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Real Monkey Love, Bad Monkey Love

I use the analogy here a lot of the Barbed Wire Monkey. Did you know bad monkey love was a famous scientific study?

This scientist, Harry Harlow, studied primate bonding by putting baby monkeys in a cage with their real monkey mommies and other baby monkeys in a cage with barbed wire mommy substitutes, which were wrapped in a thin veneer of terry cloth.

The babies with the barbed wire mommies tried to bond with that thing.

I’ve used this as an analogy as to why we keep cheaters.

Even though they get pricked and are bleeding and the entire experience sucks, inside their little baby monkey brains, they must be thinking… something better than this exists. But they haven’t experienced it. So they cling hard to the barbed wire monkey. Of course, the babies with the REAL mommies are thriving.

Moral of the story? Step out of the cage and go find some REAL monkeys to bond with. It’s scary to leave the barbed wire monkey — but if you find the courage to do it, you’ll experience true monkeys. You don’t know what you’ve been missing.

So I thought this would make an interesting thought experiment — aka Fun Friday Challenge. Tell me your Real Monkey Moments.

This blog is a litany of how much barbed wire monkeys suck — but what was it like to discover that OMG there is more to life than barbed wire monkeys?

I’m not just talking about new romantic partners (although I like those stories too). What were some moments where you thought — oh hey, this is what connection feels like?

Bad Monkey: You got a new sweater? Whatever. Looks like your old sweater. I’m very engrossed in this video game/dating profile/immersion blender right now.

Good Monkey: I love your new sweater! That’s a great color on you!

Being seen. Being unseen. Being appreciated. Being a spouse appliance. Showing up. Disappearing.

I need a field guide to Real Monkeys, CN.


Ask Chump Lady

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  • For 20 years my cheating ex wife led me to believe I was boring, a kill-joy, and unpleasant to be around. My sense of humor (admittedly prone at times to dad jokes and puns) was treated as especially embarrassing. LOTS of eye rolling, pained sighs, and walking away. Then one evening a few months before the first D-day, I went on a business dinner with several people. Afterward, waiting for taxis with a woman from dinner who I did not previously know, I made a small joke and she laughed. Nothing dramatic, but a genuine, light-hearted laugh from someone who heard what I said and smiled. It wasn’t true monkey love, but maybe true monkey *like.* And in that moment I entertained the possibility that I wasn’t the insufferable burden I thought I was. I never saw that woman again, but that moment was truly eye opening.

    When D-day came, I was better able to imagine a better life by recalling that moment of laughter.

    • I have finally overcome my artist block earlier this year (7 years ????) and got back to creating daily – I get a lot of support from various creative groups that I joined and the one consistent theme is my sense of humour and fun and lively drawings – I like to think that I have a sense of humour . Gobshite XH said I was boring, too serious and had no friends and was miserable- contrary to my daily feedback. Maybe I appeared miserable cos I was tiptoeing on fucking eggshells????????????

        • Yes, thank you – but she is frowning ????????- I’ll send you my website link – I’ve drafted a kids book now and I am churning out ideas – it’s like I’ve been hibernating and just woke up ???????? – think my artist block was sparked by PTSD when I got blindsided in 2011. All good now ❤️

          • Digbert

            I’ve been looking for a collaborator on a project to do social stories for OD/DD tweens and teens. I am crap at drawing but know the social story needs / market pretty well. Any interest?

            • Sure, always interested = although I juggle a full time job with everything else, I think Tempest will give you my email to PM me. Thanks

          • Digbert, I teach and write children’s literature. The affair trauma blocked me for a few years too, but now I’m back to joyful creation. If you want to connect off the boards, feel free to ask Tempest for my email address.

            • Will do, thank you – I cannot believe the impact this whole cheater thing has done to my creative side but at least I’ve reset now, never ever thought it could have happened to me. I’ll ask Tempest for your contact details.

          • Digbert, you’re a wonderful artist! Love your stuff!
            The classroom picture reminds me of a Ravensburger Wasgij Puzzle.

            • I am a writer and editor, but I haven’t had any desire to write since DDay over a year ago. The mojo is dead right now.

            • thanks Sisu, that’s very kind, I’m working on pitching myself, not good at the marketing thing but am slowly getting there.

          • I know I am coming in late on this post, but felt like chining in. Our infrequent date nights always involved dinner and a movie. About two years ago my almost ex began saying there wasn’t anything on he was interested in seeing. When I would mention a movie a week or so later he would accidentally say something about it. You saw it? Uh, yeah, I streamed it. It’s out? Why didn’t you watch it with me? I dunno, it was late and I just wanted to watch it. Chump me never had a clue. Accidentally saw him and AP co-worker coming out of the movies together four months after separating because I found out about a different AP. Also three days after he drew me back in with I’m sorries and it’s overs. Anyway, I joined a Divorce Care group and made some of the most amazing friends in my life. I said on multiple occasions that I was far less lonely alone than I was in my marriage. It prompted me to grow and seek out other friendships. Seriously, I have gotten more love and support from these new friends and my have learned what a healthy relationship looks like. I have a couple of men interested in me, but I feel like I need to be completely divorced and healed before jumping into that again.

      • I have a wicked sense of humour too but all the years I was married it pretty much went out the window – and like you I think it was because of walking on eggshells all the bloody time! Never again!

      • Me too.

        I can’t remember exactly when I lost my sense of humor but I do remember how painful it was because I had friends who could laugh even durning bad times. I simply could not and didn’t know why. I felt awful about being so dour around our children while he could laugh heartily and freely at a drop of a hat.

        Now I know what happened and why all because of LACFAL, CL and CN – he is a serial cheater and now I am free as he has left/ gone to find twu wuv at last – heaven help whoever lands him!

        One of the miraculous things that has happened to me is that I laugh now – it was a long and dry 25+ years but a joy to know laughter does indeed return.

        Thanks everyone!

    • The other side if that is this. My ex told awful jokes and was sometimes very funny. (I still miss his occasional wit). However, the wreckage he caused from decades of betrayal kind of (duh!) turned me off of his humor, immaturity, lack of depth. I’m sure he felt like you after I told him I was done with his cheating ways. Instead of wondering why I didn’t appreciate him any more, he likely ranted to the new gal pal about how unappreciative I was of him.
      I was a pile of wreckage just trying to survive. His unaware, inconsiderate faux personality just stopped being charming to me. Luckily, that barbed wire monkey screwed up one too many times. I don’t yet know what a soft, cuddly, real monkey ‘mom’ feels like, other than my family of origin-they were great. But, I no longer feel like something, no matter how harmful, is better than nothing. Nothing IS better than mistreatment.

      • These are my sentiments exactly, but our community still rolls with it. I’m left being the one with no sense of humor.

      • My Cheater had a fabulously clever & witty sense of humor…trouble was he used to to abuse me. He said things to me in a perfect tone where I literally could not tell if he was kidding or serious. I thought it was accidental and asked him to be clearer with me whereupon hearing this, he doubled down on his behavior. He told me something manipulative then let it play out…if it went well, he claimed he was serious, if it went badly, he said he was kidding and my lapse in properly understanding his intellectual wit cause our failure…thus he (who insisted in making life a competition which is not how I wanted to live) won every time and I lost.

        Fast forward, Im married to a lovely may who has a very different sense of humor than I have (Me: The Office, Seinfeld…Him: 3 Stooges) and I am ok with it because he doesnt use humor to abuse me.

    • My Ex would also roll his eyes and walk away from me. Usually when I was trying to talk to him about well anything. It got to the point that I stopped talking to him. I thought why should I waste my time if he is going to ignore me. He later used that as one of his reasons for cheating with my cousin. I too was a bore to him. Skankella liked to have fun. She liked to go to bars and play pool. She smothered him with compliments. Discarding my rusty barb wire monkey was liberating.

    • This is beautiful. And you keep those cornball jokes comin’! Settle for nothing less than a fellow cornball!

    • I can really relate to this Nomar.
      During the last five years of marriage everything I said was met with eyerolls or outright disgust. This of course tracked with the time she was screwing around- I had to be a bad guy. I was being slowly poisoned.
      Getting away from that restored my life.

    • My 65 yo ex-hubs said I was boring and fat. My 45 yo lover doesn’t agree. At all. #whogotthelastlaugh

    • I like this as a “real monkey” moment when there isn’ a full-fledged “real monkey” person.

    • Compliments. It got to the point that when I got compliments from other people I was embarrassed and felt like a fraud because I knew I wasn’t really that great since ex was always criticizing and never complimenting me. Now I can smile and say thank you.

    • Aww, Nomar, that brings a tear to my eye–that you (like so so many other chumps, including myself) could have accepted devaluation as the norm, and that such a small act as chuckling at your joke was the gateway into envisioning a life where you would be valued. That silent undercutting us is as bad as the cheating, IMHO.

  • I’m waiting for real monkeys. I keep attempting to bond with real monkeys, figuratively speaking, but barbed wire monkeys (circumstances) keep thwarting it. I almost am starting to feel like I’m not “supposed to” have real monkeys. Still I’m continuing to try in all aspects of my life. Sometimes, you need someone or something outside of yourself to thrust you into the new.

    • Good people are out there. But I think it’s up to ourselves to have to courage to thrust ourselves into the new scene. (Leave the cage, in monkey parlance.)

      • … I’m afraid to leave the cage. I’ve seen crazy monkeys outside the cage too. I’m happy just to have kicked mine out.

        • I’ve been dating for a year now. It’s…interesting. There are some really good guys out there and some really bad ones. I’m still working on fixing my picker. BUT, the more I experience and date, the better able I am to pick up on red flags.

          • Here, here, KeepinCalm. I’m finding the same, newly dating after 30 years w batbed wire Boss Hogg. When I falter or drop my guard – even a little – things go sideways FAST. Like the barbed-wire monkey who tried to choke me when kissing me whenno one else was around. HEED THE RED FLAGS!! Even tiny ones. They’re there for a reason!
            I have met some sweet people, too…and discovered who my true family was when Dday came ‘roubd again. They GOT IT…held me, propped me up, gave me hugs and CL 2x4s (thanks, Tracy!!). One guy (early online dating 1st meet) said to me, “Wow, you’re even prettier than your pictures!” And I have a tiny scar under my bottom lip…he reached over, ASKED, “May I?” and very gently touched it, said, “Aw, what happened here?” This was so touching because a former “charming” bipolar barbed-wire monkey asked me if I would ever consider having plastic surgery to remove it.
            Real, warm monkeys exist! Escape the cage!!!

    • Same! I keep trying to find a real monkey (for years now), but I’m starting to think it just isn’t in the cards for me. Sometimes I wonder if fake monkey love isn’t better than nothing.

      • No, fake monkey love is not better. Love and respect yourself enough that you dont “need” another monkey….it will allow you to truly weed out the fake ones

      • Real monkeys come in all forms; friends, family, co-workers, pets (hey, real monkeys!)

        We can’t shut out the other types of real kindness, support, caring, loyalty and companionship, feeling we have to wait for a romantic partner to get, and give, those lovely things.

        We all need real monkey love, and it is absolutely fine-able, not even too hard. And having no ‘life partner’ is WAY better than sharing our lives w/someone who actually does us harm

  • My birthday is July 3. He was leaving on July 2 to go up to our future retirement home we’d purchased. The one where he told me our marriage was over a few weeks later. He said he had to leave to avoid holiday traffic. I said, can we go out for pizza. He said “that will take too much time.”

    • Leslie,
      Days later your post stays in my mind and tugs at my heartstrings.
      I totally understand how you felt that day when your cheater didn’t have any time or thought for you. Other things, another person, dominated his mind.
      This made me think of when my cheater, out of the blue, said to me, ” You couldn’t be pregnant at a worse time.” I felt so baffled and sad, but told myself that he must have been concerned about financially supporting a new member to our family.
      Naw, I was wrong, a few weeks later, came DD and I knew the real reason my pregnancy was a real burden to him.

      I am so sorry for your pain Leslie. I hope you have been able to find some peace in your life now.
      I understsnd.

    • Me too. I’ve almost given up for good. I don’t think I’m meant to have a sane monkey with the same values as me.

    • Me also. If you’ve found a real bondable monkey by some miracle (I know just a few that have, but they are younger) consider yourself extremely fortunate. They are very rare. I think I could be nominated for the Useful Appliance Hall of Fame! I kept trying, for years, but never did find reciprocity. Am now retiring from trying.

      • I’m young and have been burned several times – no longer willing to put up with casual devaluation. it seems impossible to find a real monkey. Been celibate for a year and a half while everyone around me seems to be either loving the hookup culture or happily married. guess i missed the boat

  • I put up with a barbed wire monkey until age 48.

    Now that I feel re-born and also happened to find a Real Monkey, I feel as if I am dancing on the steps just like Joaquin Phoenix in that new Joker trailer.

  • I have two doozies! I was in a restaurant when some crazy gunman shot and killed a man in the shop next door. Everyone in the restaurant heard the shots and we all got up and started to scatter. My girlfriend and I headed for the ladies room and hid. I called my then husband and told him what happened. He asked if I was OK, then said he had to “put out” (he was playing golf) and he’d call me back later.

