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But He’s Such a Nice Guy!

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mrNiceGuyDear Chump Lady,

My husband of 25 years is a really good father/uncle/church member, who is friendly to everyone and is generally a very nice guy.

He is also a well-meaning though largely clueless husband who doesn’t really understand what emotional partnership means, though he has an inflated sense of romance, loves chick flicks and desserts, is an emotional adolescent who gets sulky if I imply I am upset with him for something, has not much interest in sex, (not that he’s particularly skilled), and does not usually grasp what I am upset about when I am upset, unless it a) explained very clearly to him, and b) isn’t blamed on him, and c) isn’t too emotional, because he has a “problem with emotional outbursts, like raised voices.” I have contemplated leaving many times, but he’s such a nice guy…

Six weeks ago I found out he had a 7-month affair that ended six months ago, though they “remained friends,” on his pleading, for three months after that. There was BDSM involved, and threesomes attempted, neither of which I thought he had ever heard of. They met online, through an online matching service.

When I confronted him, he admitted that though he was only ever looking for friendship, the friendships only began to have a sexual element ten years ago. Because the sex was meaningless, he considers the lot of them irrelevant. He has not denied that one per year is still 10 women, and has admitted one for three weeks, one for three months, on for five months, blah blah, but insists that he only had one affair, the one last year, because she was the only one he fell “deeply in love” with (was that before the whips, or after, I wonder?). This was while we were in marital counselling, by the way.

Anyway, he is extremely sorry about that affair (the others are, according to him, irrelevant, so he will not discuss them), and “knows it was stupid”. He is being all nice now, helping in the kitchen (didn’t even know he knew where it was), coming home on time (7:00 p.m.), spending time with the teenage kids, complimenting me.

This stuff is so far from who I thought he was, clueless, adolescent, and emotionally flat as he was, that I am having trouble comprehending it. It’s like saying someone came from 1796 in a time machine, and while you believe it, you really can’t believe it. It would be so easy to forget that he wrote the woman sex poems, and kept a running tally of the BDSM equipment they liked, and confessed to her he is only staying with me because of his assets (ha ha), and has had sex with (he insisted he didn’t “sleep with” (what an idiot) any of those ones…) a number of “friends”, met on the internet.

I look at my kids and wonder if (chump alert!!!) this is not a good enough reason to disrupt their very smooth lives (though an unhappy mother and the polite but non-affectionate parental relationship they have grown up with are good reasons to reboot them). It is just so hard to comprehend that all that crap is from the same person I share a bathroom with.

Would you be able to spare a large bucket of ice water ? I need to douse my head.

SoCal

Dear SoCal,

Hand-knit socks are nice. Puppies are nice. Chocolates on your pillow are nice. Men who tie women up and whip them in secret are not nice.

Apologies to any 50 Shades of Grey fans out there, but the guy sounds nuts. It’s not just that he gets off on sado-maschochist sex — it’s that he’s been living a double life, for at LEAST a decade, that he admits to.  My guess is he hasn’t much interest in sex with you because he needs the thrill of deceit and the threat of violence to get a boner.

Now if I were Dan Savage, I’d say something like, poor man, he just wants to share his kink, and his kink is so very important to him, and he was just too emotionally fragile to share it with you, (oh, the judgement!) and if you’d stop being vanilla and try to be more understanding, he could coax you into a kinkier sex life. Yes, it was shitty of him to do this behind your back, but the important thing is He’s Getting His Kinky Needs Met. Buy a leather harness and a trapeze, be game and giving, but whatever you do — Don’t Break Up the Children’s Home!

Fuck that noise with a studded dildo, SoCal. He’s a serial cheater. He’s “clueless, adolescent, emotionally flat” AND he’s a serial cheater. A real combo plate of delight, that one. He’s been holding you and your kids hostage for cake. He knows you don’t want to destroy their stable home life, and so he gives himself carte blanche to fuck around on you, give you the scraps of his attention, and then correct you if you get uppity about that. “No raised voices!”

Oh, but he’s “nice.”

How about his excuse for online dating? He was looking for FRIENDSHIP? Doesn’t that strike you as a slap in the face? What about you, his wife — aren’t you his friend? Can’t this “friendly” guy find friends? To say that is a dig at you, SoCal. A subtle implication that you let him down and he must seek solace elsewhere. (Well if you had been a FRIEND….) He’s blameshifting.

He’s also minimizing (“the sex was meaningless”) and refusing to be transparent (“they are irrelevant so we need not discuss it.”) Even if you wanted to reconcile, you have absolutely NOTHING to work with here. He’s without remorse. The only thing he has to fall back on, what he’s hooked you in with before, is Nice. He helps in the kitchen. He acknowledges the existence of his teenagers. Bitch cookie.

His “kindness” is an insult. It’s window dressing. He betrayed you, exposed you to a decade’s worth of STDs, and his failure to acknowledge that in any meaningful way is cruel. He’s upping his game, ever so slightly — a compliment! be grateful for the kibble toss! — so you don’t divorce him and take away his cake.

Talk to a lawyer immediately. Start auditing your finances and figure out how much of your marital resources have gone to his alternative reality. Don’t tell him any of this. Let him keep washing dishes and being a church deacon — you quietly go on the offensive and make your escape plan. You just learned of this 6 weeks ago — you’re in shock. I know it’s very hard, but you need to fight back. This guy isn’t a time traveler from 1796, he’s your enemy.

It’s okay to be furious. It’s okay to raise your voice, or weep, or be completely immobilized by the enormity of his lies. But you must, MUST protect yourself.

I know you feel that protecting yourself from him is betraying your children in some way. It’s NOT. This is NOT on you. Do not model this dysfunction to them. Life is going to toss them some tragedy too, no one is immune — what you are doing now is modeling to them how to handle adversity. How to not take shit. How to rebuild your life. Stick up for yourself. You are deserving of so much more than his abuse. Yeah, I said abuse. His infidelity, his endangering your health, his passive aggressive schtick — it’s abuse.

Many of us had to break divorce news to our kids, and watch the fall out. We’ve gotten to the other side — and you will too. Please take the long view and save yourself from this “nice” man.

This one ran previously. 

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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 stories like this that make me wish Santa had brought me a helicopter for Christmas. And also a howitzer.

    I know, I know. We have to rescue ourselves, or else we don’t learn anything.

    But still – if ever there was a case for a rescue mission, this is it. What an awful, awful man.

    • Scary. Thinking silence of the lambs and along came a spider. You can’t make this shit up. Run run run

  • There is a narrative here that needs reframing. The suggestion that, but for the fact that they are a cheater, he (or she) is a really great parent, uncle/aunt, church member etc is an utter contradiction.

    – Great parents don’t abuse their partners (and cheating is abuse) and unilaterally hazard their childrens’ stability.
    – Great uncles/aunts don’t model behaviour that is underhand, secretive and inappropriate.
    – Great church members don’t break their marriage vows and play fast and loose with commandments that they are supposed to live by.

    Playing into this compartmentalisation helps cheaters minimise the damage that they have done to others and enables them to further their narrative that no-one really got hurt and none of this is their fault.

    LFTT

    • Just to add, you can’t compartmentalize people. Hitler was a vegetarian, animal lover, inspiring artist who was deeply concerned for impoverished German workers. This doesn’t make him ‘great’ and not even ‘nice’

      • I’m going to push back against “inspiring artist”. I’ve never heard him described as anything better than competent. It’s true that Nazi sympathizers will shell out mucho bucks for his work, but I think we’d agree that what’s “inspiring” them is not so much the work’s artistic merit as the artist’s political views.

        I acknowledge, though, that this is not really on point for the overall discussion today.

      • He is truly your enemy, get out now. He is a serial cheat and will definitely do it again. It’s better you leave now because the next time he cheats you will wish you left earlier.

        I am so sorry that this happened to you, don’t worry yourself too much about your kids, they will be just fine.

    • LFTT, that’s perfect. Xband is also a ‘nice guy’, a kind gentle giant teddybear of a man, and his nickname with his oldest friend was ‘Goodly x’. We all trusted him. The way he broke our trust was incredibly confusing and the only way I made it through was keeping a list of the cold hard facts of what he’d done. You and CL are spot on.

      • Mine was a freaking preschool teacher. He was so great with kids (who weren’t his own) and the moms all loved him. Hmmm. He was a narcissist who was very, very good at hiding his real feelings/self and the most important thing to him was how strangers saw him. He happily gave away lots of my stuff because someone else wanted it and he wanted to impress them. I had to make a moratorium that none of our sons’ toys went to the school for other kids to play with because he’d have taken them all.

        He is constantly on impression management duty because he’s awful but his very being is about keeping up appearances. Once you see through the veneer, he becomes a vengeful, angry troll. I lost nothing and gained a life when I got out. My son sees a normal family at my home, at least. He’s a teenager and learning what relationships should be like. I owe him to be true to myself.

    • Yeah, you aren’t a great parent or a nice person if you lie and cheat and nuke a family. If you are to raise kids and show them behavior to model and values to be instilled, how could you live a life like that? I operate with the mindset of “Would I be okay with my kids knowing this about me?” I never want to live in a way that shows hypocrisy or require someone to hide the truth from them to protect my image. Their dad will be exactly who they know him to be. Their mom cannot say the same.

