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He Cheated on Her Daughter. She Spackled.

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serial_cheater_sharkDear Chump Lady,

I thought I was going crazy until I read your site about how cheaters think and how much they will lie and manipulate to maintain cake. I have an interesting twist on the cheating story that shows you how much of a chump I am! I am the mom of a daughter who was cheated on and emotionally abused. The only problem is, I was completely taken in by the cheater and used as bait to get my daughter to go back to him! My God, if I only knew then what I know now!

My daughter lived at home while going to college and met a boy at her school. He appeared to be perfect at first. He treated her like a queen and quickly managed to win over our family. He played board games with her younger sisters and often sat and talked with my husband and I when he visited. He spent as much time with us as he did with her and so we thought she had found the perfect family man who was honest, respectful and kind.

The boyfriend felt like a son to us and my other children would often remark that he was the favorite child! As the relationship progressed, he was often upset with my daughter. But by this point in the relationship, she was acting crazy and hysterical most of the time and we wondered what was wrong with her. We actually sided with him most of the time and tried to get her to see things his way. We wanted to send her to a counselor to deal with her hysteria, paranoia and depression. She stopped hanging out with her girlfriends. She was afraid to do anything without him and needed his constant approval. We wondered what happened to our confident and outgoing daughter? We were so grateful that he was there to help her and be with her through this difficult time.

That is until the day he accidentally left his Facebook account open on our family computer. At first I thought it was my account but I quickly realized otherwise as I sifted through the messages. He was cheating on my daughter with at least 3 other girls! It was all there in the messages — the secret meetings, the plans for when she was out of town, everything. I was in shock!

And then I did the unthinkable and unforgivable. I met with him and kept everything a secret from my daughter. I told him what I discovered and showed him the printout of the messages so he couldn’t deny it. Of course, he broke down in big tears and talked about how he was so in love with my daughter that it scared him. He was so afraid of how close they were and the attachment they had that he reached out to other girls so it wouldn’t frighten him so much. He also said that he was so happy that I found out because now for the first time he realized what he truly wanted and he didn’t need to be afraid anymore. Can you believe I bought this bullshit?? He told me that he would spend his life making it up to me and my daughter and we both agreed to keep the secret because it would be too painful for my daughter to bear. WTF was I doing? He was so utterly convincing.

Shortly thereafter, he made plans to transfer schools to another state and he wanted my daughter to follow him out there and he promised he would eventually marry her but that he couldn’t until he finished school. The thought of her moving made me extremely nervous, especially since she didn’t know what I knew. I decided to check his phone when he came over (I learned in passing that his password was the same as my daughters, the day they met).

When I had the chance, I looked at his phone and of course he was still talking to the other girls and cheating with them! I couldn’t believe my eyes after everything he said! After he left that night, I sat my daughter down and told her the whole story. The things she told me back that night shocked me to the core. Eventually, I realized that she was a victim of emotional abuse. He was constantly accusing her of cheating on him, would call her a whore, didn’t like her friends and got upset when she hung out with them. He didn’t like what she wore and would suggest outfits for her. He would criticize her relentlessly and say she wasn’t there for him enough and didn’t love him enough and that she was a bad girlfriend. She felt worthless and like she could never please him because she wasn’t good enough. I just couldn’t believe he could treat her this way in private and then spend time at our house like a member of the family.

I can’t believe I was taken in so much by this individual. I feel awful that I couldn’t see what was happening and the changes in my daughter for the worse for having been with him. Even with all of this, it was still a very hard breakup for my daughter (and in fact, for me too). He kept trying to win her (and our family) back over just like he did the day I confronted him about the facebook messages. There were times we both wanted to see the good in him, to believe that he had changed.

After googling “Jeckyl and Hyde personality”, I now know that he had the traits of a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. These folks are truly master manipulators and cheaters! My daughter has been single for awhile now and struggles with letting anyone new into her life and trusting again. He definitely did damage to her confidence and well being but we are all working together as a family to rebuild what has been taken away.

I hope that others that read this letter will be aware of the tactics used by manipulators to keep us chumps so they can have cake. It is a hard, emotional road. Even now, I am sad and miss the person we thought he was. It is hard to accept that that person never existed.

Chump Mom

Dear Chump Mom,

Thanks for sharing your letter. It’s illuminating to other chumps to see how disordered wingnuts take in our families as well as ourselves. I’m glad your learning curve was a short one — from the time you busted him, until the time you checked his phone — and you spilled the truth to your daughter.

You asked: WTF was I doing? He was so utterly convincing.

You were spackling. That’s what you were doing. You wanted to believe the mirage of him much more than the evidence that he was a total piece of shit.

I’ve told this story here before, and I’m going to tell it again, but years ago I worked as a writer for the Defense Department on a report on sexual assault in the military. They got in a ton of top experts and I had to go to Pentagon briefings on sexual abuse that gave me nightmares for months. But the one that stuck with me was a film they did in the Alabama State Penitentiary. It began looking at communities, like schools and churches, and interviewing the people about “Bob” — a man accused of terrible crimes. Well, no one believed it. They were all going to pray for Bob! How could people say such TERRIBLE things about him? Not Bob! And then it panned to Bob, who shook his head and said things like, “Some people are just going to malign you. We have to forgive them and try to work through this. It’s awful how people can lie.” He was very sympathetic, trying to take the high road. Poor Bob.

Then the camera panned to Bob in a prison uniform laughing. He went to jail for those “lies” he was accused of, and he admitted his crimes on camera, sexually abusing children. Gleefully. The interviewer asks him “How did you fool all these people?” — and Bob does this really creepy smile and says “Oh, that’s easy. They want to believe.”

You find people very invested in believing. Who want to believe BAD. And why wouldn’t they? Isn’t it easier to believe that people make up lies and gossip than it is to believe predators walk among us? That’s much scarier. So we take Bob’s word for it that this is all a big misunderstanding. Those children are lying. Someone put them up to it. They’re disturbed. Bob is innocent.

Your “Bob” preyed on your belief that he loved your daughter. It’s patently ridiculous really. You had shocking EVIDENCE that he did not love your daughter, he was cheating on her with a multitude of other women. But he played you really well. He said he cheated because he loved your daughter TOO MUCH! He was just afraid of this overwhelming love he had for her! So he had to “act out.”

(I wish I could tell you that shit was original. It’s not. Many of us have heard some version of it. Some from freaking therapists.)

But the cognitive dissonance of his “love” and his actions got to you, so you checked his phone. You listened to your gut when you did that. You stopped wanting to believe for that moment, and verified. You put the spackle down.

But ask yourself going forward, and as your daughter gets over this asshole, why you wanted to believe so bad? Why was it acceptable to you that your daughter’s boyfriend be perfect and she be “hysterical”? Why did you want sooooo bad for her to have a Perfect Boyfriend? Don’t fuck this UP! Stop BEING HYSTERICAL or he won’t LOVE YOU! Sends a message that she’s not really worthy of love, she needs to pick me dance to have one as fabulous as him.

