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Duped for a Quarter

Who doesn’t love a mighty story? I’m reading a really good book right now and I want to turn you all on to it — Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home by Richard Bell.

It doesn’t get much more gobsmackingly courageous than this — five children, free black boys in Philadelphia, are stolen by slavers and transported to the South — and how they eventually, miraculously escaped.

It’s non-fiction and paced like a Stephen King horror novel. It’s an absolutely riveting read about an ugly chapter of U.S. history — the “Reverse Underground Railroad.” The unchecked and largely unpunished practice of kidnapping freed people of color for profit and selling them into slavery.

I’m not going to give away the story, (GO READ IT!) but one part in the beginning really whacked me in the gut — the boys are duped by the offer of work. To go the docks and unload a shipment of fruit, for which they will be paid a quarter.

A whole quarter.

The author explains 25 cents would seem a princely sum to a hungry child in the 1820s. These children, 8, 9, 10 years old, their foolish crime was believing a stranger would pay them a decent wage for a hard job. For that belief — that fortune had smiled upon them and they would get a fair deal — they lost their freedom and their families. They were kidnapped, abused, and sold.

For believing they were worth a quarter.

That was the fatal mistake, the give, the too-good-to-be-true ruse — that they’d had a lucky break. Children who really needed a lucky break. And who were by their nature trusting, small, and vulnerable. They had the audacity to believe that someone offering them a job would treat them well and pay them a quarter.

It was their undoing. Had they not believed it, had they been cold-hearted 9-year-old cynics with full bellies, and zero needs, perhaps they would’ve turned down the offer.

I thought of that quarter recently.

I’m a stupid woman; I’m a dumb, dumb, dumbass.

In the Atlantic Monthly story “The Perfect Man Who Wasn’t” this is what a victim says after she learns she was conned in a romance scam. Derek Alldred is not the charming suitor he appears — he’s a career criminal and Missi Brandt is one of his many marks.

Her crime? The too-good-to-be-true ruse? That she was lovable. That his interest was sincere.

All the insanity that follows is based on that one fundamental hook — that this man — tall, generous, affable — cared for her.

That was her quarter. Had she not believed it, had Missi Brandt been a cold-hearted 45-year-old cynic without a divorce and zero needs, perhaps she would’ve turned down the offer. But she audaciously trusted. She was optimistic and hopeful about love.

I think this is the insidious thing about deceit, the way it subverts a victim’s self-worth. That people come away from abuse giving up on hope for better things. That they shouldn’t believe in quarters. Or better treatment. Decent wages for hard work. Reciprocated love.

From “The Perfect Man Who Wasn’t“:

Even more damaging than the financial ramifications was the damage to their fundamental faith in the world, that bedrock sense that things are what they seem. “My mind was all over the place—Am I being taken or am I being overly suspicious?,” Derek’s Las Vegas victim, Kelly, recalls. “It’s so far-fetched—you’re just like, there’s no way. He gets into your life, your family’s life, your finances. I didn’t know that people like him existed.” The damage rippled outward, affecting the women’s family and friends as well: “It just about killed my mother,” Linda said. “He would sit and talk with her for hours. She’s like, ‘Was all of it a lie?’ ”

That’s the hard lesson — predators exist. And we must be wary, while still holding on to our self-worth.

Which is hard, when your belly is empty and you really need a job. Or when you’ve been hurt and you’re hungry for love. In a perfect world, there would be no hunger of either sort. But we live in a fallen world with bad people who prey on vulnerability.

We also live in a world full of resiliency and bravery. The children who escape the slavers are unimaginably heroic. I suppose the same audacity that allows you to believe in the promise of a quarter’s wages, permits you to believe in the odds of your survival. The victims of Derek Alldred also banded together to take him down.

Let me be clear, I’m not comparing the suffering of enslaved children to the pain of being chumped by a con. These crimes aren’t in the same universe. (For starters, the victims of Derek Alldred were able to eventually convince the police to do something. The bereft parents of those stolen children had zero recourse. Stolen isn’t just the story of 5 boys, it’s the story of systemic indifference to the horrors inflicted on African-Americans.)

Predators understand human psychology, our hooks. Cons know what bait to dangle. How to take your very best qualities — your hope and optimism for the future and use it against you. They feed not only on need and human frailty, but the strongest, best parts of their victims — our faith in another’s intrinsic goodness and sense of fair play.

We should never beat ourselves up for believing in higher ideals — justice, true love, a decent job. Victims aren’t dumbasses. The same qualities that made you a mark are probably the same qualities that make you a survivor — sticktoitiveness, hard work, being of high value. In Stolen, the boys are kidnapped because they trusted the wrong person. They’re saved, in part, because they risk trusting the right persons.

So I don’t think the answer to life’s villains is cynicism. Better powers of discernment, wariness, sure. But no one escapes monsters without a vision of a better world beyond monsters. Escape is an act of faith, not cynicism. So dream big. Hold out for more than chump change.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • While I accept that predators exist, I also struggle to believe it. I can’t help but to attempt to unravel the skein.

    What does a predator think about themselves? What do they think about their own behaviour? What do they think about the negative effect they have on other people, and their lives?

    If they understand human psychology, and understand innate goodness enough to manipulate it, then they must have insight into their own behaviour and the effect it has. They must know they are doing wrong.

    I just don’t understand why they know all this, but don’t care. Don’t have any remorse. They are human, so it makes no sense. How are they so different?

    • The real predators: they believe in a dog-eat-dog world. The world is a dangerous place.If you let yourself be victimised it;’s on you.

      • yeah, a few months back i had dinner with my STBXw

        who is still struggling to understand why

        despite me busting her in simultaneous affairs & booting her out

        we can’t “just agree both of us are to blame”

        …but in the course of dinner she did pretty much lay out her worldview

        which is basically exact this:

        1) EVERYONE lies, cheats and steals as much as they can as they can from whomever is around them for as long as they can until they are caught red-handed

        2) yes, STBXw denied doing those very things for years on end…but that merely an extension of almost-universal human preference for dishonesty and deception at all times

        3) but in fact *I* am the one who is sick and abnormal, because I say what I mean and mean what I say…the fact that my words and behavior are pretty much always in 100% alignment is not only evidence of my stupidity, but also an open and willful invitation for anyone (her included) to weaponize my assumption of trust and abuse it (and me) until I stop them by legal force

        4) she secretly held this set of values for the 22 years we were together and, yes, she would loudly pretend to share them…but that’s just a natural function of coming into contact with someone as stupid as i am, it’s on me that i believed her when she said was an honest person, and it was her right to continue lying, cheating and stealing until i caught her

