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Nice versus Kind

haveanicedayThere was an interesting side discussion the other day on Chump Lady about the difference between niceness and kindness. Many people noted that their cheaters appeared to much of the world as “nice people,” but in point of fact, lacked kindness. (Sure, it’s an understatement to say that cheating is unkind.)

Now, I don’t want to diss niceness, after all I am from the Midwest and it’s our default setting, but a lot of being nice is simply impression management. See? I come in peace! You can trust me, I’m nice! Nice works if you’re in sales. That’s why (at least here in the U.S., any way) salespeople are always encouraged to compliment you or end each transaction with “Have a nice day!”

I enjoy the social lubrication of nice. I want a nice person to bag my groceries. But at the end of the day, I just want my groceries bagged, the attitude with which you do it is optional. If I just got nice and no bagged groceries, that would suck.

“That’s a beautiful sweater you’re wearing!”

“Um, thanks. Could you please bag my groceries?”

“Lovely weather we’re having!”

“Uh, sir? There’s a line forming. Is this one of those bag-it-yourself places? Did I choose the self-check line?”

“Have a nice day!”

This is the cognitive dissonance of cheater nice. It’s nice without the bagged groceries. It’s pleasantry without substance. It’s all cherry and no sundae. Frankly, it’s a mindfuck.

When someone is outwardly nice, but their actions are withholding, dismissive, oblivious — they’re disguising an agenda. Pay no attention to my failed obligations or implied hostilities. Press me about them and you’re a killjoy. But me? I’m nice. How can you be so unkind to the nice?

Done with enough manipulative panache, you can drive anyone crazy with “nice.” God, who is that jerk that nice person is married to? How can they be so pissed off all the time? Donald is so nice!

Contrast crazy “nice” with actual kindness. Kindness is the person who sees you and your broken bag of groceries and stops to help pick them up. They may not even be nice about it. They might grunt, or swear under their breath as they chase your rolling cans of tomatoes, but they go for it anyway. Kindness responds to distress. Kindness offers help without being asked. Kindness doesn’t even know you, but stopping and helping is the right thing to do, even if it’s inconvenient. Even if no one else is watching. Even if you’re a bastard about it. “Hey! You missed a can!”

Kindness isn’t impression management. It’s about empathy. You have to be somewhat selfless to be kind. Kindness responds to people in need. A kind word. An act of kindness. You have to be outwardly focused and connected to others to be kind. Any idiot can do nice. Sustaining it when things get hard is kindness.

I think chumps, like most people, are fooled by nice. We see it as a short-hand for kind — surely this nice person wouldn’t fuck me over? But nice is often just superficial and doesn’t translate to kindness. It’s not enough to act inoffensive — you have to actually not give offense to people and refrain from hurting them. And if you do offend? You have to care, not slather “nice” all over it.

You see this shit in reconciliation all the time. The cheater ups their game a bit. Sends flowers. Shares a few kibbles. But they can’t muster up much sorry. They don’t do remorse. They fail to read the books, or show up for the shrink appointment, or feel anything other beyond “Thank you for not divorcing me and taking my 401K.” It doesn’t deeply hurt them to have hurt their chump. But they can be nice. They can pick up the check. They can compliment your hair. And for some people, that’s enough. They’ll take the nice and find comfort in it.

Did you have a nice cheater? Would they still like to be your friend? Do a kindness to yourself and find some substantive people to hang with instead.

This column ran previously. 

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  • There’s a category of person my cousin and I refer to as “not a good person, but being nice to me right now.” I think that fits the majority of cheaters. It fit my ex for years…until the “nice” for me ran out. In retrospect, it fits almost all of my past relationships. There’s something that has always felt like winning a prize to get a difficult (read “probably not of good character”) person to be nice to me. This is a big issue I’m working on in terms of fixing my picker. It’s hard though. I don’t know what to do with men who are kind without me having to earn it. So, no dating for me until I figure this out.

    • Adding this: my dad could be a jerk out in the world, but as far as I know was always respectful (albeit difficult) to my mother. I saw that as the model for the perfect man. However, I don’t know the inner workings of my parents’ relationship. All I know is that this type of man has always broken my heart.

      • wow – we could be the same person. I’m in therapy right now for co-dependency and am reading this really wonderful book that you may also find illuminating. Its called, ‘How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk’ by Dr. John Van Epp. I starting implementing his strategy (as it resonated with me) in my most recent relationship and the little, easy to justify (but I’m a professional at this), red flags and dialed them all the way up.

        • I’m also in therapy for codependency because it kept me in a relationship I didn’t want to be in just because I didn’t want to seem like the bad guy. Nice really is all about impression management. I hope to be kind always instead of nice.

      • You’ve nailed it. Your picker is choosing men exactly like your dad who created your original wound. You feel like you’re “winning a prize to get a difficult (read “probably not of good character”) person to be nice to” you because you’ve succeeded in making “your dad” be kind to you. If we can’t get the original wound person to love us, then we find someone just like them to love us. If we succeed, that means we aren’t a bad person, and the person who created the original wound must then be the bad person.

    • Ug. For me this is my mom. She’s not a kind person, but at times she is “nice,” when there is something in it for her, even if it’s just schadenfreude. She also constantly lies about everything.

      I’m trying to claw my way out of codependency. It ain’t easy when it’s all you’ve ever known. This blog helps so much.

    • “I don’t know what to do with men who are kind without me having to earn it.” I have experienced this problem first hand. I decided I’d rather be nice and kind because it is who I want to be and if the women I date think there is some sort of quid pro quo embedded in there then that is their problem. As I was reading this article I couldn’t help but think about the book “A Man Called Ove.” One of the best books I’ve ever listened to on audible. Ove is a kind man who is not nice – at least not until you get to know him.

      • Thank you for recommending the book! Also: yes to being kind and helpful just because that is how to be. During all the trauma for me these past 20 mos, my three brothers have been really amazing. So kind. Each one of them. I have been moved beyond expectation at their abundant and significant acts of kindness toward me. What a difference between them and my husband. I hope I can internalize this before ever—if I ever even want to—if I ever even have the chance to—try a relationship again.

  • Many people thought my cheater was nice. A family man, football coach, upstanding professional.
    But kind behind closed doors…never. He expected to be waited on. To never reciprocate endless good deeds. Football coach hero. He loves football and achieved many plaudits for running teams. His wife at home juggling kids, family and children got none.
    And nice guy at work? O yes. Being a leader came naturally, so long as you do exactly what I say.

    • My ex was the same…except he was a wrestling coach! I was married to him for 23 years. I said through tears many times, “Please treat us like you treat the families on your team.” A completely different person behind closed doors to us!

    • My cheater was (and usually still is) the person everyone sees as the most wonderful, giving, loving, caring person ever. When I was just divorced, my son went to the preschool his dad taught at. I remember during a “parent fun day”, I was there watching my kid participate when another parent told me how wonderful my ex was and how great he is with kids and what a wonderful man he is. Obviously they didn’t get the memo. I smiled and nodded but thought to myself “Yeah, he’s great with everyone else’s kids but told me he never wanted them when he left me. He’s a total asshole to his family, but sure, he would give you the shirt off his back”.

      He’s a polished turd, and always will be. He abandons those who see past his veneer. Took me nearly 20 years to do that. I don’t need a “nice” friend like him.

