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Is He Just Your Average Narcissist?

narcissisticDear Chump Lady,

I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and am learning tons about all the different kinds of fuckwits out there. For some reason I really need my cheater to be a narcissist. I’m stuck on the idea that if he isn’t a narcissist then maybe there was something wrong with our marriage. A lot of things point to him being on the narcissist spectrum, but then other things don’t fit the profile. I would love your diagnosis of our marriage history.

We met in college and dated for five years before we got married. We had what I thought was a great marriage. Lots of friends and family, financially secure, active sexlife, two kids. The sour note in our wedded bliss was me finding out about visits to porn sites and strip clubs. It was incredibly painful to discover that he would take his wedding ring off when visiting the strip clubs. It was very hurtful too that he didn’t seem very sorry about it. He kissed my butt for a little while, but otherwise seemed very annoyed that I was hurt. He supposedly stopped those activities, but I guess I don’t know for sure. We moved on from it. I felt very loved and I adored him and thought he was the best thing ever in spite of how he had hurt me.

Then one fall he started to get distant and mean. He lost weight and became preoccupied by his appearance. I remember saying to my friends, “If I didn’t know better I’d think he was having an affair.” Fast forward a couple months and I confront him with the big question. He denies an affair, but says he has lost feelings for me. I spend a month trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

Finally, I ask his best friend what’s up and he tells me the truth — that my husband has been having an affair for about five months. Our friends and I stage a confrontation to which he responds with violent anger. The next year was a time of limbo. I believed in unicorns and was pick me dancing like crazy. Throughout that year we went to counseling he was putting very little effort into our marriage, but was not ending it either. Just when I would feel like I had had enough, he would do something kind or initiate sex and I’d get my hopes up again that maybe the “affair fog” was lifting.

When his stash of love notes from her appeared in our bedroom, I kicked him out. He left, but then returned the next day humble and somewhat remorseful. He said he needed space. He needed some time to think things through. Then he intiated sex. Stupidly, I complied because I believed the unicorn was in sight. He leased an apartment a few miles away and he would come and have dinners with the kids and me. I gave him his space and continued the pick me dance. As his lease was ending, I asked him for his decision and he said he didn’t see us working out. I waited almost a year for him to file and he never did, until I finally told him I wasn’t going to file since it was his deal. Couple months later he did and now he and “Schmoopie” are getting married.

Is he your average cheater? Was it an exit affair? Is he a narcissist? Will you please give me Chump Lady’s diagnosis? I’m hoping it will help give me more closure on this painful chapter of my life.


Dear Andrea,

I diagnosis him as a cake-eating fuckwit.

Does it matter what flavor of crazy we diagnose him with? That’s untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Is he a narcissist? A pathetic guy having a “midlife crisis”? A pileated yellow-bellied nitwit? It doesn’t matter. What matters is — is the way he’s treating you acceptable to YOU?

That’s the ONLY person we need to untangle here — you. What are your deal breakers? What do you think is acceptable behavior in the marriage? Is he good enough for you?

For some reason I really need my cheater to be a narcissist.

I get it. If we give him a label (like “mid-life crisis” or “narcissist”) then we can explain the phenomenon of discarding people who love us. If he’s a victim of a stroke, or a brain tumor, or has an affliction like “sex addict” (it’s just a brain disease!) then all this crazy has meaning. And better yet, perhaps it can be FIXED!

Similarly, if it’s something immutable like a personality disorder — he’s just a narcissist and he was born that way and has no empathy synapses and he can’t change — then we’re off the hook. Nothing to be done! He’s a disordered fuckwit! It wasn’t me, it was HIM!

I’m stuck on the idea that if he isn’t a narcissist then maybe there was something wrong with our marriage.

There was something wrong with your marriage — he wouldn’t quit cheating on you. You had nothing to work with.

That’s either an acceptable situation to you — I’ll let him eat cake and keep devaluing me — or it is not — I’m getting a divorce.

You tried limbo. You chased. You let him eat cake for a LONG time, including dragging out a divorce, but in the end, this marriage was not sustainable with three people in it. He married the affair partner, now he needs a new hypotenuse. Please ensure it’s not you.

Andrea, I don’t argue that every cheater is a certifiable personality disorder. I’m not a shrink, I’m a chump. I argue that the act of cheating is narcissistic. You cannot cheat on someone without suppressing empathy for them. Lack of empathy is the hallmark of narcissists. Maybe they overflow with the milk of human kindness in the other parts of their lives, but cheaters lack connection and compassion for their chumps.

Moreover, you cannot cheat on someone without emotionally abusing them with lies, gaslighting, and blameshifting. It’s not what you think! I’m not having an affair! You’re crazy! To cheat on someone is to devalue them. Worse, cheaters turn it back on chumps and blame them for the abuse.

Cake eaters USE chumps. That’s not an “exit affair” (which I’m beginning to believe is a pretty rare unicorn too). To sustain cake eating (and yours sustained it for, what, a couple of years?) means the cheater is extracting value from the chump, using them for kibbles, and maintaining a position of privilege (all the attention on ME! Dance everyone! DANCE!) for their own advantage (AND PAY MY BILLS WHILE YOU’RE AT IT!).

Cheaters avoid responsibility and the consequences of their bad behavior. They act entitled. Yours flew into a “violent” rage when confronted.

Whatever you want to call these dynamics and the idiots who dish out this crap — it’s deeply messed up. Personally, I think to maintain a double life for any significant amount of time, to keep suppressing your empathy and using and abusing people, means you’re disordered and belong on Planet Narcissist.

It helps to learn about personality disorders and narcissists and sociopaths because it gives us a framework to understand that such people exist. They don’t play by the same rules. They’re wired differently. Chumps imagine that if they hurt their partners, they would be eaten up by guilt, or admit it, or accept consequences. We’re baffled when people don’t play by the rules of civilized conduct. (Which keeps us getting played. This gesture has MEANING! I got a KIBBLE! The FOG IS LIFTING!)

Dr. George Simon talks in terms of character and I think that’s more useful. Character is on a spectrum. Character can change, but it’s very difficult because authentic growth is hard and painful. You have to give up entitlement and exchange it for humility. You have accept consequences. You have to feel other’s pain, and why when there is a shiny new source of kibbles?

Your ex had lousy character. He treated you appallingly and devalued you. For quite awhile there you let him — that’s what you need to puzzle out — why? Not is he this or that kind of narcissist — maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But why were you the kind of chump who didn’t serve his ass.

I asked him for his decision and he said he didn’t see us working out.

It was never his decision — it was yours.


This one ran before. I’m hung over from being on lockdown, watching the news all night, and hating limp-dick Confederate cos-play stooges take a dump on our democracy.

If you think those seditionists are “patriots” you can fuck right off my blog and never return. We don’t have a disagreement, we don’t share the same values. I won’t waste my talents trying to help the likes of you. And if you argue with me in the comments about “politics” on MY blog, I’ll delete you. It’s called No Contact. 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Watch the conversations about political fallout – it’s blame shifting and gaslighting all over the place. Oh, and the cake eating as Trump supporters and staff weigh the risks of speaking out.

    Waiting to see whether there are consequences for those who violated their oaths.

    • I want consequences as well. But let’s keep today’s post about the topic at hand and not what happened in DC yesterday. I was giving my reason for the rerun. I don’t want to invite a discussion about Trump. My views are clear and those who thrill to sedition can fuck off. I don’t want to talk about it here. Back to business.