        5) the many, many peers (men & women) who have expressed shock, horror and outrage about her actions and the damage she has done to our two young children are themselves hypocrites, because 90% of them are involved in the exact same kind of dirty motel sex, but since they haven’t yet been caught they are merely ACTING outraged while, on the inside, laughing at me for my cluelessness… she is quite convinced that most of them ADMIRE her for ridding herself of a “goodie two shoes” like me, but cannot say so because to do so would risk exposure

        6) it really would be better if i would stop communicating with anyone about what she did, so as to avoid the embarrassment of being the Last Little Boy Who Believes In Santa…in fact, while she is VERY happy living in this tiny place waiting for her boyfriend to maybe leave his wife & three kids, she sometimes stays up at night wishing i would just “stop embarrassing myself” by telling people that I caught her cheating & calmly moved her out

        but don’t you worry, Chumps!

        i calmly just let her talk (she said more that night than in the last 4 years of our marriage), interrupting only between points 4 & 5

        to say “you know what…I think maybe I WILL have a margarita”

        …remember Chumps, better to live 1000 lifetimes as the Betrayed

        than a single minute as the Betrayer

        Stay mighty!

          • thanks, Attie!…i am super-lucky in that

            – i caught my STBXw red-handed, after about 18 months of hard denials

            – i was able to prepare for the Decisive Confrontation for about 6 weeks before taking her down & booting her immediately

            – her financial infidelity is not only deeper than initially suspected, but she & AP are/were involved in some extremely serious non-financial criminality that could send both of them to prison

            – i have been extremely disciplined in keeping her unsure as to what i know (or can prove) which, given the severity of the negative outcomes, is causing her substantial ongoing stress

            – i thankfully possess enough resources (financial, emotional, legal) to basically flatten what remains of her & have been cheerfully strident in sharing this fact with her

            and, perhaps MOST IMPORTANTLY, i have CL/CN (&LACGAL!)

            to help me understand exactly what i am dealing with

            …so sure, it was a wild old time

            listening to STBXw beg & whine & justify

            for an hour while the kids are doing karate:

            ….mmmm, tell me about the jealousy other moms feel towards your butt plug collection!

            …wow, i guess it hadn’t occurred to me people were simply acting concerned about our kids to cover up their own affairs!

            …ahhh, NOW it makes sense: while I only recently learned you were lying the whole time about everything, the fact that YOU knew you were lying makes YOU a self-described “pretty honest person” because you never “lied to yourself about it”…although we’re going to have to take your word for it on that

            obvs it doesn’t work in every situation

            but on this particular evening it was fine

            kinda like playing with a dog that’s about to be put down

            you can still have fun, tussle their fur & boop their nose

            even though you know that in the next room over

            the syringes with filling with poison

            • Wow. She is a piece of work. Perfectly explains how my my ex’s lizard brain works. There has got to be a psychopath test to ferret these people out when you’re dating them. Less like the Hare test, more like the replicant test in Bladerunner.

        • I’ve only read the original post and the first comment thread so far, but I have to say this is some of the best writing on this topic I’ve ever read!

        • 1. He showed up one day completely randomly after I hadn’t seen him for months and told me I was, wait for it, you’re never gonna believe it, “controlling and manipulative”. Back then I was still in shock and hadn’t really gotten it into my head what a nightmare he was, and I told him I couldn’t believe he would say that about me. He said, “everyone’s manipulative”, angrily, as if I was pretending the sky wasn’t blue.

          (Isn’t it interesting though that they believe everyone’s manipulative and they’re fine with manipulating you because of that, but they hold it against you if they think you’re manipulating them?)

          4. He used to tell this one joke that I never got no matter how many times I asked him to explain it. After everything went down, I realized the punchline is only funny if you’re an asshole. Unfortunately we were still living together when I realized this, and I said, “I never got it before because it’s mean!” and he just laughed and laughed …

          • Yep, because they feel everyone manipulates they get annoyed at you, because to them they think you’re winning and smarter than other people, because that’s how they feel when they manipulate others.

        • FSW-

          Your STBXW is so deranged! Her comments sure are eye opening into the minds of the disordered though. I can hardly grasp how anyone could really think like this. Actually being able to hide this way of thinking for years is totally beyond my comprehension. Holy smokes!

          • yeah, she’s what i call a Cold Mess: like a “hot mess”…except cold!

            …and you put your finger right on it: what’s remarkable isn’t how she “thinks”

            (which is unfortunate & sad, but as we know around here, not really ‘uncommon’ in any way)

            but that she was able to get away with it for so long

            even as she went deeper and deeper

            i am lucky to have several friends who are clinical psychologists

            who pointed out something that i found helpful & so i will share here:

            – all people (disordered & non-disordered & all the in-betweens) view the world through their own emotional lens to gaze upon a model of Human Behavior which we might think of as a Full Spectrum….light colors are, say, truth & love & integrity, dark colors are dishonest, shame, guilt.

            non-disordered people understand we ALL have SOME of EVERY ONE of these colors in our lives at different times, but in general we try to use/see/paint with the light ones most of the time, but also understand that we will occasionally fall short, just like everyone else, and when we do we apologize etc etc

            …but DISORDERED people (NPD/BPD) simply DO NOT SEE the “good” part of the spectrum and they never will. Red? Can’t see it. Yellow? No idea what that is. Orange? Just something you hear people talk about but will ever “see.”

            early on (by the age of about 10) they realize two things, usually simultaneously:

            1) they’re missing something: everyone else seems to have access to this shared world of Pink and Lime Green and Vermillion but all they see are blacks and browns…this makes them feel Less Than because they are, well, Less Than

            2) no one yet knows about 1), and they can avoid the shame of admitting something so awful & if they just ACT and TALK like everyone else…remember, they LACK part of the non-disordered Inner Voice that says (“don’t you dare lie, you lazy piece of crap!”)…they start to experience the IMMENSE PLEASURE THEY GET FROM LYING, which is powered by their compulsive need to be “superior” to others, and there’s no easier way (for them) to achieve that than lying & not getting caught

            now to be clear this is NOT to excuse or normalize their behavior in any way

            but did help me switch my own internal pondering from

            “How could she DO this to us?!?!”


            “What she did was in keeping with her character. A character she kept hidden her entire life for obvious reasons. I also now understand that seeking comfort, closure or solace from such a disordered person is a waste of time that could be better spent increasing her legal and emotional suffering.”

            everyone heals in their own way, i suppose

            stay mighty!

            • Love this! All the better to have her experience deep and lasting legal and financial consequences.

              You go! You sound mighty indeed.