      • OMG, this is my current situation. Everyone thinks he’s Mr. Wonderful. Cares so much what others think about him but could gives zero fucks about his wife and maybe one or two fucks about his kids.Thanks for sharing.

        • The worst possible thing my ex could imagine in our divorce was he didn’t want to “seem like a deadbeat dad”. Easy way not to, don’t be one. I wasn’t unfair and I wasn’t a jerk about anything, but I didn’t sugarcoat it if people asked me what happened.

          For these types it is all about image management. He didn’t want to be seen as the bad guy or anything but the most amazing person ever. Not enough to not be a horrible husband and father, though.

    • My cheater is a baseball coach. The team parents would kiss his ass – just what is narc ego craved. He used a youth baseball program to have an affair with the (married) mother of one of his players. This kid was a good friend of our son. Until then, our son believed his dad was coaching his team to be with him. Wrong. My husband and the whore used their kids for years to sustain their affair. When this all finally came out, the board made my husband transition to coaching a different team (our younger son). Clearly the board had no standards. At that point my husband basically abandoned our middle son and rarely went to any of his games because his adoring crowd was no longer dispensing kibbles AND the whore’s husband would be there. I was left spending two more baseball summers with the whore after he bailed. Is he nice? YES!!!! Ask anyone.

  • I hear what your saying but the part that hit me was the fact they don’t do sorry. They don’t do remorse. My cheater was very nice and kind but did it for the praise to feed his narcissism. That was difficult to come to terms with until I looked back on all the times I heard him say “ and they were so grateful to me”. Blah blah blah. Kindness is truly helping someone without expecting thanks. You do it just to help and pick up the can you missed.

    • They also don’t do integrity!

      I remember an older family member casually saying something about “I bet you $100 you can’t” when my ex-wife was trying to do something he deemed impossible. After much effort by my ex-wife, she was able to accomplish it. A little while later the he gave her a $100 bill.

      She couldn’t understand it. She said she didn’t believe him when he made the bet. That it wasn’t necessary. He insisted and simply said “if I didn’t mean it, I shouldn’t have said it”.

      It made perfect sense to me. If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. Otherwise you become known as someone who lacks integrity. I don’t think she ever fully understood why he gave her the money.

      I might would have protested a bit in the situation, but would have recognized that he was simply trying to show that he was good to his word. The only honorable thing to do at that point is to accept it. To my ex-wife this made absolutely no sense.

      • This. My ex always expected recognition, gratefulness and fawning appreciation for any kindnesses, anytime he helped anyone out, even his own family, his own children (not mine). Didn’t understand altruism or giving unconditional help/support. Spent my time walking on eggshells, ensuring enough appreciation was given. And used to hold grudges against folk, too. Extremely waring.

      • And the other thing she could have done, after accepting the money she thought he needn’t have given her, but seeing that it was an integrity thing with him, was to find some way to make herself available to helping him or his family. Give a kid an experience s/he wouldn’t have had otherwise. Make a dinner. Whatever. But it’s called reciprocity and cultivating a mutually supportive network. This was something that always escaped my ex’s understanding and capacity. I was always the one giving the neighbors fruit from our trees, or cat sitting for colleagues, or establishing and funding from my own money prizes for students. And then he wondered why he didn’t have friends.

      • Sweet potato , my junior high football coach once said ” I said it I meant it and I’m here to represent it” that was 50 years ago and have been like marching orders for me. My 3 kids know this and apply it in their own lives as well . Makes me proud

    • He did it for “praise to feed his narcism.” Yes! During my ex’s remorse phase, he decided he was going to change as a person and signed up to deliver food for the food bank. He did it for two afternoons total. He would tell me about it and how grateful people were with tears in his eyes.
      He would literally tear up over his own wonderfulness.

      • My cheater dropped a couple of sandwiches off on Christmas with some homeless guys around our neighborhood last year. He did it as another example to show OW how amazing he was and me (an afterthought), that he was doing penance for his affair.

        He took selfies with the homeless guys and I’m sure sent the pics to both of us.

        Heart of gold, that one.

    • Over it all,
      “Kindness is truly helping someone without expecting thanks”
      THIS

      And, doing something, anonimously, just wanting another person to know that there is someone who truly cares about them, and wants to add, even a little happiness, to their day, by a kind act.

      Cheaters don’t take the time to do this.
      They are far too busy with their own selfish agenda, whatever that may be at the moment.
      .

    • Yes! My ex was nice and helpful. He did it for the praise and impression management. He was always ‘nice’ to me too until the last two years when he became very distant and unloving. Never mean or nasty just not really there(four year affair I later learned)

    • Mine could be very nice and kind as well- to strangers. If it was to me, there was always an expectation. I clearly remember this: He bought a Tiffany ring for me for Valentine’s Day a few years ago. In February 2018, I found a charge to Tiffany’s for a piece of jewelry around $400. Valentines Day comes and goes, so I ask him about it. He finally brings it home (had it sent to the office) and gives me the box. In hindsight, I realize it was for the ho-worker which is another story entirely..I’m pretty sure he had it sent to the office, had not given it to her yet, and was caught when I saw the charge.. Anyhoo….when I open it, I see that it’s the same mother fucking ring he bought me a couple years before, and walk away. He then starts crying and holding his head in his hands because he can’t believe how “unappreciative” I am….. Yeah, he’s soooo nice. Either I wasn’t worth the repeat gift in the first place OR I wasn’t appreciative enough…

      • Repeat gifting is yet another classic cheater behaviour as far as I can tell. Why go through the effort of picking out something new for another person when they can just duplicate what went over so well with the first one? Or save themselves a shopping trip and get two at the same time.

        Same goes for places. Why come up with a new romantic location, when they can just take the AP to the same place their spouse loved?

        It’s laziness, plus it reduces accidentally getting them mixed up later. They don’t have to remember who got what when if they give identical bracelets for Christmas and similar lingerie for Valentine’s.

  • I’m never sure where to place “helpful” on this continuum. The assholes I’ve known were always very ready to help, even go great lenghts that technically put them at a disadvantage, but only IF IT SUITED THEM. Other times, they’d simply not show up even if it was needed. But it messes with someone trying to respect their boundaries, because it leads you to think, well, they’re pretty much always ready to help, so this time I must be asking something too great of them (even if truly you know there’s no rhyme or reason except what THEY want or not want to do). It takes a while to see this, though.

    • The Dickhead was helpful – to those that had something he wanted. He was never helpful for my mother who could have used his handyman skills to help her out. Because she had nothing to offer him. Being helpful for them is about the rewards, it’s about image control but it’s never because they are nice or kind.

    • OMG, Quetzal, this is a great insight into my ex’s “helpful” behavior. Also, I think in addition to being a mindfuck about how “needy” other people he was helping might be, it also gave him an excuse to behave like an angry jerk and having his behavior slide with people because he was “helping”. He is outright abusive of people but they’re all like “oh, that’s just Ex, but he’s really such a nice guy.”

      Underneath it all, even when he’s being “nice” and “helpful”, he disdains and condescends over EVERYONE. He only occasionally lets that mask slip, and when he does, he gets a free pass because Nice.

      • My ex also has this thing about announcing to people that he’s an asshole, but he says it in such an aw-shucks, jovial way that everyone responds with “oh, no, not you!”