      To all the waah! that’s so unfair! this is my space too! people. Nope, no it isn’t. I run this place. Go find another corner of the internet to sulk.

      • Yes it’s your blog. My FOO decided to gang up on me and scream at me bc of what my spouse did to me. Hurt me. They piled on the hurt. I said enough. I have boundaries now. And they started screaming at me in a frenzy. Like my spouse did. So I went no contact. Bc that’s my right. Too.

        • Fuck them. This is a pattern with me, too – the screaming at me and blaming me for the abuse others inflicted upon me. I’m done. I’m sad. I’m also mad as hell. No contact is the only way to go. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you have an OBLIGATION to family members, regardless of how they treat you. It is a sick and twisted status quo that keeps the wheels of victim blaming turning. Now… if I could just fix this picker… and figure out how to date during COVID..
          Best to you, ChumpMVP 🙂 I am in your corner

  • Tracy, stay safe and keep your snark. Your talent is legendary! Still reading and watching the news here. Horrified but not surprised. If anything, we have seen the predictable path that a narcissist walks. And it is scary. I have often compared my ex to this…the scorched earth mentality and actions when the power is so great. Narcissism is a continuum, yesterday showed the ‘severe’ end of that. I am saddened and sickened.

  • Tracy, I have learned so much from this blog. You’ve taught me to say “Fuck off” and maintain that “Fuck off” boundary. I have learned to clearly state my stance in all issues, and not regret the fallout from that stance. Confederate flag carrying white Supremacists desecrating the Nation’s Capitol can fuck off.

    As always, I wonder what happened to Andrea? Did she tell that cheater to fuck off and is she happily divorced? Chumps want to play nice and be polite. It serves us better to learn to establish our boundaries. It serves us better to learn the power of fuck off.

  • I absolutely believe my XW is mentally ill on a basic level. BPD, NPD… A little of this, a little of that… She endured unique horrors as a child. Her mother is mentally ill and likely her father too. I feel sorry for her—as a child.

    But she’s also a grown woman who is successful in her field and makes many sound, rational decisions.

    One of those decisions was to remorselessly inflict pain on me and our young children with her ongoing betrayal as we literally begged and cried for her to stop destroying our family. She wouldn’t.

    So, mental illness? Sure. But bad person? That too. It’s a fine line between mental illness and basic selfishness. I reached the point a long time ago where probing the minutiae of the grey areas was pointless. She is someone who hurt me and our children. The “why’s” no longer matter if they ever did. She knew what she was doing and she did it anyway. Again and again. She was no puppet acting on the whims of some ghostly puppeteer from her childhood.

    • We all show our human empathy by feeling sorry for the pain others have had. We especially feel that empathy for those we love. But when a person we love justifies their cruelty to us specifically by referring to their pain as a child years before, that is a whole level of intentional cruelty. It does not matter if it is from a personality disorder or not.

      If a person we love inflicts pain on us, and we say “that hurts!” and then that person tells us how hurt they are that we feel hurt. and then they go further by using our hurt feelings niw to justify their hurting us in the past. Horrifying. And intentional.

      I had the question “is it intentional” for awhile, And I realized it doesn’t matter. Like you, eventually you have to say it doesn’t matter what the reasons are; this is not acceptable.

      In the last year I read some of George Simon who Trump lady refers to, and he discusses this idea of intention and he says that it’s his opinion that it is intentional because they see it all around them. He says though that it also becomes habitual. Automatic. That was a helpful way for me to look at it. It is both intentional and habitual.

      When We assume that it is an intentional, we imagine that we just need to explain it to them. Somehow if we flap our lips enough, they will finally see the error of their ways and change. But that is another thing that I learned reading George Simon — his little rhyme: “it’s not that they don’t see; they just disagree.”

      I mean: you were sitting there crying, asking and pleading. Or they know they are lying. They sit in church or they read books about people or they watch dramas on TV. They comment on how horrible that character is to their spouse. They see. They see. They just disagree that you matter.

      In my divorce process however, The idea of intention has become much more important to me. Because what my husband is doing in the divorce process is all out burn everything down. My attorney says that he has never seen anything like it in 30 years of practice. My understanding that my husband is intentional terrifies me.

      Keeping secrets from chumps is no accident. Seeing pain and telling people they deserve it is no accident.

        • I am so sorry! This was an unintentional dictation error, and a horrible day for it.

      • I will admit to wanting to go scorched earth on the Dick……making all his shit public. Not sorry about that, and I tell the truth to all who ask. But his slow burn over 15 years behind my back brought it about. Now I’m thinking I set a defensive fire, like out West. Depriving the original fire of any more fuel.

      • “It’s not that they don’t see. They just disagree”. Yes, my cheater always cheered when a cheating character in a movie got his comeuppance. The cognitive dissonance is astonishing to a non-disordered person.

    • Yes, this is so important to remember. Most cheaters are able to behave sufficiently decently and responsibly in other areas of their lives that they hold down jobs, maintain friendships, pay their taxes, and obey the law. So they could behave
      decently and responsibly with their spouses and family. They choose not to. Disordered people still have agency and the capacity for self control. Only those who act as they do as a result of a very serious mental illness can be judged not responsible for anything on the basis of that mental illness, and the illness will have a global presentation. It will not appear in only one area of a person’s life. If it isn’t a global presentation, you know it’s not that serious and that conscious choices are being made.
      Whatever flavour of fucked up this dude is, he’s first and foremost a flaming asshole and that is the only explanation needed for why he behaves as he does.

      The above also applies to domestic terrorists and other bad actors. They are commiting their acts bases on lies and bankrupt conspiracy theories, but they have agency and have chosen to tune out the truth to facilitate their vile behavior. A cheater does much the same thing, choosing to convince him/herself that he/she is the helpless victim of the chump, FOO, sex addiction, or whatever other stupid excuse is used.

    • David: amen to that! I feel the same about my STBX (we are both women) – I’ve recently been reading a little more about Borderline and think that STBX is somewhere on the spectrum of both Borderline and narcissism. All the cluster B traits can be comorbid and can slide along the scale depending on external stressors, etc. There may be a gendered aspect as well: women may be more likely to have some Borderline traits or covert narcs, whereas men are more likely to be overt/malignant narcs – though my former mother-in-law certainly ticked all the boxes for malignant narcissism.

      The only reason STBX’s underlying diagnosis matters to me is that I still have to deal with STBX in order to get through the divorce, and my younger kid is only 9, so there’s another decade of parenting to be done. Am looking forward to an end to Covid so at least I won’t have to negotiate that on top of everything else. (I’m at higher risk for severe disease if I am infected, and like most cheaters, STBX is unwilling to make my health a priority if it’s inconvenient to her. Unfortunately, since we share custody, I’m still exposed to her shitty decisions, though she already got herself and the kids sick at a Halloween party, and fortunately neither my parents nor I were exposed.)

      Out disordered fuckwits are unlikely to agree that there’s anything wrong with them that needs to be diagnosed, and they might or might not ever receive a diagnosis in treatment. While I’m not interested in trying to force STBX to do anything, I do regret not having a diagnosis, because then we’d have more concrete advice for how to move forward – what to tell the kids, etc. When someone is diagnosed with alcoholism or substance abuse, there’s at least a model for accountability, support for family members, etc. I’m now coming to see that mild or covert cases of certain personality disorders are like a silent epidemic causing so much damage in peoples’ lives – as if life can’t already be hard enough. I do think it’s useful to learn about those disorders, and especially the cycle of abuse, in order to fix our pickers for dating, friendships, and work boundaries.

