relationship where I’d run up to the door to greet him with a kiss.
        Even though it felt awkward I made sure I’d greet him with a kiss I’m when he came home. He then claimed I was patronizing him.
        I avoided voicing my opinion as I was afraid that if I didn’t agree with cheater he would use it as evidence that I’m never happy. One morning he had gone downstairs before me and I asked if he had made coffee, he responded with are you bitching again? then went into his rant that I was never happy..
        Looking back it was ex who was unhappy and it was a classic case of gaslighting .

      • All of this. Wonderfully stated. What a revelation to discover that I’m actually pretty great. I had forgotten because my cheater spent years convincing me otherwise.

    • Standing ovation for this truth. I didn’t cover all my basis in the divorce regarding the kids and financials. And the kids and I are paying the price now. I thought he was a good dad. Nope. He’s a disordered freak and is nothing but a monster in full image management/charm mode to everyone but us.

      Upon graduation from high school, he dropped paying for any of their needs like insurance. He’s a doctor making about $300k per year, bought a huge house, taking many tropical vacations with schmoopie, but wouldn’t give our DD lunch money or field trip money. Would tell her to ask me because he just paid me child support (the state mandated amount that caps income calculation to $80k).

      Trust that they suck in all areas of their life, not only with being a cheater.

    • I also thought this Carol. 3 months before he abandoned me he had a weekend with our adult daughters (at college, 5 hours away). They had great bonding times where the daughters talked about historical fights with Mom and how they struggled to get along with me sometimes as they were growing up. The Asshat used those stories as Exhibits A-Z of how I am the most terrible person ever and deserved to be abandoned by e-mail after 28 years married. According to him “everyone agrees” Mom needs to be amputated from the family and he simply had to escape.

      It was all a ruse so he could abandon me without taking any responsibility. He didn’t want to admit he was chasing a European chick half his age (she is our eldest daughter’s age). He had zero problem laying the tremendous burden of guilt on our daughters that they somehow caused the destruction of our family because they revealed Mom-relationship things to their father. He used them to hide behind so he could chase strange pussy.

      Within several months of declaring he was “doing this for them” and was going to “be there for our daughters” he moved to Europe to be with the young ho-worker chick. As I had predicted within days of roofing on me, he also abandoned his daughters. He missed both college graduations last summer and said he was pursuing his true happiness above all else. Our daughters couldn’t help but notice that his “happiness” blatantly didn’t include them in his life and seemed to only extend to the end of his dick.

      Our daughters are now NC with him. They see how he abandoned them too. They are second guessing everything he ever did in his life and realize how much of it was Disney Dad crapola while I was left with the actual raising-the-kids duties. They see that our occasional arguments were normal teenage/mom friction. They see his is a complete piece of shit while I have done the emotional labor with them to examine our past and understand each other better. I am the one there as they navigate young adult life and deal with their first professional jobs, roommates, and boys. We are doing really well and realize we don’t need him at all.

      He is a childish and manipulative, selfish, petulant, creep of a person. He is a completely inadequate husband and father.

      • Now I.C., so glad you got your daughters back. Looks like your ex was using them as props and image management. My ex does (did) exactly the same with my sons, they no longer fall for this shit.

    • Carol 39, elegantly put. I always thought he was a good dad and he wouldn’t abandon our kids the way he abandoned me… But here we are too. Bad character is bad character… I am stealing this

    • I think what you say about cheaters eventually treating their kids just as shitty is probably true. I continue to hold out hope that the relationship with children versus a lover is sufficiently different that cheater just might be sincere and not f*@# it up. For the sake of my child, I remain hopeful. But ultimately, I do suspect you are right. Sad but out of my control.

      • I don’t think it matters who the relationship is with — once a person is onto them, cheater freaks will turn and crap all over them for blowing their cover. Only flying monkeys who never falter in their worship are immune.

      • It is sad, but there are some things you can control. For example, working on the assumption that my ex will drop our daughter like a hit rock when she doesn’t serve his needs anymore, I work in fortifying her self confidence and esteem so she can weather that storm when it comes. I say often how her job is not to make her parents happy but to be the best version of herself. When appropriate and in neutral tone, I tell her flat out when I disagree with a parenting choice her dad is making and I supplement by reminding her how we do things in our house. We sometimes talk about what disordered behavior looks like so that when he starts in on her she can recognize it and defend herself. Mostly, I stay the safe, sane, and stable parent.

        These things aren’t a perfect defense but it’s something I can control and that brings me a small amount of relief.

    • It got to the point one day where I was just like “are you kidding? You need to be supervised like a 2 year-old. Ugh. I’m not dealing with that.”

      I often found he would try to put me in these mother-type situations, like he would do something messed-up and then react to it like I had done some crazy reaction like his mother does.

      And I’d just be sitting there like “well, clearly you don’t need me for this argument, or whatever the Hell this is.”

      It was so weird and really disgusted me.

      I started saying “whatever. Xyz is your problem, not mine. I’m not your Mom.”

      “I’m not your Mom” became a semi-regular line in our arguments.

      I just can’t underline how disgusted I was by this. It was like having a third person in our marriage. Well, before I found out there were more peopke than that in our marriage and that he was probably internally villifying me as “being like his mother” or some shit just to justify messing around.

    • Carol39, WOW! Well said. Copied and pasted into my “Chump Words of Wisdom” folder.

      My ex wasn’t a good dad. He was only a good dad with my coaching and telling him that he was missing out on our kids lives by working seven days a week and every single night after he got home from work. He showed up when he needed to for school events and his role as leader of the Christian-type Boy Scouts our son belonged to. He only became a leader because of image management and kibbles of adoration from the other leaders. Every single thing our kids were involved in was because of me. I took care of everything. He just showed up and took the credit.

      My ex always wanted two wreaths on the front of the house at Christmastime. Did it ever happen? No, because he was too lazy to do it for his family and expected me to add that to the hundreds of other things I was taking care of. His house post-divorce? Two wreaths on the house, plus lights outside. I wasn’t stalking. I drove there once so my daughter could go in and get something. He put lights and wreaths up to impress his whore, but he wouldn’t do it for his own family. My son always wanted lights on the bushes in front of the house. We had done it for a few years, but I got tired of doing EVERYTHING for the holidays. Well, our son wanted it so bad that he put lights on the bushes and trees for a few hours and it was freezing out. He was probably about 12 years old. What did the cheater do while son was out freezing his butt off? He sat at his desk in his den and “worked” the entire time. And his den was in the front of the house and he could see his 12 year old son outside, struggling with the lights. Did he go help? Nope! Did I go help? Yes, I did for a little while. He’s a selfish, self-centered asshole. And everything he’s doing for them right now is for image management. I have no doubt in my mind that his mommy has been coaching him from the beginning as she said, “He’s going to lose Bobby(son).” And his whore is watching, so no doubt he’s doing it to make himself seem like Father of the Year. He doesn’t fool me one bit. The only good thing is that my kids are finally getting the attention they always deserved.

      But my son is not stupid. He went off to the military almost two years ago and the only contact we could have with him during Boot Camp was letters. The asshole was over-the-top in his correspondences with our son. He even went so far to call quite a few number to where son was at to see if son was receiving his mail, as we weren’t getting any letters back from him. Son wrote in his daily journal that my son said I could read, something like, “Dad is trying too hard.” Kids are not stupid.

