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Yeah, That’s Not an Apology

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Today’s column is on Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse. You know, those weak-ass apologies that upon closer inspection don’t really convey “sorry” at all. If you’re a chump, you’ve probably put a lot of stock in weak-ass apologies. Maybe you even begged for a weak-ass apology, got one, and inferred great depths of humanity from it.

Today I’m going to give you a primer for decoding bullshit apologies, courtesy of the Universal Bullshit Translator. If you see any of these mindfucks in play, you don’t have a real apology — you have bullshit.

1.) This Isn’t The Real Me. Don’t be fooled. Uh yeah. Yes it is. Con artists love to disavow their true shitty selves. They know you love the hologram, so they’re going to insist that the hologram is really them. Did I cheat on you? Well kinda sorta, but that wasn’t the REAL me! The real me loved you all along! In fact, I only cheated because I have such a deep fear of intimacy that I can’t really face how very deeply I love you. And I have toxic shame about that, so you’re going to need to do some bolstering here. Because the Real Me is someone who could never hurt you! Lying to you was a kindness, because I respect you so much! And who would you rather believe in? Some hurtful, lying asshole, or a person who LOVES you?

Shitty people do shitty things. That is who they ARE. It’s not a midlife crisis/affair fog/optical illusion — it’s a choice made with agency. Pickled in deep entitlement. You want to convince me that’s not the real you? Don’t be sorry — be different.

2.) It’s All About Me. The biggest giveaway with bullshit apologies is that the “sorry” is about them — how they suffer. How this hurts them too. Hurts them more, really. How no one really understands their intrinsic self and how tragic that is. What a journey that selfhood has been, and really this Terrible, Unmentionable Thing they may have done was really all for the best! Because it has led to such personal growth!

Unmentioned? The people who were hurt. You’re just bit players in the narcissist’s epic narrative of selfhood.

3.) You have faults too! Crap apologies are full of false equivalencies and straw man arguments. Well, I never said I was perfect. Uh, perfect wasn’t the standard here — basic decency was. Well, you’re not perfect either. In fact, the way you make coffee is positively criminal. That’s your cue to defend your position on flavored coffees. PUMPKIN SPICE IS A  VALID COFFEE FLAVOR AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN COFFEE! Pumpkin spice is not a crime equivalent to betrayal. Getting you to go there and defend yourself and admit you have faults and aren’t perfect positions you nicely into the corner of We Both Brought Issues to the Marriage That Made Me Cheat.

4.) Pay no attention to me — SQUIRREL! Wackadoodles like to create drama that diverts attention from discovery of their malfeasance. Caught them cheating? Look for the Hail Mary play of suspected pregnancy, threatened job loss, or I’m Going to Flunk This Important Exam And It’s All Your Fault For Bringing Your Pain To My Attention.

The con is trying to ratchet your anxiety and concern and direct it elsewhere.

5.) Minimization. Bullshit apologies are full of euphemisms and Orwellian spin. It wasn’t a decade of seeing hookers, it was an “indiscretion” (singular). It wasn’t a sustained, active double life, it was a “mistake” (singular). What’s not minimized, however, is your reaction. Too bad you can’t be the bigger person and forgive me for this trifle. God, you’re really overreacting. If you took offense (at this singular, trifling, irrelevant mistake), then I’m sorry (that you’re so unperceptive). 

Got a bullshit apology? Go no contact and trust that they suck. You’ve got better things to do than stick your head in the mindfuck blender.

This one ran before.

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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.
    • It’s super important for those chumps who think that the words “I’m sorry” are magical, who don’t understand not to trust the words a cheater says.

      But this is, I think, important life information–that apologies can be essentially meaningless when people want to avoid consequences.

  • Apologies, take them as you will. You can’t really apologize for cheating on your significant other, ie sorry she fell on my dick.
    Your wasting your life, I don’t know about reincarnation you probably only get one life.
    The only thing that came good out of my ex was my daughters.

  • I got all of those but the coffee thing was real… Full disclosure: I like regular coffee. Pumpkin spice vanila elephant poop whatever coffee doesn’t do it for me. Apparently being forbidden from flavored coffees was a trauma for him (never mind he chose our houses, cars, church, state we lived in…this was just too much for him to bear).

    One day, I hit him with an especially strong argument of a list of the ghastly things he had done to me and how they hurt and his response was “if you react so poorly to this, it shows me that you wouldnt do very well if one of our kids died”. WTF…who is talking about our children dying? (and no, if one of my kids died, I would be bereft. Oddly enough, I did OK when he died.

      • I didn’t see it as such at the time and we all had this conversation once.

        I think he was saying “why should I even bother to be decent to you? You are a weak person which could be evidenced by the fact I think you would not do well if one of our children died”. It was SO ridiculous because no normal, feeling person does well if their child dies. It rather shows he know how strong I am because he had to stretch that far to find a situation where he knew I wouldn’t do well.

        He was a selfish lying ass-bastard, but he wouldn’t have killed one of our kids. As you know CL, one of the Chumps here did experience the murder of one of her kids at the hands of her Cheater, so it is possible but I won’t hang that one in my Cheater.

          • Yes….which does create a weirdness to his comment. Death is never far from me so it is not as outrageous of an idea as it is to others. He wanted to cause chaos in my mind but on that particular day, it didnt work. I told him “death happens, we normally dont choose it. You CHOSE what you did which made it much worse”.

        • My own translations of “if you react so poorly to this, it shows me that you wouldn’t do very well if one of our kids died”:

          “After I broke your legs, your spine and your collar bone and kept you awake for 148 hours straight, I have doubts you could swim the English Channel in January.”

          “I want to see your face when I talk about one of the kids dying. I thrive on your grief, despair, fear, anxiety and horror.”

          “I’ve had fleeting fantasies about killing our kids just to punish and destroy you.”

          • Yea, I hear what you are saying but he cant hurt me anymore, so I wont dwell on the what-ifs of this part of it. Thank you for caring, though

            • Unicorn… so sorry, got carried away in outrage. Reminds me of Lenny’s command in Of Mice and Men: “Don’t talk no hurt to George.”

              So glad no one’s talking hurt to you anymore.