    Another time I took my car out on errands. He never drove my car. He was home and I told him where I was going. About a half mile from home I noticed my brakes weren’t working too well. They finally failed to work at all. We live in a very hilly area and getting through an uphill traffic light was nerve-wracking. I finally was able to pull over and stop and called him to tell him what had happened. He said, “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that there was a leak in your brake line.” I spackled that one by telling myself everyone forgets things once in a while.

        • True story: While driving home one rainy and dark night from my cousin’s graduation, A deer jumped onto the road and slammed into the side of my car. I had our young child in the back seat. .When I got home I ran in to tell XH and he dashed outside and looked at the wrecked car and was SO pissed that I hit a deer and damaged the car.

    • I haven’t found one yet. I seem to like the covert barbed wire monkeys but thanks to my stbx he gave me toxic wisdom and I am working on myself to repel covert turds.

      One day I will find a good monkey.

    • Oh MataHari-I can relate!!

      When my twins were 2 years old, I was leaving the house with them to go to work one morning. I told my STBX that my tire looked low on my minivan. He had the day off-but instead of offering to fix it-he took a look at it and said, “Yep-it’s low-better get your AAA card out and keep it handy for the drive.”

      • You had to take the kids with you to work or childcare in an unsafe vehicle when he had the day off?

        Mine climbed a tree when he thought I being attracted by a bear ahead of him in a hiking trail!

    • My new husband had an office on the Pentagon when it was struck by the plane on 9/11. The day it hit, he was off site but called his wife after the attack to let her know he was OK. Her response to hearing he was OK was passive unconcern. He got the “I want a divorce, you have to move out” speech a few weeks later.

      How ghastly that he cared so little for your well being. I think my Cheater husband didnt want me dead because parenting but he sure would have love it if I had left with the kids.

      • unicornomore, I had many experiences where I got the creepy feeling sparkledick wanted me dead, ESPECIALLY after I got a new job (that he coveted) that gave him a life pension as my dependent.

        One day an ant bit my tongue (long story for an other time) and I had an anaphylactic reaction. I am an MD so I recognized the need to get ASAP to an ER. He was SO pissed off! When I got back home I had the distinct feeling he was disappointed that I made it. But I was in such distress from the reaction and then so drowsy from treatment that I couldn’t think and realize I was clinging to a barbed monkey… That’s just one of my bad monkey stories.

  • This is painful. I thought he was the real monkey. I’m grieving for the loss of who he was.

    • lemonhead, you are grieving the loss of who you THOUGHT he was. It doesn’t make the pain any less or more. Real Monkeys don’t have barbed wire inside. Barbed-wire Monkeys, however, can dress themselves in very thick fluffy costumes, for a while.

    • Same. Just this morning I was thinking about a night we saw a movie about a 10 year old girl. All the way home he told me how he knew I must have been just like her growing up. And he was right. I felt seen.

      This evening, I got rid of some of his things – things like fancy pie cookware and his cheese plate set. I wonder when I’m wallowing how I’m ever going to find a guy again who loves to cook for me?

      And who looks at me like a movie star.

      Still working on understanding that he liked to cook only if he didn’t have to and that he didn’t like looking at me I guess when I didn’t look like a movie star. If I’d never gotten injured and been unable to walk for a year, would he still be doting on me?

      But I try to remember that as nicely as he treated me, the barbed wire part was his inability to be all that vulnerable and his lack of courage when it came to having a sense of humor out loud.

      When it all went down, I noticed the conversations I had with friends were so much more interesting than the logistical text messages he sent me every day. My friends had things to say!

      He did for me, he supported me, but he was almost undeveloped in some ways. I guess he’s out there now, finally going through his adolescence after rebelling against me?

      Still in mourning, still confused.

  • I thought that I was married to a real monkey. He was just a barb wire monkey in a monkey suit. I did not realize that I was being pricked and scratched by the barb wire. His excuse for cheating with skankella was that I was boring and never complimented him. I was no fun. But, he rarely complimented me. And if he did it would be a half-assed compliment. Like oh did you get your hair cut? I guess you look nice I really do not notice that kind of thing on you. Skankella sent him a facebook message of a picture of her on a toilet. And he told her she is one sexy women even on a toilet. YUCK. He still denies sleeping with her. He never remembered my birthday or anniversary. But, he could lie to me and go to skankella’s 50th birthday party.

    We used to have our granddaughter every other weekend. He wanted to take her to the mall to buy her a pretzel. And we liked to take her into the pet store. He was fixated on buying a Bluetooth device. He drug us from store to store. I later found out that he was actually shopping for a Bluetooth for Skankella. What a upstanding guy. Shopping for his girlfriend with his wife and granddaughter.

    I sure loved my barb wire monkey. I just never noticed the scars until it was almost to late.

    • Cuzchump, same here! I have lots of real monkey friends and family and know what mutual love feels like. But eventually the wires poked through Woody’s fake monkey fur and I figured it out. His bristly reaction to my suspicions and expectations eventually led me to see through the fake fur of his flying monkey friends, too. I ripped the suits off all of them and escaped their abusive zoo. But of course he had another monkey suit in his closet that he still wears for his little girlfriend. Meanwhile every night I’m gladly cuddling up with my very real and warm chump monkey fiance. Leave a wire monkey, gain a life!

  • I feel like I was getting such scraps from my barbed wire monkey that the sense of connection I feel without him can be overwhelming at times. Like, crying in the restaurant when having dinner with girlfriends overwhelming. Not sadness because I miss him, but genuine feelings of gratitude for feeling connection again. Does it ever overwhelm anyone else or am I just a total sap?!

    • I feel real connection so deep in my soul. He can never feel the that kind of connection. He’s incapable. I feel so lucky I can connect deeply.

    • BetterNow,
      Having “genuine feelings of gratitude for feeling connection again” is absolutely normal.
      You get emotional because you appreciate this feeling. You’re being mindful of the changes in your life.
      It’s called gratitude and it feels wonderful so enjoy every moment!

    • BetterNow…..YES!! I cry over a lot of “little” things that never effected me before. I never realized how much of a true connection I was missing, so when people give me a hug at the hair salon (because they see me so sad, and I don’t even know these people) it overwhelms me to the point of happy tears. When you suddenly get true, genuine affection; it’s like you don’t know what to do with all those feelings 🙂

    • BetterNow, daily, I am overwhelmed by gratitude for authentic connections and generosity from friends. I have been cared for and seen in thousands of ways, large and small, over the past 8 months as the layers of my husband’s duplicity and manipulations and disorders have peeled away. I have made two spectacularly shitty choices in partners but have built friendships with amazing women who are powerful, healthy, loving and fearless. I’ll be in their debt for many lifetimes!

    • Better Now,
      It overwhelms me, too! Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere. I cry both for the hurt of the past ( and mourn the death of an imagined future) and out of profound gratitude for the real monkeys.
      It’s gut-wrenching and deep, but the cry is positive overall.

      My heart just barfs gratitude sometimes. So much that I can’t keep it in. 🙂

  • I get you BetterNow.

    I used to feel such relief in normal human interactions (up to and including the checkout lady), because they treated me like a normal human being.

    ‘How are you?’ got a pathetic reaction of gratitude.

    And like you, I once lost it being out with my friends. Just because they wanted to be out with me and they were happy to be with me.

    • Mentioning the checkout lady triggered me!

      When my cheater was fucking the next-door neighbor, but I was just too damn high on hopium to see the obvious, I LITERALLY said to my mom, “sometimes I feel like the check-out lady at the grocery store talks to me more…”


      Fuck our cheaters for making us feel that way.

  • “Did you have a good day,” A friend asked. I then realized it had been years since I was asked that simple question.

    • I once had a huge failure at work..I was asked to do a presentation and after getting all ready and showing up with bells on, no one showed for it, not a single person…I was so humiliated. I went towards home but stopped to get some food. Sitting there, I questioned how I would explain to Cheaterhub that I had failed completely until I realized that he was not going to ask.

      I also had a mom who “stayed home with the kids” which actually meant “hates working and was happy to use the ‘stay at home mom’ ploy to avoid it”…one day I realized that when I came home from school, never ever was I asked how my day went. (not all stay at home moms are like this, but some are)

      • Thank you for sharing about your mom. Our mom also used us for the “title” of mom/homemaker, although she was not interested in being either.
        I’m reading “Daughter Detox: Recovering from an Unloving Mother…” by Peg Streep, and it’s so enlightening! I wish we could talk about this.

        • Yes, my mom was a viper…very weak and very selfish. When I was a kid, I remember coming home and getting in trouble and punished because I did not complement her on the housework she did (never mind whatever work I was engaged in, that clearly did not matter).

          She did not speak to me for 5 years 2007-2012 and I got to the point I was OK with it. She was, however embarrassed to throw herself a 70th birthday party missing half her (2) kids and all her grandchildren (my kids are the only ones) so she relented on her banishment of me and invited us and Cheater insisted we go.

          He dementia had started and now is pretty bad. She has gotten more pleasant and benevolent as her dementia got worse (which is easier for me) but I really dont know this lady. I am so sad and angry for drinking herself into the state she is in. She ruined her life completely and my life was consequential damage.

          I am not so much bitter about the past as I am sober about it. I know what happened, I was there. The fact that she cant remember it doesnt change it. She had priorities and I wasnt one of them. I struggle with how to interface with her now.

    • ChumpedUp,

      I remember one day about a year into this stuff and x was finally/legally an x when one of my sons dropped in and, in earnest, asked me how I was. I was knocked off of my feet by his question since it wasn’t something he ever did. I was the one doing the asking.

      I faltered because I didn’t really know how to answer it – my new sense of ‘me’ was still so new then and I didn’t know what to say but I did note my reaction to his answer and how it felt that he actually cared about me as a person and my well being.

      I think I gave him a simple response like, “I am doing really well, thank you so much for asking” vs what was really going on in my head and heart at the time – I knew enough to know he didn’t need details 🙂

  • Bad monkey love:
    Me- I am worried you are still talking to schmoopie…
    Him- OMG stop worrying, there are 10 women I would have affairs with before her.

    Good monkey love
    Me: I am worried you will cheat one day.
    Him: I would never cheat on you, I know how badly you were hurt and would never do that to you.

    Both are things are true… I take GML

    • “There are 10 women I would have affairs with before her.”

      Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s not even a tiny bit reassuring, akshually. ???? Even a master gaslighter ought to know that.

    • Same here. I had a dream my stbx had an affair. I literally jumped up in bed and he says what’s wrong? Told him about the dream. His reply, I would never do that to u.” Well 5 months later…he did. I am working on listening to my gut again and never listening to a manipulator again

      • For a few years before D-day, I’d wake-up around 1:00am from a horrible dream. In my dream, I was all alone in the world. I would wake-up in fear and my heart would be pounding out of my chest. I could never fall back to sleep. I dreamt this dream a few times a week for at least two years. Well, one day I woke-up at midnight and had a terrible feeling in my gut. My first thought was that my now XH was out at the strip joints with the business guys that came into town. Nope, not even close. He was out on a date with a newly divorced whore. I have not dreamt that dream since D-day. My subconscious was trying to wake me up to the fact that I was married to a serial cheater! Oh, and he came home from his date around 1:00am, the same time I would wake-up from my horrible dream. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

      • I had a dream that there were two of him. One who was dangerous and one who was the real him but was oddly reluctant to save me from the dangerous one? Told him the dream, told him how in the dream he wasn’t helping me and was leaving me all alone to deal with the bad guy. His response: took me in his arms and said “oh sweetie i would never do that to you!” Three weeks later …

        I’m writing this a couple days after the original post and not sure anyone will see this. But seriously how are we supposed to “fix our pickers” when they’re being calibrated by absolutely believable lies?!?

        • That’s horrible, Why, hugs to you. Yes, I think Chump Nation’s collective spirit animal must be a baby seal, we are so easily bludgeoned over the head! But to be willing to trust and love is a very valuable power, chumpdom can refine that into a super-power if we start to take red flags seriously. Gentle as doves, wise as serpents is my motto. Hope you are ok xx

          • Thanks. I was kind of letting myself wallow yesterday, but I’m glad I did, because asked and answered. There were red flags – unfortunately not the kind I’d seen before so I didn’t know how to look out for them. Until D-Day he was 100% wonderful, so it wasn’t like I was ignoring passive-aggressive insults (the red flags I was familiar with). But he did “fall in love” instantly before he really knew me and he rushed everything. He was just blank in some important ways. I chalked it all up to shyness, still waters run deep, etc.. Also, my gut said he was not right for me, but I talked myself out of that. For many years, I was glad I did! So fucked up. “Gentles as doves, wise as serpents.” I’ll keep that in mind.

            • Why,

              ‘My gut said he wasn’t right for me but I talked myself out of that. For many years, I was glad I did.’

              Me too and now I know that is what we as chumps do. CL has the perfect word for it too -‘spackling’.

        • If I’m ever with someone again, I’ve resolved to know them first in an observational way.
          One of the things I did wrong the first time was jump in too quick. I was new at church and got asked out fairly quickly by the intern. He never made it farther than intern there and people warned me he wasn’t who he said he was. Poor guy blamed it on his family’s shame of divorce, and he wanted to do things right.
          I should’ve believed the people that knew him.
          So I’m gonna find out if he’s worth it long before I let my heart get in the game too.