        • Wow, I never looked at it like that, Chumpinrecovery! I took him calling the military post office and other numbers as him worrying that our son wasn’t getting anything from him. And son would take it as if his dad didn’t care enough to write during Boot Camp. Overnight his dad turned into Disney Dad; doing stuff with the kids that he never ever did. But it’s quite possible letters back would be kibble for the narc.

          • OMG, when my son was in USMC Boot Camp the absolute best way to get the drill instructors to single you out for “special treatment” was to have one of your parents try to contact you via phone. We were under strict instructions to never, ever even think about calling unless there was death in the immediate family (grandparents didn’t count), and then we had to go through the Red Cross. But X, like so many disordered spouses, counted on me to notify him of the various rules, and at least he followed that one. In any case, I hope your son didn’t suffer any consequences because of his dad’s pathetic search for kibbles!

            • I think the disordered X only called USAFA’s post office and a few other offices there. He didn’t request to speak to DS. He was just wondering if the mail he was sending him was getting to him. X told me he did all this via email. I ignored X’s stupidity and saw it for what it was — overkill concern that DS wasn’t getting his email and that would ruin his image management as Father/Cheater of the Year. I think DS only said that about his dad, because I’m guessing the cheater was writing every single and who knows what else he was up to. DS just saw it as his dad “trying too hard”. I myself did not write every day. Every few days. I thought and prayed for him constantly, so he was on my mind all the time, but I had a hard time thinking of things to write about as I was in school at the time and so very depressed as to all the losses I was going through. DS KNEW I thought about him all the time as my actions his entire life proved that to be true! I didn’t need to write every single day to prove that I loved him and that I was involved in his life. The cheater on the other hand has been over-the-top involved since the day after we told the kids we were getting a divorce. He wasn’t like that AT ALL their entire life until that day. He’s such a fraud!

    • Wow Carol39 ……!!

      “He wasn’t a good Dad–he just had good kids who tried hard to make him happy. Just like he wasn’t a great husband, he just had a good wife who covered up for him a lot. But eventually, we can’t cover for him anymore, and there he is–the monster he always really was.”

      This exactly. I couldn’t have put it better. Thank You.

    • Wow Carol39 this is exactly what I have learned the last 6 months from going no contact. My daughter got married 2 weeks ago and he manipulated his way out of coming. He is a coward and despicable human. I thought he loved his daughters but his true colors are showing. He rarely contacts them and the discard he has for his children is mind blowing.

    • Right on.

      When I finally saw the behavior going on with my children for what it was it was yet another eye opener but, alas, like everything on this road – it was there all along. I just couldn’t see it for what it was and always made up excuses for his behavior.

      My children are all young adults now and will have to come to terms with his behavior on their own. For the most part, I keep my mouth shut and only say anything if asked.

    • ….the statement about loss of adoration from the kids…..thank you for saying this, because I have not been able to clearly wrap my mind around the fact that he has been present as long as they were being “good daughters” but now that they are reacting to his new life (that I’m guessing he wants their blessings on) he has distanced himself. I’ve felt that he’s treating them like he did me but couldn’t put the “how” or “ why” to words. Thanks!!!

  • I think a huge step towards peace is to stop caring what other people think. Not that it’s easy to do, but when you let go of other people’s judgement of you-real or perceived-you can claim an honest life. An honest life is satisfying and I think it attracts other like minded individuals once you practice trusting your gut about how to live.

    • I agree with you, I’ve always done me and to hell with what others think. However, we do care about some people because we love them, or respect them and like them. We don’t change to accommodate them but we do trust them and expect them to trust us, return our feelings and believe our truths. So of course, when the assholes smear us we will tell those people the truth. If they don’t believe us, they don’t trust us, gotta let those people go. They were never truly our friend to begin with. At least that is my POV.

    • Definitely agree! More than anything else, this step of healing helped propel me into the now. Took a lot of mental work and concentrated daily training, but, my gawd, has it paid off well : )

      Thank you for reminding people of this, NoRainNoFlowers and Dat!
      (Dat, you were one of the originals here whose words helped save me when I was under . Love to you!! Good to *see* you, and wishing you much brightness and love)
      CL and CN is the best people

  • Dearest Bewildered and Chump Lady,

    Thank you for a brilliant question and for a brilliant answer. I feel embraced. In fact, Bewildered, on days with posts like this I become more and more convinced that the people that come to Chump Nation are very smart, decent people.

    In Primo Levi’s book, If This is a Man, he makes the point that if any of us ended up in a concentration camp, most would still maintain their humanity. There is nothing stereotypical about that. Our cheaters are the inhuman part.

    Thank you for your honest question, Bewildered, and a big hug to you.

    • Thank you. I agree about the people here and their questions and responses. I was living in the dark and didn’t even know how dark it was until I found CL’s book and now, after finding this blog, I feel like I am stepping into a new life that I didn’t know even existed. I feel among friends here and my only regret is that each one of us has found our way here through the devastation of betrayal. Something so painful leading to something so hopeful – something I never imagined was available to me.

  • I use the chess analogy often. Usually when asked how I could have been so blindsided or how could she have stolen so much (implying of course I must be stupid, wasn’t paying attention, ignored the signs…). I say by the time I realized I was even playing a game of chess she had already captured my queen, both knights, a bishop and a rook. She was 10 moves ahead of me the whole time. I didn’t even know we were playing.

    • I hope you have already or will soon find a good worthy partnership in which you will again be equally clueless and not looking 10 moves ahead. That is no way to love. We shouldn’t have to view the world that way even after what we’ve all been through. Choose carefully but hopefully leave the vigilance and relationship policing at the curb. Easier said than done!

    • Yes, that’s exactly how I felt. I was playing a game with him, but I didn’t know it. He had the rules and changed the rules (moved the goalposts) when he needed to. I was losing right from the very beginning, but didn’t know it. And I would never win no matter how hard I tried.

      • Same here. It was a game and he had the instructions and consistently changed the rules. I consider myself a smart girl who can figure things out pretty fast. But not in this game. It took a long time for me to really see what was happening and say “I quit”.

  • Wow, this has to be the BEST post you have done, if not one of the best for sure. I am still on the chess board but I am owning that. My husband has changed behavior etc but there is always the risk it is more charm and deception, and I still have to keep an eye out. So much of what you say really cuts to the point, and yes, we spend so much time working out whether we are truly lovable or was it just that they were not able to love us? You always remind us that yes we are lovable. Especially when it doesn’t matter how much underhanded lying and manipulation they have done and used on you, someone says something like, well there is always two sides to a relationship, for example. Not many people want to face that humans exist that truly can be that disordered and calculating, but Chump Lady, you spoke up and gave us a voice, even if no-one wants to hear, we do! We need it!

    • Julie-Anne,
      You are investing too much of your valuable energy directed at a thing that just doesn’t give a crap about you. I am giving you a virtual hug for strength because your path is life-Long tough and it will eat you either emotionally or physically.

      Please direct your energy and time into advancing your career, or re-training for a future career. Invest in your emotional well being and your children’s well being. Become emotionally and financially independent in this arrangement. Do NOT tell him. You must protect yourself. Staying with a willfully deceitful person puts you into a parent-police role. That is not a marriage, that is an arrangement.

      Take very good care of yourself.

