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Idolized, Devalued and Dumped

mindfuckDear Chump Lady,

I’m a professionally successful gay man in his mid-thirties. I live and work in the U.K. as a doctor and am on the cusp of my board level examinations. I should be the equivalent of an attending within a year.

With me, for the last five-and-a-bit years, until the end of February 2021, I had who I thought was my forever guy. He’s a doctor too. We met on holiday in 2016. Within a year we lived together and were taking regular holidays. We’d both met each other’s families.

After 18 months he got a job in Germany. We had declared our love for one another at that point and I’d already decided (in my head at least) that I would propose at some point in the future. I said I would go with him to Germany and that’s what I did. I felt brave. I would never have done this alone. Look how good he is for me!

Immediately prior, I was feeling pretty nervous, understandably. He then proposed to me before we left! We got a great rented apartment. I worked from home in a remote role until I could get properly on top of the language and get on my feet. He worked in one of the major hospitals. His job didn’t work out and it turns out it was a pretty toxic workplace (more on that later) so after six months he was locuming. We decided to return to the U.K. after a year. We stayed with his mother until we could buy a house, which we did in January 2019. We also got a dog. The house needed more work than we anticipated so in January 2020 it was still half done. Then COVID hit and work slowed.

It was a tough time. Our sex had suffered for a while. I was dealing with what turned out to be quite bad anxiety and depression. The tablets knocked off my performance too. I was also coming up for my board exams in April.

Then all of a sudden, in January of this year, he starts getting really, really grumpy. Tiny things annoy him. He’s giving me the silent treatment. He dropped a pizza and stormed off upstairs saying he didn’t have the emotional reserve for this (I was telling him it was fine and we could just get takeout). He says we’re having problems. He tells me he is unhappy with our relationship. I tell him that yes, it’s been a stressful time for us all, but I love him and I will do whatever I can do to make things work for us. He had various complaints which I will list here. Maybe you can help me by feeding them through the universal bullshit translator:

1. You don’t look after yourself and your mental health. I feel like I’ve been your carer for years.

2. You take no care of your appearance. I don’t find you sexually attractive anymore. I told you this directly six months ago and you did nothing. Your muscles have all gone.

3. We never do anything anymore. We just sit and watch TV. (This was in the middle of lockdown, we could literally do nothing else).

4. I want children and you don’t. (It’s true that I don’t want kids but he always winces when he sees them in the market and never expressed and interest in them before).

5. This house is a dump and I hate it here. I hate my life. The only redeeming factor is the dog.

Then he comes home one day. He says that an open relationship is the only way to save us. He says he has never believed in monogamy and that he has needs that have to be satisfied. (We’d had sex like a week before he said this). It’s really important to him and if I say no he will not know if we can continue. He tells me he doesn’t know how many men he had sex with before me and that he cancelled plans with other men after he met me so that we could date.

I get upset and even more anxious, which he hates. I see him sending topless pictures to people. He buys new fancy underwear. Eventually I calm down and agree that OK if he wants to have sex with other men then he has permission. Just not in our house and I don’t want to know a single thing about it. (What a chump I was!) He comes home again a week later, after being in a complete sulk the entire time and says he was engaging in wishful thinking and that we’re over. He doesn’t want us anymore. He’s been unhappy for years and brings up minor events from sometimes four years ago. He’s been a depressed soul, all for my sake, and now he has snapped.

I am distraught. I decamp to my parents. We still talk every day. He says how much he misses me and that he regrets what he did. We talk on the phone and cry. I go back to the house to see him at the weekend. We share a bed for the last time on the Friday night. The next morning he is completely cold and says we’re over. But he’s not going to leave!! He’s ordered another bed so I can sleep in the other bedroom. We’re going to be living separate lives in the same house. I say no to this because i couldn’t tolerate seeing the man I love move on in front of my eyes. I go upstairs and see the bedsheets are being changed. I ask him if he’s had someone round our house already. He says yes. So I run off with the dog to my parents and I’ve been there since March.

I went minimal contact (email only) which he absolutely hated. In my grief, I remember something he said when he started his new job a few months prior. “There’s this guy, Norbert, one of my ward juniors, he looks a bit like you, actually.” So i check social media and there he is. They’re all over each other’s posts. Looking like me but slightly taller, younger and more muscular. I decide that I think I know what has happened here. Norbert is the man who came to our house. The open relationship BS was just permission to sleep with him. They are now together. I have been discarded and replaced, even before I knew the discard was going to happen.

Three months go by and I’ve made some progress. After he ended it I got pretty sick and was full of self blame, shame and anxiety. I thought I’d ruined everything by neglecting him and his needs. I lost weight. I got so dehydrated my kidney function dropped off. I withdrew from my board exam because I was unwell and nearly lost my job. I drove to a cliff edge and nearly jumped off. These were the most painful weeks of my life so far (and I hope ever). All the while he keeps asking me how I am. He says “I’m sorry for the way things happened” and “I feel guilty about how you handled our breakup”. I go round there, reluctantly, to discuss financial matters. What a mistake! Against my better judgement it descends into a post mortem of the break up. I pretend I know (but I only suspect) it was all at least a workplace emotional affair until he split with me, which he stupidly confirms (‘How did you know it was Norbert?’). Then I accuse him of cheating and having an affair (‘No. No. Absolutely not.’).

Then he says “I got feelings for a man who showed an interest in me. You showed me fuck all affection for years. When I came home all you did was present me with negative emotions”. I find out now that he’s changed the locks and wont give me a key. I’m still paying the mortgage and he has Norbert round our house and fucks him in our bed on a regular basis. I challenge him on these things. I ask him what the hell he thinks he’s doing. I ask what else he has lied to me about. I accuse Norbert of being a home wrecker and a piece of shit for just insinuating his way into my life, like a cuckoo laying his eggs in my nest. I accuse him of deceiving me and being a liar.

He says “I was always totally honest with you, I just didn’t reveal certain things, which is very different.” WTF is that!? Who is this man that has replaced my level headed, loving fiancé? He then even says “I feel and felt guilty about how you handled our break up. Your snide and bitter comments are making me revisit that.” So any guilt he feels is contingent on me not holding him accountable for his actions.

I think this was when I knew that I had fallen victim to a narcissist. He idealised me at the start during the golden period, now he’s discarding me. But what about the devaluation? Looking back, all the signs were there. There was gaslighting, blameshifitng, no empathy and lots of control. He would do things like supervise me loading the washing machine with a half smirk on his face in case I put it on the “wrong” setting (it’s all water and detergent in a drum, like who cares…). He was so uncomfortable and naggy when I was driving that I stopped doing it. He would only eat vegetarian food so I did too. He would only eat eggs for breakfast. He took the office for his own and didn’t allow me space in there. He would call me “too sensitive” if I challenged the callous things he said in the name of honesty. He would often say I was “useless” while laughing. This was in stark contrast to my feedback from supervisors at work. That I am “meticulous, honest and hard working.”

This has all completely changed my outlook on relationships and people. I never in a million years thought he would do this to me. How wrong I was. Boy did he do it!!

My question though is, how could I not see it? How can I ever recover from being treated like such a piece of shit by a man I showed all of myself to? Was he always this way? Has he turned into a special brand of arsehole? How can I ever trust anyone again?

Dr. Chumphead

Dear Dr. Chumphead,

I have so many questions. Like, was an open marriage supposed to clean your house?

Doc, this guy is a total mindfuck. Reading and rereading this letter, it just seems like he lives to destabilize you. (It’s nothing personal, it’s just what disordered people do.) Starting with moving to Germany and then “losing” his job. If it were one chaotic instance, okay, life happens. But then you bravely regroup and move back to the UK, and live with his mum, and buy a fixer-upper while you’re studying for your boards! That’s a LOT to take on.

You did all this pivoting for him at a time when you really needed security. No wonder you were depressed. Every time you seem to regain your footing, he’s there flinging chaos at you.

You must stop being depressed, so — new demand, let’s open up the relationship. (Pro tip, based on a gazillion people’s experience here — when this “offer” is made, you’re already in an open relationship. You were just the last to know.)

You open up the relationship — with ground rules. He immediately violates them.

He discards you — but then he circles back for more mindfuckery.

I go back to the house to see him at the weekend. We share a bed for the last time on the Friday night. The next morning he is completely cold and says we’re over. But he’s not going to leave!!

No, he hasn’t depleted kibble supply yet. Pick me dance prettier, Doc, for the wonderfulness of him.

Can you see that this IS NOT ABOUT YOU? This is how this creep operates, with gross entitlement and condescension. He changed the lock on a house YOU OWN and PAY THE MORTGAGE ON? How was he not pushing up daisies in the garden bed after that?

Oh right, he blames you. And chump that you are, you blame and shame yourself. Because surely people only treat you like crap because you deserve it.

Doc, you don’t deserve it. You didn’t do a single thing to cause him to act this way. It’s not about meeting his needs — his need is for churning chaos and power imbalances. Trust that he sucks.

I accuse him of deceiving me and being a liar.

He says “I was always totally honest with you, I just didn’t reveal certain things, which is very different.”

I think this German shepherd speaks for all of us.

Lies of omission are lies. Of course he was being dishonest. Not to mention, he broke his promises. Let’s UBT another…

“I feel and felt guilty about how you handled our break up.”

He wouldn’t know a guilty feeling if it jumped up and bit his left nipple. He immediately puts the onus on you. The problem is how you’re handling it, NOT what a skeevy, ward-junior fucking, Doctor of Douchebaggery he is. #feelthesorry

Your snide and bitter comments are making me revisit that.

Doc, you’re so powerful, you killed his remorse. Please redirect your snideness to his dick and make it go limp. Seeing as you have superpowers.

My question though is, how could I not see it?

You hadn’t tangled with a freak before. But now you’ll have the skill set to see it much sooner. This is the whole Fix Your Picker homework. I’m not saying you did ANYTHING to invite a freak into your life, but the way forward is to know what healthy relationships look like, and what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship. We can’t stop freaks from freaking, but we can have boundaries and bail sooner. Hold out for a better class of person.

I’m sure this guy was very sparkly when you met him, and you met him on a holiday. So, double sparkles. But people who love and respect you would never harm you this way. It’s a bait and switch. They sparkle enough to get you invested, but they can’t maintain it. And you keep waiting for that Good Person to come back.