      All best to you!

      • Very well said, LezChump. I am a fellow “lezchump.” My partner seemed like a loving and supportive partner for 14 years. Then it appeared like she became a sociopath overnight. Things I learned later suggested that something had started to change maybe a year before – pretty much right after I bought her gastric sleeve surgery and supported her through nursing school.

        I have divorced, moved out of town, and started building a whole new life. But I still wish I could understand WTF happened. Maybe it’s because I want to avoid that in the future, but also I think I just am able to better process the emotional fallout of things when I can put them in some sort of analytical framework. I mean, I get she has terrible character but how does someone hide that for 14 years?

        The best I have been able to come up with is “acquired situational narcissism.” It usually applies to someone who becomes rich, famous and/or powerful overnight. But in my ex’s case, I think it was the weight loss and new career that tripped her from a subclinical-covert narcissism to full-blown narcissism. The empty shell that needed to be filled with kibbles inflated with her new cache/status and I just couldn’t supply the new levels of demand.

        • Good to hear from you, Erasure. Feel free to find me on Reddit if you want to talk more!

          My STBX also acted out most strongly after key moments of adult transition in her life. Her first affair (which was short – and she seemed very contrite afterward, which I why I stayed) came about a year and a half after she gave birth to our first daughter. 14 years later, STBX had a much longer affair about a month after her narcissistic mom died. But, in between, there was a lot of subtle mindfuckery and what I would now characterize as “affair lite” behaviors, like emotionally intense friendships with women she was sexually attracted to. So, I can now see that the disorder was there all along, and the difficult life events just diminished her capacity to fight her natural, disordered impulses and do the right thing.

          All best to you! We’re better off without them.

      • Great post, LezChump!

        I totally agree that it’s really helpful to understand clinical NPD/BPD behavioral sets…and once it clicks, you start to understand that it really IS a silent epidemic

        which, unlike other mental health issues (addictions/mental illness) is still buried under layers of societal shame and counter logical victim blaming…keeping the cycle of silence going, in many cases

        In retrospect, I can see a somewhat similar pattern in my ex-wife…a disordered person struggling and eventually failing to override their “natural” Tendency To Abuse, which leads to Hiding the Abuse, which leads to more abuse etc

        Stay mighty, everyone!

    • David–

      After hearing about the horrors of his childhood, I felt sorry for the child my violent stalking coworker once was but I still put the adult in jail.

      Somehow he managed to keep his lies pretty straight on the stand until he was impeached by taped evidence in trial and found guilty. He also managed not to assault the judge who delivered the verdict or throw himself on the armed court marshall despite the “confusion” and “triggering stress” of the situation.

      From all that, I’d say he wasn’t “crazy” or “mentally ill” so much as criminally disordered. I think it’s a critical social endeavor to prevent the kind of abuse that made him the way he is, but stick a fork in the adult.

  • My ex blind sighted me the night before Trump was elected that he had a 5 year affair. I kicked him out of the house- found Chump Lady in the middle of the night and went no contact. We had been married 36 years. He happens to be a lawyer- the divorce became a three day trial circus! I’ve been divorced now 2 years- he married the ow a few months after the divorce was final. I have always compared the ex to Trump. I’ve survived the abuse and moved forward! Good riddance Trump!

    • LOL – Paula.

      Just over two years ago my XH had been with the kids in our house and was walking out through the living room while I sat listening to Trump’s State of the Union for that year and he stopped and remarked on something Trump said to which I replied, “Well, at least you know there is still one person in the world who I hate more than you.” He was so pissed that I was equating him with Trump. It’s one of my only digs that I ever got in during our separation and divorce before I went fully no-contact. But their overblown egos were/are so similar at times.

  • Your analysis is spot on, it doesn’t matter what flavor of crazy he is. What matters is you have to stop appeasing him and trying to save that which cannot be saved, your idea of a marriage. Even if it is not your nature to fight you have to put on appropriate combat gear to PROTECT yourself. You need to find a good gladiator lawyer and proceed to court to dissolve the false union. Let the FW suffer the consequences of his own decision making process, and fight to save your life, your children’s lives.

    In my opinion, chumps tend to make the same mistake over and over when we continue to try to understand and fix that which cannot be fixed. We have too much empathy and we seem to lack an ability to withdraw from a FW, even when our lives are in danger. If I have heard one regret above all the others expressed on this sight, it is for lost time. Why did I waste my precious time when those red flag actions were not acceptable to me? Why did I think I could fix his problem? Or that I was obliged to fix his problem?

    This is where chumps have to take on the hard work of fixing this component of their core personalities. It is like when the flight attendant explains that you must put on your own oxygen mask before you put on your child’s mask If you do not save yourself, what will ultimately happen to your child? We cannot be complacent, we have to do proactive things to save ourselves and drop the FW rock that is weighing us down.

    With regard to what happened yesterday, January 6, 2021, in the capital of the United States, look at history folks. You cannot appease a tyrant. It just encourages him to become more unreasonable. It does not matter what your political opinion is on any one issue, what matters is there is a method to determine the law of the land. You vote. If you lose, you don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it. Go back to the basics and seek other means to persuade your opposition to accept your view on the issue. If you want to live in a democracy, you have to accept the results of the vote. There have been many times I have disagreed with the outcome of a particular vote, and I have become disheartened. But I pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to obeying the laws of the democracy. I don’t join an angry mob, storm the capital of my country, destroy property, threaten lives, and desecrate property. That is treason, in my opinion, and cannot be tolerated.

    • The disregard for democracy can be seen in cheaters as well. They actually do not want their relationships and families to be democratic, with equal rights for all. They are at heart ruthless tyrants. Their abusive behavior is all about keeping the power in their hands, no matter what they say their reasons are.

      • Right. And, hand in hand with the undemocratic power imbalance of our relationships are the double standards.

        *Cheaters feel entitled to do what they wouldn’t want their spouses doing (i.e, cheat!)
        *They can lie but would be very angry if they caught us lying.
        *They can rage but complain about our reactions if we get upset about something THEY did.
        *They can discard us but get upset when we discard them by filing for divorce.

    • Portia,
      This is eloquently written, and gets to the core of what so many of us chumps deal with, that toggling back and forth between our cheater being mentally ill or not, with our empathy cup running over. If you are doing any of the activities such as untangling skeins, smoking hopium, playing pick me, it does not matter one lick whether your cheater is of any form of illness or not (I’ve been in that valley, believe me). +1 for the political stuff.

  • It helped me to read Dr. Simon and books on convert narcissism. At first I thought it was to understand this person I married but it soon became a comfort that I was not the only one. There were tons of chumps out there and there was a pattern to the behavior.

    I can’t understand a narcissist/fuckwit/cheater because I am not one. It takes a long time to feel that they are not worth our time and energy. It is freeing when you get there.

    • Lundy Bancroft’s book about abusers is really helpful too. It helped me understand how abusers operate and the way they think, so the abuse wasn’t such a mindfuck anymore.

      It’s not a sympathetic look at abusers by any means, not at all. But it was a way to have their motivations explained clearly by someone who has worked with abusers for their whole career. It really helps lift the weight of gaslighting and crazymaking off your shoulders. It’s validating and reassuring that it isn’t you, it really, really is them.

      • He also makes it clear that even after going through a good therapy program specifically designed for them, very few stop abusing. It’s helpful for chumps to remember that.