          • HAHAHHAHAH! OMG! this is my favorite! Thank you! I used to tell people that being cheated on and lied too is equivalent to being gutted like a pig or kneecapped with a metal baseball bat! ESPECially during your most VULNERABLE TIME! Like pregnancy, a parent dying, or in my case, a kidney transplant!!! Ya lets just fuck the office project manager while your serious live in girlfriend is getting an angiogram to see if her heart can handle the organ transplant surgery!

            But yours describes the horror so much better! Not that this is a competition! We all suffer horribly. It IS friggin torture. The slow drip drip drip of water on your forehead. Perhaps to torture our POW’s how about we just cheat on them.?

            • Note for fellow chumps, I feel your pain and I am so there with you. I wrote about my experience in the private Chump lady Facebook site;) I got so much WONDERFUL support! Thank you chumps and chump lady!! I am on dialysis and its been 7 years waiting in San Diego. Im all ready signed up for a deceased organ at the Mayo Clinic Arizona. My asshole caregiver just pulled out this Monday! So I am looking for ideas for backup caregivers I can hire. Care.com can help me in Scottsdale where I have a hotel room for the recovery. My sister suggested I start a Facebook. fundraising post. Im nervous to share my humility with the world, although t is NOT my fault! I should have all done tomorrow July 4th. In lieu of financial donations my fellow chumps, I just need solidarity support. Feel free to speak your mind on my fundraising FB Page. The link will connect from CL FB page. I just need your love and support. And CL is right! Weak ass lame excuses!!!!

  • We were sitting at our monthly book club. One woman was auspiciously absent. Yet we were all shocked when her husband stormed in to speak with one of the other women in our group. Seems his wife was fucking her husband for the last six months.

    This woman is my best friend. She is spackling and pick me dancing and my heart is breaking for her.

    Two weeks after book club, he texted me. His only comment: “I’m sorry I ruined the book club event.”… Not “I’m sorry I fucked a neighbor and broke my wife’s heart and my son’s home.”

    As for me and Mr. Sparkles… I’m 6 years out from the discard, still no apology… no longer waiting.

      • Good call out… and spot on. I had to stop following her on FB because of the impression management posts… “bocce and beers on the front lawn” nonsense… she’s caught up in her “sunk costs”. I told her to get a post-nup, but she doesn’t believe she has the leverage because she has been a SAHM off and on throughout the marriage. She just isn’t ready for a cheater free life. And he gets to shame the OW (she ended up in rehab) and gaslight my friend in to “sharing responsibility for the cheating”. So textbook.

      • Exactly. Impression management. XBF went around to all our mutual friends, six months after moving out and no contact with any of them, crying and apologizing about what a shitty person he is and how selfish he was. No mention of me. No apologies for me. Just image management bullshit.

      • He sounds like a psycho to even suggest it. I cant help thinking he would be able to handle losing a child b/c he’s a full blown wingnut.

  • Spot on. The apology I got was. I said I was sorry. I only played pool woth her because I thought you did not love me. She was fun. I am sorry that you and I didn’t like the same things. I am sorry you were hurt, but I never had sex with her. I would not do that to you. Geez, I said I was sorry. How many times must we rehash this. These fuckwits all play from the same script.

    • It’s so crazy when they deny the sex. Are they little kids? Hiding stuff from mommy? Just own what you do! We’re adults now.

      • Hiding stuff from mommy… oh yes
        It wasn’t my email, my account was hacked
        I wasn’t visiting pages ( browser history) my computer was hacked
        I was watching porn but I would never chat with anyone via video
        Etc.
        Reality- since our very beginning, while making all family fall in love with him ( he was SO GOOD) he was booking his escorts/ hookers/creating dating sites, meeting women, trans, having sex with any willing, or paid person – the whole unimaginable world of ugliness.
        Sorry? For years just lies gaslighting etc
        After dday – I said I’m sorry let’s move on ( where exactly? My whole life was a lie)
        It takes a special kind of human being to play others so well, for so long.

        • It’s like someone saying ‘sorry for being a serial killer’. Some things are not forgiveable.

        • Yep they’re special all right. My fuckwit lied and lied and lied from when I met him to when I kicked him out for the final time 5 months ago. I know I’ll never get to meh with all the lies cheating, sexual assaults. That shit is too big to move past. The kicker is that he’s moved on to his next victim & trying to pull a fast one re the property settlement while I’m here jobless & trying to make ends meet in one of the most expensive cities in the world

      • I am 4 years out and thankfully no contact (as in I have no knowledge of his whereabouts or if he’s even still alive). Every once in a while my mind drifts to the time when we were doing the divorce and how he just would not admit to hooking up with his whore. It’s like “dude, it’s done, we are getting divorced, what are you even trying to hide.”

        I live in CA which is rigidly no-fault, so it would make no difference to the settlement. I knew he was hiding money, but not enough to fight over it. Why? Why continue to lie when I just told the lawyer to write in a clause to our settlement that if there is a lawsuit due to sexual harassment of his underling at work (he went with a classic fuck the secretary), he was paying for my lawyer. … continued to deny. It was insane!

    • I got the angry re-hash too!!! YES! Its the same damm script! And the anger is total projection and deflection. Yes we must re-hash this! You completely destroyed my fucking life. I am looking for closure! Do you even know what that means? He wont even give me that!. Like be a real man, be honest. Tell the truth, own up to all your bullshit. Apologize profusely, and we can move our separate ways. Don’t string me on for years and lie! You humiliated me in front of my entire family who loved and trusted you! Now I’m the idiot who picked you!. But nope they cant do that. They keep victim blaming because they are scared little boys! “How many times do we have to bring this uppppppp???” Its been 9 months already!! (a serious live in 4.5 year relationship). He wont ever talk about her to me ever. So I cant get closure. Imagine if we got mad at THEM for our cheating?? What in the hell? Fix your double life you numb nutt.

  • The no responsibility or remorse apology. I am sorry you are hurting, I hope someone can help you with that, as you stand there bleeding with a knife in your back- and completely skip the part about how the knife got there in the first place.

    • His apology in therapy was “I’ll have to carry the guilt from this for the rest of my life.” And the couples therapist let that slide. He just couldn’t say “I’m sorry for hurting you.” Always about the cheater, isn’t it?

      • I find it’s very useful to remember that (“it’s all about them”) in every interaction. Even for something as simple as scheduling kids, I keep in mind that XW’s proposals are always about what makes her life easiest, not what’s in the kids’ best interest. It makes it easier for me to say no, when my natural inclination is to compromise.