    • Absolutely. “Good except for” plays right into the false notion of a public/private divide, when in fact what one does in private is not separable from what one does in public. Impression management is not the manifestation of good character or generosity. Public declarations mean nothing when what is publicly praised or supported is violated in private. And when sexual kinks are involved, unsuspecting people are made unknowingly complicit in the freak’s kink. My ex gets off on acting in private like a fuck-me doll stereotype of a pornographer’s dream: wearing women’s lingerie, expressing himself of the belief that women are passive and like to be forced against their will, asking to be punished because women “are by nature masochists.” He creeped on my sexual response in order to mimic it; he creeps on younger women colleagues and then mimics them in his sex play. (He was egged on in all this by a former student.) Yet in public he is a vocal supporter of women’s rights.

  • It’s the depth and duration of the lies more than anything. That it’s fine to keep your nearest and dearest completely in the dark and be slightly controlling but not enough for you to ever realise it is abuse by ‘having a problem with your emotional outbursts’.

    Why do people get married at all I wonder sometimes. I suppose they want their cake and the rest. Ergo entitled. And no more to it.

    • Freaks like him get married to have a respectable front to hide their degeneracy behind. Mine was a secret pervert as well, and on the surface a “nice guy”. The nice guy act is part of their cover. It evaporates when you unmask them and impose consequences. Then out comes all that hidden rage, mixed with operatic self pity.
      I wonder what happened in this case. My guess is that if she filed, he became more overtly abusive and controlling, raged at her and became even more commited to his BDSM lifestyle in order to vent his unending hostility.

      • Whenever I come to this site, I am constantly reminded how sheltered I must have been in my life when I read about BDSM and hookers.

          • I agree with you guys. I resent that I had to be exposed to this sick bullshit when the cheater knew living a clean life was important to me. He had a responsibility to tell me about his disordered sexuality before I commited to him. I had to find out decades later. Oh hell no. There’s no excuse for such deception. He knew I would run away from him as fast as I could if I knew, so he kept it secret. By doing so he violated my right to informed consent. He tricked me into staying with him, which is utterly despicable. I give him some small points for finally telling me the truth and that he stopped using the porn that was feeding the sickness, but it doesn’t get me back my stolen life.

            Kinks as severe as the guy in this case are paraphilias, which are in the DSM for a reason. They are not healthy, and anybody who tries to claim they are should try talking to the people who’ve been chronically abused by these freaks and see how healthy they feel.

        • I don’t think sheltered. I think good values and self-respect. Most hookers are slaves trapped in a trafficking nightmare. And if receiving or inflicting real pain is required for your sexual pleasure, then your pain/pleasure circuits are confused, and you might need to talk to a doctor.

      • Especially if those consequences include exposing their hidden life–and double that if you reveal it to, or say you intend to reveal it to, your children as the reason you are divorcing.

    • In my case I got married because I was young and naive and thought a man wouldn’t respect me if I lived with him without marriage. As I found out the hard way, a wedding ring doesn’t guarantee respect within a relationship. In my ex’s case I believe he got married because I was a useful Wife Appliance. I made more money than he did, worked longer hours, and still cooked and cleaned while he played video games after a “hard” 3 hour shift tutoring community college students (that he was screwing).

      I have no idea where the men’s rights movement got the idea that marriage and divorce is something women do for fun and/or profit. I would have SAVED money if, instead of getting married, I had simply hired an escort once a month to take care of needs. At least the escort would have given me my money’s worth in the bedroom department, been honest about the fact that he was seeing other people, and not been legally entitled to my home.

      At 30 I am still young but hopefully less naive. I want another marriage like I want a hole in the head.

      • This is directed to the middle aged/older female hetero chumps.
        Maybe the actress Fran Drescher has the right idea. She has her “maintenance man” visit a couple times a month. And I don’t think he’s a gigolo. Or married.😂

        • i’ve decided to set my expectations there for now. Called up a hot foreign guy who is not Interested in ever being married again and embraces safe sex. And his attitude of gratefulness for being in this country compared to my typical attraction to entitled ducks it’s is refreshing.

  • This is a person who hid their secret life very well. It was not an accident. This is the scout Master, the abusive priest, this is the man who lies.

    When you get yourself an attorney make sure you get yourself a fighter because he surely will. Make sure that you document everything. before you even tell him that you’re leaving be sure to get original documents for everything. Birth certificates, car information, titles, banking accounts, former tax returns going back several years, deeds to the house.

    Start a checking account in your own name and use a different address. Find a friend’s address or get a PO box. Start setting aside money.

    Get your attorney and make your plan before you ever tell him that you are filing. File first. You want to be the plaintiff and not the defendant.

    I wish you the best of luck SoCal

    And get an STD test.

  • Yes, nice spouses are consistently nice. Of course they have their crabby moments and rough spots, but they don’t hide another life and say it’s nothing. They don’t do things that they know are going to damage you. I hate that we live in a culture that believes that this type of thing has no impact on the other spouse. If you demanded that he end his secret life now, I’m guessing he would be resentful and that it would just pop up again. This is a major betrayal.

    • Unless you have went through it, you can’t truly process the effects it has on everyone around you. It’s the most selfish thing you could do to your family. It destroys the other spouse to the point they have to completely rebuild everything in life. You lose seeing your kids every night. Your parents lose seeing an intact family, experiencing holidays and special moments together. Your kids get thrust in a world they didn’t choose just like the betrayed spouse. Then the pain for the betrayed spouse is furthered by being told to never tell the kids what the other parent did or is actually like.

      The betrayal forever changed how I see things and people.

      • This is where I struggle as well Mills.

        ‘The betrayal forever changed how I see things and people’

        I was always a positive person full of sparkle…now I feel like I’m so defensive, always thinking everyone is about to screw me over and that scares me.

        This all stems from the betrayal of Mr Nice Guy.. he’s the best…hes SOOO nice. You’re SOOO lucky.

        His actions/betrayal have changed me and the course of my life and that royally pisses me off.

      • “The betrayal forever changed how I see things and people.”

        For me, I needed that change. I was naive and had no idea that bad people could act nice. I am more realistic now that I put down the spackle.
        People don’t get the benefit of the doubt.
        A red flag means a red flag.
        I watch what they do, not what they say.
        I now recognize a ‘future faker.’

        Liars frauds user abuser fakes are a plenty. Better that I know that.

        • Yeah, I cringe at the naivety now. I cringe at how unhealthy it is to have a one-sided relationship- aka You dote on them, you go out of your way to get gifts/throw nice bday dinners for them, be romantic, flowers, and in return- they act like they’re doing you a favor by being with you, giving you the privilege of their company.

          Know your worth. Looking for 50/50 partners, not to be the aide to a narc and fund their BS need for supply, image, and money.

      • Yes, I agree. I am far less trusting and open than I once was. I pick up nuances that went right by me before. I’ll be around someone who isn’t quite real about things, and the bells go off.

        Things had been really difficult for a long time, but when my ex took off, our two college kids just gave up on him. They knew way more than I thought they did even though I was very careful with what I said. He had almost no contact with them the first year and refused to admit any wrongdoing or the creation of any chaos from his departure. When I went no contact during the divorce process, they chose to join me. I know they discussed it with friends and their therapist, but my ex thinks I brainwashed them. Both are very confident, opinionated people. Not going to happen. And no, they didn’t chose to have only one parent in their lives.

        He’s missed all the recent years of holiday seasons, birthdays, graduations, awards, dating, and all the wonderful things that come with kids that age.

        During the divorce mess, there were several times my very experienced attorney looked at me over his reading glasses and said, “You know, he’s losing a gem, and he doesn’t even know it. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know it when I see it. Good riddance, I say.” Well, I was paying a lot for that attorney, but it did help my mindset.

    • Disney and the superhero film industry have not done us any services by portraying villains as moustache-twirling and obviously creepy. Most real harm in the world is wrought by very confused and selfish, outwardly “nice” people. I grew up in a part of the Midwest where kids are not really taught to consider their own needs and hold their boundaries – to value “niceness” over authentic lives. It’s like societal gaslighting. Even my own generally “nice” and caring mom has given me (and my kids) a hard time when our preferences are inconvenient to her: “no, you really DO like peas!”

      We need movies and other cultural narratives that show people learning how to express their own needs, and diplomatically holding boundaries. (This is difficult, because kids are kids and we still have to make adult decisions on their behalf. My DD9 would currently say that watching YouTube multiple hours a day is a “need” and that I’m violating their boundaries by curtailing that time.)

      We also need more acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, so that they don’t feel shamed into “normal” lives and marriages where they have to lie to themselves and to others as a matter of course. Hurting others to get what you feel you need is never okay – and I absolutely affirm that anybody should get away from anyone who has lied to them or otherwise harmed them – but growing up LGBTQ+ can be a real mindfuck, even now.

      • I think the movie, Frozen has gone a little bit towards undoing this, the prince Anna meets before the coronation ticks all the boxes for a Disney prince, but then when Elsa flees, he becomes who he really is: an opportunistic creep who was going to use Anna to access power and money. He’s handsome, they have a ‘moment’ when they first meet, but when Elsa objects to a four-hour courtship, that’s when his true self shows – when he is thwarted by Elsa.

  • Put the Spackle down before you dislocate something!

    Mine was a version of yours. Mr. Nice Guy to the outside world. Impression management at it’s finest!

    I thought he was a good Dad ( the bar was low ). He became a Minister ( 7 years of my life and money I cannot get back ), so he had a huge fan club backed by his parent’s approval ( and none of their money ). He was the shining example of Nice.