        • Oh that too. He really, really drives that point home. 99% of them do. Not. Change. And he encourages readers to get out and get away instead of hoping for change, and gives resources on how to get away.

          He says that if even two men in his groups make lasting change, it’s worth it. But he isn’t pushing unicorns.

          • That book saved my life!!!! I was busy online trying to find an “anger management” book to help my exFW, because, you know, i was going to fix him. I came across that book, read the reviews, and ordered it immediately. I could not “unknow” the things I read about—and it was spot on. After reading that book, I kicked him out and filed for divorce. I have given copies to my sisters and my friends. Lundy is amazing.

            What struck me was him making the point of ….when your partner gets angry and breaks things—are they your things? or are they his? if he says he is sorry, does he make the effort of fixing/replacing what he has damaged? the answer is no! Also, when he talks about the name calling. If he calls you a bitch and says “sorry, i was angry, or sorry i was drunk” …if he claims he has no self-control—then Lundy asks, well, does he do that at work? Does he call his mother a bitch, too?

            Not doing a great job of explaining it here, but i can’t say enough how grateful I am for that book!!!!

      • Reading Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?” was the beginning for me. I had Googled “Why does my husband glare at me in public?” and that book popped up. What an eye-opener! That was in 2014 and I hadn’t heard of Chump Lady yet. But one book led to another, I found a fairly-decent therapist, and started journaling. I also eventually started recording conversations (legal in my state) so I could verify that he actually said the things he denied.
        Anyway, back then there wasn’t a lot of information on NPD, and I don’t thing Bancroft actually used that term, but I eventually read enough to “diagnose” my ex with NPD and file for divorce.
        It wasn’t until after the divorce was final that I got proof that my ex was gay and had been cheating on my for all 44 years of our marriage.

      • His book definitely opened my eyes. I remember a section on entitlement that stood out. My Ex used Saturdays to watch college football & Sundays to watch NFL football. Meanwhile I did the cleaning/grocery running/child rearing & any family time revolved around his viewing schedule. Seeing it black & white with specifically sports watching mentioned, a light bulb went off for me.

    • I agree. Knowing the difference between overt and covert narcissism really helped me. I can now see the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. His outer persona of the really great guy who loves his family… blah, blah, blah. Only when I discovered the affair did the mask slip. Now I know that he is a serial cheater and recently was told about prostitutes. 27 years of him wearing a mask. He is an incredibly disturbed and fucked up person no matter what the label is. Just over 2 years out, waiting for the divorce to be finalized (his side – 5 continuances due to not being prepared). Happy to be on the bus out of Toxic Town…. thinking it’s Monday and ready for Tuesday 🙂

  • IMHO, on a pro and con list, if there’s lying and cheating and gaslighting and blameshifting and abuse on the con list, the pro list is completely negated.

    He agreed to go to therapy for our entire 27 year relationship because I wanted to be in Healthy Relationship School so we would NOT repeat the crazy dysfunctional violent abusive alcoholic addict families we both grew up in. I now believe he was counting the carpet fibers and going for image management.

    Beware of therapy with a cheater. The fact that he was going to therapy with me KEPT ME HOOKED IN FOR 27 YEARS. Had he not been on that couch in that room I likely would have left him long ago. Cheaters USE therapy to keep chumps on the hook. They don’t love; they USE.

    Cheating is intentional, targeted, premeditated soul murder of a committed partner and children. As such, claiming to be a good person is laughable. It’s like the arsonist who calls the fire department.

    The whole point of marriage is security, loyalty, trust, safety, love, friendship. To further and enhance enjoyment of life. Cheating is proof positive that you have NONE of that and you can stay as long as you want but you will NEVER have those things. Cheaters don’t get married. They legally bind their new cover story like a parasite glomming on to a new host. If they had any emotionally mature or psychologically healthy understanding or working knowledge of love OR marriage, none of us would be here.

    There was something wrong with my marriage. It was HIM. I was only married on paper. Which is what I will tell anyone who asks about my marital status.

    I had a MIRAGE, not a marriage.

    • Yes. Me too. Velvet you said on another post about points in negotiating for cheating lying and stealing in terms of child support and your own support. What did you say and do. I’m going into those negotiations now mediation. I’d love some pointers myself!

      • I own a business which I co-founded with the XH. I am not taking child support. We both take equal salaries from the business and pay for our daughter’s expenses from a pool we contribute equally to. Are you sure it was me you are thinking of?

    • Velvet, I had the same experience in therapy with that asshole, I mean cheater. He used the information gleaned from therapy to further control and abuse me. Therapy with a cheater is like handing him the keys to your psyche. Don’t do it.

      Thank you for the words, “There was something wrong with my marriage. It was him.” I’m through accepting blame for actions that are not mine. I didn’t lie, cheat, steal, and break the law. That was him. He can fuck off.

      • Yep. That’s why marriage counseling with an abuser doesn’t work. They turn it around and use it as another tool against you. They’ll put on a face in the therapist’s office, just like they do with everyone else. They’ll play victim and whine and cry and the next thing you have is the therapist and the abuser pushing you into a corner of blameshifting and guilt.

        Then they go home and use vernacular from psychotherapy to further abuse and mindfuck you.

    • Amen, Velvet! Well-put, as always.

      I just want to add to your advice NOT to do therapy with a cheater: my STBX just weaponized therapeutic concepts against me. She couldn’t grasp many of them, because they are so subtle, and often seem contradictory to a disordered person: for instance, feelings matter, but they aren’t facts. (So STBX will always need expert guidance about whether her feelings and expectations are reasonable in a certain situation; her own instincts are likely permanently skewed.)

      Also, in my experience in suburban America, most therapists are not adequately trained to recognize covert disorder – since all cluster B disorder is on a scale, someone like my STBX might not be as visible to therapists as someone who is obviously narcissistic/sociopathic. Some of our cheaters are very good at impression management, and at saying what therapists want to hear. Given how their bread is buttered, I’d bet that a lot of couples therapists would be unwilling to attest that infidelity is emotional abuse – which means that most of us chumps will just get gaslit and further traumatized by the therapist, as well.

      Even for individual therapy, I would strongly recommmend to chumps that they work only with therapists who will properly address your trauma. Talk therapy may not be the best thing for those of us who are traumatized – it keeps us mired in that headspace. I have started EMDR therapy, and it feels much better. Still draining during the session itself, but I feel better afterward and don’t anticipate my sessions with dread anymore.

      Of course, the Number One step on the road to healing from trauma is to get away from it. Leave your cheater, regain your life!!!

      • Stay away from the Trauma therapist who also works with “Sex Addicts.” A mind fucking conflict of interest I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from.

    • Yes, mine went to therapy too. That’s about the only + thing he did for our relationship. We did couples and had occasional support sessions with our personal therapists (I always had to ask for a session with HIS). He lied to everyone. Fooled everyone. My therapist says it speaks a lot that he fooled professionals with over 40 years experience between them. He is VERY good at manipulating. But if you only see what you want to see in the office, and never outside, that’s a bad sign. We tried too long to get through to him when all along he knew what he was doing and was probably getting off on fooling us (just having to put up with us explaining and demonstrating basic concepts of transparency and validating my hurt and so many other things I thought he was stupid about). I WISH I had seen it years earlier. What a chump.

