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Dear Chump Lady, I don’t think he’s a narcissist

Serial cheaterDear Chump Lady,

I’m a chump who discovered my husband’s year-long affair that took place nine years ago while dealing with the fallout of me discovering him messaging and dating a couple of women telling them we’d separated and that he was lonely.

A bit of backstory, at the time of the messaging/dating, I’d left the farm we’d bought during our escape-the-city phase. I’d decided to move back to the city for work as a) we needed outside money for the farm to be viable and b) I hated it.

I’d thought my husband was in total support, as he’d told me this. I was concerned about his loneliness so I’d agreed to open our marriage so that he could have a friend with benefits. The only two rules were that he’d keep me in the loop and he’d be honest to the women he dated. Both rules he discarded. This situation has happened a couple times before when I’ve stupidly agreed to opening up the marriage, but never went further than dating without my knowledge.

He’s also a very needy person, has way more women friends than men and has a tendency to flirt with other women in social situations

I’ve been totally blindsided by the affair nine years ago, the way in which I’d found out was by contacting the affair partner. It’s been devastating knowing he’d kept this secret for almost the entire marriage. And the gaslighting before I got the whole truth from the AP as well as the many ‘I don’t remember’ answers afterward have been infuriating.

Anyway, it seems that most descriptions of cheaters are that they are narcissists in some form. I’ve gone over and over the many characteristics of narcissists from NPD to convert narcissism and none of them describe my husband. Before I knew all this, he was devoted and adoring. Endlessly supportive in every way, always declaring his love, even during the affair and subsequent betrayals, which is I have to say a bit of a mindfuck.

In addition, he’s very remorseful, going to a men’s group, dropped all of his (many) women friends, deleted Facebook and I have open access anytime to his phone and computer.

So does it always follow that cheaters are always cheaters and narcissists? Aren’t there some exceptions?

Wouldn’t there be a chance I might miss out on a great relationship that would happen once he’s faced his fuckedupedness? Except for the cheating our marriage has been amazing.

Thanks for all that you do at CN.


Dear Chumpdownunder69,

Let’s make a little checklist.

Lives alone on a financially unviable farm and “lets” you work to support him.

Creates a situation (“Let’s escape the city and buy a farm!”) that you “hate,” which isolates you, impoverishes you, and for which the only cure is opening up the marriage for his “loneliness.” Options not explored — sell the farm, have a commuter marriage without side-dishes, he finds an off-farm job. (Before you tell me that’s impossible, I worked with farmers for years at an ag publication. Every farmer I knew had more than one job, for the benefits. I know a lot of farmers.)

Kept a nine-year-long cheating secret.

Opens the marriage with “rules” he doesn’t abide by.

Is super remorseful, except for the answering questions part.

Oh yeah, no narcissism here. No entitlement. Nothing to look at!

(That was my snark font.)

Chumpdownunder69, you’re asking the wrong set of questions. It’s not: does my husband fit tidily into a DSM category? It’s: Is this relationship acceptable to me?

Do you want an open marriage?

Do you prefer to live apart from your husband?

Are you cool being the sole breadwinner?

Oh, hey, these are just the sort of accommodations any loving spouse makes, I hear you saying. Compromises!

Okay, what major concession/sacrifice has he made for you? What’s that scorecard look like?

But we don’t keep score!

Of course not. Except narcs do and it’s always lopsided in their favor.

Now why would a man who has such an accommodating, loving partner need to lie to her about those open FWB relationships she’s agreed to?

He doesn’t. Unless he gets off on the power trip of what she doesn’t know. Unless his ethos is You’re Not the Boss of Me.

I was concerned about his loneliness so I’d agreed to open our marriage so that he could have a friend with benefits.

Was he concerned about your loneliness? Or if your loneliness would be amplified by a partner who’s out dating? Or if working a non-flexible city job would be hard on you? What kind of benefits were you getting?

I’ll take Chump Answers for $200, Alex — What is “his happiness”?

(Forgive the Jeopardy ref, I know you’re in Oz.)

The only two rules were that he’d keep me in the loop and he’d be honest to the women he dated.

Yeah, how’s that His Happiness Is Paramount thing working out for you? In the loop are we?

Both rules he discarded.

Of course. Rules are for lesser people. Chumps like you and those women who think he’s separated.

This situation has happened a couple times before when I’ve stupidly agreed to opening up the marriage, but never went further than dating without my knowledge.

Uh-huh. Sure. No further than “dating.” And I have a rhubarb farm in Saudi Arabia to sell you.

If you’re so secure in this open arrangement — why are you “discovering” what he’s been messaging and hunting down an old (or perhaps current) affair partner? Sounds like the marriage police to me. Like you (rightfully) don’t trust him. Because he lies. A lot.

Is this relationship acceptable to you?

Endlessly supportive in every way, always declaring his love, even during the affair and subsequent betrayals, which is I have to say a bit of a mindfuck.

Endlessly supportive except in the ways that matter — like honesty, earning a wage, and not risking your partner’s physical and mental health. #swellguy

In addition, he’s very remorseful, going to a men’s group, dropped all of his (many) women friends, deleted Facebook and I have open access anytime to his phone and computer.

Translation — Marriage Police Academy has things in order! The crime spree has ended! City is on lock-down!

Things to consider: He just says he’s at men’s group, he didn’t drop the lady friends, there are other Facebook pages, he has a burner phone and other ways to access computers.

You’re trusting what he tells you. The guy who lied to you for 9 straight years. He’s good at a double life. How can you feel safe with that?

Except for the cheating our marriage has been amazing.

Except for the pyramid scheme, our investment returns have been amazing.

Except for mugging pensioners, his character is exemplary.

Drowning kittens notwithstanding, he’s a real animal lover.

Aren’t there some exceptions?

There’s only what you choose to make an exception.

What he’s done is either okay with you, or it’s not. He can try to make it up to you, or he won’t. Maybe he’ll “remember” the details, and maybe you’ll quit asking.

Good luck.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Wait… “open marriage”? Friends with benefits?

    Sorry… this isn’t cheating. That was PERMISSION.

    • People in open marriages can be cheated on too. All it takes to cheat is to unilaterally break the rules for one’s own benefit.

      That’s why the Monogamy Is So Hard argument fails. Polyamorists can be cheated on too.

      I’m sure she thought opening up the marriage would satisfy him, but it was never about more of the pussy buffet, it’s about the power dynamic.

      • It’s never about the pussy buffet. I have a friend who is fine with open relationships, but her boyfriend kept CHEATING — tell ing her he didn’t want to see someone else, or lying that he was sleeping with someone else, or making her make vacation reservations for her and someone else unknowingly. He didn’t want strange, he wanted to get one over on her.

        • All of the wisdom of Chump Nation boils down into one question:

          “Is this relationship acceptable to you?”

        • Totally. Duper’s delight is about being in the more powerful position, and this guy has a whopping huge need for it, one of the worst I’ve ever heard of. The relationship appears to be 100% take on his part and 100% give on hers. She does everything he wants, he has zero responsibility, and it’s still not enough power for him. He has to betray her and lie to her as well. What a creep. But oh, he *says* he loves her, so that proves he’s not disordered and she shouldn’t dump him. Good grief. I’m glad she found this blog. She needs to have that hopium snuffed out.

      • “Chance that I might miss out on a great relationship?”

        This is a “sunk cost fallacy.” You’ve invested a ton and have false hope you can save the investment.

        “It might happen?” “Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt,” (Wayne’s World)

        Enough already. Stick to the facts and quit betting on impossibilities.

        • I agree, Sunk Costs are bad for a business and even worse in a marriage. I’ll bet you anything that if you had a lover he would’ve been pissed. And, jealous. You gave him the greatest gift you could ever give a Narc: Being a Sucker. And, guess what? He was probably telling all those women that you isolated him! You only think about your needs, wants and desires. Dump that lying, cheating piece of work, and get the life you so richly deserve.

      • The last thing a chump needs is blame and shame on top of the heartbreak of cheating.
        I believe cheaters have ONE main desire that spearheads the cheating.


        Control is more desirable than the nookie.
        Control of “knowing more than your partner” is addictive.
        Control of having a choice, while chump is unaware.
        You can have relations with one or many people. If you lie to any of them, you are cheating.

        CDU69, I hope you realize how far out in left field your current thinking is. I hope you find an authentic relationship. What you have is really two sided. Your idea of your marriage and his.