He was was a partner hologram. And the sooner you internalize that, and go utterly no contact, the sooner you heal.

How can I ever recover from being treated like such a piece of shit by a man I showed all of myself to?

Of course you can. Chumpdom is entirely curable. Millions of people experience this and recover from it, if my blog numbers are anything to go by. It’s just going to hurt like a motherfucker for awhile.

Was he always this way?

Probably. Character formation is pretty deeply wired. Go read over at Dr. George Simon’s site if you want to untangle his skein. But don’t do too much untangling. Your ex doesn’t matter. YOU matter. Rebuilding your life matters.

Has he turned into a special brand of arsehole? How can I ever trust anyone again?

Learn to trust yourself and stick up for yourself. Know that people who create chaos and batter-ram boundaries are NOT the sorts of people to build relationships with. Value people who are reciprocal.

Looking back, all the signs were there. There was gaslighting, blameshifitng, no empathy and lots of control.

Going forward, the minute you get a whiff of that shit? SPEAK UP. BAIL. NEXT. Remember your worth.

He would do things like supervise me loading the washing machine with a half smirk on his face in case I put it on the “wrong” setting (it’s all water and detergent in a drum, like who cares…). He was so uncomfortable and naggy when I was driving that I stopped doing it. He would only eat vegetarian food so I did too. He would only eat eggs for breakfast. He took the office for his own and didn’t allow me space in there.

Couples have their weird issues and every partner can be overbearing at times. A little spackle is okay (fine, whatever, drive 10 miles under the speed limit…) But if the majority of your interactions are power plays to demonstrate what a blithering moron you are? You have a problem. It’s not the laundry, it’s the superiority.

He would call me “too sensitive” if I challenged the callous things he said in the name of honesty. He would often say I was “useless” while laughing.

That’s emotional abuse. That isn’t all partners. That’s an abusive partner. Go read Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? for more skein untangling. (Or you can immediately shift your brain to Trust That He Sucks.)

Doc, remember, you’re a stock that trades highly — you’re a man who loves with his whole heart. Spend some time healing and getting out of this mess with that creep. If you haven’t already — STD test, lawyer, sell the damn house.

Somewhere, a fuckwit is standing over Norbert critiquing his laundry. An HR department wonders if a certain doctor should be fucking the staff. A cycle repeats…

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.
  • ‘I felt brave. I would never have done this alone. Look how good he is for me!’

    I identify with this a lot. I thought it meant I owed him. I was getting good things from the relationship but the debt of the good things kept me in the toxic relationship far too long.

    • Yes.

      My ex did some good things for me, but there was in his case subtle criticism. After we split, I could pick a lot of that stuff out. But, when you are in it…

      • Right there with you. Good things done, but bad comments and observations were the trade. What an unacceptable mess. Hindsight really is 20/20!

        • I did a ton of “Brave things” that I now see as major league Chumpdom.

          And on occasion I recall deep down, thinking to myself that my devotion & loyalty to the DOCTOR would be valued and — yes— reciprocated. By him (!!)

          But mostly I just thought I was modeling selflessness for my kids and HIM.

          I’m not sure what lessons I taught my kids by doing all that, but I promise you that the DOCTOR did NOT value me more for the sacrifices or “bravery”. Not at all.

          The more I gave, the more he was willing to take. And I suspect he respected me less as time passed.

          Life is short. Treasure the FW free years you have.

          • Yes, same here. I always knew the fw had a selfish streak, but I knew that if I was faithful and trusted him, no way would he throw that away. Ironically, it was my very trusting nature that he used to the utmost.

            In face I had told the story before, but just three months before he left me for the whore, he had bragged to me and in front of a good friend about how trusting I was.

            This incident is why I am thinking that someone dropped a dime on him soon after that, because he did a quick turn to total darkness in the way he was treating me. Don’t get me wrong for most of that last year, he was distant and acting weird; but he had not yet up to that point been screaming and yelling. He was acting like a hooker in the front pew, nervous and sweaty.

            I think that up to this point, he was devaluing me, but had use for me for another year to get some property sold and likely to leave me in ruins.

            I have more evidence to suggest this, but the bragging is one piece of it. He was pretty certain he was safe, then all hell broke loose.

            • Mine often bragged about how chill, low maintenance and trusting I was. I wore it as a badge of honour. #chump. I also gave and gave and gave. Also thinking I was modelling “nice,” loving, supportive partner behaviour to our kids. Not realising until too late that he took and took and took.

              Our kids now say, when did you start making your needs so small, Mum? Over thirty years, it just slowly happens, the frog slowly boiling in water.

              Never again. I still struggle to voice my needs straight away. But always am aware of this and that I have needs, and what they are, and get there eventually. I know I am a fkn gem, and no one will ever do to me what the man I considered the absolute love of my life (oh hell no) did.

              Twice.

              At least.

              • My 31 yr old son called me one day and asked (for a friend)
                “When did you realize you were in an abusive relationship?”

                So much for modeling a good relationship to my kids

    • Yep. One thing I had to learn the hard way, like you, is the difference between a person who encourages me to be brave and a person who disrespects my boundaries.

      I hope you feel more confident soon. You are highly accomplished and have a lot to offer. Give yourself time to heal!

      • These are some wise words here! I also need to learn the difference. The picker fixing starts in earnest.

      • I love this. I did a lot of ‘brave’ things with Mr Cheaterpants but I also think I knew subconsciously that if I didn’t go along with all the crazy plans/ travelling the devalue would be more intense and he’d ditch me. Asserting a boundary was like slapping him in the face.
        I was betraying myself way before he betrayed me physically.
        So much chumpdom 🤦🏻‍♀️

    • It’s so strange isn’t it, how this was actually a serious red flag. I was pivoting for him with very little reciprocity but I thought he was bringing out the best in me.

      • Yeah, babe, we’ve all been there with ya Dr Chumphead. Gold medal olympic standard gymnasts, chumps.

  • “I was always totally honest with you, I just didn’t reveal certain things, which is very different.”

    That’s gaslighting and disrespectful. I heard that too and it’s the words of a selfish and entitled narcissist.

    Don’t accept the blame. You were the sincere partner. He was the “partner hologram”.

    You deserve love and respect, not critique.

    • Yes, it’s gaslighting, and kin to lying by omission. He might as well have said “I was totally honest with you about the things I wanted you to know about.”

    • FW justified his lying by omission -for things not cheating related- by saying he didn’t want to upset me. Like saying he had travelled for work alone instead of saying he travelled with a female colleague. Lying is their go to… they don’t know how to deal with uncomfortable emotions and the ups and downs of relationships.
      And they will never say that they lied because they are a liar, or that they lied because it was in their own best interest to lie. In my case, mine lied to protect me! Right to the bitter end… ‘The OW didn’t know anything about his leaving me’. That supposedly was also to protect me – so I wouldn’t think he was actually leaving me for somebody else. Always the great guy. Master manipulators.

    • Thank you! I try to tell myself I was sincere, but I don’t think I’ve internalised it quite yet. The accusations he would throw back at me (“Oh yes, it’s always everyone elses fault isn’t it?”) made me think that I was the toxic one quite a lot of the time. I guess that just kept me compliant, didn’t it!?

      • Your husband is a MONSTER. It’s very hard to render me speechless, but your letter had my mouth hanging.

        This guy nearly drove you to suicide. He’s illegally evicted you from your house! You need a lawyer immediately so you can detach yourself from this dangerous psychopath.

        No more contact. Block him everywhere. Let your lawyer do all the talking.

  • This guy isn’t special, Doc; he’s just another version of what led the rest of us here. For your own health, cut the ties to him and move on into sanity. Regain your peace & state of mind and be super choosy from here on out. If someone throws you off your peace & sanity…that persons got to go. Mahalo.

  • Dr CH,

    The old “open relationship after the fact” gambit. Far too many of us here have been subjected to that one.

    Cheaters really stick to the script don’t they?

    LFTT

    • It would seem they do! At the time though, this was totally new behavour to me and I thought it was entirely reasonable. Like CL says, I was just the last to know about being in an open relationship. Now I’m remembering the last time I tried to initiate. He’d been complaining about our sex life. So when I initiated he got this look on his face and refused. It had probably already happened at that point.

      • Dr CH,

        “Always the last to know” and there’s a fact.

        My Ex had been completely withholding sex for at about 9 months before D-Day and intermittently for at least a year before that. In hindsight, I think that she was avoiding sex with me so that she could be faithful to her AP (puke).

        That said, she always had a tendency to withhold affection, communication and sex as a means of either controlling me or to punish me when she couldn’t get her way. I now realise just how toxic this all was, but I couldn’t see it for what it was at the time.

        The real mindf*ck though was that when I confronted her on D-Day. She denied ever having had an affair, despite the proof being absolute ….. and she then followed up with a statement that we would have to get divorced because I (apparently) “lack the emotional maturity to make an open relationship work.” Coward that she is, she couldn’t even ask a straight question, although she quite clearly wanted to have the best of both worlds and just have me (and the kids, who had discovered her affair) just suck it all up. She also just could not see that no-one asks for a 26 year marriage to suddenly become open unless she had already made a unilateral decision to do just that and wanted to normalise it after the fact.

        Apparently, my response (which was to laugh in her face) was just another sign of my immaturity rather that (say) a completely justified response from someone who knows that they are being subjected to an attempted mindf*ck of epic proportions.

        Best of luck to you.

        LFTT

      • There’s no way to win with these people. Nothing you do is ever good enough for them. And even if you’re perfect, they’ll still lie and rewrite history to suit their narrative of the week and make you out to be the bad guy.

        I know the temptation here is to analyze everything he’s ever said. It’s the shock, the yearning to understand something that’s incomprehensible UNTIL you understand nothing about these people is real and nothing they say is true. He’s a liar. Liars lie. It’s what they do.

        I’ve said this in a previous comment already, but I do hope you’re putting your energy into getting that lawyer. Getting away from this lunatic will do wonders for your mental health, and allow you to heal in peace.

    • Re: the “old ‘open relationship after the fact’ gambit”:

      CL always asks, “Is this relationship acceptable to you? Is this behavior acceptable to you?”