    • Julie-Ann, friends told me I was “owning” the situation after I discovered the EA and was in full boundary-setting, marriage policing mode No I wasn’t, the discard happened anyway. I could never control or own him and wouldn’t want to. I owned the situation when I told him to leave the family home for good and jettisoned all the drama and mind-fuckery.
      Your husband may have changed behaviour, but its ten to one he has not changed in character, which is what enabled him to cheat and deceive. Do you really want to gift your precious loveable self every day to someone you have to ‘keep an eye on’? That’s not winning the game.

  • You’re not the stereotype, the cheater is. You’re responding in a naturally human way to being ruthlessly deceived and used by a horrible person, and he’s acting like a cartoon character because he *has* no real character. He has no authentic identity. All he has for a guiding principle of life is “me first”.
    IOW, you’re a normal person and he’s a nutcluster. The situations look the same because cheaters are pretty much all the same. They differ only in the degree of fuckwittery. The worst of them employ physical abuse and death threats to keep you in line, but almost all of them gaslight, minimize and blameshift at some point. They even use the same shopworn lines, such as; “So I made a mistake. You’re not perfect either!”, “It just happened!”, “You weren’t meeting my needs.”, “I’m a sex addict.”, “S/he’s just a friend! You won’t let me have friends!” etc, ad nauseum. Some of them fake remorse and pretend to want to reconcile, which is a phony concept to begin with that RIC charlatans make a lot of money off of. There is zero evidence that such “reconciliations” work. Just because they stay together doesn’t prove it is a happy union, and the recon blogs and sites are full of utterly miserable people. My sense is that is rarely leads to anything but a life of constant insecurity for the chump. At a guess. I’d say about 5% or less come through it with a truly salvaged marriage where trust is restored, and those are the ones where the cheater had a brief fling (a one or two nighter), was truly remorseful, immediately confessed, then did the work to repair it.
    Other cheaters, on the other hand, are stone cold sociopaths and just leave once you’ve seen the monster behind the mask. They basically only come in those three varieties.
    Their techniques don’t vary, so why would our responses? We are shattered emotionally because we loved. They did not. Bewildered, it’s been 10 months for me and I’m still suicidal. Last night, thought I wasn’t going to last the night. I have cptsd, which is a common effect of emotional abuse. I had 32 years with this bastard and discovered it was all a lie. It made me flash back to past horrors I had mostly blocked out because they were too painful to deal with. It has opened up a well of sorrow so deep that sometimes I think I can never climb out. Does that make me a sterotype because I’m a blubbering mess, lying on the floor wanting to die? No, it makes the cheater a scumbag who showed reckless disregard for my life and both my mental and physical health.
    You are not the problem. You will be better someday, as will I. But the cheater will always be a cartoon cut-out of a person. Don’t let this define you. The only way past the the grieving is straight through. I know the other side is going to be good, if I can only get there. Please keep coming here for support so you can get there too.

    • Please Please never hurt yourself over a fuckwit .
      I have been in the same position thinking well maybe it would just stop the pain stop everything if i was not here any longer. But i know i have something to offer this earth i know i have love and kindness in me i know i am a good person . I know you are all of these things to (( Big Hugs )) take care of yourself x

      • Thank you for your kind words, Karen. I know I’m a good person and have worth. It’s not about that or about the fuckwit. My mental health problems are also complicated by a painful physical illness. It is so hard to bear both at the same time. I’ve been sick for over 20 years, getting worse and will die from this. I have accepted that for quite some time. It’s just that adding mental illness on top of it is proving to be too much of a load to carry. I am staying alive for the sake of my daughter and my dogs. I promised her I would do all I could to tough it out and not leave her alone with the lying, cheating father she hates as her only guardian. But it’s brutally hard every single day and I am barely functional, often unable to even eat. I spend as much of my time sleeping as I can just to escape the agony.
        Thanks for the pep talk. I appreciate it and I’ll keep trying. You wonderful folks at CN are a lifeline for me.

        • Hugs to you, Chumperella, your post really shows just how loving and strong you really are. Your daughter is blessed to have a mother who will fight for her wellbeing. You are so mighty, even when you are physically weak.

        • More hugs being sent your way. I really don’t know what else to offer other than thank you for looking after your daughter.

        • I know how terrible this must be for you. Do you have any family members close by that you could trust to be deeply involved with your daughter in event of an emergency, or a close family friend?

          Please take care of yourself.

          • Yes, I have my mom. She was an asshole to me about leaving the cheater, but she’s good to my daughter. Thanks for asking, Soldiering.

    • Awwww, Chumperella. I just want to give you the biggest hug and tell you it’s going to be alright. I can’t say I totally understand, because I don’t have physical health problems. But I did have mental health problems and it was all caused by the cheater and all he did to me. My kids were the only thing keeping me alive too. I would never kill myself, because of the cheater; I don’t want him and wished I never met him! You just want the pain to stop. And I’m sure you have read many times that your pain would then be transferred to your daughter. I have told my doctor many times that I would never kill myself, because of my kids. I love them too much to hurt them permanently. I hope you are reaching out and getting help. Call someone to talk. Go to CN forum. Antidepressants if you aren’t on them. Please don’t give up. If you give up, your cheater will be able to say, “See? I told you she was crazy/unstable/etc.” My ex started a huge, lie-filled smear campaign behind my back before I even knew what was going on. He was months, if not years ahead of me. And then he set into action his plan to drive me crazy. And I was acting crazy, because I felt like I was going crazy with all the lies, gaslighting and history rewriting. He was telling everyone I was crazy six months BEFORE I started acting crazy. There is no way in hell I’m going to prove him right!!! And you are only ten months out. You have a lot of healing to do and that takes time. At ten months out I was in horrible shape. I’m now almost five years out and finally getting close to meh. I did a lot of things to slow my progress, but I’m trying to rectify those things now. ((((BIG HUGS)))), Chumperella! Your daughter needs you and your life is not defined by what this scumbag did to you. You WILL get to meh someday!

      • “I weaponize your decency, assume you’ll believe me (and you have vested interests to believe me), push a few levers, and I can get you to be my chump puppet.”

        Chumperella, I’ve seen the monster behind the mask. You’re not his puppet. I too fought through years of newly realized truths. I’m here to tell you that you can pull yourself out of that pit of lies.

        Having repeatedly suffered through the phases/cycles for the entirety of my marriage (36 years) i filed. I’d read that some don’t recover from this long term abuse. That made me fight harder.

        Make that promise to fight for yourself. You can and will survive.

        • I have made that promise, DM. The problem is, I can’t even divorce the jerk because I badly need his health plan. So it’s a permanent separation. It sucks.

      • So he set up that narrative, then tried to drive you crazy to prove himself right? Wow, that sicko is hardcore.
        I’m so sorry you had to deal with somebody that evil. My cheater isn’t that bad and is also not clever enough to plan ahead like that.

        I’m on anti-depressants which do nothing and therapy didn’t help either. I’m just toughing it out and hanging on by my fingernails. I’ll make it. I have my daughter and my two beloved dogs to take care of, so I have to. Thank you for being such a good and caring person, Martha.

        • ((((HUGS!!!)))) Chumperella…….Have you considered going off those antis, seeings how they are not helping? There is a lot of authoritative info showing these drugs do nothing to actually improve one’s situation; however, they do contribute to mental / physical decline. (Just read the package insert that comes with the prescription!)
          Please, look into this therapy: https://www.bodytalksystem.com/ The therapist I found also uses a bio-energetic medicine system called Qest 4. This is a link to an explanation of how it works. https://www.heathersherbals.com/services/qest4
          Both of these are holistic approaches—physical & emotional issues are inextricably intertwined. You do not need multiple session to get significant relief / improvement. And it is affordable. My session included BodyTalk, Qest4 and 2 bottles of homeopathic drops, all for $159.00. To me, that is affordable, even though I did have to save up for it. Especially since I got a lot of relief, improvement, insight, etc with a single session. Now, I recommend it to everyone I can. Some other chumps mentioned doing this therapy and experiencing excellent improvements, as well
          Love to you as you ForgeOn!