        That’s what makes it such a powerful tool to understand them: “it’s all about them” covers everything from the most important questions (“why did you destroy our life together?”) to the most mundane (“why did you schedule the parent-teacher conference without consulting me?”)

        • Of course when you fail to rise to the bait and respond to their bid to make it all about them you get labeled as “unfeeling” or “cold,” turned into the “bad guy”–and thus the reason they have to cheat. Or make it all about them. Such a disordered circularity.

          “It’s all about them” is right up there and connected to “Trust that they suck.”

          • You’re so right about that Adelante.

            My ex wife looked me in the eyes and said

            “Its not about you and it’s not about him (AP), this is about me”.

            Thirty minutes later she booked a weekend away with her AP.

            • Chump King– strange how hologram-projecting people think everyone else is a hologram. Like it was the Matrix and everyone else was a Coppertop.

        • In my ex’s case it was always about him when we were still married. Now it is all about Shcmoopie. Any time he makes any request (or demand) about anything it is all about what is best for Schmoopie. It’s like he has ceased to exist and is just an appendage of hers. She might as well put a ring in his dick and lead him around on a chain. It’s sickening. Of course it probably wouldn’t be any less sickening if it was all about him, but it would cut down on the animosity of friends and relatives in regards to her. Honestly, if he wasn’t so obviously just parroting her wants, desires and opinions, all of the people he is trying so desperately to get to like her might in fact like her better and save their animosity for him, where it really belongs. Hmm. I wonder if he knows that? Nah, I don’t think he is smart enough to be that calculating.

      • Yes, every time we are at that amazing resort sponsored by our kid’s college fund, and I have to ask for Pina Colada, I feel truly devastated! But, then again if you weren’t allergic to coconut I would never have to look outside the marriage for that.

  • “I realise now that I should have done differently”
    “The divorce is hard for me too!. you think I’m just living my life as if nothing happened?”

    both statements dripping wih remorse. Not for what she did to our kids and me, but because her reputation is soiled now

    • Mine said the same thing. “You think this is easy on me too?, I have been struggling”. What he meant by struggling, is that financially he wasn’t keeping up because the new woman is jobless, still, after 2 years of being together.

      • Mine said, “I feel like all this is too easy for you”. WHAT?! He was mad because after DDay, I shut down emotionally and robotted my way through the end of our relationship and the upheaval of my life. He wanted his betrayal to break me. Ohhhhh, the narcissism was strong in that one! Fucker didn’t realize he was engaged to a Finn with more sisu than she realized. I told him to get the fuck out of my house on Dday. He moved out a month later. I went no contact a month after that. It’s been almost two years since Dday and life is starting to get sweet. I’m truly understanding AND FEELING my mightiness : )

      • For years I bought into this BS until my lawyer subpoena his credit card statements. This is an almost 50-year-old man that last year ditched his daughter’s school graduation to go to some sort of Coachella/Burning man stupid festival with his 35-year-old girlfriend. And the Spartan races, 5 Ks, Rafting trips, etc. I put this guy on a pedestal and I can’t say how much disgusted I am by this behavior. THEY Play victims but, damn, amazing how they care nothing about their children or spouse.

  • Forget listening to them. It all translates into
    “I’m sorry I planted a nuclear device in your chest and then gave the launch codes to a lowlife I met in a bar whom I found on the Dark Web.”

    When you feel an explanation or apology coming, reach for your Secret Decoder Ring instead.

    Here’s mine….link below…….feel free to borrow.

    https://lovefraud.com/about-lovefraud/is-your-partner-a-sociopath-2/

    BS hurts your ears and drains your self-esteem like Kryptonite. I prefer to put my fingers in my ears and sing loudly and seek the companionship and conversation of decent people, if they will have me.

    The only thing from him I am willing to listen to is the sound of a pen when he signs his name on a check made out to me. I’m looking forward to listening to that same sound on divorce papers.

      • “I’m sorry I planted a nuclear device in your chest and then gave the launch codes to a lowlife I met in a bar whom I found on the Dark Web.”

        Love this one, I laughed out loud at breakfast when I read it.

        Thank you Velvet Hammer.

    • “I’m sorry I planted a nuclear device in your chest and then gave the launch codes to a lowlife I met in a bar whom I found on the Dark Web.”
      Yikes, this hits close to home. A stranger that has every motive to hate you and your kids.

    • So it’s not just me who feels that phrase is so condescending. A few weeks ago another school mom said that to me. It was in response to me not being ok with my daughter staying at her house for such a long time.

      What exactly do people mean when they say, “I’m sorry you feel that way”. To me it’s like them saying,T “Too bad how you feel is so ridiculus”. Or, “It doesn’t matter how you feel. I’m gonna do what I want anyway”.

      It’s not just me who hates this phrase, right? Curious to know how others here interpret that phrase?

      • It’s not a true sorry– narcissists use this phrase because it directly points to you not themselves. If a statement starts “I’m sorry you….” that’s a bullshit sorry because they are blameshifting not actually showing remorse or accepting responsibility.
        “I’m sorry I……naming action shows

        True apologies never include “YOU”

        • Thank you Chump No More. I’ve never heard such a good explanation of the sorry you feel that way phrase. You are right. They are not sorry.

        • Even this: “I’m sorry I made you feel that way” is bullshit. The Lying Cheating Bastard used to always say that, and my response, every time, was:
          “Don’t apologize for MY feelings. They’re MINE. Apologize for your behavior.”
          But really and truly, even the most sincere apology is meaningless unless followed by an immediate and permanent change in behavior.

          • “But really and truly, even the most sincere apology is meaningless unless followed by an immediate and permanent change in behavior.”

            words to live by. No more hollow apologies.

      • The upside is that it’s available to back off narcs and other idiots who are complaining about nonsense. “I’m sorry you feel that way — but I’m still going to/not going to ____”

      • RoseThorns, no it isn’t just you. “I’m sorry you feel this way,” is another way of telling you they don’t care, “I don’t care how you feel, that’s your problem, I’m going to do it anyway.”
        “you have no value.”

        This was one of ex’s favorite ways to respond to me. Being a Super Chump, I’d explain why I felt the way I did, trying to help him understand, only to hear him repeat “I’m sorry you feel this way.”
        Thinking back, I realize how disturbed ex is, he knew exactly what he was doing and actually enjoyed seeing my frustration.