    • My bad monkey told me he would NEVER cheat and risk loosing his family for sex. He said 6 weeks before abandoning his family for OW.
      It doesn’t matter what they say, it matters what they do. It takes time to observe a person in different situations and see who they really are. It takes mental discipline not to spackle too.

  • Mine used to say I was ridiculous all the time. Or he would say whatever and often just ignore me. He said I made him miserable and after years of that he wore down my self esteem. It’s been 2 years and sometimes I still hear his mean comments in my head. It’s taken awhile to get my confidence back but the old me is emerging. I finally realized he is just a miserable mean person who is passive aggressive.

  • As I was going through all the crap, a friend who I barely knew brought over a gift for my birthday. It was a blouse she had bought just for me, with all my favorite colors in it. It was size small, so I felt like, one more person who doesn’t see me for who I am (I am accustomed to thinking of myself as a big person, but I’m not really, just tall, and sometimes a little overweight). The blouse fit perfectly and I realized she saw me more truly than I saw myself. That was a real monkey moment.

    I don’t remember what Mr. Fantastic did for my birthday that year. I know he did some nominal thing, I just can’t remember it. But that blouse was worth more than just the blouse itself.

    • My good friend while I was still living with sad sausage stbxh took me out shopping. She’s an artist with a lot of moxie.
      I said extra large and a size 16 pants.
      She brought me a size 10 pant and a large top and told me to put them on.
      When they fit it was a revelation for me.
      Barbed wire monkeys. And barbed wire messages.

    • I can totally relate!!! I’m a size 2 or 4 (depending on the cut) and a size xs or s in tops but was told how fat I was all the time with my first marriage and what a hooker I looked like if I wore anything tight/close fitting. So, I only had a closet full of clothes that fit like a potato sack. My friend finally pointed this out to me when she came to borrow a dress. She took all of the clothes she could wear and insisted I do a purge. She gave me a deadline to have it done and checked in with me every so often. I got it done. My closet was bare and I had to go get all new clothes. It was one of the most liberating moments of my life!

  • I have to admit I feel like I was the barbed wire monkey and he cheated because he found a real monkey.

    My whole family of origin was made up of barbed wire monkeys. I am the baby of the family that turned my anger inward instead of outward like them. I worry about how inept I am at showing love because of being raised by barbed wire monkeys.


    • Even if you were difficult in the relationship, you didn’t cause the other person’s character flaws or bad choices. Other people’s choices are on them. Unhappy people can leave relationships. They don’t have to deceive and sneak.

      Nobody cheats because they had to. They cheat because they choose to.

      Work on healing your own stuff, yes, of course, but don’t own what isn’t yours, says me.

      Try EMDR or Brainspotting for the trauma of your family life, maybe. It has helped me a lot.

      • Thank you…I have been in ongoing personal growth since I was 22….I turned 56 on the 17th….this whole thing has made me feel like I have gotten nowhere with all the work I have done, nonstop, for 35 years.

        I am always on the lookout for new things to try…thanks for the suggestions. Let the trauma recovery continue!!


    • Awwww. You’re the real little monkey who was stuck in the cage with the barbed wire monkeys.
      Sending real monkey love and light. And hugs.

    • Dear Velvet Hammer
      Your posts are always so spot on, so lucid, so bloody good! They lift me up, they make me laugh, they often make my day! You are no barbed wire monkey! Lift your heart and soul! It’s not you.
      You know in my decency and goodness, I put up with a shit barbed wire monkey for nearly 40 years! In society’s definition I am an old woman. Fuck that shit! He is in his cage. And it is a lonely future! I get to have agency, gravitas, wisdom and loads of courage. Like me; you win! Because you get freedom. Leave the barbed wire monkey where he belongs! In the garden of bad memories, the broken boulevard of all of our past experiences. Put your hand on your heart and go forward! Invest in you; do the work and banish the demons. There is a much better world out there for all of us!

      • I am nearly 3 years out and no where near dating again. But I’m happy with that. I just keep on working on me! I like me and I like the good I do. Adversity has created a tornado, a force to be reckoned with. I am the ministry for no! If someone comes along (& I’ve done the maths- I think it’s highly unlikely!) they would need to fill in a questionnaire just to have a dinner date! I am neither a nurse or a purse!

      • Thank you Ozzie….

        I am on my own too and SO happy to be so!

        I cannot imagine the insanity of cheating and then jumping right into a relationship with anybody, especially the cheating accomplice.
        When I get tired and overwhelmed my brain flips it around and it feels like I am the villain instead of the victim. Daily practice flipping it back….thanks for the life ring.

    • Your nothing like ur cheater. You are not the barbed wire monkey. I was eventually codependent with my narc at the end. U could say I was the narc. I was angry resentful controlling but I was being abused and manipulated. Didn’t know it at the time. This was are path for an empath and a narc. No happy ending. Unfortunately. It’s not what I wanted but I can’t control people only my reactions to their choices. Replacing me was easier and blowing the family up. We see the issues we need to work on ur ex doesn’t have that capability. I don’t want to be codependent in a relationship. I don’t want a narc anymore because this is how it will always turn out for me codependent and miserable. I am working on that. Ur working on u.

      But u didn’t make that fucker cheat. Did he try to get u and him help or have hard conversations or ask for a divorce. No. That fucker probably threatened you with his channels or ignored ur replies or conversations. That’s what mine did till I gave up. nothing left. I was just him miserable.

      U keep working on gaining ur life. U have help me and a lot of fellow chumps. Thanks. Don’t let ur ex turd win. ????????

      Hope I explained my thoughts in a meaningful way because I am only a little over DDay it sucks but having a-ha moments with gaining a life. I am in a much better place without my cheater.

  • I’m still in the early stages, nowhere near even the possibility of finding another partner. I can already tell that I’m going to be second-guessing every moment. Also dating appears to be rather different from my last time in that “scene.” Best I stay out for a bit longer….. BUT I’m really feeling the Good Monkey Love from my friends right now (oddly, noticeably more than from family). Friends have been warm, supportive, helpful in practical ways. We’re all adults with busy lives, but they text or call to check on me; they invite me to things; some of them surprised me at a lunch get-together with little self-care gifts; one long-distance friend not only was supportive at the moment but also promised to “walk with me” through the journey, and has followed up. Having people be spontaneously kind, to follow through on a commitment, to actually care about my mental health — this is so refreshing.

    The other Good Monkeys right now are home (which I’m working on making a true area of retreat and refreshment for myself, a great big soft monkey) and work, which I also seem to be seeing with new eyes.

  • p.s. CL, that May 2017 post you linked to is BLOWING MY MIND and so are the comments. (I am still newish here and hadn’t yet gotten that far back in the archives.) Subtle future-faking was such a baked-in part of my marriage and I didn’t even realize it was a Thing with a name and fellow-sufferers. I don’t want to derail this current BML/GML convo, but I’m definitely going to set aside some of my lunch break today to read more of that. Thank you!!!

    • no, it’s not hijacking…i got *chumped* like all of us

      ALWAYS deferred gratification for me

      she’s SO GOOD WITH MONEY, so frugal

      …until you find the secret credit card

      and ALL that secret weekend hotel spending

      bummer for her

      she’s gonna get put

      under oath and on tape

      explaining every penny

      because she ran it all thru the company

      that via community property law

      is both half mine,

      and thru 12 smooth minutes with Chase customer service

      now fully discovered and cataloged

      and ready for the deposition

      stay mighty, chumps!

  • Sorry I’m chiming I’m so much today, but this hits so close to home.
    One moment of Barbed Wire Monkey reality hit when driving home from a work trip from Atlanta. Ex came along in the car trip, for one. As I worked mostly with women, and women alit younger than I am, I later realized he was just coming along for the fix of female attention.He plopped himself down in seating between the conference rooms at hotel where the meeting was.
    OBVIOUSLY, this was to get his fix.
    In the way home, we were ‘discussing’ something when I said, ‘Don’t you care at all about my work?’ With which he retorted, ‘I have no interest in what you do.’
    Wow! Talk about a mask slipping! I should have left right then. Well, after we got home.

  • My ex wire monkey looked like a real monkey until I found little bits of barbed wire was poking through and I was covered in tiny scratches that I couldn’t explain until he left and I found out about ow. My friends were real monkeys who nurtured me through the early days and continue to sustain me with their love and company.

  • Barbed Monkey – When we were together, my ex would never bring me flowers or do anything meaningful for me. He would get raving mad at me when I would bring it up. Fast forward a little bit….he brings me a dozen red roses and leaves them on my doorstep on Mother’s Day and later that day proposes to me (with no ring) after ditching me for the 24 yr old nanny (he is 50). This lovely display of lovebombing was thwarted though when I declined his proposal and he immediately went running back to 24 yr old smoochie proposing to her within a day (she accepted). 2-3 weeks later he broke their engagement and came running back to me begging me to take him back telling me how much he loved me and hated being with her because he felt like her dad. He wouldn’t get rid of her 100% out of his life…..Why????…..because she threatened suicide and to ruin him at his job (he is a partner and General Manager) to keep him hooked. He asked me to “TRUST” him that he would do the right thing and even though they were “friends” he wouldn’t go back with her. ???? Yeah, right! By that point, I was ready for them both to off themselves because they had fucked up my life, his and my kids lives, family, friends, as well as many others. It’s been horrible! Thank GOD I didn’t marry him and had other assets tied to him.

    Good Monkey – I got out of that horrible relationship and have been working on myself. My friends have encouraged me to get back out on the dating scene. I have been very reluctant feeling inadequate to trust myself and decipher red flags in others, especially men. I’m one of those that see’s the good in everyone (shoot me now????). That quality has not helped in my love life but listening to my friends has helped me. They kept asking about and encouraging me to go out with one particular guy and because I am not sure of myself, I have been very leery of him (or anyone) and keeping things very slow/not serious. Well, this good monkey has brought me flowers unprompted from his garden every week for over a month. As well as taking me out in public every time we go out, introducing me to anyone and everyone we run into and very proud to have me with him. I’m hopeful that this will blossom into something significant but we shall see. For now, I’m just enjoying the Good Monkeyness.

    I’m new to being treated well but just from I’ve experienced the difference is incredible! To go from having relationships where guys are emotionally unavailable, cheat, lie, abusive, play games, and basically a total Dick to someone who is thoughtful, respectful, and nice. My mind is blown????. I didn’t think these kind of guys existed anymore or they were all taken. We shall see if it last. If not, at least I have the knowledge and the strength now to say no and accept that no relationship is better than a bad one. Wish me luck fellow Chumps!

    • Southern Chump, how lovely to read this! Best of luck with your sweet new monkey! X

  • Mine refused to show any type of affection in public. Not even hand holding. I’d try to hold his hand, and he’d “playfully” squirm away, and end up walking with our son instead.

    Turns out, he told many sidewhores we were divorced, so he didn’t want anyone to see us “together”.

    Now I’m dating a new guy, and I always second guess myself if I want reach for his hand. I still freaking ask him if it’s okay that I hold his hand or take his arm. Of course, because he’s NORMAL, he says it’s fine.

    I look forward to the day when I don’t default to self-doubt and unworthiness.

    • Whenever someone tried to take a photo of me and cheater together, he “playfully” acted like I had the plague and he was trying to get away from me. It was part of his “funny” schtick…I now look at those photos and see each of them filled with hostility and contempt for me while I was so full of love for him. I hate those photos now.

      In wreckonsiliation, a friend took some family photos of us and said “It is almost your 25th anniversary, do you want a photo together to commemorate it?” he tersely spat out “no” and walked away. After he died, I told her that I was glad she was there to witness his nastiness or else I would almost question myself.

      My newhusband real monkey like to take pictures of us together

  • Well, it was obviously not a romantic relationship, but my relationship with my parents (both gone) was comprised of real love. I recognize this so clearly in hindsight and having been in a barbed-wire monkey marriage (or at least when XW betrayed me).

    For my parents, hurting me was not an option. The very notion was inconceivable and their actions for around forty years proved it. Something would hurt me? It wasn’t done. Would THEY hurt me? Never. Ever. And they didn’t. It was such a safe, wonderful relationship. I miss it. But I know now that I won’t ever settle for anything less in a future relationship.

    Ironically (and with some bitterness) I wanted to marry and start a family so I could “replicate” that feeling of unquestionable emotional safety for my wife, my children, and myself. And my XW didn’t hurt me. She wouldn’t. Ever. Until she did. It was absolutely shocking. I did not know the person she became–or rather, she always was (I just spackled frantically and delusionally).

    Interestingly, my XW always verbalized her love for me. “I love you so much.” All the time. Yet my parents–particularly my father, for whom “I love you” was not in his vocabulary–rarely told me this. (I think it was a generational thing.) But they showed it, consistently and unfalteringly.

    I still hold out hope that I will find a real monkey. For now I have my annoying tween and teen who I know love me. And my dog, who, after I attempted to trim her nails, bit me–but then kissed me, consumed by miserable guilt at having caused me pain. Is that too much to ask of an adult human? 😉

    • Lol! The dog visual is cracking me up! (And I can totally relate to the teens).
      Thank you for the giggle ????