    I struggled for 10 years thinking it was MLC. Or that he just wasn’t himself. Those women were friends…blah blah blah.

    The hardest part was realizing that the image I had held on to for so long was dead. It wasn’t who he really is.
    He used prostitutes. He went on Ashley Maddison. He was addicted to porn and would lounge in the bathroom for about 3 hours every night while I did dishes, homework and bedtime with the children.

    He financially destroyed me. He threatened my life and went scorched earth on his family. He had a girlfriend for the last 3 years of my marriage who was in our home and in our lives. He’s now married to her.

    Does this sound NICE????

    Your husband is not a good human being. Run hard and fast to the best lawyer you can find and do not say anything to anyone. Just go !

    • Horrid! Please tell me your kids are alright. Not to pry. Sometimes I overdose on the bad news & shocking betrayals. For me, it was decades ago, I can wrap my head around it better now, but it still doesn’t compute.

  • I stayed for the kids and the comfy life I wanted them to keep. I now have 3 adult children with nary a healthy relationship among them. I believe that their dad and I modelled such dysfunction that they wouldn’t know a healthy relationship if they fell on one.

    Run run run like your hair is on fire.

    • Someone once said, “you don’t stay for the kids; you leave for the kids.”

      This is still a tough nugget for me, because my STBX (we are both women) is a covert narc/covert borderline, who is very bonded to our kids and good at impression management. I don’t know whether our kids will ever see the disorder clearly, and it’s not my place to point it out to them. But I can be here for them as the “sane parent” whenever they need a break from the disorder, and I hope they’ll see me modeling healthy boundaries over time.

  • Nice guys really get a pass. Don’t they?

    The scariest people are the ones who appear to be “nice.” We experience cognitive dissonance when confronted with the knowledge that contradicts the nice persona. We run into the basement/closet/kitchen to grab the spackling bucket and putty knife. And then we go to town!

    While this case is extreme, I think a lot of us have experienced cognitive dissonance. Our cheaters are actors, playing a role that we think is their true character. But they are acting. Reflecting on it all makes our heads spin. But, but, but…he never acted that way; he seemed nice; he said some sweet things to me (rarely, but we don’t notice that); we had sex!

    When we finally admit the truth about our cheaters and drop the spackling knife, it hurts. It’s confusing af.

    • We had a “nice guy” manager in work a couple of years ago and he was so nice it was creepy to me. He was caught in lie after lie after lie and then he got fired after an investigation into him after complaints from 16 girls he had been messaging and making sexual comments to in work. He was 45 and they were all 18 to 23 years old. They also found a hidden camera in the disabled toilet. He was also married and had a teenage step daughter.

    • Image versus reality is always quite the battle. Reputation versus character. One is what’s perceived. One is who you actually are. Some ride the image and reputation thing their entire lives and cheaters will rage like crazy if they get exposed.

      BTW, this is why I put zero stock in anything on social media. I’ve seen too many BSers about their personal life as well as their financial situation.

      Anyway, your brain gets scrambled when you discover your life is a lie and the person you thought was a great person and your biggest ally was actually a terrible person and was sabotaging your life and plotting against you. It takes some time to come to terms with that. Spackling is simply just a mental exercise to try and process and avoid the trauma.

      • Before being cheated on, I knew infidelity was awful and hurtful, but I didn’t fully grasp all the different ways it would devastate me. The feeling like your life is a lie…I knew FW for half of my life. Two decades. I spent the months post-discovery combing through my memory, photos, texts, everything trying to figure out what was real and what was not. It’s incredibly disorienting.

        • Yeah, same. It tainted every memory I had the last few years of my marriage. Any time I saw a photo, I would think “She was in the midst of an affair during this photo, this birthday, this Christmas.” I’d look at the holiday family photos she arranged and just look at how she could fake it. I go back and re-examine those “girls night out” that I naively believed. I would re-read texts and look at the gaslighting.

          I noticed the things she criticized me for was honestly, just her trying to look for a reason to justify the affairs and I was probably very annoying with the adulting while she was having flings with other men. Going no contact for as much as possible and taking time really opened my eyes and broke the spell.

          It really is hard to comprehend that level of deceit and betraying a partner. You’re going to go through a whirlwind when you from “This is the best person I know” to “This is an enemy who has plotted against me and is incredibly calculating.”

          • I understand this, the realization it was all a lie. And the realizations that seem to never end, oh that’s why he did that, he was really lying about that work trip to se ever. Those work dinners, all a cover for time with her.

            The devaluation they do to justify what their doing, is just mean and hurtful. I heard so much from him also triangulating me with these other women. I didn’t understand then what it all meant.

        • They steal your past and your present, they ruin most any good memories you have.

          The only good news is, (and it is good news) they can’t steal your future if you can get away from them. Your future is still there, it will just be different than you imagined.

          Example: This morning I got a call from my son just venting his frustrations. His dad and schmoopie are stuck in AZ because of a stupid decision he made to buy a trailer in AZ (they live in a trailer in FL) the deal fell through, because of who knows what. He has conjestive heart failure, he is swollen and just got out of the hospital, he is trying to get back to FL driving a huge ass RV. She can’t drive it because she is inept. My son, can’t fly there and help them because he is still on restriction from his bout with covid. His wife is still under quarentine for covid. (so far she is getting through).

          This would have been my future had he not discarded me for the whore. I should kiss the ground she walks on.

          But, to be fair it likely wouldn’t have been my future because I had already told him before he started the discard that I was not going to sell out and live on a River in a boat. I imagine that was part of his draw to the schmoops, she will do whatever he says. I had grown weary of that, and I was beginning to show it.

          But, having said that I have no doubt that he would have gambled away my retirement had we stayed together. I wouldn’t have known about it until it was too late. Oh he couldn’t have accessed my retirement funds, but he could have gambled up debts, as he did anyway after we divorced, and I would have been on the hook to pay it off. There would have gone my substantial retirement funds.

          • SusieLee, I find myself reading your responses and nodding in agreement. My situation seems very similar to yours although I’m new to all of this almost six months from the discard. Married more than 30 years with three grown children planning for retirement in 3 years. I found the runaway husband website and book first and they told me about chumplady.com where there’s always something to learn and something to laugh at. Now that the fog from shock and awe is dissolving I am just putting pieces together. I did manage to file before I realized or knew about covert narcissism. I was the ideal target and wife appliance and completely trusted and yes spackled the hologram.

            • You are still in the midst of it. I wish you the best life ever, free from the FW.

              I was 40, and fortunately my son was emancipated and in the AF by then. It was the worst pain I hope to ever experience. I didn’t have CL back then, or any other guidance aside from my preacher. It was in pre social media era.

              I found CL when the FW blew up his relationship with our son about two years ago, and I was googling narcissist’s. It was a place of information, laughter and tears.

              I even read some of the stuff CL writes to my sweet husband. He and I have been married for 26 years. together 30.

              These FWs spend years hiding their shit, and stealing from us and not just financially. Then when they have themselves set up they discard us without a second thought.
              I stayed around CL because she is so funny, and so on the mark. And Covid shut us all down. Also, if I can help a newly inducted Chump in any small way. I will try.

              Chumps need as much information as they can get, and they need it quick. The stakes are too high (emotionally and financially) to blindly pull their way through it like I did.

          • The month after D-Day Nitwit got into a snowboarding accident while on a guys’ road trip. According to him, he was unconscious for 10 minutes and his lower back hurt so badly he could barely walk. Then again, this is coming from a compulsive liar so who knows how badly he was hurt or if he was in an accident at all. Anyway, I can’t picture the OW driving him to the ER, staying with him until he was discharged at 2 AM, then leaving for work at 6 AM. The OM might, he’s young and naive and likely this is his first gay relationship, but I still think if Nitwit ever gets genuinely ill or injured he’s in a world of trouble. His immediate family lives abroad, he doesn’t speak to the ones who live in the US, and all his friends are pretty shallow themselves.

            Life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re as stupid as they are.

    • What is almost as sad is mine wasn’t a good dad (very belittling, controlling) or a particularly nice guy unless he thought you were important in some way. I guess for some period of our 21 years of marriage I was important- until I wasn’t. Somehow it hurts even more.

      • Yeah. Getting discarded hurts like a motherfucker. Even that seems like an understatement!

        Mine was only nice to the kibble suppliers (nurses! drug reps! and me–until it wasn’t me!) or the ones who had something he wanted (like the guy who had a fly fishing cabin. My ex “sucked his dick” in front of me. That guy was very aware of his power over my ex. It was always so pathetic to watch the groveling).

        Dr. Ex could be a mean SOB to the doctors in training. They were scared of him. And the young female docs didn’t provide adoring kibbles. They just saw him as an old doc. He hated that.

        Nor was he a nice dad, except in public. He was often mocking, critical, and raging (often silently, which sounds impossible, but you know what I’m talking about if you’ve experienced it).

        There’s an indescribable pain when one’s reality shifts as a result of a betrayal. I still don’t really trust the ground beneath me.

        • Spinach, you 100% get it. I will never get over the discard even though I now recognize how fucked up the relationship was – and somewhere in me I knew it during our marriage too. My kids are mad at me for putting up with him for so long. We all know the truth. My problem is I can’t seem to get past it – all of it. The injustice of it – he is in yet another relationship now (AP didn’t work out). Just moved right along. I want him to suffer and he is incapable

          • Chumtoolong,
            I feel the same way. Exactly.