  • Maybe it is a form of hopium to want our cheaters to be mentally ill or narcissists so we can have a reason, a cause, an excuse that our cheater cheated. Mine is a covert narcissist—an “aw, shucks, I’m a quiet, shy guy” who also happens to be a porn addict, visited prostitutes and needed time to decide if he wanted to stay married “vows were forever? Really, I didn’t understand that” (except he could for 28 years until he met the love of his life—the drug addicted prostitute). If the cheater needs time, perspective, a period to grieve their ap, then guess what: He/she has mentally checked out and as CL says you have nothing to work with. Leave, don’t look back. Don’t be someone’s plan B.

    • I wish I had understood that earlier in my journey. I did come to understand that eventually. I think for chumps it is very hard because when you discover things, you can hardly wrap your head around it at all. You are just struggling to work through the fear of the future and the loss of your own personal narrative of the past. So you will hold onto anything that seems stable at all. And when the person who has betrayed you is the person you have always looked to for stability it is very hard when they seem to be throwing you a life preserver.

      In my case, I now realize how laughable it was, because my husband is gay. And in the moments right after I asked him about what I had discovered, he admitted he had known this thus since his earliest sexual yearnings. And he also said that he was never ever going to tell me.

      By the next morning, he had a new story. Which was that he really was attracted to me (“except for when you were FAT; that wasn’t doin it fir me”). And, he said, Thank you so much for being so kind. You have thrown me a life preserver. Please will you stay with me on this journey while I figure it all out?

      Of course then I learned more and more over some awful months. Like, when he said he had been planning to come out but then decided he did not want to give up his lifestyle.

      Eventually I realized that him staying married to me WAS AN AFFAIR. An affair with his closet. I was plan B from the start: plan BBBbeard.

      • Your experience with your closeted husband is very much like mine with my closeted ex, who said, when he had retreated back into the closet some months after his declaration when he was planning to come out of the closet, “I wish I hadn’t told anyone.” (He told me and his sister and the young person he was cheating on me with.) To understand that he would have been happy to perpetuate the unhappiness that characterized our marriage, an unhappiness that I had allowed myself to become convinced was if not my fault my responsibility to attend to, but that had unbeknownst to me stemmed from our fundamentally incompatible sexualities,was an eye-opening wake up call for me.

      • Did you ever use the Straight Spouse Network online resources at all?

        I have had men try to ‘beard’ me, and I spent a lot of time reading different stories there.

        The stories there seem to show the full range of choices: shit-sandwich and fixed-grin through to immediate divorce.

        The divorced ones sounded WAY happier.

  • Yup. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Btw, there was no anarchy and violence incited by the people who share her ideology this summer. The damn FBI investigated the riots and found, over and over, they were caused by white supremacist groups trying to discredit the legit protests.

    Seriously, GTFO with that.

    • LOL. God you’re brainwashed beyond belief, Kara. You’re about to find out that the government isn’t your savior but by all means, keep signing up for gaslighting by DNC media.

  • So many of us chumps can’t accept that the cheaters don’t think like us, don’t feel like us, don’t care like us.

    Assigning our own character traits onto others is a fatal mistake.

    YES they can betray and hurt us, and not so much as hiccup or lose a mintue of sleep. That is why we should refuse to live amongst them.

  • The capitol building was breached and vandalized last summer by an angry armed mob?

    I don’t know how I missed hearing about that.

    • BLM rioted, looted, vandalized, and murdered throughout the summer and they got a glowing endorsement from the woke left and Tracy said absolutely nothing. Don’t remember seeing Tracy mention anything a few years ago when another woke guy shot Senator Scalise or broke Rand Paul’s ribs or the constant violence from the left against conservatives. Shit, conservatives can’t even listen to a speech on campus without the woke mob trying to silence any view that dares to challenge their BS.

      • Y’know if you wanna leave, you can actually do it of your own volition, right? You don’t have to act like a jackass to get yourself deleted. You can just, y’know, stop coming here. That’s always an option.

          • Cheater: *rage rage rage* I’m not happy! I’ve been unhappy for years! I had to cheat because of you! You’re so mean!

            Chump: Then let’s divorce.

            Cheater: Well now I don’t WANNA!

            • Hi Kara,
              You just created a “Cliffs Notes” version of every argument I had with my serial cheating ex over the course of a 20 year marriage, lol! (except he only admitted to the cheating after he got an AP pregnant – yes I married a jackass)

      • The capitol building was last breached in 1814, by the British, who were not being incited by the president of the United States.

        I’m unaware that the president was encouraging or praising the rioting, looting, and vandalizing which you mention above.

        Please forgive me.

      • Go away, Tracey asked for this not to be discussed today, it is her blog, show some respect for her and find another site.

  • It is true that my ex and his behaviors remind me very much of Trump. It gets so you can anticipate the crap to come based on past experience with a cheater.
    But back to the post, It really just does boil down to as CL says, “Is this acceptable to you?” You need to ask yourself and then act on the answer. For me, the answer was a resounding “No!” and I got my kids and myself out.
    On a side note, Inauguration Day will also be the fifth anniversary of the finalization of my divorce. In honor of that and how far I have come in the seven years since my D-day, I am changing my pseudonym from ChumpedButHappierNow to Boudicca, which is Gaelic for Victory, which I feel I have achieved with the help of CL and CN.

  • I do sometimes wonder what happened to the chumps who wrote in when there are blog reposts. It’s always cool when the chump comes back and updates.

    With this one, I really hope she finally had enough of the garbage and told him to go pound sand.

    That cheater has some behaviors that are pretty narcissistic, and downright selfish, but I don’t know if he’d be NPD. Either way, doesn’t matter. He’s trash and I hope she took him to the dumpster where he belongs.

  • Okay. I wish everyone here the best and am very appreciative of all the support I had in my early chump days.

  • Dear Chumper,

    I don’t want to get into politics here, but I just want to say that I defend Tracy’s right to say whatever the hell she wants and delete whatever she wants on HER blog.

  • For those of us who are escaping cheaters who abused us and our children psychologically and physically, how do we reassure them that they’re safe when the news shows this? I’m not trying to be political, I’m seeking advice. I emailed some of my friends the same question this morning. The advice I found online says to tell them that sometimes people try to use lies and force to get what they want or if they disagree, but that the system works and will protect society. My child has seen that the system DOESN’T work and perpetrators can escape charges, even if they’re reported, and he’s terrified of retaliation if he talks to therapists or others about the abuse he sustained. It’s hard to convince him that it’s OK to speak up when he sees images like this on the news. Any suggestions?

    • I would emphasize the importance of continuing to speak the truth even if people don’t seem to be listening and even if the forces of justice seem to be losing. We learned from being abused and fighting back that we must never give up and just let the darkness take over. It’s sad to have to put that responsibility on a child, but it’s a life lesson everybody should learn. At any rate, since he knows *you* are listening and you will do what you need to do to protect him, that is a reassurance he can draw on when he is afraid.

      Thanks for bringing up an important point.

    • That’s…actually a very good question. I don’t have children, but I can appreciate the seriousness of that predicament.

      I would say that yes, sometimes people do use lies to get what they want. And sometimes, they will resort to violence to incite fear and terror, so they can get what they want. And yes, sometimes it works. I wouldn’t tell him the system works and protects society, because, even as chumps, sometimes we’ve seen the system really, truly, fail us.

      I would tell him, even if sometimes people resort to violence and get away with it, that doesn’t make them RIGHT. Yelling and screaming about what you want, hurting others, threatening others, forcing their way, it doesn’t make them right. I could say the sky is projected directly into our eyes by aliens. That’s wrong. I can scream it at a group of people telling me that’s not true. I’m still wrong. I can punch each person telling me that’s not true until all their teeth fall out. I’m STILL wrong. I could even murder someone who tells me that’s not true. I’m still wrong. And now I’m a murderer.