            • My 11 year old daughter is very sweet but I catch her lying and she is so smooth about it. Never admits the truth, just throws a fit that I don’t believe her. Or she maintains the lie so long, I start to doubt myself. She is compassionate and loving, but I can’t help worrying that she inherited her father and his family’s lying gene. She lies about little things she knows I wouldn’t get mad at her for. I can’t tell if she has picked up this skill to manage the bizarro world she lives in half the time with my ex and his parents, or maybe she’s practicing a skill that is innate to her, or is this just a phase in her development? Am I too sensitive about lies after what I have lived through? So far, they are little lies: did you finish your homework? Did you brush your teeth? She’ll have a very good, elaborate story for me that is very difficult to disprove without showing her that I distrust her, or a very basic lie that she knows I can’t prove. Did you brush your teeth? Yes. Let me smell your breath. No, go back and brush them. Comes back out with toothpaste breath, but I actually stood by the bathroom door and could hear no electric toothbrush and no running water. Aaaargh, tween gaslighting is so triggering for me.

              • I feel for you in this difficult situation. I don’t want to add to your stress, but please take this seriously as it’s already a well established pattern of behavior. As a mom of older teenaged girls, I can promise you that the behavior will increase and the potential consequences/ ramifications will become greater. Lying about anything is a big deal. Gather a team of people to help you.
                I also think it’s a combination of genetics and learned behavior. Trust your instincts! You are a great mom! I’ll be praying for strength, wisdom and discernment for you…and complete healing for everyone. Be encouraged as nothing is impossible for God.

        • The narcissism is strong in that one. It must be a HUGE relief to be rid of her.

        • Wow. Wow. I think my partner and your ex should meet. He also says l am a goody goody and that everyone lies and that l should get with the program. You are spot on.
          Thank you for this.

        • This really is brilliant. I totally understand the mindfuckery of this. It is like they have had some kind of weird lobotomy and are not all together there. Very deeply fucked up. Scary shit

        • Your ex is truly sick. I’m so sorry. Glad to hear you’re taking care of yourself and modeling sanity for your innocent kids.

    • The predator I knew had a strange mentality. She believed that noone had had it as bad as she did, therefore she was entitled to take what people would let her have, through her deceit, lies and manipulation, because she deserved it and those people were entitled idiots who had everything and didn’t appreciate it. She also enjoyed the sense of power that came with watching people destroy their own lives to try and please her or be with her. It made her feel validated and gave her a sense of self, which as a narcissist, with probable BPD tendencies was her goal in life. Everything was fair game, and everything was a means to an end.

      • She also passed as a sweet, vulnerable, quiet person who didn’t quite have a handle on life, had been treated meanly by all her past partners and was fragile. I saw the other side, through her emails and private messages, and this was all a front to hide a seething, resentful, bitchy individual who suffered from chronic envy and was hyper-competitive with other women while declaring herself a feminist. The trouble is that good people project their goodness onto other people, and manipulators use this to their advantage because most people aren’t paranoid enough to suspect that anyone would do what they do, and she used this multiple times to create white knight ‘rescue’ scenarios, just to move on when she found the next rung up her social ladder. It’s basically a con game, on a smaller scale so noone’s alarm bells ring.

        • Stig I agree with you. First of all I am not saying that my ex is innocent. He knew exactly what he was doing. My cousin always played I am a very caring person card. She also played that I was abused by my Mom card. She was/is charming. Even though she is not all that attractive. She was good at making men feel sorry for her. She is/was a charmer. She would zone in a person’s weakness and use that. She was always there to compliment you and make you feel like she really cared. As per my ex she complimented him. Went anywhere he wanted to go without complaining. Always had a smile on her face and was fun to be with. She knew how to play the part.
          When my husband dumped her(we were going to work on the marriage). She started sending me threatening texts. Reported my nursing license to the state(they found nothing). Sent me porn in the mail. And told everyone we knew that I was a nut and the only reason I wanted to work on the marriage was for the money. And that I was threatening her. She never mention one time that she was screwing my husband. She was very good at playing the victim. Was Skankella a predator? Maybe. I think she knew exactly how to manipulate my ex for her gain.

          • Thanks Cuz Chump, and I have to add that you are right, my cheater was in no way entirely powerless, he had a weakness of character which made him susceptible to her hard luck stories and overtures.

        • Back in the 80’s I knew of a few women that had the “you need to rescue me because it is a mean, cruel world” thing going on…….and they did rope in men that were complete suckers and completely blindsided when used and dumped. Back then they may have had it easier but today I would imagine it would be rather tough to get guys to come to the “rescue”.

    • A counsellor once said to me that just because someone is emotionally intelligent does t mean they have empathy. Ergo: they can read emotions but don’t care.

      • My ex, to a “t”. He has himself convinced too, that he is a caring, ethical person. It’s the one thing I can use to manipulate him. He understands how caring, emotionally invested people act and feel, so I can convince him if he does x for the kids, myself and others will “see” him in his fatherly wonderfulness. No asshole, character is what you do when no one else can see you.

    • They can play the notes, but they don’t make music.

      So they can spot the emotional hooks and act upon them for THEIR OWN BENEFIT. It’s a transaction. If you believe what they are peddling (their false narrative), they believe you deserve to be duped and conned.

      They enjoy it. It makes them feel smug and superior.

      Also, I plugged that quarter into an inflation calculator and you know what it’s worth today? But to a small child, that IS a lot of money!

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today’s prices in 2020 are 2,096.36% higher than average prices since 1820. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 1.56% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

      In other words, $0.25 in 1820 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $5.49 in 2020, a difference of $5.24 over 200 years.

      • That’s interesting. I would have thought .25 in 1820 would be worth more like $15-$20 today. Hm.

        • There was a period of incredible devaluation along the way, as reflected in the average inflation rate.

          It still underscores how young children aren’t really good at grasping the concept of value until they are 10+ years old. Generally speaking. There are exceptions, clearly!

    • Predators/con men know that what they are doing is wrong. They just don’t care. I think it’s a simple as that.

      • Dr George Simon—a Chump Lady muse—says:

        “It’s not that they don’t see; they just disagree.”

        That is, They see the damage. They see you crying. They see the divorce or whatever. But they disagree that it reflects on their character There is a big difference between knowing you are responsible and taking responsibility.

        I heard third hand (yes third) that my husband was saying to another man, to receive that man’s empathy: “I am 100% responsible.” People who are not character disordered fill in the blanks and might think, oh he knows he did wrong and he is sorry. And they might even think he is making things right with me.

        Nope. Knowing you are responsible is not the same as being sorry.

        And of course he stood on my sidewalk and said to ME: “I don’t take responsibility.” Was this am insight? Statement of fact? A threat?

        I think he was delighting in saying what is true, knowing that I—or someone I told the event to—would fill in the blanks and think he had an insight, that the problem in the marriage was that he would not take responsibility. Or, people might think that I had misinterpreted it as a threat. Because why would he say that?