        Bail. He is not going to be that great guy you imagine.

        • Don’t forget the power trip that they get off on by having that kind of control. It’s amazing how quickly instability kicks in when you walk away. And get on with your life. He’s not worth it, you stayed 8 years too long.

          • “It’s amazing how quickly instability kicks in when you walk away”

            What do you mean by that? I’m asking because I walked away shortly after finding irrefutable evidence of an affair he’d been having right under my nose. We weren’t married, so there was no messy divorce – just me walking out of his life after many years together. Went full NC and never looked back. This was about 3 and a half years ago.

            I now realize he was getting off on “pulling one over” on me. There was power and fun in all the sneaking around with his whore, and gaslighting me about all of it. But as far as I know, he’s not suffering any instability from my walking out. Pretty sure he still lives with the whore and is carrying on his life like nothing happened. It’s like I never existed.

        • This was a fantastic post. I really needed a clarity on how cheating is at its core motivated by control

      • This is absolutely the case. Agreeing to an open marriage is not agreeing to literally anything and everything and it is still possible to be lied to and decieved in an open situation.

        This is why cheaters love the idea of open marriages and polyamory and polyamorists hate cheaters. Because cheaters like to use the idea of an actual relationship structure involving more than one person as an excuse to well…cheat.

        You can decide that polyamory or open relationships are not your thing (for most of us here, it’s not) but there is a very big difference between them and cheating. The main thing being the observance of established rules and respect for boundaries of your partners. The OP’s husband has but two, extremely simple, rules to follow, and he flagrantly disregards both of them. That’s the only real evidence you need to determine this is not about loneliness or establishing a relationship structure with emotional connections to multiple people.

        Also, notice this marriage has a double standard here: he wants it to be open so HE can have a “fwb.” Does this same opportunity apply to her?

        That’s the other main difference. Double standards. The opportunity for extra partners only seem to be available to HIM. It is one-sided. That’s about power, it is entirely about power.

        Poly relationships are not one-sided, they’re not reluctantly forced on one person by another, they require more than two rules, and they require every person involved to observe them.

        Cheating is all about one person wanting to have their cake and eat it too without regard for what the Chump actually wants or how they feel. The OP’s husband doesn’t give a shit about her feelings. He’s not lonely, he just doesn’t want to take responsibility. Most cheaters who ask for open relationships after being caught red-handed are just looking for something to absolve them of the behavior they would just continue anyway. Asking for openness is almost a formality for them because they don’t care about permission.

        • Thank you Chumplady and fellow chumps. I was able to have a FWB but I never actually had one because it wasn’t what I wanted. He got off on the thought of me having one tho. But it was just another power trip.
          He moves out in a week.

          • That’s good to hear. Even if he weren’t using it as a power trip, if it’s not what you really want, in your heart of hearts, it wouldn’t work.

            This is actually me speaking from experience. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m divorced. I tried it as a desperate last attempt at saving my marriage (which was a bad idea, and damn if I didn’t try to convince myself otherwise…) it went on for all of two months before I’d had enough. My mother said she was surprised it even went on that long.

            We had rules too, and like yours, my ex husband pretty much disregarded all of them. No bringing home one night stand strangers from bars was one of them. One of our biggest arguments was because he thought no strangers from bars meant no strangers from ONLY bars, but anywhere/everywhere else was fine. And then he said he thought the rule was only not bringing them home, but doing everything else up to that point was fine. This argument happened after I found out him “going to hang out with” one of his partners was actually him going to a club event with 700+ people in attendance and she happened to be working at the venue.

            He’d taken off his wedding ring, there were so many women he’d told he was “poly” that I had complete strangers arguing with me on social media about who I was, it became very clear to me very quickly that this wasn’t about being poly or anything of that nature. It was about him wanting to act like he was single again.

            So I gave him what he wanted and made him actually single again. He did beg me, cried, pleaded, told me he would “stop doing it and shut it all down” if I came back. But the reality was I had come to the realization that this was an unacceptable way to live. Even if I were ok with having open relationships (I’m not) he was dishonest with me, he was disrespectful of the rules we’d established (loopholes, loopholes everywhere…) and even if he said he’d stop doing all this, there was no reason for me to believe he would. And deep down I would know that an honest, monogamous commitment was not what he wanted.

            You shouldn’t beat yourself up for trying. Even if he is being dishonest and narcissistic, you were giving your own good faith shot at saving your marriage because that’s your good nature. Sometimes we make decisions that aren’t really good for us because we want to make that good faith try. Anyone with a good heart does what they can to try to save their marriages. Sometimes that’s not the best choice and we don’t realize it until later.

            But once you do, and you start walking away from that mess, life starts getting better.

      • It was defs the power dynamic. In our relationship I drove the major decisions like the move to the country. He was an amazing support throughout our relationship. He supported me through a demanding PhD program, fought court battles for me for against the ex for child support, helped my kids with all manner of things. He was loving and kind and all my friends thought I was the luckiest as did I. Unfortunately the price for all that ‘perfection’ was to be betrayed and to have our sex life dictated by his wants. He felt he couldn’t ask for control in our relationship therefore he took it through cheating. The ‘you’re not the boss of me’ attitude is strong in him. He’s working on himself & has a agreed to a 75% postnup but I don’t think he’s addressing the power attitude in his therapy. It’s the victim mentality he has that gets trotted out there.
        But the problem is, he’s traumatised me so much that I’m terrified of getting into another relationship. I was on the meetup forum the other day to see if there’s anyone in Sydney & one post said they were. But then I got scared that they were a man & it would be only me & him & that he’s done weird stalker of betrayed women.
        I don’t want to let go of this relationship because of all the good things in it. But I think the price is too high to pay. Even if he never cheats again the quest for power & secrecy will come out somehow. And I don’t think I can live with being the marriage police forever after. It hurts so much to realise my marriage and life was not what I thought it was. He moves out next week. I’ve told him it’s a trial separation but for me it’s not.

        • You don’t need to be and shouldn’t be worrying about another relationship now. These are fresh wounds. They need to scab over and then heal a bit. You’re still bleeding. If it’s just a meet up, ask a friend to come with you. Everyone can use more friends.

        • I would recommend you do not do one on one meeting with unknown people, you are too vulnerable. I know too many women who have jumped into intimate relationships on the rebound and it doesn’t end prettily, they just compound the hurt. I joined female-only meet-up friendship groups and they were quite good for making new social contacts and learning how to be confident without a partner. The other thing – you were the appliance who made his wishes happen with no regard for your own wishes, not the driver of the relationship. He got you thinking you were the driver because it suited him and it made him look good. Who has benefited from all your work? You? Hmmm.

        • “I don’t want to let go of this relationship because of all the good things in it. But I think the price is too high to pay.”

          There’s your answer right there.

          Something Chump Nation taught me was: You Miss the Lie. You miss all the things that felt good and familiar and safe and comfortable. Actually they weren’t anything of the sort.

          It’s like finding out one day that your husband actually works at a concentration camp. You do question your entire reality – AND YOU NEED TO. Your ‘nice’ reality was based on lies and betrayal.

          Well done for waking up. Make sure you don’t get fleeced; in Australia post-nups aren’t quite as reliable as they might look. Do you have a good lawyer?

          “He’s working on himself & has a agreed to a 75% postnup but I don’t think he’s addressing the power attitude in his therapy. It’s the victim mentality he has that gets trotted out there.”

          Mmmmyers, this sounds like untangling the skein. This alleged relationship is now over. His therapy issues are no longer your concern, for which you should be eagerly thanking your preferred deity. You might find your own life improves spectacularly, including your mental health, once you stop caretaking for this feckless user.

          I get the feeling you have consumed by this man, in that he’s your principal hobby, focus of your time, and occupant of most of your thoughts, most of the time.

          I am really looking forward to hearing how you move away from this and discover yourself instead.

          Hopefully you are going to give yourself time to do that, and not rush into another relationship in order to have someone else to hide behind. Medicating with people is very tempting when you’re raw like this.

    • No, that isn’t the case. Ethical polyamorists have agreed-upon rules too. He shattered theirs. Multiple times.

      He’s an entitled asshat.

    • “The power dynamic”–

      It’s so weird all this time and the truth of that dynamic has finally clicked for me:

      Serial cheating is about the power.