            My adult daughter wishes I’d left him when she was in elementary school. She’s in her 30s now. Ugh. I’ve apologized.

            I can’t seem to get past it either. I know I’m better off without him, but damn…

            Good luck to you! I hope things get better for both of us. ((Hugs))

        • Spinach,
          I 100% know what you’re talking about. The people they somehow deem worthy they smooze the shit out of. They admire them and really put on their best mask to impress. It’s so odd how they can play such a “nice guy” even faking empathy.

          But at home it’s a whole different story. Mine as your only played nice dad with an audience. He’s now doing it as a way to Hoover the kids since he’s been abusive to them over the years. Just more of a mind
          Fuck for us all. They aren’t nice, they fake nice for the world. While the ground feels shaky I believe your ground is the most solid it’s been since that relationship.

    • My cheater ex takes every opportunity to be super nice to me in front of the kids, or other witnesses, so that my gray rock looks awkward and mean in comparison. I’m fine with that. He has charmed and coopted all of our kids’ friends’ moms since the divorce, so I have learned to keep my interactions with them superficial. I have had to tell my own mother several times to stop responding to his charm when he greets her warmly. I finally told her that if she is smiling and laughing at something he is telling her, then she is failing as a mother. I warned her that if it happens again, I will read out loud to her the fantasy that he posted online of kidnapping, cable-tying, torturing, raping, and leaving me for dead on a deserted road off the highway.

      Covert narcs suck.

      • THANK YOU. It’s especially hurtful when parents let us down like this. Sometimes you have to go hard in response.

  • I understand the desire to sustain the home for the kids–I spent too many years doing that myself. But one thing every chump needs to recognize is that there is no good time to divorce from your kids’ perspective. They will likely be unhappy no matter when you do it. And, in some ways divorcing while your kids are still at home gives you the opportunity to build a new normal with them. If you wait until the kids have all gone off to college or otherwise left home before you divorce, the kids will be even more reluctant to come home for Christmas or go on vacation, etc. because it “isn’t the same any more.” Divorce now and drag your teenagers along on some new adventures while you still can.

    • Yep. I have a DD9 and a DD18, and already (just 6 months after moving out) I can see how different the experience will be for the two different kids. I was hoping that DD18 would at least get out of my STBX’s orbit of influence by going away to college after graduating last year, but then Covid hit. DD18 now lives full-time with STBX and sees me just a couple of days a week, with lots of Covid-related disruptions. I often invite DD18 to stay over, but she’s just not comfortable here. She might feel differently after we sell the former family home this spring, and then neither place will feel like “home.” DD18 does acknowledge, though, some cognitive dissonance in living in the house that feels like home, but is also the place where her family fell apart. It’s very sad, and of course I have great sympathy for the trauma she’s experiencing.

      DD9 is working through issues, too, but seems much more resilient and less conflicted about spending time at both houses.

  • How do you all get these cheaters to admit to anything? I’m just in awe that so many do? My stbx has just denied, denied, blameshifted, projected, gaslighted, and denied some more. I literally was driving myself crazy to get more proof. He’s locked up like a vault, everything is locked. I can’t even properly snoop.

    • Ugh! That’s so frustrating!

      Even for those of us whose cheaters fessed up (yay?), there’s a lot that remains under lock and key, I’m sure.

      I was blindsided with a confession so only snooped after the fact, making myself crazy while I pieced together timelines (he was with her then?), inspect phone record (what are these numbers?), and pour over financial statements (so the bastard withdrew small amount VERY frequently; I hadn’t noticed). I did a lot of this to bolster my case in court, or so I rationalized.

      Once I satisfied my for-the-divorce snooping, I stopped because I realized that no good would come of it. It really hurt me.

      • Yep, I will never know the extent to which he betrayed me, or what all they did.

        I got the credit card history and the bank history for a year, should have asked for two. There was enough on there to help get me a temp maintenance during legal separation.

        In my day, there was no online banking, or texting etc.

        I think you are right though, it would have just hurt more anyway if I had gotten more info. Bottom line is he had a separate private life that I was not a part of, but I did help finance.

        When I think of that time, I think of what I am sure is the very beginning of his screwing of her. He was so happy, and was so excited, even with me. It was also about the same time as he was getting his promotion, so add that in to the mix. Oh the power and excitement, and the wife appliance had no idea. I am sure that gave him even more of a kick.

        I remember the day I was pinning his Captains bars on him at the promotion ceremony. I saw her walk by outside the room and glance in. Of course then, I only knew she was the dog catcher. Didn’t know he was humping her.

        In hindsight, I wonder if he was starting the discard then, or if the was just thinking it was going to go on this way forever.

        • That wondering is just a passing thought, I have no interest in trying to figure out a fuckwit at this time. 🤷‍♀️

        • Ugh, the dog catcher/OW glanced in. I’m sorry you saw that. Those knowing glances hurt in retrospect.

          Also, guess she caught a dog, one with captain’s bars.

          • They both got Dogs. Honestly it was nauseating, and humiliating. I mean I questioned who I was that he could have anything to do with that tramp, much less leave me for her.

            I don’t feel that way now of course, but in real time. Even other police officers were disgusted, do you know how much it takes to disgust a police officer. The major4ity of them were/serial cheaters, and some of them were even skeeved out.

            What got me at the time, was he was an active church member, folks seemed to genially like him, and he was a clean and nice looking guy. So it was a combination of his ability to be a chameleon and my ability to spackle. I actually prided myself in trusting him, lordy that must have provided them with some killer thrills.

      • @spinach35 and Susie,
        I know the admitting it hurtful too, not like it some prize. It was just the crashing making talk and him calling me crazy (even still), that gets really old. I guess I know enough, for my case. I keep leaning more now that I have been granted access to his financials (but only for a year at this point). I have seen as you mentioned the withdrawals, pretty large ones. A hotel stay or 2 that don’t make sense. Literally the only thing that makes sense is that he’s a cheater and I have to just stop. Closure will never happen from him. It’s hard bc I logically know these things but he was a “nice guy”… damn the cognitive dissonance! But in reality he’s awful, he only played nice with an audience. He did the same you mention, Susie, major degrade, in hindsight I was one straw short of full discard.

        Thanks ladies, you all really are the best!

    • We don’t get them to admit it. If they cop to anything, it’s either because they think it will enable you to trust that they are now being honest or because they want to brag about their sick exploits. If he’s not admitting it because he doesn’t feel the need to reel you back in to trusting him again, that’s ultimately to your benefit, though I know it doesn’t feel like it. You want the validation of him admitting the truth. You want to know the story of your own life That’s natural. However, if you trust that he sucks so much that he is never going to validate you or give you your story, you can disengage more quickly. He is no longer the person you look to for validation. You know you’re right and we know you’re right, and he and his bullshit are not your problem. You know your part of the story and you know you were loyal and good to him. You can hold your head high.

      • OHFFS! Preach!

        “He is no longer the person you look to for validation. You know you’re right and we know you’re right, and he and his bullshit are not your problem. You know your part of the story and you know you were loyal and good to him. You can hold your head high.”

        Amen to that!

      • My ex once said she wasn’t going to tell me the truth if she’s just going to get punished for it and if I wasn’t going to get back with her. I said, “You don’t tell the truth because you get something from it. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

        In regards to finding out the truth for all of her infidelity, I got all of it on my own and got her to finally admit to sleeping with another guy (which I knew she had to have but wanted it confirmed). They will never tell you the truth on their own unless they feel they can get something from you.

        • Man my ex husband was the master of “I can’t tell you because you’ll just get mad.” I swear he acted like I was screaming and throwing things and flipping tables. But to him ANY reaction other than complete positivity was a conflict, confrontation or “fight.” Took me a while to figure out that he literally thought every single discussion we had was a fight. He was that big of a coward.

          • He thought every discussion was a fight. And he “can’t tell you [things] because you’ll just get mad.” The problem is your reaction!

            Imagine thinking like that? What a way to live? And how frustrating to live with someone who thinks that way. Glad you got away.

            • The problem is never them but is, and our reaction. They really are fragile, anything other than feeding their egos is seen as tearing them down. I always wondered why I just couldn’t vent without him feeling attacked. Ahh, bc everything is all about them… even when it’s not🤪

          • My ex said the same thing on dday when he spewed all that was wrong with me & the marriage – all of it untrue. His “reasoning” that he never aired these grievances was because I’d get upset & yell. WTF? He knew me for over 26 years & clearly knew that wasn’t my demeanor. I did get upset, yell & cry when I learned of his cheating.

            • My questions were ‘Where did you meet?’ ‘How long were you seeing her for?’ ‘How often were you seeing her?’ Etc. Etc.

              His response ‘Stop asking me questions that are making me feel uncomfortable…I’m not going to answer anything, it’s only going to upset you.’

              Right..so now he is worried about me being upset. Pity he didn’t think of my feelings when he was shagging her.

      • OHFFS,
        Thank you, you summed it up perfectly. It makes sense that when they admit it’s just another way for them to manipulate or gain supply. Good point that he’s not even trying to gain trust, that’s so accurate. Great advice to move forward and look inward for validation. Some days it’s still just seems unreal.