        Just way too many things like this.

        So that third hand story I heard, another part of it even more troubling to me: after he apparently said, I am 100% responsible, he then also added, “and Grumpy—she is the only person who ever worked with me on these problems of mine.” She is the only one who saw it.

        And that is a little bit true. Because I was actually incredibly kind and patient and thought he really wanted to work on the marriage when he thought he was losing everything and asked me to point out to him his destructive behaviors. I had a panic attack them, my first ever. because I had not been a critic in the marriage. And I worried he would somehow turn this around to use it against me. But I trusted him and said OK I would do this. And I would work hard to be respectful and let him know when he did something hurtful. He got impatient with that of course. I was a bully he said. I was dominant. I was lecturing him. I was mocking him. He was tired of being treated like a piece of shit he said.

        But now, if he says this third-hand-heard thing to people, normal people with empathy hear what he says. And they say to him: oh no! No one is 100% responsible. It takes two! And they to him, I have had marriage problems too. And marriage is hard. And they say, you are a good man!

        And they think he is such a nice person. He is such a nice nice man. And so sorry! What happened! And then, hmmm, he says Grumpy is the ONLY ONE who is telling this nice man he has a problem. She is The only one who says this. She is telling him he is not nice. She is telling him he is 100% responsible. That means she is abusing him.

        This is psychological DARVO at its finest.

        And he said to me, “OF COURSE EVERYONE THINKS YOU ARE THE BAD ACTOR! They want to support me!! They tell me I am a good man! We talked about communication problems! And no one has a right to know my sexual secrets!”

        Because guess what: he is gay. Or maybe bisexual. Or maybe just wants men for sexual but is straight. Because he has told me, “labels are not USEFUL!!” I discovered all this in a traumatic way.And at first did not know what it all was and he told me it was — not what it realy was. He told me he realy was attracted to me except for when I was FAT, which had been years earlier. And so much more stuff that came out little by little.

        But he will not tell people. Because labels are not useful.

        I was really good to him and never shamed him and I encouraged him to work with a counselor. I listened to him. he told me he would always owe me his life for caring for him and letting him know people would accept him, although he had felt ashamed of this.

        I learned more and more little by little. The lies. The grooming. It was pretty awful to wrap my head around. He had known—and has looked throughout our marriage. (Oh yeah but I was fat. And also women’s bodies were evil. And he was under stress. And he had problems with intimacy. And he just never felt lives by his father. And he felt aliented from me. And he understood how I might have taken that as rejection.)

        Then he told me later, when I said after more than a year of “working on the marriage” that I wanted a divorce—he said that “if anyone comes up to me and says they heard such and such about me, I will say, wow people say the craziest things!!”

        He also told our children, “I guess I was not enough for your mom.”

        So this is some serious “he just disagrees” stuff going on.

        • He told me and the marriage counselor that he tells people “we argued about sex” instead of the truth, he cheated. I would care that he is telling everyone essentially that I was a frigid bitch, but I don’t care what anyone who chooses to be around that man thinks of me. I know the truth and they’re welcome to hear it if they are interested. The MC was shocked he would do this. Seriously, this is your one job and YOU couldn’t spot the sociopath? MCs are a joke if you have to see them more than 3 times. It’s either a communication problem, or your spouse just

      • Agree. They weigh it up and decide what they want is way more important than someone elses’ pain. But they know they are hurting them.

    • You need to watch a BBC show by Adam Curtis–it’s called “The Trap”. Episode 1 of that series (he has a whole plethora of damned good shows about how the world really works)—is called “Fuck You Buddy”.

      It’s about game theory. Why people WILL do what they do, in certain sets of circumstances. It’s predictable. There are other experiments on basic human behavior–like the Milgram experiment on shocking people (or thinking that you’re shocking someone) because someone of “authority” tells you to do so.

      There is a lot ingrained in how we are inculcated as a society—and these issues need to be understood by the ones who are duped by the predator types. If you understand why YOU react in a certain way to certain things—you can understand how and why someone who is a predator does what he does and how he gets away with it.

      Predators do not “think about their effect on other people”. Why would they? Would you ask a lion to consider the gazelle’s “feelings” about the fact that the lion is stalking the gazelle and about to kill him?

      You seriously have to think of these types of people in this way. There IS no “self reflection” there to be had.

      I read that article before Tracy wrote about it. I had an experience with someone who fit this description to a T—and I had to look at his photo to make sure it wasn’t actually him. My aunt also had a marriage to a con man—cleaned her out of everything, racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt—stole her car, left it at the train station and POOF! Disappeared. She spent 7 years paying down all of that shit until she could declare that motherfucker dead.

      Don’t for one second believe that these sociopaths have an iota of thought for you. They don’t. There is not “figuring them out” or “convincing them” of anything. There is no one home to convince.

      • My question is, how do you find the difference between the conman or conwoman and a truly good person? Is there a set of specific characteristics to look out for? I feel like something is off on my current relationship and I can’t put my finger on it. I guess I need help figuring out the difference. Xo sweet PS. He wants to buy a house together…. I’m on the fence if I am being used for the housing situation.

        • My advice for your situation?

          First off, if you feel hinkey about something, whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, uncle, mother, next door neighbor or a complete stranger—why would you do the thing that is making you uncomfortable?

          THAT is what you need to unpack.

          Not “what magic notebook can I buy that lists all of the things I need to do in life to stay safe”.

          Read basic information about sociopaths and their behavior, what they do and why they do it. Trying to figure out WHY they do it is irrelevant. The fact is—they do these things and the only way to avoid getting snared is to be self aware, and have some standards/boundaries.

          What are your boundaries? Is buying a house with this guy crossing one of them? Then why would you do it?

          What I see around me is lots of people who are absolutely terrified of being alone, of being labeled a “failure”, of having their own agenda “I want a marriage! And kids! And a house! And all of the security I am entitled to! Forever!”

          Well, everybody has an agenda. You, me, and every sociopath on the street. The difference between good people and sociopath agendas? Ours tend to be more esoteric and loving and kind. Sociopaths have agendas that tend towards the material or power.

          If your ex would say to you—“Honey, i want to buy this house with you so that in 2 years I can quit my job, find a fuck buddy online while you work and then steal half the equity, thereby dumping you for a younger model”. Would you buy the house with him?

          No? Well, sociopaths have learned that telling the truth to you will not net them what they want. You, on the other hand, come into a relationship with an agenda—and state that agenda. Big difference.

          Red flags can be anything from being cheap on dates, to ogling other women in front of you, to little white lies, to jealously and possessiveness—there is no “one size fits all sociopaths”.