      Chumplady, you’ve referenced this so many times but today I can clearly see it and it’s put a lot of my past into sharper focus. It’s so clear now, I’m a it in awe, lol! How did I miss that for so long??

      • Not just serial cheating. An LTA is about power as well. The only kind of cheating that isn’t about power would be a drunken ONS that’s quickly confessed to and never repeated. Cheaters will tell themselves it’s about sex and/or love for the AP, but cheaters lie to themselves as well as to their chumps and APs.

      • Because we are not accustomed to paying attention to power dynamics in personal relationships, and for many people, not even in professional ones. It’s a huge gap in human education.

    • For me, it was never about the sex (although that was pretty trashy too). It was more that he was willing to do something, so casually, that he knew would devastate me. Because it was something so easy to avoid or at least handle differently…(want to hump strange, get a divorce) it spoke volumes about how he saw me and our marriage. At best I was someone to hang out with, at worst I was there to keep house. If he really loved and cherished me he would not have puposely hurt me.

  • And notice that he was gaslighting her. It is not “just” the affair. Often, I think it is the lies that leave the most lasting damage. Gaslighting is abuse. Plus, it shows he is capable of significant deception.

    • The lies, gaslighting, blameshifting – I will never forget the evening he ignored me, I came slightly unglued and then blamed me, the next day, for losing my temper. Only at D-day did I discover that he has visited a hooker that afternoon. I knew something was wrong he wasn’t being forthcoming with anything. And, everything I did was ‘wrong’ or ‘he was stressed’ at work. He lied to me for months and created situations that made me the fall guy. It was cruel.

      • Agreed, the affair was not the most damaging part, definitely the gaslighting, lying and emotional abuse were way worse. When someone makes your doubt yourself so much that you start to lose yourself… I’m so thankful that I had such amazing family and friends who pulled me out of that

        • Oh yes. The last year or so of my marriage was hell. I could do nothing right. He acted as if I was an embarrassment to him. He was constantly calling me out on every little imperfection. When I would call him out on anything I was being a disrespectful horrible wife, especially if I tried to intervene when he was being a dick to the kids because I didn’t have his back in parenting. At least he is a better dad now that he doesn’t live with his kids anymore and he doesn’t need to bait me into an intervention that he can point to as me being a bad partner. Actually, he treats me better now too. This divorce thing really isn’t so bad after all.

          • Chumpinrecovery, you just described my life with cheater.
            He did the same thing with parenting of our son. Defending and siding with our son when he ignored me, as if I was being too harsh asking him to take out the trash.
            Looking at me when we were out as if he was ashamed of me.
            Only difference is he doesn’t treat me any better now that we’re divorced except now I don’t care.

      • You are describing Jackass once he started the affair. I don’t have documentary proof, but the cold shoulder (ignoring you), the blame shifting, the gaslighting.

        • LovedaJackass, after I got on this site (after I was separated) I started to wonder if my ex was a cheater – the last five years particularly were exactly this. I too have no proof and had no suspicions but the behaviour changes were so exactly what everyone here describes. However, it is history and not worth mulling over. Its all abuse and it is not acceptable.

    • I agree with you, Divorce Minister. It’s the lying and gaslighting; all the confusion that comes with it. From the very beginning, he always had one up on me. I was in the dark on so much and to this day, I still don’t know everything and I don’t wish to know. I know enough to trust that he sucks! I was mentally devastated when I moved out and it took me a very long time to unscramble my eggs of a brain. That’s totally abuse to do something like that to someone. It’s pure evil to mess with someone’s mind and reality.

      • Funny…..pure evil is the name I have given my ex wife…..LOL.

    • I hear that a lot and it makes sense. The lying, gaslighting and double life definitely shocked me to the core and took away my sense of safety. I questioned if anything between us had ever been real on his part. I still don’t know for sure, but probably not seems most likely. However, knowing he preferred some evil, home-wrecking skank to me, considered her better than me, after decades together in which I was loyal and loving, was the ultimate gut punch. This woman was truly, objectively awful with nothing going for her, and the “relationship” between them was so fake and childish as to be laughable, so it was the worst of all possible insults. Insult + injury + GINR – immediate and complete honesty = done.
      That’s the formula.

  • ChumpLady tells us, “Don’t untangle the skein of his “F”- uppedness. Don’t analyze if he’s a narcissist. Don’t go get experts to weigh in on it. Just sit with your own observations. That’s enough. You don’t have to get video, or a detective. If he’s selfish, self-centered, entitled, he’s a narcissist, or whatever you want to call it.

    This was the difficult thing for me: to come to terms with the fact that he never loved me, and he had played me. Once I could accept those two things, I began to heal, difficult as it was to accept these facts. The truth set me free.

    Narcissists know how to charm. Remember the three channels of the cheater: charm, self-pity, rage.

    • I tried looking for a “diagnosis” for a long time. Mid Life Crisis and “affair fog” and menopause all were things that I tried to stick to Mme Yogapants and was encouraged by the need for answers that also had me deep in the RIC world.

      Eventually I more or less stopped trying to untangle the skein and settled on the “selfish jerk” diagnosis which works well for me.


    • QM,
      One of the things that I have had to do is to educate myself as to what narcissistic/cheater behavior is so that I could come out of the fog. I was deep into it for 30+ years so educating myself here has been a lifesaver after spending an inordinate time in the RIC camps.

      A paradox in learning vs getting sidetracked into focusing on him vs on my new life without him.

    • I knew Mr. Sparkly Pants was a narcissist before I knew about the cheating. I was making a plan to leave him because the verbal and emotional abuse were escalating to physical, and I had begun to fear he would kill me. I didn’t want to accept that he was a narcissist, because that meant there was “no hope for the marriage.” Why in heaven’s name did I think that there was any hope for a marriage to someone I was legitimately afraid of? Why did I want there to be? Hopium — I was high on hopium.

      It has taken me over a year to come to terms with the fact that he never loved me, and that the man I thought I married didn’t exist. The cheating was almost anti-climactic after accepting that he was a narcissist. Still, the cheating is what propelled me out the door without finalizing my plans for employment and a place to live. I just ran.

      Life is far more peaceful without a narcissist and his tantrums, self-pity and fleeting episodes of charm.

  • I also didnt think that my Cheater fit the definition of Narc, but I was wrong. I gave him so many points for a humanitarian act he did in 1989, I was just SURE that meant he was normal (facepalm).

    I dont know how many affairs he had but the one time he made plans way ahead to leave the country with Susan of Seattle (trip to Vancouver, Canada) he went out of his way to tell me about a rafting trip which was being organized by some work friends and he wouldn’t go “unless it is ok with you” so he got permission. He smiled and got all happy…he “got permission” only trouble was he left out the “gonna get a hotel room and screw Susan while you care for our children at home and the dying children at your work, but that is fine and dandy with you Uni, since you agreed”.

    • …but CL is right…we distract ourselves trying to discern if they have this or that diagnosis. Is that behavior ok? I also saw the farm which cant support itself unless he “lets” her work as a huge red flag. My Cheater spent just slightly too much requiring me to work to make up the difference then when I did, he accused me of selfishness in maintaining a career when I should be home with the kids. If I suggested a budget so that I could do that, he would say “you think Im a failure”. Gosh, looking back, I now see that part was correct.

      • Ugh. The whiplash of demands.

        When dating as teenagers my X Asshat made some remark about setting me up to be “sucking the tit for 40 years” like his mom did. (My dead former inlaws were married 54 years and she stayed home to raise 4 kids while he was in the Marines and other post-military work.) I had never presumed I wouldn’t work so I am not sure where he was getting that idea, but I took his challenge and understood that I would always have to do my ‘half’ for the benefit of our team. I put him through college and worked right on through babies, got my own engineering degree and our team was set with me ALWAYS pulling my share of the load and doing all the household stuff too.

        Guess who was butt hurt at the end because I had a great job? Who, despite his own engineering degree, found me to be too competent and threatening? The childish, petulant, passive aggressive master-of-comparisons, that is who.

        Always remember you can’t win with the Asshats. No matter how you try to bend yourself into pretzel shapes to be what they demand they need they will come back later to tell you those are the reasons you are being cruelly discarded.

        I have accepted he was a completely inadequate husband, father, and especially, a horribly inadequate man.