    • It is frustrating. I finally decided not to push for a confession, on the grounds that if it wasn’t given voluntarily I would never be able to trust that I’d gotten the full story. (This was pre-CL; I now realize that even “voluntary” confessions tend to hide a lot of the sordid details.) I was morally certain that XW was having an affair (as it explained her otherwise bizarre behavior perfectly) but had no proof at all when we separated. In the end, though, I got general confirmation from my daughter (who cracked her mother’s phone), and some idea of the timeline from AP’s wife (now XW, and now a very good friend). That’s enough for me.

      In summary: remember that even a “confession” probably wouldn’t be the definitive truth. And that you can know what happened, to a certainty that is sufficient to make your own decisions about your own life, even if you don’t have documentary proof that would satisfy a court.

      • What gets lost on many about affairs is that the cheater denied the betrayed spouse the information to make a decision for their life that might not benefit the cheater. In the business world, that’s called fraud.

        • Exactly. That’s what bothers me the most. I was defrauded of the life I was promised and deprived of the opportunity to have a better one by his deceit. There should be a legal remedy other than divorce. You can be sued if you break any other contract and ruin somebody’s life in so doing. They steal our lives from us and expect us to just get over it? To hell with them all.

        • Right! I’ve had to explain that to so many. You just don’t understand the depth of it until you’ve been through it. It takes years to put the puzzle together and come to terms with your life as it really was. And all those moments when you could have made a better choice for yourself but sacrificed your own wants “for the marriage/family.” Example: I left a dream job, my extended family, and friends so he could take a big promotion in another state, where the OW lived.

          We need legal reform. People shouldn’t be able to get away with committing fraud just because the victim is a spouse.

          P.S., I’m sorry this happened to you guys, but reading your comments gives me renewed hope in finding a GOOD man who values honesty, commitment, and the trust of a loving woman. Thanks for that!

          • I did the same – gave up a job I loved in a part of the country that I love, near to my parents, for XW’s big career move – just a short time before XW nuked our marriage. If I’d known just a few weeks earlier, I would have stayed behind (with our kids, who were with me while XW had moved ahead) and my life today would be completely different.

            I even said this to XW once. She couldn’t grasp the concept that I had only agreed to move because it was good *for her*, despite the costs to me and the kids. I explained that when we were married, it made sense to move (on balance), but that now that we were getting divorced I regretted it, because the advantages for her no longer offset the disadvantages for everyone else. She just looked at me blankly. I really think she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that I’d done something for her that went against my own self-interest, and also that since she was abandoning me I wasn’t going to take her wishes and desires into account any more.

            XW is now doing the same with her AP (now husband). She is gradually peeling him away from his kids by forcing him to choose to be with her rather than them, since she can’t comprehend that he (and they) might have a legitimate need to spend time together in their hometown (which is 1000 miles away). His kids can tell that when push comes to shove he will choose his wife over his kids, and it’s bringing on all the mental problems that you’d expect.

        • Thank you! I stupidly tried explaining this concept to the FW. I was denied the ability to make fully informed decisions about my life. I just never described it as committing fraud.

        • Yep.

          He conned me into signing for a river “retirement” property, knowing full well he was within six months of discarding me. But, he needed my signature to get the loan. The whore had bankruptcy on her record and didn’t make enough credit to get a loan for a tent.

          • My stbx’s latest ow has a bankruptcy too, not that that alone makes her a bad person but I use that to add into my equation that age sucks. He just always told me how I was financially irresponsible (I’m not only financially abused), and this women with a bankruptcy is so much better!!

            It’s just hard bc at the time you didn’t get the opportunity to know the full story. And make the best decision for you. They steal with through their lies. The fraud and deceit is hurtful.

            • “They steal with through their lies. The fraud and deceit is hurtful.”

              Yep, if I had know he was cheating there were several major decisions that I would have made differently, even if I had decided to keep quiet. I likely would have ramped up my college classes instead of taking them one at a time. I would not have turned down a really good promotion, because “he didn’t want me to travel” Sadly if that promotion had been just a year later, he would have encouraged me to take it to get my ass out of state and give him more free time with whore.

              No I am not saying bankruptcy makes one a bad person, but just like any other issue some are there because of situations beyond their control, some aren’t. But my main point is she had no credit so he and his adultery buddy used my credit and signature to get their hide away secured. After I labored for several weekends to get that property set up, including helping him use an auger that was bigger than I am to dig holes for the deck, which I helped nail together. (I developed tennis elbow after that incident, and had to have my arm put in a stint, and take medication) After all that was done, all of a sudden he got “busy” at work and we couldn’t go down there. He had to work, almost every Saturday dawn to dusk. I hope they had fun.

              In his new position they had to send him out of town a couple times for “training”. Bullshit, those were lies to give them time to go down to the property I was paying for.

              So if anyone here has had to file BR for reasons beyo9nd their control, I am not pinging you. Quite frankly I was so broke in the beginning after my discard, I am not sure how I made it. Only fear of it kept me going. Also, my ex took over all the debt, since I had proof that he ran most of it up.

              I just know I would never con anyone the way I was conned, by the FW and the whore. They both knew they were scamming me.

              In his case he basically has lived in hell most of their marriage, and likely so has she. Though her standard of life were much lower than his, so maybe not so much. She just needed a meal ticket. So he was the stereotypical crash and burn cheater. “Karma” did run them over.

              But that didn’t take away the intense pain at the time. Only, time, working hard, and living a decent life did that. We really do have to take our power back, (the sooner the better) and I think that is what CL preaches in her funny way. I didn’t have CL, I had my dear sweet Dad at the time talking me through it almost on a daily basis. He and my brother saved me. And they could only do it via phone, because they lived a thousand miles away, and were both still working.

              • Them making a life on your back, is absolutely horrible and fraudulent. In any other situation they could face legal consequences, seems so wrong that it doesn’t apply to marriage too. Thank God you had your dad and brother.

                I’m not defending the Ow’s bankruptcy. My husbands ap has one too. And I suspect he gave her cash to afford a large down payment on the house she recently purchased. I just can’t prove it at this point. And I’m not sure I even care to.

                Like you said gaining a life is the best thing we can do. And the karma bus is them being together, since they both majorly suck.

        • Exactly! Thanks. It IS like corporate fraud. Many CEOs go to jail for this.

          My lawyer made this very argument. I think that’s why I did better than 50:50 in a no-fault state. The judge/mediator didn’t really care about the infidelity, although that certainly affected her. She did respond to the fraud argument.

          If you haven’t already gone through the divorce process, I recommend that you talk to your lawyers about making the fraud argument.

          • Spinach, how did your attorney approach this? I have a feeling mediation is going to fail and my stbx says since it’s a no fault stated won’t matter that it was 1) with a hooker, 2) in my house during covid, 3) in his medical office during business hours. I haven’t worked in 21 years, sacrificed any career to further his, and we were talking about buying a beach house 2 days before I finally kicked him out because he was still in contact with the hooker (and still is, 5 months later. She’s gotta get that money, and I suspect based on her age, she’s going for a ring).

          • Yep. In my case the fraud netted me a year of maintenance while we were legally separated. My lawyer said he could get me three years. I asked for six month, and then if we could petition for more. He said yes.

            So as we neared six months, I told the lawyer I was ok with going ahead and divorcing. I was afraid my ex would harass me if I petitioned for more. Anyway, my lawyer said my ex was dragging his feet, but he could push it if I wanted. I said as long as he is paying I don’t care how long it takes. So it took another six months. He was paying my house payment, my car payment, my electric bill (we had electric heat) All I paid was the phone and water bill. He would have had to pay for any home repairs etc, but there weren’t any.

            I think my ex would have been ok with me petitioning for more time. I had already bought my own car and turned his car back over to him. I don’t think he wanted me back, I think he was trying to stall his marriage to schmoopie for some reason.

            If I had it to do over, I would have told the lawyer to go for three years, then if I got weary, I could end it. In hindsight I don’t think my ex would have minded. I can’t really describe the weirdness of it all.

    • Mine didn’t admit to anything, his OW told me via text message. I asked for photos & evidence to fill out my timeline and she gave me everything. It didn’t help in my divorce proceedings (no-fault state) but was invaluable to me as reminders of his selfish choices.

      Then and only then did he admit that something had happened between them, but he still tried to play down the affair as little more than friendship. Lies, lies and more lies.

      The level of deception has no limits. I stopped believing every word he said, good or bad, and my life is so much better for it.

  • And Ted Bundy was handsome and charming. SoCal’s “nice guy” gives me the serious willies. He’s not a nice guy… he’s a manipulative creepy gaslighter. He’s bad at sex and not interested in it with her…. but with others, he’s doing threesomes and BDSM. I don’t know how long ago this was originally posted, but I hope she came out of the trauma (it sounds like he was snow balling her with so much BS, it was difficult for her to reconcile the nice guy she thought he was with the real wacko gaslighter he is). Hopefully by now she is divorced, the kids are ok, and she has found someone worth spending her time with (someone fulfilling for her — not just someone she tolerates because she feels guilty that he seems “nice”). If not, please SoCal… get a therapist and lawyer and be free of him.

    • The nice seeming men may be the worst. I’ve been taken full advantage of by my stbx and his father. In ways I’m still not comfortable putting out, as my case is still developing. But each were supposedly “nice”. My fil was classic, church elder type, involved in community, mild mannered in public. I’ve only recently realized he’s a covert narc. Now I get majorly creeped out by him.

      So thankful for authentic people on here!