  • Sound timing btw from CL
    Was reading “cheating in a nutshell” last night. Chapter lying. It really hit home, because i realised even more how much lying there has been and thh fact that she is not sorry for it, not one bit. Kept me up all night, with seething anger.

    • I’m really learning something from “Cheating in an nutshell.” Thank you to whoever recommended it here. It actually has many new insights for me. I have a shelf of books on narcissism but this book adds some new ideas.

      • I just finished reading Cheaters in a Nutshell and it definitely was insightful! I also say thanks to whoever recommended it. The research behind the cheating as well as the fact that their cheat/lie sensors are broken was eye opening.

  • 1.) This Isn’t The Real Me. “But I’m NOT a cheater!” (This pompously stated during a court hearing.)
    2.) It’s All About Me. “Don’t you miss your little Bug?” “I never thought we would have to divide our assets!” “How are we going to be grandparents in separate?”
    3.) You have faults too! “Everything with you was always conditional” (Sparkledick didn’t like boundaries….)
    4.) Pay no attention to me. “I’m a failure and it’s YOUR fault!” (Bellowed in my ear when I was trying to discuss retirement plans with a guy who hated his job and had given up his dream profession decades ago because it requires receiving a LOT of criticism)
    5.) Minimization. “I made a mistake.” (Period.)

    • PS: this chapter in CL’s’ “Leave a Cheater Gain a Life” made a huge difference for me.

      It totally changed the way I was dealing with sparkles and it was the final blow that put out any flicker of hope that he would change, that he had ever loved me, that he was a good human being that had made a mistake.

      If you get wobbly, the bottom line is: use this list to check out HOW they say they are sorry. Life is too short waste a second more on fuckwits.

  • I got the “perfect” trope thrown at me. When it was about her, she would say “I guess everyone expects me to be perfect.” No, that was ridiculous; the bar was at “faithful,” and you couldn’t meet it. It would be thrown back at me as “you’re not perfect either! I refuse to accept 100% responsibility for the failure of our marriage!” Once again, that was ridiculous. She had 3 OM; that was entirely why our marriage failed. What exactly was my fault?

  • This sure rings true. Every time I said I had enough he would suddenly say his job was in jeaporady, or he was bleeding from the bowel, or his mother had taken a turn for the worse. It is hard to believe such people exist, until you live with one. And even then it usually takes years to see through them.

    • I didn’t see the situation clearly until I was fully out of it but whenever life calmed just enough for me to take a breath and consider things calmly, he threw something into the mix to creat chaos and send me off fixing things. I spent 26+ years fixing the storms he brewed to keep me busy.

      • Mine was a master of chaos too. I was forever trying to put out all those bush fires and he was running round with a blow torch. In fact, CL’s post on “chaos” was my favourite – and I’ve read this blog right from the beginning!

  • I had gotten to the point where I gave an ultimatum after yet again, he stayed out all night. We had 2 kids — 6 months and 2 years old, had been together for 10 years — and I finally realized I could not raise kids with an alcoholic cheater. I had been ignoring the signs he had sex in our place and ignored his story of the back scratches down his back — just like a bear, he scratched an itch against the wall and the wall left marks.

    The ultimatum: get counseling in 30 days or leave. 30 days passed and I sighed inwardly — I was going to have to initiate a divorce. I went to see a lawyer. So at day 38 he tells me he is now in counseling once a week. Mentally I rolled my eyes — it felt wrong, but was I going to divorce over an 8 day gap?

    About a month later, he arranged for a babysitter to take the kids for the weekend, and signed us up for a lavish weekend of togetherness. I was cynical enough to note they were the activities he liked.

    On Sunday morning, I baked a loaf of bread and was slicing it with my very sharp knife. He sat and said he had something to tell me. He was in counseling because it was part of his sentencing for his latest drunk driving incident — the last time he was away all night? — he had been arrested that evening. He had to pay court fines and go to mandatory counseling for 6 weeks. I recall a black wall of anger and seeing myself stab him and kill him. When the black receded, I realized I had just hallucinated killing him. I was genuinely relieved. I ‘came to’ while he was moaning how cruel they were to him in the jail cell — they took his shoe strings and belt away. He thought the counselor was full of crap and not qualified. He said the counselor kept accusing him of not being honest — that he wasn’t giving a coworker (female) a ride home that night. The counselor also said he had to tell me. Then he began on how cold I was to him to not be sympathizing with him.

    I was deeply hurt that he had lied about being in counseling because of my ultimatum. I realized that he saw nothing wrong with not being with his kids, not contributing financially, not socializing with me.

    I was also really annoyed that I was going to have to go through the trouble of divorcing him. He had finally gone too far. I was the one who was going to have to absorb the scorn of both families. He was the one who could have the sympathetic story of being ‘kicked out’. My kids would have the label of single parent family — early 80’s, so this was a real thing.

    He never negotiated regular visits as part of the divorce in 1983. If he took them on vacation, it was because his mother wanted to see her grandchildren or the woman he was currently with said to bring them along. Now as he ages with some genuinely scary diseases, he is moaning that I have turned the kids against him.

    • They’re always moaning, it’s never their fault, and there’s no statute of limitations on their making it our fault!

  • My favorite is what he said to our daughter that “doesn’t he deserve to be happy” and “your mom and I just “grew apart “🤪 And “I don’t know why you don’t like her (the other woman). She did nothing wrong “. 🙄🙄😂😂

    • My response to his, “Dont I deserve to be happy?” was, “Not at the expense of of out kid’s wellbeing!”

      Another time after he had walked out & was living with the OW he actually said, “If you love me like you always said you did, you would be happy for me!” Wtf? Unfortunately at the time, I didnt have a response to that. I’m still not sure what a good response to that one would be. Any ideas?

  • The farther out I get (over two years since I moved out, a year-and-a-half since divorce), the more clearly I understand how often my now-ex used these tactics. Shaking my head, both because he was such a cliche, and I such a champion spackler.

    His last salvo came during settlement negotiations, when he said, “Our problem was communication, but I didn’t feel I could talk to you.”, a phrase that neatly fit the narrative of “we both brought issues to the marriage” but managed simultaneously to absolve himself and blame me.