        • Ditto! “Always remember you can’t win with the Asshats. No matter how you try to bend yourself into pretzel shapes to be what they demand they need they will come back later to tell you those are the reasons you are being cruelly discarded.

          I have accepted he was a completely inadequate husband, father, and especially, a horribly inadequate man.”????????????????????????????????????????????????

          • My ex was inadequate and knew it deep down. I threatened him obviously so that’s why he had to make sure he beat me down!

        • My XH manipulated me in so many ways, but the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

          His mommy is a master manipulator like her son. Charm, rage, self-pity. Check! Years ago, after the kids were born, my XMIL said to me or course when no one was around, “I’m so happy your family lives so far away (650 miles). It’s the wife who determines where the holidays are spent and with your family not around, you have to spend all the holidays with us.” I was IN SHOCK when she said that to me. But guess what? I spent the next 15ish years trying to prove to her that I was not the type of women that would not be fair about the holidays. My X-in-law’s only invited us over to their house once a year and that was for Easter. But Mommy Dearest manipulated me into inviting them over for all the other holidays, including manipulating me into having family parties at our house. Who did all the fucking work? ME! Not her “perfect and special” son. He’d showed up at the party and would act all “perfect husband” while he scooped up dishes and helped clean up the kitchen. Did he do that in every day life when it was just me and the kids? NO!

          I spent so much time trying to include the in-laws in the daily lives of our kids. And of course after D-day, I was accused by MIL of “keeping the kids away from their grandparents and father”. I wasn’t, and that is totally out of character for me. Narc’s don’t like when they don’t get their way. She’s a lying, manipulate bitch. Oh, but she’s a “Christian”. Right (heavy sarcasm).

          • My XMIL is exactly the same as you described. So entitled and manipulative. UGH.

        • Love that last part. So true for a narcissist. They are such pieces of shit!

      • Ooh that comment produced a few triggers for me. I was a horrible mother and wife for wanting to have a career instead of leaving it all behind to go be a SAHM. I did at least cut back to 30 hours a week and made family a priority when necessary. I was the one taking time off to go to school events and take kids to appointments etc. I let him make his career a priority. I was unable to move up much working those hours, but I did at least keep my place. I could never talk to him about work stress, however as I would get no sympathy from him. “well, you chose that”.

        Eventually he quit that job I had supported and made a priority because, guess what? They didn’t appreciate him. Then suddenly it was “why don’t you make more money? You have been working all of these years you should be farther along in your career”. When I started working more hours to get ahead he had two affairs and left me for Schmoopie 2.0 because he wasn’t getting enough attention. I didn’t think mine was a narcissist either but I am starting to rethink that. I always did know he was empathetically challenged.

        • Chumpinrecovery, what your XH did to you is called “moving the goalposts”.

          “Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as “moving the goalposts” in order to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you.”

          He sounds like a narc to me!

    • Yeah, like mine tried to say he couldn’t be a narc because he gives blood regularly. Lol.
      Your cheater may have had other affairs or may not have. They seldom tell the truth about how many, but who really cares. One is more than enough. My cheater was a late bloomer who started in middle age. Once they start, they don’t tend to stop, no matter what assurances they give. They can’t even give you that assurance, since they already did that when they made their vows, and we know how that turned out. So any promise to never cheat again is by default a lie, since they can’t really know what they will do in the future. If they could trust themselves to keep their word, surely wedding vows carry more gravitas and are more likely to be kept than the post-affair cheaterspeak promises they use to get you to stay.

  • There was an Australian version of Jeopardy! Last aired in the 90s I think.

  • Chumpdownunder69,
    Have you read “Rethinking Narcissism” by Craig Malkin? People can slide up and down the scale depending on external stressors. (I’ve seen my Cheater do that on a weekly basis this year.) “Endlessly adoring” sounds like love bombing to me. Malkin’s definition of a narcissist is someone with “an incapacity to depend on others when they feel vulnerable and instead they turn to feeling special like a drug to soothe themselves.” Sound familiar? Best wishes to you.

    • Very good book. Malkin also has short-clip YouTube videos that are helpful as well. Richard Grannon and Sam Vaknin videos shed alot of light on what narcissism is and is not. Out of the Fog was the book that woke me up and gave voice to everything I’d been feeling for years. Educating myself gave me validation.

  • Everybody has a little narcissism going on inside. That doesn’t make everyone a toxic narcissist, but it does make people with consciences easy to gaslight (hey, YOU do that too… Or even hey, I do that too sometimes…)

    Does a diagnosis matter when you are assessing harm done? Does it matter whether a person is a diagnosed psycho while they are stabbing you?

    Shifting focus can be a way to avoid the actual root of the point. Whether the cheater is redeemable or not isn’t the real point. What the cheater actually did IS the real point.

    Is this guy narcissistic? At least some of the time, yes.

    Does it matter whether he was being narcissistic while he was being deceptive, leveraging good times to justify the deception, and serving himself even though he was 100% sure it was not acceptable in the agreement he had with his partner?

    My answer is no.

    Chumps often have ineffective boundaries. There’s a payoff to that — we get to avoid ending relationships with people who don’t have/observe good boundaries.

    This chump needs to dive deeply into boundary work, says me.

    • Finally, at the age of 52, I am establishing boundaries and not feeling guilty for enforcing them. The guilt is the hardest hurdle for me. Spent so many years being the yes girl to my parents, the ex, his kids, hell, even his family, and work. It’s time to stand up straight and start pushing back.

      • MissBailey, I am only two years behind you in age, and I am only just now getting good at this myself? I can talk tough but I can also turn into custard when it’s the wrong person.

        Last week I was able to pat myself on the back because I got it ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. In a social situation, a male friend started massaging my shoulder, unasked, because I was complaining about something.

        I was able to ask him to stop, in a nice way, which he did. It was in front of other people and it wouldn’t have been appropriate to say something then and there, but as soon as I got away, I messaged him and asked him quite directly never to touch in in that way again.

        What was really good is that I was simple and clear in my language; I didn’t say too much; I didn’t apologise or explain. When he semi-apologised, I clarified for him, again in really simple short language, without fawning, apologising myself, or minimising.

        He then apologised properly – but of course had to have the last word and said that next time I should say something immediately …

        What can you do? I left him with it, and we’ve seen each other since and it’s all fine. I was really pleased with myself. I can’t do anything about his attitude, though – which has been duly noted by me for future reference.

    • Ami FTW
      Boundaries keep us safe.
      Boundaries are bypassed unless enforced.
      People who are worth your time understand and respect boundaries.
      A litmus test: say “no” to the person (genuinely, with your needs in mind) once daily for a week- and just observe.

      • Yes, that is the very best way to test a narc—keep something from them that they want or tell them no. Eventually, narcs will out themselves with petulance when asked to observe your boundaries. This has been an immensely useful tool in post-divorce dating.

        • I will never forget the first time I said no to something big the ex wanted – an ATV to haul deer out of the woods for those 3 months that he hunted and needed to use it maybe 5 times. The other 360 days, it would sit in our garage while we made the payments. We had been married maybe 4 years.

          He threw a fit complaining that “what the hell am I working for”. He pouted, yelled and ignored me for a day. I finally relented and he got that damn ATV. Not once in our marriage did I ever ask for anything that was strictly for my use or cost that much money.

          He didn’t care because it was all about what he wanted.

          • MissBailey, the Twat would pout and stick out his lower lip while throwing a fit if I ever said no to anything. And I would get “but I just like to be spontaneous”. Well he can spontaneously make all his own repayments now then can’t he (or probably not, truth be told, because he couldn’t do it without my salary)!

            • Attie,
              I am pretty new here and wonder if there is a glossary of terms these cheaters use because I sure am running into quite a few I though were of his making.

              Would include your spontaneous statement….I never could figure out how that worked while working and raising 3 children and keeping a house and land surrounding it….oh yeah, the spontaneity was on his part – silly me, I forgot my only purpose in life was to respond to his every desire whenever he wanted me to – which required reading his mind when he hadn’t the energy to say what he wanted of me.

              Life is so much simpler with him gone – in fact at times I could almost say it is becoming a bit boring at times.

              Bring on boring!

              And I’m being nasty and am way off of topic being discussed here.

        • Learning about the saying “no” trick has been eye-opening to me. If I only knew this years ago!