When there were tensions in their relationship, maybe the thing to say was “Gee, this relationship doesn’t bring out your best self, Honey. Is everything okay? You seem unhappy.” Or just think, oh well, they’re not a good fit. That’s too bad. There’s someone out there she’s better suited to, she should dump this guy because he seems to bring out changes in her for the worse. Or maybe you could think “She’s fine without a boyfriend. You don’t need a boyfriend to be a complete human.”

Which is very different from — What’s wrong with YOU that you can’t appreciate this Perfect Guy?

Sociopaths are expert manipulators. They do know how to play us. The only defense is to know your values, know your worth, and enforce your boundaries. When you want something soooOooo bad, (my daughter is dating the perfect guy!) it compromises your values. Learn to not  Need It That Bad. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t sell your soul (or your daughter) for it.

Tell your daughter there are a multitude of happy ever afters out there. There are actual nice guys who will hang out and be kind to your family (hey, I’m married to one!) There’s not a national shortage of decent people. Sociopaths are a shitty minority of people.

There’s a great life beyond the confines of having a boyfriend. There’s college and grad school and professional life. There’s travel. There’s good friends. There’s sports and scrap booking and organic gardening. I have no idea what your daughter’s personal bliss looks like, but I can guarantee that it’s not “Bob” shaped. Tell her to go invest in that life for awhile. Go surround herself with good people who DO bring out her best self.

Get her some therapy, if you haven’t already. What she went through is really painful, but OMG, she’s so lucky! I know that sounds warped, but stick with me here — she learned this shit EARLY. With very little in the way of sunk costs. She didn’t marry the sociopath, she didn’t breed with the sociopath, he didn’t steal her 401K, or give her a disease. Chump Nation has paid that cost to learn the painful lessons she’s figuring out YOUNG, with her whole life ahead of her.

And the lesson is — some people SUCK. Some people are disordered wingnuts. Don’t need anyone so bad that you compromise yourself and accept shit behavior. It’s okay to love with your whole heart. The best people do. And when people treat your precious love with contempt and disrespect? TRUST THAT THEY SUCK. The first time. There are better people out there to invest in, you don’t have time for this crap.

Mom, there’s no one here to miss. Thank God every day that sociopath moved away. Your daughter is safe. Give her a big hug from Chump Nation.

This is a rerun. Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to date sociopaths.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ugh, my mom was kind of like this. College boyfriend dumped me out of the blue (probably was cheating), and mom’s reaction was “What did you do? Can you get him back?”

    Chump Mom, if you’re reading, please update us here at Chump Nation!

    • Well, somebody taught you how little or how much you’re worth.

      Just to add, psychos don’t only groom children (or victims) but they intentionally and skillfully groom their parents (those around them, too).

  • The mom needs therapy.
    Meeting with the husband in secret;
    keeping secrets from her daughter is just indicative of a fucked up mindset.
    I’d have trust issues with the mother if I were the daughter.
    Much like a therapist who purports to be experienced and knows nothing about narcissism or has had experience with personality disorders but will advise you how to remedy your relationship.
    Can set a person back years.

    That said these frauds are good at their manipulations and cause a lot of damage.
    There’s a lot of them out there.

    • It’s weird getting that caught up in her daughter’s business and then keeping it secret from her daughter. And most likely her own husband, too. The outcome could have been much much worse.

    • Yes, this is the part of it that struck me the most too. The mother’s clear issues. It begins with how seemingly easy it was for her to believe that her own daughter is simply prone to instability. Good thing this guy is here to fix her. That alone says volumes about the mother. Then the conspiring in deception and abuse. And last, as she sat her daughter down and finally told her (good)…I expected anger from the daughter. But apparently there was none. That says a lot too. Almost like this daughter already takes it as a given she’ll get screwed over by her mother.

    • I concur. Mom needs therapy. This could have been my mom (seriously I can hear these discussions in my head with my mother’s voice) but my mother would never admit doing anything wrong. She once told me therapist only teach you to hate your mother. It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to that and I went anyway…without telling my mother. My awesome therapist did help me see the ways my mom screwed up but therapist also helped me realize why that happened and helped me break the chain of mental and emotional abuse so that my kid doesn’t think being invalidated and devalued is normal. Betting the mom here doesn’t think anything is wrong with her or that she has potentially passed down dangerous habits, outlooks or behaviors to he children. Hopefully the daughter has since gotten her own therapy and seen that she doesn’t have to repeat mom’s behavior.

    • It’s never a surprise to me that kids with parents who cross important generational boundaries choose abusers as BFs/GFs and spouses. Someone disregarding your boundaries and stripping away your autonomy is familiar territory.

      It sure makes it tough for a young person to leave an abuser if the parents LOVE the abuser and “sides with him most of the time.” In fact, that statement actually shows how bad the boundary violations were, that the parents were involved in the daughter’s relationship problems, not to support her but to take her abuser’s “side”.

  • When I was still a teenager (19 yo) and dated a boy with narc tendencies (he made me cry a lot, cheated, discarded and lovebombed me back 3 times), my mother would call me hysterical too. 10 years later, when I was in a long term relationship (living together) with a malignant narc, I had a late miscarriage. It still haunts me. I was talking to my mum on phone afterwards and I was sobbing deeply, especially that I felt so guilty. I knew my miscarriage was stress related. I could have left and saved my child but I didn’t. I was sick from grief and guilt.

    My mum got annoyed with my crying and told me I was so overreactive that it was just hard to talk to me.

    I know the the Letter Mum got chumped and supported her daughter in the end. I just wish that signs of abuse and PTSD in victims were more commonly understood. I didn’t understand it either, I was constantly blaming myself and reading thousands of online articles about controlling your own mood swings and repairing relationships. But I wasn’t hysterical and overreactive. I didn’t even have mood swings, I was in fact long term depressed and broken, and controlled. That lack of validation made me doubt myself completely though because who knows you better than your own mother and partner so it was easier to blame myself.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. And please, please don’t blame yourself for the miscarriage.

      No one can know how much the stress of the relationship contributed to it. Most pregnancies come to completion even under stress, and late-term miscarriages can happen from undiagnosed causes.

      Further, there’s no certainty that had you left, the stress level would have dropped immediately. Stress stems from change, even change for the better — as I’ve experienced myself (in a differet way).

      Please, please don’t berate yourself over the loss and worsen the grief that is terrible already. Hugs to you.

    • I am so sorry you went through this. Have you considered therapy to examine your relationship with this guy, but also your relationship with your mother? She sounds a lot like my mother, who was a narcissist.