      Violence doesn’t make what’s already wrong any better. It is wrong to cheat, it is wrong to abuse, it is wrong to scare a child into silence.

      What is right is for those who have been abused to have a space to speak the truth. In the case of your child, that can be with you. Or in a therapist’s office. Or both. He doesn’t have to talk to everyone about it, and it’s okay for him to start small with the therapist and you if that’s all he can manage. Or if he only feels safe talking about the abuse with you, and not a therapist yet. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t still be seeing a therapist now, even if he isn’t ready to talk about the abuse. The time he spends in his sessions can help him grow to trust a therapist more, before taking the step at his own pace to talk about the abuse with less fear.

      Again, I do not have children, but were I a mother I would take that approach.

  • There were 3 things that really kicked my ass into leaving when the kids were 1 and 3 years old.
    A co-worker said “my parents divorced when I was 3, so I didn’t have the trauma of listening to them fight all the time.”
    I was attending mandatory training sitting there bored and doing other things when the instructor put up a slide “where do you see yourself in 5 years? Your actions today are modeling where you’ll arrive.”
    Ex has just confessed to a DUI arrest and moaning that they took his shoelaces. Never apologized; never said sorry about the financial costs to our family. I began to worry that I couldn’t afford his stupidity and immaturity.

    Divorcing close to 40 years ago brought closure and relief to me. But now my adult children are seeking their own sort of closure. How to bridge the gap that exists between fiercely loving their dad and the cognitive dissonance of his un-loving acts.

    • No shit! Trump has gotten away with gasligjting and blameshifting long enough. The fruits of narcissistic abuse are plain to see. Article 25! Now.

      • Trump is the most malignant narcissist I have ever seen outside of a fictional setting. Were my STBXH to be given the powers of the presidency I doubt he would disgrace the office as Trump has done. I read “Too Much and Never Enough” by Mary Trump, a very insightful look into Trump’s severely disordered FOO. When Trump is finally dragged from office on Jan. 20th a fitting soundtrack would be the Commendatore scene from Don Giovanni, where Don Giovanni, a womanizing sociopath, is dragged off to Hell. For Trump losing the power of the presidency and the centrality that it entails is Hell, even if he never goes to prison for his crimes.

        I think many of Trump’s supporters came from abusive homes, normalizing Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. Also, keep in mind that white males were the sole focus of American politics for the better part of our history. When women and minorities began making advances, when white males became just one of many voices, they lost that centrality and the more narcissistic among them began to act out. And that is how we got to where we are today with the sacking of the Capitol and militias making death threats against the Georgian secretary of state. All for centrality and cake. I’m trying to work a Marie Antoinette analogy in here but it’s late and I’m tired.

    • My ex was (is still?) an alcoholic and I was forever taking out loans to repair his car and other people’s cars when he got into an accident when he was drunk. He actually rolled 3 cars and walked away from them. My greatest terror was that he would kill or seriously injure someone (other than himself) and we would lose everything we had worked so hard for. I’m so glad I’m no longer legally linked to/responsible for any of his fuck ups because they sure as hell will keep on coming!

  • My two cents…. you never owe anyone a reason as to why you are running a ‘previously’ ran article. Thank you for everything… new and old..

    • Agreed. Plus, often the reruns have come to me as new or are valued reminders, at times the rerun strike me differently now than they did when I read them a few years ago. Always valuable, always fascinating…

      I am so upset, triggered I believe it’s called, by the actions of yesterday. As I have always said, X is shockingly similar to Trump. I literally had old nightmares resurrected last night and couldn’t get phycho X out of my mind because of watching the news. I think Trump disappearing from the spotlight will help me get to meh.

      • I agree. Sometimes the re-runs come at a good time, and this blog has been around for I believe at least a decade, so I haven’t seen ALL of the posts, so some re-runs are new to me.

        And there’s chumps new to the blog entirely who are still in the middle of the mess who relate to some of these re-posted situations. It never really hurts to have some of these messages repeated. Some of them are really hard to sink in (trust they suck, no-contact, etc.)

        Some of my favorite re-posts are the ones about the stained glass and The Walls in Your House Sing Again.

  • We already know he is a narcissist tolerate him or no, but I do kind of take it personally that my daughter was crying about this this morning. And people died. I’ve grown up so far in an American where this would never happen. Same with the sumner protests. In this case though, one person put himself above what we hold dear as peaceful transition of power. Same with cheaters. They put themselves above everything we consider sacred. #narcissists

  • CL – you rock the example of No Contact and Boundaries… I’d likely still be pick me dancing if it weren’t for finding you and Chump Nation. You teach self respect, self reliance, honor, kindness, compassion, empathy, a fierceness… and if you are in CN, I hope you value that because you won’t find it anywhere else – treat her and us accordingly.

  • I’ve never cared much for politics. What I am writing is not about politics, it is about CHARACTER. The past four years have been challenging because for all the crazy, lying s*^t that the orange one did, at virtually every turn someone defended his actions. Nothing about CHARACTER & LACK OF ETHICS, but excuses and reasons and blameshifting and what-about-ism. And extraordinary hypocrisy for those who defended him. For those of us dealing with the scorched earth caused by cheaters, all the defenses provided for the benefit of the orange one were reminiscent of our personal situations, of the many people willing to provide excuses for our cheaters and disregard CHARACTER.

    Chumper, there is absolutely NO equivalence with BLM over the summer. The destruction yesterday was encouraged and fostered over months ***BY THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD***.

    Tracy, I apologize for this post and understand if you remove it. But I will fall on my sword for this – this is not politics; these are observations of the narcissist in chief and his lack of character and ethics.

  • Excellent today Tracy on Narcissists I was married to one and this is exactly what happened to me it was a living nightmare!????????????

  • OHFFS and Emma, thanks for your replies. He has been making comparison between Cheater and Trump since we separated. I’ve wondered if his commentaries on Trump were a way to criticize Cheater indirectly, in part because I won’t say anything negative to him that could be later repeated and interpreted as parental alienation. It’s been difficult for me to walk and talk the lines about respect and civility when you know someone is gaslighting you about their actions and intent, whether that’s the President or Grampa.

    • Cheaters seek information for vocabulary and technique to hide their actions, and gaslight. New, effective lies to tell are gold for them. Convincing alibis, cover stories, willing friends to lie — more gold.

      One of mine actually regularly watched the show Cheaters, and always had comments. I think he used this show as a free home study source, while trying to impress me with his “outrage” at the behaviors. It was interesting to watch him after I knew the truth. It made it easier for me to prepare for my exit, and make sure he left with the same thing he came to the relationship with — nothing but a suitcase full of lies.

  • My ex actually had the formal diagnosis. Our mutual therapist (PhD) told me after my ex took off and explained the he was definitely on the malignant end. Ending the marriage had to be. I had been played and strung along for so long, and then my ex tried to take control of the divorce and manipulate both VERY experienced attorneys. That didn’t go well for him, thankfully. I actually got a very good settlement.

    In the end though, it doesn’t matter what he was or what he wasn’t. The bottom line is that he is BAD NEWS, and that he’s not in my life any more (no custody issues).

    I’m a moderate Republican and no way could vote for the person currently in the White House. He’s so very triggering to me. I can’t listen to him speak at all.