          Way back in 1999 when I was pregnant. My XMIL wanted to be in the room with me and the H while her grandchild was born. She seemed entitled to it and had no problem at all saying that’s what she wanted. Neither me or my H wanted her there. My H even said, “She wasn’t there when it was conceived. She will not be there when it’s born.” H told her nicely that we didn’t want her there. It was a private for just us.

          Well, a few weeks after being told this. She called me up at work and was CRYING. Going on and on about how she thought I was going to keep the grandchild away from her. It was nuts and I was totally blindsided by the phone call. I was the one who called her and kept her up-to-date with trying to get pregnant. And also once I was pregnant, I kept her up-to-date. I was the one who planned the special outing and pregnancy announcement tailored to her narc needs (didn’t know about narc’s at the time, but she needs to be the center of attention and needs to feel special at all times. the type that needs to celebrate her birthday for a whole month and makes it known to everyone that it’s her birthday month). I spent the rest of my marriage making sure I didn’t do anything that would give her the impression that I was keeping the grandchildren away from her.

          After D-day, I finally started waking up to all the manipulation. And I remembered how she reacted when we told her “no” about being at the birth. She outed herself for the narc that she is.

          My XH slowly conditioned me to not say no to him too. Say “no” to a narc and they will out themselves with charm, rage or self-pity.

    • “Chumps often have ineffective boundaries.” ding ding ding! That is me definitely. I am working on that. My solution in the past was to just not put myself in situations where I needed boundaries. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work (I thought ex didn’t need boundaries, that’s why I married him) so I guess I need to learn how to set and hold boundaries after all for those times when they are needed.

  • I think Chumpdownunder is struggling with the realisation that her husband is not the person she thinks and the narcissim question is a way of putting off accepting that.

    Some people don’t really have a stable self, but if you only see the person they are in front of you then you get the impression that they are a particular person.

    Sorry Chumpdownunder, the person you married didn’t really exist. It’s a really hard thing to accept.

  • Narcissist are great actors. I mean, who really wants to think that their marriage was a lie. Who wants to go back through the years and try to figure out which parts were true and which were not? A narcissist will have you believing that they are “Team You” all the while having a whole different agenda going on. And when the plot twist is exposed, you are left standing looking like a deer in headlights. And while they will make slight changes to “comfort” you…that’s not real either, because the AP is still in the scene.

    No one wants to believe that a person could be capable of being this way. I struggled to accept it, because “he was really a good person”. No. He is a good actor. They know what the audience likes and that’s who they show up as.

    • #truth

      After the reading of The Divorce Letter. I said to my sister, “He’s such a great actor. He deserves multiple Academy Awards.”

  • I’ve so been there! My ex is handsome, smart, charming, magical with children and a veritable Dr. Doolittle with animals. He shared household tasks and childrearing 50/50, brought me flowers regularly, told me I was brilliant, and was always enthusiastic about my cooking. Everything was fantastic except the infidelity. And he went to sex addiction meetings for that. We had saved our marriage- worked through our difficulties. Hooray! Nobody on this site is going to be surprised to hear that he wasn’t actually going to sex addiction meetings but instead meeting women for sex… Sometimes in my garage while I was home inside with the kids. A different kind of sex addiction meeting I suppose. He cheated on me for a decade. He finally left because he fell in love with someone else; I always thought my love could save our relationship. I was wrong. It doesn’t matter if he is a narcissist or not; mine isn’t. What does matter is that he feels entitled to do what he pleases. He won’t admit it because he wants to feel like a good person. But he feels entitled to what he wants instead of the compromises necessary in a marriage. He feels entitled to lie to you to get what he wants. He feels entitled to to have an economically unviable farm that you financially support. And the question becomes do you feel he is entitled to that? Ànd are you okay being married to somebody you cannot trust. (I decided for the sake of the kids that I was for a while.) Guess what? Now that we’re separated and he no longer has to hide anything me, he STILL lies, he is still hiding things, and he is STILL not following through on commitments (financial.) It’s an issue of character not personally disorder for many cheaters. And your partner has weak character.

  • It doesn’t matter what he “IS”; his behavior is all that matters.

    He sucks. Go with that and get rid of him. He’s worse than athlete’s foot.

  • Relationships are two-way streets.
    This sounds like a one-way. We Chumps are always thinking about satisfying everyone else and forget about satisfying ourselves.
    Thanks for the helping me put this in perspective. It’s hard to see straight when you’re a Chump who puts everyone else’s needs first.
    Reading here always gives me a good slap in the face & a “snap out of it” snarky comment. Thank you CL & CN.

    • Renee62- So true about the slap in the face on this page, right? It’s so easy to slip back into that self-blame thing. Maybe he wasn’t so bad. Going over what I could have done differently. It does seem clearer when it’s someone else’s story. Shakes me back to reality. : )

      • I appreciate being reminded (through others’ stories) of all the things that were wrong with my last relationship and the completely unacceptable, unethical behavior on the part of my last partner. I often think some version of ‘Maybe he wasn’t so bad’ or ‘What could I have done differently?’ or ‘If I hadn’t been so ‘needy,’ maybe he’d still be around.’ I should remind myself that I don’t miss the outright, unprovoked lying, gaslighting, insulting, and controlling. It doesn’t matter how ‘successful’ he is in his career, how many friends he has, how sparkly he looks–he’s still an unethical person who often treated me like garbage. He’s still a jerk of a person even if he treats his current wife like a princess. If I can remember this when I start really missing him, perhaps I won’t miss him so much. I miss a mirage.

    • Ah, Renee62, that reminds me of Cher slapping Nicholas Cage in the movie “Moonstruck”. I love that scene!! However, all the cheating and chumpiness in that movie I can no longer tolerate!

      On a mighty sidenote: I always thought it would be so romantic to get all dressed up and go to the MET to see an opera, because of the movie “Moonstruck”. Seeing an opera and visiting the MET has been on my bucket list for a long time. Last summer my daughter and I attended an opera at the Palais Garnier in Paris. I took back France from my cheater! And this past February my daughter and I went to the MET to see Andrea Bocelli (two buckets lists crossed off in one night!). I took back NYC from my cheater!! Next up is the National Parks! He considers himself this big National Parks guy. Truth is, I planned all those trips and every single thing we did in those National Parks. He showed up and I have no doubt in my mind that he’s taken credit for all the work I did to make all those happy family memories.

  • Dear Chumpdownunder69,

    Take it from someone who played the marriage police game for over a decade. It does nothing but prolong the pain and cause more problems. They find ways to get around stuff and I think it might even make lying and cheating more fun for them. After a while they hate you for “restricting” them and “not trusting” them. So it all becomes your fault again as they use your lack of trust as an excuse for future bad behavior and as a ploy to win the pity and attention of new or rekindled schmoopies. Ask me how I know.

    I had full access to my ex’s phone. He was always part of a Christian men’s accountability group. He used the incognito search setting it, learned to erase stuff, had his women under names that wouldn’t draw my attention, and the piece de resistance: he “never got” my calls (out of service area he said) and messages from me and our kids somehow didn’t get through (he couldn’t imagine why). Then one day I spied on him: called him and watched him receive my call, hit ignore, and then promptly swipe it to delete. I made him aware of my presence. He was he shocked. The look on his face was priceless. I confronted what he’d done and he tried to gaslight me. Told me I was crazy.????

    Are they all really the same? Yes, very much so.

    You’re being love bombed. I’ve been there too. You’re being played because you’re good supply. Dear, you got a job to support his life and opened the marriage to meet his needs! What fuckwit wouldn’t want to keep that kind of generous woman? You are way too good for him.

    Run. Go be successful and live a better life. It will hurt for a while, but you won’t regret it.

    • Gotta love the Jesus Cheaters!

      I caught my XH emailing and messaging via Facebook flirtatious messages to FOUR different women. He then gave me the password to his FB and Gmail. He stopped using his FB. And a week after giving me his Gmail password, he changed it and didn’t tell me the new one. I felt like I was in a bind as if I asked him what his new password was, then I would hear that I “didn’t trust” him and it would be all put back on me. So I let it go. After D-day I mentioned him changing his password a week after. He said and I quote, “I probably got a notification to change my password. I wasn’t hiding anything from you.” Nope! Liar! I’ve had a Gmail account for almost five years and not once has Google emailed me to change my password. His second life was on that gmail account and he didn’t want me to see it! I have no doubt in my mind that he still has other email accounts and is hiding his second life for the current whore du jour.

