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‘I Fail to Understand Your Hostility’

There is no mindfuck like the I Fail to Understand Your Hostility mindfuck. As mindfucks go, it’s Jedi-level mindfuckery. Oh sure your lesser manipulator can sputter some pathetic lies, or shrug and play dumb. The IFTUYH mindfucker, however, is one cool customer. Zero adaptive anxiety. Your inchoate rage just bounces off their wall of smug. This crazy don’t break.

So what is the IFTUYH mindfuck? Here’s an example.

Chump: I know you’ve been cheating on me with Bobby. I saw the text messages. And your dating profiles. And my genitals have oozing sores. And I’ve been monogamous for 20 years.

IFTUYH: I fail to understand your hostility.

Chump: I SAID, I KNOW YOU’RE CHEATING ON ME! WHAT PART OF THAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND YOU SOCIOPATHIC MOTHERFUCKER?!

IFTUYH: You know I’d really like to talk about this, but I don’t think it would be productive right now with your overreactions. Let’s just wait until you can be civil.

Chump: Civil?! You BROKE MY HEART! (Sobs… falls to ground…) How COULD YOU?

IFTUYH: How could I? I can’t help what errant toilet seats you sit on. I’m sorry you have festering pustules. You really should look into that. How can you expect me to be attracted to someone with oozing sores? It pains me to say it, but your personal hygiene really disgusts me. But now that you know how I feel, you can set to making that right. Why don’t you go take a hot, soapy shower?

Chump: AIIIIIGGGGGGHHHH!!!! (Sob. Snuffle. Snot.)

IFTUYH: Bobby always smells nice.

Chump: I KNOW YOU’RE CHEATING ON ME WITH BOBBY!

IFTUYH: I’m not going to stand for your vile accusations. This is so typical of you. I’m not going to deign to respond to that or resort to name calling.

Chump: (In a raging fury, flails at IFTUYH…) YOU ASSHOLE! YOU CHEATING SCUMBAG! QUIT LYING TO ME!

IFTUYH: I’m just glad that one of us can be civil.

****

Chumps, never speak truth to stupid. If a cheater fails to understand your hostility? Don’t try and explain it to them. This isn’t an insight problem, you’re being manipulated.

Chumps love to tilt at the mindfuck windmill, armed with reason and evidence, and their broken hearts. Surely THIS should matter to you? Right? Right?

You will achieve no consensus here. No comfort. Just more mindfuckery. The only way to respond to I Fail to Understand Your Hostility is to walk away. Refuse to engage. Unleash the consequences.

In my book, in the chapter Stupid Shit Cheaters Say, my response to this one is: “You fail to understand my hostility? Let your lawyer explain it to you. He bills in 6-minute increments. Hope you’re a quick study.”

This one ran previously.

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    • My ex uses manipulates my kids 7 & 8. I document everything and he puts in writing of how he will use the kids for manipulation. I have pretty candid talks with my kids about the actions and we do monthly therapy. It sucks. You just want to walk away & these jerks pull you in and your kids.

      • The system is useless here in Canada and hes always feeling sorry for himself it’s pathetic the kids are now 14 and 18 he’s so ashamed of himself because his dad told him to grow up at his mothers funeral and take his “WHORE” back home!🥶🇨🇦

    • I’m not sure what you mean by the fact he’s using your teens against you. If he is making threats of any kind, including he’ll get custody, document them. If he is manipulating them emotionally by telling them you have/are ruining his life, it is all your fault, they need to side with him, etc., then I hope you can find a therapist for yourself. Teens are unpredictable. When provoked to take sides, some will choose the cheater because they want what makes life easiest for them. Also, children of all ages often subconsciously realize that if they don’t please the narcissistic parent, that parent will deny them love. But, they can be rude, thoughtless, and mean to a normal parent and still have confidence that they will be loved. So, the normal parent takes all the flack as the kids struggle with their emotions. These struggles often stretch over years.

      Knowing these things and making peace with them are two different things–and that’s why I recommend a therapist who can help you work with the pain and anger and fear that often comes from having to deal with teens who are being manipulated. I have two teens. One spoke of my cheating EX as a “hero” for several years, which all but killed me. That kid and I are now on great terms. My younger child avoided the EX for a couple years, but recently moved to live with him because I had rules and my EX does not. It is never easy. I worry all the time–first about one kid, then the other. In the end, all you can do is offer them love, values, and a model of a life well lived.

      • Yes, to win over a teen just offer no rules. Most of us love our kids enough to have house rules. But the disordered revel in rule breaking. So we can’t compete. Especially with a child who has little inward motivation.

      • This was immensely helpful to me, and I am in therapy!! I needed to hear this today. My X is narcissistic, psychopathic, monster. After finding out he was having sex with various women, to include one of my daughter’s friends, my daughter’s promptly cut me off. I am very cautious and do not go out of my way anymore.

        BUT, this does help to explain it. Thank you

      • thank you for this. Had an amazing relationship with my boy. told him after many times he asked why i divorced father. he was sad but it now made sense to him. 6 weeks later we told cheater/father our boy knew what happened and cheater flew into RAGE stoped talking to me and would not let my son stay with me and now after MONTHS apart my son resents and dis likes me de-values me – obviously father has said things. Child is all about the dad and feels disdain about me. gutting.

    • Carol: Have a heart to heart alone with them. Only state the basic facts of the situation and try not to emotionalize or label dad (hard, I know). Pretend you are a lawyer and explain that you love them enough to not join in any back and forth blame game with dad. Let them know you trust them to sort it out by watching your actions (not words of either dad or mom, actions). Also let them know that you believe parents should respect their childrens ties to the other parent and because of this you will refuse to ever counter-act any attacks, or bad-mouth their father in general. You want them to love both of you, so you will never do that, because it is what is best for them. If they have any questions you are always available.
      Good luck.

    • Carol this is a long game. Kids can be bribed, and they naturally want to believe their parents. Eventually when they get out of the hormonal teen stage they will start to see the patterns with the other parent. But if money is involved this can be tough. And it the parent plays the sad sack they will feel sorry for him.

      As you know you have to be the sane parent. And you have to try to set boundaries re language and behavior, but in a low key non angry way. The psycho is probably telling them how cheap and erratic and selfish you are. I never bad mouth my ex. But I have told them that their father has some mental health issues. That he loves them, but he acts childish and controlling due to his problems. I tell them that their job is not to fix him but to work on their own lives and ambitions.