          Therefore, YOU have to do the hard work. YOU have to unpack why you are okay with feeling hinkey about decisions and going through with them anyway.

          People need to be okay with being by their damned selves…not looking to anybody else to “complete” them or “make them happy”. We’re always ripping up cheaters for this same hole in their souls—that can not be filled—and yet we seem to expect that certain things on OUR agendas are absolutely crucial.

          I must be paired up to be happy. I must have a house by age 25. I must have a spouse that makes XXX amount of money. I must have 3 kids. I can never be divorced, no matter what, because I cannot be alone.

          I like my life. I like getting up when I want, to do what I want. I go to work and come home to a great house and a good dog. I have great friends. I hike and bike and swim and do stupid things like binge watch “Battlestar Galactica” for the millionth time—with nobody giving me shit about what I do.

          If I want to go to dinner—I say yes. If I don’t…I SAY NO. No is a complete sentence. I don’t owe anybody any explanations about why I don’t want to go.

          Ergo, you and your boyfriend—if you don’t want to buy a house—you say NO. There is no explanation needed. If he dumps you because you didn’t do this? Well there you go—your first big giant waving red flag. LOSER. NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.

          But but but but…..I loooooooooooove this person and I want to be with them! I dont’ want to be alone! I don’t want to date anymore! What if he doesn’t love me because I said no??

          You need to unpack why you would be okay subverting your boundaries so that someone stays with you.

          • Buttercup Thank you! (Beets, bears and Battlestar Galactica.. lol) I appreciate your feed back. I will start reading and get more information to start unpacking myself. I know what I deserve and see many red flags in this relationship. I decided to stop sparkling and saying NO. I moved back to my home state after living with him and he wanted to come and I said NO. I appreciate you and all your wise words. I screened shot your reply. Lots of love to you xo sweet

            • you. rock. it.

              dont ever let anybody tell you what you want or what you need. that is Gods gidt to you and to all of us.

              free. fucking. will. its yours to choose.

              much love to you. good luck.

    • “What does a predator think about themselves? What do they think about their own behaviour? What do they think about the negative effect they have on other people, and their lives?
      If they understand human psychology, and understand innate goodness enough to manipulate it, then they must have insight into their own behaviour and the effect it has. They must know they are doing wrong.”

      I’m a psychologist. Believe me when I say that predators like this do not see others as human or equal to themselves, but rather, as tools to achieve their own ends. No one matters but themselves in the long run. Trying to either understand them, empathize with them, or view them through the lens of normal human behavior is bound to fail. All the cheaters we discuss here are on a spectrum of this behavior.

  • Predators always have had 2 sides, people who think there really nice and their victims.
    People thought my ex was nice and people still do.
    When bad things happen you soon find out what people are really like.
    People see what they want to see.

  • CL-excellent post! Not only do we benefit from a chump pep talk, we get a little literary review to boot. I’m headed to reserve STOLEN from my library.
    Thank you so much for bolstering my resolve Monday through Friday. When I do get to ‘meh’, you will be one of the important ones that I look back on with gratitude.

    • I second that – CL this one is gold. They’re all gold but this one is platinum plated gold.

      I used to really really like being a trusting and open hearted person, and really really really didn’t want to let go of that. And then grieved the loss of that person a little.

      Now I’ve realised I haven’t so much lost, as refined. I’m still open hearted but I’m a lot more judicious about who I invest in, and I invest now by degrees, not “all in” like I used to.

      As Stig wrote above, we project our values onto others . Once you see and understand that, how all of our relationships (not just with the cheaters) have partly consisted of our projections/assumptions/wishful thinking/spackle, you never unsee it.

      Which means you have a new, wondrous clarity around both your own and others’ worth.

      • MamaMeh I love what you said.
        “Now I’ve realised I haven’t so much lost, as refined. I’m still open hearted but I’m a lot more judicious about who I invest in, and I invest now by degrees, not “all in” like I used to.”

        Invest by degrees sounds like good advice; a chatchy little mantra to remember as you let new people into your life. Maybe a bumper sticker?

        • Thanks Fern!

          The other part of that (and another bumper sticker/fridge magnet) is No More Spackle.

          Sure, benefit of the doubt once or twice, being generous in assuming people behave with good intent and make mistakes … BUT. Once they lose my trust, THEY have to do the work to win it back.

          End result is same: more people at arms length. Friendly ‘n’ all, but less invested.

          • Yes, Mama, I like your take on this. Once can be a genuine mistake, twice can be bad luck or perhaps poor/shoddy management, but three times is a PATTERN. Looking for patterns in people’s behaviour helps us sniff out red flags and apply boundaries to protect ourselves from others’ exploitative behavior. Chumps tend to say innocent until proven guilty. Those of us who have been wearied by experience tend to look at it as a process of gaining their place in our friendship circles. As CL says, look for reprocity.

            • Exactly. Another mantra: no more non-reciprocal relationships. That’s all relationships, not just romantic ones.

              (Though I do have teenage sons so have to make exceptions for them. Peak rude/lazy/selfish atm. Sigh!)

  • For me, I found reading THE SOCIOPATH NEXTDOOR helpful. They type of person did not register as on my radar prior to having my divorce from a cheater. You have to know such people exist before you can protect yourself from trusting such an individual.

    • “The Wisdom of Psychopaths” is good too. It’s on You Tube to listen to for free.

    • yes, THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR is wonderful

      and is the first book i recommend AFTER

      i recommend LACGAL

      to any/all Newly-Minted Chumps

  • Another must read is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. Although it is not specifically about Cluster B personalities, the author discusses ways to recognize when we are being conned and are in danger.

    • It’s an interesting read, but for chumps I think it’s hard to parse through the amount of self-congratulatory lines, which most of the book is comprised of. I took away some good points, but I couldn’t finish it.

    • I loved the Gift of Fear, I really applied that book when raising my children. Taught them to listen to their gut instead of being afraid of everyone. Any time I was in a store I would tell them I needed an item and let them approach the worker and ask for it. Once when I my EX lost my son in the grocery store, my son was so proud of himself for approaching a working and asking for help. The idea is that they are less likely to approach a predator than a predator would approach them if they are just standing there crying.

      I just wish I had listened to my gut more when dating EX, maybe my body would not have had to become sick for me to listen.

      This is a great post today, Thank you CL.

    • The Gift of Fear is a GREAT book. So is Protecting the Gift, which is about teaching your children how to keep themselves safe.

    • I also loved ‘The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker and I recommend d it to everyone I know.

  • Thank you for tackling this at the existential level where betrayal truly belongs.
    It gambles with you to take away everything from you.
    Faith must be born by pain, or else I don’t know how any of us ever make it out and through (and hopefully beyond).