    • Chumperella,
      I am impressed about how clear-headed and supportive you are considering your emotional condition. I, too, have experienced those ‘Dark Nights of the Soul’ quite often. Don’t let the F—ktards win! Sending you a virtual hug.

        • You’re a giant of strength and resilience Chumperella, wishing you a splendid day today X

    • “Other cheaters, on the other hand, are stone cold sociopaths and just leave once you’ve seen the monster behind the mask”. This is why I love reading post here. It really helps put his actions and my responses into perspective. And after the divorce, he told me he didn’t try because he felt I would never forgive him. But in reality he was saying “you and the kids have seen the true version of me and I can’t come back from that”

      Please keep sharing your truths.

  • The saying is that there’s a grain of truth in every stereotype or cliché; that’s why it’s a stereotype or cliché. There are certain “rules” that people tend to follow—as cheaters, as chumps, as happily married people, as parents, etc. There’s nothing truly new under the sun. And it sucks to discover, through this shitty experience, that even though we’re all unique and special in many ways, we’re also subject to those “rules.”

    But maybe try reframing that in a positive way. Being conscious of this fact (many go through life completely oblivious) gives you access to a hidden road map. But a road map doesn’t tell you where to go or what to do; it just lays out potential routes and gives you the understanding and the power to choose among them. That’s where you are now. Use that hard-won road map to your own advantage. Going forward in your post-chump life, which direction to you want to take? Which attractions will you visit? Which will you avoid? Maybe you’ll choose to go “off road” in some places. Maybe you’ll stop and spend a while getting to know some other places before you move on. Maybe you’ll find a new home and settle down in a place you never even knew existed before.

    I don’t know if this reframing will help you, but maybe it will. For me, being chumped (and all the attendant clichés) rocked my world and my sense of agency in it. Looking at it this way gives back a bit of the power that was stolen. I hope it does something similar for you.

    <3 NotAfraid

    • I love this so much, NotAfraid! I love maps and traveling. This is so perfect! Copied and pasted to my Chump Wisdom folder. Thank you!

    • Thanks for this. I really like analogies in that they create a vivid mental picture for me and yours is teeming with possibilities.

  • I understand how you feel about being a stereotype. My father was a cheater. And my cheaters father was a cheater too. My mother stayed with him way too long and it made her mentally ill. My cheaters mother was never the same after her cheating husband left. I felt like I was playing the role I was destined for when I found out my cheater had been at it for years and had been brutally gaslighting me. But I’m changing the narrative for myself. I left him, I am in therapy, I am creating a different environment for my kids, am I am becoming happier and more free than I’ve been in years. I’m realizing more and more how much control the cheater had over me, our relationship and family. I’m doing things my way now. I still have nightmares about his lying and cheating – how blasé he was about it and how he figured I’d never find out. But I wake up in my own apt with my pup by my side and my son in his room next to mine and I shake it off and know that I will never be in that place again. Flip you script and take your life back. It’s a lot of work but it’s beyond rewarding.

  • THIS >>>>>>>>>>> “I weaponize your decency” <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    The irony of this psychological warfare is: you didn't even know your own will/decency/ morality, was being used against you.

  • Bewildered Stereotype Chump — I think you’re confusing your purpose with what you refer to as your ‘role’:

    “The ‘role’ I used to play was happily married in a committed relationship . . .”

    Because we chumps bond to those we commit to, our purpose — the thing gives our life meaning and drives us forward every day instead of just going through the motions — is to live up to standards that a happy, committed relationship demands.

    To paraphrase countless thought leaders on the subject: “If you want that thing, BE that thing.”

    The reason you feel like a strereotype MAY because we know such honest, committed relationships are not only possible, but are the basis upon which a decent society flourishes.

    This article may help: it not only reinforces the idea of rediscovering what is meaningful to you, and then you filling your life with more of the things that allow you to pursue that kind of meaning, but it also does a good job of explaining why the cheater’s eternal quest for ‘happiness’ is a fool’s errand.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/05/16/looking-for-happiness-try-purpose-instead/urhn1rvUiyNzPyFzR4RncI/story.html?p1=HP_Feed_ContentQuery

  • I think a lot of us despise the notion of being perceived as a cliche. But life places us in certain cliche-like roles and circumstances whether we like it or not – soccer mom, weekend warrior, rush hour commuter, single parent, etc. When I was a teenager I didn’t like being perceived as a typical teenager, but despite my best efforts to avoid the stereotype, some teenage behaviors and circumstances were unavoidable.

    I think constant vigilance and concern about how we are perceived is a flawed strategy. The best approach is to intentionally live our most authentic life, free from concern of others’ perceptions. If you simply remember “to thine own self be true” everything tends to fall into place. The only person you’re forced to live with for the rest of your life is you. Endeavor to make yourself a person you would like to live with.

    • Excellent advice. Be true to yourself. Also, be kind and generous to those who are deserving, and cast the undeserving scum from your life. We all had to learn in the hardest possible way that some of the people we thought were deserving of our love and nurturing are not. That includes Switzerland friends and family as well as the cheater. We need to cut out the dead wood and burn those bridges to the ground, then find a new tribe.

      • This^^^^^^ has probably been the biggest lesson I learned in all this. Old Martha used to “try harder” with the undeserving scum. New Martha gives people a few chances to show who they truly are and when they prove to be scum (or liars, or manipulators, or cheaters, or users), I no longer “play” with them. In work situations, I will be kind, helpful when needed and respectful. But once someone rips my head off or does something sneaky behind my back; I’m done with anything looking like friendship or relationship. Like I said, I will still be kind, helpful and respectful, but there will be no relationship. Learning this boundary stuff one day at a time!

        • I’ve come to accept that reinforcing my personal boundaries will be a daily practice until the day I die. Some days I do it effortlessly, others I fail and it can be exhausting at times.

    • Such good advice Gratefully divorced dad. This I believe is the best lesson I have learned from my divorce. I can only take care of me and I deserve the best life ever. Now the fuckwit is out of my life I am taking care of me and finding my true self again. Trying to be authentic.

    • GDV,
      Now that I know what I am ‘playing’ with I can see the truth of your words. I thought I was ‘before’ and had my rude awakenings. On my own now I feel like I am more in control and on the ‘right’ path although this is all totally new territory for me so confusion still reigns at time.

  • Wow.

    I’ve often wondered if I’m not always on the rage channel when I totally lose my shit over Mr. Twatwaffles’ blameshifting and gaslighting. But your description of rage being “force or threat of it” under the qualifiers of “Ill hit you, I’ll impoverish you, I’ll take away your children…” and working to keep a power imbalance… that’s actually revolutionary to me.

    My first husband beat the living crap out of me. He always used force or the threat of it, but I never saw the threat of force in this kind of mind-fucking way. My second, now EX husband is ALWAYS threatening to drag my ass into court in an attempt to take my children. He got his ass handed to him in December and he was threatening to take me back to court starting in March… publicly.