    • Is it parental alienation? If it’s clearcut, you can nail him to the wall for that legally. If it’s more subtle, they need a very good therapist with experience in high conflict divorce to help them sort out and resist his manipulations.
      Fuckwits gonna mindfuck. You need to be prepared with a strategy for whatever shit he’s going to unleash on you. There are divorce coaches who specialize in this sort of thing.
      Sadly, none of it is inexpensive. If you don’t have the money you’ll need to train yourself. There are lots of books on strategies for dealing with toxic people.

    • Oh, yes! The teens…. I’m glad I am not alone on this one. I’m hoping my documentation makes a difference- for a modification the ex is instigating. Parental interference, collusion, contempt. I just don’t know if the courts even care if the kids don’t.

      • I know there is more to the situation than you’ve expressed, but I am suspicious that when teens are involved, parental alienation doesn’t go very far in courts. Teens are old enough to say they aren’t being manipulated, and they are often insulted that anyone would think otherwise. Of course, they are very susceptible, but their own desire to assert their independence makes it almost impossible for you to make them understand how their views are being shaped, and courts are only concerned that they are fed, housed, schooled, etc. at that age.

        I think your arguments that you love your kids, want time with your kids, and need time with your kids because your spouse routinely disparages or undermines your relationship with them might prevent the court from changing a custody agreement, but it might not do any good with enforcing one. It is important for repairing relationships later that you demonstrate you always fought to keep your time with them and always wanted them with you, but an awful lot of the day to day choices might end up being in the hands of teenagers whose goals are mostly to be free of conflict and rules.

  • The case of sti, you find the report they say its cystitis. Him speaking to ow, he says its the alarm. you not entitled to be ill, but they are. I will help with daughters text books, but they don’t. My ex and probably many others, give men a bad name. The crap you take of other people is amazing. apparently its my problem his ow hates me, he hasn’t lived with me for 8 years get over yourself. he used to compare us, once he said I have a list of complaints for you about you, he didn’t give me it. I should have asked for it.

    • You should have asked for the “list of complaints” and then shoved them right down his throat and tossed his ass out.

    • I can relate. I used to have chronic cystitis. It went away when the jerk did. Coincidence? I think not.

      They love to make dishonest comparisons. Mine said that if I had treated him as well as OW did, he wouldn’t have cheated. The truth is she actually treated him like shit and I treated him well.
      They make this self justifying garbage up as they go along and have no regard for the truth. Yawn. Such bores.

  • This particular shit sandwich was served to me in the form of:
    “This happens every day”
    My broken heart and destroyed family and ruined dreams dont really measure much on the geiger counter of tragedy because it happens every day.

    My response was chilling consider ing yesterdays discussion…”ax murder happens every day, that doesn’e make it OK”

    • I got “It happens” too. Twenty years of shared life together thrown away like a used tissue because “it happens.” And then he blamed me for it “happening.” It just brings home how cheaters have no respect for us to even treat us with basic human decency or dignity. They lack an essential humanity. I wish I’d realized that before building a life with him.

      • “t just brings home how cheaters have no respect for us to even treat us with basic human decency or dignity.”

        That is the most painful part. It stays with us. Not that we want the FW anymore, but the disrespect from someone you trusted and was loyal to.

        • Getting over him is the easy part. Getting over the destruction he left behind…. the lies, the gaslighting, the cruelty, the direct attack on my self worth, the universal loss of trust, the violation, the PTSD…. that’s the hard part. Layers and layers of destruction. Just when you think you’ve peeled them all back, even more layers. And they walk away like it’s nothing. Well, it *is* nothing to them. “It happens!”

        • Absolutely, it is the self loathing for putting up with the terrible behaviour from this terrible person for so long, especially as you knew you didn’t like the version of the person you’d married and supported/ loved for 25years! Better to be alone and content than lonely with a self absorbed con artist!

      • Very much agree with all of that. They have no feelings for us. Well, my cheater hates me. So I guess that is a “feeling”.

        I found out my wife cheated on me on July 4th. She refused to leave the family home and chose to continue on the relationship with the OG.

        She is now delaying on signing a Separation Agreement which I need in order to obtain financing to buy her out of the house.

        She does not give a rat’s ass about my feelings. And yes, it is all so sad. The gaslighting, PTSD, cheating …

        But I will say that I am so glad that I caught her in the affair. I am also so glad that I made her tell the kids of the affair because I was not willing to live a lie for her. I am also glad that I can use her deceit as a teaching point for my kids when they are about to enter long term relationships. And I am so glad I told all of our friends and colleagues that she is a cheating scumbag. All of the aforementioned things have pissed her off to no end.

        It may mean that she is less agreeable to sign Agreements, etc. but seeing her deal with the consequences of her actions provides a modicum of satisfaction.

    • Yes, the It is the way is is, just move on attitude. My inlaws have this. My mil told me in her “tone” he has decided what he wants and you just have to accept it.

      Well, when she decided to uninvited my kids for Christmas and not apologize, they decided they wanted nothing to do with her. If I weren’t no contact and I didn’t know better, I would love to say “Well, they have decided they don’t want to be be around their grandparents anymore, just accept it and moved on. Don’t dwell on it, let them go.” BTW she has let them go- she is a cold bitch.

      FW also tries to guilt them because grandpa has ALS. I would love to say “People die of ALS every day, everyone dies, move on. Look in my eyes, do you see anyone who cares. (Fuckwit’s dad used to say that stuff and laugh before he couldn’t talk anymore.

    • I believe the ‘this happens every day’ attitude can be made worse when they attend group counseling, forums or even 12-step programs (and yes, I understand those help a lot of people). My experience with the ex going through a sex addiction program and attending the local SAA (sex addicts anonymous) meetings is that he minimized his ‘mistakes’ and issues because “some of these guys are way worse than me”. He can’t even admit that HE made mistakes, it was always “mistakes were made”, or “because of my childhood…”. Yeah, mistakes were made, for over 31 years. He even became one of the group leaders while still engaging in horrific behaviors, because it fed his ego and made him look like he was in ‘recovery’ and giving back.

      • In my experience, abusers steal the language of therapy and counseling and add it to their weapons arsenal. They’ll also do it with social justice and activism – anything that makes them look like good, charitable people.