      A related question might be: “Is this what you signed up for?” And most of us did not sign up for an open relationship; we took vows that included “forsaking all others.” When a spouse moves the relationship goalposts like this, what exactly is a chump trying to save? The marriage that they signed up for is already over, based on the “open relationship after the fact” gambit.

  • Dear Charming British Doc,
    I was not brave enough to look at all the things he did that CLEARLY indicated that my FW did NOT value a life with me. He threw enough crumbs in for my pick-me-dancing-self to keep trying (because that is what we Chumps do).

    I totally agree with CLs observation that he keeps you in chaos. My situation was very similar …looking back, as soon as I found any emotional or logistic balance/calm, he would throw red-herrings and monkey-wrenches at me (often making up crazy shit) to throw me off balance and distract me.

    I have a huge respect for anyone smart enough to learn a second language well enough to function as a physician. You are loyal and smart…your stock is high – please dont doubt yourself!!

    You have all the data points you need to make a good decision to go in the direction of healing and self care and it does not include him. Be well and give us an update when you get settled.

    • I didn’t see the chaos until CL pointed it out. I thought these were the trials and tribulations of life. Just things we had to deal with. I do still doubt myself often, I always have done to some degree. Now though it’s staring me in the face how much of a problem that can be for me. So it’s time to fix it.

      Thank you for your kind words!

      • It’s also really healthy to occasionally experience self-doubt and perspective check yourself. There’s loads of research out there that says that people who are less confident are often better at their work. They check things, they self-reflect -they don’t assume that everything they do and say is perfect. I could go on an on.
        It sounds like you were a loving, generous, thoughtful partner. Let this (awful) experience teach you discernment about who does and doe not get to benefit from your energy and love in future. It’s. Chumped chumps have the advantage of being lovely people who can begin to spot BS a mile away 💪

  • Ooh, I love this one!

    When mine was dating his AP (post breakup) and before I had truly internalized CL’s advice, we had a conversation/post-mort on our relationship. I asked about the woman he was seeing and he said it had gotten a lot more serious once I had sent an email with all caps.

    Between us, I was quite proud of that all caps email (setting boundaries) but he was trying to say that it drove him further into her arms.

    I just chuckled because to me, the second his penis went inside of her, it was over. It became a yes/no issue rather than “degree of” issue.

    He was trying to control my behavior, my reaction to his abuse by linking it to his behavior. If I yelled at him, he was going to get closer to her.

    🤦‍♀️

    I realized pretty quickly that the best thing was to hang up and never look back. His cheating on me was NOT MY FAULT. And I’ll be damned if he gets to dictate how my recovery should play out.

    He then spent the next 1.5 years reaching out to me about absolute bullshit.

    “Want my old computer?”….silence.
    “We might be working together”….silence
    “Do you want anything to do with me?”….silence
    “Will you tell me why you won’t respond to me”….silence

    Funny, guess my all caps email wasn’t enough to push him all the way away…just enough to push him into a random vagina.

    Fuckwit. Life is SO MUCH BETTER without him and his constant mindfuckery.

    • I think the “its not what I did that is wrong, just your reaction that is the issue” that screams disordered! I was so angry, hurt over the affairs yet he would deny, say I’m crazy then tell me to leave him alone I was harassing him. I still cannot believe he would say I was harassing him, not that he exposed me and our unborn children to diseases, that he was abusive and controlling.. nope just my reaction to his abuse that was the issue. To me that is the biggest clue of entitlement and a disordered personality.

      • yes yes yes yes yes. I am just now coming to terms with out much my STBX did this to me. He’s even doing it to still, via convos with our kid. It’s infuriating, but I feel so much better that I can see it now. When I was in the house, in the relationship, it just sowed so much chaos in my mind, it kept me off balance and confused and trying to make myself better… lo. and behold, less accountability for him! Heads he wins, tails I lose! UGH. Don’t miss that.

        • Yes it is very destabilizing to live like that. You’re right, it puts the focus on us and not what they did, pushing any accountability even further away.

      • Totally agree!

        I was FURIOUS. But it was warranted anger for being lied to and gaslighted (and the full spectrum of toxic behaviors) for 5 years. I felt justified to be angry!

        But all he ever wanted was a “clean slate”. Read: I cannot be accountable for anything. Do not hold me accountable for my behavior no matter what.

        He repeatedly told me that my anger was the problem but that was such a mindfuck. I wouldn’t be angry if I wasn’t being abused !

        But god forbid he look at his part in that.

        At the end, I realized he was right. I was angry and my anger is my issue to deal with. I was angry because of the way he was treating me and so I pulled the plug on him. Wish I could say the anger evaporated instantly but it didn’t. I took a good two years to unpack the betrayal and everything else.

        I went on to have a wonderful relationship with a man who never mistreats me…. and lo and behold I am never angry anymore 😀

        Leave a Cheater; Gain a Life <3

        • OMG “the affair is YOUR fault because you used all caps.” ???? Hall of Fame Fuckwit Blame!!!

        • The anger from being lied to and abused is real. Having them invalidate that feeling only adds fuel to that fire.
          Love your success story💗

    • “He was trying to control my behavior, my reaction to his abuse by linking it to his behavior.”

      Classic mindfuck maneuver. It should have a name.

    • You know, since I have gone completely no contact, I am much better. Even when I did it in the beginning, I was better. But I didn’t set strong enough boundaries that he couldn’t contact me at all. He would still email me at least twice a week about rubbish we didn’t need to and every time I spoke to him I would get more upset and feel like I’d gone back to square one.

      It still really hurts that I have to even say these things about him. I feel mean and nasty. I get waves of sympathy for him, because he is, indisputably, totally fucked up. I can see why, knowing the kind of upbringing he had. But he’s beyond help now. Like CL says he was probably always this way. I wish so badly that he wasn’t, that he had some insight and could show true remorse, that he could somehow transform from the hologram into the real person I thought I had.

      This will never happen though. Like you, I will have to just walk away and never look back. It will hurt like a motherfucker and probably will for the rest of my life, but it has to be done.

      Thank you for your words of support!

      • > I get waves of sympathy for him, because he is, indisputably, totally fucked up.

        Is it just chumps who get that? I know I struggle experiencing that with my parents. They’ve sabotaged & devalued me multiple times. Playing preschool marital counselor messed me up no end. But all I can think about is their problems and their terrible childhoods, and how I can help them feel better. Fortunately I don’t act on it. I’ve learned to hold my boundaries with them and others. But I still feel that all forgiving “love” and sympathy, which I know to be dangerous moonshine with them.

    • Dear Dr.,

      Cheaters act so similarly that it feels a bit eerie. It’s as if they are using the same cheat-book. Our stories might be a little different here and there, but in the end we endure a very similar abuse.

      Please do not spend too much time on figuring out why he did this. I wasted two years hoping to understand why my lovely husband of 13 years suddenly became a total stranger. I thought if I could diagnose him, I would fix this. My husband would wonder every single day what he did to deserve me. He would tell me that I am his life, and that he cannot live without me. For years. This man has completely changed after I was diagnosed with an unexpected health problem. I am doing well now. But I used to think good relationships were safe. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
      Please do not blame yourself. This has nothing to do with what you did or didn’t.

      You are very strong and successful. I must say that cheaters don’t like it. They must be the center of attention and it feels powerful for them if you look and act weak. They also love it if you keep in touch with them for any reason. They are aroused by your attention no matter how infrequent it is.

      When I lost 6 kilos in 10 days and melted with pain, my husband felt no sadness, no emotions for my state. He didn’t care. But he showed emotions when I got better. He was surprised when I finally started gaining weight. He was surprised that I was positive, and had curiosity about life despite everything he did to me ( his own words). He said he was surprised that I didn’t quit my PhD. In the middle of this maddness I was working on my dissertation. So they show interest and emotions if only we go on with our lives. It must be a painful reminder for them that they are no longer the center of our lives.

  • “It’s not about meeting his needs — his need is for churning chaos and power imbalances.” THIS, 1000%. When I was married to X-FW (also a Doc), completely unaware of double life, wondering why he became so mean and abusive and trying to pretzel myself to make him happy. Would do what I thought would make him (or his lovely abusive kids who felt I was free game based on what Dad was doing), only it was NEVER ENOUGH. He’d find something else that was wrong. CL is dead right, he needs chaos (he used to say something about liking to keep people “on their toes”) and power imbalances (he’s Dr Powerful, all bow before him including his 20-years younger nurse AP).

    I know that’s probably too much “untangling the skein,” but man that just clicked for me this morning! Thank you CL!

    And for OP, stay away from Doctors! (sorry :-)) I’ve worked in US Healthcare for over 20 years, and have found hospitals to be the most steaming cauldrons of dysfunction and illicit sexual activity I’ve seen – must be all the beds. My friend who works in the hotel industry says the same is true there, so…

  • I was going to write a long answer but I’m going to tell you what a friend told me. It only takes one week to drive someone crazy if they love you.

  • The narcissistic mindfuck is a cruel game narcissists play. They derive a sick pleasure and enjoyment from your desire to know what’s going on. The more you question and probe, the more it fuels their thirst for drama.

    As soon as I figured this out about my ex-wife (years ago) I stopped playing that game. Grey rock is really the most optimal solution. Years later I’m at peace with never knowing the extent of what she did. What I discovered was bad enough. May she go to her grave with her secrets, I’m no longer interested in the least. Just glad (and grateful!) to be free of that painful chapter in my life.

    • “They derive a sick pleasure and enjoyment from your desire to know what’s going on. The more you question and probe, the more it fuels their thirst for drama.”

      THIS⬆️ is a truism I wish I had known years ago. Don’t waste more time asking questions, demanding answers, etc.

      Untangle the skein in the sense of learning about the personality disordered and how to keep them away from you. But never try to get answers from a narcissist. That’s a first-class ticket to serious mental illness. No joke.

      • “But never try to get answers from a narcissist. That’s a first-class ticket to serious mental illness. ” So true, they get a sick satisfaction withholding information. They project and gaslight, which is absolutely a ticket for crazy town.

        • Take it from someone who heard all the details as part of “wreckonciliation” therapy: part of the reason they withhold info is because, once aired, it’s all so dogshit and creepy and boring.