    He wants me to think he threatens this because I REFUSE to continue to dance his warped pick me dance of validating his new wife appliance and their “forced together family” to my children. The reason he does it, is simply because he can. It doesn’t MATTER if there’s a reason or that I’ve untangled a portion of the skein. He will do it anyway, and if he can find a way to blame for something as a reason, to keep me off balance, then that’s even better. But he’s going to do it regardless.

    I’m not on the rage channel when I get so pissed off, because I’m never threatening him. I’m sticking up for myself and calling out his bullshit. I’M NOT CRAZY OR DISORDERED!!!! I’m NORMAL.

  • I’ve been reading here for a long time, and I am still frequently, like today, amazed at the clarity of understanding and descriptive skill of CL. A person could read today’s distillation, and if they took it to heart, would be with this knowledge alone, more expert in the field of infidelity than most degreed counselors with years of experience.

    I know the feeling Bewildered describes. That as you believe you are living with meaningful agency and purpose as you morally find your way through life, that still there is this script that seems to run, like operating software, beyond your notice, which when recognized, seems to have called so many of the key shots automatically for you along the way. I’d say yes, this is indeed true. But whether we realized it at the time or not, we created that script for a purpose. It is our infantile interpretation of how overall reality, and in this particular portion of it, relationships, work. It is in fact the underpinning of settled givens that frees us up to indeed live consciously an authentic life above it. Imagine if in every situation, and with every new person we met, we had to re-conclude what the fundamental reality was. We’d be frozen in constant assessment and truly incapable of being anything, much less a unique individual. So this subconscious script actually frees us to be “ourselves”. THAT is what Bewildered was really doing – consciously living and acting in accordance with her underlying values and beliefs, and yes interpretations and givens of reality – even as she now interprets it as having all simply been driven by a role or script.

    Some of us, with our new information, need to rewrite parts of that script (fix your picker). But Bewildered, far from deciding everything, the script is there to free you to be yourself. It’s the engine and transmission and cooling system of your being, but you are the driver.

    • I think this is an amazingly perceptive comment and I deeply appreciate it. It also dovetails very well with the definitions of betrayal and integrity and why those of us who have integrity are so traumatized by betrayal….and the realization of how many people are living 2 inch deep lives with little integrity. I was betrayed because an agreed upon set of expectations was unilaterally abandoned with no discussion and because I act with integrity I projected that on to my partner and never looked for “the real reason”.

    • Thank you for this. I agree with what you have written and can understand it in light of what CL wrote above in response to my ‘dilemma’. I whole heartedly agree with your assessment of how she has such an incredible knack for cutting to the chase in such a clear way. Her words today have totally changed the way in which I was seeing myself. The negative feelings of feeling like a stereotype have been changed into seeing that I was reacting to a role that I was placed into by someone playing a game with my life wherein I didn’t know the rules. Now I have a clean slate – so to speak – I add that because I know I have a lot of stuff to work through still as I am still in the ‘early’ days/years of all of this and we were together for a long, long time.

  • It’s true. I initially thought ‘No Contact’ was unnecessary because we were ‘so close’ and I didn’t hate him though I was filing for divorce.
    Fat chance! Our nightly conversations consisted of me listening to him drone on and on about how poorly he was doing. How he “kept making horrible decisions” (hookers) and how he needed help with meal prep.

    Saw me with a new hairstyle (nothing fancy or involved-just straightened hair!) and insulted me. In that instant I realized he was still trying to manipulate. I let my anger and annoyance carry me to NC. It was interesting to realize that my story may have had different details, but at it’s core it was the same as everyone else’s.

    • I didn’t even know what NC was before reading about it in CL’s book. It has made a huge difference in how I see myself and my situation and has allowed me to really see the reality behind his behavior for what it is. Shocking. I had always been his cheering section so dropping that role felt like I was abandoning him! Little did I know how turned those tables actually were.

  • I like the notion that it isn’t the people who are predictable so much as the situation. I have often noticed that us chumps seem to have similar behaviors as much as the cheaters. Do we have a manual too? I have also noticed that both cheaters and chumps have lots of differences as well so why are we all following the same script? Putting it in the context of the chess board, however helps to clarify what is really going on. There are only so many moves that either the cheater or the chump can make when on the board. There are only so many possible reactions to betrayal before and after it is discovered and only so many ways to betray and react to being found out. As a chump, you can either play the game and try to win when you don’t really know the rules and they are stacked against you because somebody else is making the rules and changing them willy nilly, or you can figure out how to leave the game to greatest advantage. It all depends on how you define “winning”. Unfortunately, based on many of the comments I have seen, even after leaving the game the chumps don’t always win, but they will hopefully lose less than by staying. Once the game is left behind there is at least a chance of gaining a life and that will be unique for each individual. It opens up a whole new set of possibilities and choices.

    • I really liked CL’s chess analogy too. Her opening statement about my ‘confusing a predictable situation with being a predictable person’ really hit home as did her following remarks about this all being about manipulation and the description of the moves in chess. Priceless combination. I feel like I have just dropped another huge weight off of my shoulders and have been given a chance at having real identity separate from how I used to live that was filled with what I now see as reacting to his calculated moves.

      The words ‘the truth will set you free’ have taken on yet a new meaning.

  • Something CL said really resonates with me “weaponizing your decency against you”.

    As I told my now wife that the young me that my cheater Ex met was a wonderful, caring, idealistic person with a big heart. My Ex used that against me as a control mechanism for years making me feel sorry for her and used that to control me.
    It makes me angry and now I’m very cynical about most things because a cynic is an idealist who got their teeth kicked in a few times. It’s sad because I sometimes feel that my Ex destroyed some of the best parts of me.

    Why Chumps seem to be a stereotype is because by our nature we are usually very caring “good” people who are givers. This is EXACTLY the type of person that a disordered cheater wants to marry because they are awesome spouses and their goodness causes them to project that goodness on the cheater thus they spackle over red flags and bad behavior. They are also trusting causing them to believe the cheater’s deceptions allowing them to live a double life.

    The saddest thing of all is that most of the chumps on this site because of their caring and giving personalities, are the type of awesome spouse that people dream about who if they had married someone like themselves would have had a happy marriage for 50+ years.

    • One of your best posts ever, LG! I was worried about becoming cynical. Now I know I just got my teeth kicked in a few too many times.

      It’s always encouraging to read about your now happy life and remarriage.

    • I’m 53 years old and have never dated anyone like me. Don’t get me wrong. In the beginning they (not that I have a ton of ex-boyfriends) all came across as very giving and loving. But slowly they turned into who they truly are — self-centered, selfish people. Sometimes I wonder if I made them that way with all my giving, but then I say, “nah!” A truly decent person would not accept a relationship that they did all the taking and gave crumbs in return. I can’t imagine finding someone like me. Besides my BIL, I have never met any guy like me. It’s awesome you are remarried, Laughing Gator. Always nice to hear about a happy ending. 🙂

      • I too have dated many men with the same narcissistic traits as the ex. I realized, I was bound to learn the lesson of knowing my worth and having strong boundaries. I’m not letting this bad experience go to waste, I’m learning from it. My relationship with the ex opened my eyes as to how valuable I am to ME, and that I need to take care of myself first.

        Loved the post, LG!

      • Im 54 and I dated a lot of toads but there was one sweet one…we dated when we were about 19 but he was so nice to me back then, it bordered on uninteresting. He was also immature – the product of a very happy life where he didnt have to grow up fast to survive. If I had married him, I might have taken his goodness for granted and allowed myself to dwell on his weaknesses. Lucky for him, I married a BadBoy who I thought had a big heart.