        I had the great misfortune in college to meet a malignant narcissist. I had no idea personality disorders existed yet. I was a teenager and a complete innocent.

        This guy was a serial abuser who tortured, cheated on, and stalked every woman who ever dated him. He committed revenge porn on one. Was very vocal about his horrific views on women and Black people. Once claimed that bullied gay kids who died by suicide “did it for the attention.” Total monster.

        I guess somebody forced him to therapy or got him hooked up with the social justice crowd, because now he spends his days on social media waxing poetic about Black Lives Matter and calling himself a feminist ally.

        This man is a serial predator! He terrorized women!

    • The daughter-in-law is a champ! That reply is BS, “your goal should be to arrive at a nuanced and mature understanding.” There’s a big difference between expecting people to be perfect and not being willing to pretend they have integrity when they’ve so clearly demonstrated they do not.

    • Yes. Absolutely. Many of the comments are pathetically misguided. Basically, what’s the big deal, don’t be so judgemental, she should play along, people are human… So I’ve added my own, and we should all consider taking the opportunity to comment and alter the cheating narrative bit by bit with some push back.

    • The comments in the comment section about the letter writer show just how badly Chump Lady’s perspective is needed.

      • I had a friend who apologized for cheaters. She quoted Esther Perel and we had many long and frustrating arguments about the negative impacts of cheating. It turns out she had been cheating the whole time. There’s no point in arguing with these people.

        • Maybe one on one there’s no point, but if it’s done on a public forum there is. I think it affirms the moral instincts most people have. I’d love to see a deluge of pushback whenever these cheaters and their apologists promote their crap.

      • No Shit Cupcakes, Thanks for the fine Chump Lady letter to Amy. I needed that reminder. We need to stand together on this ” judgement ” things and not let the ” oh so kind and superior” people lead us by the nose.

    • Check out the drivel spouting Esther Perel clone with the pompous French handle who tells LW1 that she needs to “develop a healthy capacity for hypicrisy” and that “fidelity is not neccessary for a fulsom life”. Lol!

    • JWH thanks for brining this up today. You can only forgive someone for what they did to you, you can’t forgive them for what they did to someone else. Too much pretending in the world today the way it is. We’ve listened too long to the ” experts ” when we know damn well our gut is telling us something else. Chumps got her in the first place by ignoring our gut feelings, our instinct, our soul. We need to stand with each other, enough ” no fault” crap, there is a cause and it’s time to admit it. Betsy the cheating MIL your described didn’t care one bit about your family when she was committing adultery. Kick the Esther Perel’s in the ass and get on with real life.

  • I agree, this is Jedi-level manipulation. It’s also heartbreaking. I’m a teacher, a debater, an explainer. I spent more than 26 years trying to explain everything f- why cheering is bad, how it devastated me, how it’s bad for the kids, etc etc ad nauseous. Nothing worked, it was like he was totally devoid of understanding and empathy. It was like I was speaking into a black abyss. Imagine how frustrating this is for a teacher and explainer. It was driving me insane. So I had to completely walk away. No more discussing, no more tolerating, no trying to get him to see and understand. It’s been 2 years and it’s still extremely hard to turn off this part of me when he writes me idiotic letters that show nothing has changed. Sigh.

    • CBL, I am a teacher, debater and explainer who also spent 2+ decades trying to get my then husband to understand all the things he was doing that hurt me and our family…and himself. All to no avail. You know why? Because it’s not that he didn’t know or understand, its that he didn’t agree and didn’t care. I was the one that needed to learn, and that was a hard, hard lesson. Now my teacher, debater, explainer habit is broken. Now I look at it this way…If I have to explain bad behavior to grown adult person, there’s something wrong there that I can’t fix…no explanations are necessary.

      • I too fell for this waste of time “fix it” method. Explaining, discussing, at times screaming (of course). He said after the fact that I made him not like himself. And that my words hurt him. And how hard it is to live with someone who “does nothing wrong.”

        • I used to crack up over back page ads on “How to be a fashion model or just look and act like one!” One snarky consolation for having been exploited as “emotional laborers” in relationships is to remember these cheaters and bullshitters married “deft life analysts” and ethical compasses because we’re walking handbooks on how to be an earthling– or just look and act like one!

          It’s not like they retain anything they learn or ever grasp basic principles, so their projected false selves need constant tweaking and tending to “pass” as human.

          I’ve fallen into the trap of explaining human ethics to aliens. One civil rights lawyer I worked with said I should be a tenured professor in breaking down bullshit. Big “splainer.”

          But what the hell, I do it on my free time anyway. A friend and I have 5 teens and 7 children between us and we have to shoo the kids away if we want to talk non-PG stuff, otherwise the kids sit around eavesdropping and chiming in as we “get into it” about politics, social criticism, media manipulation, gossip, etc., over coffee. It helps that this friend is funny as hell. The overall theme is kibbitzing on ethics and corruption and interpersonal injustice, lies and gesture warfare. Hands fly around, we do impersonations and impolite terminology is sonetimes resorted to. Coffee with her is like a really late night cable talk show.

          It’s interesting to see how kids hunger for discussions that most adults in polite society steer clear of to avoid controversy or stepping on toes. If the themes are actually worth talking about, then they’re bound to hit on things that kids struggle with and suffer under too as they navigate life.

          I’m not a fan of Ayn Rand but one book she wrote after spending a decade caring for a disabled husband, “Philosophy: Who Needs it?,” is quite interesting and more humane than her other works. The premise is that, like computers programmed with contradictory data, the GIGO principle also applies to human mental health. Those who grasp onto ever-changing, contradictory philosophical views according to whatever justifies momentary self-serving goals end up drowning in their own emotional garbage.

          Considering the epidemic of depression striking millennials and gen Z, maybe lack of tools in managing emotional garbage is part of the problem. That and gadget addiction and social media which is a lethal hash of contradictory bs.

          Who other than cheaters are more full of contradictory justifications and bs? Though, like kids, these types may have a residual hankering for the kind of mental cohesiveness they were deprived of in childhood, ultimately their attempts to try it out like a fashion trend wear thin and they begin to resent their ethical “fashion gurus.” The disguise begins to chafe. They’re never going to look like models, much less be one.