          As long as you’re in the dark, they can get a sort of buzz off your heartbreak and painful romanticization of their antics. But when described in black and white, ugh. All the sparkles evaporate. Banal. Like hours of German cinema verité from the 70s where the camera pans in on flies shitting on egg salad under fluorescent lighting.

      • You’re both absolutely right here. I mentioned something about this in my comment below. I could see him feeding off my suffering. That’s one of the things that made the penny drop.

        • That’s exactly what happened to me. I overheard her laughing her ass off about me on a phone call with someone when she didn’t realize I was at home and in the next room. They devalue you because they get off on the superiority and power. Everything changed for me in that moment. It was so shocking to me that it took my breath away. I finally realized I was dealing with a very sick, sadistic person.

          • I discovered texts and messages where his AP talked shite about me and he let her and even joined in. That crap is truly disgusting and so very painful. But it also helped me so that it was well and truly over, no need to put any more energy into this, it was gone, whatever it was I thought our relationship was, it was gone now.

          • Yes, they are very sick, dysfunctional and sadistic, but I really take issue with their audience. Those that are in cahoots and laughing along with these defects as they inflict their cruel behavior.

            • Dawn & KB22: This is the part that’s been the most difficult to get over. He talked shit about me to her. He let her judge and criticize me. He let her opinion guide his treatment of me, before, during, and after D-day. It’s so far beyond humiliating, I can’t find a word to describe it.

              I can understand the weakness of people who cheat and lie to the ones they purport to love. But to talk shit about a person who loves you is blackhearted cruelty of the most evil caliber.

              It’s this element – the salt being rubbed into the wound – that strengthens their connection, and it’s what still haunts me when I wake up in the middle of the night.

              • “But to talk shit about a person who loves you is blackhearted cruelty of the most evil caliber.”

                Absolutely. When the fw left me, I didn’t say much as he was busy telling me how unhappy he had been, but one thing I did ask was; “did you say anything bad to her about me” I can’t remember my exact words, but it was something like that. He said and I quote “what was I supposed to tell her? My wife is great, that is why I am here with you”

                Totally crushed me. Hurt much worse than the sex, even worse than the screaming at me for months. I had not yet found out about the financial fraud against me.

              • My first therapist called behavior like talking shit about one person to another (a pernicious form of gossip) “having a relationship with one person at the expense of another.

                It’s particularly cruel and abusive when they victimize spouses or another intimate partners, who have shared deeply private aspects of their lives, thinking they are safe in doing so. It’s why I think that martial infidelity is just a deal-breaker. The sexual aspects are terribly painful but I would never be able to trust someone who cheated with my deepest thoughts and feelings.

            • When I talked to the AP after Dday (I know, I know, rookie mistake), she told me how my X told her I “was no beauty queen” among other disparaging things (also I’m a lesbian, who knew). Of course he denied EVER denigrating me to her, saying he already felt guilty enough, there’s “no way” he would have done that. The “no beauty queen” comment he said was because she was looking at my FB pictures and laughing at them, and he claims he told her “she may be no beauty queen, but I love her.” Folks, I wasn’t in fact a beauty queen but I used to model in NYC and Paris, in a previous lifetime, a few kids ago. The AP? Well you know they trade down. Love that she was making fun of me and that’s the best he (allegedly) came up with.

              • My cheater was fed this line from howorker: “your wife doesn’t really love you, that’s why you are with me.”

                Not that HE didn’t love me, but I didn’t love him enough that’s why he was cheating.

                WTF

                I hate text messages and the log of lies it kept.

          • Yes, after craning my ear to the vent to hear him talk about me to his ONLY friend, I knew it was truly over. He was repeating things I said about how I felt hurt and he was making fun of me, mocking me. Then, I also read the text messages where he was making fun of me with the OW. I started making real plans to leave after those incidents. I was so hurt, because I finally saw that he holds no respect for me AT ALL. I went grey rock after that. A friend told me that I will no longer be a part of the sick triangulation once I remove myself from the situation. She was so right.

          • Probably the only thing that he ever said that had an element of truth about what he had done I probably said something about them both having undoubtedly had a good go and dissecting my faults and the best he could do was ‘I bet you have said horrible things about me’. Same old same old. Well you must have been horrible too. Actually I was not. I was known by my friends as not being one to moan about him as other couples do. I felt that was incredibly disloyal. What an utter waste of loyalty.

            • ” Actually I was not. I was known by my friends as not being one to moan about him as other couples do. I felt that was incredibly disloyal. ”

              Exactly, I never complained about my husband, I too thought it was disloyal and I certainly didn’t want him complaining about me. Fucker paid me back by kicking me in the chicklets.

    • You’re absolutely right. I can see now how he would feed off it. In my moments of untangling I wonder whether he is a low to midlevel narcissist that’s doing these things but doesn’t know why or if he’s a high level narcissist that has awareness. Either way, he’s a shitbag and the only solution is full no contact. I have to trust that he sucks and walk away with my head held high.

      Thank you for your words of support!

      • It doesn’t matter whether he is a diagnosable narcissist or not, or if he is, whether he is high or low level. What matters is what he does, what he did to you. He’s a bad person with poor character. He lies and cheats. He shifts the blame for his behavior onto you. He’s manipulative and selfish. Those ordinary, observable behavior are what tells you to get away and stay away.

  • Such awful manipulation. You can’t have a real relationship at all with someone like that.

    My bullsh*t meter is indeed highly developed now. I know the different between a few slips and scrapes (normal) and outright manipulation (toxic). Even my ex’s divorce attorney commented to mine that my ex was one of the most manipulative clients he had ever had. He only stayed in the game out of respect for mine. Thankfully we settled out of court.

    There is someone in my circles that reminds me so much of my ex. He asked me out a couple of times, and I turned him down, not wanting to date then and trusting my gut that there were red flags. Some months later his daughter-in-law mentioned to me that she had to call the cops at Christmas because her husband and his father got into a horrible, drunken fight. A week later I heard him telling someone that he had a lovely, family-oriented Christmas with many treasured memories. REALLY? What a manipulator!

    • My bullshit meter is now probably a little too sensitive. That’s the price I shall have to pay for warding off the fuckwits!

      Thank you for your words of support. I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      • Dr Chumphead,

        Even when you know you can’t untangle the skein, you will falter. My biggest regret (of the many I have)

        is the YEARS I wasted doing the pick me/us dance and then trying to understand WHY he did the things he did. Married 35 years with 3 great kids– so many moves for HIS career and his endless restlessness. #timeforchaos

        I’d spend my precious energy on What HE REALLY felt/planned/wanted/needed blah blah blah ALL about him. I overlooked his actions/inactions because I projected MY emotional investment onto him.

        Hard to face but it is self evident our investments were not the same as theirs.

        Carolyn Myss has a prayer I use a lot – because it’s profoundly true. Maybe it’ll help you.

        –“God, help me let go of the need to know why.

        There is no why. And endless questioning is endless suffering.”–

        Please take it from us – lessen your pain where you can. (Some of my pain was eventually self inflicted–learn from us).

        You see, there are zero “good” reasons for why your ex treated you as he did. Zero.

        Thus, there is zero point in untangling. Plus it takes up YOUR Gaining a Life energy.

        Life is truly too short for that.

        So Fix your picker (it can be a big task!)

        and keep us posted.

  • So many good points in this one. The pro tip for an open relationship, is spot on, like when your s.o. says they are going to cheat on you, they already are. Another tip is that there is that if your husband says it was emotional affair, they were fucking. My stbx doesn’t have the emotional capacity for an emotional affair, yet he claimed that was all that happened.

    The plight of the dishwasher and laundry, seems like another common thread with these disordered individuals. From the beginning of the relationship he systematically made me feel like I could do nothing right, even simple tasks like loading the dishwasher. Then it was my food and cooking that was never good enough for him. I look back and think he just got some sick satisfaction watching me work so hard to please him. Never again. His constant barrage of critiques and criticisms made me feel on edge, jumpy and like I did nothing right.

    The biggest mind f of all is the gaslighting and projecting that they do. Sounds like you found a disordered human. He also can’t lock you out of your home.

    • “like when your s.o. says they are going to cheat on you, they already are. ”

      Absolutely, in the early years of our marriage, my ex stayed out all night one night. When I raised suspicion, he said he had been in a poker game at some guys house; and the time got away from him. He then in a huff said “if you are going to accuse me, I might as well do it” I got the message and never accused him again, not even when he was emotionally stomping me into the ground in the last few months of our marriage. Fear. I knew of course, but fear.

      When I think of our marriage in its totality, I think he must have had a blast. Screwing around on the side while playing the happy married man in our marriage. Pretty devoted wife sitting at home, and for most of those years kissing him when he returned from screwing his whores. What a rush.

      • The serial cheaters love to come home from screwing around, and then the spouse has sex with them, too. Giant user Narcs. I had NO IDEA at the time, but looking back, after he went completely off the rails on his crazy train, I just figured it out. I was young and healthy, but I was constantly getting infections down there. Oh, how I wish I had caught him then, and turfed his ass! He really deserved it, and he never deserved me!

        • It takes a giant disordered person to do that and enjoy it, the power trip of it all. Makes me nauseated. I suspect they are all using some e.d. drugs to pull it off. All sorts of instances come to mind and are just yuck.

    • My ex used to get upset when I tried to show him how to load the dishwasher and how to wash clothes. He used this over the years as an example of how controlling I was. I’m sure he’s still using it.
      BUT, the only reason I tried with the dishwasher was because so many times I had to rewash stuff he had crowded into the dishwasher. And broke a few things.
      As for the clothes washing, he ruined some of my favorite clothing. I thought in the beginning that he just didn’t know what he was doing, so I explained to him that he needed to read labels and not put darks in hot water.
      I eventually took over all the laundry but years later he did it again – decided to “help” me by washing my favorite shirt and shrinking it. I knew then that he did it on purpose but it still took me many years to understand the depths of his character disorder.

      • I’ll respond now that my face has stopped twitching 😀

        Funnily enough, this has just reminded me of something. He would always be the one who was worried about his clothes/not being in control. I never ruined any of them, mine or his. I separated whites, colours and darks. Didn’t wash delicates on high temperatures. Didn’t tumble dry wollens etc etc. I’ve been doing my own laundry for decades and I’m quite fussy. I wasn’t washing whites and reds together or anything crazy.