      • Longtime Chump,

        You might like to check out this book. I found it to be very enlightening.

        The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist by Debbie Mirza.

  • This so could have described my cheater. One reason I was so blindsided on D-Day is that I’d never thought he had it in him. The irony is that I thought that because he was so emotionally immature, yet the emotional immaturity was the very thing that allowed him to lie to himself about the damage he was doing for such a long time. Then because I was so stuck in the mode of thinking about him as a “nice guy” I wasted a few months thinking we could reconcile if only he could use therapy to expunge the bad parts. I see now it was all part of the same ball of wax.

    Also, thank you Chump Lady for calling out Dan Savage’s BS on this stuff. His answer to everything is that the abused monogamous partner just needs to get over herself or himself and let the cheating jerk lead her or his best life. It’s so destructive.

  • In my experience, the always nice guys are the most terrifying. People are complex and multi-faceted. The man who hides his anger and makes sure you don’t let it out, has rage. Maybe he exercises those demons with BDSM, but maybe you want to plan a clandestine escape plan and not be close by when he turns on the rage channel.

    • “The man who hides his anger and makes sure you don’t let it out, has rage.”

      It took me 15 years to see it. I, too, thought he was a nice guy because he never raised his voice, never argued, hated yelling. Until the rage came. Then it was all I could do to have a reasonable conversation with him. Most of the time I just stayed quiet because it was so frightening. Never again.

  • Ugh. I hope that her divorce is years in the past, she and the kids are thriving and someone stomped his balls to paste.

  • I also was fooled by a “nice” guy. He seemed so inexperienced in the bedroom and in relationships that I found it a little endearing. He was the model father and husband although looking back he wasn’t really all that helpful but he is damn good at making it SEEM like he was the model father/husband. When I discovered his was cheating with the older neighbor across the street I couldn’t believe it. He’s so nice, he would never! I thought that a cheater would be someone who was obviously mean to me or seemed checked out of our relationship..this is not the case. In fact, I think whenever he did something terrible to me behind my back, he would make up for it with over the top acts of kindness.

    He continues to fool many many people around him. I think these type of people are the scariest because they are such excellent actors in life. My ex hired transgendered escorts, has a severe porn addiction, cheated on me, immediately started dating after he discarded us (I had a newborn at the time). He was not a nice person. He keeps that mask firmly in place though. I’m waiting for it to slip again soon because it undoubtedly will eventually.

    • Me too.

      30 plus years of apparent niceness.

      https://www.amazon.com/Covert-Passive-Aggressive-Narcissist-Recognizing-Psychological/dp/B07L3DD778/ref=sr_1_3?crid=H2774D2HC272&dchild=1&keywords=covert+passive+aggressive+narcissist&qid=1609949405&sprefix=covrt+passiv%2Caps%2C230&sr=8-3

      This book was one of the many helpful books I read on the subject and was a quick read. Author is not a ‘professional’ just her simple experience; an unpolished description of these monsters spelled out in everyday, easy to understand language.

      I still can’t adequately describe the shock I continue to feel as I wake up to the truth about the man I loved and to whom I was married.

      My heart continues to break for my grown children who grew up in the shadow of all of his deceit. They have no clue to the depths of how his behavior impacted them which, in some regards, is a good thing. All are in their 20’s and just trying to build their own lives as young adults.

      • Thank you- this is one I actually haven’t read. I think I’ve read most books haha. Trying to wrap your head around this behavior is maddening. It Does help to know others have experienced the same scenarios. I’m sorry for your struggle

        • Jo,

          You hit the nail on the head here with your comment ‘have experienced the same scenarios’.

          I read a lot of RIC literature prior to discovering LACGAL so I spent a good 2 years building up my chumpiness thinking it was a noble and good thing to be doing….right?

          Somehow, and to this day I still do not know how, I discovered and read LACGAL and found CL. Before I even finished reading the first chapter my sense of uniqueness was utterly destroyed because Tracy put words on EVERTHING I had been experiencing.

          ALL predictable patterns of behavior – his as well as mine (ouch).

          For me, to name a thing makes it visible, and in that seeing I also get the gift of choice/options.

          Unfortunately sight can bring lots of discomfort, in fact, I have heard that some people who are born blind or loose their sight very early in life and then are given sight actually have what was once called nervous breakdowns or kill themselves because they simply cannot adjust to seeing.

          I am sorry you have to go through what you are going through too; being a member o the club no one wants to belong to.

        • EC and JO: That book was the first one I read, when I was still reeling and didn’t understand what was happening to my life and family. It opened my eyes to the sickness I had committed to and made children with. It broke the cognitive dissonance because her experience mirrored mine almost exactly. After that book, I finally knew what I was dealing with.

  • My dear friend, who preceded me into chumphood, gave me the Nice Guy mindfuck antidote right away.

    NICE GUYS DON’T LIE

    Very simple and true.

    Criminals do nice things. Con artists do nice things. Child molesters do nice things. Serial killers do nice things. Fishermen put nice bait on hooks. For one purpose only. To reel in victims, control the situation and the players.

    If you are intentionally doing things you know hurt other people, like LYING and conducting a secret double life, then you are not a “nice” person. You are a malicious, manipulative predator.

    This is my battle as well….he puts a ton of energy into his Nice Guy persona. One day close to DDay, I said to him, “You’re phony.” I had no idea that I had scored a direct hit and sank his battleship. By that day I had been with him for 27 years and had never said anything like that before.

    To this day he acts all Nicey Pie but now I know it’s just him being manipulative and it makes me sick. Minimal Contact (we have a child and a business) followed by a shower and sage is absolutely essential.

  • Yeah… you call him a ‘Nice Guy’ but he was never that nice, was he? Cheating aside, he was emotionally neglectful, didn’t help around the house, sulked to get his way or to get out of trouble, and played dumb every time he did something shitty. “Whaaaaat? You *didn’t* want me to throw out all those pictures of your deceased mother when you asked me to clean the living room? Explain that to me. Explain it to me slowly and calmly – and also don’t do it in a way that implies I was a jerk for doing this.”

    Please. Playing dumb is the oldest guy trick in the book – good for everything from loading the dishwasher to forgetting your birthday. “Oh hur dur, I’m just a stoopid man who can’t figure out things – better not have standards and just let me do whatever.”

    Ditch this loser.

    • My nephew plays the “dumb little boy” act, which was maybe cute when he was 10 but now in his 50s it’s a bunch of BS. I’m not saying he ever cheated on his wife (I’m pretty sure he hasn’t) but I honestly believe he is a narc. My brother became seriously ill very quickly and ended up dying in a 5-week space of time (in North Wales). I managed to make it over from Switzerland to be with him and I remember calling his son in the Midlands saying that if he wanted to see his dad it had to be now or never. Said he was going to “think about it”. I said “no, have you ever heard of fecal vomiting? Well it really is THAT bad, so it’s now or never”. It was maybe a 180 mile drive for him. But he chose to drive to the beach in South Wales instead because their new puppy had “never seen the sea”! Anyway, all that to say, the silly, dumb little boy act disgusts me in any person over the age of 10 so please don’t fall for it! It’s the manipulation of a narc!

    • He also can’t feck.

      If the main attraction is washing the dishes it’d be cheaper for her and far less stressful if she bought herself a dishwasher.

      Seriously, I don’t understand what in there for OP unless she enjoys taking care of a physically grown up child.

    • What was your ex’s tell when it came to lie or gaslighting? After hearing me call her out on something, she’d say “Why do you think that?” This was to press to find out what I knew.

  • The kids know. I stayed through this bullshit. He was, sorry, felt ignored, was sexually addicted. He was nice but never raise your voice or show anger because it may drive him away. Stayed 20 years too long (married 34). The kids have let it slip that they saw stuff dad was doing on line, traumatized by subtly erratic behavior. I thought I was keeping it smooth for the kids..I was driving it underground. Kick his creepy ass out.

  • This one describes my situation to a T. My stbx was on sugar daddy websites, into bdsm, scouted out prostitutes on Twitter, brought a prostitute into my home multiple times (I’ll never know how many), and built up a huge fantasy romance with her (“I love her, or who I thought she was, a pretty princess of misfortune”). The notes he’d write on his iPad journal—and the nauseating texts he saved in locked notes all read like a 13 year old boys infatuation except he discussed her body, her drug addled brain, how I’d deprived him of cash-hours after he’d had sex with me and he couldn’t scrape together enough cash for a threesome. I hope this gal ran for the hills and didn’t try to live with this freak. I wasted a summer trying to unravel a skein of f+ckedupedness and 34 years of my life.

  • What will really suck is some day one of the kids discovering his “secret” life and being devastated and perhaps telling you, or otherwise living with the knowledge.

    Trust me, my teenager found a bunch of seating between my ex and his gf. It is an emoticon, trauma that no one deserves. She told me, and I kicked his ass out and divorced him, but she is scarred by it. She was also empowered and brave.

    He is exposing you to disease, abuse and a whole bunch of strangers who might threaten you or your family. He needs to go, today.

    Lawyer, bank std clinic and therapist.

    He is not a nice guy.