    • Similar story here. My parents could never hurt me intentionally. My ex, – although he was a work-obsessed, cold, remote, unaffectionate, pathologically self-centered, myopic, horrible partner – I thought he didn’t have it in him to be a deliberate cruel prick. Until he turned out to be a lying, gaslighting pos in the end.

      During all those years of unaffectionate remoteness, my sweet doggie was my real monkey love. He was all heart, and I miss him every day.

  • By barb wire monkey stories are plenty here but my real monkey stories (from the last 6 years with a kind human) are overtaking them.

    My newhusband (Colonel Greatguy) and I flew to Englang to pick his daughter up from her studies in Cambridge (since we couldnt have the poor dear fly home alone…cue massive fun in London with lame excuse)…

    so after a lovely evening in Cambridge, we returned to our room and I looked at the obligatory tea service in the room and considered how anything there would keep me up all night and wistfully said

    “I so wish that I had some herbal tea”

    Whereupon, Col Greatguy reaches in his pocket, pulled out an herbal tea bag and handed it to me saying “I know my bride”

    • Okay, that was amazing.

      Something so simple, yet so unheard of for all us Chumps here.

      • I am still married to COL Military Cheater and find hope in your story that there may be love for me someday. I’m so glad for you, UnicornNoMore.

        Today is one of those days. I think I am the little Monkey who knows real Monkey love from a good man is not for me. Today I am devastated by the waste of my love on a Barbwire Monkey.

        The hardest thing I am doing is loving myself. I am hurting today. I am my own Barbwire Monkey devoid of warmth or love for myself. I know I will get up tomorrow and start again. But today I am knocked over by grief. I spent thirty five years with a man who did not love me. I deeply regret that.

        • So sorry for your grief over this, thirtythreeyearsachump. It is terrible to realize you have never been loved. I too have had to face this. It helps- but only a little- to know you are not the only one. We are legion. I hope that you will find a way to leave him. In little steps you can find love and reassurance through friends, some family; a lovely cat or dog can be a real joy. Work that matters. Being your own self can be amazingly rich! I felt invisible for years, but I don’t anymore. After 5 years out, I feel connection again and like I am solid and really present. I KNOW I am loveable. (though men capable of love are very rare, and actually finding one an impossible quest when you’re 60! I cheerfully give up!) Chump Nation is real monkey love. Please move towards more life, and away from the empty void that is the cheater.

          • ChumpedChange, thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I left him. I filed. He is contesting the divorce. He seems to think he is entitled to all the money, the house and my personal belongings. I left in May, he has only sent me two text messages since then. He has the perfect marriage now. He has all the money and I am gone. I can’t wait to receive the divorce decree. I hope it is suitable for framing.

            I really thought I was making progress. I’m just sad. Knowing you took the time to respond to me helped so much. Thank you.

            • 33YC…Im so sorry…I devoted 29 years to military cheater husband and I was totally devoted to him. Even with him dead, I still process the hurt. Last night I had to clean out a closet and it had a lot of photos in it…in each of them, I now see the contempt he had for dripped from him like poison, but I was too scared to see it. Patsy (from here) helped me talk about some of it.

              I always joked that in military marriages, the first wives were “Marge” the steady, reliable, non-demanding life companion and the second wives were “Bitsy” the cute and clueless one who bought their story that Marge didnt understand them and was unsupportive. We Marges know the truth.

              It takes time to throw off all the crap they throw on us. Get your half of your assets and make a good life for yourself. My new love is a wonderful surprise in my life…I knew him before I ever met my first husband and was blessed that he circled back around in my life when I was single again.

              Remember though that success is not measured by recoupling, it is measured by living your best life without abuse

        • 33yrsachump,

          Hang in there. I am a 30+ year person too but since I have found CL and CN I am feeling better about myself and I am seeing more clearly who the x really was and the sadness part is indeed parting.

          There are times when things do pop up though and I am blind-sighted. A couple of weeks ago I was getting something in my work room that was sitting on a wooden stand/table I had put together for the x; one of those special things I enjoyed doing for him.

          It hit me that he had left it behind when he left – he took a lot of other furniture with him but this piece he chose to leave. I felt that tug at my heart strings and then, bam, a flood light lit up when I realized he had left ME behind.

          I was devalued for so long it is taking time for me to value myself as an individual. As people put it, ‘it is a process’.

          Grief involves tears, sadness etc….I just have to watch out when I begin to slip into self-pity which isn’t always easy to catch. It is like it slips in there and I begin to believe what it is telling me – that I truly have no value now. I am catching it sooner so that feels like progress to me today.

          True grief has a much cleaner feel to it and I am beginning to recognize that too. I am very new at this so I am learning compassion for myself too – especially that compassion has to come from me this time around. No more tossing my self worth out there for others to dabble with.

          Take Care. It does get better. I wouldn’t have believed that 2 years ago but I can say it now even though I am not where I want to be….I know it is coming.

    • Awwwwww moment!
      Please give Colonel Greatguy a huge hug from Chump Nation and tell him we think he’s he’s awesome for being such a fluffy real monkey!

  • That monkey story always makes me feel like crying — which I will not do because I’m a manly man who’s sitting in his cubicle at work. Excuse me while I visit the mensroom…

  • Barbed wire monkey – “I can go to the store and get groceries for the house.” Gets groceries. For the next two weeks straight, constantly comments “I do everything around here!”, despite his single-grocery trip being the only thing he has done, ever.

    Real monkey – “I can go to the store and get groceries for the house.” Gets groceries. Never another word about it. We make dinner, watch TV and cuddle.

    • Yeah, that.

      X Asshat only got groceries for himself. Never bothered to look at what might be needed by the Wife Appliance or Kibble Dispenser offspring, or what might be needed later by the Asshat himself. It was always frozen pizza or Indian and Mexican fixings when he was in the mood for that. He would leave the dinner I made to congeal on the stove, breezing in hours late from work, and wreck the kitchen with whatever he wanted to make for himself.

      We were just his shitty roommates.

      I hope Schmoopie is enjoying that.

      • I got raked over the coals once for forgetting to offer him tea when I made myself a cup. I reminded him that he never offered me anything ever, and always concerned himself with his own needs only. I provided a list of examples, and he couldn’t even protest because he knew it was all true. Being roommates with him was a never-ending buffet of shit casseroles.

  • My kids and I always had a strong bond but the tension stemming from the ex/their father often made fun occasions uncomfortable. It’s never fun to walk on eggshells especially when you don’t know why!

    Our new day to day, holiday traditions and family vacations are now chill and filled with adventures, love and laughter. It’s OK to be silly and mom doesn’t always have to hold it together.

    They are my real monkeys along with my dear friends who have been there for me from DDay on. I told my friends everything immediately and asked for lots of help. I’ve always been a good friend and it came back in spades.

    • Perfect!

      I have had a similar experience with my adult daughter real monkeys. In Dec 2016 he went to see them and milked them for stories about their teenaged fights with Mom, then threw them in my face in April 2017 as he abandoned me. He used their stories as additional evidence that I was the worst person ever and everyone thinks so. My daughters were horrified and believed they were the reason we got divorced. Asshat had a chick half his age on the side, the same age as the eldest daughter, but used our normal Mom/Teenager friction to hide behind. He pulled everything he could out of his ass to make me the bad guy and that pain has lingered even though I recognize the mountain of shit I put up with and that I really am a good person and was an objectively great wife to him. He needed excuses and bashed me over the head with all of it and had no problem using our kids to do it and had no problem abandoning his daughters as well to chase that young pussy.

      So now my daughters are NC with him and WE are the family. We miss each other when apart and look forward to the next visit. We do vacations and holidays the way we want to and comment on how much more relaxed we are without the asshat around. We do the emotional labor of figuring out conflicts in the moment and really telling the truth. We revisit the past disagreements and give our perspectives and forgive each other. We have each other, no matter what. We will never abandon each other.

      They will always be my real monkeys. I can’t wait until they build their own families and I get to be a part of that. The Asshat is not invited to any of that.

  • Real Monkey Love:
    In the summer of 2017 I was living in my brother-in-law’s family house on Cape Breton, alone there for six weeks, working up the courage to divorce my now-ex. A family in the town befriended me–the wife went walking with me each morning, her husband washed my car and brought me lobsters (he was a lobster fisherman), already cooked, even. Watching them together was a revelation; it gave me exactly the perspective on my own situation that I needed, and showed me what real monkey love looked like. I knew I didn’t have it, and would never get it, with my then-husband. Seeing them bolstered my resolve to leave, and I spent the summer going over my available resources and doing research on where I might move in retirement.

  • RML: Soon after the bomb-blast, when it was still hard to breath, I made myself leave town for a sporting event I cared very much to see. It was scary to go, but I did and while there, a fellow sportster asked, “Where have you been?” I replied with my sad-story. “We’ve missed you.” he shared and I just lost it; I had a tribe that wanted me around.

    RML: A loving family that always encourages me and lifts me and my kids up. Always has. I lucked out.

    RML (+ gf): Being called “handsome” a dozen times in a single birthday FB post by a certain gal who happens to think I’m a catch.


    BML: couldn’t even food shop correctly.. but thats long in the past!

  • I have yet to find a real monkey to love. Both of the guys I ended up with were either using me or completely disloyal. Sigh. However I found real monkey friends to love. Many who genuinely care about me and think I’m pretty awesome. That’s real love too.

  • My family is not local, except for a sister that I love, but have always had a difficult relationship with. My church has been my support system.
    There’s an older lady that has taken me on as a daughter. She texts me to check on me. She was raised by a single mom, and empathizes with my struggles. She encourages and pushes me to take care and keep going.
    Her life has been filled with loss, but she has true inner joy. She is completely selfless.
    Whatever I continue to go through, I want to be like her.

  • I hope this isn’t a weird analogy, but when my son was home from college this summer he would take the trash out for me. I never asked him to do it. I even initially told him “Son, I can do that”, but he just kept doing it. This was something his father NEVER did, so I’m not sure where he developed the habit. He also cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher at any opportunity.
    Here I have to hold back tears. It took my own son to show me that kindness and thoughtfulness exist, unprompted, un-asked-for…Just sweetness and gestures toward another person without asking anything in return. My own son inspired in me a hope that there are good men out there who probably started as good sons.

    • My son, too, showed me what a man’s concern and love are supposed to look like. I’m a feminist, and no shrinking violet, but you know what? I love that he wants to be protective of me and look out for me. It’s a side of him I never got to see when I was married to his out-of-the-blue “I’m transgender and have been exploring it with our ex-student” father.

      • Whether it be son or daughter, I think the whole fact of having someone, anyone, show kindness or thoughtfulness just blows us away because so many of us are used to being treated as appliances. I know that was my case. I wasn’t always sure that it even registered with my ex – it’s just that he didn’t think, unless it was for himself!

    • I moved out of the remote rural village that I lived in with XAss for 19 years to a small town. I got a job with a wonderful group of people, the office feels more like a family rather than a business. Places to live here are few and expensive. I had to rent a crappy apt. (all I could find at the time) to provide for a bedroom for my son, who needed his own room and because the X was threatening to take me back to court for not “providing properly” for our teen son. I landed a super place but it was an apt. that had a lot of stairs leading to the entrance and my son was with his father when I had to move. (We have split custody and the kid spends 1/2 year with him.) My co-workers said no problem, when do you want your stuff moved? I expected 5 people and 2 trucks to show up. I had 9 people, 5 trucks, and loaned a van. All my furniture, chest freezer, exercise treadmill was moved out of the old and up into the new in an hour!!

      I was about in tears from gratitude. And they were all like WTF? We help each other out here. No worries. And you bought us beer and munchies, so Rock On!

      They couldn’t understand how utterly foreign such generosity was in my life.

      I love this job, this town, and the people who are now in my life.

  • The ex rarely complimented me. Oh, yeah, he’d sometimes tell me I’m smart or funny (which I did appreciate), but never told me I looked good, or pretty, or sexy – even when I got all done-up for some special gala event, or even when I prompted him by asking, “do I look ok?”. His usual answer: “you look fine. Let’s go.”

    Shortly after I went Full No Contact, I reconnected with a male friend I hadn’t seen in years. One evening, when we went out for dinner, he said, “you’re beautiful”. I was blown away. Even though we weren’t in a romantic relationship, he treated me like a woman. I hadn’t felt like a woman in 15 years.

    It made me realize just how tiny and invisible I made my needs for far too long. So much wasted time.

    • Most of my exes have rarely complimented me, e en though I tried to frequently sincerely compliment them. One of the few things my ex-husband every complimented me on was my education—when he was trying to convince our judge (during divorce hearings) that he should not pay me support.

      As an enthusiastic proponent of The Men’s Rights Movement, which is strange as I did not cheat on him (he cheated on me for over a decade), I did not file for divorce (he did), did not falsely a use him of committing felonies (he falsely accused me of committing felonies), I let him see the kids virtually whenever he is around, my ex-husband is now raising our kids to hate/distrust school personnel everywhere (although our kids have been treated superbly by virtually all personnel at their schools) and women in general. I hope that our kids don’t grow up to be like him—misogynistic, serial ‘suers’ (people who bring lawsuits against others just for the heck of it).