        When someone tells you who they are, believe them…

    • My ex was also very helpful in public…volunteering for all kinds of things and mentoring people. However, at home, where no one could see, I’d be lucky if he changed a light bulb. At home he was as helpful as tits on a bull! He wasn’t a helpful person if it didn’t polish his image.

  • My ex and I had a conversation the other day, after he was NOT accommodating about letting our children have photos of their own selves for different occasions. I lost the photos (which I TOOK, had developed and put into albums that I PURCHASED) because I didn’t press the issue as far as I should have, the albums were left in the house and when we separated the household goods he got them (I fought hard, but not hard enough and I thought he would be KIND and let the kids have access – I was WRONG).

    So, back to the conversation…I asked him to be more accommodating and let the kids have photos in order to make copies (and again, these are photos of THEM). He and I talked about it, I made my point and then he said, “Well, since you are being NICE…”

    And I thought, wow, what a huge prick. I was ALWAYS kind, loyal, and honest in our marriage. We had ups and downs, we argued but I was KIND. Not always nice, I said truths he didn’t want to hear. Apparently, all I had to do was be NICE and he would’ve magically changed his ways.

    He doesn’t understand kindness. He only responds to NICE apparently…

  • OMG…..this was my ex. Self proclaimed nice guy….always friendly, but no actual substance. Bad jokes, weather, sports…..

    Except that he wasn’t a nice guy. He was extremely conflict avoidant and thus felt powerless with his inability to actually address what bothered him, so he’d compensate be being a passive aggressive douches who’d make snarky comments under his breath and do little things behind your back. But they were always passive enough for him to play dumb if he got called on anything.

    I wasn’t allowed to even talk about anything that either didn’t interest his highness or that he found uninteresting….which pretty much covered everything except sports and the weather. If I tried to talk about anything else….like a news story or politics…he’d just change the subject and play dumb if I got upset.

    And the image management…..where to start? Threw me under the bus constantly. One of our final fights before I filed involved a baby shower for his snotty daughter, who made clear that she was uninterested in me. She’d send Christmas cards to him from her and her husband. She’d set up outings with her hb and invite my ex, but not me. He was terrified to rock the boat with her so he looked the other way. I could’ve lived with that if he’d left me alone, but I was supposed to continue to kiss her ass for the impression of a happy family.

    So when I got the shower invitation, which I’m sure was sent so she didn’t look like a scumbag, I decided I didn’t need to spend my afternoon with someone who clearly doesn’t like me and where I won’t know many and few would talk to me. So I politely declined and sent a gift, which I didn’t have to do.

    He knew I didn’t want to go but impression management was far more important, but he was also too conflict avoidant to actually talk to me, so he just assumed I’d go. The day before he emails me (can’t have a face to face talk) and says that he’ll drop me off, go to the beach, come back and socialize, then we’d go to dinner. Ha ha…..translation: you can go to a party for my daughter who treats you like shit, where you’re not wanted and will be extremely uncomfortable so I can have the image of a big happy family. I will go to the beach and enjoy myself, then I will swoop back in and socialize like the important family man I am, then we’ll go have a nice dinner.

    Umm, no…fuck you. I did not go….he walked around pissed off but was of course too much of a coward to actually bring it up. So he plastered a typical phony smile on his face while I ignored him.

    And of course we can’t forget the ex girlfriend that he kept around our entire relationship, which I was not allowed to bring up after finding out because he’d already apologized (after lying about everything I couldn’t prove) and it made baby uncomfortable. You’d think that since he didn’t want a divorce he’d have made some effort, but he actually withdrew all efforts because he was going to show me. That’s the way a passive aggressive coward says fuck you.

    Except that he assumed I wanted to stay married…..never occurred to him that I might decide I’d be better off without him. Which I did.

    Fortunately his conflict avoidance made the divorce easy because he was terrified of not being seen as a nice guy, and he’s no longer my problem.

    • I should add that I wasn’t “nice” because I didn’t plaster a phony smile on my face and talk about sports and the weather.

      But I did treat him with respect, didn’t make comments under my breath, was open and honest, and gave a lot of thought to what he liked and what bothered him. And I liked to discuss things of substance, which made baby uncomfortable.

      Guess who has a large group of loyal, high quality friends? Not mr nice guy. Apparently a lot of people do value my qualities, and I’ve come to find out that a lot of people have him figured out.

      • Yes. “he actually withdrew all efforts because he was going to show me. That’s the way a passive aggressive coward says fuck you”

        This is going in my note that I keep on my phone of excellent quotes from this blog. I got passive aggressive silent treatments that would last for days, over the tiniest things – like “you didn’t say goodnight to me on Tuesday.”

        Now I can also see those silent treatments were to get me to dance to get back into his good graces.

    • “he actually withdrew all efforts because he was going to show me. That’s the way a passive aggressive coward says fuck you”

      I got this off and on for years. Don’t miss playing the game of trying to “fix” things so I could be treated well again.

      • That’s the line that stood out to me, too. Rings so true about my relationship, which also included as part of “withdraw[ing] all efforts” the silent treatment, which was employed as an accusation, a constant reminder that I was at fault for some perceived failure to conform to or perform some behavior he wanted me to adopt, while at the same time on the surface making it look like everything was normal.

        • Yes- the silent treatment is crazymaking. And can be totally devastating. I’m so glad I don’t have this in my life anymore. But just the thought of it brings back the dark angsty captive feelings. UGH

          • The silent treatment sucks.

            But I think I’d rather have had that then a guy who would be an asshole and then insult my intelligence by playing dumb, plastering a phony smile on his face, and asking in a very condescending tone “how ya doing?”.

            This is exactly what I got. Its yet another way of saying fuck you and twisting the knife by someone without the balls to just say fuck you. Then he’d have sn out to further play dumb because he wasn’t openly nasty.

            At least the silent treatment doesn’t insult your intelligence or condescend…..its an openly nasty douchbag move.

            I think that would’ve been easier for me, but of course I can only speak for myself.

            • Sadly I got both. Claimed to be a “Nice Guy” even during divorce and affair. He throws that line like confetti.
              He was big on avoidance and silent treatment. Oh and temper tantrums if he didn’t get his way. He would also circle talk to change the subject so you never really discussed anything.
              He was also big on interrupting anything you said and insulting your intelligence or telling you he didn’t give a shit. Insults and laughing at you are confetti too.
              Then as he refused to help you on anything or everything then he would walk around with a smug look as you paid bills, changed diaper, cleaned and cooked. He acted like you owed him.

              Divorced 1 Year – I am Parallel parenting- all communication through our family wizard and its still insults and bashing. He has stooped to an all time low and now is writing his bashing on reimbursement health insurance checks.
              These “Nice Guys” aka “Assholes” are beyond words.

              • It’s a blessing for me that dickhead and I don’t have any kids together, so we have to reason to communicate.

                Not that it stops him from trying…..I just ignore him.

              • Finding peace, take his having to bash you on the checks as the fact that you’re getting to him because he CAN’T get to you any other way. Hang in there!

              • Report for harassment or have mail reviewed by intermediary which is what I do. I didn’t tell him. I get a kick out of someone else reading his crazy shit unbeknownst to him. Naughty me.