      • Thank you for your kindness! Yes, I’m in therapy, I left that relationship 18 months ago and I’m slowly but surely getting out of the fog. I see him clearly now but I have a lot of self work to do. I also tried talking to my mother multiple times, calmly and without accusations, I am not really a confrontational person. But she instantly pushes back that I am an adult and I am responsible for my own decisions and I cannot blame a parent for my life. It’s generally true except it’s not… I don’t blame her for anything, it’s just she still treats me the same way and I am trying to set some personal rules. I don’t even need her to realise what she’s doing anymore. She reacts horribly to my new boundaries though.

        • The absolutely best thing about boundaries is that you don’t have to get other people to agree to them, to accept them, to realize they are reasonable.

          You just set them, clearly and politely.

          Then you enforce them.

          ‘Mom, if you suggest again that I’m too sensitive or over-reactive, I will end the conversation immediately. That is never a good explanation for why I’m upset’.

          Then ‘As I said, Mom, I won’t accept your telling me I’m over-reactive. So I’m going to say good-bye now, we’ll talk again soon’. THEN HANG UP.

          Some people push back when we change. That’s OK, we don’t have to fight or escalate. Keep on setting and enforcing your boundaries. Most people get used to the ‘new you’ and are OK w/that, with the occasional ‘test’ to see if you’ve softened up again!

          If she doesn’t adapt to your boundaries, then you know she’s not the person you can take your upset feelings to, unfortunately.

        • Best book ever on narcissistic mothers by Karyl McBride ~ Aimed at daughters experiencing the emotional abuse of narcissistic mothers, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? helps readers overcome the challenges and reclaim their lives. 

          For me this was a critical issue in choosing a good partner for a healthy adult relationship.

  • I think some humans are like sheep, they see what they want to see.
    A neighbour said about her former friend her husband will kill her one day, her friend said he was always nice to said friend, he’s not that fucking nice is he.
    When people make excuses for addicts, you don’t have to be a addict, its not a career choice is it. People have terrible childhoods it doesn’t mean you have to fuck up everybody’s elses lives.
    My ex people made excuses for him, that was part of the problem. People weren’t suffering apart from me and the children
    Someone said once, hell is other people that is true.

    • Susan–

      The quote “Hell is other people” has a history that relates to cheating and emotional abuse and–bonus– plagiarism.

      The longtime partner of Jean Paul Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher and author, was the feminist Simone de Beauvoir. In 1943, de Beauvoir wrote a fictionalized account of Sartre’s obsession with a younger woman. In Beauvoir’s book, the female protagonist, Francoise, concludes “Hell is other people” and then kills both herself and the side chick.

      Beauvoir’s partner Sartre then wrote a play titled “No Exit.” The play, which in set in hell, is based on that phrase but Sartre changes the character of Beauvoir’s protagonist to a malignant female psychopath and gives the line, “Hell is other people” to a male character.

      The partnership between de Beauvoir and Sartre is still celebrated as a brilliant union between creative geniuses. Frankly it sounded like sheer hell for de Beauvoir who must have been made of steel to withstand Sartre’s philandering, not to mention his plagiarism.

      I have no idea if de Beauvoir granted permission to Sartre to use the line from her novel. It’s hard to research since most reviewers and biographers fail to mention that the phrase “Hell is other people” originated from de Beauvoir. At least de Beauvoir spent the rest of her life writing about and analyzing the second class status of women.

      • Thank you for that recounting of the facts behind those two works! I did not know it, and it illuminates much about those two texts–and “The Second Sex.”

      • Wait, I have a question. How did she continue writing if she killed herself and the side chick?
        “In 1943, de Beauvoir wrote a fictionalized account of Sartre’s obsession with a younger woman. In Beauvoir’s book, the female protagonist, Francoise, concludes “Hell is other people” and then kills both herself and the side chick.”
        ” At least de Beauvoir spent the rest of her life writing about and analyzing the second class status of women.”

          • I believe that Hell of a Chump meant that Francoise, the protagonist in Simone de Beauvoir’s novel, killed herself and the “side chick”, not de Beauvoir herself. Simone de Beauvoir lived until 1986.

        • The character in the book de Beauvoir wrote says the line and then kills her self and the side chick, not de Beauvoir herself.

      • Don’t feel too sorry for Simone de Beauvoir. Both she and Sartre were, in my estimation, absolutely despicable human beings, and I base that on an extremely enlightening article published in the New Yorker in 2005, “Stand By Your Man: The Strange Liaison of Sartre and Beauvoir” by Louis Menand. You can still find it online if you care to search for it.

        Beauvoir didn’t admit it publicly before she died, but she was bisexual, and according to the article, she and Sartre would engage in affairs with the same women, or, if both didn’t succeed in seducing the same woman, Sartre would pursue a woman’s sister. At least a couple of these women were young impressionable students of one or the other, and S & B would use them for their own ends and then throw them away. In another twisted menage, Sartre had an affair with a woman, and Beauvoir had an affair with the woman’s brother.

        S & B had a pact to tell one another everything about their affairs, and according to the article, “[their] correspondence was filled with catty and disparaging remarks about the people Beauvoir and Sartre were either sleeping with or trying to sleep with, even though, when they were with those people, they radiated interest and affection…. [P]rivately, he and Beauvoir held most of the people in their lives in varying degrees of contempt. They enjoyed, especially, recounting to each other the lies they were telling.”

        I don’t care what contributions they made to literature and philosophy, they were sick.

    • Susan Devlin; You are very right! I had a nightmare of a childhood and decided not to repeat my experience or my parents experiences. It is just an excuse to be whomever they decide to be no matter how damaging to others.
      It is interesting how people usually don’t understand or care what affects others until it affects them personally. It is too bad it is so difficult it is to understand others pain for many humans.

    • I believe that most addicts didn’t CHOSE addiction, and some really truly cannot stop, or at least not for long.

      But they really will never stop if there are no consequences for their hurtful or irresponsible behaviours.

      And even if they simply can’t stop, we’re not obliged to hang around to keep getting hurt.

      I believe both my Exes (the sweet, smart, charming, sexy … alcoholic I married when I was very young, and the charming, sexy, smart narc I had kids with) became the way they are because of a nasty combo of genetics and family history. I can see it makes them very unhappy, in the end. I can feel sorry for them, have compassion for them, and still stay very very far away. And support my kids in their decision to manage that relationship with their father as is best for THEM, including, for the last few years, not seeing him at all.

      It’s not a shark’s fault it’s a shark. But once I figure out he’s actually a shark, I’m not swimming in the same waters ever again.

      It doesn’t have to be a choice, or some kind of evil intent, in order for us to recognize it’s not healthy for us to be in that type of relationship.