  • I met a woman, divorced, no father involved, 13 yr old son. She worked, the grandmother looked after him, occasionally his maternal uncle would help out. He told his mother his uncle had been molesting him all his life. Not only was she horrified, broken-hearted and furious, but she kept saying how much he seemed to love her son and was so good to him.
    As a species we try desperately to pigeonhole people because it makes things appear simple. We have bipolar(a true mental illness). We have narcissism(a personality disorder). Your husband is in his own pigeonhole. He sure doesn’t need to be married. He needs to be waaaay over there and you need to be waaaay over here. The sooner the better.
    Don’t try to get a definition of him. He is not even in a diagnostic manual. He’s that off the charts.

  • A poem that seems to fit the occasion reads as follows:

    IRONY

    I thought he wanted space.
    He says he wanted attention.

    I gave him space.
    He got attention ~
    from other women.

    • Any time you hear the “I need space” the relationship is over. They need space to screw around and get you off their back.

      • Thankfully I was cheated on during an age when everything is Google-able. FW gave me the ILBNILY speech and then asked for space while he figured out what he wanted. I was like how the hell do I give you space during the holidays with two small kids? But I also started looking that up and stumbled upon how frequently that is used by cheaters. And that’s when the snooping started…

        • Oh, the investigative part is pretty thrilling. It’s devastating but using intelligence and skills to get to truth is quite an adventure.

          So you started looking because of that statement? What else did you find and how long did it take?

          • Well he had been working ridiculously long hours, but there had been a shift in his job responsibilities so some of that had made sense. It happened from time to time in the year leading up to the affair and I do NOT believe he had another, undiscovered relationship during that time. So he had some cover to fool around. One night he just laid a bombshell on me that he was unhappy in our marriage and wasn’t sure if we were good for one another and used those super banal phrases. I was heading down the path of thinking maybe he was depressed and I was trying to create emotional intimacy in all these off-putting intense ways when I stumbled upon several websites stating how those are usually giant red flags that there is infidelity. I searched everything I had access to. Found receipts for drinks and dinners out where there were always just two people on the ticket and at times when he said he was at work. I found condoms in his work bag, which was by far the most damning and what I used for confrontation. I found pics of their text conversations in the deleted folder on the iPad’s iPhotos that was synced to his phone, most likely because of how easy it is to accidentally take screenshots on the newer iPhones without home buttons. Their texts were soooo juvenile. I felt embarrassed that he was a near-40 guy writing these things and sending stupid memes. Based on evidence, I discovered the affair one month into it and two weeks after he told me he was unsure about our marriage which was right before they slept together for the first time. Crazy stuff! It was quite thrilling to feel like I was doing something other than just being sad.

        • Dan Savage calls it “snooping”. Eff him. I call it investigating and gathering evidence.

          • What he actually says is, “Snooping is always wrong, of course, except when the snooper discovers something they had a right to know.”

  • “He is such a nice guy”. Yep that is what all our friends thought. The man who swore he never wanted to be like his dad who blew up his family, ghosted them and left them in poverty for the whole of fws life. I was completely blindsided by his affair as were my sons-thank God they were adults when this happened. What a dick! What a loser! Hugs!

    • X didn’t want to be like his dad either — narc POS who has been cheating on X’s mom for who knows how long — and ended up exactly like him. Secret lives, doing whatever one wants without consequences — this is what was modeled for him because his mom stayed. He claimed it was bad, but ended up just like him. Don’t stay and let your kids see this as OK.

        • Yes -my FW cried about it too. How he had become his father. Boohoo. Choices! My sons in their late 20s were devastated and are still (3.5 yrs) working through their relationship with their Dad. One son Went on antidepressants. Both went into therapy. Heart breaking and absolutely enraged me-still does when I think about it. Another reason to be the stand up parent-to model sanity. Both have said they were proud of me for how I handled this. Such a rotten thing to do to your family!

      • My ex wife gave so many sob stories about her dad’s infidelity on her mom and leaving her mom only for her to do that crap to me and our family.

        Her mom stuck around after all of the affairs until the final affair (frequent affairs over 15-20 years) until the final exit affair. I think my ex had delusional beliefs about me sticking around due to her mom continuing to eat a shit sandwich.

        • Here’s a quote from Ana Nogales’ book on children of cheaters.

          “The consequences of (cheating) are tremendous-especially when children are involved. When a person is unfaithful to his/her spouse, that person is being unfaithful to their children as well. How will the children ever trust again ? What kinds of relationships will they have ? Will they bring unfaithfulness into their own relationships because that’s their experience in their own family and that’s what they expect ?”

          Something for chumps with kids to discuss.

          • P.s I changed the pronouns (the author used he/his in this particular passage) because men AND women abuse with their cheating.
            I read all the comments and more women than men post so some interpret the site as full of male bashing.
            We’re just each speaking of our own experience. That includes the LGBTQ citizens of CN.
            ✌️

        • Mills,
          Your wife could have chosen a different path, like I don’t know,some therapy,but she didn’t. That’s on her and not your fault.

          • My father cheated on my mother. And was an emotionally absent parent who in effect abandoned his kids. He’s bewildered that his children have nothing (or rarely anything,in my narc brother’s case) to do with him. An elderly man with a case of the sadz.
            I’m not a cheater.
            We all choose how to behave.

            • Yes. That’s called being an adult. Especially when the pain of that behavior impacts your life. Why continue the legacy and hurt more people. True selfish behavior-shitty character. I really dislike that man. So glad he is out of my life and sorry he is still in my sons lives

        • Mills– Geez, your biggest crime in that scenario was not being a cheater. You didn’t practice the same religion.

          Something tells me that your ex fw sometimes had affairs with married men and so simultaneous to cheater, she played the mate-poacher/homewrecker/sidechick role.

          Look up the studies on mate poaching– lots of associations to “dark triad,” psychopathy, etc., plus implications of both internalizing their own childhood abusers (becoming like the abuser, as in “See daddy, I’m just like you. I take victims just like you! I am loyal! Will you love me now???”) while perpetually trying to win the pickme dance for abusers’ good graces (because it would suck to be the victim parent, the “loser” in an equation where there are only victims and perps). It’s exactly the same twisted psychology of domestic batterers, give or take fists and baseball bats. Cheating is the less athletic form of battering.

          In any case, people who compulsively reenact childhood betrayal will superstitiously do so long after their abusers are dead and gone. It’s a bit like they joined the abuser cult and all the betrayals and abuses they commit are devotional groveling to that alter. Chumps and children are the bloody human sacrifices, all so that their personal abuser volcano gods may smile on them and not unleash plagues of locusts.

          • HoaChump,

            Well, I just learned something new tonight.

            I am about 4 years out from dday.

            Lately it feels like I have just discovered a new wing in a huge house that I thought I knew inside and out. Each time I enter a room I am confronted by something I didn’t know existed although I recognize it instantly because it is a part of my past merely seen from a different perspective.

            That shift in perspective changes how I saw my past and how I felt about myself instantaneously.

            Rather than feeling confused by what I see in the room it is as though my life makes more sense than it has in years/decades.

            The result is that I feel freer, like another huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, a weight I didn’t know existed because I was so used to carrying with me wherever I went

            You enlightened me to the world of ‘dark triads’. Wow. I looked it up and there were all the behaviors I had witnessed but had never been able to tie together in a cohesive bundle.

            The words ‘it really wasn’t any of your fault’ flooded my mind and the relief was palatable.

            Thank you for bringing those 2 words and all the psychological studies conducted on them to my attention.

          • Wow, I looked up the triad information. It is eery. I will do more reading, but just the definistions of the three points are so on the mark.

            I get that it doesn’t change anything, and in my case I am learning only as it applies to what my son is dealing with now.

            I will post more on that later, but evidently as fucked up as I knew my ex was, and the stuff he has pulled. It is even worse now. Karma isn’t nearly as fun as I thought it would be, because my son is having to deal with the fall out.

            His dad right now is in critical health coaddition; so I am just trying to be supportive. I know he loves his dad, or at least the dad he thought he knew as a child. But, it is just a mess.

            My son is strong and he won’t take his dads burdens on himself, but I know he just wants the last bit of time he has to be peaceful. It won’t be because his dad and schmoopie are not peaceful or happy folks but… As we say “it is what it is”

            • SLee,

              I have 3 older children. All are dealing with this more or less on their own.
              I keep my mouth shut unless asked. They don’t ask or even bring him up which is fine with me.

              I know I am still reeling from the depth of his insanity myself – my friends, who all knew him for as long as I did, kept telling me throughout the early days that he was a very sick man.

              I didn’t see it. Thought it was only one woman, the current one and a few in the past that were ‘just friends’. Well, now I know differently as the truth continues to emerge. Mind-blowing
              and he is a therapist working in the addiction field himself. What a huge red flag….Love makes one blind is very true and I was very blind for a long, long time.

              I wish you lots of luck with you dear son. So much for him to grasp – to fully understand that the person he thought was his father simply does not exist. Thats even hard for me to grasp – as someone put it here recently – ‘he was merely a hologram’. He had us all fooled for well over 30 years!

              • Thanks EC.

                I likely wouldn’t’ even know about C nation had he not blown up his relationship with our son. (silver lining?) It has not been my mess, but son has handled it as well as can be expected. Of coure we hurt when our kids hurt.

                I realized when the new wave of narcissistic behavior hit against my son, that I had buried some anger at myself for having let FW treat me like shit for so long.

                Don’t get me wrong I have been very happy, and had a good life thus far, but it was good to release that hidden anger and finally understand that the issue was not me.

              • I meant to add that when all this went down (my discard) my son was only 20 and in the AF.