      • Oh, gosh. So typical.

        I found porn hub in my ex’s search engine. I confronted him and he insisted that someone he worked with must have used his phone. He sat (in front of me) on the phone with the tech rep. with the company and discussed how to remove it. Promised he’d keep “the guys” off the phone after that.

        • Yeah, right! Who goes around using someone else’s phone without them knowing about it?!
          Most men have their phones on them in their pockets at all times anway. They got a quick lie/excuse for every single thing they get busted on. Fork-tongued snakes!

          On one of our vacations, my XH gave us the password for his work laptop. The kids were able to watch movies in the backseat of the car on our long drives. When we came home and the laptop got hooked up with the WiFi, our daughter asked if she could use his laptop. He said she couldn’t because he “got in trouble with the IT department for giving out his password” to us. He had to change the password or he’d get in trouble. Yeah, right. He’s got more evidence of his second life on there. The calendar where he has all his harem’s birthdays logged in so that he can remember to send out the innocent Happy Birthday message to them each year to see if they will take the bait. And then there’s his work email where he messages his former ho-worker harem from. Technology just makes cheating even easier. All the cheater had to do was text me the night he was out on a date with his whore and say he was someplace else. Easy peasy. He didn’t count on God waking me up that night and telling me something was horribly wrong. I’m no fool anymore!

  • My ex was bipolar, but didnt want to accept the diagnosis or consider treatment options (his home remedies were cheating, pornography and a brief spell on adderall). I was complaining to my counselor about it when he said “Bossy, it doesnt matter if he is diagnosed bipolar or not. He is an ass who treats you terribly and that is all you need to know.”

    • Bossy,
      ( I LOVE your name)!
      Your counselor was awesome.
      I often think why can’t there be a test, a simple ( or I would take, complicated ) test, that a cheater would agree to take and then he/she could see that they are a NARCISSIST and that the Chump was not making up all the shittiness of their character.
      I often feel so frustrated that a cheater’s character is so shitty, so Narc-Like, and they will never never never get it, lots of other people never see through their masks, they don’t get it. If only there was such a test, at least a Chump could have some satisfaction about that.
      Oh, yea, that test would be a MIRACLE!

      • Peacekeeper, I think what we want is a test that will lay them bare to themselves, that they will actually see what assholes they truly are…and that they will be ashamed. I have come to accept that shame will never come.

        Unfortunately, it seems that most narcissists are perfectly fine with being the way they are. And, in their world, you are lucky that they chose you to share some of their time with, whether you are a spouse-appliance OR a side piece.

        If mine were to take such a test, his response would probably be, “yes, yes, yes…SO?” With a smirk on his face.

      • I think a narcissist admitting to being a narcissist would be a bit of an oxymoron. I supposed some might admit it but they would see being a narcissist as a positive quality.

      • There is a test and it is called the MMPI – Minnesota Multiple Personality Test.

        They can take it, but if any of yours is/was like my x, they will deny the results – ie blame the test.

        What I have personally found to be a lot more helpful has been for me to recognize the behavior for what it is and to learn about myself and why I fell for it hook, line and sinker for so many years. I am willing to change. I just didn’t see the behavior for what it was until I discovered CL and CN. As CL states in almost all of her writing – cheaters are invested in changing themselves so why bother.

        Prior to CN and CL I kept doing the pick me dance which meant I was changing all of the time as the demands kept shifting. I now recognize that my changes were being orchestrated by the wrong person. Now I am learning to set boundaries and be in charge of what I do change and what I do not. I am learning to dance with myself as my beloved partner rather than abandoning myself to a disordered character who cares only about himself and his image.

        • I really should proof read before hitting the send button but if I don’t type fast enough what I write gets wiped by computer before I finish.

          Don’t know how to do a correction within a message already sent but last line 3 paragraph should read ‘ cheaters are NOT invested in changing themselves so why bother.’

      • I agree, a test that resulted in the jerk gettig a scarlet N tattoo (with a red flag on it) somewhere visible would be excellent!!!!!

    • “Bossy, it doesnt matter if he is diagnosed bipolar or not. He is an ass who treats you terribly and that is all you need to know.”

      There it is, in a nutshell!! Thanks for sharing this, Bossynova.

      Too many of us are big on being kind and understanding, so we dig and delve and try to comprehend their disordered and/or demented minds. I know I did. (In my case, the Python is both: no doubt a narcissist, with frontotemporal dementia sprinkled on top).

      But it doesn’t matter WHY they “treat you terribly.” Since we are shocked and saddened at the lying and cheating, it IS normal for us to ask “why” – but it’s not productive, and it misses the point.

      When they turn on the charm, they trick us into believing they are great partner material. But when you stand back and just look at the devious behavior, you realize they are the opposite of partner material. We were tricked. They are sweet talking snakes. Best thing to do is get away.

      • I agree hopium! So many of us who get taken in by liars are “fixers” who try to learn about stuff in order to try to help. We learn and study stuff when we should be running away!

  • Nothing you have written here shows him as being “endlessly supportive”. He is an immature, whiny cake eater who thinks he can life his dream and put in no effort to get it. I’ve been there – I worked full time while my fuckwit ex pursued his dreams of being a writer.

    It’s been my observation that when a woman feel the need to “open up” the marriage there are serious issues that allowing her husband to openly fuck other women won’t solve.

    Instead of focusing on why he does what he does (spoiler he’s an immature, whiny cake eating fuckwit) it would be more helpful to focus on what you think any of what you wrote is an acceptable way to live and start building the life YOU want.

  • I totally understand where this is coming from. I never agreed to an open marriage, but I did agree to let Cheater watch porn while we were having sex because he “needed it.” I thought I was being cool and that would keep him happy. Later that got thrown in my face as a Reason He Cheated –because obviously I was just cool with everything and it was fine. He also insisted we were BOTH into the porn & cheating thing, because I agreed to it.

    I also saw Cheater as a very supportive husband for a long time. Only in retrospect do I look back and realize that he was supportive of me making more money –for him to spend. He was supportive of me going to college–when it means I was getting student loans for him to spend. (In fact, if I didn’t want to take out a student loan because I didn’t think we needed to, he threw a fit and insisted hysterically that I get the loan.) He seemed considerate of my health issues, but then later he used those as a reason he cheated.

    Supportive? Not so much. I agree with CL. He was happy to have you going to the city to support him while he fucked around.

  • He’s a narcissist, but it sounds like you are just one of those people that got an extra dose of goodness. You are trying to avoid a conservative take on marriage by being open-minded about alternative arrangements (probably something you do in many aspects of your life); you are independent and have many interests and don’t mind time alone; you feel guilty about not liking his dream farm-life because you are selfless; and you love him because you’re the kind of person capable of deep, lasting love. It seems to me that everything that happened in your marriage that makes him look like he’s NOT a narcissist to you is a reflection of your complete lack of narcissism. My loving narc argues that he had to keep the affair secret because I would get so mad. He wanted to be honest but I’m so scary (my 120 pounds to his 220 pounds is SUPER scary). I sometimes found myself falling into that trap of thinking he wasn’t actually a narcissist because I was so busy with the kids and had so many friends and he was always working that I bought his “no choice but to lie” narrative. Bottom line–you didn’t lie to your husband. He lied to you. He didn’t move back to the city for you. You moved to a farm for him. Narcissist diagnosis goes to your lonely farmer. But maybe you can tolerate that. I think I would have stayed in my sucky marriage if I hadn’t flushed the affair partner into the open and forced him to choose. I didn’t think I was totally unhappy at the time. Looking back, I was. Maybe do a little analysis of whether you were truly happy or just afraid to let the marriage go. Comfort can taste like passion …with the right condiments. Don’t be fooled by that. You rock.

    • madkatie, I am in agreement with your assessment of chumpdownunder’s character here. Her independence, selflessness, openmindedness, and I’d like to add, an unusually high pain threshold. Chumpdownunder, it really does boil down to what is acceptable to you. Do you really truly not mind being lied to, deceived, and him fucking whoever and whenver he pleases with no rules boundaries or consequences of any kind? Because that is what youve got here. Someone above described you as desperate for accepting the open-marriage, but I don’t get that feeling. You are definitely in denial about how bad it is, but “desperate” doesn’t seem quite right to me. It seems you have a great deal of bullshit-tolerance. Why? Your letter does not read like you have the slightest intention of exiting this situation. Why? Why does this smart, independent, loving, easy-going woman stay in a relationship where she’s doing all of the giving and none of the getting? That’s the question you should be asking yourself

  • Spot on BetterDays!! Agree with you 100%
    And who cares what the “label” is for their behavior.
    It’s all done in secret.
    And you will NEVER know the full unvarnished truth.
    This undisclosed behavior and the thoughts left unsaid is key to knowing the core of a person.
    It’s what we don’t say that weighs the most.
    Learning to trust again seems almost insurmountable.