  • Here’s a friendly reminder that we can’t control other people. We can choose to share with them – one time – how their actions hurt us and violate our values. If we don’t see the necessary response that one time, then it’s time to move on, instead of knocking repeatedly at their door, crying out to be heard. We can also avail ourselves of any legal remedy at our disposal to try to prevent someone from violating our boundaries, but must be prepared to be disappointed – and to fend for ourselves – if the outcome depends on the actions/commitment of other people.

    In the time-honored tradition of LGBTQ+ people everywhere, we can sashay away, to live out our own fabulous values, away from the haters. After her heartbreaking gubernatorial loss, Stacey Abrams did not waste her breath trying to convert anybody. Instead, she and her allies organized their own communities. I believe, based on my own values, that her approach has benefitted us all. But I don’t have to persuade anyone of that.

  • Per prior posts from another reader, I’d welcome advice on negotiating settlement. I have a new attorney, but this one has become less optimistic than he was during the initial discussion before I hired him. That’s happened with each attorney I’ve had; they all seem to oversell their services and expectations. I’ve been chumped by my lawyers as well as my spouse.

    • Well, the other side truly doesn’t have to agree to anything if they don’t want to. Your attorney may say that you will get $500 in child support, but if the other side says $0, you are deadlocked unless you can come up with something they want that you are willing to give up. Or maybe yours convinces theirs that you’re unyielding and theirs gets them to agree. Their attorney is key too.

      After we tried and tried to get them to sign an agreement that was truly reasonable (months of attorney-to-attorney negotiations), we threatened court if there wasn’t a signature within 24 hours. It got signed! His attorney refused to take it to court and convinced my ex.

    • The only way I was able to settle was through luck (God?) and a bit of leverage. My ex would not settle after two mediations. I had some pretty embarrassing information about him that made him look like a fool in front of our very unpredictable judge at trial. After trial the judge had 12 days to make a decision. It was only during that time that I was able to get him to settle because he felt the judge might not go his way. If I did not have that leverage I’d be shit out of luck. Have anything? If you’re married to a narc they tend to not settle so I would plan on making the best case for trial.

    • I live in a no fault state… everything was 50/50. I pushed for half of 401k, debts and money that was in our joint account. Child support was small because my youngest was 17. I got the house and opted not to get alimony for being married to him for 20 yrs. I had student debt and didn’t throw that on the table during mediation. The mediator said to me how sorry she was… my ex stayed in a separate room from me which was great! One thing I wish I knew was how he used the credit cards, money etc and I had no choice but to pay half the debt. Stick firm to what you want! If you want the house and child support do everything you can to make sure you get it. If you need special days with the kids or special arrangements put that in writing so he can’t get out of it easily. Good luck and you are mighty! Xoxo Sweet

    • I’m also curious about this, I believe I have a good attorney but want to know best ways of protecting myself and my son! I do have dirt on him and many of his friends which I believe will serve to be good leverage. Also live in a no-fault 50/50 state, just want this to be done so I can close this chapter and move on!

  • Yes, doesn’t matter what variety of cake-eating, gaslighting, blameshifting, unapologetic, deceiving POS he is, that’s what he is. Judge them by their actions not words.

  • One of the hardest things for Chumps to grasp about cheaters is that cheaters actually enjoy cheating. They aren’t suffering over it. They aren’t agonizing. They are getting thrills and having fun.

    It took a long time for me to see that, and even when I saw it, many of my friends did not. One friend insisted that my then-husband must be “deeply ashamed of himself” and eager to repair the damage. He was no such thing. He was just mad he had been caught, and he was getting angrier and angrier about not being able to dupe me anymore.

    • Yep, agree Carol. They aren’t ashamed-see my comments below about abusers. Abusers don’t deal with shame. Mine is mad that I didn’t let him eat cake and he’s annoyed he has to go through the divorce process. He would have been quite happy carrying on like that forever, so long as I let him cheat, AND, he was amazed and annoyed that when I found out, I put a stop to it. I think he truly believed I felt like shit enough about myself (after all the years of devaluation), that I would just take it and let him do what he wanted. He underestimated me.

    • Yep. Totally agree but some of them manage to fake shame with others who get duped by that.
      My cheater put on a big show but busted himself by telling 5yo ” I had a good time with OW”!

      Backfired badly. Kid asked me, how is it right to go and have good times with an OW and not with your family? When daddy said that it makes me feel like I wasn’t good enough to have a good time with.

      Shame on all of them, even if they don’t feel it!

  • I’ve got a different label for cheaters. ABUSERS. I was referred to the local women’s refuge by my counselor and now I see them for my therapy instead. She has taken me through all the frameworks for abuse so that it won’t happen to me again. Triangulation? Abuse. Blame-shifting? Abuse. Projection? Abuse. Devaluation? Abuse. Gaslighting? Abuse. Incidentally, my therapist doesn’t see all infidelity is abuse, but definitely all the tactics surrounding it. When you think of them as abusers, it doesn’t matter WHY they abuse (e.g. character disordered, evil, dumb, Borderline, Narcissistic), they abused you, so you need to GTFO and learn how to have big boundaries and not have the cycle repeat, ever again. Lately I’ve been hooked on the notion that my STBX hates me now. Why? He’s an abuser – abusers hate their victims (so says my abuse counselor). Sometimes I untangle the skein of fuckupedness and I ask Why? Why? Why? And my counselor simply says, he’s got an abusive mindset, that’s why you don’t understand what he’s doing, and, would I want to? If I did understand him, that would make me like him (and the OW). My answer to that one is NO, I don’t want to think like them, and even if I did want to, I couldn’t, because I’m not an abuser. This has been useful for me, and also, it helps the acceptance part. It happened – I’ll never know why. Now I need to accept it, learn, and move on. Leave the abusive fuckwits to their own shit.

    • Yes, I forget who on here said it first but, “A cheater is an abuser who reaches for the AP instead of the tire iron”.

  • Lundy Bancroft was a game changer for me as was CL and CN. Both avoid the NPD rabbit hole and focus on abusive behaviours and characteristics. While the Cluster B rabbit hole helped, it had its limits. In that it prevents us from examining ourselves, and what it was about us that pick me danced, believed in unicorns, and got hooked on the hopium. That’s the most important thing to understand, alongside recognition of what actually constitutes abuse (clue: it’s not often physical violence).

    Read “Why does he do that? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men”. It’s the heavier version of CL, so keep coming back here for the snark.

  • This sounds so similar to my ex and some of the behavior he demonstrated. His absolute contempt for me was the worst to ensure before I found out about the affair.

    Mine had an exit affair. Yes, he pretended to be remorseful for a few seconds to garner forgiveness and make me do what he wanted. But that was over as soon as I stood up for myself.

    Yes. I think most cheaters are nothing unique and follow along the same playbook.

  • A little off topic, but I had to share because it made me laugh and I need all the laughter I can get going through this divorce. DD is studying Dante’s Divine Comedy in English and comparing it to biblically given examples of hell. She read that the fire of hell comes from sulphur that burns continuously. She put two and two together and realized that hell smells like farts. Meaning, her unrepentant father will be smelling shit for all eternity. Cheaters really are turds!

  • It’s my 2 yr anniversary of my D-Day… and I needed to read this re-run post by Tracey. I still find myself wondering what diagnosed issue Stunted XH would have to have in order to have been so cruel while also so emotionally stunted. This post reminded me that I don’t need to know or understand that to know and understand that his behaviors and emotional abuse of me wasn’t acceptable and wasn’t because of my faults. I love that she reminds us that we can still improve and grow and learn becoming amazing, resilient Phoenixes. We can do all that knowing we were hurt, but without having to know exactly why our Cheaters chose to victimize us with their infidelity, deceit, gaslighting, and lies. It’s about us now… not them anymore.