        One Christmas he got a woollen sweater as a present. He would say to me “You’d better not shrink my jumper” in a jokey kind of way. It became something of a running joke every time I’d do laundry. I’d roll my eyes and just carry on. Then one week HE shrunk the jumper in the wash. I only knew when I found it in the bin outside. He didn’t say a bloody word about it! Just hid it in the bin. After all that! If he’d shown it to me and hung his head we could have had a laugh about it. But he didn’t. He hid it because he didn’t want to lose face. He couldn’t admit to his imperfection. Because that’s what it was all about really.

        • He is such a fucking loser and you are so much better off without him, Dr Chumphead!! Someone mentioned earlier about how fantastic it is that you learned GERMAN to practice medicine! You moved and then moved again and lived with HIS MOTHER all while studying for your boards – and you KEPT YOUR JOB after he viciously discarded you. Keep going, you are fucking wonderful and he knows it!!! They truly are sickos and do get off on putting fabulous people down. You are so lucky to have this experinece with him, because NOW YOU KNOW. You seem young and hopeful – and ambitous and smart! The world is your oyster – there are plenty of really great guys out there, just know yourself first and stop taking the blame!!! Kick him out of that house – god, your story brings so much back to me… the nit picking and the not sharing space – NEVER AGAIN.

          • That’s a nice thing to say! Thank you! 🙂

            I do know now and I can use this experience to my advantage. NEVER AGAIN! Absolutely!

            I can’t kick him out of the house (unfortunately) the same way that him constructively excluding me is illegal. So sadly he will be there for a while. What I can do is behave in a way that I can look back on and not be ashamed of. That’s the way that I win in the long run.

            Thank you for reading and commenting!

            • I pray you can get your name off that mortgage? Paying his mortgage is such a Looney Tunes situation. But Peregrine is so right about that its incredible how well you managed that chaos hurricane.

  • Doctor CH,

    Also remember (as you leave the tangled skein behind), that you are capable of both love and self-examination. The uncomfortable memories you may have about your responses to the gas-lighting are proof that, even when shattered, you have qualities needed for a healthy relationship. He does not.

  • LTC,

    One of the many crimes against humanity that Ex-Mrs LFTT accused me of is ………. that I am not very good at (or enthusiastic about) gardening.

    Which apparently makes her behaviour entirely justified.

    LFTT

    • “My spouse isn’t good a gardening, I will fuck strange”… that is a stretch for justification if I’ve ever heard one. She must have struggled to devalue you.
      I would take that to mean that you were a pretty good partner.

      • LTC,

        I have to say that my lack of ability/enthusiasm for gardening was not my only crime, at least as far as she was concerned. She also had a major issue about the fact that I don’t drink (I now know that she’s an alcoholic). She was (apparently) embarrassed to bring her buddies to our house because she felt that I judged them every time I topped up a glass. I am also (allegedly) “emotionally immature” – because I wouldn’t accept an open relationship after the fact.

        I could go on …. but I’d rather not give her the headspace!

        As to whether I was a good partner, I am not the right person to judge; I did my best …. but it was never enough in her eyes.

        LFTT

    • 😆 Thanks for the laugh!

      Here’s one for ya. After 19 years together,

      FW: You don’t get up early enough in the morning for me (i.e., 5:00 a.m.)

      Me: Well, you’ve always known I’m not a morning person, but if you bring me a cup of coffee (like you used to), I’ll get up with you so we can spend the mornings together.

      FW: But I like to be alone in the morning – that’s my time to read the news.

      Whaat?! 😂🤣😆🤣😂

    • I was told that he knew the marriage wasn’t going to be what he wanted when I didn’t high 5 him at a baseball game (I was the 3rd wheel on a bro-date with him and his best friend). He pulled this out about a month after he left me, and years after the event. Big surprise: his AP became the biggest baseball fan when they became public. 😄

    • Looking, I got the gardening thing too. I kept asking him to pick a time so we could garden together… because I just don’t think about it. I don’t even notice it. I didn’t even know what his gardening needs were because I had none. I told him I’d do it with him, I’d also organize a family gardening session with the kids. I repeatedly asked him to let me know when he wanted to garden so that we could do it together. This happened a few times, but he’d also go out without telling, when I wasn’t around or when I was doing some other household chore.
      Then, shortly before Dday, he got up super early on a Saturday morning and gardened (I was sleeping) … when I realized he had been gardening I offered to load the bags… and he told me passive aggressively that there’s no point it’s almost all done.
      Well of course on Dday, he told me in a traumatized voice that he was unhappy with our relationship because I didn’t help him with the gardening. He painted it like I was forcing him to do all the work while I was enjoying life.
      They have a way of telling a great story that makes them look victimized.

  • It does not matter what your sexual orientation is, there are always cheaters in every group. I remember when I was about 18, in college, and one of my girlfriends was going through yet another break-up with yet another awful boy. I told her then, “the names change, but they are all the same guy, stop dating this destructive type.” She later told me she was in love, this time with a woman, because she had decided to stop dating boys, since they were all destructive. When I met her “lover”, she was a destructive type woman, and she immediately hit on me. I am certain I am heterosexual, and told her I was not interested. I told my friend her lover had hit on me, and she told me I must be mistaken, she was just being friendly.

    I do not know, and I cannot speak to how men are programmed while they grow up, but in my FOO and region women are actually taught to be subservient and put up with all kinds of shit from men. I cannot tell you how many times I was told to be more reserved,, and not to let men know how smart I was. The men would find it “unladylike” and “intimidating”, and I should “look pretty and be sweet.”

    I understand that my great grandmother, and grandmother, and mother were raised this way. Prior to my mother, they had little or no education, either. They could not drive, or vote. They were economically dependent on men. and considered an “old maid” if they were not married in their early teens. Perhaps their advice was economically based on the options they had. My life was different because I had more options, and I exercised my options.

    The Dr. Chump in this letter is an educated man, with supportive family and many options. He somehow accepted devaluation of himself, and he has some medical issues. Even so, he was in an abusive relationship, and he was probably targeted because his abuser saw many useful qualities in him, and had no trouble exploiting them. He is a perfect example of a person raised to be a chump, who needs to fix his picker, and learn to value who he is, and believe in his own worth.

    I never blame the abused, I blame abusers who come in all sexes, sizes, and shapes. They see others as being useful, or not. They feel entitled to change partners when they become bored, or keep several if they can, getting kibbles from each. They see their lies as a strength, an ability to fool others into giving them what they want. The only responsibility I give chumps is to learn that they have value, and then learn to live a life with boundaries. Chumps can keep compassion, and understanding, and a giving nature. They are entitled to their value system. But they must get away from abusers, and learn to spot them. They have to stop the cycle of abuse.

    • “I never blame the abused, I blame abusers who come in all sexes, sizes, and shapes. They see others as being useful, or not. They feel entitled to change partners when they become bored, or keep several if they can, getting kibbles from each. They see their lies as a strength, an ability to fool others into giving them what they want. The only responsibility I give chumps is to learn that they have value, and then learn to live a life with boundaries. Chumps can keep compassion, and understanding, and a giving nature. They are entitled to their value system. But they must get away from abusers, and learn to spot them. They have to stop the cycle of abuse.”

      Quoted for truth.

      • Portia always brings the hammer of truth.

        Here’s another truth: “The only responsibility I give chumps is to learn that they have value, and then learn to live a life with boundaries.” And I’d add “learn to live according to their own values, not adjusting them to placate an abuser.”

    • Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. I will be as far away as possible from this particular abuser as soon as possible. If only there was some kind of marker on all of the others. My picker will need to be fixed instead!

  • “This has all completely changed my outlook on relationships and people. I never in a million years thought he would do this to me.”

    Oh Doc, I feel the same way. I really can never see relationships, or, more specifically, *me* in a relationship, ever again.

  • Champ lady is right: don’t untangle the skein for too long. I would however suggest that you do an Internet search on “Grey rock“. Narcissists like to stir things up because they enjoy the drama. A good book that describes narcissist is “the Wizard of Oz and other narcissists”. This book doesn’t really tell you how to deal with narcissists, hence searching for “gray rock“.
    And please check with a lawyer on the house. I know you’re still reeling from the break up, but can he legally lock you out of the house you own? I’m assuming your name is on the title? I’m sure when you suggest selling the house or having him buy you out he’s going to act shocked and appalled. Why? Because narcissists don’t know how things work. Let your lawyer explain this to him.
    Hang in there and good luck.

    • He can’t legally lock me out. I have told him (via the lawyer) that the court will be getting involved should this continue and that he is racking up rent for my half of the house the longer he excludes me. We are both on the title, so in the eyes of the law its 50:50 and I can change the locks back if I please.

      I’ve opted for the expensive but better option of no contact through my lawyer.

      Thanks for weighing in! You and everyone else are fantastic!

    • If the OP’s name is on the mortgage, by changing the locks, his ex is breaking the law in the UK. In the meantime, the OP should not stop paying his share of the mortgage. A solicitors letter should sort this situation out pretty quickly.

  • Doc, instead of wasting your energy skein untangling and blaming yourself for being conned, take charge of the situation and get legal on this asshole. You pay the mortgage? It’s your house then. This mofo has no right to live in it, let alone lock you out. I hope you didn’t put his name on the deed, because that’s going to be complicated and costly legally. But if not, you can surely force him out. Stop letting this POS walk all over you. Don’t talk to him, have your lawyer take care of that. Every time you communicate with him, he fucks with your head, so you need to be NC.

    Look, you got played. We all did. How were we supposed to know, not being aware of narcissistic and emotional abuse? I had no idea. I thought emotional abuse was being yelled at. My abuser was the more passive aggressive type, so I had no clue what was going on. When you don’t realize you’re being abused, you get anxious and depressed and don’t know why.

    The good news is we are aware of the tactics of these abusers now and can avoid scum like that in future. Your priority now needs to be getting Dr. Fucknozzle out of your house and out of your life.

    • Dr. Fucknozzle is now his official nickname!

      In the intervening time I have done what I needed to do (at last) and got legal advice. The ball is rolling.

    • “When you don’t realize you’re being abused, you get anxious and depressed and don’t know why.”