    • Yes!! The narrative is “It takes two to end make a bad relationship.” And I struggle with this still sometimes. He takes NO responsbility for all of the lies – telling his idiot bimbo what I would say in counseling. (d-day included reading her emails with things I had shared in counseling) He tells everyone that he lost everything. I took everything. And I struggle with not trying to challenge him on this narrative. I read this great meme: Growth is deleting the paragraph and just texting back ‘okay’.

      • “Our problem was communication, but I didn’t feel I could talk to you.”, a phrase that neatly fit the narrative of “we both brought issues to the marriage”
        “It takes two to end make a bad relationship.”

        The answer to both of these is short – “that might be the case but only you cheated”.

  • My Ex-Wife never apologised to me or the kids.

    In her mind she didn’t have to, because in (at least in as far as crazy town rules go) she was entitled to cheat, lie manipulate, distort, gaslight and steal (from me and the kids). If you are entitled to do this sh*t then it’s all OK and no apology is required.

    That said, I don’t think that Ex-Wife has ever forgiven our eldest daughter for a number of things:

    – For finding out about her cheating (which I was unaware of), gathering evidence about it (Ex-Wife’s iPhone was synched to an iPad the kids used) and telling me about it.

    – For standing up to her when she (Ex-Wife) was demanding the kids play “Happy Families” with her and her AP. Her whining “your rejection of AP is placing pressure on my relationship with him. If we break up it will be your fault” was met with a very firm “F*ck you Mum, that sounds like a you problem.”

    – Her assertion that the children had no right to judge her on the grounds that “she had a right to be happy.” Oddly enough, it did not occur to her that the kids had no objection to her being happy; they just objected to it being at their (and my) cost.

    The kids and I know better than to hold our breaths waiting for her to apologise. But knowing my Ex-Wife, she’ll doubtless somehow think that we all owe her one; eldest daughter in particular.

    Well she can f*ck right off and take her broomstick with her.

    • Omg, your oldest daughter rocks! She has the strength to stand up to what’s wrong. This skill/personality trait will be so helpful to her in whatever she does in life.

      Doing what she did at such a young age, especially telling you about it, takes a lot of gusto. Hopefully your reassuring her and encouraging her to continue to be so bold will win out over her fuckwit mom trying to make her feel bad about it.

      • RT,

        Eldest daughter was 18 when this all kicked off (son was 16 and youngest daughter was 11).

        The two of us were always close and this has only brought us closer. I spent a lot of time after D Day reassuring her that what she did was right and that her mother had no right to criticise her for it. Ex-Wife saw daughter’s actions as being extremely disloyal for reasons that I refuse to try and understand.

        I spent a lot of time with her (and her brother and sister) to make sure that they all understood that they had every right to set boundaries with their mother that worked for them; relationships must be a two way street and be underpinned by mutual respect. Unfortunately my Ex-Wife is very manipulative and any relationship with her tends to be very one sided.

        Eldest daughter is now an amazing young woman of 24; as you say “she rocks!”

        • Look. They’ll continue to support their Dad. Big diff between that word and a father. My daughter and step son and adopted daughter ALL got my 6!!
          From day 1. They all rock. Like METAL.

          I kinda like to think WE forged that steel.

          Brava Bro. BRAVA !

      • Seripanther,

        You are very kind. I’m very proud (and very grateful) that my daughter had the moral courage to do the right thing, but my Ex-Wife put her in a position where she had to grow up all too quickly; one of the many things that I will never be able to forgive her for.

  • Years ago, a mutual friend told me that my ex had been seeing another woman for 1.5 years. I reached out to the other woman for details; apparently she didn’t know he was seeing anyone either.

    Oddly enough, I could have forgiven him for the betrayal; in fact, I wanted to forgive him. What I couldn’t get over was his flippant attitude toward what he did. He minimized it by saying it was no big deal and that he was “just f***ing another girl while we were on the rocks”. He also blamed me for “ruining his name” by reaching out to the other woman (I only spoke with her once to get details on what happened). To this day, I never got anything even resembling an apology.

    We have a lot of mutual friends/acquaintances (we went to grad school together), so I do hear things about him from time to time. Turns out, he ended up marrying the other woman but they got divorced two years later, his second divorce before 40.

    In hindsight, I’m grateful for what happened. I was absolutely miserable but I doubt I would have built up the courage to leave if that hadn’t happened. I ended up marrying an incredibly kind man and we just celebrated our five-year anniversary.

  • The closest thing to an apology that I got from the Predatory Opportunistic Parasite was, after I asked ‘why did you do it?’ was the response that “They (the harem) didn’t mean anything to me”.

    Which of course confirmed to me that **I** didn’t mean anything to him considering he was willing to lose everything that he had with me. Indeed, he did lose everything–the life of luxury I provided. Prior to the above conversation, I’d had him evicted and he had to move into a homeless shelter. All of his pricey possessions (ah, the life of a gigolo!) —that had been put in a storage unit by his brother with 3 mos paid in advance— were lost when POP couldn’t pay the rent on it. He LOST EVERYTHING. Clothes, jewelry, furniture–EVERYTHING.

    Since then, I’ve kept an eye on him by way of the Open Records Act–he’s had several DWI’s and the Parasite is currently awaiting trial for assaulting his latest ‘host’.

  • Totally.

    The word “sorry” does not make a statement a legitimate apology all by itself.

    The only thing that shows “sorry” is a firm commitment to behavior change and the action to seek out and secure all necessary support that would result in that change plus proactively seek to provide remedy that is helpful to the person you harmed. T

    When it comes to fidelity, there is no room for “I’ll try” or “I’m getting better”. This is 100% commitment territory.

    As CL says, sorry is as sorry does.

    That is unicorn-rare, and also the only thing that is at all worthy of being called an apology.

    • True sorry also accepts consequences and does not demand forgiveness. Sorry doesn’t expect anything in return for being sorry.

  • I never got any kind of apology from ex . The OW has been bandying about apologies lately, however, mostly trying to get my son to like her. It’s usually something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I did wrong. Now forgive me damn it!” My son, bless him, is actually working with a therapist to figure out how to handle being around her so he can spend more time with his dad but she isn’t helping. Neither is ex who has made it very clear where his allegiance lies. He won’t work with our son on baby steps like just being in the same room, then working up to sitting at the table then maybe eventually limited conversation. He wants to go right to animated conversation so that poor innocent, apologizing Schmoopie’s feelings don’t get hurt. I don’t think anything less than constant chatter will satisfy them but my son really isn’t that social even around people he does like. It’s just not his way. They should be grateful that son is even trying at all. So entitled.