          I’ve seen up close what happens to people whose outward success enables them to discard any ethical mooring as thet get more and more cloistered in their own bs echo chambers. They gradually become unmoored and unhinged, turn into brittle, hair-trigger, blustering, tone-deaf stuffed shirts and assholes, more and more dependant on yes men and booze and spending to fill in the gaps in their logic and philosophical contradictions. Their spouses and kids start hating them. They end up surrounded by users and so paranoid of being used they become incapable of trustung anyone and internally rot from emotional malnutrition.

          Watch the series “Succession” produced by Will Ferrell for a good tutorial. Ferrell reportedly has a maccabre fascination with the interpersonal affects of abuse of power, probably because showbiz is rife with it. Take away this fictional family’s billions and make them more like average, desperate bs’ers and they’d even more comitragic.

  • Love this – my first time reading – I’m saving it to Bublup in my Chump Lady folder!
    This was, and I’m sure still is, my ex all day long.
    35 looonnng years of this abusive crap – along with all of the other tired narcissistic bullshit behaviors.
    Shocking to you, my not so dear ex-husband, but thy name is asshole, and most deservedly so.

  • Ah yes, my ex played this well. It was probably two weeks after he discarded me and we had a newborn. He goes “well are you going to be able to be cordial with me or not?”. CORDIAL? Who uses that word first of all? My guess is he picked it up from his mother that collects victorian antiques because it just seems so dated to come out of 34 year old surfer dudes mouth. “Well my goodness sweet son of mine she could at least be cordial with you!” Yeah, cordial.

    What an idiot

    • I also cringe at the fact that two days after Dday I sent my ex a Brene Brown video on integrity to watch. Ugh. He had already called a divorce lawyer and I was so desperate for him to understand his shitty behavior. He already understood it.

      • I’m sure Chtis Watts would have been unmoved by your explanations too. What a club to belong to.

      • Oh Lordy, I sent mine the Sam Harris audiobook “On Lying” to listen to as he raced off for weekend with The Dead-Eyed Skank🤦🏻‍♀️

    • Yikes. A day before I walked out, he had said all his energy is spent in trying to be civil to me. Told me later that his affair partner had asked him to not engage with me emotionally so that’s what he did. And that was how she ‘helped’ him with the marriage.

      I’m still in the shock stage even after month 4, no contact.

      • Yep. The adultery partners are trying to help the guy right out of his marriage, and she knows separating you emotionally is the first task. She also knows sneaking around puts the thrill in the sex, so many offer NSA sex at first. Then of course they fall in wuv, because FW is just so damn wonderful.

        Many of these women know exactly what they are doing. My ex’s whore had been in the married man rodeo several times before my FW came along. He was just the one she snared. She had the added bonus of being his direct report, so as George Castanza said; “she had hand”.

  • Ah yes, the hostile environment. Mine is used that phrase daily after d-day, while he continued to use burner phones, beg the hooker to contact him, burned through thousands of dollars on hotels “because our home is a hostile environment”. I was supposed to give him time to decide if he still loved me. Three full months of extreme lying to my face, our kids, the therapist. Now our kids (18 & 20) want nothing to do with him as he writes them pathetic emails that he isn’t divorcing them just their mother and how happy he is that he’s not in the hostile environment of our home.

    • It’s taken my almost 3 years to convince my kids that I’m not angry all the time. It’s a narrative that they were fed (to be fair I never challenged it, just kept improving myself whenever it came up) for a long time. Now the kids see that I rarely get upset, while my XW hangs up on them when she’s upset, takes their things away (randomly) if they don’t comply and guilt’s them into getting what she wants from them.

      I totally understand the “hostile” environment. I was always “so mad” all the time….not. I was a first class chump.

  • This post brings me back to a time that I could redo. I had no idea my XW was having an affair. While she was “travelling” for “work” I was parenting, coaching, working and generally trying to be the most supportive partner I could.

    I tended to get this “I fail to see your hostility” type sentiment from our friends and her family. I look back (almost 3 years) out and realize they were all manipulating me. Flying monkeys for her or swiss friends who “don’t want to judge” because “there are two sides to every story”.

    In reading this today I remember just how cruel my XW was during the discard. She delighted in telling me that she had slept with someone while we were married (I didn’t realize this until 3 months after the I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You speech). She turned anything I shared with her back around to try and manipulate me. I wish I could go back in time and handle this like a BOSS. So many chumps on this site kick ass and take names when the shit hits the fan….me, I kept warming her car up every morning…because it was cold out and that was what I had always done.

    I tend to see the best in everyone but now I don’t chase and make up excuses as to why people don’t have time for me. I also don’t make excuses for shitty behavior or stupid comments by “friends”. Kind of all over with this but I was trying to point out that this behavior exists with family and friends in addition to your partner.

    • CtoD–

      Just think of it this way– adopting a bit of surgically selective take-no-prisoners bs-averseness to someone without conscience would basically tip them over the brink into psycho killer, like adding vinegar to bleach. But that same ingredient added to a compassionate, humane, responsible, loyal and devoted person makes them mind-bogglingly awesome, like the foegotten practice of adding a drop of wine vinegar to the icing of home-baked cinnamon rolls as the secret ingredient to make them heavenly.

    • “I also don’t make excuses for shitty behavior or stupid comments by ‘friends’.” You sound pretty kick ass to me. And you also come across as a kind person. Don’t beat yourself up!

      I totally agree about the friends who also minimize. My best friend’s husband dismissed the multiyear affair with this verbal wave of the hand: “This happens all the time.” Grrrr😡

        • 😳
          My then-husband encouraged this long-time friend to have an affair (“Come into the mud with me!”), but this friend allegedly said, “I’m not that kind of guy.”

          If that’s the case, then why would he want to remain friends with my ex who:
          *betrayed me
          *betrayed him (that’s what he says)
          *can’t be trusted
          *lies when it suits him, and
          *tried to pull that guy into the gutter with him

          With friends like that…

          I wonder if comparmentalization is at play here. The friend is thinking, “Yes, you suck, but I could use a fishing partner.” Plus this friend is lazy and always appreciated that my ex planned all the trips. It’s like he has his own, personal event planner. Hard to give that up, I guess. To hell with higher values.

    • Chumped to dumped you also have to see your worthy with friends and family and if they are not 100% your cheerleader you need to detach with love and find your tribe. ((((Hugs))))

    • Flying monkeys for her or swiss friends who “don’t want to judge” because “there are two sides to every story”.