      • RST, this is a really serious problem with the school trust thing. Ex is a supply teacher and very anti-authority. My two boys are doing ok, but my daughter has had to be signed off school and onto an online educational network for children in hospital. She can’t set foot in school. It’s not the whole picture but I’m sure Ex’s criticisms of the system and staff have contributed to my daughter massively distrusting staff. Now she is very isolated and is struggling terribly with loneliness, I take her to an after-school club that she adores but that is the only chance she gets to see her peers.

    • Ugh, same here Deedee. I was usually just called “cute”. Or “sexy” when we’re just about to have sex/in the middle of it. Other than that, he never complimented me with words like pretty or beautiful. Which was why I was shocked whenever anyone – friends, my boyfriend – would say that to me after D-Day. I found it hard to even believe them in the beginning, because I was with someone who constantly made me feel less than.

  • For those of you who feel like you don’t have a RM person in your life right now, and I am definitely one of those, look for RML MOMENTS. They exist, you just have to look for them. For example, my ex never, ever paid me compliments. In one of my on and off again (mostly off again) attempts at online dating, I was talking to a guy who wrote a message saying “You are really pretty! Is that a recent development or have you always been that way?” Okay, the first part was great but I had no idea how to respond to the second part because it was so weird (are you asking me if I’ve had plastic surgery??) but still… A compliment, even a weirdly phrased one was like gold to me! Sadly for him, he never got to capitalize on that warm glow he created with the compliment because the rest of his messages were ALL about him and how great he was. He never asked me another question about myself so the conversation just faded away and we never met in person. I don’t remember his name or what he looked like but I still cherish the compliment despite it’s awkward finish. It was a little moment in the scheme of things but it helped me see that maybe the lack of compliments from my ex wasn’t about me or my unattractiveness after all, maybe it was more about his trying to control me by making me think no one else would ever want me. Or maybe he just never really saw me at all.

  • I took my kids to visit a former co-worker. He is 65, I am 35. He is like a second father. There is nothing romantic or sexual at all. But at the end of the visit my son asked why we were flirting. I was shocked. I realized he had never seen me around friends (only friends were coworkers, bc I wasn’t allowed to really go out and have friends outside of work, and there are not many outside of work functions in my field, bc ex would therefore have to watch kids alone).
    I had to explain to him that is how people who like each other behave. They laugh and smile and have jokes as just enjoy the company. I did not have that with my ex.
    It was a real eye opener, that they need to see real friendship modeled in real life.

  • I can’t believe I stayed after this, but one day while I was in law school, I came down with the worst flu. I could barely move. I have never been that sick before or since. Ex had a part time fun job as a sports coach (this was his only job, not an add on). Before he left for a practice I asked him if he could make me some rice to eat. He had more than enough time to do this and still get to practice. He said no. Half an hour later he unexpectedly came back home where I was still paralyzed in bed. He said he had seen a man stopped on the side of the road and stopped to help him (needed a jump). He said, I realized if I had time to help a stranger I can make you rice when you are sick. Holy revelation! Of course it didn’t really last past that one day.

    Fast forward to after our divorce and I was sick again (not as sick, but pretty bad) and living alone. A casual friend called to see if they could go to the grocery for me, bring me juice, anything, because they knew I was sick and by myself. Just small things that make you remember you would never treat anyone the way ex treated you, and most people wouldn’t either.

  • I grew up with a narcissist, was raised by two narcissists and married (and divorced) three of them. I have never had real monkey love, except with friends.

    Mr. Sparkly Pants went to every doctor’s appointment, lab draw, PT appointment, test, procedure and surgery with me when I had breast cancer — and he spent the entire time flirting with the women and trying to impress any men he encountered while I was there. The only attention he paid to me the entire time was to complain about how inconvenient this whole thing was for him. He even brought to women to “keep us company” while he was sitting in pre-op holding with me, waiting for them take me into surgery to cut off my breast. (They were allowed in because all four of us were nurses employed by the hospital and the women, as well as my husband, were wearing employee ID badges.)

    Mr. Sparkly Pants was abusive, and I was so ashamed and humiliated that I allowed him to cut me off from my friends. After I left him (because of the “emotional affair” he was having), he posted all over Facebook, smearing me with lies. One friend told me, “Oh, I don’t pay attention to that. I don’t have any use for people who hurt my friends.” That was so unexpected and so KIND that I just broke down and cried! That’s a real friend. (Unlike those Switzerland friends I have subsequently dropped.)

  • I had a lot of bad monkey moment, but the greatest one (and one of the last) was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband didn’t take a lot of interest in the indent I found. Told me it was probably nothing. I went to the mammogram by myself. They found 3 spots that they immediately biopsied. It was an emotionally overwhelming day. Spots that show up on an ultrasound can be anything, but when you have 2 spots and an enlarged lymph node you pretty much know. I broke down crying in my car after the appointment then went about my day picking up our daughter, making dinner etc. Husband did not ask about the appt. but I did tell him what happened and that results are expected within the next 2 days. He had a conference the next day and it was his birthday. I felt terrible that this was all happening around his birthday. The next day during work I received the call that my 2 of my 3 biopsies were positive for cancer. My boss sent me home from work and the barrage of phone calls for dr appts started. I did not call my husband because I wanted him to enjoy his conference and the happy hour they usually had afterward. Later that evening he called to say that he was at happy hour, they were celebrating his birthday and he got a hotel room so he could party and not have to worry about driving home. No mention of what I was going through. I blurted out that I received the call and did have cancer. He told me he loved me and then had to go. When he returned the next day, he didn’t ask about anything. I had to bring it up. He said to me if it was him he would walk into the woods and disappear and no one would care. He went to maybe 3 appts total with me before leaving me in the middle of a weekly 12 week chemo stretch.

    In contrast, my family decide to not exchange gifts that Christmas, instead either giving me money or making me frozen meals. My parent’s neighbor’s family sent me a check for all of the money they would have spent on presents. My book club had a sign up for people to sit with me after my surgery. Old coworkers messaged me on chemo days. 3 years after diagnosis people still ask if I am ok, how I am. My 7 year old (at the time) daughter stepped up in ways she shouldn’t have. If I didn’t have all those examples of good, I don’t know if I would have made it through.

    • CC, just look at how you were loved by real monkeys!!! Sadly not by the person who should have been at the front of that line! I had to have an amnio when I was pregnant with my second son. I had a bad reaction, my blood pressure dropped and I fainted. Asshat didn’t go with me but told me to get a taxi if I couldn’t drive the 30 km home when I came round!

  • My 5-year old daughter is going through the barbed wire monkey daddy experience right now. I’m 17 months past DDay, 6 months post divorce. Daddy moved Schmoopie in right away (2 blocks from our house) after the divorce was finalized and they team-raising my little girl on his visitation time. Schmoopie is always there whenever my daughter goes to her dad, so she barely have 1-1 time with her dad ever. Yesterday she told me that she had a fight with her dad and she felt guilty, so I asked her to explain the story. Here it is: She told her dad that he’s never played with her. She’s never been alone with her dad anymore since Ms. Schmoopie lives there. Her dad used his usual gaslight and blame shift channel to minimize her feeling and then accused my little girl of being manipulative (trying to get daddy take her to ChuckeeCheese). My little girl started apologizing for expressing her feeling and finally all three of them went to ChuckeeCheese. After I heard the story, I told her to repeat after me: “my feelings are real. It’s not my fault to feel this way. I am important and my feelings matter.” After we did that, she asked me “Do I have a bad daddy?” I told her that this is the way he is and I just want to protect her heart from doubting herself. Am I being a toxic mom and alienating the other parent? Am I a barbed wire monkey for her, too?

    • No you are not a barbed monkey.
      What you can say is this:
      “You tried to share your feelings with your father.
      He did not honor them.
      You tried to explain to him the things that you would like to have in a relationship with him.
      He did not honor your insights.
      Some people do not respect the person that you are and your father is one of those people.”
      Now what can we do together today ?

    • I think it is critically important you let your daughter be aware of her father’s “shortcomings”. You can do it in a manner that is not bashing her father but by simply letting her know that he has issues and it has nothing to so with her. Keep all emotion in check and be matter of fact when you have the conversation with your kid(s). Tell your child you are really sorry they have to endure the nonsense but Dad is just wired a little differently. The main goal of the narcissist or dysfunctional parent is to make others, including their own kids, feel bad about themselves, not worthy. The sooner the child realizes this the sooner they are emotionally equipped to handle the craziness. I get when therapists tell parents not to bad mouth each other in front of the kids but the sane parent needs to protect their kids.

  • I haven’t completely found “Miss Real Monkey for Forever,” but I’ve at least found some real monkeys.
    Let’s see, Mrs. Barbed Wire Monkey..
    – gave me awful gifts. Once she gave me a book for our anniversary on how to buy wine. I didn’t drink wine at all. Once I got yard tools (I hate yard work. I do it, but I hate it.) Of course, she wouldn’t do anything nice to me for Father’s Day, birthdays, anniversary, etc.
    – wouldn’t pay any attention to me.
    – barely even sat next to me

    Real monkeys…
    – make me a nice meal for a birthday, or just for any old reason
    – get me a real gift
    – actually pay attention to me, and (wow!) want to cuddle or snuggle

  • I remember shortly after I separated from my XW I was talking to a neighbor’s mother (she was my age). We talked for a couple of hours. Then this woman touched my arm. I told her I had to leave. That I enjoyed our conversation. I went home and cried because it had been probably 17-18 years since I had been touched like that. Made me realize how Barbed Wired my XW wife was when I cried over being TOUCHED. I only saw her one once more after that. A strangers kindness.

    Now I have remarried and see what Really Monkey Love is. What a healthy relationship is like. It blows my mind. The kindness and love shown. She is PROUD to have me as a husband.

  • With my real monkey, I consistently feel peace, contentment and joy whenever we are together. We both do — it’s mutual. I just have a smile on my face for no particular reason. And I am calm, oh so calm, breathing deeper, heart rate slower calm. When we are apart, I think of him with affection and feel secure in knowing we will be reunited as expected. And then there is the neutral: I can go about the rest of my day with presence of mind and clarity, focus on work and parenting; I’m friendly to random strangers, just because why not.

    CN, those of you still looking, don’t give up hope. Your body will feel softer, warmer, relaxed. All by itself, though no great mental effort of yours. Because you have a gut sense you’re safe. That’s when you know you’re with your very own real monkey 🙂

    • Jubal,
      Glad you are happy. After nearly 50 years, I finally ‘in my gut felt safe’ as you say. I thought that I had finally found real monkey love in the guy I thought had been my friend for 30 years and fellow chump. Not until he left me to marry his young work subordinate did I realize that I had wanted to marry someone who looked like Nicest Guy Ever to virtually everyone but a cruel, dishonest covert narc who never loved me—even as a friend. I cannot distinguish friend from foe, even after being around someone for 30 years!

      • @RockStarWife… your description of your ex husband and of your “friend” make my blood boil, every time. There is a general belief among many of us that all Chumps are good folks who come out the other side of having been cheated on, even kinder and more fair than before. However, I hold the view that plenty of Chumps are terrible people. You’re right: it can be hard to distinguish the good from the rotten, sometimes. Courage!

  • I’ve never had real monkey love. I’m a lot older than Tracy, and in poor health, so, chances are it ain’t gonna happen. There have been exactly 3 people in my life who just loved me for who I was/am: my grandfather, who died when I was 20; my dad who died when I was 30; and my daughter who–thank goodness!–is very much still with us. I wish I had had a romantic partner who reciprocated, and wasn’t an emotional vampire of one sort or another, not to mention a mother out of a horror film. But I didn’t. My kid is terrific, and has a very solid, stable, sane, mutual relationship. She had to go to Germany of all places to find that, which is a bit of a cosmic joke, but there you are- I hold on to the knowledge that I don’t leave more destruction behind me.

  • Wow! The monkey analogy took my breath away. Funny when something strikes true… Coming from a divorced family and an cold-hearted, verbally abusive step-father, I thought I had picked a loyal teddy bear. But like the barbed wire monkey, mine did not give me real love, but I didn’t know anything else.

    I’m 3.5 years post DD#2 and now know he was having a second like through most of our 25 year marriage.

    I’m lucky enough to be financially secure post divorce. (It’s not luck really… It was a lot of hard work and self-restraint.)

    I’m a couple of years from 60; my daughter is off to college next year. After 28 years of doing what he wants, I’m trying to figure out what gives me joy. Dancing gives me joy. Hiking gives me joy. Cultural travel gives me joy.

    I’ve dated a few men and it’s amazing to know what it feels like to get real hugs, playful sex and to be told I’m beautiful inside and out.

    I may or may not fall in love and get to experience true intimacy. If it does or doesn’t happen, I’ll be dancing, hiking and traveling.

    • Giddy Eagle–me, too. Same age-range, same approximate time post D-Day, same empty nest approaching, same love of hiking, same experience with dating, same final conclusion. : )

      • I dance (very badly) but I love it. I hike as I live in the mountains, but I’m a sloth. And I travel because that is what I always loved. Hey ladies, can we form a hiking/dancing/travelling club?