  • Chump Mom,

    Bad people don’t feel bad. My mom threw me to the wolves and had never woken up. My mom was angry at me because I wouldn’t allow her boyfriend, who violated violated violated me, to come to my wedding. My mom never had my back. My mom never admitted having made any kind of error in judgement and wanted to do something about it. When my boyfriend beat the crap out of me 32 years ago, I drove myself to the hospital in the middle of the night. My car at the.time had a manual transmission. The clutch foot was the foot that was broken.

    Lots of people get conned. Lots of us are in denial.

    What really counts is how we respond when the spell gets broken. John Bradshaw says that it’s not what happens in a family that determines health; it’s how it’s responded to. You went from keeping his secret to busting his trip and helping your daughter.

    Progress, not perfection. Keep responding in the right direction. My mom never has to this day.

    • PS….

      GET A THERAPIST. One for you and one for your daughter.. A really great one. (AKA Life School teacher). I’m glad you wrote to Chump Lady. She rocks.

    • John Bradshaw was my introduction to thinking about a family as a “system.” A real influence on my thinking.

  • Right out of the sociopath playbook:

    – Study your victims and learn who you have to “win over”
    – Mimic the behaviors that are valued by your victim and their family/friends
    – Isolate and alienate the victim away from their support systems
    – Charm, sparkle, rinse repeat

    This was Mr. Sparkles… until it wasn’t. My friends and family sussed him out long before I did… and you Chump Mom… didn’t say anything to me because “I seemed so happy”. My mother walked around my wedding reception telling anyone who would sit next to her that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life – yet she NEVER said a word to me with her opinion because she just wanted me to be happy. I don’t blame her – I was 39, I should’ve seen the red flags… but I wanted to BELIEVE.

    It finally took Mr. Sparkles discarding me, because in time all parasites need a new host, and my finding Chump Nation and Chump Lady to relearn my self worth and forgive myself for believing.

    I’m glad your daughter got away and got a valuable life experience to reflect on when she gets in to any future relationships. I teach my son (as much as I can as a 14yo) to watch people’s actions more than listen to their words.

      • THIS!!!! ^^^ THIS!!!! ^^^ THIS!!!! ^^^

        AllOutofKibble, My ex told me that for me to retell our tale that means I’ve not forgiven and I’ve not moved on. I’m not emotionally broken anymore, but I still tell our tale for THIS^^^ purpose–I don’t want anyone else to ‘drive off that cliff’ the way I did when I didn’t know what the red on the flags meant. THANK YOU!

  • Mom is standing out, here, as being something of a narcissist herself. He was going to spend the rest of his life making it up to her daughter AND HER? And, nobody cares if the breakup was hard for you too, Mom. Sounds like he knew how to play Mom’s self-centeredness to his advantage.

    And then, she goes on with how her daughter can’t trust anyone because of him?

    Maybe, Mom – just maybe – her trust is moreso shattered by the fact that her mother chose her abusive boyfriend over her own daughter… AND hid the SLAM DUNK evidence that Daughter was being wronged… and gaslit her child for the interests of her abuser.

    That might have, I dunno, a LITTLE something to do with it…

    • As I was reading this letter, I can only imagine how utterly fucking infuriated I’d be to learn my own mother was hip to my boyfriend cheating on me, DISCUSSED it with him alone, and came to the conclusion I didn’t need to know such information. What in the ever-loving fuck is that?!? My own mother wasn’t perfect, but she would have never done that to me.

      And this . . . “We wanted to send her to a counselor to deal with her hysteria . . . ” You know why women get accused of being “hysterical” all the time? Because of shit like this!

        • She attempted to own it, and she was really close… The mom came across to me as still pretty self-focused. She even called herself a chump, as though the cheater cheated on her, too. I mean, in a way, yes, but the daughter whose heart he dominated and destroyed is the primary focus and priority.

          I know I am sort of sitting on an unfair throne. I just would have wanted to see the mom to focus more energy in the letter on the horror of how alone her daughter was isolated in her abuse for SO LONG. That is it’s own betrayal.

          My bet is that the mom got there in the end. I hope so. That would be really important.

          Thanks for reposting. This is really important stuff.

          • And let’s not discount the centrality it begets her to even just be posting this letter in pure outrage and grief…for herself. Is she saying, God how will my daughter ever forgive ME, TOO, for conspiring with someone who robbed her of time, reality, and dignity? No. She can’t fathom having been played HERSELF, and that’s when she decided to turn the vertex of the triangle, by swapping allegiances.
            She’s not taking any responsibility in this, when she should.

      • I said this above. The boundary violations explain why the daughter was so vulnerable to a predatory type in the first place.

        And it’s astonishing that discovering the cheating didn’t lead the mother to immediately re-evaluate her opinion of why the daughter was deteriorating emotionally.

      • This letter really looks like it could have been written by my grandmother, although my grandmother would have gone on supporting the relationship no matter what. The next step would have been counseling, not breaking up. I think for some, marriage is a goal and they can’t imagine another way of life. My grandmother was always extremely proud of the number of her children and how many years she was married to her husband. He was caught molesting little girls several times, but she forgave him and covered it up and went on bragging about how long she had been married. She married off all her daughters as soon as she could–most of them while they were still in their teens, one when she was still in high school.

        I was happy that at least this mother realized her error, even if it was late. The mindset of marriage as the “happily ever after” for women is tremendously damaging, and ends in stuff like this–because breaking up with a guy is unthinkable–even if he is just a boyfriend, not married, and no kids.

        I tell my daughters, “You don’t even need a reason to break up with a boyfriend. If you decide you don’t want to date him, that’s a good enough reason.” I want to make sure they listen to their gut. They don’t need to find evidence of cheating to call off a wedding. If they even feel uncomfortable with him or suspect him or just think this isn’t working out, that’s a good enough reason to say, “I decided I don’t want to get married to this guy.”

        There’s always more guys. And there is life without guys. Both are perfectly acceptable options for single young ladies.

        • Thanks so much Carol – a harrowing case study, but one which gets repeated over and over.

          For these women, sheer duration of marriage is often the ONLY achievement they can claim. They quite literally put all their eggs in one bastard.

          This isn’t living. It’s a kind of idolatry, if you are a Christian.

          It reminds me of some of the research I have read on anorexia, in which self starvation is seen by these women as their only major achievement in life. Weight control takes the place of study, craft, acquiring new life skills, making friends, and pretty much everything else.

          Same with the apparently intact marriage, which is actually a Potemkin Village. Fear of ‘failure’ is huge, and the burden of shame is seen as unbearable.

  • So, I’m not alone here with the creepy feelings about mom? I’m giving my children tidbits about relationships along the way. “Some one who values their car over you is not good enough for you. Get rid of them.” Etc. I only hope they’re truly listening to the advice.

  • The mom is writing for help. The mom is copping to her part in the situation. The mom feels terrible about her behavior

    Narcissists don’t do that.