      That is always so infuriating because when you tell them that the other side of the story is that you had NO IDEA they were cheating or even WHY – they don’t believe you!

      • I’ll forever be grateful to the once mutual aquaintance who yelled without hesitation, “I hate that,” when I told her about people who say, “There are two sides to every story.”

        There are good people with strong moral compasses out there.

  • I saw this in a meme yesterday and it’s quite true:

    “A narcissist will tell you that your reaction to their toxic behavior is toxic.”

    Exactly. They’ll pull the It’s Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction, and then fold it into IFUYH.

    The only thing you can do is walk away. Anything else just puts fuel on their fire.

  • Just another way of saying to the chump: “You’re the problem here” and/or “You’re the one that has to put in the most effort to make things better.”

    Avoidance of responsibility and evasion of consequences are the wheels that drive the fuckwit bus.

  • I experienced one twisted step further than ‘I fail to understand your hostility’. I was dating someone and we went to a con-like event where we separated according to our different interests. I returned to our hotel room (that I paid for, natch) to find him with another woman. He is a social worker and one-upped the situation by wanting to sit down and find out ‘with both of us’ why I was so hostile — he was so concerned about my happiness and would never want to hurt me.

    • You win today! That takes a biscuit!

      Life lesson: next time don’t pay for a hotel room for a guy who is old enough to contribute for at least his share.

    • My situation is the opposite. My ex cheated on ME, yet he’s the openly hostile one. To the point of “please forget I exist. I will not text, call or email you. Anything you sent me from now on, I will not respond to, and will delete unread.” Like, what the actual fuck?? He doesn’t get to be angry, I do. I didn’t cheat on him. Can anyone explain why he’s taking the aggressive victim stance?

      • Deborah – his petulant two year old tantrum stance is him still trying to attempt to control you (aka “you’re not the boss of me”!). Go no contact if there are no kids and let the lawyers handle everything. If you bred with him, like I did with mine, I send anything he needs to know by text or email so I have a copy to show the court that the information was given. I also used Cozi.com software for schedules so he had full access. I have zero communication and am blissfully happy as such… meanwhile he thinks he is still giving me the silent treatment 🙂

      • He’s not angry. It’s so he can accuse you of harassing him if you send him anything. It also feeds him ego kibbles. “I told her not to contact me, but she can’t let go.” He does perceive himself as a victim, otherwise he has to take responsibility for the situation. More importantly, he wants to be perceived as a victim by others. “Oh, woe is me, that’s my crazy ex again.”

  • So much of this as he was making his exit. It was painful and damaging. Anytime I would get even vaguely upset or look like I might cry or question his actions, it was, “I can’t talk when you’re like this.” Looking back, it was all pure manipulation. He never wanted to talk about anything anyway and definitely didn’t care that I was upset. Much easier to pretend that I was crazy. A few years of this left me with some big scars.

  • When I was in incoherant, snot-slinging rage, I got “people break up.” Yeah, not like that. He moved across the country with her and two years later she left him and married a wealthy, very succesful man. She was a user, like him. I wanted to send him a condolence card and write in it “people break up.”

  • And because they are the ones “in the know” and we’re “in the dark,” they control everything. They can remain calm. They can bask in our “overreactions” and describe us as too sensitive, too hostile, too reactive, and unable to forgive. I got all of those accusations while he remained unmoved and dead-eyed.

    He also upped the ante after he suffered the apparently unforeseen (by him) consequences of his behavior. “You are vindictive. I never expected the venom to flow like this. And you enjoy it.”

    So he went from eerily calm and mean to straight-up rage. I think he’s stuck on the rage/pity channel, but I don’t know or care.

    It was only when I realized the futility of reasoning with this man that I found some measure of peace.

    • Yes, it’s that whole “look what a mess you are” humiliating scenario. Like you were an idiot to ever love and care for them, didn’t you know it was all a game? You’re so unsophisticated and pathetic, look at you. That’s where MY rage came in after the fallout and I definately made him pay, to the point where HE was the pathetic one begging me to stop. He had watched his mother roll over when his dad cheated and left her for his shmoopie; why wasn’t I going along with the program? They underestimate our love and comittment, and they underestimate our rage and intelligence. That’s because they’re robots programmed to only think about what they want.

  • Just after our divorce was finalised (I divorced her) I asked my Ex-Wife to confirm that she intended paying back all of the money that she had syphoned out of our youngest two children’s savings accounts (she was the trustee and I wasn’t) with her proceeds from the divorce settlement. She could not deny having done so, as I could see the money transferred into her bank account in bank statements that she had to disclose during the divorce.

    I was told “How dare you question me? You are only doing this because you are still bitter about us no longer being married.” She then followed up with “I did not take any money from them” and “but they have got their money back” – she could not see the inherent contradiction in this!

    I know my son eventually got his money back (£1K+); but only after she tore him a new one for having the temerity to ask for it. She went to huge lengths to try and stop him seeing his own bank statements to hide her misappropriation. He now openly describes her as a £f*cking thief.”

    I will not raise the issue of youngest daughter’s money (£1.2K+) until she is 18 and entitled to it. Which is something to look forward to I guess.

      • Adelante,

        Getting the money back should not be too difficult; I am sure that me suggesting that what she did was illegal and could cost her her job will do the trick. The interest would be nice, but I won’t die in a ditch over it.

        The difficult bit will be to get it done without my daughter (currently 17) being subjected to the lies and gaslighting that my son was exposed to. Our eldest two children (now 24 and 21) know that their mother is a liar and a thief. Youngest daughter is the most emotionally fragile of the 3; while she knows what her mother is capable of, I’d really not see her heart broken all over again by my Ex-Wife going and proving it.

  • This mode of conversation continues.
    I am pretty much meh and no contact. I have full custody, and am divorce almost a year. one teen recently had a covid scare, so I had an actual phone conversation with ex.

    He complained that his new wife was mad at him about his child support and his life was hard. I told him to grow some balls and accept we have a completely reasonable divorce decree and that providing 15% of his salary to support his 2 teenagers was not undue hardship and no judge would ever agree.

    He was like I don’t understand why you are angry at this. I’m just telling you. ….lol I’m not your friend or therapist and I only care about 2 people. My kids. His life is all about him.

    End of conversation.

    • Right…why would you ever get angry at him “just telling you” that you’re the reason why his life his hard…why would you ever get mad at someone for wrongly blaming you for their troubles?!?