  • Barbed wire monkey: Very invested in my appearance whenever we went out. I thought it was because he wanted to boost my low self-esteem, but it turns out he only cared that I don’t embarrass him in public and proceeds to ignore me at home.

    Real monkey: Appreciates a simple pair of heels the one time I put them on for a dinner date. Comes back home to make sure the dog gets walked and things are put away in record time so we can settle down to cuddle.

    It took awhile to get from barbed wired monkey to real monkey. I’d much rather be alone than settle for anything less than the real thing.

  • Fake Monkey Love

    Me: Hey, I like this anime, it’s pretty good and it is famous for it’s jazz soundtrack.
    Ex: …you seriously watch ANIME? Ew…

    Me:*Playing Pokemon Go on my phone*
    Ex: You’re not playing that pokemon phone game are you?
    Me: Yep! Been playing it since launch.
    Ex: …Yeah that’s going to have to stop. You’re a grown woman, there will be none of that.
    Me: -stares- …Um no?
    Ex: Yeah I’ll change that.

    Me: I know my anxiety can be bad sometimes, I promise I’m working on it and my therapist has been helping me. I’m trying, be patient please.
    Him: Don’t tell me what to do. Learn to control your crazy.

    Real Monkey Love:

    Him: I love anime. I’m a huge nerd. Would you maybe want to cuddle and watch anime? I’m a good cuddler nbd.
    Me: …I would absolutely want to do that. What anime do you want to watch?
    Him: *lists off several animes* We should find one we both haven’t seen and start something new together.
    Me: *heart explodes*

    Him: Is that a Pokemon blanket?
    Me: Yes. I’ve had it for years.
    Him: I’ve never seen it.
    Me: You have literally slept on it.
    Him: …Imma steal it.

    Me: *has a panic attack* I’m sorry this isn’t your fault.
    Him: It’s ok, I’m just trying to understand. Please breathe, let’s just retrace the steps, figure out what brought you here. (He spent 45 minutes on the phone, talking me down. Then texted me the next morning to make sure I was ok.)

    I recently told this man about some progress I’ve made with certain panic triggers. He said he’s glad to hear I have found a good counselor that I can open up to, and that I’ve made progress and improvements where I wanted to.

    Fake, barbed wire monkey says: Don’t tell me what to do, stop being you, it’s annoying. Change into who I want you to be.

    Real monkey says: I’m happy to see you healing, and keep being you, also, it’s ok to be 32 and like Pokemon.

  • During a very brief wreckonciliation with the Worm I swept and mopped his kitchen floor because it was disgusting. After finishing I said, “There, doesn’t that look better?”
    Worm said, “Not really.”
    I left that same evening for good, after finding another love letter from Pookie to him. On my way out, he dumped the bucket of dirty mop water over my head.
    Fast forward…..
    I was dating my current husband. He made me dinner, so I did the dishes. Not only did he pick up a towel and dry them with me, he gave me a hug and thanked me for being so thoughtful. His ex was a Worm too.

      • I know…. even more unbelievable is that I put up with that kind of treatment for 25 years.

    • Fantastic example of barbed wire / real monkey love. I’m so sorry for that shit head x. And so so glad you have found another. This gives me the hope that I need right now. I feel myself backsliding into wanting contact with my stbx. This story has reitterated just how bad they are for us.

      • I would never meet him anywhere but in public after that but I actually met him for a family breakfast at a diner after that incident. So I really get what you’re going through. It is like an addiction.
        Take it day by day. Plan things to do, so you don’t have any down time.
        There is someone out there who is perfect for you! Do not settle or you won’t meet that person!

  • My mother is a real monkey, full of unconditional love for me. Unfortunately my father was abusive and thus all of my romantic partners have been made of barbed wire, along with toxic female friendships and coworkers as well.
    Been spending a lot of time with my mama on her couch these days, where I get the feels of being seen, heard, alive and around a real, loving monkey!
    Perhaps my purpose in life is just to be a good daughter monkey…it’s so much more wonderful than appeasing the unavailable.

  • My barbed wire monkey ex blew up our family when she cheated with my cousin.

    Then she blamed everything on me….dissected every aspect of who I am without any novacaine and a rusty scalpel.

    After years, started dating again and all I could find were legions of barbed wire monkeys, filled with narcissism. Fortunately, I could spot them from a distance and avoid further contact with these monkey spankers.

    I seriously thought about staying in monk mode for life. The good news is, there’s an awesome monkey in my life these days.

  • So many people showed up for me with real monkey love after I split from the wasband. It was utterly bewildering to me at first. Who were these people just giving me what I needed with no expectations in return? Why would they do that? Most of the time when it happened I just cried because I was so overwhelmed. Like the first Christmas when my brother’s wife sent me the coffee maker I had been longing for for years but would never by because the wasband didn’t drink coffee and I couldn’t imagine buying something just for me.
    I have not experienced any romantic real monkey love yet (am I the only one that keeps having “wild monkey sex” pop into my head every time I read or type that?). But thanks to all the warm fuzzy monkey snuggles from friends I do believe it exists again.

  • Real Monkey Love:
    When my teen DD hugs me while I sob uncontrollably, not saying anything, just holding me so lovingly in her arms, day after day, for months after dim left, when I am so debilitated by anxiety and depression that I just start randomly bawling multiple times a day. I ask DD through my sobs one day, where did she learn/how does she know how best to help me…and she replies simply “You. I learned how to do this from you.” I’m confused, then I cry/laugh, and say “oh right, I did this for the past 16 years for you”

    A year later, when I’m holding my teen DD while she sobs uncontrollably because she is finally letting herself feel everything, and I try to think of what to say, then realize that I don’t need to say anything, I just need to hold her. Love IS a verb. Real Monkey Love is about actions that make you feel loved.

    • Brightness, thank you for this. I’m so happy that you and your dd have each other. You are a superb mum and what a gem of a child! X

  • Some ‘real monkeys’ in the world. but it feels as though a lot of the monkey population comes in the barbed wire model and much of the population that is in positions of authority are of the barbed wire model. Two years since last partner left to marry his young work subordinate (now second wife, I have been partnerless, nearly dateless, quickly working toward penniless, and if my landlady has her way, my kids and I will be ‘homeless’ (evicted from our apartment)—even though I have always paid rent on time, never complained about rent hikes, careful, clean, almost never around, but quiet when I am as are my kids. I have never had a guy stay overnight, but landlady now blames me for a former roommate (young single dad) bringing over a young lady or two once or twice (?) while I was away from home. She sometimes insults me and threatens me, and I am nearly positive that her family damaged my furniture while they occupied my apartment for a few months earlier this year. I had to let the family live in my home and temporarily live elsewhere as my only options were to permanently move out or temporarily move out, letting her family occupy my home. My family will have big problems if we get evicted as due to employment situation cannot qualify for mortgage or rent in this very expensive region, from which I cannot move kids per divorce decree, and, will have to enroll kids in dirty, dangerous (students killed by other students) school if we move back in with my parents. (My parents live in a dangerous school district with a lot of underprivileged families.) trying to increase income-generating activity for short- and long-term—am both searching for jobs and studying business courses for licensure in something i am not crazy about, but rent rose, incomes from ex-husband and work fell dramatically, and kids still gotta eat. I feel near-constant despair.

    In my fifties. I finally have given up hope of ever finding real monkey romantic love.
    I have no control over behavior of fellow monkeys. I have decided to BE a ‘real monkey,’ honest, compassionate, respectful to anyone I meet. I have decided to quit asking myself, ‘How can I find a good romantic partner, be happy, etc.?’ and instead ask myself, ‘How can I benefit the universe (at least my kids)?’

    I wish good people here real monkey love of all types!

    • Sending cosmic “hugs” to you RSW hoping things improve for you soon.
      Sounds like your children have an amazing mum .

  • I began to realize that the people who showed actual caring to me included family, friends, acquaintances, medical personnel, and total strangers, but Horace wasn’t one of them. From the ER nurse who saw how sick I was when Horace couldn’t be bothered to get me to the door, to the coworker who made me a beautiful gift, to the online friend who sent cards every week to cheer me up when I was depressed, I was surrounded by caring, and none of it came from him.

  • I attract barbed wire monkeys it seems. Managed to have two latch onto me in the last year. Not romantic partners, mum friends “needing help” to escape their plight (one single one not).

    I’m happy to provide guidance and insight but I AM NOT A SAVIOUR NOR DO I WANT TO BE.

    The good news is I’ve seen the red flags, so put up healthy boundaries which although not made of barbed wire, so not completely repellant, are up nonetheless.

    I’m at the “re-entry troubles” stage of reprogramming. I’ve accepted im a loner and it’s not as my ex would have me believe because I’m not likeable or lovable, but because people drain me and I let them. So I’m working on that and it seems to be working.

    This is all very new to me. Codependents Anonymous is helping, and I’m not even sure I’m Codependent just someone who has boundary issues. So I’ll take what I can from it and keep on growing. It seems to be working. Can spot someone devaluing me a mile off now. Never did before.


    This is the only monkey I’m interested in. Any agents of shield fans? Fitzsimmons is the goal. It’s how relationships ought to be. If I never find someone that gets me like that, I’ll stay single and just keep watching re-runs.


    People say it doesn’t exist, but I believe it does. Or there would be no songs or stories to tell.

    • Happily, that last sentence got me! I spent some while ahonising over whether love exists, whether I really loved Ex, whether I actually loved my kids or whether they loved me. 2 years later I know that was an effect of the discard and gaslighting, but at the time it was overwhelming. Hang in there, lovely Chumps. ❤

  • Bad monkey – I don’t care that you’re sober. I don’t know your sobriety date. I’m going to drink a liter of vodka a day. I’m going to leave you for a fellow vodka drinker and have FUN FUN FUN for the rest of my days. See ya!

    Good monkey- I’m so proud of you for not drinking. It must have been hard to quit drinking and make something better for yourself. I admire you for quitting drinking. I love you sober. You are an awesome sober woman who takes care of herself and her family and her responsibilities. I bet anyone would love to be with a woman like you.

    • Yeah, Fairytale, I’m sober now, too. 9 months. I am running over with gratitude, and genuinely happy. Not interested in having a romantic relationship. I really enjoy my solitude, and peace of mind. I have real monkey love with my kids and Grandkids, sponsor and friend, and all the sober real monkeys in the program. Yay you on your recovery. 🙂

  • I’ll leave Creeper Pants out of this one. My whole life I’ve gravitated toward the Barbed Wire Monkey—glomming on to popular people like the pastor’s wife and others who used me for free babysitting and serving in ministry as a slave till all hours of the night. Many of them would ignore my texts, then suddenly text me out of the blue when they needed something. They would love bomb me and act sugary sweet as if they were my best friend, and I’d lap it up.

    After my pastor was caught in an affair with the worship pastor, I left Crazy Town, friendless. I felt in my gut that in order to have real monkeys in my life, I’d have to clear the negative energy of users. I was totally alone.

    Now…living in a new town, new house, in grad school, with REAL MONKEY friends. One of them just texted me offering to go on a road trip with me (in the event I would ever want to meet up with someone I met on Christian Mingle). Right now she’s at an antique show in Ohio, and she said, “Wish you were here!” Another real monkey texted to confirm tomorrow’s weekly 9:00 AM Saturday gym appointment at our campus gym, and another REAL MONKEY bought me a gift when she was in Israel and made sure she got it to me. I’ve had barbed wire monkeys not buy me gifts at all, or, they get me something, and coerce the situation so that I’m the one who has to schedule a time to come over and get it.

    Still have not made a romantic connection with a REAL MALE MONKEY, but in my new life, I have met a few who are married, and it is shocking.

    BARBED WIRE Creeper Pants had an incessant ogling problem stemming from a raging porn addiction. When we were out in public he would scan for body parts, put a homing device on them, then fall into a trance as he ogled these body parts with me sitting next to him.

    REAL MONKEY men like my neighbor’s husband averts his eyes. REAL MONKEY men like my friend’s husband…she has never seen him glance at another woman. She said, before he finally asked her on their first date, he wouldn’t even look at her.

    BARBED WIRE HUSBAND acts like it’s the biggest pain in the ass when his wife goes into labor. REAL MONKEY neighbor’s husband acts as his wife’s doula, never leaves her side through entire labor, and she has given birth naturally with no IV and no meds to four beautiful children. [Side note, she squats as she gives birth. No laying down.]

    I am hoping for REAL MONKEY love someday, but in the mean time, life keeps getting better and better!!!!

  • BARBED WIRE Creeper Pants pseudo invited me to his parents’ house for Easter, but, unbeknownst to me, there was quite a heated problem of where I would sleep. Turns out he was trying to coerce his sister to sleep with his mom so that I could have his sister’s bed (his dad sleeps in a recliner), and his sister was pissed that Creeper wouldn’t give up his bed and figure out his own sleeping arrangement. It got so heated, they decided to wait till early morning to make the two-our drive to church and parent’s house, rather than do the sleepover the night before. Ummmmmm, ever heard of sleeping on the sofa or buying a cot or an air mattress or something? Geez.