    • As long as he has you, hopefully he can figure it out. It is sad! He has a father he can’t look up to- an important model for a son. He will look up to you, and eventually stay away from his father, because he’s a selfish creep!
      But at least he has you, and maybe other males in the family he can admire.

  • Well you can’t apologize for anything you won’t admit, and my ex excels in playing dumb and buryinghis head in the sand. It’s the same loser that said he was glad we were still married while the signed papers were sitting on the judge’s desk and continued to wear his ring after they were stamped so nobody would know he was divorced.

    I think I got “well it might have been inappropriate”…..

    I hear he’s told people that I left him because he got old and I’m impossible to please. Whatever….my friends all know what happened and think he’s a piece of shit. And I have it on good authority that he doesn’t fool as many people as he thinks.

    • Kim,

      Your line “…. I have it on good authority that he doesn’t fool as many people as he thinks” resonates. My Ex-Wife would be appalled if she knew how many people saw through her BS.

      And (picking up on CL from a few days ago), those that do get fooled are largely those that want to be fooled.

  • The “apology” I got from XH after admitting to 13 previous affairs and then leaving me for #14 (Married Howorker)?

    “We sure fucked this up, didn’t we”?

    Umm, who’s WE?

  • “Cheating wasn’t the plan, but it happened and it opened up my eyes”-Cheater six months after I had already moved out and filed. That was the final evolution from “biggest mistake of my life”.

    • Ugh mine said the same thing, he went on a date and she jumped him. UMMM ‘date’? Pretty sure that shouldn’t happen when you’re married too, jerkface.

      • I know. I just said “I am glad fucking your staff was so profound” lol. It is stupid at this point I even cared. I guess that is MEH. Hope you get yours too if you haven’t already.

  • My XW would say “I am sorry BUT…”. If they include “but” in it then you should realize they are not really sorry. So when I told her that I would reconcile if I got a genuine sorry she said in all sincerity “I DID apologize”.

    I also got “it was a mistake” to having a 2 year long affair plus multiple “emotional” affairs. I did tell her it wasn’t a mistake but a CHOICE.

    I was had a hard time with this before DDay and after until I had enough.

    • I got this too. “I’m sorry for what I did, but it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t done what you did.” Luckily, my ex put all of his fake apologies in writing; staring at those words in black and white made it abundantly clear to me that I had nothing to work with.

  • Wow. The EX hit every single one of these.

    But I would add one more: Telepathy apologies. “I already apologized! Why should I apologize again? Why can’t you let it GO?”

    Except there was no apology. Ever. Unless it was somehow telepathically transmitted.

    Every narcissist I have ever known has done this. The EX did it about cheating. He spewed about how I had invaded his privacy and I wasn’t perfect either, and he was overworked (at a job that he worked maybe 6-7 hours per day), etc, etc. And why can’t I let it go when he already apologized? But he hadn’t.

    The EX’s mother (another cheater and narcissist) visited our home years ago long before we were divorced, and later she sent the EX a long letter about everything I did wrong while she was there–stuff like not opening the curtains early in the morning. She didn’t mention any of these things to me. I was just supposed to know, I guess. So I got angry and said that if she couldn’t be nicer, she couldn’t come to my house anymore. I said the ex and the kids could go visit her, but she wasn’t coming back to our house again since she obviously hated it so much. Oh, the drama. The tears! I was keeping her from her grandkids! I was so ungrateful! I was hurting her and her son! Then she wailed, “Why won’t Carol39 forgive me? I have apologized! Does she want me to crawl to her on my hands and knees?” And at this point she had not even spoken directly to me about, much less apologized. In fact, she never did. She never directly said a single word to me about it ever.

    Telepathy Apologies. It’s definitely a thing with narcissists.

    • Ha ha…I got that too.

      “But i already apologized! I kind of admitted that it was inappropriate, so why can’t you let it go?”

      One week after I found out I was told that I just want to be miserable when I brought it up.

  • My soon to be ex texted me this complete f’d up nonsense on what would have been our 15 yr anniversary a few weeks ago. Reminds me of #2 category – “I hurt too, I might even hurt more” bs. I’m 2.5 years out from the 2nd (or who knows, 22nd) D-day and my story is so crazy I’ve been too embarrassed to even broach it on this site.

    “I can only begin to imagine how you feel today. And I’m so very sorry for making you feel this way. But I want you to know that when I think back 15 yrs, today will always be special to me. It was one of the best days of my life.

    While today is so hard for me as well because it’s a reminder of how I’ve hurt you, broke my promises to you and failed you and us, I still and will always cherish today.“

    Last year, a few weeks before he moved out/we told the kids, he got me a card and told me how he will always remember how beautiful I looked that day. Mind f idiots, these disturbed people. Always looking for kibble and willing to go lower than low to try and get it, even as his new relationship is blossoming. (“twu luv” and all that).

    I’ve been no contact for a year, have only seen him fact to face twice, and other than logistics related to our young boys, I continue to avoid him like the plague.

    I’m definitely not at meh. But I’m stronger than I was a year ago, and a month ago, and his anniversary non-apology-apology had zero effect on me. Other than to confirm that his covert narcissism is alive and well.

    • Passive aggressive. I so recognize it. I got it a lot. I call it the “I defy you to…” move. The “even though you want me to feel bad I am going to carry on thinking this is good.” It’s just another way to blame-shift and turn you into the problem. “I’m sorry I made you feel bad, but your feeling bad is not going to stop me from my own noble sausage feeling.” Extra special disordered.

    • “…my story is so crazy I’ve been too embarrassed to even broach it on this site”.

      If you would like to tell your story to a group of people who will truly understand, search for the Chump Lady group on Reddit.

  • After 35 years married he said “our marriage ran its course” so I guess that was enough for him to cheat with a psycho O whore. (whose now deceased)
    Never received an apology in any form and I never will.
    The apology wouldn’t be honest anyway. When one destroys the entire family IMO an apology doesn’t really matter.

  • I got a lot of I’m sorry, it’s my fault, I don’t know what this happened, I am a bad person….he was very sorry he got caught and that there were consequences. I think he was proud of himself that he was able to bag a girl 25 years younger….it was all very sleazy.