      Our ex’s are cut from the same cloth. Mine would berate me on the unfairness of child support as he was returning from his 3rd vacation that year. Right buddy, very unfair.

    • Your note, the details—

      As a dad 3 years out with kids, 50-50 distribution, it confounds me that any dad would walk away from kids;

      And it confounds me that any person could remarry within a year;

      Maybe I’m just projecting given my reluctance even to to try a coffee meetup. That person, angry about child support, newly hitched—despite the landscapes of grief and sorrow and recovery and new-found wisdom and conviction and moments of incredible insight I’ve been traveling, I’d take eagerly this path any day.

      I know people marry their unfaithful bedfellows. Talk about a living hell. As the observation goes, we aren’t punished for our sins but by them.

      • She is not the original affair partners, but she is his bosses secretary and was pregnant 5 months after we separated,so they have a 6 month old baby.
        I expect he was sleeping with her and the girl he got caught with. Nice.

        He moved away to live with her. He has no contact with our kids. They don’t bother with him. No normal parent abandons their kids like this. They are amazing kids. They see he is a weak coward. I am the winner with them. They make our 20 year marriage worthwhile.

        I’m with you. I couldn’t imagine getting remarried.

  • My situation is the opposite. My ex cheated on ME, yet he’s the openly hostile one. To the point of “please forget I exist. I will not text, call or email you. Anything you sent me from now on, I will not respond to, and will delete unread.” Like, what the actual fuck?? He doesn’t get to be angry, I do. I didn’t cheat on him. Can anyone explain why he’s taking the aggressive victim stance?

    • Find some books on Narcissim 101 to try and understand this, because it seems inexplicable until you look deep into this personality disorder, which unfortunately, is all too prevalent in our society. I not only had to try to understsnd FW, I have two members in my family of origin who are like this. Their behavior is incomprehensible to decent, caring people.

    • No, he isn’t being a victim here at all. He is employing the simple tactic of “the best defense is a good offense” approach. He is just a typical fuckwit who doesn’t want to deal with or face consequences of his actions, like dealing with your pain and anger, so he is using aggression to avoid it all.

      It’s working too as he is shutting you down and shutting you out and there is not a lot you can do about it, but retain a rabid pitbull type lawyer and let them go nuts on his ass on your behalf.

      Ultimately, do not look at someone who harmed you to fix your pain. If you were stabbed in the street, you wouldn’t ask the stabber to bring you a bandage and some aspirin and to comfort you while the ambulance comes. Don’t exect anything such from a cheater either. They meant to harm you and no, if you are sane, you’ll never understand why, all you can do is understand that these psycho exist and find a way to avoid them as much as you can.

      • He is truly being the aggressor. He is posting all kinds of negative memes and comments on his FB page, posting pics of girls at the pool “a little too young for my taste, don’t want the first date to be at Chuck E. Cheese” kind of shit. So yes, he is definitely trying to avoid and deflect. No apologies, no trying to “work things out”. I left, and that’s all he is focused on. What a turd.

    • You saw behind the mask and called him on it. That is unforgivable.

      Mine did the same. Once he saw that I was no longer falling for his BS he got very hostile. But he’s also very covert, so the hostility came out in ignoring me, bad mouthing me to everyone who would listen, refusal to respond to needed issues about the kid, and of course, the continued self-righteous “I’m the victim” here behavior.

      Five years later I now just roll my eyes at him and move on. His behavior now bores me. And I’m sure others around him are getting pretty bored with it too.

    • For the NPD and BPD maybe the shame felt is a consequence of being looked at. Being seen—recognized—threatens their sense of place and security. If one can eradicate the historical record, sweep it clean, than one prevents others from seeing the disordered through the lens of that behavior. Their attempts to destroy others stem from fear of being recognized. That Chris Watts story embodies this principle by way of extreme.

      Interestingly, or not, the etymological roots of recognize convey a meaning which reads: to know again what one has always known.

      Once the mask—what others see—shatters, the disordered panics, becomes vicious, vengeful, irrational, and dangerous.

      There may be some cognitive dissonance at work with your X: if he hates you, then he is relieved of the shame and hatred he feels for himself (that self-hatred likely being a result of him feeling exposed and not remorse for what he’s done). Maybe.

      Snakes can not be reasoned with. My approach is to identify the snake, avoid its path, and certainly never to talk to it. Also I remind myself that whatever a snake does, it’s never personal, because snakes, like dragons and vampires, simply are not human (and cold-blooded). So after learning how to defang and avoid the fetid breath of their soul’s corruption, it becomes easier for me to move on, to let go of the previous injuries, and to see them clearly for what they offer (envy, cruelty, betrayal, and sabotage) and what they lack (courage, decency, kindness, honor).

      Sociopathy, marked by cleverness, is first always fed by Envy and subsequently nourished by Entitlement. A toxic person who intends you harm will tell you anything: they’ll flatter, gossip, triangulate, gaslight, minimize, rage, lament, cajole: so by identifying from a distance one who intends you harm—observe actions—, it becomes easier with practice to ignore whatever they say next. For the disordered their cruelty defines themselves, and they will choke in their own vat of venom, and then they will drown, and the world will spin on.

      By taking care of oneself, I tell myself, one is best able to serve others. There are gifts this experience offers. There is a real sense I’m discovering of Plenty.

  • No doubt many here have been through the horror of ‘what kind of Christian are you if you don’t forgive me’?

    That is sheer torture when you are a Christian. My ex enlisted ministers to tell me how bad and hard I was.

      • I highly recommend Divorce Minister’s book as well. Or check out his blog, divorceminister.com. Scroll until you find a post linked with forgiveness, click on it, and it will give you loads of great advice on how to handle this.

      • My post disappeared so I will try again since I don’t know what went wrong. Sorry for any duplicates!

        I agree with Bruno and highly recommend Divorce Minister’s book. His blog is great as well. Find a post that has forgiveness tagged, once you click on that, it will send you to all of his insight on dealing with forgiveness. I especially appreciated everything he had about how to deal with other Christians questioning my “lack” of forgiveness.

    • It doesn’t need to be a torture at all, Mitz, when you explain to these good Christians that God hates adultery even more than murder (two out of 10 Commandments are against adultery) and Jesus forgives the sinners only and after they repent. Oh, they should also go and sin no more.