      Same. I thought abuse was physical because that’s what my father was. I swore that when I grew up, I was never going to be with a man who hit people. I kept that promise and ended up with an abuser just the same. It took me almost two decades and a huge chunk of my mental health to figure that out.

      • I hear ya. My dad yelled at my mom, so I wasn’t going to be with that kind of man. I looked for the opposite. Little did I know that my gentle seeming partner was actually a covert aggressor. Live and learn, but I sure wish I’d learned 30 years ago and not wasted my life with an asshole. Back then that sort of abuse wasn’t common knowledge and it isn’t even now, so I have to forgive myself fir not seeing it.

        What type of abuser was your fw, if you don’t mind me asking?

        • “My dad yelled at my mom, so I wasn’t going to be with that kind of man. I looked for the opposite. Little did I know that my gentle seeming partner was actually a covert aggressor. Live and learn, but I sure wish I’d learned 30 years ago and not wasted my life with an asshole. Back then that sort of abuse wasn’t common knowledge and it isn’t even now, so I have to forgive myself fir not seeing it.”

          Same here (although mine also physically abused my mother).

          • Well, here is a lesson to ponder. OHFFS looked for the opposite of his overtly aggressive, yelling father, and got it: a COVERT aggressive. The problem isn’t the way the aggression or abuse manifests; it’s the aggression and abuse.

            So the picker fix is to learn to recognize abuse in its many forms, and not just key on the outward behavior.

        • My FW is a covert narcissist. It took me at least 3 years to figure out the narcissism part. It started when I showed my neighbor one of his texts and she immediately said, “he sounds like a narcissist.” I didn’t believe her at first because everything I read described narcissists as grandiose, big-mouthed, life of the party types. My FW was quiet and seemingly gentle.

          But after reading several books and reams of psychology articles, I discovered the covert type.

          His weapons included the silent treatment, stonewalling, contemptuous looks, seething resentment, criticism disguised as concern, financial control, emotional manipulation, lying by omission, neglect, and an extreme lack of empathy. He shut down all attempts at conflict resolution by dismissing and ignoring me. (Trust me when I say NC isn’t an issue.)

          My emotional response to his behavior was to question everything my gut told me and blame myself for causing problems and being ungrateful.

          It’s abuse from the inside out, where you end up turning on yourself. By the time he walked out (on Christmas), I felt guilty, unattractive, burdensome, worthless, and just wrong. This, despite everyone telling me I was beautiful, kind, and talented (I even have a master’s degree from a top university).

          Being his wife literally left me suicidal. Now I thank God he’s the one whose gone, and not me.

          • Me too. Covert narc, used the same tactics. Then he got much more overtly aggressive and hateful when he was cheating. I guess cheating emboldened him. I was suicidal during his affair and after Dday for a long time.

            Throughout my marriage, everyone around me was telling me any problems were my fault, because they believed his image and didn’t see the crazy stuff he did. He was careful about his image. So I was being gang gaslighted and it really screwed me up. Even my best friend and my mom wouldn’t believe me. A therapist told me it was emotional abuse, but that wasn’t until 2017.

            I’m so glad you know your worth now and are NC with that fucker. You’re mighty and you’re awesome ChumpQueen. 💪

            • Thanks OHFFS! For what it’s worth, my mother sided with FW too. FOO issues don’t help. 🙄

              I’m glad we both made it through that hell. We are so very mighty, and now we get to pass it on! ❤

            • Mine was a covert narc, too. I couldn’t even imagine what it would look like to see him yelling, I think he is literally unable to express anger, but he turns his anger in passive aggressive perversion.

              It was so subtle that I really thought I was crazy for a long time. And the thing is, when I tell friends about him they often don’t get it because he never used any direct insults, his record is clean. Only when I started reading about covert narcissism everything fell into place.

              Mind you that when I met fw I was still on high alert for not meeting a narc because the one before was an overt one 🙈. FOO don’t help indeed..

          • Me three. You just described my ex to a T (except mine threw in screaming and name-calling and mantrums for good measure when there was no one around to witness him “breaking character”). For me it was the looks that got me. He had a way of looking at me as if I were simultaneously the most disgusting and most disapointing thing he had ever seen in his life, then shaking his head and walking away. It’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t been groomed to accept that kind of emotional abuse how utterly gutting it is to be looked at like that by the person you love and value most in the world. And of course he didn’t start out with that. He was a master at trying out new strategies and seeing which ones I would put up with and which I wouldn’t. He always kept the abuse dialed one click below tilt….

            • Mine broke character at the very end too, raging a few times and even threatening me. That was easy to handle because I despise bullies.

              But, okupin, those looks – “the most disgusting and disappointing thing he’d ever seen” from the person you “value most in the world” – that knocks the wind out of you, doesn’t it?

              There’s no fighting that. The only good response is to leave and never come back. But that means you have to be fearless, and you have to love and value yourself more than you love and value him.

              That’s the mighty I will achieve before getting into another relationship again, because you can always fool yourself into believing your picker’s fixed. After all, that’s what I believed before I picked my FW.

      • So important to understand abuse isn’t just hitting. It is also ‘silent treatment, stonewalling, contemptuous looks, seething resentment, criticism disguised as concern, financial control, emotional manipulation, lying by omission, neglect, and an extreme lack of empathy.’ And shutting down all attempts at conflict resolution by dismissing and ignoring.

        • Yes! My god, if someone would have told be me this I would have been able to recognize in no time!

      • Interesting that you never had to swear to yourself that YOU wouldn’t become a person who hits people. I’m guessing that was always a given? Yet abusers blame others and childhood trauma for their problems – as if that gives them the right to harm others.

        My ex liked to refer to abuse as “the gift that keeps on giving.” Said with callous condescension, not compassion, from his sanctimonious perch. Damning the abusers and victims alike.

        There was a confusing mix of love and abusive dynamics in my house growing up, and my ex was part of my life long enough to see this, firsthand. He liked to talk about how people who come from broken families are broken for life. I think this was one of the ways he subtly devalued me and shifted the blame for our dysfunctional relationship onto me.

  • “I was always totally honest with you, I just didn’t reveal certain things, which is very different.”
    I got the same line from the “Cheaters Handbook”.
    It really is highly diagnostic. It tells you there is nothing to work with anymore in your relationship. Not only do the lie to you, they are lying to themselves.
    It is like a snake that swallows their tail.

    • It absolutely is. I could see the cogs whirring as he said it. I could see the creature living beneath the facade he had built up. Distressing, tragic and a massive relief all at once.

    • There are several types of dishonesty that liars choose to reclassify in order to reassure themselves that they are somehow less severe than “traditional” lie of commission (the “no, I didn’t eat the last cookie” type). They include not only the “lie of omission” (which is being discussed here), but also my cheater’s dishonesty of choice, “paltering” (https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/todd_rogers/files/paltering.pdf).

      Paltering is making a carefully constructed statement that, while technically true, the liar knows will be misinterpreted by the listener. This allows the liar to believe that he is not being dishonest, although he is fully aware that the listener is led, by his statement, to a materially false understanding. The general attitude of the liar is the same as for lies of omission (it’s not my fault that you, logically and predictably, came to believe X). My XW rarely tells lies of commission, but palters all the time. For instance, a couple of weeks ago she asked for a change in custody as she had just returned from visiting her terminally ill father, and she needed to “tell the kids about their grandfather” so they could begin “grieving”. Of course I agreed to it. A few days later, I found out that her father is not, in fact, dead. I went back and reread XW’s email and discovered that she never explicitly said that her father had died, but that I had inferred this from her using the word “grieving”. I’m sure XW believes that she did not, in fact, lie to me and is still chuckling to herself over my stupidity.

      Not to overintellectualize, but the really destructive aspect of paltering and lies of omission is that they violate the “shared understanding” theory of language: namely, that the purpose of language is to collaboratively arrive at a shared understanding of meaning, the assumption being that everyone is honestly trying to arrive at mutual agreement. There are many situations where the literal meaning of language is contrary to the way it’s used in common speech (for instance, the figurative use of the word “literally”) – but we manage to communicate because we all agree on certain conventions that, strictly speaking, don’t make logical or grammatical sense. Paltering (and lies of omission, though they’re a little more subtle) exploits the basic assumptions, fundamental to the very nature of language, that the speaker and the listener are both trying to arrive at the same understanding of a sentence; in fact, the palterer is deliberately constructing a sentence that is literally true, but (according to normal interpretation of language as it is actually used in the real world) effectively false. This undermines the most basic premise of communication – that the person talking to you is actually trying to achieve mutual, shared understanding of a situation. I have found that it destroys trust amazingly efficiently.

      • Fascinating! I had a concept of paltering, but didn’t know this concept had a name. You’re absolutely right though. Whenever people would get snobby about grammar, spelling and pronunciation (which he would do a lot, as it happens) I always used to point out that the goal of any communication isn’t to spell words correctly or use correct sentence structure for it’s own sake, its to help someone else understand and if they understand correctly then there really isn’t a problem. Now I know thats the shared understanding theory of language!

        I’m also now wondering how much paltering he did… Probably a lot.

      • Hmm, interesting.

        My fw would tell me that he can’t sleep so he was going out in the middle of the night to ride around with the guys (police officer). What he was actually doing is going over to his whore workers trailer and riding her. Is that paltering?

        • As I understand it, no, that’s just a bald faced lie. It would be a lie of omission if he said I’m going out to ride with the guys but also she was there and he didn’t mention that. I am not sure how to come up with paltering in your scenario. Paltering is telling you something that is just barely true enough for you to draw the false conclusion they want you to draw because it’s beneficial to them.

      • IG: Thank you! You just gave me the language to understand yet another aspect of my FW’s behavior. The very last “cooperative” communication between us involved just this.

        He asked me to have our daughter tested for Covid – and provide documented proof of the results – before she visited him. I explained that she had been in quarantine with me for months and neither of us had symptoms. He insisted, explaining that he and his AP were temporarily living in her elderly parents’ home. It would be irresponsible of him to have our daughter visit without first ensuring that she was Covid-free.

        When our daughter returned from the visit, she told me that the AP’s parents were not staying in the house with them.
        The real reason for the test was to appease AP.

        So “paltering” makes the list of FW characteristics and red flags.