    • Sure they do, when they’re engaging in impression management. Mr. sparkly Pants was really gifted at that sort of shit. So was my mother, the Perfect Mother.. everyone thought I was lucky to have her; everyone’s favorite aunt. She too sided with a man who was abusing me — more than once — even after she WITNESSED the abuse.

      • A colleague of mine who worked with both my ex and me (all of us profs at the same small liberal arts college) once said to me, when she found out who my husband was, “You’re married to YY! You’re so LUCKY!” My ex could win a Nobel Prize at compartmentalization and image management.

    • Mom was quoting the boyfriend about making it up to daughter and her. And I do understand breakups being hard for people around the couple. When DDay hit, I saw firsthand how the relationship damage was not isolated to me and my husband. Like a nuclear bomb it radiated outward to everyone attached to us. People who knew us for decades and thought we had such a great marriage and family were crying. If my daughter had a partner who I thought was a great person and they broke up, I’d be sad too. No man is an island.

      • It’s curious that you are protective of the mother in this scenario. I also read this as an intrusive helicopter mother. She seems to involve herself in her daughters life including her relationships with men. The daughter had no one to turn to. Small wonder she felt trapped. Then she learns her mom was in on the sabotage. Truly disordered in the name of motherly love

    • You mean… like the Cheater Boyfriend copped to “his part?”

      Narcissists will “admit” just enough to garner sympathy for impression management… and are totally fine with the negative attention until they can manipulate the situation to be favorable for them because it’s the centrality they want. Centrality is better than them being insignificant.

      She KNEW he was a terrible person. Had the proof. Like him, Mom thought – apparently – that the daughter didn’t deserve the truth.

      I hope this daughter doesn’t still live with her mother. She would heal much better, I think, not trying to trust her mother… it would be good for her to realize that she doesn’t *have to* trust her mother. She can make a life on her own and let go of the anxiety that she doesn’t trust her. The poor thing was primed, apparently, in her formative, young adult years, to not trust herself.

      • I walked into therapy by some miracle at young age with a warehouse of issues. If the therapist had responded to me like this I would never have come back and I’d likely be dead today instead of getting the help I so obviously needed. You may be glad to know that I still seek outside help because evidently I am still deeply flawed.

        😪

        • We aren’t therapists. Aren’t meant to be.

          And Mom didn’t write to Chump Lady with a question or wanting help. Look at the letter. She wants to INFORM us that a Cheater was able to fool EVEN HER. She wants to give advice. She wants us to know she is a good mother for admitting she was wrong… but blames her daughter’s difficulties all on the Cheater.

          No, thanks. She wrote for attention. She wrote to be relevant and hopefully, revered.

          Nope. She can f*ck off if she was hoping to get her disordered, False Humility Kibbles here. I’m sure she was/is SHOCKED when chumps can see right through her… she’s SO GOOD and has only the best intentions and we’re all so jaded. Whatever. The self-centeredness is pretty easy to see.

      • A mother meeting secretly with her college-aged daughter’s cheating boyfriend, is so out of line, it is not funny. So many boundaries crossed. Sure, Mom copped to it – eventually. But what distorted thinking propelled her to do it in the first place? Wowsers – I would be PLENTY pissed off if my mother had the hubris to do such a thing. Close to a relationship deal-breaker. Seemingly, the daughter took it well, which speaks volumes about her own boundary issues. Boyfriend was a problem for sure, but so is Mom – big time.

  • To the Mom, you are not a chump, you are an enabler to an abuser. Your daughter was struggling and yo doubled down on the douchebag boyfriend. Her behavior is classic abuse victim and you sided with the abuser, he was your favorite child.
    “Even now, I am sad and miss the person we thought he was.” Your pain is not comparable to your daughter’s abuse pain. He was your favorite child and she saw this, she had no where to turn. You kept his secrets!!

  • Some experiences do change your life forever. I don’t want to sound dramatic or “hysterical” but while it is possible to recover, it is not possible to restore to your original condition. If you break a handle off a cup, you may be able to get a great glue and “fix” the handle, and continue to use the cup. But you know what happened to the cup. Others may not see it, but you remember.

    I have had to use that “glue” mentally to fix family relationships. I have learned that people are a product of their environment, and attitudes and norms change over time. While I was growing up I saw many bad relationships and marriages in my own family, and in the families of my friends. I had a lower expectation of what marriage was, what acceptable marital behavior was, because of what I saw as “normal.” I put up with too much, and made excuses. Even though I didn’t like the message, I heard it. I think my culture was like Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man lyric, “after all he’s just a man.” This attitude does not encourage men to learn to be better, or recognize those who are better. It tells women to put up with unacceptable behavior, and men they can be selfish and slouch by through life.

    However, Tammy eventually divorced George Jones. George eventually had to face up to his alcoholism, and other issues. I eventually divorced my husbands with unacceptable behaviors. I stopped trying to “fix” or endure, and I discarded the “dream” I wanted to believe in. Cognitive Dissonance is real, and those thoughts your brain keeps interjecting into your mental process are sent to save your life. Some people call it fight or flight, sometimes you have to flee to start the fight for your own survival. You will become better than you were if you do the work, but you will never be as accepting as you were again. I do not believe this is a bad thing, but to quote another song lyric, this is the “end of the innocence.”

    I am in my mid-sixties, and I look at my life now as a collection of both good and bad experiences, some great times, and some big wastes of my time and resources. I have not been in an intimate relationship with a man for several years. I do not exclude the possibility but I do not seek one either, even though I sometimes miss the companionship. I choose my friends now based on the costs and benefits of the relationship. I avoid people who I perceive to be Users. Everyone has needs and quirks, but by the time you are an adult, I believe you should be aware of who you are, and be responsible for your actions. Do not expect others to pick up after you, or to clean up your messes. Adults stay busy doing these things for themselves.

    The mother in today’s story still worries about whether or not her daughter will have a boyfriend. That sends a message that she will not be complete until she does. It is the daughter’s business. She gets to decide what she needs and wants. Her mother needs to accept the daughter as being good enough, just as she is. Love her because she is your daughter, not because she lives her life according to YOUR expectations. You cannot change the past. You apologized. Now move on.

    Giving up “the dream” created for you by your culture may well be the end of the innocence, but it is also the start of living an authentic life. You get to choose the terms of your life, based on your own value system. In my opinion, that is better than being blissfully ignorant.

      • Yes, lacks boundaries!

        Both of my daughters have friends who it is very important to their mothers that they have boyfriends and marry “early”. I worry for these girls. Funny thing- 2 of the girls have divorced parents and one I know was cheated on and chumped.

        My oldest daughter was abandoned by a narc boyfriend the same weekend her dad left.

        I understand the observation that the Dd seemed to be crazy, happened to me and my Dd. Now that I know why though, I would immediately question her boyfriends actions if she were showing hysterical behavior again.