  • I am damn sure the FW of my life is a narc. And I was glad to figure it out because narcissism can’t be fixed. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could stop trying to fix, as I felt obligated by that “in sickness and in health” vow. But if he can’t be fixed or change and all I have is suffering? That was my mental permission to leave. That said to me that it would be OK to find an attorney, make a plan, and eventually file first. I know it seems like a grown ass woman should just have the agency to go but I really felt guilty about throwing in the towel. When I read some books on narc behavior and recognized FW? It changed my entire viewpoint.

    I think the original poster is wanting that. She wants permission. She feels miserable and yet doesn’t want to be the one to give up. If the marriage had something wrong, it makes her feel responsible. Like she should have danced harder. I can see now how wrong that thinking is but I was there so I get it.

    I hereby grant all chumps permission to be the ones to say “Enough!” Stop the madness.

    Thus spoke Zarathustra.

    • Glad you figured him out. For those of you who can not figure your SO out, the simple truth may be that she or he is a pile of shit who lies, cheats and betrays, etc. If they were not complicated before you got involved with them and then they are complicated, vague, gas lighting, won’t look you in the eye when talking, grouchy, etc; that probably means your SO is a liar, cheater, etc. No point to even untangle the skein, you know what you need to do. Use your boots!

  • It’s been a while since I posted. DDay was 2 years, 3 months ago, my 60th birthday. We were in the airport garage elevator when his 27 yo employee ran in and told me he was cheating with her. I found Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life and within 4 months I filed. Lots of drama & lies in that time. I eventually found that the man I had been married to for 36 years was also an pill addict. Intervention didn’t work, he could kick it anytime (yes, that’s why there’s so much $$$ missing) Drugs & girlfriends are expensive. This book gave me the insight & courage to do what I needed to do.

    We had a nice life for 34 of the 36 years. Thank goodness for CL Tracy. Trial not until July, by then it’ll be 2 1/2 years since I filed.

  • Thank you Tracy for taking a stand on the Trump malignancy. I vow to speak up more to the RED MENACE that surrounds us. I live in Georgia, a red county in a red state. I promise to no longer shut my mouth. COURAGE is my mantra for 2021.

  • It’s so hard to not want to diagnose them. I found it impossible for 18 months to fully wrap my mind around what and who my STBX is. It’s so unreliable to utterly lack empathy – to rage when you’re caught cheating. If you can forget who you thought they were for a minute and just look at the behavior, it’s pretty clear with a serial or long-term cheater, that they’re disordered in an unfixable kinda way. Normal, relatively healthy, empathetic people couldn’t do these things, let alone do them over and over again.

    Thank you for taking a stand on the other issue. I have felt gaslit every time I listened to the news for the last four years. I appreciate the boundaries on this site.

  • Chump Lady, having lived in TWO countries on the brink of civil war/in a state of terror, I urge you to hold your righteous anger for a bit and consider this: USA needs good leadership right now. What USA does not need is more partisan finger pointing and punishing ‘the other’ – which cements and deepens the fissures. This is serious stuff that happened AND BOTH SIDES ARE IMPLICATED (what righteous anger tends to dismiss).

    A wise and experienced British journalist (“Trump’s greatest mistake was to undermine the legitimacy of the state” )wrote such a good article that it is hard to paraphrase it, but it is a subscriber newspaper so you can’t access it. And I am going to quote too much. Hmm. But this is important!!

    Crude reduction: crowd had just come from a rally where the POTUS told them to march. “In a functioning democracy whose rules it is their job to enforce, [the police] have to work on the assumption that their ultimate boss upholds those rules, too. So it was not surprising they were not prepared when Donald Trump did the opposite. … [denying the outcome] To understand this is to recognise the depth of the wrong committed by the outgoing President. He was trying to subvert something even more basic to a secure system of government than its degree of democracy – its legitimacy….
    That, however, is where George 
W Bush’s comparison with a banana republic ends, and where China’s gleeful comparisons with crushing democratic revolt in Hong Kong are comically inapposite. On Wednesday, the nearly 250-year-old American system rose to the occasion. Each person, in both parties, who holds a position of a responsibility exercised that responsibility. The Congress debated certification properly and, despite the mob, certified. The next day, Mr Trump changed his tune, because he had to. He started to speak about peace and an orderly transition. The legitimacy of the American republic had reasserted itself.”

    HOWEVER here is the rub, and it is a global and not just a USA issue: “The problem has become real in the US and the wider Western world, and was not created by Mr Trump. Indeed, he recognised it in an era when more mainstream politicians were blind.

    Much of the popular unease which Mr Trump identified and exploited comes from the feeling that their idea of America was being delegitimised. Centre-Left politicians should recognise, for example, that BLM-related violence last year, and especially the destruction of statues, made millions feel as millions feel today about the desecration of the Capitol. It was disturbing for such people that respectable, elderly Mr Biden followed the BLM rule of “taking the knee”, thus literally bending to an authority which attacks many aspects of the American way of life… [here in calmer Britain/attacking Cenotaph/Churchill’s statue] … One felt the nation was being deliberately violated. Authorities did not defend the monuments properly. Therefore those authorities began to lose legitimacy themselves. … The Democrats tried this in the 2016 election over Russian interference. They also attempted to delegitimise the electoral college system by which Mr Trump became President, because Hillary Clinton exceeded his total popular vote.

    Here, the greatest agony about Brexit was caused not by the issue, but by the attempt to delegitimise the Leave victory… ”

    Important, important points we thoughtful people must take a pause and ponder on. A divided nation is not a safe place in which to live. Trust me on this one.

  • My husband will apologize for forgetting getting something on the grocery list, for accidentally stepping on my foot or for forgetting to open up my car door when he gets in it but he won’t apologize for cheating on me, for calling me names so he could walk out and call hoes or for even being on an escort website (which he admitted he was on). Does that mean he thinks what he did was right or he is trying to distance himself from it by not talking about it because he is ashamed and sorry for his behavior but doesn’t want to admit it? Is this being a narcissist?

  • I was the other woman and I was abused by a covert narcissist. Yes, abused: psychologically and sexually. Abuse is the right word to use.
    If you can think of a narcissist handbook, he did everything to me. And to his wife, I am pretty sure.
    He just didn’t care, he had no empathy, he needed us as different toys with different functions. His wife gave him the social façade, I gave him what he craved: attention and mental stimulation. It wasn’t even sex, to be honest, because he could initiate and then deny sex at will.
    It was just a huge ego massage. How far could he push me to make me tolerare the pain and the humiliation and to feed on it?
    Believe me: a narcissist is not treating the other woman nicer, he is just love bombing her but then he will devalue and discard.
    That’s the way they are.
    My narcissist had different ways to massage his ego and he love bombed, devalue and discard everything, even his bands and band mates. Not one band, four bands, leaving out of the blue with concerts looming and then blaming everyone but himself.
    I kicked his ass, sadly his wife didn’t. You did and you are stronger for it.
    Falling out of love can happen, but things can be done respectfully. They can’t respect anybody (not even themselves) and this is not acceptable, irrespective of the position you are in. Wife, lover, emotional crutch, ego boost, it doesn’t matter. No woman should tolerate being taken for a ride by a FW, let alone a narcissistic one.

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