    REAL MONKEY Maria73, when it came time for Creeper to meet the family in Michigan, knowing that Creeper gets “socially exhausted” and “needs his privacy”, rented Creeper HIS OWN CABIN using HER OWN MONEY. Thankfully we broke up before the family reunion, and I didn’t have to pay for the cabin.

    REAL MONKEY NEIGHBOR’S HUSBAND, when I spent the night at their house with their little boys (wife was in labor), borrowed or purchased an air mattress for me, made the bed, and offered me to sleep on the air mattress, on the sofa, or on their bed…wherever seemed most comfortable.

    I can’t believe I put up with BARBED WIRE Creeper Pants’ bullshit.

  • Bad monkey moment: was on a crowded train in Japan with my soon to be husband and a guy started rubbing himself on my leg…I told soon to be husband/bad monkey and he just said “no he’s not”. Yet I still married him. And yeah, I kicked the leg rubber where it hurt.
    Good monkey moment: a gorgeous man I had just met in a board meeting got up out of his seat and looked for a box of Kleenex for me because I sneezed. Am now in a “let’s hang out because we like each other” situation with him, which just started this month even though the Kleenex thing was in 2016.
    No more bad monkeys!!!!!

  • I didn’t have any clue that I married a barbed wire monkey. He was desperate to seal the deal with me (marriage), so he treated me wonderfully throughout our courtship and engagement and I thought he was the real deal. The day we returned home from our honeymoon, everything changed. I ended up having to do everything and I worked around 50 hours a week. If I didn’t do it, it simply wouldn’t get done. I was totally exhausted and I also got to deal with his hair-brained get rich quick schemes and was constantly having to try to avoid injuring his massive ego, yet still manage to get the message across to him the reasons the business he wanted to engage in would not work, and some were illegal! He’d accuse me of killing his dreams! And of course, these “business ventures” would have to be funded by me because he didn’t have his own funds. Nope, nope, nope.

    Skip ahead four years and I discovered he was a serial cheater, and a pathological liar. He carried on multiple affairs at the same time. He was very clever in how he hid his secret life. He was self-employed and he was at the strip clubs during the day when I was working. He was home every night. I’d get home from work around 6 PM, make a nice dinner and then he’d go to bed and was asleep by 8 pm every night. But the lack of romance was MY fault according to him! He was going to bed so early to avoid me because he’d been having lots of daytime sex with multiple strippers and he also paid them a lot of money.

    It appears he had been viewing me with a very critical eye as I knocked myself out trying to be super wife. My “flaws” were what drove him to visit the strip clubs during the day when I was working and he was supposed to be working and he started “affairs’ with multiple strippers. In spite of all of his claimed unhappiness with me, that just drove him over the edge and made him do this, he never said anything about it. The blaming started after d day and it was quite interesting how desperate he was to save our marriage. Not long after d day, I got a call from his ex-wife and she told me she was very sorry I had to go through this and she knew how it felt because he did this to her throughout their marriage. He had told me she cheated on him and I actually believed that until d day.

    I think a good description of a good monkey is my dear old dad. He drives my mom everywhere she wants to go and he sits in the car and he patiently waits for her, sometimes for hours as she “shops”. She’s done some other things that have been rather inconsiderate to him, but he accepts her, warts and all. He was a top executive during his career and he is no wimp, but he happens to really love my mother and he looks at her with adoration.

    To me, it has a lot to with character. I’d rather stay single and happy than to be married to a man-child barbed wire monkey!

    • chump change007,

      I truly thought I had someone like your father – an honest, hard working man with integrity. I told our children on a regular basis how proud I was of him and that of all the men I knew among my friends and family and their husbands, I was convinced that I had been the luckiest one among them because their dad was still ‘the best man I knew’.

      I was with the x for over 30 years.

      Trickle truth over several months time revealed to me he was a serial cheater.

      It has been over 2 years since Dday and part of me is still in shock having a hard time grasping that he lived a double life for most of all of our marriage. I have come to understand the saying: ‘Denial is the shock absorber of our hearts.’

      I get it intellectually but my heart still can’t comprehend that the man I loved so terribly much and thought loved me and our children equally as much is such a phony and always has been.

      I still find it incredulous that he was able to pull it off so seamlessly for so long. Shocking.

      More shocking is that while he does admit to his wrongs he does what CL opened up my eyes to and that is he blame shifts, justifies and minimizes what he did thereby nullifying any true responsibility for all the damage he has unleashed on us. I now know that these types of cheaters really don’t feel like what they have done is wrong. CL’s words, ‘trust that they suck’ are true to the core in my situation.

      And I find it shocking because it has shifted my entire world view – disorienting me and catapulting me into a completely unfamiliar world wherein I no longer trust that true love exists on the scale that I once thought it did. Yes, I do think there are real monkeys out there but I think they are few and far between and I know my view has been tainted by what I experienced.

      I wish mine had been a real monkey. I would have loved to have stayed by his side until the end and I was totally prepared to do that but he chose to leave, to bail out despite my being willing to put my best efforts forward RIC style to save our marriage.

      Now I know the RIC sucks too 🙂

      Now I am so relieved that he is gone and I have found CL and CN.

      In my eyes your mom is a lucky lady and you are a lucky woman to have a dad capable of being so loving to one woman.

      I am sorry you had to go through what you did. It is heartbreaking what these creations are capable of doing to innocent people especially when there are children involved.

  • With all the chumps here , you’d think some of us could find romance with other fellow chumps. Who wants to start a chump dating site with me?????????????

    • That idea gets spinned around regularly. The thing is, how do you vet the real chumps from the liars who have simply picked up some very useful language and also from the cheating-partner-chumps? Those who may have been cheated on, but also did the cheating themselves, but won’t tell you that… There are those, too.

  • I’m 2 years out and while I can’t say I have been going on many exploring out-of-the-cage adventures, I have happened to strike contacts with new people (not romantic partners). Those experiences also turned out to be with barbed wire monkey (and very prickly!) that it’s starting to sour my whole take on this zoo we call a world.

    I’m sure SOME real monkeys exist, I mean, they must, right? But they are very hard to come by, apparently, and that alone upsets my brain in a mathematical way. If the odds are so slim, what are we even doing here? It’s the stuff existential crises are made of, for me.

    • How can they be so hard to come by, when there are seemingly so many on here! I know what you are saying about maybe covert narcs preying on a chump dating site, though. Sometimes I’m just so bored alone and always having to do SO MANY extra things bc He abandoned us and now I have to “family” without a spouse.

    • Quitzal,

      Welcome to my existential world…I ask myself the same thing on a regular basis now that the cat is out of the bag and I know the world is full of cheaters – a world I previously thought only existed on the margins of society. Now I know differently and that it is far more common that people want to truly admit.

      I have no intention of ever entering into another romantic relationship due to what happened to me. I am older so the desire for romance has petered out and I am fine on my own. I like my life and find fulfillment in many ways now because I am free of the x and all that being married to him entailed which I thought was ‘normal’ until I learned the truth.

      A lot of my friends are married to real monkeys and have been for many decade but I do have single friends who have chosen to remain single are content so I consider myself lucky that I don’t feel like an outcast among my married friends and that I have my single friends who ‘get it’.

      I am also lucky that I belong to Al-Anon and the people there ‘get it’ too because they have lived with the issues of alcoholism and cheating as a way of life and now see the light and together we get to climb up out of the hole while becoming whole ourselves.

      These things chip away at the void my existential crisis mode used to drop me into. I exist because of the people in my life to whom I matter – the people who have carried my though this desert of despair, heartache and terror. In a sense I am here because of them – they wouldn’t let me go, literally. I owe them big time and for as long as I do live I owe them my life.

      CN also chips away at me and is helping me find myself again and in that I find that what I am doing here is trying to help others know that new life does exist after betrayal. I am not at meh yet but I am not where I was 2 years ago and I know I needed to hear that when I first discovered CL.

      My brain is still upset – whose wouldn’t be? I mean I was married for almost 30 years and I just found out a couple of years ago that it was all a sham so mathimatically it makes sense I gotta give it time, right?

      Hang in there and keep us posted 🙂

      • EC, I always enjoy your posts. A similar thing happened to me, 23 years and an emotional (maybe, but I’m no longer interested in finding out if it was physical) affair exposed the fact that Ex had been disengaged and disconnected for a long time. Changed my world-view profoundly, I’m over the ‘does love really exist?’ phase and am so glad I’m living in the real world. I’m not looking for romance, it would be lovely if it appeared but it will have to come to me! Meanwhile I’m too busy recovering my own self and supporting my kids. Romantic love is only one kind of love and it annoys me that our culture makes it so very important, the most important. To me it says that if you don’t have romantic love, you are a lesser being, which is NOT true. There is no single soul mate out there for each of us, and the person we should make our world is ourselves. Romantic love, in a way, can distract from that as well as teaching us. All the best, EC! X

        • AFKAC,

          Indeed. The words the x used as part of his exit speeches included ‘I want passion in my life.’


          It is now my belief that the the addiction to ‘romantic love’ is more wide spread than porn addiction. It goes on under our noses all of the time in movies, romance novels, tv series etc….

          To me those initial feelings, limerence is the term now used, wear off – the real work of Love begins and it is ‘work’ (MPO) in that we have to face our own demons in finding out just what we are really made of and what commitment is really about. Any false sense of self won’t survive. In relationships I have seen that have worked, I know of only a few I would consider good respectful relationships, there is a give and take learning process that ‘grows’ each person to becoming a better person because of the commitment involved.

          I just didn’t recognize that the x wasn’t growing but was sprouting wings and exploring outside of the nest without me knowing what was happening. He was a gifted liar and imposter – fake monkey extraordinaire.

          Thank you for your kind words and sharing about your process. Gives me hope that we are on to something more substantial than we had before.

          • Absolutely, perfect! The initial limerence, despite feeling that you’d lay down your life for your new love, can be very self-serving. We’ve all seen that with our cheaters. There’s a wonderful book by my hero C.S. Lewis called The Four Loves where he talks about eros, the love itself, being worshipped by transgressive lovers, rather than the beloved being worshipped, and any barriers in their way make them feel like martyrs and even more determined. Feeling the passion is the thing, and whoever it’s focused on is actually secondary. It is not disinterested. The rest of the book is a reminder that love for friends, family, country, faith etc are just as important.
            So encouraged to read your reply EC, being able to give and receive mature love is the only reason I’d look for another partner now.

            • AFKAC,

              Thanks for the book title. I just requested it from my local library.

              So much of my journey these past 2 years has been in finding words to describe what I am experiencing and then letting them sink in through being repeated many, many time through various voices and your words have just hit the mark in what it is that he did do…the x did lay down his life for his new love thus abandoning/discarding his own children and his loyal, loving chump in the process. Karma bus hit – her passion apparently dulled shortly after his bold move.

              I have intellectually know this for awhile but just now, it hit me on a new level of knowing.

              Thanks for your reply!

  • After close to 26 years with a covert narc cheater I was sick and alone. Five years later I am with a man who cares about making me happy, who sends thoughtful little messages to me throughout his work day. I knew he was a keeper when I visited his house and noticed he had eaten some of his ju-jubes, but not the red and black ones, because he knows I like those best! It’s the little things.

    • I don’t want to do life alone and yes I love and respect myself enough to know and believe that God made us to be together. I don’t like the phrases that imply you don’t love or respect yourself if you need someone. I love and respect myself enough to know that I cannot do it all alone. I have God, yes. I have a great group of friends. My kids. My parents. My good job. My Christianity. I have a lot. I can function day to day without a man. But I still need and want a man. I want him to know that I can’t do certain things and he will. And I want myself to know that he can’t do certain things that I can. Interdependence. Maybe that’s what we talk about here and I’m just mincing words, but no I don’t want to be alone. I know how to be alone. I make great lists and get a lot of crap done. I enjoy time alone and with people. I don’t need a man, but I need a good (monkey) man.

      • I agree, I got so tired of the ‘you can’t find a partner till you are happy living alone’ thinking. Some people love being single, some people don’t. We are all different, and that is a good thing.

        • My friends wondered why I would remarry after my Narcissist/BPD XW. I actually healed more dating then being single. Not that I NEEDED a woman. But I wanted a woman in my life. I built up my self esteem and set strong boundaries. Some are more happy single and some married.

        • Mitz, agreed. I lived “alone” long enough while I was married to Cheater. I need to get out there because I want to believe there are good people looking for other good people.

          I do want a partner and I know I make a good partner. Not letting cheater put me on the shelf.

  • I was told he couldn’t introduce me to his friends because I wasn’t nice and always said something mean that embarrassed him. This past Labor Day, I was hosting a group of friends, new and old (I had moved to a new town shortly before DDay so I ended up all alone in a big city after the divorce and had to make new friends) and they threw me a surprise party for my upcoming birthday complete with flowers, balloons, cupcakes, and lovely, thoughtful presents. It was amazing. They had all been coordinating it for weeks in advance. I guess I must not be so mean after all. That’s some real monkey love right there! ????
    Also, there were many birthdays where I got either nothing or something with no thought, never a party in 17 years, so the whole thing was really special to me.