      We can all play this game.

      • Then he would say that certain Bible passages say that God hates divorce. And that since he was not able to have full intercourse due to impotence, it wasn’t Biblical adultery. Then I made the mistake to go to Christian group counselling with him where couples got up and talked about how they over came adultery and went on the have spectuacular marriages. So I got that thrown in my face, that ‘those fine people shared their stories to help us’ and you rejected that help.

        • I got this as well, that God hates divorce. God hates adultery more than divorce. Plus, adultery takes tons of lying, so rack up the sins.

          My Jesus Cheater is interpreting my gray rock/ no contact as RAGE! He claims that my reaction to his sin is WORSE than ANYTHING he did.

          1. God is angered by adultery, so I’m in good company. 2. Anger is one of the stages of grief, so I’m going to go through all five stages. 3. He hasn’t actually apologized and sure as heck hasn’t repented.

  • Ha ha ha….this is a line I know well.

    Ex cheater was a self proclaimed “nice guy” who was extremely passive aggressive. This translated to rude comments under his breath and any other kind of nastiness where he could then play dumb and pretend he had no idea what the issue was.

    I remember telling him that his ex gf that he kept around our entire relationship, who was on her 5th marriage and still carrying on with him, was a disgusting whore. His response? “Kim, you’re being hateful”.

    I had years of his cowardly passive aggressive shit where he’d play dumb and plaster a phony smile on his face.

    He makes attempts to contact me off and on and i ignore him. Recently I was out running and saw someone running towards me, but the sun was in my face and I didn’t immediately realize it was him. With all of the covid craziness runners will typically move out of each others way, and since this was a small neighborhood street I crossed the street.

    When ex realized it was me he gave me one of his nasty, sarcastic laughs and then waved. It was right out of the passive aggressive douchebag handbook. I’d had about enough of him to i stuck my middle finger in the air and said “why don’t you fuck right off”.

    Because baby can’t handle actual face to face conflict he turned his head forward and kept going. BUT…..you guessed it….i got a text later saying that he still cares about me (puke) and doesn’t understand my anger and hostility. Ha ha, then he wished me a good day….this way he can simultaneously be a douchebag and play dumb by claiming he waved at me and wished me a good day so why am i so mean?

    The truth is that I’m not angry….I’m much happier without him…I’m just not a phony like him and i don’t like him.

    I should probably feel bad for the bird flip and the fuck right off thing but I don’t.

    The best part about his ex wbore is that he’s been involved with her for at least 17 years while both of them went through marriages to other people, but to this day nobody knows about her because he’s white and she’s Asian. What would his friends, family, and church think? He’ll carry on with her but won’t publicly acknowledge her.

    You’d think she’s had enough time to figure this out, but she’s apparently not that smart.

  • Yeah, my Ex especially couldn’t understand why our kids were so fed up with him, after a) being a moody and critical person forever, b) leaving suddenly when they were 11 and 12 ys old, c) kids figuring out he cheated and had been consistently lying to them, d) taking 15% custody time in a 50-50 default jurisdiction, then e) cutting that to 36 hs, 2x a month. They eventually refused to see him, but were still willing to attend family therapy with him to try to repair the relationship. But in that therapy, it became clear he was still a selfish clueless person, They STILL agreed to spend some time with him, in order to try to improve the relationship.

    Within 4 or 5 months he was PISSED that everything wasn’t back to normal!!! Demanding, angry, critical of them; couldn’t understand their hostility!

    So of course, his conclusion is; they are angry with him and done with trying to make him care, because I HAVE ALIENATED THEM.

    I believe he really believes this, now. Because he’s really really good at telling himself shit that takes him off the hook and makes him the victim. And I bet that story gains him lots of pity points with new women, ‘explains’ why he his kids won’t see him, and even ‘justifies’ his moodiness and unhappiness (which have been constant … forever).

    • “Being a moody and critical person….” Same shit with my ex.

      My kids are adults. No attempt at reconciliation.

      But it’s all my fault that they don’t want any contact with him. ALL my fault. He even told the judge this.

      That he emotionally abused them doesn’t register. I’m sure he’s stuck in moody and unhappy modes and his OW has pity for him. I wonder how long she’ll put up with that though.

      Apparently it was even suggested that my ex adopt her son! The guy is 18, so I’m not sure how that works. I do find it fascinating because in the same way these shallow people can update wives like iphones, they must think they can substitute children.

      • Does your ex have assets or will he inherit some day ? If he does or will, an adopted child will have the same legal rights as your ex’s bio children.
        Cheating runs in my family. My great uncle discarded his longtime wife for a woman he met on a plane. He already had three daughters yet adopted wifestress’s 20 year old daughter. This is the same man that balked at paying for his daughters’ uni feed. Wifetress and daughter burned through most of his money.

        • Oh wow! Yep, he has assets. Could he be this stupid or vindictive (to punish his kids for going NC)? Ugh!

          I have to let go. This is out of my control.

          • I’m going with vindictive and you’re right about being powerless.
            Another cheater in my family tree (a great grandfather) left all his money to his second wife and only $1 each to my grandmother and her younger sister, his only two children. My great grandparents divorce served as gossip fodder in the N.Y. Times and was a case study for the law books in their state. My grandmother went from an adoring child to a disgusted teenager as detailed in her letters to her father. The correspondence was presented as exhibits in the case. Of course my g.g and his attorneys accused my great grandmother of parental alienation and cited her “hard hearted ness “ as she fought for child support. A century ago and these bullies used the same language and tactics.

  • The only way I ever learned not to be “hostile”, was when time passed, and I had to breath, and pay the utility bills, and make supper, and go to work. When I was young I tended to live in the moment, as if that moment would go on forever, and there would not be change, or growth, or consequences happening.

    One of the best things about surviving to retirement age is you gain perspective. You are able to see the ebb and flow of life, and you learn to value the things which are truly important to you. Those things are personal, and most of the things I thought were important when I was young turned out to be unimportant.

    I learned that life does run in cycles, and sometimes you have to figure out how to break the cycle and get off the destructive way of thinking and acting in order to make positive life changes. You can survive a divorce or losing your job, or finding a way to pay an expensive and unexpected medical bill. Things you were taught when you were young may turn out to be wrong, other people may not return the same respect you offer them.