        My parents played to fuckwit telling him to take care of me and when I was frustrated and hysterical they said get her help rather than seeing he was the problem.

        I agree that this mom went far beyond, actually conspiring to lie. Her actions show she has a low opinion of her daughter and her ability to make her own decisions And manage her own feelings. That didn’t start yesterday. I am sure both need help emotionally.

    • I like your metaphor of the broken and repaired cup, but I think it’s not just that we see the repair and know the circumstances that led to the break. It’s also that we always have a deep down fear that the glue won’t hold and we don’t fully trust that cup handle fully anymore.

      That is certainly the relationship I now have with my mother, who didn’t protect me as a child from my violent and abusive father, wouldn’t leave him, taught me to placate him (and used me to do that herself), and even demanded I put myself in harm’s way.

    • I had the opposite in terms of family history. I grew up in a family that did have solid loving relationships. My grandparents on both sides, my parents, and even my sister (seemingly so far) had/have good marriages between two people who truly cared for one another. I thought that was normal. I thought I was following the trend when I married ex. I thought he loved me and I loved him and we would always be together and be able to work out any differences. I think the reason I spackled for as long as I did is because I didn’t want to face the fact that I had failed where everyone else in my family had succeeded. I also didn’t know what a bad marriage looked like and so didn’t recognize it for what it was. I tried to twist it around into the ideal that I knew. As hard as it was to face the truth, however, I am extremely fortunate that my family did rally around me and support me and recognized right away that I wasn’t the one who failed; he is the one who failed. There was no blame, only compassion. That is what family is supposed to look like. Ex will never be able to deliver that, but I hope I can still deliver that for our kids.

      • I think I would have said the same in the past. Parents, grandparents married 50 plus years. God fearing middle class midwesterners. Fuckwit’s grandparents and parents long marriages- church going hardworking blue collar people and his dad built a thriving business from ground up.

        But when you put things under a microscope, you can really start to see that the fine thread running through both sides is an inability to appropriately manage and deal with feelings and have appropriate boundaries. There was a lot of sweeping under the rug and putting forth a good image not super sparkly but well kept. My boundaries and self worth weren’t solid and fuckwit was a mama’s boy camouflaged as a hardworking dutiful son who put family first.

        His entitlement grew with his income. He knew his mommy would back him as she always had.

        Took him blowing up the family and much examination but I do not believe the fuckwits are only able to victimize for a long period those that missed a boundary lesson somewhere. This almost always occurs in foo no matter how subtle.

  • “How did you fool all these people?”
    “Oh that’s easy. They wanted to believe.”

    My whole family was taken in by The Python. He was a freaking expert at manipulating and coming across as the helpful, altruistic, “great guy.”

    It was all b.s.

    He was a dirty rotten scoundrel, a lying cheater. Who hid it well for a LONG time. Fortunately, my family believed me when I finally came to my senses and declared it was over (I spackled/covered for him for 4 years, between D-Day #1 and #2).

    Except that two members of my family, my parents, had died by then. He had actually been helpful to them, especially as they became more disabled. (I think that’s one reason I gave him a second chance.) I’m actually glad they never knew about the betrayal of us all by that conman.

    • Me too. My fuckwit was amazing in the image management Dept. Always helpful always kind always considerate. the perfect Husband/ son in law/ stepfather. Except my mother & sister never liked him. They couldn’t tell me why, just something about him was too good to be true. They told me after we got engaged & at that time I wasn’t having a bar of it. I had no evidence except their ‘feeling’ at that time. Although now I can point to the sudden arrival in his life of an old girlfriend as well as a sexual harassment accusation at his work that I dismissed out of hand because I wanted to believe his lies. A true sociopath that fooled me for 14 years and eventually even won my mother over. You don’t ever fully recover from these people. There will always be scars.

      • I had only one friend who had a “bad feeling” about The Python but she never told me until after I told her about the cheating. She couldn’t put into words what it was. My guess is some people have more highly developed bullshit detectors.

        Yes, there will always be scars. I think of myself as mostly recovered, except that I will never recover my tendency to just believe people I don’t know well. I’m much more suspicious.

        • I always think of Maria Shriver, years and years ago on tv, defending Arnold before they married, when he was accused of abuse by a couple of women. Maria said, “They’ve known him for 5 seconds but I’ve known him for (I forget how many months) and I know he would never ever do these things he’s accused of.” And she married him. And we know how that turned out, with him having a baby with his housekeeper. (I’m not recalling this to knock Maria Shriver, who is a very smart woman – I’m saying that sadly, brains are not enough to protect us against believing in people who don’t deserve to be believed. We just want to believe that people cannot be so cunning, so deceptive to those they supposedly love.)

          • “…brains are not enough to protect us….”

            So true.

            Some master manipulators are just so skilled that they fool just about everyone, and can keep doing it successfully for years.

  • Reading this makes me wish for a class in hs that teaches kids how to say “No”. It would teach kids how to spot fakes. Sadly they aren’t mature enough to understand most of it. Actually, unless you’ve been taken in you don’t get it.

    I have been watching Lori Vallow’s story and she is scary. A beautiful woman who smiles, and smiles. So did Jodi Arias and Drew Peterson. Malignant Sociopaths love the spotlight. They love the fawning, the Microphones, the crowds, even the attention from an unsuspecting family. They are soooo good at seduction. They neeed you. They neeed your love and attention……..until they don’t and then RUN.

  • If more people viewed cheating/lying as an absolute deal killer, stuff like this wouldn’t happen. Cheating/lying isn’t a mistake, it’s a character flaw to be avoided in a life partner. It’s abuse, on many fronts. A black and white issue. Even homicide is more of a gray-area issue…you can be justified in killing if it’s truly self defense. You can’t ever justify fucking around on your partner.

    I’m glad to be an enlightened member of the CL nation, spreading this truth far and wide.

  • This article was so triggering. Chump Mom— I had you as a mother, or someone a lot like you. You harmed me more than two cheating XHs. I was vulnerable to them because of what you did to emotionally harm me— whether unwittingly or Not—- you taught me to not trust my intuition, that your likes and dislikes were paramount — that I was never important -/ it was all about YOU all the time.

    You make me sick and I’m sure you’re getting off on the attention you’re getting here.

    I think it was a mistake to print this letter, CL. 😭😭😭

        • So true Motherchumper!!! Good call!

          She doesn’t own it, she is sad sausage, oh, poor me, how could I have got sucked it. Feel sorry for ME, ME, Me!!!

          The conspiracy, the lies, he was just a master brainwashed, poor me.

          Nah, the clue: when he wanted to take Dd to another state, mommy dearest panicked- why? Because she feared losing control of Dd. Definite big time boundary issues- she and my x mil Would get along well!
          M

      • Nope, the mother isn’t owning it. It’s all about HER. The eventual break-up was so hard on HER, because the cheating boyfriend was her favorite child. The daughter’s trust issues are all HIS fault, and not at all because the writer, the mother devalued her own child. The mother is seeking attention, not apologizing for harming her daughter. She’s a fucking narcissist, just like my mother.