        The Bad Boy I married had a huge ego and a heart smaller than the Grinch.

        And life gave me the greatest gift…a second chance with not only some random nice fellow, but THAT VERY nice fellow who I dated at 19. He is not perfect (he has a wide goofy streak) but he is reasonable and trustworthy and he cares – I have never been in a relationship with anyone like him before. We married at 51 (or were we 50, I forget) and life is very nice.

        • What a heartwarming story, UNM! I thought that my college ‘pure’ love story, getting together after marrying and getting divorced/cheated on by Bad Boy, would end the way your story did. Instead, I just got into another train wreck of a relationship! Nonetheless, I am delighted for you and your current husband!

        • I have a similar story. The one truly great guy I dated as a teen I let go of because back then he just wasn’t exciting enough. But I loved him dearly. I proceeded to pair with a series of narcissist losers including my cheater ex husband. Now, decades later, we’re together again and it’s wonderful. Two givers giving to eachother. What used to seem unexciting to me as a teenager is heaven to me now. So…good people like us cheaters do exist. Don’t lose hope!

    • Thank you Laughing Gator for sharing. As I ‘come to’ I can see how this experience has colored my world too. I remember the really early days when all of a sudden I couldn’t look at anyone without feeling like they were ‘on the make’ somehow. Sexual innuendos seemed to loom large everywhere I looked and my trust in the goodness of humans dropped to a new time low.

      Luckily that stage has passed but I too was innocent all of those years ago and I see now how my chumpdom did play out as he knew precisely what he was up to and I did not. The FW has been a major part of my adult life so clearing out the baggage of the wreckage left in his wake has been an eye opening and shocking experience – like I am living someone else’s life/nightmare…

      This site has made such a difference in my being able to see my situation for what it was/is and all who leave remarks here give me hope of what lies ahead. CL’s words have clarified my misinterpretation of being a stereotype so that I can see that I am someone beneath the role I was put into unbeknownst to me.
      They have helped chip away at my cynicism and given me a new sense of my value as a valuable person in my own right apart from being a wife who was fooled by a madman.

    • “a cynic is an idealist who got their teeth kicked in a few times.”

      This is brilliant and describes how I feel so well.

  • I think the key insight here is that there are only so many plays for someone who is manipulating you.

    There is somebody in my social group who has spent the last few months trying to manipulate the rest of us for his own obsessive ends. After a few times, it became easy to spot. Not only that, it became really easy to predict what he would do, even if the situation was new. After a while, no one would do anything with him, as it was just tiresome.

    • In college I was involved with a boy who was highly manipulative (much more so than ex). I should have known better but I kept falling for it because he kept coming up with new tactics. Eventually, however, he ran out of new stuff and started recycling old tactics. At that point I finally started to detach when I was able to connect the dots. “Wait, he did that last time and this was the result….no way, I am not falling for that again.”

  • A stereotype is just shorthand for thought process and evaluation. It is not scientific. Everyone is a unique person, but groups of people with similar backgrounds often react in similar ways. We use stereotypes to avoid long data processing, often for strangers — we have little to nothing invested in strangers.

    There are cultural norms in every society, and often they are artificially created based on inaccurate information available at the time. My mother was influenced by her upbringing and culture. So was her mother. So was I. The most liberating moment of my intellectual life was when I realized I did not have to follow the norms or guidelines I was raised on. Many of them had proven false. I could make up my own mind based on the data I had. Sometimes I would be wrong, but it was my decision. My consequences. Easier to swallow and live with than living your life trying to abide by other peoples rules. They don’t have to be a manipulator. Sometimes they love you and think they are giving you tried and true wisdom. They don’t live your life. You do. Chump no more when you take responsibility for your own mind. Live as authentically as you can. My guess is, that’s what makes you thrive.

  • “The ‘role’ I used to play was happily married in a committed relationship and now I have been thrust into chumpdom and what I thought was my happily married life was ALL a lie as fuckwit was/is a serial cheater so my past is being rewritten as I discover all of the red flags I didn’t know existed in my ‘happily married life’.”

    Bewildered, I don’t believe your life was “ALL a lie” or that you played a “role.”

    You were authentic. HE was playing a role. You were behaving as do most loving people who have a conscience. HE was a cheating liar.

    The problem is that most of these disordered people stink at honesty but excel at deception. They are well practiced in the art of lying and have moved to a level of mastery we can’t even fathom. That we are taken in IS NOT OUR FAULT.

    Some of the red flags were probably teeny, like the ones on the end of toothpicks that sometimes come stuck into sandwiches. But as most chumps are kind people, we give our loved ones the benefit of the doubt. That’s what you do when you love someone deeply. And THAT is a fact that these lying cheaters count on.

    YOU lived an authentic life, not a role. If the other person in your life was faking all along, remember you were fooled by someone whose acting should be Oscar nominated. Your dedication, fidelity, acts of service and helpfulness – these were all given in good faith. That loving behavior on your part was all GOOD that you put out into the world, even if you found out later that it was given to someone undeserving of it.

    Your life wasn’t a lie. HIS was. It has happened to a lot of us, but we are not stereotypes. We are good people who were used and hurt by geniuses of deception. But we can heal and grow. We will never trust easily, but that’s not such a bad thing!

    • This >>>”We will never trust easily, but that’s not such a bad thing!”

      Another great lesson I’ve learned is that trust is not given. It’s EARNED. I always trusted everyone to be a good person until they 100% proved wrong. And it took A LOT to get me to 100%! Now I remind myself to let people show me who they are with their actions, not words. All my over-trusting got me into the mess I was in, that I’m still climbing my way out of.

      • I loathe the expression “Trust then verify”. People need to earn and maintain my trust over time.

        • A Youtuber that I love and follow, gave a great word picture story about how trust is earned. She said when you meet a person the “trust jar” for them is empty. Everytime they are trustworthy, you add a stone or whatever to the jar. Over a long period of time, the jar should be full after many, many times of them being trustworthy. If they lie or do something untrustworthy, the jar gets completely emptied and you start from square one and distance is placed between you and them.

          This is why rushing to instant close friendship and intimacy is bad. You truly do not know the character of someone when you first meet them as everyone always acts their best when you first meet.

    • Thanks Hopium4years for your words.

      I am still somewhat ‘new’ at this and CL’s words above have helped me to see that I was indeed ‘confusing a predictable situation with being a predictable person.’ I just couldn’t crack that one on my own for some reason.

      So much to sift through as the FW was/is a charmer and had me totally convinced of his ‘good guy’ status as well as our children and our friends. Your example of red flags is correct. They were tiny and covered up so that I did miss-interpret them until the shit hit the fan and now that I have done a lot of ‘research’ I am beginning to see them for what they were and I am aghast at how the label of ‘disordered personality’ fits like a glove.

      I see now too by the comments left here today that I was reacting because I was being played. He knew what he was up to and I did not. He knew the rules and I did not.

      Your words give me hope that I will begin to see more clearly over time and that every day more is revealed to me. If I had know what I know now on the first Dday my poor little mind would probably have exploded – too much to bear!