    The C-PTSD is real.

  • I just watched Dr Phil….season 18 episode 84.

    Tells the 17 year old OW “if he loved you he would never put you in that position.”

    Tells the wife “he’ll move on from her and change her like a dirty shirt.”

    I found the episode very validating. Like a personal pep talk from Dr. Phil. Validating what love and loyalty ACTIONS are….how the words and the gifts are just tools for the predator to manipulate the victims…..

    Something about his Texas delivery really makes things stick for me.

    • ….and his words about VALUING ONESELF.

      Check it out On Demand. It made me feel better.

      • I just started to watch a little of this episode (will watch the rest tonight). I haven’t seen him for ages but damn, he sounds like he’s going to have a coronary – so out of breath and his teeth no longer seem to fit! I’m not knocking him as I like him but that was quite a shock seeing him after so long!

        • I remember when Susan Powter (of “Stop the Insanity” fame) took him to task for hawking his diet book. He’s not exactly fit and trim himself. And don’t get me started about Robin’s book where she claimed she hadn’t had ANY plastic surgery ! They’ve gone Hollywood…

  • I just watched Jordan Peterson on YouTube ‘Never Ignore Small Signs of Coming Betrayal’. Being chumped by my ex has been useful, because it has taught me to look for small signs like this, but I wish someone had shown me the skill when I was younger.

    • I would stay away from misogynistic neofascists like Peterson no matter what the advice is. He is something of a con artist himself, appears to have comorbid personality disorders, and slips his ugly political agenda into his material wherever he can. His misdeeds are legendary; he tweeted a threat to a journalist for giving his book a bad review and turned feral in an interview because, in his own words, he didn’t like the question. That’s just two examples among many. There are far better out there than him. He was justifiably a complete unknown before he got into a controversy with trans people. Now he’s famous and says whatever crazy shit will keep him famous, like “there should be enforced monogamy”, which in the context meant each man should have his own sex slave in order to reduce terrorism and crime. Then he denied saying it, even though it was on audio. He probably even means half of the crap he says, which is scary.

      There are tons of good psychologists you can watch on youtube. They just aren’t famous.

  • This reminds me of something I’ve been saying to myself and friends with regard to my ex-wife’s secret life of deceit: “I will never accept blame for being a loving, trusting spouse.”

    • My husband (in divorce process though) twisted and used my love as a weapon against me, to suggest I was not a loving person any time I asked for respect or kindness. Like, taking all my compassion to justify his lack of showing any compassion to me.

      One night he threatened how much easier It would be to divorce me than to deal with all my health issues—I was recovering from a hysterectomy and had that day gone out grocery shopping while he went skiing and he came home angry. After the divorce threat and saying how difficult I was for health issues, he went on about other impossible contradictory awfulness about me. I was pretty much devastated.

      He then leaned back in the couch, almost relaxed, and said, deliberately and slowly, Like he was hissing at me to put me in my place:

      “you have to remember. My mother was chronically ill.”

      He knew he had been cruel. He knew he had hurt me deeply. And then seeing me suffering, he told me I deserved it. And why did I deserve it? because he was a victim. Of his
      Mother being sick. And so my having a hysterectomy meant I was hurting him. I was in fact the cruel one. And this meant he was entirely justified in the meanness.

      And more so: he was saying that if I did not ACCEPT this cruelty from him by feeling sorry for him, and maybe I should apologize too, I was a mean person. I was a mean person If I did not feel sorry for him for how he had to be mean to me.

      I believe he knew exactly what he was doing. Exactly.

      • Recently, while on my ex’s watch at his own family’s function, my 11-year old son broke his cousin’s iPhone, locked himself up in a room with a computer, accessed a porn site (which my son caught his dad watching twice in the summer in the middle of the day – thanks ex), and then posted pornographic screen shots on his cousin’s school site. No lie.

        Luckily the school principal caught the photos as it was Christmas break and deleted them before she thought any students or parents saw it. Nonetheless a letter had to go home to all parents to address the issue, just in case. And my nephew was mortified in being called down to the office to be questioned about these pictures.

        I was so upset when I received an email from my brother-in-law explaining what had happened. I immediately called to learn the details and apologize. My kids had gone home with their dad for the rest of the weekend, and I sat quietly waiting for what my ex was going to do to resolve the situation. Upon drop-off, I questioned him and all he had to say was that our son denies everything and there is probably more to the story that we’ll never know. That’s it.

        Now, to be fair, my ex paid for another phone that his brother found used on-line to replace the broken one, and my ex took the Christmas money my son received from his grandmother to pay for it. Yes, some consequences. But, when he shrugged his shoulders stating that our son denies it, and “oh well,” I blew my cool. I followed up with a text to my ex that it astounds me that if anyone knows what goes on in the head of a person who lies in the face of evidence that it would be him. I also stated that what our son did warranted a discussion about next steps. My text went ignored for a day.

        He texted back that I need to learn how to communicate more effectively. My message got him so angry he couldn’t answer the entire evening (I guess I hurt his feelings and it was also a night that spends with the OW). Told me I need to accept that he does things his way with the kids. His way in this situation is to just love and support our son in creating a safe space for him.

        Huh?!? Our son posted pornographic pictures on a school’s website. The only reason he knows it exists is because of catching his father. Our son broke an expensive iPhone. He lied about it all, and the solution was to just give love? But, the real problem here is that I’m not an effective communicator and can’t accept our differing parenting styles. Really?

        So, I lovingly spend the next several days teaching our son the importance of being truthful and how courageous it is to admit when we have done something wrong. He then admitted to what he did. Then, we discussed why he did it. He didn’t fully know why (he has Aspergers and struggles to identify feelings and motivations on his own) but acknowledged that he wanted to cause a shock and that he was feeling frustrated (reasons still unknown). We talked about making apologies and how afraid he was about this. I took him to have a conversation with our priest who was absolutely lovely about doing a relaxed confession and telling my son that God’s forgiveness gives him God’s strength to make apologies. My son apologized to his cousin, aunt/uncle and wrote a letter to the principal of the school (after I had already called the principal to express my dismay and apologies).

        When I informed his father of the steps I took in my “parenting” style, I got crickets.

        Until two weeks later at next major drop off, I got told I think I’m so superior.

        Yeah, that’s the problem too. Back grey rock I go.

        • As a mom of a teen boy I worry about picking up bad behaviors from dad – my heart aches for you in this story! There is so much we can’t control. It sounds like you handled this awful situation in the best possible manner. Truly mighty.

  • Injustice and trauma.  Spot on.
    It isn’t over yet.  Here is another
    more recent story of the disadvantaged being enslaved, “The Boys in the Bunkhouse” by Dan Barry  It’s about the cognitively disabled that were enslaved most of their lives.