  • Another example of how cheating can be the perfect storm of wishful thinking, denial, co-dependance , manipulation, and a capactity for heartless deceit.

  • I remember when I was first divorced, a quick divorce because he injured me and the courts declared the marriage abusive. The next holiday that came up my EX sent me an article about how it is healthy for the kids to have both parents at the table for Thanksgiving. We need to get along for the kids. Now my kids had not talk to him at the time since the injury so this was weird. Well I mentioned the article to my parents and they were like well if he wants to come for Dinner that is OK with us….. WHAT??!?!

    I looked the dead in the eye and told them the day he steps foot in this house is the last time you see me or my children. They needed to pick a team/side NOW. They were shocked. They are nice, everyone is welcome in their home. It might be good for the boys to see him. They were just trying to remain neutral. This was a childhood pattern, our friends were something we were not, skinnier, smarter or prettier what are we doing wrong. Did not matter, the man hurt me, he was not sitting the same table as me ever again. I would not say they were as bad as this Mother, but I see similar traits to my parents. It caused me years of counseling to start to realize I always thought if I was better EX would be nicer.

    Now I did tell my children if you want to see him, I am OK with that, you can have him pick you up and go “somewhere else” if you want, no hard feelings. I remind them of this so often they get mad at me, but I tell them I have to remind them so guilt is never part of their decision. They were 15 and 16 at the time, old enough to get that.

  • I will give my mom kudos for knowing and seeing what I refused to see. She couldn’t stand the man I picked, but I attributed that to her need for control (which WAS an issue of hers).

    If she was still alive, I KNOW she would have been all over me to divorce his cheating ass long before I actually did. She probably would have paid the attorney fees.

    She certainly wasn’t perfect, but she could read people really, really well.

    Here is the truly sad thing: I can normally read people really well, too. In fact, the first time I met Mr. Cheater (and he hit on me), my gut reaction was “nope”, and I kept him at arms length for well over a year. Unfortunately, my brain and gut turned off at some point, and he charmed his way into my life. And the rest is history.

    • Yep I have a similar story. My mum never liked my Fuckwit & Fuckwit convinced me she was the narcissist which was partly true but she always had an uncanny ability to read people. Her dislike of him had us estranged for years until she eventually spackled &was finally won over to help mend our relationship. These sociopaths are pure evil.

  • My XW was perfect at the beginning. My mom told me that she was the best girlfriend I had. Told me I should marry her. So I did…then the abuse began. After 6 years my mom told me to divorce her because she was so abusive. But I wasn’t ready yet as I still loved her.

    My cheater sisters suspected she was cheating on me and my mom also. My sisters went to my mom and said that they think my XW was cheating on me and that my oldest wasn’t mine. My mom told them to not say anything to me without proof. My mom later said “I couldn’t believe she was EVIL” “I couldn’t accuse her without proof”.

    I was suffering in silence and trying to catch my XW. Accusing her of cheating. If one of my family or friends had told me they suspected or had proof also I would have countered the gaslighting… NO ONE said a word even though my oldest looked nothing like me.

    So when I got proof of my oldest wasn’t mine through AncestryDNA my family was there for me. Paid for my divorce. My mom talked with me every day for over a year. Apologized for not saying anything to me. But I had such anger toward my mom and sisters. The mom has some issues. My mom learned from her mistakes. Hopefully she will. It still bothers me that they didn’t say anything. The mom has sone work to do.

    My mother loves my current wife. She grilled her for months and months. She learned her lesson and didn’t tell me she is perfect for me. But, I think moms have issues here, she told me that I was miserable being single and that I am the marrying kind.

  • Sounds like mom desperately needs some therapy so she stops treating her daughter like shit.

    She reminds me of my mom: SO invested in the perfect fantasy of me being with a _man_ (I’m queer btw) who appears super normal and has normal appearing values (I don’t want kids and I question “normality”). She’s so invested in this that she has sided with previous boyfriends over me all the time, even though she _knew_ said boyfriends were abusive. She acts as though I’m this irrational creature who needs to be saved and tamed by a normative man. She always assumed I was inept but would look to my boyfriends at whatever time to put me in my place.

    In other words, my mom was an abuser enabler when she wasn’t an abuser herself. This mom sounds eerily similar.

    This mom needs intensive self reflection, definitely through therapy, to determine why she feels she has to devalue her daughter so much. And next time her daughter seems unhappy or unstable or whatever, maybe her first step should be to offer support and love and a listening ear, not inform her what she should do and DEFINITELY not side with others above her daughter. So many red flags about mom in this letter.

  • Wow, who needs enemies, or narc boyfriends, when you have Chump Mom as a mom. I’m left wondering why Chump Mom was so into the boyfriend. Bet he was good looking, and her marriage was shit. She sure needs a therapist, and the poor daughter needs to get to a college far away from her toxic mother and the narc ex.

  • I’m sorry, but this “mother” needs to have her ass kicked. She SHOULD be ashamed. Not even my child, but my sister went through something similar. Even though her husband was convincing, I asked HER what was going on. I would never take the word of someone else over family, much less my kid. Shame shame shame on her. I have zero sympathy and I usually have nothing but sympathy.

  • I had a friend (lets call her Erin) years back that was dating a very charming, good looking, successful guy. He was also a sociopath. Lets call him Vinny. I know that because they ended up in counseling (due to his cheating, lying, etc.) and when she had her alone time with the therapist he informed her Vinny was a sociopath and the relationship did not stand a chance. Vinny enjoyed the warped, hysterical attention Erin gave him as Erin had her own issues. She was sexually abused by her stepfather when she was very young. When she was 22 y/o she told her mother about the abuse. It took the mother a year to leave him (bunch of other issues) and she never confronted the stepfather about the abuse. Anyway that is another long ass story. Erin’s mother was hell bent on her daughter marrying this guy. The mother paid for a trip to Cayman for Erin, to make Vinny jealous and possibly see what he might lose. The mother would scheme with Erin to land Vinny at any cost. Talk about dysfunctional motherly support. I was in my 20’s and it just boggled my mind that a mother would go to these lengths for her daughter to catch a man. Again, Vinny was considered a catch. Erin’s mother married two losers. Erin’s father dumped her and left when Erin was just two and then she married a very twisted pedophile. The mother wanted to live vicariously through Erin as her life sucked.

  • Ugh, I could only read the first couple of paragraphs “She was acting crazy and hysterical all the time” and yet they sided with the ‘reasonable’ boyfriend. Makes my blood run cold.

  • This mom is no chump, she is a fuckwit.