        • If I understand correctly, they were truly “temporarily staying in the parents’ home” but the parents were not actually there with them. You were left to logically (but erroneously) infer that the parents would be exposed if the kids arrived with COVID – and surely your XH knew you would incorrectly interpret his statement that way. Textbook paltering.

      • thanks for this IG. It explains a lot. And along with ” word salad” no wonder anxiety and confusion overtake us exacting chumpy chumps.

      • IG, fascinating!! My fw was an expert in it! Of course telling just a lie would be too obviously bad, so he would just shrug against what would be objectively acceptable. But as you said instead of finding a common agreement in communication, there was only contempt. Creepy.

        Thanks for the share

      • I’m sure I’m not the first to post this Richard Feynman quote on this site, but it bears repeating (and who doesn’t love Feynman?):

        “By honest I don’t mean that you only tell what’s true. But you make clear the entire situation. You make clear all the information that is required for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind.”

  • Dear Chump Lady,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and responding. It feels really good to KNOW that I didn’t do anything wrong here. For so long I tortured myself, thinking I’d neglected the perfect man and lost him because of my inability to deal with my problems. It nearly ended me. Now I have accepted that it was all his manipulative, malevolent, blameshifting nonsense. He’s a piece of shit and I’ve dodged a bullet.

    That relationship post mortem was a mistake in many ways, but it did help me to see who he truly was. One thing I didn’t mention when I initially wrote to you, was one part of the conversation that happened immediately after I told him that I knew about Norbert. I told him that I knew someone else was staying in the house, because I’d seen someone elses phone charger on my bedside table. This was when I went there to collect an ID badge I needed, prior to the secret lock change. He responded by asking “How did you feel about that?” Leaving aside what a fucked up question that is, my immediate response was to tell him, honestly. I told him I felt like a piece of shit, distraught and humiliated. As I was telling him, through my tears, I thought I could see his eyes widen. I don’t think I was looking for it, but I’m sure I could see him feeding off my pain. It was so strange to me at the time. It was something like Cersei Lannister staring at the Sept of Baelor blowing up. And we all know how much of a malignant bastard she was!

    I also didn’t elaborate on his jobs. In the five years we were together, he had seven different jobs in different hospitals. Of those, at least three were ones he essentially rage quit. There was always an issue. Inefficiency. Lack of work. Too much work. Covid etc etc. The whole hospital or department wasn’t doing things the way he thought they ought to. He even said in the weeks prior to it ending, that maybe he’d had so many jobs because he was unhappy with me at home. I also wonder whether he did all this prior to my boards to stifle my attempts to get to consultant/attending level. That would not have been good for the power imbalance he’d created.

    Anyway, enough untangling. You will be delighted to know that I have officially gone full no contact and have instructed a solicitor/lawyer. He talks to her now, not me. I still don’t have a key to my house (yet), but a court order has been applied for. He’s currently burying his head in the sand and ignoring all letters. Which is fine. He can’t do it forever. It’s all going to make him look less reasonable in front of a judge.

    His last email to me was his response to me informing him that I was going no contact and taking legal advice. It is a textbook model of narcissistic mind fuckery. Perhaps I’ll send it on for more UBT fodder?

    Thank you again.

    Dr Chumphead

    • Mazel tov, Dr. Chumphead! Everything IS coming up roses for you! All development is not linear, but zigzag (pediatric specialist here). Remember this during your recovery so as not to to sweat the regressions. I am years out of my chumpdom and whereas it is hard to trust again—it IS possible. As you get better you will feel more and more grateful that you GOT OUT ALIVE and that the world IS your oyster! Best of luck!

    • Swap out your ‘successful’ male doctor for a ‘constantly trying to find herself’ female failed English major, and our stories are identical in every way, right down to the suggestion for an open marriage (and our ultra-chumpy willingness to go along).

      As you come to grips with just how fortunate you are to have removed yourself from his poisonous orbit, try to appreciate that your time investment in this douchebag was comparatively short.

      Your pain isn’t lessened knowing that it could have been 10, 20, 30 years with children and all of the financial entanglements that go along with it, but if being a member of Chump Nation teaches us anything, it’s that there’s an even bigger douchebag or douchebag-ess somewhere else in the world. Take some solace in knowing that at some point you’ll undoubtedly meet someone in just as bad a situation, and they will have the benefit of your experience and wisdom to get them through it.

      • Dear UXWorld,

        Yes, I do see that five years is actually pretty short. It just felt like a lifetime when I was in it. I didn’t know about CN before some kind soul on reddit saw a post I made on r/BreakUps and told me what I didn’t want to hear and couldn’t accept. If they hadn’t done that, I don’t know where I’d be. I have indeed dodged a bullet (maybe actually more like a cannon ball).

        It’s so comforting to see that there are others who have been treated this way that have survived and are doing well. I’m glad you are rid of your ‘failed English major’. Long may you be fuckwit free!

    • Dr. Chumphead,

      I had depression and anxiety during the majority of my marriage to FW and, for quite a while, felt that these “defects” were the reason he “needed” to cheat and leave. In fact, he used to tell me that I was “never happy” and “always angry or upset,” which I internalized and tried so hard to change. To the point where I became a self-medicating, smiley-face doormat.

      Now that I’m a couple years out, I’m no longer self-medicating and can see things clearly. First, depression and anxiety are highly exacerbated (if not caused) by a partner’s neglect and entitled behavior. Second, no one is “never” or “always” anything. Those are red flag words used to manipulate people. Third, being upset or angry is a normal and healthy response to having your boundaries violated.

      Cheating narcissist mindfuckery is a difficult form of abuse to overcome. But it will make you sooooo much healthier in the long run.

      And, for what it’s worth, you seem like an amazingly sweet, caring, smart, and accomplished person of high value to me. Internalize that. (((hugs)))

      • Thank you so much for your kind words! I am increasingly feeling as though my depression and anxiety waere both symptoms of this relationship. I remember when it happened. I was so tired and exhausted from travelling to and from his flat (we didn’t live together at this point and he’d decided the journey was too long for him to fit it in) that I just broke down and sobbed in front of him. I’m still on SSRIs now. We’ll see how much better I feel when I come off. But I can see now that I went out of may way, to the point of making myself ill, to be with him, but he made no effort at all. Why did I do that? Thats the picker that needs fixing, I guess.

        • Because you love with your heart. A moth to a flame! You didn’t know any better but in time you will. You are a worthy, loving man who deserves a man with great character, honesty and respect. I wish you nothing but happiness and strength as you move towards what you deserve in life! Xo Sweet

        • Mine was a “gray” divorce after a long-term marriage. Boy, can I relate though.

          I know now that indeed my anxiety and depression were from the relationship. It took me so very long to see that, but now I do. I’m still on a minimal dose of medication and am weaning down. My doctor says to be thoughtful about that because I take other medication that causes insomnia, but we’ll see. I take it at night and don’t like the foggy morning thinking. From my viewpoint, I really haven’t had much anxiety and depression at all since the first months of the pandemic when everything shut down. Now that things are open again (at least for now), I’m truly fine.

          Over the years I had all kinds of therapy and read all kinds of books trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I learned some things, but the big wrong in my life was my ex. Now that the legal drama is truly over, it’s amazing how good I am!

          • Thanks for sharing your story with me! I’m glad you’re truly fine. That’s fantastic and gives me more hope!

  • Doc, why is this guy still in your house? You are still the victim of financial abuse here. Get a lawyer ASAP!

    • He still has the right to be there. He doesn’t have the right to change the locks though! The solicitors are doing their thing as we speak.

  • Dr. Chumphead:

    The best cure for what ails us chumps is to temporarily set aside our devastated emotions, and take decisive action. In your case, that action would be to put your house — the house that you’re paying the mortgage on and is serving as a revolving door for your ex’s boy toys — on the market pronto! Just call a real estate agent make it happen. When your ex questions you about listing the house without letting him know, you can say, “I was always totally honest with you, I just didn’t reveal certain things, which is very different.”

  • Dear Dr. Chump head, I am *so* glad you’ve got yourself a solicitor, aren’t taking any more crap from this piece of shit, and are now seeing him exactly for what he is.

    Your comments on this fuckwit’s behaviour now he knows you’ve instructed a solicitor are spot on, my ex fucktard did exactly the same.

    ” He’s currently burying his head in the sand and ignoring all letters.”

    Check. It went on for ages, and I thought sometimes it would never end, but as you say, he can’t do it forever. It’s really another example of their fundamental stupidity, they think if they ignore it it will all just go away,” la la la I’m not listening”. Morons.

    In the end I got the full amount from the sale of our home, and he got an £800 barrister’s bill. 😂🏡😂.

    Best of luck to you hun. Know your worth, make your boundaries and your deal breakers, watch out for red flags, because these malignant fuckers are everywhere. Hugs. ❤️

    • Thank you Chumpnomore6! If only my solicitors bill was £800!

      And don’t worry, my guard is well and truly up!!

      X

      • The funny thing was, if he’d have responded to all the letters my solicitor sent him, he would have probably come out of it better than he did.

        He ignored the invitation to mediation, dragged his feet for ages re finances, which I think pissed off the judge, ignored the cease and desist letters my solicitor sent him, (because he kept calling, texting, turning up unexpectedly) so I had to get the police involved, ignored requests to sign off on our home so I could sell it, the list goes on.

        He was an expert at cutting off his nose to spite his face. 🙄🤣

        At the final FDR he turned up without his solicitor, but with a *barrister*, my solicitor said his solicitor had probably told him he didn’t have a case. He was always “you are not the boss of me”, so ended up forking out £800 for the barrister, and lost the case anyway. Moron. 😂🙄😂

        • These people truly are self-centred to the point of stupidity.

          “Accountability? Consequnces? Not for me thanks! I’m perfect don’t you know!”

  • As an aside, Schitt’s Creek and a delicious chilli, cooked by me, brought on the ex’s emotional breakdown. With a shriek of ‘I can’t do this any more’ he announced loudly that he was going away the following week ‘ON HIS OWN’ i.e. with the ex-girlfriend OW as it turned out. This became known as ‘headspace week’ by my friends and me because he had to go ‘ON HIS OWN’ to get headspace from me. I was in shock, not least because I had arranged that week to take my 84 year old mother to visit the grave of my father for the first time, on what would have been his birthday. He had died 7 weeks previously. The ex took the car, so I travelled 200 miles by train on a journey that, when all said and done, took 4 hours each way, instead of 4 hours altogether. I was still having physio for a serious knee injury on top of this. Never mind, he got to have headspace week in the rain (her larger than mine bottom was imprinted on the car’s front sheet). I can laugh about it now because it was so surreal and dramatic. I get how incidents with food can trigger breakdowns in cheaters. All very stressful for the sad sausages. Being a liar and a cheat for 26 years takes it out of a sausage.