    My sister told me yesterday that she had always considered me to be an awesome older sister, and thought that I had served as a good role model for her and my other siblings. She added that I had always had an underlying anger that had scared her when she was young. I was surprised by her statements, because I never considered myself to be a role model to any of my siblings. We are all very different people and we all made very different life choices . I also asked what she meant by my underlying anger. She explained that she now understands the anger I had at the injustice in our home, and the world at large, and she feels it was a driving force which caused me to succeed in many of my goals. But as a child, she just knew I was angry, and didn’t understand exactly why. My determination to overcome an obstacle was both inspiring and terrifying.

    Your spouse may not understand your hostility. Your spouse gains nothing by understanding, or acknowledging that anything is wrong. If you will buy the argument that it is not what he did, but your reaction to it that is spoiling things, the spouse can continue on his merry path of destruction and damage. Your “hostility” can become the driving force of much needed change in your life. It is a powerful force, and you have to be careful not to let it destroy you during the process. Getting the right balance is the difference between constructive protest, and a totally destructive riot.

    My ex’s did not understand my hostility. One of them regularly tried to hover back into my orbit until he finally died. He never achieved the level of success he thought he somehow deserved, and he never understood why. I understood, but did not feel the need to explain it to him any more after I was over trying anymore. My other ex now lives in the basement of a split level home with his 15 year younger wife living upstairs. He rarely goes outside the home, since Covid happened. His world has gotten very small, and he doesn’t understand why, either. I am happy to report that I don’t feel the need to explain why to him, either.

    Don’t worry about your ex understanding your hostility. His understanding is really not important. Your hostility indicates you respond to negative stimulus and seek to change your situation. It seems to be the right response to me!

    • Thank you. This is so true. My STBXH is in this very process as we speak. I appreciate your words of encouragement.

  • XAss has a Masters in this. Used to drive me nuts. Made my jaw literally drop open when he make these kinds of lofty statements to me after behaving terribly and deciding he didn’t understand why I would be upset about it. He’d have this smug smirk on his face like his shit never stunk. I was overreacting.

    Then I wised up. Disengaged, walked away. Refused to be baited. I’d ‘whatever’ him and ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you understand what the problem is’.

    Even after I had laid all the cards on the table. Spelled it out – none of the behavior was acceptable. I was ready to walk. I made plans. Told him of those plans. AND STILL a week before I left he came to me with the “I just can’t wrap my head around the fact …..” and “I just don’t understand why you are upset – why we can’t work this out……Didn’t we have good time together?”

    He deliberately set the stage to mind fuck me at every opportunity over YEARS. Yet he was the one to be absolutely mystified why I left him. He always plays the victim. But not me. Never again.

  • When I found out about Skankella. I was hurt and angry. I called her all kinds of names. And him too. He would say there you go being angry and violent again. He would push my buttons to the point I would yell at him. Again he would say that I was an angry violent person. Funny, he cheats on me with my cousin and tells me I am angry and violent because I called her names. He was very good at playing the victim and making me look like the unstable one. I think he got off on it.

    • Even Ted Bundy played the victim ti his victims. Playing victim is 85% of the perpatrator MO. Most actually can’t carry out whatever ill deeds they commit without the psychological mechanism already in place.

      In fact, the only people who “play” victim are perps, which is why they naturally accuse actual victims of “playing” the role. The damage this does to societal perceptions is infinite.

  • Funny/not funny. He actually used the “toilet seat” excuse to blame the STDs. BTW I was monogamous since 1989. I even asked my doc about blaming the toilet seat…poor doc looked at me with so much pity and compassion and said I was being lied to. Also got “docs don’t know what they’re talking about. Testing isn’t accurate.” Sad me believed it until I didn’t. As far as the accusation of misplaced hostility, I got, “Why can’t you discuss this in a matter of fact way? Why are you so emotional?” As if being blindsided by a “soul mate” kind of luv after 28 yrs of marriage wasn’t enough of a reason to be “emotional”, he threw in the —let’s explore an open marriage so I can have both of you–scenario. Total mindfuckery. Out of it now but all that psychological abuse took its toll.

    • Yeah, it takes its toll, indeed.

      Mine tried to convince me I got genital warts when we were first married because one of his patients had it. When I told my gyn this recently (because for years I accepted my then-husband’s explanation and never asked previous gyns), she said, “Yes, if he was having sex with the patient.”😳

      • Wow. So hard to think back about all the lies we believed because we trusted them. Eyes wide open now, that’s for sure. I found that my ex had gotten tested for only one type of STD, HIV 1 and 2. So that makes me think about what and WHO he was doing along with the female coworker.

        • I got an STD that he told me was something that couples naturally pass back and forth and we both just need treatment – I believed that shit. Also, my ex always said that I have anger management issues – this was because I was getting the shit gaslit out of me and I was confused and sometime lashed out from being lied to (such as in CL’s dialogue above). I also got, “you should be friendlier to me” after DDay. And last but not least, after hearing about all the hookers, S&M club hook ups and the new girlfriend, “stop crying! Get up off the floor! Didn’t you know our marriage was over? Why are you so stupid that you didn’t see what was going on here?” He went from being kind one day to all that in the space of a few days. Sick fuckers.

          • I know exactly you are dealing with a “NARC” I was also married to one I finally got the bastard, he was triangulating next in our family home. This nasty broad now turned the tables and he’s up on “ABUSE” charges, karma bites!🥶

        • It is. It is also hard to even tell folks because I should have seen through the lies, I chose not to I guess.

          The one that pissed me off the most, is when he would go out at night to ride around with one of the guys (police officer) I asked him why he was doing it, and he said since his promotion he didn’t get to be out on the street so he like to keep in touch with the guys. For some reason that sounded reasonable to me. Reason being I was fucking stupid.

          One night he was gone until fairly early in the am and I said why were you gone so long. Oh me and the mayor got to talking, mayor is having marriage problems.

          After Dday and I figure out what the hell was going on, I truly wanted him to die a painful death. (I don’t anymore, but I did then)

  • Ah yes, the ole “but YOU are the monster” defense. This particularly terrible gaslighting was used on me throughout the course of our relationship when I would dare to voice an opinion that differed from my ex or disagree with him on any life decision. It was his way or the highway (more specifically, telling me I was an “angry person” and then giving me the silent treatment for days or weeks). These disordered folks can’t tolerate any thing that actually challenges them.

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