    – “We actually sided with him most of the time and tried to get her to see things his way.”
    *the one where mom invalidates daughter’s feelings and employs mindfuck/gaslighting

    – “Even with all of this, it was still a very hard breakup for my daughter (and in fact, for me too).”
    *the one where mom continues to make it all about her (some would call that narcissism. they would be correct)

    – “He kept trying to win her (and our family) back over just like he did the day I confronted him about the facebook messages.”
    *the one where mom conspires with the fuckwit/abuser
    *also the one where mom makes it about her

    – “There were times we both wanted to see the good in him, to believe that he had changed.”
    *the one where mom forgets that she and daughter are not E.T. and Elliot
    *the one where mom makes it about her

    – “He definitely did damage to her confidence and well being but we are all working together as a family to rebuild what has been taken away.”
    *the one where mom still hasn’t learned that MOM is disordered
    *also the one where mom makes it about her

    – “I hope that others that read this letter will be aware of the tactics used by manipulators to keep us chumps so they can have cake. It is a hard, emotional road.
    *The one where mom tries to manage her image (I’m a CHUMP! Not a fuckwit!)
    *The one where mom makes it about her

    – “Even now, I am sad and miss the person we thought he was. It is hard to accept that that person never existed.”
    *The one where mom makes it about her

    – “And then I did the unthinkable and unforgivable. I met with him and kept everything a secret from my daughter.”
    *the one where mom got it right. It WAS unthinkable and unforgivable.

    This isn’t a remorse letter, or a warning letter this is sad sausage IMAGE MANAGEMENT letter.
    It’s also 50 shades of fucked up.

    Mom should do everyone a favor and run away with the boyfriend. They deserve each other.

    • Thank you. The letter writer is fifty shades of fucked up, and you summed it up quite nicely –and clearly.

    • Dear HadEnough.
      I kept returning to the mom’s letter wondering why I seemed to be the only person who was bothered by it. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but you did. Thanks.

    • Thank you! This mom sounds disordered AF. Your comment made me feel much less crazy after reading her dysfunctional letter.

  • This letter was very triggering.. This has gone on with my mother since my first boyfriend at age 13. He was 14 and on the wrestling team of our local high school. He was polite and respectful, but I really just wasn’t into him. When I told my mother that I was going to break up with him, she told me I COULD NOT break up with him because he was a “nice boy.” I was an obedient child, so I kept dating him. Dates basically consisted of him coming to my house and us watching TV or listening to music. We held hands, but never even kissed. A few days later one of my male friends who was also on the wrestling team came over to tell me that he and his brother had kicked my boyfriend’s a**! Apparently my “nice” boyfriend was telling his teammates in the locker room that we were having lots of sex, including anal. My friends knew this wasn’t true and stood up for me. My mother was horrified at what he had done and did admit that she was wrong.
    But I have continually felt that she was not on my side throughout all my relationships. A few years ago, I had a boyfriend ghost me ON MY BIRTHDAY. I called her sobbing and she tried to make excuses for him. I no longer speak to her about my relationships because of it. It took me a long time not to be that obedient child anymore. I hope the daughter sets stronger boundaries with her mother than I did with mine.

    • Uhg moms like this are awful! sounds so similar to my mom. It’s awful she did that to you!!

      • Thanks! It is a terrible feeling to think that your own mother doesn’t have your back. I love my Mom and she is great in other ways but I have had to accept her limitations. She is the product of an abusive (physical/emtional/sexual) FOO. I think she simply doesn’t know how to have my back because no one ever had hers.
        Sorry you have had a similar experience with your mother.

  • This is an interesting discussion. My ex was very image conscious…self proclaimed nice guy. But really he was an insecure, passive agression nasty piece of shit.

    My dad saw right through it….he saw the full of shit phony in 10 minutes. I didn’t believe him because I thought he was looking for reasons to be pissed off because he didn’t like the age difference…and my father also had a history of being nasty to any guy I brought around. Nobody was good enough for me.

    But in the end we were both right. He was looking for reasons to dislike ex, but he also saw things that I ignored. Before he died my father said he was wrong….but he was right. He died 8 years ago but if he was around I’d tell him he was right and I should have listened.

  • This is one archive that I never read before and I truly thought I had read them all. Really appreciate your response. I had a similar story, but instead of a mama bear investigating, I continued to get, “Maybe there’s something wrong with you.” And so I ignored feelings and wound up married, kids, then divorced and now “coparenting.”

    I’m currently sorting all the FOO issues out as I untangle my own skein. I’ve since lost both my parents, which has made the sort out process more challenging in some ways (I can’t ask mom questions) but easier in others (I have implemented some much needed grey rock and low contact with siblings).

    • That, and, if it is, Mom is messed up herself.

      So glad so many chumps here saw straight through that..!

      CL should get as mad at her as she gets at OW’s. Holding secrets is dysfunctional and controlling behavior. Unacceptable!

  • This letter really struck a chord. I have but latterly realised how abusive my father is, what an enabler my mum is, and how dysfunctional my childhood family life was. I learned all I knew about marriage from that. Sheesh. AND my parents loooved my very abusive ex-husband. 3 months after I left him and had told my parents about the years of abuse, my exhusband had the cheek to bring flowers to my mum’s house on her birthday and tell her he still loved her and dad! I was so furious and so hurt that she ACCEPTED THE FLOWERS instead of kicking him to the kerb and sending the flowers after him. I see my parents with different eyes these days, for sure.

    • And the 3 decorative plates that my exhusband gave her, still on proud display in her front hall – “I keep them there to remind me to pray for him, dear” – TARGET PRACTICE one day. Such a lowering thing to have to acknowledge that my mum can actually be quite a bitch, a woman with five daughters who doesn’t like women very much.

  • this article was incredibly helpful to me. thank you. my own mother was very open to me going back with my cheating ex. I was conflicted but it always disturbed me how she could be accepting that someone would treat her daughter like that. she said oh well no marriage is perfect. I left him eventually anyway. thank you for this reminder how psychopaths take in our family.

  • This hits so close to home. My mother the narcissist. When I finally found out about my husband’s 5 year affair I was headed out of state to take care of my mother who had just broken her leg and arm in a fall. I thought perfect an escape to sort things out. Biggest mistake of my life. I couldn’t even share what I was going through with her because she would’ve blown shut up and it would’ve been about her. When I left to call and check up on her no thank you nope, she said my God what the heck was wrong with you you couldn’t sit still. Well mom, my life was falling apart and I couldn’t even share it with you you fucking bitch. Even writing this is so triggering. Almost even more so than my husband’s affair. (Sounds crazy but true) How nice it would be to be able to call my mom and for once have her be a supportive shoulder. It’s just gross. For me it’s about acceptance. They say you can’t draw blood from a stone. I sure didn’t repeat that with my daughter and son, there isn’t anything they can’t tell me. I will always be their rock. No matter what I am going through.

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