  • In answer to whether he’s a narcissist, I’m going to go with: who cares?
    What he DOES is bad, who cares why?
    Ok, in all fairness, we all want to know why; I sure spent a lot of time trying to figure that out. Unfortunately, as the CL says, that’s not the important thing here. He’s a cheater, a liar, and otherwise a lousy husband. That’s really the only factor that should have any bearing on your own actions.
    For what it’s worth, I firmly believe there are plenty of cheaters out there who are not narcissists; a lot of people with bad self esteem, I think, like the attention. It’s just that so many cheaters are narcissists, it’s a common topic on here in dealing with them.

  • Boy this made me want to scream out loud “What about YOU Chumpdownunder? What about YOUR needs? When was the last time you even thought about that?”

    Whether he is a narc or not doesn’t matter. He might be, he might be borderline or insert here any other cluster B, pathological disorder. The label doesn’t matter, what he is to you is a parasite. He doesn’t just hurt you mentally and emotionally, he is putting your life and health at risk.

    He smiles to your face, pretends to be good to you and then goes and cheats on you. As you are learning the hard way, it’s not about getting some strange, it’s actually about the deceit itself. What he gets off on really is getting one over you. He smiles to your face because he enjoys fooling you over and over again. My own fuckwit actually admitted to that straight up. The women he fucks don’t matter, it’s the lies, the sneaking around that gives him the high. These people have issues that even an army of psychiatrists couldn’t fix.

    Did you really want to open up your marriage? Did you also date/sleep with other men while in the city? No? So it wasn’t really an open marriage. It was just your desperate attempt to keep a manchild quiet and happy. You are literally describing and treating him like a small, young child – gosh he is just so needy and couldn’t be left alone while I went to work to pay the bills, so I let him have some playmates……. Your hubby isn’t a child, he is a predator and he chose you, they all choose chumps because of this level of selflessness and complete lack of personal boundaries.

    You will give up your own identity, values, marital expectations all just to please a fuckwit and what do you get for that? You get cheated on and if you don’t find the courage to drop kick him out of your life, eventually you’ll be discarded for a bigger better chump. How is that for a reward for all your sacrifice? Fuckwits are shameless users. There is no ROI, there is no give and take, there is only take take take until they suck you dry and then off to a new supply. They are living breathing parasites……

    But but but what if he suddenly becomes a good man? Well….a disordered fuckwit can do that about as well as a snake can turn into a fluffy bunny. Maybe on some other planet, in some other universe……or you can put down the hopium pipe….. You know good and well that on this planet earth, snakes don’t morph into fluffy bunnies and disordered fuckwit cheaters don’t become morally upstanding men and women.

    Your marriage is great but for the cheating? Cheating is a form of abuse.

  • I’m sorry this is your marriage. I was also convinced to open my marriage. It was so isolating and it kept me right where he wanted me: unable to open up to people who might have counseled me to leave. Ultimately he just wanted to shop for an upgrade while married instead of taking a risk on divorce. I was his plan B. You’re his plan B and such a good one: you stay away and provide cash flow! Stop listening to what he says. What he does tells the story. He sucks no matter what his diagnosis is.

    • Oh and also my “open marriage” had rules that he broke nearly immediately too. And ultimately I found out he’d been cheating before the open marriage too. Your guy is not original. He’s selfish and he loves control.

    • Exactly so. One should never stay with a partner who considers you anything but his/her one and only plan. If you’re ever put in plan B status, your partner does not love you and will leave if he or she finds an A. To qualify for A status, all an AP partner has to be is not you, because these people are looking to hurt you, not looking for love.

      • Yes, yes, yes and that nasty behavior started for me when he found what he considered an A status AP.

        Unfortunately for him, she ditched him shortly after he pledged his allegiance to her. Guess he was a Plan B for her and they got their letters mixed up or were playing from different alphabets.

      • So true, Chumperella,

        I allowed myself to be Plan B, or C, or Z to way too many partners. In the end of virtually all of them, I was abruptly discarded for Plan A.

        Like CDU69, I offered my husband a ‘one-sided open marriage’–shortly after D-Day #1, I told him that he could keep affair partners and I would NOT have any as long as he would stay married to me. (Yeah, I was a desperate doormat, trying to hang on as we had young kids, I was in school full time and was earning virtually no money.) He ended up telling me to get him a subscription to a dating website and tried to get me to sign a contract stating that I would forfeit 100% of my portion of our marital funds if I ever filed for divorce! He ended up blowing up our marriage in a very dramatic, damaging way. Years later, he still takes me to court. This is what accommodating got me.

        CDU69, It seems that you have a LOT going for you. The only thing getting in your way is your ‘husband,’ a husband only according to the definition of the law. What a load of deadweight he is!

  • Chumpdownunder
    If your reading everyone’s reply here you should realize
    your being used & lied to constantly. You sound so desperate that you agreed to an “open marriage “?
    In my opinion you are brainwashed by this horrible man. Like CL said “what is acceptable to you?”
    He is a narcissist that’s gets off on deceiving you.
    Please rid yourself of this fuckwit & live a life of truth
    & honesty. Also you should be tested for any sexual diseases. Get the courage you need & let the other woman have him! He’s not worth it . ????

  • Towards the end of ex’s emotional affair he lamented on the fact that he hadn’t had much experience with other women. He felt like he was missing something important. I tried to tell him he wasn’t really missing anything but I felt a bit bad for him that he might have missed out on something that other men got to experience. I briefly considered allowing him to have a fling or two to get it out of his system but I didn’t because I knew it would be emotionally difficult for me and I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get physically involved without becoming emotionally attached as well. Several years later he chose to find out what it was like to fuck other women without my permission and sure enough he fell for one of them. Open marriages are a huge risk in my opinion. At least one of the other is bound to end up emotionally attached to someone else. Of course I ended up in one anyway without my knowledge. Ex claimed that was his intent when he cheated. I guess he wasn’t expecting the emotional side. He’s an idiot. In any case he certainly wasn’t taking my feelings into consideration. Does that make him a narcissist? Irrelevant.

    • PS. Ex did try to suggest an open marriage after he got caught (cake!). I decided that wasn’t acceptable to me. It took a while but eventually I figured out that the only way to enforce that boundary was divorce.

    • If someone wants to date and have sex with strangers, he or she can file for divorce, pay child support and give the spouse primary custody and the house.

  • You don’t need the DSM to know that he lies. That he doesn’t keep his agreements or promises. That he is capable of living a double life. That he’s not trustworthy. That he is willing to use you to finance his lifestyle. That your marriage is all about his needs, not your needs or your needs as a couple.

    Put any name on that you like. Selfish. Unking. Lacking in empathy. Immaturity. Exploitive.

  • She said, “Except for the cheating, our marriage has been amazing.” hahahahahahahaha, I’m rolling on the floor laughing. Brings to mind the comment: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

    • Now I’m rolling on the floor laughing. Yes, the Lincoln analogy is apt!

  • Lol shell shock that’s okay I read it both times. Needs to sink in. Along with better days comments. I used to stick up for fuckwit all the time. Defending him and saying what a good person he was????. Now I know he sucks and was just pretending our 25 years of marriage.

    • If you have to “defend” someone all the time, that in itself is a red flag, indicating that other people see he has big problems but you don’t want to look at that.

      And probably 100% of us did that to some extent. I used to defend Jackass to Jackass! He would say, “I’m an asshole.” And I would say, “No, you’re not.”

      He was right. He’s an asshole.

      • Good point, LAJ.

        Once when I was out with my last partner (boyfriend) and an old college classmate of his (we all went to the same uni decades ago), my partner said loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘I’m a bad boyfriend.’ I was so mortified I said, ‘No he’s not. He’s a great boyfriend.’ My boyfriend was right. (Why do they, our partners, say stuff like this?) I was wrong.