  • Stereotype chump,

    This too, shall pass. I think you are in the deflation phase after the shock phase and learning you’ve been chumped. (See, the stages of grief are ‘stereotypes’ too). In the phase you are likely now in, I felt like a 2-d cardboard cutout of myself. I was reeling with the loss of XH’s world, his family, his friends. I slowly built up my new life. I have a great group of people who love me and care about me, and I love and care for them as well. It took a long time to cull the Swiss friends and learn how to love myself. It’s a struggle, but I’m not flattened or smushed anymore, and you’ll get there too!!

    • Cali24

      Thanks for sharing. I like that you have a word for this stage and that it follows the shock and ‘stupid’ stage I have been wandering around in for awhile. It does fit and, due to CL comments, I can now see light at the end of this stereotype feeling that has been gnawing away at me.

      Odd to write the following but here goes – Nice to learn I was being played because now I can see that my ‘moves’ were predictable and that my moves do not define me – the ability to separate out myself from my behavior.

  • I’d like to present a positive spin on stereotypes, roles, and predictable patterns. Some stereotypes are ‘good.’ Chumps often have MANY positive traits and fulfill admirable roles. They general form the moral backbone of mankind. Predictable patterns of the chronically selfish, lying manipulators described on this sites can be quite useful. For example, now in my fifth year of divorce court with my ex-husband who dragged me in to divorce me and permanently take our kids from me, I have some idea of what he will do. I cannot make him an ethical person nor prevent him from financially decimating me, but at least now I can adjust to my reality. The dishonesty and abuse of some of my exes has strengthened my resolve to consistently live an ethically life, even when it hurts, and promote justice and compassion for all living beings. It looks as though my ex will get his wish—I will probably fund some of his foreign vacations as the Court allows him To get away with lying—I have decided to enjoy work in my old age!

  • Love it RockStar! I found this site for you. It gives info on WEP and how to reduce its impact.
    Socialsecurityintelligence.com

    Check it out. X0

    • Aww, thanks, DoingMe! I appreciate you doing this—I am trying to educate my fellow public servants on the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset so that they can live reasonably comfortably in their senior years.

      I have decided that no matter how some exes, especially my ex-husband, try to screw me (and kids) over, I refuse to let these abusive narcs prevent me from observing the beauty in this universe and feeling glad that some things in the universe are good. Not everything is wonderful, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is good and beautiful!

  • I am a stereotypical chump. I had no idea that there was anything going on- I was oblivious to My husband’s antics. I Was blown away when I found out And I mourned Traditional patterns of grief and continue to do so to some extent. I personally am happy to have learned What the grief process is & what to expect as a normal pattern of recovery. I was happy too Find CN And quickly adopt the basic tenants of Surviving chumpdum. like NC, Greyrock, protecting finances and moving quickly to divorce. I was glad to learn that Fuckwits behavior was not out of the ordinary for a fuckwit and to learn that it is all on him and nothing i could have done about it. These patterns of recovery and states of morning that most of us experience helped me predict what I was going to go through and to really appreciate when I did achieve some of those milestones. So this really sucks And I’m happy to be have gotten through the first couple years with some success and because of what i learned, i expect to being seeing meh on an upcoming tuesday soon. 😁 Hugs .

  • One of my favorites genres of fiction and film is “chick lit” or “chick flicks.” And one theme of chick lit is to step off the game board, to stop living in the game. The journey in chick lit is to learn who you are, to move away from living out a script. (And those of you who know a lot about addiction in families know how very dangerous living out scripted roles can be.)

    We don’t have to “wander” into stereotypical scripts. And even cherished roles like “mother,” “father,” “community leader” should not fossilize. The mother of an infant is not the same as the mother of a teenager or the mother of a thirty-year old be a different person, with different goals, experiences, challenges and satisfactions. But to avoid getting stuck in a disorder person’s game, to avoid following a stereotypical life script served up by a fuckwit, or just to avoid waking up at age 70 and feeling like you lived a shallow life, you have to live consciously. You have to see. You have to question. You must have a strategy not for retiring at a beach house but for growing as you age. You have to be conscious. You have to put down the spackle. You have to be willing to confront change.

  • I was shopping in a big box store. My husband sat at the front. Another husband was doing the same. They chatted. The guy had such an unusual job that I won’t mention it but it blew my husband’s mind. He said he has found that if you show enough interest and allow another to tell you their life story not one will be boring. We are all unique. You are unique. Cheating stories are not. They follow the same few paths. CL has written about them and so has CN. There is probably a list with your cheater on it. His/her life story would be unique until the cheating began. Then there are predictable ways they play out. But. Your recovery will be unique. Just hang on and meh will show up one Tuesday. After that your story is all yours, not anyone else’s.

    • I love that – his/her life story was unique until the cheating started. I had such a strong sense of the banality, failure and and defeatedness (is that a word?) of what he was doing, while he thought it was all so vibrantly authentic.

  • You can also add to the “moves” section-refusing the talk about it at all-stonewalling. That’s what I dealt with. I called her out, told her that it wasn’t mine to carry anymore (because I had found out and was researching how far back it went) and when I finally confronted her she said, it’s only about the kids now. she REFUSED to talk about it. Still to this day, no apology-other than to blame me and another half-ass statement which she considers an apology of “I was so afraid you were going to find out.” It’s been 8 years and she still won’t own up to it. Says I’m bitter and always wanting to bring up the past (maybe she’s right) and that she’s moved on, is in a happy place and doesn’t want to talk about it. she said she’s told all her friends how sorry she is. haha, she left me out of the loop.

  • I think cheating is more of a cultural problem than so -called evil. It is a sense of entitlement and selfishness. A lack of respect and honesty and integrity. As a retired teacher I think there should be more emphasis in schools on social skills and human values. Then if someone didn’t love their partner anymore they would be honest and either try to regain the love or leave. They wouldn’t betray their partner which I think hurts the most.

  • “The biggest problem chumps have after discovery is wanting to believe they are special….that their situation is heroic (I am a strong woman loving a troubled man and our marriage will TRIUMPH! And be better than before!)”

    ^^^^^ This was me (except for the strong woman part)!

    I remember walking around work almost feeling sorry for my married coworkers because their relationships would pale in comparison to how strong my marriage was going to be. And the fact that I would help my wife come back from her dark place, and she would be so appreciative of my support and understanding that we would have the strongest and most communicative marriage ever. Others would be jealous.

    Boy was I wrong.

    • In my way-overly-optimistic mind, we were going to be one of those couples who runs the marriage retreats at Church for struggling marriages. We would present at panel discussions where we told our story of woe and the eventual triumphant story where he finally saw the light, realized his deep love for me and we reaffirmed our vows and commitment and went into the sunset together.

      There is actually a show in Catholic TV with this as a theme and I watched it whenever I could.

      And the truth was that he died taking his secrets to the grave…I unearthed enough of them to grasp that our marriage was a lie

  • Aaaagh, I was just typing my response to you CL for your remarks about my question – your topic for today’s discussion, and it all suddenly and completely disappeared on me.

    I had written a lot and my computer must have not liked it so I shall do short installments so I don’t lose the entire thing again.

    First off, thank you for your response to my. I love how you are able to boil things down to the root and then express that in words. I especially liked your first comment about the single lens of manipulation. That does indeed clarify a lot!

    I also like the analogy of the chess game. Something my mind can grasp as I grapple with all that has been revealed to me of late. Opens the door to step aside in a way I hadn’t considered.

    I am going to end here and take this up again after my computer settles down and after I get all of my evening ‘chores’ done.

    I got a chance to read through a bit of the remarks left here and look forward to being able to read the rest. The insights are immensely helpful.