                After the FW left and he had filed; we had been legally separated for about t month and FW wanted to come back home. Like a true Chump, I was elated and let him back. (yay, I won ) It lasted a week, before I ask him to leave. He was (in hindsight) snake like nice to me for about two days; then the shit started again, pushing away, getting mad.

                Previous to that I had told my son we were going to try again, he said to me: “mom be careful, I love dad, but he is messed up} I should have listened.

                For the record, I figured out that the only reason he wanted back in the house was to get access to the car I was using so he could do his political canvassing in a nice car. He couldn’t use the squad car. No he didn’t tell me this; but it was not too hard to figure out by about the third day. That is how little regard he held for me as a human being much less the mother of his only child.

                He never got another shot at me, though he tried a couple times. Schmoopie had to be aware, that was why he was doing it. But, right now he is raining hell down on schmoopie, and she deserves whatever hell she gets.

                My son however doesn’t.

  • Maybe this has already been said: Nice does not equal good. Being “nice” is a social construct- people are nice to go along and get along. Being a good person- of good character, morals, etc, is a completely different thing. Ted Bundy was nice (and charming). Hitler was charismatic and a good public speaker. Neither of them were good people. We often look at the presentation, the wrapping paper per se. We need to dig much deeper- do their actions match their words? What are they really telling you with their actions? When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

    • This is very true. In the future I plan to really observe what someone’s moral compass is. I will not rely so heavily on acts of kindness..anyone can do that. Live and learn

  • There is a difference between nice and good. Anyone and everyone can be nice. You can’t function in the world if you are not. But goodness, that takes character and integrity.

  • Wow, the description is SO much like my ex. Emotional adolescent. Likes chick flicks and desserts. Sulky. Can’t accept responsibility. Claims affairs don’t matter if they aren’t emotionally involved. Won’t talk about things if it was his fault. Acts sorry, but then not so sorry. Everyone thinks he is a nice guy. And especially… HAS LOTS AND LOTS of SECRETS, but acts like a bumbling idiot so that no one will suspect him.

    My view on it: It’s already over. You just don’t realize it yet. He will keep having these affairs. They will get worse. And he will only like you if you are clueless and let him do whatever he wants. Your finances will suffer because he can’t be responsible. You may get an STD. And none of it will EVER be his fault. He will start getting angrier and angrier and blaming you more and more. He will get better at his secrets.

    Time is not on your side. Decisive action is the only thing that will preserve your finances and sanity.

    • “Claims affairs don’t matter if they aren’t emotionally involved.”

      Oddly, when these fuckers say this, it only applies to them having affairs. It would matter greatly if it was their spouse.

  • I look at the image CL drew… and think “have you met Mr. Sparkles?” He plays Mr. NiceGuy by day, but when he thinks no one is looking, he is trolling the internet for gang bang parties with girls the same age as his 20-something daughter… he’s creating multiple profiles of himself on dating sites seeing what kind of con he can run (maybe find a better Chump?)… he’s looking for Couples and posing as a BiMWM… yet our marriage problems were MY FAULT.

    Whenever I think I miss my NPD fuckwit, I look at CL’s artwork… puts me right back in Mehtown. Now if you’ll excuse me, gotta go scrub my eyeballs 🙂

  • Do you know else liked to tie people up and whip them and take pictures behind his wife’s back?…..All while holding a job, being a “nice guy”, attending church, participating in Boy Scouts and being a present father to his kids……..

    The BTK serial killer. He tied people up and murdered them and was home in time for pot-roast.

    GTFO while the getting is good. You don’t even know this guy.

  • SoCal, “Nice” is right out of the Sociopath Handbook. Substitute the word “manipulative”, or “conniving”, so that you can stop manipulating *yourself*.

  • I was discarded after 30 years by a nice guy. He did the dishes, bought me flowers, we went on dates and we had lots of sex. After he left the kids told me he made fun of me behind my back and called me crazy. So basically he’s a two faced liar.

  • I had the “nice guy” cheater. The incredulous gasps from EVERYONE of “oh he would never”.

    Nice is false. Nice is a sheen to distract, to blend in, to hide.
    Nice is surface. Nice is saying good morning, holding the door open, letting someone cut in line.
    Nice expects something in return.
    Nice is often a coward.
    Nice never learns.
    Nice is a mask for those that can’t do kind because kindness is hard.

    Kindness is real, takes effort, empathy.
    Kindness is vulnerability, bravery.
    Kindness is a risk.
    Kindness extracts a price, willingly paid.
    Kindness doesn’t keep score.

  • I needed to read this today. I hope SoCal found her way out.
    CL is the antidote to the sickness that happens when living with a cheater. It took me 2 years to begin to recognize the deceit going on in all aspects of my life. Even simple things, like cheater giving the impression that he loves to cook – his mom was a caterer, he grew up learning how to cook, he wowed me with one beautiful dinner before we were married, he bought Calphalon when it first came out and was unreasonably expensive. I had to hand wash those stupid heavy black pots for 25 years! He “catered” a few office events years ago. He built up this solid reputation of being an experienced cook who could talk about food & food preparation but as time went on & my kids grew up & some of them could not stay out of the kitchen, I began to see the real liar. He really just loved to eat! He can cook, he does know a lot, but I began to notice that he never tried a recipe for the fun of it, never kept trying to perfect a dessert, never tried to please any of us by preparing something we liked, never cooked in his spare time, and I swear, I think he actively worked at not having to cook at all!

    He takes advantage of the times he unwittingly gives or makes an impression. I think he rolls with it rather than be honest, and it becomes part of the general knowledge about him. I don’t think any of us will ever really know him. He successfully led a double life for over 26 years! The “nice guy” impression was so strong that I was afraid I was crazy & that my family would think I was crazy. When the stress and problems were too big too ignore, I didn’t have the confidence that my parents or brothers would even believe me.

    I need to read from CL that “ nice is hand knitted socks” and that hiring a hooker and bringing home an STD to your trusting wife is abuse. The cheater does NOT make that clear and takes advantage of every single opportunity to sow confusion.

  • I had a Nice Guy once – one of my cheaters.

    I don’t even know now why I thought he was nice, except that on paper, he was unmarried, went to church, and was a lawyer.

    He opened car doors for me, and paid for dinner. He was slightly boring, bumbling, and obsessive.

    He also lived like a zombie, had galloping OCD, was chronically depressed and exhausted, was incestuously enmeshed with his family of origin, ignored me for most of the time, made decisions about me without asking me, could not buy gifts to save his life, and cheated on me.

    Really, I was a beard and someone to have dinner with. And if that had been the arrangement, perhaps it wouldn’t have felt quite so bad. (I would have chosen better restaurants.)

    But I wasn’t party to all the information. And that makes all the difference.

    This is the one I diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in sheer desperation. Actually, he was just a weirdo.

    I too am single for good reasons, so I get it, but you shouldn’t be dating if you’re that messed up.

  • The “I have to explain everything to him” as to why you are upset is called manipulation and being on a crazy train. I have 2 Ivy League cheaters / sociopaths in my past and both always acted like clueless professors when it came to common sense and/or why I was upset with their behavior. Each gaslighted me and I found myself going crazy trying to explain right from wrong and healthy boundaries. I finally realized their “clueless/innocent” act was all bullshit and I got off the crazy train. Both are highly successful individuals who are entitled sick fucks.

    Your ex is not a nice guy. He is as close to the devil as they come.

  • Seriously – you need to collect your data in secret, in private and quickly.
    Get a flash drive. Label everything you put on it with the date and brief description.
    Scour your bank records for strange payments. See if his paycheck matches what is being deposited. If not, he’s got another bank account. Cross reference the figures with your tax return as a quality control.
    Scour your credit card charges.
    Scour your EZ-Pass account for trips
    Get his car alone and take screen shots of all his GPS address destinations.
    If you share a google account, check out his timeline for trips and copy it. If he uses GasBuddy, do the same.
    Find out if it’s legal in your state to snoop on his cell phone or email (it might not be – so check the law)
    Do a history search on the computer. Take screen shots. Fire up that old laptop or cell phone in the box in the basement that you don’t use anymore and see what you find.
    Check out the trash bin on the computer.
    Do a file search for ‘jpg and other image documents and see what’s there. I found all sorts of stuff hidden on our computer by doing a search by file type.
    Do an internet search on user names you think he might be using to find webs groups he belongs to – you could even join them with a “throwaway” alternate email address (look up how to get one) and a fake name and see what he’s up to. My ex told his beer group every time he took a trip with his mistress and sometimes posted photos. Take screen shots.
    Go to your store discount rewards cards and see if the store keeps a history of purchases (my ex used my store card to buy sex gel and condoms so I saw not only what he bought but where he was – and it wasn’t anywhere near the city in which he said he had business – and I was on the pill so the condoms weren’t for me)
    Search your house and cars for material evidence (look in the spare tire well, side panels where you keep the jumper cables), Look in the basement workshop, Look in the bin in the back of the shed. Take pictures.
    Copy everything onto the flash drive that you keep in a very secure place.
    I was able to get $8000 more in my divorce settlement because I could prove all the gas and meals and hotels and gifts. I should have gotten $15k but we were in a “collaborative” divorce setting which I DON’T advise – because you will be asked to “meet in the middle” when he stole from your marital estate and should pay it back.
    Sister – you need to stop thinking about “nice” because that is going to stop you from protecting yourself.

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