  • The “loving” husband you claim he was? Fake. Impression management. By your own admission, this “loving” guy was cheating on you and violating polyamory. Whatever you give this guy, it’s never going to be enough. He gets off on duper’s delight. That’s why he violates the rules for open marriage- because he doesn’t even enjoy other women if he’s not lying to you and betraying you. That proves the kick he gets isn’t really the sex, ego boost and attention, it’s actually about hurting you. So you’re right. He’s probably not NPD. ASPD would be a better guess. He is probably a psychopath and definitely an absolute monster. Please leave this awful man.

    • Incidentally, I can relate to what you’re going through because my cheater showed all the superficial signs of remorse (full phone and email transparency, therapy, apologies) and even some more tangible ones like a kick-ass post-nup giving me all the assets and breaking off the affair. However, he kept on lying about certain things and the “I don’t know” answers were never-ending. He also broke a promise to not delete any evidence (I already had kept it, but was testing him).
      That’s how I knew the remorse only went so far, he was still in the duper’s delight mindset, and would never be honest or care enough about me to be a viable partner. A man who gets his jollies playing you for a fool does not love you. He most likely never really did, he never will, and isn’t capable of loving anyone. I know it’s hard to accept this, but accept it you must.

      • Chumperella,

        Reading what you wrote helped me with my struggle of late about what I haven’t been able to come to terms with that keep part of me thinking ‘he really is a good guy’ due to the divorce settlement wherein he was completely fair – no major setbacks so all of it went quite smoothly…and his wanting to continue on in a relationship with me, on his terms of course, after the divorce which I judiciously turned down. Only when I set that boundary did I begin to see the narcissist dance…Yet still that wondering if maybe he is a unicorn under all of his fuckeduness.

        The more I read here, the more that story fades and crashes into the background. Your comment has helped move it further back so thank you for chiming in here.

        • I’m so happy to have helped, and so sorry your cheater is such an ass. It sucks when you have to face that you’ve been spending your life with somebody who doesn’t really value you. Narc or not, if they don’t value you enough to be consistently loyal and honest, it’s time to show them the door. They can try to fool you with a unicorn impersonation, but the truth will out. Better to cut the rope now than let him dangle you indefinitely. It’s hard to let yourself go into that free fall, but eventually you will land on your feet. Here’s hoping it’s not too far down for you, Elderly Chump. I’m no spring chicken either at 56, and it’s brutal to have to start over in your later years. If you ever need somebody to talk to, you can ask Tempest for my email.

  • Oh boy this letter is a real hum-dinger. The lopsidedness of the power dynamic is staggering. The writer can’t possibly think this guy is going to have a sudden and complete character transformation? Remorseful? Oh for crying out loud. Another lie. He is going to continue to make himself feel special by lying to you, fooling you, as long as you let him. However much you think you know, I promise you, it’s so much worse. And he is not going to change.

    There’s a whole big world out there. You can have a different kind of life. A life without someone who sleeps around, lies about it, and just blatantly takes advantage of you. Have you thought about seeing a therapist? Find a good one who will call you out on your shit. HE is not the person that you need to figure out what’s wrong with him. YOU are. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you wrote to chump lady for help. So that tells me that this situation you are still accepting is….. not acceptable. So why are you doing it? Untangle your OWN skein here. Not his. (PS: he’s a narcissist). Take care good luck

  • Dear Chumpdownunder69,

    First step is to start to believe that EVERYTHING CL and CN says is true. Eventually one day, you will know it deep down in your heart and mind that it is all true. I know it hurts like hell and we’ve all been there; nothing hurts more than a 2×4 of truth whacked up against your head and heart.

    Second step is to act now while you have the upper hand. You now have the power in the relationship as you are waking up to who you really are married to. Now don’t tell him who you think he is (a narc)! Don’t tell him about CL and CN! Don’t tell him anything. How many times over the years has he blindsided you? Well, now it’s your turn. You already have a great job and a place to live in the city. You don’t need him. He needs you to support his life of lies. Get a lawyer and pull the rug out from him. Act quick! He will never see it coming as he knows you are a chump and you’ll put up with whatever crap is thrown your way. You deserve so much better than what you’ve settled for! One day you will be able to look back at your marriage and see it for what it truly was — a big scam and you were being used.

    Third step is to keep reading CL and CN (and read all the past blogs for more wisdom!) CL and CN will help un-chump yourself. I no longer call myself a chump. I WAS a chump, but no more! Daily I practice un-chumping myself. Boundaries. Standing up for myself when it’s really hard to do. It’s like a muscle that needs exercising ever single day to stay strong and to protect myself from the users of the world!

  • Chump acres is the place to be
    Open marriage’ is the life for me
    Lie’s spreadin’ out so far and wide
    Keep cheating, and the kibbles I’ll gladly provide

    The single life is where I’d rather stay
    I’m sick of doing everything your way
    I just adore a life without you
    Dah-ling I love you but give me what I’m due

    …The chores
    …The stores
    …Fresh air

    You are my life
    Good bye, worry and strife
    Chump Acres we are there

  • Wow, so many good insights!

    It cannot be repeated often enough: cheating is a narcissistic act, but a person doesn’t have to be a narcissist to cheat. They just need to be entitled assholes.

    And the real question is never “what flavor is my cheater?” It’s always, “Is this acceptable to me?”

  • x was appreciative of all the things I provided that improved our lifestyle, his lifestyle. Yet, he didn’t value anything I did. His income was his, and mine was ours. When my income dropped, he flipped the switch onto verbal abuse. I could not believe what I witnessed, I believed his words.

    Suggestions: stop doing for him, gradually, or just say no, or neglect to get around to his requests. Prioritize yourself and your needs at least 51% over his. Make a few goals to support your new life in the city, clothing update, exercise classes, join a club, upgrade your own communication devices. Reduce the money you send, or better yet if you directly pay the bills, stop paying for cable TV, cell phone and internet. Suggest he pay for his own. Let this separation from him go to the next level, and watch the response.

    Look up “JADE” communications.

    • validated, you described my life!

      “His income was his, and mine was ours. When my income dropped, he flipped the switch onto verbal abuse.”

      And maybe there was an affair earlier in the marriage, but the first one I know of happened after my income dropped and the verbal abuse had been going on for a few months.

      These sickos all read the same manual.

  • Narcissist or not, sounds like this dude keeps moving the goal post on you. Let’s move to a farm, then things’ll be great! Now you go get a job far away and support us, then things’ll be great! Now give me an open marriage, then things’ll be great! Now let me change all the marriage rules then things’ll be great!

    Sheesh. Aren’t you exhausted from all that hustling? Lady, take a break. And get an STD check.

    I also was married to a goal post mover. It strips your energy and soul. Just when you think you’ve done the outlandish things that will bring happiness and peace, there’s a new set of things. But, I’m free of him and 1000x better. You can be too!

  • “Is he a narcissist?” Sorry Chumpeddownunder but “is the Pope a Catholic?”! I think I saw further up that he is moving out (hope I’m right) and if so, good for you girl!

  • It’s all about HIM. I lived that way. Everything was about what made him happy. It’s a losing game trying to make someone else happy. We moved constantly because he never liked where we lived, we bought a country property because is was his dream, we didn’t associate with certain family members (mine) because he didn’t like them…….him, him, him. What about you?

  • Good post, but I’m sick to death of the diagnosis of narcissist for every cheater. I don’t believe that. Do they have narcissistic traits that may be greater than the average, probably but please stop diagnosing every cheater with NPD, there is a huge spectrum of mental illness that is so similar, not to mention so many addicts reflect that label very well. Really, it doesn’t matter what their problem is, and with a couple of exceptions no chump, including CL has the expertise to assess mental illness in person. No one at all can do so on the interwebs, never having met the person.

    • Narcissistic personality disorder isn’t a mental illness. It’s a cluster b personality disorder and that’s not categorically tune same. In fact, some prominent psychologists are pushing to have them redefined as character disorders. You can also be a narcissist and not have diagnosable NPD, so it’s not erroneous to call a person who is high in trait narcissism a narcissist. Words have definitions and the definition fits.

  • This poor woman is so deep in denial. She reminds me of the folks on the surviving infidelity subreddit. It’s nothing but a circle jerk of chumps being willing doormats. So depressing I had to leave the forum.

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