  • This is golden. I’ve never untangled the difference between nice and kind. Nice is an act. Kind is from the heart. Anything that’s an act was right up his alley. Kind would take some deep excavation of character. As he quickly moved in with a new partner he met online after our divorce, I often imagine he’s an entirely different person now that he’s not in a relationship with me.
    In a clear moment, I realize that he’s likely dishing up the same shit casserole.
    In fact, during one of our reconciliation therapy sessions way back, therapist woman (who fell for his act) asked him what his needs are. His answer was ‘somebody being nice to me’. He didn’t even need kind, he was satisfied with the surface show of nice.
    Therapists response: That sounds rather young.
    I knew right then That he has way more work to do before we could do couples work. Well, it all fell apart shortly after that realization.
    I’m going to print this column out and keep it in my papers.

  • “Even if no one else is watching.”

    ^^^^^^^^

    My Ex’s claim to fame was how “nice” he was. He loved being viewed as the nicest person around. But he was only “nice” when people were watching or when he thought he could gain something by being nice. There was never any follow through — he was nice on the surface with nothing to back it up.

    Today’s post is spot on.

  • I remember reading this in the early days after Dday and the lesson has stuck with me. It taught me to look more closely as people, their words and their actions.

  • The difference is the motive, which is invisible unfortunately.

    It becomes visible when the betrayal is revealed.

    Warning labels in life would be awesome. In the absence of warning labels, having standards, honing your self-esteem, trusting your gut, and being willing to walk away are the best defenses.

  • My ex went on and on about the OW and how nice she was to everyone “even the janitor!” he’d say, “she stops to talk to him every day.” During that time she was also screwing other men in their office while her husband was away. She was very nice to them, I’m sure.

    My son recently was staying with them and while my ex was on the phone, my son watched her answer the door and treat the delivery boy like shit, then turn back around and return to her nice behavior. It was such a good opportunity for me to talk to him about red flags and the difference between nice and kind behavior.

    • Oh my this hits a nerve. I heard from my x that schmoopie is soooooooo nice. Everyone just adores her. She has so many friends, she’s a people collector. (Odd but that’s beside the point).

      I have to think that maybe she’s like that too. Nice on a superficial level, but not kind. Because screwing my husband and throwing it on Instagram and in my face, turning him against me, convincing him we are in a toxic relationship, telling him he can have fun with her just choose her, is not a kind act.

  • Ex always appears nice to other people. Especially Swedish friends, wont provide extra money for Xmas or birthday presents, but would buy drugs for ow, prostitutes, friends.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t win a award for acting.
    He told me last week he loved me, but couldn’t be honest in the past.
    There full of shit.

  • I know my husband loved our dog. But he was harsh and mean to him. Our dog loved me and the children but he didn’t like my husband. Pretty much tolerated him. Would sneer at him and give him the cut direct. I know. It was hysterical to watch. My husband was Jealous of the dog but feared the wrath of the children so he faked nice to the dog in front of us. But that dog had his number.

    • Yep, animals usually seem to know better then we do. They figure it out sooner.

      My xh would be gung ho to get a new pet (we had 4 dogs and 2 cats over 20 years). He would give them a lot of attention & affection for the first month or two. Then he would lose interest & act like they were a bother. Of course, he’d then expect me to do everything for and with them from that point on. (He did the same thing to me & both of our kids).

      Even when he was paying attention to the animals those first few months, none of them really seemed to trust or start to bond with him. They would allow him to hold and pet them. N
      But as soon as he would let them, they would head to me. They all attached theirselves to me it seems, even before he ignored them. It’s like they knew his love bombing was bullshit from the beginning. And they knew who was sincere and who wasn’t.

      This was just one of the hundreds of small red flags (pink flags?) I had but didn’t know what to make of it at the time.

    • And here is the matching pair from nomar, further up:
      ” All who are friendly to you are not your friends.” (Malcolm X)

  • I was in the middle of reconciliation when my daughter a part in her school play. It was Into the Woods. One night we were watching the new TV version and Red Riding-hood ended her song with this.

    Nice, does not necessarily mean, good!

    A lightbulb went off for me then. I mean, I was already wearing my self prescribed psychologist hat. So I was open to everything that had to do with human behavior.

    Good covers all the bases I believe. Morality, honor, humbleness, for men chivalry and the big one, honesty.

    Nice, like y’all are talking about is really just cake frosting. Certainly not always bad, but a lead up to whom a person really is.
    Motives are everything.

  • I always used to say my ex is so much nicer than me! I’m the mean one and he’s just so nice. Damn I really lucked out. What a joke. This guy is the ultimate con artist. It turns out he’s just very talented at playing nice. Everyone around him seems to fall for it too. I’d love for someone to tell me one day “you know, I always found him to be unauthentic too..” but that has yet to happen. His niceness left me completely blindsided when I discovered who he really was.

    In fact, because of how “nice” he is it seems to be pretty easy for him to convince people he filed for divorce when our baby was three months old because I’m just so crazy. But who knows who really believes that.

    I did read Gavin Debeckers book “the gift of fear” pretty soon after my ex filed for divorce and I like how he said that charm is a verb and not a character trait.

    Oh and by the way, he’s no longer nice.

  • The Edgar Suit was always perceived as a “really nice guy”. For example, he would always keep a tow strap in his truck in the winter so he could help anyone he saw who slid off the road. If a bad storm was coming he’d go to the grocery for neighbors who didn’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. That sort of thing. I couldn’t understand how someone who seemed to genuinely enjoy being kind to others could also lie, cheat and steal from his family with impunity. I finally figured out that in his mind it was a kind of karmic balancing act; for every good deed he did, he could give himself a pass on the truly shitty things he did to me and the kids behind the scenes. Helped a stranger last week? I get to spend $600 doing who knows what to a stripper in the family minivan in the parking lot of the strip club and not feel bad about it. Now that I’m happily free of him, I can appreciate that at least other people got some benefit from his “niceness”. I’m guessing he’s much less nice and helpful now that he no longer feels a need to balance out his ill behavior towards his family.

    • I wonder if the Dickhead had the same pattern of thought. He would plow the drive of the older lady next door and yet I had to make a deal with him just to get something done for me. I remember yelling at him,
      “I shouldn’t have to swap or a make a deal with you. Can’t you just do it because you’re my husband?” There was no reward with me except my continued love and it meant nothing to him.

      • Same, MissB. Everything was a transaction with the Edgar Suit. It took me years to see it but he didn’t do anything for me without expecting something in return. If he rubbed my back, he expected to be “paid back” with sex. That’s why a (ahem) quid pro quo karma balancing act made so much sense to me. If he helped a neighbor, he expected sex – just from a stripper, not the neighbor. 😀

        • OMG! I loved back rubs, but hated when my ex would initiate them because I knew he was only doing it because he expected sex afterward. I didn’t enjoy sex with him. My gut knew what my brain and heart didn’t.

          • yep. I couldn’t complement him in anyway, because that would mean I wanted sex. I couldn’t stretch or go without a bra around the house, because that would mean I wanted sex. If he did anything around the house, he expected sex in return (because he was so nice, after all). He thought our marriage revolved around his sad sausage…. he has a friend, John, that has never been married, although engaged twice. John is now 54, has a good job, but still can’t find the right person. Asshat believes it’s because John smokes cigars, and “no woman would want to put her tongue in the mouth of someone that smokes”. Yes, asshat, that is what every woman hinges her opinions of a man on completely… whether or not you’d want to put your tongue in their mouth… with the asshat, everything is about sex. Thinking about sex with him makes me want to gag.