    • I am so glad you responded. I loved your post; it was so honest. I know lots of us secretly dread being just a cliche, but it’s rare that people admit to it.

      What I have noticed from hanging around here for around four years now is actually how INDIVIDUAL the Gaining A Life Chumps are. These are the ones who are being mighty, rebuilding, going to therapy, finding their passion and joy again, and gaining their lives back.

      No two of them have done the same things. No two have healed the same way, or on the same timetable. No two of them have the same interests across the board.

      Turns out that Being Mighty takes as many forms as there are Chumps to take on those forms. It’s only cheating that’s mediocre, cookie-cutter, banal and evil.

      • Thanks you LG. I feel like I am slowly beginning to see that ….. most days at least but then I do have ‘those’ days when I succumb to the nightmare I have lived through. I know that ‘those’ days do pass and I gain such hope here due to people like you sharing so openly about all you have gleaned along your way.

    • I am back and I did want to add to what I wrote above without waxing on and on and on.
      While walking my dog earlier this evening your words continued to penetrate my soddened brain and a ray of light cracked through the fog.

      In my attempts to follow your example of keeping it brief and to the point I will add this to what I wrote previously.

      Three key things you said had an impact on me immediately – I say that because I don’t want to dismiss all of what you wrote because it had its impact too but commenting on it all would jeopardize my attempts at keeping my response short and too the point…

      I digress.

      Anyway, the 3 key points you made were in regards to:

      1 – Root = Manipulation

      2 – Chess analogy. Once seeing the game for what it is and has been – the identification with being a stereotype dissolved. (Lies can’t stand up to the light of day and thus disappear once discovered.)

      3 – ‘Confusing a predictable situation with being a predictable person’.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for the time and energy you put forth here to help people like me see the light. You have had a huge impact on me via your words and clarity. You have opened my eyes like nobody else has been able to and have given me back something I didn’t even know I had lost over the years – myself and my life.

      • Precious Bewildered,
        I am looking out my window and thinking how beautiful the orange poppies in my front garden are. But, they are all the same! Same color / same / shape / same / same / same…..But, are they really? Sort of like us chumps. We all have similarities, but is that really a bad thing? When I look out and see all these ‘same’ looking poppies, what a beautiful sight I see! It will be that way in a few more days when the Japanese iris start to bloom. A feast for the eyes! That’s us, Bewildered! We chumps are a beautiful feast for the eyes! (and heart & soul!)

        Our ‘sameness’ is our authentic, genuine love we give. It is in our being the sane parent, the loyal, faithful, committed spouse. Nothing wrong with this kind of ‘sameness’. But nothing ‘stereotypical’ about these gorgeous flowers or us gorgeous chumps. Tracy changed your name to what we all really are—-Perfectly Unique and Singular Person

        Take care as you ForgeOn! to your beautiful new life!

        • Thank you for reminding me about how I look at things outside of myself and realizing that I can apply the same principles to myself. Something I forget as I forge my way on this journey. (First year = war zone; Second year = sifting through the rubble to see what remains.)

          Thanks also for pointing out the change in name that CL addressed me with in her response.
          I was focused on soaking in her terrific definition of the chess game and its connection to manipulation.

  • DoingMe,
    Last week, I contacted the financial planner who created the site. (Have talked to the two government agencies involved in my retirement issue approximately half a dozen time each and received a dozen different responses. Many in our country, the U.S., in terms of health care and care of the poor, are in a precarious position. Really looking forward to my upcoming consultation with the financial planner of Social Security Intelligence, to, ideally, finally get the straight scoop.

  • Is ‘predatory schmoopie’ a fallacious archetype? The Vulture literally targeted him after it was announced as his workplace that I had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I have all the proof in the world that she zeroed in on him and positioned herself as his shoulder to cry on and she told him ‘she didn’t want him to walk this dark journey alone’. Yes he got sucked in and played along and was 100% culpable and at some point transitioned from vulnerable victim to fully active and willing perpetrator, but at the risk of sounding like a 2 year old, The Vulture started it. I directed so much of my rage towards her for years so I didn’t have to direct it all at him as I tried to save the marriage. It wasn’t until the 2nd D-Day that I realised he needed to be held FULLY accountable for his own fuckwit actions. Thoughts?

    • Yes, reading through the posts here, you’ll find plenty of examples like your own where an attack was launched from outside. But you are entirely right in holding him completely responsible. Anyone who could betray, deceive and emotionally abuse any person, much less someone suffering from a terminal illness, is foul at their core. That foulness is the true origin of the cheating. I’d add that such people will expertly blame shift, and any of his depictions of her predatory behavior at work are exaggerated to make himself look like a victim.

    • predatory tramp is real and my fuckwit wad warned when he took up with her. didnt phase him cuz she made him feel young and he loved her and she loved him. then she “cheated” on him when she found out he wadnt getting the island house and the money was mine. still all on him. he is a grown-ass man. we all are faced with evil and need to make decisions based on principle. he chose poorly and blew up his marriage and family of 30 yrs. like the law, ignorance is not a defense. hugs

  • @TKO Actually he protects her fiercely from recrimination and holds her entirely blameless. When I exposed the affair was continuing 2 years after he promised me it was over, he blameshifted to me saying I wasn’t ready to get married 26 years ago and he shouldn’t have asked me 5 times until I gave into his persistent proposals. True but I was faithful to him for 26 years. Despite constant smokesceeen declarations of love for me up to and including D-Day, impression management led him to tell people as were just ‘two trains on different tracks’ and that he never loved me. In his eyes The Vulture is blameless in it all. Ultimately I just didn’t die in the timeframe that would have looked best for their cheating Christian asses and I’m still going stronger than ever 4 years on so now they’ve been exposed he’s delivering a different narrative to try to stay ‘The Good Guy’ (FIGJAM)

  • Bewildered stereotypical chump – you have not been playing a role you have been living a life. A real life because you are real. Unfortunately, you, like all of us here, were living that real life with a fake who was playing a role and manipulating you to their own ends. You are and have always been the real person living genuinely in good faith. It is the cheater/abuser who is the fake, the liar, the stereotype, who has blown up that life because they did not value it or you. As Chump Lady says, there are only so many moves they can make. The wearying sameness is not anything to do with you but with them. You are bewildered and will never understand what happened because you are real and believed in what you you were building. After the horribleness, you will go on and build another life, unique and beautiful and totally you, with all that love and dedication and creativity that cheater didn’t value. Their loss.

  • An Update:

    As The Fates would have it it didn’t take long before I got a chance to validate CL’s words.

    The outcome was chilling and exhilarating at the same time.

    Chilling in that FW scored 100% on using all of the moves as stated above repeatedly. Dashed were my hopes that he was suffering from a brain tumor and really is a nice guy.

    Exhilerating in that, thanks to CL, I saw exactly what he was doing. All of my previous confusion after one of out ‘talks’ was gone – completely gone! Without having to do a thing I was magically transported off of the chess board. Couldn’t reach the pawns to move them around if I had tried. The zing gone from his accusations etc. – just gone. What used to be unconscious reactions to his volley of words on my part there came, out of my mouth, clearly stated responses in their place.

    I take this as an example of how wonderful clearly stated ‘rules’ can and do completely change outcomes.

    Thank you CL for breaking cheating down into bite size pieces and for giving me back my individual identity. The stereotype suit will have to dwindle away in the corner.

    Amazing!

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