  • For those who lost their creativity for a bit, I noticed a common trend that many who have been through this kind of trauma lose the ability to read or creat temporarily. For me at lasted five years. But eventually it did come back better than ever.

    I’ve experienced two real monkeys post divorce. They just were not the right monkey for me personally for other reasons.

    Both were kind. Both were supportive and openly communicated. I remember being curled in bed with one (Xchump) all tangled together and we were talking about our relationship and future And having a very hard conversation but in the most loving and compassionate way. He said, I’ve never had anyone speak to me So kindly about such a serious topic, I feel like this is what an adult conversation is supposed to be like. My response “Same!”

    Real monkeys are out there, but there are lots of messed up disordered people so it really is a sorting exercise. At the first sign of fake monkey I drop. I do t waste my precious or valuable time on fake monkeys. I’m perfectly happy being alone until I find a kind funny compassionate real monkey meant for me. And if that doesn’t happen, I’m going to have a fabulous life anyway. A real monkey would be nice to share it with, but it’s not a requirement!

  • Bad monkey: Invites me to dinner and a movie for which I drive 2 hours in a snowstorm. When I arrive, he tells me we’re picking up someone at the airport at 7 pm because the woman colleague who was supposed to do it didn’t feel like driving in the snow. No dinner. No movie! He said he’d make it up to me. Once I knew him better, I knew those words were false. In 10 years, no dinner and movie night ever occurred.

    Good monkey: Hops on his bike at ungodly hour to ride to my place to fix my door lock.

  • No, fake monkey love is not better. Love and respect yourself enough that you dont “need” another monkey….it will allow you to truly weed out the fake ones

  • The answer is Non-monogamy, people. No commitment relationships where you take what you want. All the good stuff, sexy times, dinner dates, compliments, company and laughter. Leave all the bad stuff. Bad moods, doing their laundry, picking up after them, arguments, remote control control. Whilst still maintaining my independence. It’s the perfect existence and a great way to get to know someone fully before making a commitment. I’m in my early 40s and had a 16 year marriage with a very twisted narc. I now see two men (with the option to go on dates with others whenever I want) and have done for the past 6 months. They know about each other and they also see other people. But I am treated like a Queen by both of them, and they both have been a tremendous support to me during my separation. It takes quite a level of maturity, good communication and honesty, but it really is an ideal situation for the healing period. I feel so empowered and desirable for the first time in 16 years. I have the best laughs and fun adventures with them and I find myself more and more confident every day. Getting another man’s perspective on the Narcs behaviour is also very reassuring to my mental health too. I highly recommend it for the transition phase.

    • Holly Berry, how do you date during separation? You are still married until you are divorced. My husband justified s his cheating by saying “The marriage was over a long time ago.” But it wasn’t, we were still married. Dating while you are married is cheating.

      I am really wrestling with this. I am lonely. I haven’t had sex in over a year. But I am a married lady. I am still married until I am not. I won’t break my vows.

      I am devastated by my husband’s dating while he was married. How would it make anything right to do the same?

      Doesn’t this seem hypocritical to you? I am not trying to shame you or be cruel. It just boggles my mind. How is it ok for you to pursue affair partners while you are married and wrong for your spouse? I can’t rationalize this process.

      • When you’re married it’s wrong to cheat. Period. Saying it’s fine that marriage was long time ago over is a complete mindful if the other person hadn’t been told that it was over. It’s also fine if BOTH people in a marriage decide IN ADVANCE that they were going to have an open marriage and both are fine with it. This is also a situation that Barry is in except she’s in a process of divorce and she really is divorcing. Separation and divorce can take years and there’s no point staying celibate during this time.

        Said this, having multiple partners by mutual agreement isn’t for me and I also wouldn’t want to pursue anybody who’s still married or separated (and living at home). Or at least I would be very careful.

        Your vows no longer exist. You both made a commitment, you both made vows and he broke them. Your contract with him and vows are no longer valid. They’re no longer there.

        • I must be the ultimate chump. I meant my vows. I treasured them. I’m not sure that my vows are no longer valid. I didn’t unsay them. It is now apparent that my vows meant nothing to my STBX. I’m left trying to comprehend that my vows are null and void through the actions of my STBX. I didn’t agree to any of this. I just need my vows to mean something and they don’t.

          I am too hurt to even imagine dating. I want my marriage to have meant something. I am not capable of actively searching for a new partner. I do not trust my judgement.

          I’m glad you are in a better place.

      • I’m assuming Holly Berry is separated and I, personally, don’t see a problem with dating when separated. Not sure I could date several people at once but as it all seems up front and above board I say good luck to you.

        • Yep, as long as her stbx knows and isn’t bothered about her dating, there’s no problem. Cheating is to do with deception, promise-breaking and concealment. If it’s all out in the open, and she has no moral/religious convictions that are being broken by dating while separated, I can’t see any problem. I couldn’t have dated during the divorce as I would have seen it as my breaking my marriage vows, but that’s just my personal convictions. Good for Holly, if it’s helping her.

  • I was the real monkey—earl wife, real lover, real mom, real friend, real daughter, real sister—all along.

    I don’t need anything else to cling to.

    That’s the freedom.

  • Real Monkey: An old university friend flew in to spend last Christmas with my daughter and I. We had many late nights talking about old friends and experiences – lots of laughs and good wine. It brought back good memories and also a renewed sense of myself. Christmas included home made gifts as well as traditional stocking stuffers from back home. One evening, an old high school chum of my daughter dropped by for a while. Looking over at my buddy and I laughing, my daughter turned to her friend and said “That’s us in thirty years!”. It is good to know that my daughter is also building up real monkeys in her life.

  • Another Real Monkey: My sister-in-law (wife of my STBX husband’s brother) and I were out and about in her city when she brought me into a cute shop which had magnets/keychains/etc with different sayings on them. She chuckled when we found a keychain saying “Not my circus, not my monkeys” and insisted that I get it – it is on my keychain now. We also found a wineglass which said something along the line of “One more glass of wine and I’ll start saying what really happened in the last 3 years” – the two of us just cracked up laughing (no, that one wasn’t purchased – I don’t contact the barbed wire monkey, and only hear from him when he wants something from me).

    Both she and her husband made it clear that their niece and I are still very much part of their family. Turns out they were suspicious with the way my STBX announced our impending divorce. I gave them the facts and it meshed with the timeline they had figured out. When I said that I had already cried my rivers and was now just disappointed in the STBX, my brother-in-law stated firmly that he wasn’t disappointed, he was really angry! He will be there for my daughter if she ever needs him. Real family monkey.

  • Great post. A couple examples come to mind.

    Non-romantic: when I was still with my ex-husband, we used to go to this bar bar/restaurant every Sunday. We met a woman who used to go every Sunday as well. TBH I didn’t really like her at first, as I thought she was overly friendly with the men and gave too much attention/kibbles to my husband. She never flirted with him or anything, just asking him about his jobs, new car, etc – I was just always really sensitive because a lot of women did show interest in him as he was quite handsome, successful, flashy etc and already had a big enough head as it was. Anyway, about 1.5 month after my separation I ran into her randomly. She asked where we had been and I explained the separation and cheating. She invited me to her birthday party the following night. Long story short, after that she went out of her way to reach out, take me out, introduce me to her friends, and check on me during the worst time of my life and she is now one of my best friends. At a time when my Switzerland friends vanished now that I was no longer going to be their husbands’ bosses wife, she was there for me, always genuinely reaching out, asking how I was feeling, showing empathy and being a good friend. We laugh about how we met now and she is one of the most genuine and sincere people I ever met – a true good monkey. This taught me a lot about first impressions.

    Romantic: having been dating for the last year and a half or so, I have met so many seemingly genuine and quality men. I’ve taken things slow and not had any super serious relationships, but it has shown me that there really are more good men out there than I thought when I was clinging to my narcissist and the carcass of our marriage. One insight I noticed on a date recently was a man was telling me quite vulnerably of some failures he’s had. I noticed the contrast right away from when I was first dating and then dealing with my narcissist for 15 years – though Narc had setbacks and failures like the rest of us, He always airbrushed over that and made himself the hero of every story. This new man (good monkey) who is also super smart, incredibly handsome, well educated, C level exec, can tell the truth about setbacks in his life and what he has learned without feeling diminished, even on a 3rd date. STBX narc (bad monkey) has to constantly polish his image with exaggeration and omission – sometimes outright lies- at all times because he can never appear not perfect. I made a mental note to myself to pay attention to this on future dates, because I think it’s a huge sign of character. If a guy tells only stories where he is the hero as you get to know him, it’s a red flag for me. No one is perfect or a hero all the time, so watch out if they pretend to be.

  • mushroom cloud,
    Love your non-romantic story.

    On romance, The x was great appearing humble and has not lost that talent. I know that can be a hallmark play used by covert narcs. He fits the description. Over the years the humility was used on others while I got the self-pity plays. I only know this now since finding CL and CN by the way.

    I know the bragging type you described that was your x and those I label overt narcs because they are so blatant. If mine had portrayed that in the beginning I would have not remained in the relationship.. He knew what card to play on me and play he did…

    Now I know better.

    Hope your guy turns out to really be a good monkey.

  • I’m now in a relationship with a good monkey for the past 6 months, and ohmygoodness, the difference between my interaction with sweet guy and my X is night versus day. After D-Day, I viewed all the relationships in my life with new eyes, and realised how unkindly I was treated by the X, so much so that I would tear up whenever a stranger (or even friends) did small, nice things for me. He wasn’t kind to me at all, and just based on this fact, I should have left him instead of waiting for another D-Day 13 years later.

    There’s such a huge difference in terms of how I feel when I’m with sweet guy, vs the X; even before the cheating. There was lots of unease, me doubting myself, and a crazy shitload lack of reciprocity with the X. Now? There’s peace, and calm with sweet guy. We are kind to each other, and enjoy each other’s company in the simplest of ways – even just sitting on the couch together feels nice.

    I’ll point out the difference between them, through one similar circumstance – my dog(s) dying:

    Bad monkey:

    5 years ago when my first dog (my parent’s dog) was dying of cancer, I was alone in feeding her, feeding her medication and also making sure she was fine. She had cancer but had began to waste away slowly. My parents were away, and I was waiting for them to come back, before we decided on the next step. One day I burst into tears because I felt so overwhelmed by grief, and when I went to X, he was playing a computer game, and he became pissed off because I made him lose a tournament. He barked at me that there was no use in crying because it is what it is, and that crying would not help the dog or situation, so I had better stop it. He was sulking and angry and I apologised to him for making him lose the game, and I felt silly for having shown any emotions. In the end he didn’t even accompany me when we put her to sleep, citing that he already lost lots of animals during his childhood, so he doesn’t like it when it’s being done.

    Good monkey:

    Just a couple of months ago, my dog was dying of cancer. And because I was even more attached to this dog, I was even more distraught when his condition deteriorated rapidly and suddenly. Sweet guy was there throughout all the times when I cried, and when I was scared; offering me hugs and kisses while he patiently listened to me. He encouraged me to talk about my dog too, and just allowed me to grieve. When the day came to put my dog to sleep, he was with me every step of the way. He gave me space to be with my dog, to say goodbye. He also had his hands on my back the whole time, in show of support when the procedure was being done, and after, when I was keeled over my dog’s body, crying and stroking him for the last time. Sweet guy hugged me, and cried with me with as I held my dog’s body in my arms. Over the next couple of weeks, I would cry when I remembered my dog, and sometimes I would apologise – but sweet guy would have none of it, and told me that I should grieve for however long it takes, because the dog was family.

    Hold out for a good monkey, CN! Finding one takes time (and luck), but you’ll know it because your head isn’t stuck in a blender, and there’s reciprocity in words and actions, and they are consistently reliable – demonstrated over time. And this goes to friendships as well – not just romantic partners.

  • Howdy fellow Chumps! Dr. Chump here. Made account 3 years ago,( after the X-spikey monkey left me, and our 12 y.o. Son, for a charming Sociopathic, “Bad boy” ), …but I never commented. But, I must say right off the bat, a great big… THANK YOU , CL / Tracy S. ! Your book and blog, were just what the Doctor ordered. It was the only jewel in the “amazon book haystack”. I agree. Look for reciprocity. Empathy is huge. I am now dating a very nice lady who reciprocates with words, and actions. She is a very kind, warm, nice, hugging, affectionate, monkey. I think it is Real Monkey Luv.. Lol. ( I am not swept away too much by the initial dopamine rush stage. I believe it is better to enjoy it, but realize that rush won’t last forever, and you have to see what they are like after that..). I had not experienced that ( warmth and kindness ), for about 15 years. I notice that I am a little hesitant to trust again as much. I am mostly my old self, just a little wiser, and somewhat less naïve. However, she has given me no big “red flags” yet. She is not a barbed wire monkey, so good people are out there.
    To the men. You may find a book by Shawn T. Smith, called “The Tactical Guide to Women: How men can manage risk in dating an marriage..”, worth the read. I did. He has one for women too, but I have not read that. Also, I agree with CL, that George Simon’s books are helpful as well. Anyway, the point is to really Vet and screen people carefully. O.K, my fellow wonderful Chumps o’ Love.. To all of us.. No spackling allowed!
    And have a warm and loving holiday season!

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