    My saving grace was that I kicked him out immediately and found this group and didn’t take responsibility for fixing this. Instead I got divorced…which was good as he got his girlfriend #2 pregnant a couple months after we separated.

    18 months from d day and I am divorced and truly meh. I have a great life. It turns out he was dragging me down.

  • Oh, the fake apologies!! I got the following (in no specific order and not a comprehensive list):

    *When I asked for a separation and two days before I confessed, I thought I would still stay with you. But the way you reacted to my wanting a separation? My god. That was the last straw. (Note: he had a 2 1/2 year affair. My bad reaction caused the breakup.)

    *If it had been a two-week affair or a two-year affair (it was 2 1/2), you never would have forgiven me. (Translation: It’s my inability to forgive is the problem.)

    *You gave as good as you got. (What? My reaction to his bad behavior equals his bad behavior.)

    *I made a mistake, but she flirted so much with me and I let it “blossom.” (Here he’s saying, basically, “What was I to do?” The “blossom” part makes me want to throw up.)

    *I wish we could stay married because I’ve lost so much. (Translation: I don’t feel sorry for you, but woe is me!!!)

    *I never expected the venom to flow like this. (Translation: Oh the punishment! So unfair. I’m not really sorry I hurt you; I’m sorry I’m now realizing the consequences of my behavior. Oh wait. He never uses “consequences.” His thinking is more along these lines: I’m sorry people are punishing me so much. Waaa waaa. It’s not fair! Poor me!!)

    *I still love you. I think it’s possible to love two people at once. Maybe we can get back together in, say, 3 years. (Translation: It makes me feel a helluva lot better to say that I still love you–so much less hurtful–and that, look, I even want to reconcile…after I’ve had my fun with the mistress. Won’t you allow me three more years of fucking someone so much younger? Then, when I’m 65 and ailing (perhaps), you can jump in again and take care of me!! Lucky you!)

    *It’s complicated. If I didn’t listen to my voice of defiance, I would despair. (This is a head-scratcher. If anyone in CL understands this, please explain.)

    *I fucked up. You got everything! You’re sitting pretty. You must be happy now. (Translation: “I did you a favor. And you kinda made me do it so that you would make out in the end.” At least I think this is the distorted logic. Hard to get into those heads.)

    *She said she would take care of me when I’m old and have spittle on my shirt. (Translation: “It’s all about ME!!! I’m not even thinking about who will take care of you. Plus, I’m ignoring that I know you would have wiped my damn spittle, too.”)

    *It’s not fair. Do you think I’m white trash? That I don’t deserve to live? (Translation: My two brother’s committed suicide. You need to respond because you’ve always worried I would kill myself. It worked before (for 35 year). I hung that over your head and controlled you with it.” Ok. I fell for this. But I only responded to the “deserve-to-live part, writing simply, “You deserve to live.” I let the white-trash comment hang in the air for him to ponder.)

    My head hurts writing all this. The blender effect.

  • My ex’s ‘apology’ went like this ;

    ” I take full responsibility for the affair, I was the more mature person and I should have known better – but I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t been so independent”.

    Confused? – So was I. That was a non-apology if ever there was one.

    • Ooh I got the independent blameshift as well. It sucks when something they praised you for gets used against you.

      • Same. I also got, “You know you’re stronger psychologically than I am,” as if it was a bad thing.

        That lead to his explaining how much HE was suffering. I guess he wanted me to feel sorry for him after he cheated on me for 2 1/2 years.

        So, if I weren’t so mentally strong, he might not have cheated? Or he would never have confessed? I’m confused.

        And, when he said this, I was in a puddle on the floor, not feeling the least bit strong. Towanda emerged later, thanks to CL!

  • My XH never said he was sorry. Instead he quoted the movie Love Story, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” There is no good answer to that. He didn’t love me and he was never sorry. His smirk during his divorce deposition when he described all his (6+) affairs during our almost 35 year marriage said it all. He loves himself.

  • All of the above in some form 1-5.

    It was a revenge affair. News to me, the faithful 12-16 credit load college student/wife who worked 2 12 hour shifts every other weekend. When did I have time for this affair?

    He didn’t even apologize when confronted with the evidence on the one DDAY. Like a chump, I asked for RIC! Ugh. So stupid. Even went through tap therapy but couldn’t shake the feelings. Then he started to double down and blame shifting.

  • I never got an apology. He used to beat me up regularly but one time when my youngest said “oh mommy, look at all those bruises” the sad sausage came to me and said “but that’s not who I am”. Well the doctors’ reports, the police report, the hospital report and my own report sure seemed to indicate that yes that IS INDEED who you are!

    • Hope they didn’t expunge his criminal record for a nolo plea so everyone else can know who he is too- forever.

      They never keep those thugs in jail long enough, do they?

      • He managed to avoid jail (can you believe it). 3 DUIs and a conviction for DV but somehow the files didn’t overlap so they treated it as a “first offence”. I think his criminal record will stand though. Trouble is, this happened in France and he slithered back to the US so I doubt anyone else will ever “know about it”.

  • “I’m sorry we couldn’t make each other happy”

    Given I was happy enough until D-Day and had no reason to think otherwise, I think the insinuation is clear.

  • Ahh, the penultimate of all Chump Lady posts!! This is the article that google found (some frantically typed, tear-laden search like ‘how to tell if husband’s cheating apology is real’) which lead me to her highness, Chump Lady. I got a lame ass “I’m sorry but it’s not like I tied to hurt you” when I was desperately looking for a glimmer of hope during my pick me dance marathon from what I thought was a mere DD2. (It was really DD25-years-of-constant-affairs.) Reading THIS ARTICLE resonated so clearly that it’s when I got a daily Chump Lady subscription, a personal therapist, sneaked out (with my tracked phone behind at home) to make a couple lawyer calls from a friend’s home and woke the fuck up.

    My God, I love you Chump Lady–Thank you!!! If the google angels hadn’t sent me to you I do not even want to imagine where I’d be right now; or if I’d even “be” at all.

    • Here! Here! Hail CL! She saved my sanity, gave me a spine, and screwed my head on straight. I’m forever grateful. If I weren’t reading and re-reading her book on Audible and Kindle, it would be beyond dog-eared.