      • Yes, yes, yes!! ANY request I made was turned into a barter for some sort of kinky sex. I want a partner, not a John.

  • I made the mistake of confusing nice with kind for over 20 years. I am now a chump! One aspect of the character assassination on the day he left (I discovered the affair 2 months later and it is still not admitted to anyone), was that I was ‘too altruistic’ said with a very sad face. His favourite word was ‘nice’. I used to laugh about that. Lots of people think he’s nice, but not kind. I do t think he’s ever done a genuinely kind act.

  • My ex definitely was all about impression management and only did things for people when he thought he could get something from them. So sad to live that way. He’s got a new one who’s been around for a year now and living together. Man I feel bad for her. He was never kind.
    And actually I didn’t know kind until I met my boyfriend and his family. They are the type that would give you the shirts off their back. He inspires me to be kind. He is so nice to everyone all the time and its not an act, not impression management. I am sooo lucky to have met him. Now if things didn’t work out I don’t know anyone who could ever even compare to him. I have never met a more kind person and family. So good riddance to the ex my little one now has a great example to learn about kindness from!

  • Two examples:

    My ex gave mutual friends a bottle of whiskey costing $175 to mark their milestone wedding anniversary. They thought it very, very nice. And indeed it was a nice gesture.

    On the day of my father’s memorial service (to which I couldn’t go so sent a eulogy and was acutely aware of throughout the day), the only reference me made to it was as we were turning out the light for bed: “So, is your dad’s body being cremated or buried, do you know?” Not so nice. More importantly, not a shred of kindness in that inquiry.

    Very early on in our relationship my ex said this to me: “One must be seen to be doing the right thing.” At the time I was struck by how odd that was; now, of course, I now know full well that he was telling me who he is–a socially-acceptable mask, a carefully crafted image, a fraud, a con. In time I came to see that he lives his public life from the vantage point of an outside observer, of The Other, of The Person Who Is Watching and Judging Me. That’s not how inherently decent people move through the world. Authentically decent people are good and do good because that’s the right way to live.

    • “he lives his public life from the vantage point of an outside observer, of The Other, of The Person Who Is Watching and Judging Me.” Yes- he was always watching to see who was watching him… his head on a swivel stick. And never “in the moment” Ridiculous, really.

  • I had more exposure to appearing “nice” than I ever wanted. I believe I developed a type of mental allergy to it. A few examples: “Ok, we’ll go to church if you insist. It will be good for my business, and we can get to my favorite Sunday buffet earlier, because the church is closer than the house.” What religious fervor! Then there was attendance at the children’s sporting events. The boys were good, and wanted both parents in the stands, but he could brag about his own experiences in sports to others — and oh yes, it was good for his business. He couldn’t be bothered with PTA meetings, or doctors appointments, however. They were not good for his business, and they were boring. He could even spend time at family events and explain to the OW du jour he needed to look like a good family man, because it was good for his business. If she wanted those expensive perks, she needed to be understanding. Oh yes, appearance is everything!

    If you want to understand how prevalent this attitude is, just think about what companies do for public relations causes, while not treating their employees well, how people seek leadership titles in church, while lying, cheating, and backstabbing others in their personal and work lives, and think about he entire political process (all parties) where it is far more important to look nice than it is to actually accomplish something worthwhile. It is more important to get reelected to your job, than to actually do your job.

    One of my favorite things about being retired, and having grown children is that I don’t have to go places I don’t want to go, or tolerate people I don’t want to tolerate, for appearances. I no longer have to worry about his business, what offensive people in church or at work do, and so far my vote is private. I don’t have to watch others appear to be nice, while their true motives and actions are horrible. I have accepted that I cannot change others, but I don’t have to endure them, either.

    • Ha. You just reminded me. Mine had me convinced that he had to go to bars because that was how he got most of his clients, hence ‘good for business’ 🙂 This ‘Chump’ term thing didn’t really resonate with me at first but as time goes on some little reminder like this will pop up and I see it more and more.

  • My ex has recently decided to bring the kids around the OW. There have been a few outings. However, when he made the first attempt, my daughter had a meltdown that forced cancellation of the outing.

    He figured that because he had left so much time lapse between leaving the marriage and then connecting the kids with this OW that they would have forgotten who she is. He was shocked to learn that not only did the kids understand what he did (as well as kids that age can understand), but they understood the role the OW played in it (as my ex had allowed this woman to spend time with the kids while still married to me).

    So then my ex spent another two months “grooming” my daughter for the next meeting with the OW. Asking my daughter to recall how “nice” the other woman was during the time they spent together before. It’s messed up that this man is actually calling on his daughter to recall a time when “Daddy took them away for a special weekend” and allowed another woman to visit with them while he was still married to Mommy. But, he figured that he could run with the fact that the OW was really nice to the kids that day. My daughter agreed that the woman was nice, and he worked on her to accept that the woman can’t be a “bad lady” when she was so nice.

    It grates me that my children’s father is presenting them with such ambiguous morality and that he’s confusing very clear lessons that they have learned about what it means to be a good person. My daughter instinctually understood that this woman is not the kind of person to be around, and now her father is calling on her to ignore those instincts.

    However, this opened up for me the opportunity to discuss the difference between being “nice” and being “kind”. I use it every chance I get to discuss is in the context of friendship and family, hoping that it eventually transfers itself to how my children regard this relationship, without outright calling their father out.

    No kidding this woman is going to be nice. No kidding their father is trying to be nice. Aren’t we all just so nice? Until we’re not.

  • Thank you CL. This is truly one of my biggest issues with chumpdom. I think I have raved about it on here. I am not always nice, but I believe I am kind. My ex is nice, but extremely unkind. He would insist he didn’t want to do something like a family activity that was planned, claiming but every step would be a display of some imaginary pain he was enduring for the sake of the family. Even now, he has failed to pay his child support, and has not transferred to me my half of our stock sales (he changed the password on the trade account), and has made no effort to follow our visitation agreement (2 weekends a month and 2 weekday dinners a month-he last saw his daughters on November 1), but yesterday texted me, opening with “Happy New Year and I hope you are doing well…” and then proceeded to ask if he could have his daughter for the weekend as he will be in town and “hasn’t had the opportunity for months now”. She has an audition for a music program to which she’s applying and we’ll be out of town for that. I (not being nice) give a curt response about following the agreed upon schedule and he responds with “he is just trying to be a supportive father.” That’s how ever exchange between us is. If you read them, you’d think I was the bitch and he was this poor, hardworking man who just wants to see his beloved children. Of course, he bought a house in another country, but his job is still here (he telecommutes?) and he and schmoopy spend more time with their brand new baby than with either of their children from their previous decades-long marriages. But I’m the bad guy for not bending over to accommodate him.

    And don’t get me started on his mother. She has perfect hair and neatly folded towels that hide some razor-sharp knives. In her view, politesse is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Kindness is irrelevant. She would routinely give me and her own daughter (both of us are very ordinary sized women-and exactly the same size) the same item of clothing as a gift-mine a large and hers a small. Then she would always ask how I liked it-sometimes even pointing out that she gave her daughter a small because she is so tiny and she wasn’t sure if mine would be big enough. One day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. She asked me if it fit and I said, “No, it’s too big. I’m not a large. None of the larges you bought me fit.” And she clucked her perfectly painted lips and said, “Tsk, Katie, no need to be rude.” Nice, not kind-she is the perfect example.