    It hits home for me because my son has autism.  I watched in the hearing room of the state capitol as the “systemically indifferent” insurance company lobbyist predators fought against autism insurance reform to provide therapy for autistic children.

    “Even more damaging than the financial ramifications was the damage to their fundamental faith in the world, that bedrock sense that things are what they seem”

    Man! I had that existential crisis first when I was fighting the schools, the insurance company and my sons NPD/BPD mother for his needs.  I had it again with the infidelity.

    With infidelity Tuesday and meh are on the way.  I have dried those tears.  Not so with autism.   It is not all bad my son is amazing.  I just fear for the future for him and his sister.  She is the one who will have to step in after me.  And oh man!  What she has already been through.

    Chumpdom can be hard path to higher level awareness.  True we are not child soldiers in Africa forced to kill another child as rite of initiation, but are experience has given us an opportunity to join the rising tide of consciousness that may save us from ourselves yet.

    So I will fight them here.  I will fight them there.  I will fight them anywhere.  Jeff I am.

    • I stopped when I read “Anger is never a good emotion.” Anger, in fact, is sometimes the appropriate response.

      • It’s a sign,conscious or not, that your boundaries are being violated and you need to act. Not react and do something violent or criminal but delve into what’s actually happening.

        • My ex used my “anger” as a valid way to completely negate and dismiss me. He’d behave appallingly, and if I had the audacity to stand up for myself, or object to his behaviour … Oh! Look at the angry woman! Nothing she says has meaning because, anger.

          If someone runs over you, backs up and runs over your kids, sets your house on fire, poisons your garden and steals your dog … yes Anger!

          Anger is never a good emotion. Pah. That sounds very gaslighting victim-shaming to me.

          • It’s not okay for a woman to be angry because that means she’s a “bitch”,”shrew”,etc. We all get the picture. And men are labelled with (insert your choice) if they’re sad. Smh.

      • Anger is the only thing that enabled me to survive the long turbulant divorce. Getting rid of that anger years later when it doesn’t serve me anymore is another thing.

        • That was the takeaway I got from the article.

          I don’t have a problem with people being angry. Anger can generate incredible amounts of ENERGY. It’s directing it in such a way to make it work FOR YOU (or for your cause).

          ANGER is what fueled the fight against slavery. ANGER is what kept women going when they were fighting for the right to vote. ANGER can be what gets someone up in the morning instead of rolling over and giving up.

          But if at some point it is too tiring to maintain, or no longer works – you shelve it until needed.

      • Adelante,

        I agree. That does not compute w/my experience. I use my anger against my POS XW to motivate me in positive ways. It gives me energy sometimes when I don’t think I have any to complete a task.

  • CL, this is another one of those times where something you write changes my life.

    “I think this is the insidious thing about deceit, the way it subverts a victim’s self-worth. That people come away from abuse giving up on hope for better things.”

    The one thing I struggle with most after multiple betrayals is cynicism. I’m not talking about a little sarcasm in the face of asshattery. I’m talking about how I first assume people are untrustworthy and I see negative intent everywhere, purely out of self-protection. I used to start at curiosity. Now I start at cynicism and push myself into curiosity so I can actually know people.

    I know I’ll eventually find a balance that resembles caution more than exclusion, and I even already knew that the quote above was true. Still, something about the way you wrote it reached through to my heart in a new way.

    So, thanks. For the thousandth time. For being you, then sharing you. ????

    • Amiisfree, I know right?! My default setting used be trust, now I have to work at ensuring it’s not distrust. I spent a while checking for narcissists under EVERY rock!,

      But still, as you say, both you and I know that we’ll get the right balance sooner or later.

  • I think my stuckness is very much entangled in how I understand my worth and that question of what it means to have risked being human, to have trusted and moved forward thinking myself worthy of happiness and love.

    I was listening to something about cheaters after the baseball scandal and the person speaking spoke about how some people feel everyone cheats, but she said that’s not true, everyone doesn’t cheat, but she’s surprised by how many of us levy little or no consequences on those that do.

    • Stuck Pick-me-dancer,

      This is great. I always trusted first, then let people prove themselves to not be worthy of being my friend or partner (not that I was a perfect friend or partner, either. I knew I wasn’t, but I also didn’t betray people like my POS XW did to me).

      After the POS XW and her betrayal, I’m struggling w/being ever able to trust someone like that again. I think I will make a recovery in this respect (I’m slowly moving towards it, I believe), but I also agree it is scary how many people don’t apply any judgement or consequences to the things these assholes do.

      And the really scary thing is, I might have behaved this way too, in the past (as in, not making a judgment or assigning consequences to this type of behavior and/or person). I keep coming back to how frequently we just don’t understand some things until we’ve gained this type of painful, hard-won experience and understanding.

      Well, that’s not me anymore, and it’s probably not most of us on this site. We’ve figured more of this shit out, w/CL’s help, and all those other reference sources. And that’s a good thing.

      Best wishes to you and your family, Stuck Pick-me-dancer. May your future travels be smoother, and filled w/joy and love. We all deserve a good share of that, at this point.

  • Brilliant Post!! Absolutely brilliant! You dropped the mic on this one!!!

  • “hurt and hungry for love”: this is how I feel these days. Yeah, that’s not good. But it’s not easy to manage.

    It’s very important to understand that the chump is the strong one, that the ability to trust, however misplaced, is a true strength. But it doesn’t make the huge blow to self-esteem disappear magically (how could she prefer this piece of scum to me?) and sometimes it’s hard do manage.

    • I get that. The woman my husband abandoned us for is hands down, so far beneath me, that one questions his sanity. I think “you left me and the kids for THAT?” It’s not that she’s unattractive, but she has nothing to offer. Well, you know what I mean. She’s immature, unemployed, homeless, an addict, estranged from 2 of her 3 children, a thief, liar and con. The Bonnie to his Clyde, apparently. We’ll see if they meet the same bad end, because they’re heading in that direction.

  • Listen to the podcast “Something Was Wrong”, season 1, for a great lesson in fixing pickers and spotting the shiny scammer. This was recommended on our CL Reddit forum.

    The sociopath guy featured was outed on another Reddit forum- people figured out who he was and posted his name. A quick google search revealed his Lola site with glowing engagement pictures of him and his current victim. People have tried to reach out to the current GF and she has shut them down. That makes 3 or 4 engagements for this guy within about 3 years, with cheating all along in between. I hope that his current GF wises up that she is with a predator.

  • My counselor told me he has three male clients who after describing their internet dating habits…I asked him if they knew they were predators and he said ‘no’. ..they just believe they are entitled to whatever they want.