      (Btw, the narrator of the Audible version is excellent! Hats off to her, too!)

  • So far, all I have received is, “I’m sorry I got sloppy.” Meaning, I’m REALLY sorry that I got caught. Then he told the kids, “I’m sorry you are upset,” and “I’m sorry you are embarrassed.” (AP is closer in age to our teenage son than to me.) Mind you, son told him, “You destroyed my life,” and daughter confessed to long-term depression, since she is an empath and all along sensed that something was wrong. He was basically telling them, “Your reality isn’t true.” They weren’t upset or embarrassed. He just projected that. They were disgusted and horrified. YET! They were not surprised when they learned the truth, which speaks to his character. Everyone else I have told have been shocked (he is a master manipulator). But our kids, no. Their attitude was, “Of course he did.” It was just a matter of catching him to prove the cheating and its extent.

  • He would say sorry you’re going through this.

    Tried the reconcilation thing for 9 months. Discovered he’s still in touch with EA AP. Left home. Told him reconcilation is off the table. He took some time and came back today with he’s not for reconciliation and will release me.

    Divorce anytime this week now. Crashing at a bros place who I discovered is also a cheater. Need to find a place of my own and build my life, I hate that house and don’t want to go back. 36 and working at a job I like, but haven’t done justice to. He was my childhood sweetheart and married 13 years this week. Grieving the sweet boy in him and the narc he grew into.

    • Yas I’m so sorry for the heartache your husband has given you. It’s really tough when we think we know them and then learn we really don’t. Sending you a virtual ((hug)).

  • I got the “good” apologies where he took the full blame and admitted his faults, acknowledged how much he hurt me, said he’ll feel guilt and self loathing about it always.

    So what?

    He’s still a lying cheating fuckwit.

    There’s no such thing as the right apology. Words are just words, it doesn’t matter how they say it, if there’s no follow up action that proves they’re sorry then they may as well not have said it.

  • So… In my life I have discovered there are two senses to “sorry”: assuming responsibility or expressing regret

    The former, “assuming responsibility”, is what we need, what we mean, and what we rightfully expect.

    The latter, “expressing regret”, if not accompanied by the former, is one of the fake apologies: “I’m sorry you feel…..”,”I’m sorry I got caught” etc.

    I sometimes ask: Are you assuming responsibility or just expressing regret?

  • Good one, Nita. Will remember to use that during divorce negotiations!

    Unfortunately, I doubt think it’s realistic to expect a cheater to assume responsibility. If they had those qualities to begin with, they wouldn’t have cheated.

  • The #2 (It’s all about me”) pseudo-apology really strikes home for me. One of the things I foolishly asked my husband to do in the immediate aftermath of D-Day was for him to please get a notebook and briefly write 10 things he liked about me each day for a while (maybe a month or so). I explained that I thought it would be good for my own shattered self-image and it would also be a reminder to him to look for my positive traits. Ten might have been too many, but I was winging it. He agreed, and he wrote things daily. He got pissed if I didn’t read it and get all tender and misty-eyed — like this was another avenue I could use to flatter him. (Ugh.) Then I noticed one odd thing about 99% of what he wrote. IT WASN’T ABOUT ME. It was about what I DO for HIM. As if I only have value when he is positively affected — there’s no independent awesomeness of my own.

    Nothing like, “You have a great smile, and I love seeing it in the morning.” It was more like “You smiled at me when I came home today, and it made me feel good.”

    So what he liked was the effect I have on him … not some independent aspect of me that exists and is worth something, regardless of how he’s affected. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s a real one.

    He also ran out of things to write pretty quickly and started to repeat. So … my positive traits and actions are a short list? Not worthy of 10 minutes of thinking?

    Maybe I’m crazy. It just bugged me after I noticed. So when I asked VERY gently/nicely (because I know his fragile ego) if he would think a little differently for what he wrote, he was furious and refused to write another word because I was so “ungrateful” for his effort. (In his typically cowardly fashion, he didn’t TELL me he was angry and wouldn’t write anymore. He just stopped, and he kept making excuses as to why he’d stopped writing. So I stopped asking, and a few weeks later opened a conversation with him, with me trying my best to be very sensitive. And he told me how furious he still was at me about that.

    It took him a good while longer to admit that yeah, he kinda got what I meant. (He still just seems to be unable to look at me in an unselfishly appreciative way, which is sad.)

    Screw that noise.

  • The #2 (It’s all about me”) pseudo-apology really strikes home for me. One of the things I foolishly asked my husband to do in the immediate aftermath of D-Day was for him to please get a notebook and briefly write 10 things he liked about me each day for a while (maybe a month or so). I explained that I thought it would be good for my own shattered self-image and it would also be a reminder to him to look for my positive traits. Ten might have been too many, but I was winging it. He agreed, and he wrote things daily. He got pissed if I didn’t read it and get all tender and misty-eyed — like this was another avenue I could use to flatter him. (Ugh.) Then I noticed one odd thing about 99% of what he wrote. IT WASN’T ABOUT ME. It was about what I DO for HIM. As if I only have value when he is positively affected — there’s no independent awesomeness of my own.

    Nothing like, “You have a great smile, and I love seeing it in the morning.” It was more like “You smiled at me when I came home today, and it made me feel good.”

    So what he liked was the effect I have on him … not some independent aspect of me that exists and is worth something, regardless of how he’s affected. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s a real one.

    He also ran out of things to write pretty quickly and started to repeat. So … my positive traits and actions are a short list? Not worthy of 10 minutes of thinking?

    Maybe I’m crazy. It just bugged me after I noticed. So when I asked VERY gently/nicely (because I know his fragile ego) if he would think a little differently for what he wrote, he was furious and refused to write another word because I was so “ungrateful” for his effort. (In his typically cowardly fashion, he didn’t TELL me he was angry and wouldn’t write anymore. He just stopped, and he kept making excuses as to why he’d stopped writing. So I stopped asking, and a few weeks later opened a conversation with him, with me trying my best to be very sensitive. And he told me how furious he still was at me about that.

    It took him a good while longer to admit that yeah, he kinda got what I meant. (He still just seems to be unable to look at me in an unselfishly appreciative way, which is sad.)

    Screw that noise.

  • After telling her I don’t understand why she cheated, I got the “I don’t understand either why I did this” excuse. As if some force had taken over her and made her do what she did.

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