    • It sounds like she gave her daughter a small because she has an image of her as a child, and you a large so she could call you fat. There’s nothing rude about not being a size large — but returning the awkward to sender by publicly pointing out she was doing that would feel “rude” to her.

  • WOW WOW WOW!!

    This REALLY hit home for me!

    My STBXH used to say to me, “As long as we are just NICE to each other-everything else will fall into place.”

    I never connected the dots until today-there IS a difference between NICE and KIND.

    He told one of our 18 year old twins the other day that, “Your mom and I aren’t on good terms right now.” (Because he’s upset that I didn’t remind him about their football banquet even tho he got the emails like the rest of us and doesn’t check them-so he didn’t go. This is my fault according to him).

    Him telling our son that helped me realize how delusional he really is. I felt like yelling, “WE HAVEN’T BEEN ON GOOD TERMS FOR 3 years since I found out about him and my ex-friend!! But I didn’t…..

    Thank you, Chump Lady, for giving me another piece of the puzzle that is helping me heal ❤️.

  • “Did you have a nice cheater? Would they still like to be your friend?”

    Hahahahaha!!!

    She would LOVE to add me to her rolodex of exes she can call up to fuck on a whim. She even asked me about it several times while we were together should we ever break up. I laughed in her face and told her over my dead body not a chance in hell. And that was BEFORE I knew about all the cheating. Some red flags are about the size of the whole state they are so obvious.

  • My grandson asked me the other day why his Poppop and I weren’t together. I told him his Poppop was unkind to me and I can’t live with someone like that. I agree that nice is different. To me it is a social grace like being friendly with little substance. Kindness is the substance of a person-it’s living your values. I’ll take kindness any day over nice.

    • Thrive, “living your values,” not blabbing about how nice you are, or doing something knowing others will notice and say something. Pretending not to know he’d be noticed, he’d do his fake modesty, humble act.
      Ex liked pointing out the faults or indiscretions of other people. Costco has the sample carts, ex would be appalled if he noticed someone went back and picked up a second sample of Cheetos. He would never do such a thing, “he’s a man of integrity.” Looking back that was a distraction and meant to assure me, if ever I had any doubts about his fidelity, I’d shrug it off because after all he’s a man of integrity, he even said so, right?

      He was nice with outsiders but never kind.., never, unless there was something in it for him.
      Very cunning and manipulative. Word salads are his speciality.

  • I think ‘Kind” is bone deep and sincere. ‘Nice’ is very surface and superficial.

    I always say that my STBXH is very “surface.” He doesn’t really let anything effect him because he has zero empathy and he can’t handle anything more than what’s on the surface…..

  • My ‘nice’ parasite brought me a dozen tattered roses that the obviously pizzed OW had thrown in his face. How’s that for thoughtful?

  • In yesterday’s comments, at least 2 people remarked that their cheater was (fill in the blank) until he wasn’t. That is how I describe the cheater in my life. He is nice, until he isn’t. He sticks to an agreement, until he doesn’t. What CL is saying about niceness fits in with that lack of constancy.
    Total selfishness.

  • I’m one more person here whose ex could’ve had this etched in stone. She is the very epitome of outwardly “nice.” She has all these great pictures of her with the kids on social media (so I’m told by others, anyway, ad nauseum). She donates to charities once a year, and puts up her giving certificate up somewhere where everyone can see it. She shows up for an hour or less at a kids’ function, and takes pictures to put on social media. I am so tired of being told by other parents what a great, wonderful person and scrappy single mom she is.
    All that looks good, but, is she actually being kind? If you notice, all of these things are great for letting other people see what you’re like. She’ll give money to an animal welfare charity, but won’t bother to take care of the pet she adopted. She’ll stay just long enough to get credit for volunteering at a kids’ event, then bail before it requires any real time.

    • My ex is like this. He is ALL about image and outward appearances.

      When he cheated on me 14 years ago and everyone in our small town knew-he said we had to walk down the 3rd base line holding hands during the little league ceremony so people knew we “were still together and fine.”

  • I can think of a couple of people, what I call communal narcissists. Two faced phonies. Seeking adulation (pomp and circumstance) for their volunteer work. Sweet as pie to your face but when you turn your back, prepare for a knife.

  • This is sadly so accurate and, honestly, utterly traumatising to accept. He played the nice perfectly, and still does when he’s got an agenda, but kind? Never. (And I’m probably the opposite. I’m kind before nice…)

  • My ex did nice. It was a big part of his camouflage. I’m not gay I’m just a nice guy, I was not raised to be a “thug or a blokey bloke” was the reason he would give if anyone questioned his sexual orientation. Me being more of a tomboy and assertive he would often use me to defend him when people got to close to the truth. He would also deflect people’s attention onto me by causing a scene and then acting like he had no idea what was going on and why I was acting like a crazy person. When he confessed to 8 yrs of same sex cheating because he was mister nice guy he got off scott free. I read in an earlier comment the concern that they might be different with someone else until they realised the cheater was serving up that same crap casserole. 😂😂😂
    The new victim (female) with my ex fell for the nice guy routine hook line and sinker. Recently at his mothers funeral I got a first hand view of that crap casserole being dished up. A few days later a friend who I have not had much to do with lately because she got sucked in and felt then need to tell me how lucky I was that my ex was a nice narc and not an abusive narc apologised for that telling me that. Because her 12 year old daughter had advised her she no longer wanted too hang out with ex’s step daughter because of how nasty he was and how badly he spoke to people including her if she was staying for a meal. I guess the nice guy mask can only hold up for so long.

  • I know this is a repeat, but this article knocks all the cobwebs out of my brain.

    I got so many “nice” apologies, but then he would do the same thing he apologized for again and again. The niceness was just gaslighting from the start.

  • This is one of my favorite concepts on this site. This gave my kids enormous cognitive dissonance. The open hostility and walking on eggshells then a “friend” of his would stop by and the fake laughter, conversations, and seemingly nice interested dad would appear. My kids hated the other people partly because their dad would talk shit about the person as soon as they left but mainly due to disconnected whiplash with his behavior.

    • informal, ex did the same things, hostile towards me and our son, sarcastic, arrogant and condescending. On the rare occasion a”friend” stopped by with their kids ex suddenly transformed into a “great guy,” caring father, entertaining, joking, loud fake laughter. Personable helping the wives with their chairs when they sat down, utterly charming.
      If my so had friends over for a barbecue ex would joke with the kids, draw a smiley faces on their burgers with the ketchup and mustard.
      People would tell me how lucky I was to be married to such a great guy, he’s so “nice.”
      They had no idea how he talked about them once they left. He said one wife was a bitch because she told her husband it was time to go because their kids had something to do early the next morning. Another he criticized for being loud and overweight and couldn’t see how her husband had sex with her.
      Ex thought they were all uneducated and beneath him. Yet, he is so nice, they sided with him when he abandoned our family.
      I was kind, when they were called into work at 3:00am unexpectedly and needed someone to watch their kids without hesitation I got up and went to their home to watch their kids. I hosted their baby showers, fed their animals when they went on vacation.
      If they needed nice guy to help move a sofa, or they needed a ride, he’d lie and say he was on call, he’d like to but his back hurt, or just not be around and say he forgot.
      But.., ex is nice, and a great guy. Brit must have done something..,
      Behind closed doors with his family, he was neither kind or nice, far from the great guy they believe him to be.