    I narrowly missed being a victim of a predator. He was handsome, funny and charming and love bombed the hell out of me. He asked me to marry him after three months. I was so happy to meet him. However, as time wore on red flags started appearing. He was less than honest and refused to discuss money with me. We broke up and what spoke VOLUMES to me was finding him back online dating within two weeks and a week later he had snagged another victim. I did try to warn her but she didn’t believe me and thought she was special. It didn’t work out for her (imagine that) but he found a new sucker and was married this past summer. I know a family member who cant stand him and she let’s me know things. I dodged a bullet for sure.

  • I feel awful for the kidnapped boys and anyone else who is exploited. Unemployment and poverty make one vulnerable. Virtually unemployed for 12 months now, in spite of carefully preparing hundreds of jobs applications for jobs that seem like a good fit, I am prepared to suffer virtually any indignity to house my kids. I am sticking to avoiding doing anything illegal and unethical because if I accept a job that requires me to do illegal/unethical things (a surprisingly high percentage of jobs), then I will dislike myself much, much more.

  • I have found the following book to be the most unvarnished, toughest to take, closest to reality, among the books on the subject, both regarding personal relationships, and work environment.

    Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity by Marie-France Hirigoyen

    It is interesting to me that the French (it is the original) and Italian versions both have the words “moral” and “perverse” in the titles, which reflects exactly the experience I have lived through.

    Le harcèlement moral: La violence perverse du quotidien
    Molestie morali: La violenza perversa nella famiglia e nel lavoro
    Die Masken der Niedertracht: Seelische Gewalt im Alltag und wie man sich dagegen wehren kann
    El acoso moral: El maltrato psicológico en la vida cotidiana

    There is a part that seemed to me to be the crux of the matter. I don’t have the book here with me now, but it states something along the lines of: These people try all they can to transform you in something akin to them, to make you do what they do; it is that quality, that something innocent that doesn’t let them do that, that makes it so that they give up, that they abandon you, that you leave them, that you resist, that you don’t join them in their misery.
    I don’t know, Tracy’s post today, made me think of this.

    All my best wishes to all. It’s a tough path.

  • Wonderful post. I continue to draw so much strength from this community, and from all of you.

    Unrelated but I could use some chump guidance today. Two of my very close friends (initially friends of my STBXH, but have totally taken my side in things, shunned him & taken very good care of me since he left) are opening a restaurant tonight, and I promised them I would go to their opening. My best friend is going with me but as the event approaches…I’m terrified that HE will show up (and worse, show up with HER). My husband is a chef and very involved in the restaurant community in our city so this is kind of “his” world, even if all the people in it have cast him out for how he treated me. I’ve been doing A bit better on no-contact and I’m not sure I could handle seeing him/them; on the other hand, I want to support my friends (who have supported me so much this past month) and not give up any more of my life to that asshole. Any thoughts on what I should do?

    • Go and support your friends.

      If you don’t go and HE shows up, he will know you likely avoided the scene out of fear of running into him. Don’t give him that power.

    • Don’t punish your friends for sticking by you. It’s now your turn to support and stick by them. Your ex can go to hell.

      Go in holding your head high. You did nothing wrong except trust a con artist. You now know of his con so he’s nothing but a bug beneath your shoe. If you end up seeing him there, squash him like the bug he is by walking right past him on your way to support those wonderful friends of YOURS. You ignoring him, holding your head high, and not letting him alter your plans will bother him = BONUS!

  • My thought is he wins if his presence preempts your plans. Breathe deep that is what I do.

  • Follow the mantra, “You Go Girl” and go.
    Be strong for your smart, loyal, moral friends because thankfully, they were strong for you. Be strong together. Where is the restaurant and be sure to tell us the best items to order there.

    • Thank you, CN, for giving me strength in moments when I need it the most. Went to the opening and had a wonderful time. No fuckwit in sight—just a lovely evening with friends. <3

      • ((((Newlywedchump))))
        Good for you girl!
        YOU are Mighty!
        I am so sorry for all the pain you have been through. I feel it when I read your posts.(Chumps understand).
        But, I also read, and feel, your inner strength. It is beginning to shine through.
        Too bad, that when he realizes what a gem he had in you, it will be too late!
        One day, unexpected, you will meet someone worthy of you! Someone with integrity, someone loyal and true.
        In the meantime, come here, CN will walk beside you and hold you up!
        Keep reading in the archives. Here, you will witness the successes, the triumphs, of people like MotherChumper99, and many others. Their posts will show you the way toward the light.


        • Peacekeeper, thank you so much for your kind words of wisdom. They have lifted me up so much over the past week…I thought I was doing slightly better and then in the past few days the grief has washed over me again like a tidal wave. Trying to remind myself that healing is not a straight line…

  • My husband is a con. Knows all the right buttons to push. and he’s also a good actor. “I’m not with her anymore. I’m trying to do the right thing. I need money until I start my job.” He was still with her. Fleeced me for about $400. I shut him down after that and enforced the order of protection. Before I went totally no contact though, I did tell him he is an evil predator, and I don’t regret saying so. I only regret I wasted so much time on someone so wholly undeserving of me.

  • Thank you for the book recommendation and the post. Will definitely be adding it to my list. It makes me sick sometimes to think back about how naive I was – AND how much of a con man the cheater actually was! What I hate the most of what he left me with was a mistrust of people in general. I’m working through this but it is hard for me to trust anyone now.

    There is a great limited-run “true crime” series on Netflix called “Dirty John” – that I watched recently, and I HIGHLY recommend it. Some of the deceit and lying was very triggering, but I’m glad I watched it until the end. Might help people better understand what it is like to be completely duped by an evil, manipulative person. Both the way they told the story and the acting are great.

    Thanks again CL!

    • OMG! I just watched it too and it helped me soooo much! Towards the end they have an episode called Chivalrous. In the episode it shows all the horrible things he was doing behind the scenes, while at the same time treating the victim with extreme thoughtfulness and love. For some reason watching Dirty John unlocked the last little piece I needed for healing. I struggled once in awhile with all the “good memories” I had experienced. The “mindfuck”is real! But once I watched it I finally got it! My ex was a con! The extremely kind things he would do for me, my parents, and grandparents was just manipulation! This series gave me some serious closure I had been seeking, it’s a MUST watch!

  • This post is so touching, you are a life changer Chump Lady! Thanks for the encouragement! Looking up the book now!

  • Hey CL,

    My comment’s a little bit late since it’s been a pretty busy time (lame excuse I know, but true).

    I wanted to say that I think this is one of the best pieces of writing you’ve ever done. I’ve been a part of CN for over two years both here and on reddit. Your advice not only saved my life, but also made it worth living.

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