      • Brit, my therapist said the ex is a predator. He is always scanning the room for willing females with a predatory gaze as well as feeling everyone is beneath him but all are usable in some way. If he feels you have less than him materially then he is trying to find a way to manipulate you to do things for him because you need him. If he thinks you are better materially, he’s trying to find a way to manipulate something from you. He has a huge ego and image management. He generally hangs with those he feels superior to.
        Yes, he would say nasty things about everyone. In fact his entire family did. I use to think I was immune because we were married but found out he did the same to me. How else could he justify his behaviors and cheating if he couldn’t convince others that I was a horrible non sexual being.
        I’m not above anyone but I defiantly elevated his status because I am kind. He is no longer privy to my kindness.

        • informal, Ex’s job required him to be away from home quite often. I can ex picture him entering the hotel bars as the predator scanning for willing females.
          Ex feels he’s superior to everyone. It’s surprising how many people are attracted to his arrogance. Ex knows how to manipulate people into thinking they’re somehow privileged to be in his circle.

          I remember meeting ex’s family and being uncomfortable listening to them criticize people. It was disturbing how much they enjoyed hearing that something bad happened to anyone they knew, instead of feeling bad for them they’d laugh. I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I ever seen them laugh.
          Like you I thought I was exempt because I was married to one of them. I thought his sisters and I were friends. I called them in tears when I was blind sided with the news of ex’s decision to leave, I left messages, and they never returned my calls. I later found out they were making fun of me. They actually thought it was funny. I was hurt at the time knowing they thought it was funny. Normal people especially those who claim to be your friend don’t find humor and make fun of you when you’re heartbroken.
          I went out of my way to be friends with his sisters despite their negativity and dark personalities.

          They justify their behavior portraying themselves as the victim to our abuse. Telling slanderous lies, retelling history, claiming we’re mentally ill, I don’t know how anyone would believe them but surprisingly they do.

  • This is a great discussion. What kills me is when my three college student kids’-dad-cheater is nice to them and they credit him for it but does zero heavy lifting…..like pays zero of his portion for college expenses and tuition. Like zero, nada, nothing. I pay it all. Sometimes I’m frazzled with the max responsibility and they say “it is so much more relaxed at dad’s”. So my chump co-dependent challenge is not stop paying his portion of college tuition for three kids and let the chips fall where they may because this situation makes me feel like yesterdays garbage, makes me feel insanely used….yet I know I am the one who has to say, “Sorry, go ask dad of they ear, I am tapped out.” If you can’t stay in college that is between you and your dad. he lies to them and says he has student loans. He is in debt from he and the OW trying for years in court with nasty false accusations (and failing) to get custody of them. He has anew women now who he spends while telling the kids, Gee I’d like to help but I’m broke. He inherited $160,000 in the last 3 years and he works at bank, has a masters degree…..

    • Your kids need to know the truth. Make a spreadsheet, sit down, and go through it all. Tell them you will not badmouth their dad, but that they need to know the truth. That you will no longer let him lie, directly or indirectly, and have no one speak up with the truth.

      Then make them say ‘thank you’ EVERY FUCKING TIME you make a meal for them, pay a bill for them, run them somewhere or pick something up for them or accompany them to a medical appointment.

      Don’t gaslight your kids, and don’t let them grow up to be entitled like their father.

      You are KIND, but you don’t need to let niceness stop you from being honest.

      • Yeah, this is really interesting to me…how did we, as a society, decide that being “nice” was both

        A) synonymous with “never opposing anything or anyone”

        B) the most important & desirable of all human characteristics?

        And as many folks here have pointed out “nice” is really just shorthand for

        “Seemingly polite” or “doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable with their words”

        Both of which are fine & values I kinda default to if there’s no reason to supersede them…

        but holy cow, there is just too much wrongdoing in this world for any of us to be “nice” all the time

        And I’m with you KarenB: are we being “nice” to our kids when we don’t challenge obvious lies from our Cheaters? I think not!

        Yet because of the Weird Societal Status of Infidelity, we Chumps are under constant scrutiny by the “Nice Police”

        “Oh wow that’s awful she fucked randos in motels for years…but you have to be nice to her. Y’know: for the kids’ sake”

        “Oh gosh, I am sorry he gave you herpes he picked up for a stripper…but you’re still being nice to him in front of the kids, right? RIGHT?!?!”

        “Oh gee, it really is unfortunate that he chose to squander your years of prime fertility by blowing all those dudes from GRINDR…but remember to be nice to him!”

        Yet we don’t really see the Cult of Nice getting applied to other kinds kind intentionally-generated trauma

        “Ohh wow…your husband’s laptop was filled with child porn and he was chatting online with a 13 year old? Sounds like he needs you to be REALLY nice to him, since he’ll probably be murdered in prison by people who are less ‘nice’!”

        “I understand that during the school shooting you hid in a supply closet for 5 hours…but did you ever think about just walking over those dead bodies and being NICE to the gunman?”

        “Yes, as one of the serial rapist’s victims you have the right to make a Victim Impact Statement at his sentencing hearing. But before you do, please ask yourself if that’s something a nice person would do”

        Fuck everyone…

        …except you people, who are amazing!

  • Repeated with typos fixed….This is a great discussion. What kills me is when my cheater ex is nice to my three college students and they credit him for it but does zero heavy lifting…..like pays zero of his portion for college expenses and tuition. Like zero, nada, nothing. I pay it all. Sometimes I’m frazzled with the max responsibility and they say “it is so much more relaxed at dad’s”. So my chump co-dependent challenge is to stop paying his portion of college tuition for three kids and let the chips fall where they may because this situation makes me feel like yesterdays garbage, it makes me feel insanely used….yet I know I am the one who has to say, “Sorry, go ask dad-of- the year for money, I am tapped out.” If you can’t stay in college that is between you and your dad. He lies to them and says he has student loans. He is in debt from he and the OW trying for years in court with nasty false accusations (and failing) to get custody of them. They terrorized me. He has a new women now who he spends money on while telling the kids, Gee I’d like to help but I’m broke. He inherited $160,000 in the last 3 years and he works at bank, has a masters degree…..

    • Yeah, by paying everything yourself you’re your ex’s PR. What you mentioned, that’s exactly what you should say. Or you should say that by his age he should have paid his student loan long time ago. Or that if he had money for harassing you through court he also has money for his children. Or that your ex should have a second job. I don’t think you should stop paying his half but you should stop paying something. After all, there’re no consequences for your ex and his non-paying and you effectively continue to speckle for him.

  • I started a relationship with a person that I play soccer with. He asked me to co-coach his daughter’s team with him, and we began talking daily soon after that.We dated from July to November, when he rather abruptly broke up with me. He was such a nice guy. Everyone liked him, he was always in a good mood. He told me up front that his priorities were his daughter and his job (engineer) and that he wasn’t sure how much time he would have to commit to a relationship. My response was, we spend all of our free time together and talk every day, so why not try it out and see what happens. The only thing I ever asked from him was honesty. I had previously gotten out of a really crappy relationship with a guy who cheated a lot and with whom I stayed for far too long. He knew the history, expressed his dismay that anyone would do that, shared with me that his ex-wife had cheated on him multiple times so he knew how that felt. We promised each other we wouldn’t waste the others’ time. As long as there was no cheating and we were honest, we could always go back to being friends/coaches. He had a close female friend living in another state who I suspected was more than a friend, but she was married and he assured me over and over that there was nothing to worry about with her. I chalked my paranoia up to my previous relationship and decided to trust him.
    I traveled out of the country, we talked multiple times a day. I was struggling with family stuff, he was there for me. He was always stressed about work – he told me all the time how nice it was to have someone who he could talk to, who was there for him, who made him feel better. Our physical chemistry was great. Then after a few months, work started really taking over for him and I started getting a little annoyed that he only had a day or two a week to hang out (we live in the same area). I would talk with him about it, he would apologize and not change anything. He had skipped a trip to go to his college with his friends to see a football game in order to coach, so I bought him tickets to go to a different game on a different day. He said he wanted to take me, but ended up having to take his daughter because it was his weekend with her (I was *totally* fine with that). A couple days after returning from that trip, he was texting me and telling me he couldn’t hang out with me on our normal day because of work. I put up a bit of a fight and said “I understand you have to work, but how hard is it to act a little upset that you’re bailing on me?”. He called me and broke up with me. Apparently, I’m perfect on paper (smart, funny, athletic, attractive,independent, etc) but his “heart wasn’t in it”. I asked if we could keep trying, he said no. I asked if it was a timing thing or if he just didn’t have feelings for me, he said if my life wasn’t so crazy and I could give you more time like you deserve, I would like to be able to do that. I asked if it was about another women, he said no.
    I tried to take some time without talking to him to work through my feelings about the break up. I mean, if it’s timing then it’s not about me right? I met with him once about 2 weeks after the break up to try and “get closure” because it just didn’t make sense to me. Everything was great until it wasn’t. If I’m so great, why didn’t he want to be with me. He’s avoidant about emotions but during this conversation he completely shut down. Arms folded, sitting far away, no eye contact. Despite that, he kept telling me how great I was and how he might be messing up by making this decision to break up with me. Then the bomb dropped. I found out that he had been basically having an emotional affair with that woman that I was worried about from the beginning, for the entirety of the time they had known each other which was over 2 years. He told me they talked daily and admitted that the things they talked about were inappropriate for people in relationships. He told me he used to have feelings for her, but doesn’t anymore and wasn’t sure why he carried on the way he did. His apology seemed sincere but then he stopped responding to my texts. Stopped answering my calls. Started bailing on our teams. Of course, this made me push harder, which I know was the wrong move. He then finally told me that the break up wasn’t about timing. It was just that he didn’t have feelings for me. So I spent a month thinking there was still an opportunity to work things out, when there wasn’t. I would have rather him been honest and up front about that. Then he basically disappeared. I found out that the husband of the woman he was being inappropriate with found out about them. He was upset that he likely lost a friend group. He simultaneously blamed me and himself. He stayed M.I.A.
    This from someone who was so “nice”. Who I had never done anything to hurt. Who promised me he would never cheat. I am definitely not meh.
    We have been broken up for a few months, he has sporadically been in touch with me. We discussed coaching together and I basically told him that I had bonded with the team and would like to keep coaching, but not if he was going to ignore me and be disrespectful. No apology, he just said “we can see how it goes, but you can’t have any expectation about the two of us”. We coached a game together last weekend and it went relatively well. I thought that despite my pain I was getting to a better place where I could manage my expectations and be cordial towards him.
    He travels to a city in PA for work relatively often. He made several of these trips while we were together. I found out last night that he has another woman in PA, he has spent the last several nights with her. I don’t know if he was doing this while we were together. I honestly don’t know what to think anymore. This “nice” guy has ignored me, cheated, disrespected, lied…all the while he keeps a “nice guy” attitude for the rest of the world. I find myself questioning why I wasn’t good enough for him to invest in. Why I wasn’t worth the time he is now spending with this other person. Why I am someone he can easily lie to, despite all of the things he has said in the past about honesty. Why does he act like he doesn’t give a shit about me? Is it because he never did? I know I didn’t do anything “wrong” to make him act this way towards me.
    I don’t want to pick me dance, it wouldn’t work anyway. I don’t want to allow someone else to have power over how I view my worth, but I literally just found this stuff out and I’m so hurt. I have so many questions. I want a closure I will never get.

    Thanks for listening.

    • You’re questioning yourself and blaming yourself for his duplicitous behavior ? You’re saying that you’re not good enough ? Not worth the time ? That’s the problem right there. Listen to your self-talk. “Not good enough” “Not worth the time” If that’s how you see yourself, you will keep attracting people that treat you that way. And you will stay and waste time, hoping that they will be change and be different. Why does he act like he doesn’t give a shit about you ? Because he doesn’t ! He only cares about himself. A selfish person. He talked the talk about honesty but look at his behavior ! He lied ! Pay attention to actions, not words said or texted.

      (((Hugs)))

      • Thank you for your words. I struggle with self worth, and you’re right – if I think about myself that way I will likely attract jerks. And the cycle repeats. It just sucks that I thought I had found someone better than the last one who hurt me, and I was mistaken. It’s hard for me to believe/accept that someone could be SO self absorbed that they would purposely hurt another person in this way. This blog and the support that’s demonstrated on here has been so helpful, thank you.

      • Update: I saw him last night at a coaching event. He basically smirked and said he never cheated because it was just emotional (OW was his good friend’s wife). He told me that if he wanted to lie then that was his prerogative. All of this being stuff that he had sincerely (I thought) apologized before. He initially told me what he did in our relationship was wrong, he was sorry, he wanted to be better, try harder, he knows what he did was messed up. Now less than 2 months later, he’s basically denying any wrongdoing and attempting to make me feel like I’m overreacting. I have whiplash. I’m so disappointed. he’s so different than I thought he was.

  • Welcome to my (almost over) marriage. My fuckwit has been on a charm offensive since I filed, with a few promos for the sadz show. I’ll take the nice while I have to. Living a double life was most unkind.

  • You’re questioning yourself and blaming yourself for his duplicitous behavior ? You’re saying that you’re not good enough ? Not worth the time ? That’s the problem right there. Listen to your self-talk. “Not good enough” “Not worth the time” If that’s how you see yourself, you will keep attracting people that treat you that way. And you will stay and waste time, hoping that they will be change and be different. Why does he act like he doesn’t give a shit about you ? Because he doesn’t ! He only cares about himself. A selfish person. He talked the talk about honesty but look at his behavior ! He lied ! Pay attention to actions, not words said or texted.

    (((Hugs)))

  • This is an interesting subject. I know my picker was broken for years before I even married my ex. I recently read a book, written by an FBI agent and it’s about how to avoid becoming a victim. He said his best advice was to learn the difference between kindness and goodness, and there is a difference. He also encourages people to teach their children the difference as well.

    Kindness can be a virtue, if it genuine. But anyone can act “kind”. Goodness is also a virtue, and it can be verified. Goodness is righteousness – doing the right thing when no one else is looking. And it can be verified quite easily.

    That is what I “missed” for many years, and it’s what I look for now.

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