    • Seat not sheet, though I’m sure sheets were involved at some point.

      Reading Dr Chumphead’s letter again, he was with the gay version of the ex. The same things happened. I got moved to London from Bristol. Lots of drama. Inadequate dishwasher loading. Smirking. Calling me useless. I was on anti-depressants as it was hard, stressful work being a CEO of a multi-million pound not-for-profit and pandering to the needs of a junior employed lawyer. As my therapist said today, I deserved so much better. So do you Dr Chumphead.

    • Yes the pizza thing was so odd! I thought “What the hell is this? Sure it’s annoying but it’s only a fucking pizza! We’re not going to starve!”

      Little did I know that it really wasn’t about the pizza. It was about manufacturing a scenario which would allow him to jump ship without blame.

      • Oh yes! I won’t even start on the manufactured rows on his mother’s birthday weekend in Lyme Regis! At that point I thought he was having an affair with his niece! He was determined to get me to storm out. He would then have said ‘look how crazy she is’. They all seemed to have been told that I was ‘crazy’ in advance. I was alone in an atmosphere of bullying, vindictiveness, whispering, and drunkenness. It was traumatic. And my Dad was in hospital dying while I spent my time with those wasters. I had only gone because I couldn’t face the drama from the ex MIL of not going. Life is so much better without these truly toxic people involved. And I’m not a people pleaser any more.

  • Those who do not change their thinking will be recycling their experiences. This site is about changing our thinking so we will become aware going forward with the lives we have left. The healing in my thinking that has taken place by reading here daily since 2018 has been invaluable and lifesaving and sanity-saving.

    Staying with a cheater means living without trust and safety, qualities to me which are the whole point of being in a relationship. When I was a psych major, I remember learning about “learned helplessness”….experiments when dogs had been caged for so long they were afraid to go out when the door was left open. Convicts also become institutionalized. I think this also explains my initial reluctance to divorce after DDay.

    There is no honor among thieves. Cheaters and those who cheat with them are OK with substandard mediocre associates. They don’t get to have trust and safety either. They just turn up the radio so they can’t hear the engine knocking. I was jealous of a mirage, not their reality. But seeing reality takes time. That time is shortened with no or minimal contact. I am jealous now of chumps who didn’t have children with the cheater and can get completely away. (And if you are a chump who was deprived of having children by the cheater, I want to extend my sincere condolences…..).

    Making it here after DDay is like getting a coveted spot in the lifeboat on Titanic. Cheaters who take off with those who cheat with them get to remain on on deck, listening to the orchestra play, swapping deck chairs. Good for them. Leave them to their illusion while you row to safety and a better life.

    • I’m on the life boat and desperately rowing away. It’s hard work, I’m fatigued and low on energy. But the rowing continues.

      Thank you for your words of support!

  • “Oh right, he blames you. And chump that you are, you blame and shame yourself. Because surely people only treat you like crap because you deserve it.”
    Strange and sad how this mindset develops in us chumps.
    Whereas you didn’t blame him for your anxiety, depression, body shape or anything else…..it was just life. If you were a FW, you could have turned around and blamed him for so much. But you didn’t attack, devalue him and blame him for whatever wasn’t ideal in your life.
    That’s what toxic people do. They are perfect and others are to blame for their not feeling like they are in Disneyland 24/7. Then they lash out in whatever way they do it.
    Treat yourself the way you want the next person to treat you.
    Theses people are good story tellers, don’t buy into it.
    I stuck by 1st H who had all kinds of MH issues. That’s what loving committed people do. I still ended up devalued and blamed for everything. I never blamed my unhappiness in that relationship on him- but he did! FW’s come with and without depression, with and without …you name it. But the tell is the devaluing and condescending treatment.
    The only “I” statements they make is “I’m unhappy.” Then it’s all “you.”

    • “They are perfect and others are to blame for their not feeling like they are in Disneyland 24/7.”

      This could be on his epitaph!

      The only “I” statements they make is “I’m unhappy.” Then it’s all “you.”

      This rang very true! I hadn’t thought of it from this perspective before.

  • Apologise if an older UK chump has mentioned this upthread; in 1986 Sir Robert Armstrong was “economical with the truth” in the Spycatcher trial.

  • All of CLs advise is spot on. The thing I think that needs to be reiterated is GET OUT FROM UNDER THAT HOUSE. If you are both on the deed make him buy you out, if it’s just you, give him 30 days notice to move out and sell it. Either way best to consult a realtor or lawyer on the proper way. This is keeping you stuck to him and he will use this as a way to keep in contact and keep the drama going. For your sanity sell the house. Best wishes. Here looking to Tuesday.

  • Awsome!

    I wish I could go complete no contact with my malignant narcissist ex. But we have an 8 year old. Divorced 4 yrs ago. At least he lives over 600 miles away. Everytime I do have to contact him, just yesterday to discuss health insurance, I get sucked into some long drawn out conversation about the past, how I am to blame for him screwing strange and being verbally and physically abusive. It’s so hard sometimes not to fall into self blame mode.

    Silver lining is I don’t let him get to me anymore. Plus he is about to go to jail for a DUI! I know I shouldn’t be happy but it means I don’t have to deal with him for at least 2 years. He did it to himself. Oh I wish I recorded what he said about it. How it was so unfair that he got caught and how it was everyone else’s fault. Sure “they” forced you to drive drunk.

    Anyhow, good luck on your exams! I am actually studying for my ACAMS (banking certification) and take the test next month. Focusing on ourselves for a change is what we need. 😁

    • Thank you very much weighing in! He did do all of this to himself. When I tried to explain to him that he was the one who wanted all of this he would come out with “Oh so we’re playing the blame game are we!?”

      That’s a game he didn’t want to play because he would have been totally whooped.

  • Why is it that often the best people seem to get the worst partners? A close (gay) friend, that just found out this weekend his ex-partner had been cheating on him. The nicest guy you could think of. There is no justice.

    Take good care Doc! There is nothing you did wrong and you will get out of this.

  • This post inspires me to re-recommend this book. For any chumps out there who, like me, are guilty of people-pleasing, I highly recommend it:

    Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself
    by Aziz Gazipura (Author)

  • Apologies to Ux, as I am not worthy of his lyrical legacy, but I just had to do the Robert Palmer song. I got to keep some of the original lyrics in since they fit the story.

    Hey dick, did you hear, you’re out on your ear
    I’m gonna evict a fuckwit, yeah
    Said you were my spouse, then you cheat in my house
    Buh bye you miserable louse

    Doctor Doctor, here is the news
    I’m so done with taking your abuse
    Too bad you shat on what we had
    I’ve lawyered up, you’re gonna lose

    A pretty face don’t make no pretty heart
    You were butt fugly from the start
    You think you’ve won, think that I’m done
    But it’s coming for you, hon

    Doctor Doctor, here’s what I know
    You’re an asshole and you’re gonna go
    No way you’re gonna get to stay
    Take your kit, pack your shit and blow

    I know you like it, you like it on top
    But Doctor Fucknozzle, it’s gonna stop
    You had me down twenty-one to zip
    Smile of Judas on your lip
    Shake my fist, knock on wood
    I’m gonna get your cheating ass but good

    Doctor Doctor, here is the news
    I’m so done with taking your abuse
    Too bad you shat on what we had
    I’ve lawyered up, you’re gonna lose
    I’ve lawyered up, you’re goooonnnna loooose

    • Pure gold. I’ve always looked up to the Robert Palmer girls. They always looked so strong to me as a young girl. I have the hair to prove it! You turned it into something even more empowering. 😘

      Looking forward to Tuesday.

  • Chumphead,

    As gay men, we have A LOT of shit we have to sift through. Not that this type of stuff isn’t prevalent in the hetero world as well, but I feel like the disordered are always lurking around the corner in the gay community. From drugs to alcohol to promiscuity to narcissism to open relationships…there are lots of men who are broken (because of the way society has treated us), that do not love themselves and haven’t taken the time to heal their inner wounds. Or…because they lack character/values in general. So what do they do? They look for high value people like you and I that possess all of the things they are missing (honesty, integrity, compassion, empathy etc.). I recently went through something like this for the first time in 2020 and it was a TOTAL mindfuck. But now, I’m almost a year out of it and I look back and think to myself…WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING? I promise you that you will get there. Just continue to remind yourself that you were chosen by this fuckwit because of your high value qualities. Own that you deserve better, don’t take what the disordered do personally (they are broken, lack values and character) and keep working towards healing your inner wounds from this relationship. And when you feel like you’ve been replaced…it won’t work out with Norbert because the disordered cannot have healthy functioning relationships. My ex replaced me within a month…and guess what…six months later they were splitsville…and they cycle starts all over. You’re gonna be just fine and you can use your new, bullshit detector to be a slayer of unicorns! Keep moving forward and the Universe will bless you with a new man if you so desire.When that happens, you’ll look back and thank your lucky stars it never worked out with this asshole. If you’re ever in the states (Atlanta), hit me up and we’ll go grab a cocktail!

    • Chumpenhearted,

      You’re absolutely right about the prevalence of disorder in the gay community. I don’t think I know any other gay guys without some form of hang up or other. I think it plays a large part in how he is. His narcissism is covering up for his fundamental lack of self worth. His fathers response to him coming out was to sob, which tells you a lot. I know this is more skein untangling but there is certainly a damaged and scared little boy in there somewhere.

      Thank you for your words of support! Before the split, I wouldn’t have imagined myself travelling the world much again. Now though, I am as free as a bird with a shiny new bullshit counter to take along with me. Should I find myself in Atlanta, you’ll be my first call. Mine’s an Old Fashioned!

      • May I give a great example that there are emotionally healthy gay men? I am related to one who has been with his partner for 20 years. The minute the state allowed them to get married they did. They have the neatest kids. Both had accepting families, were not teased or bullied in school, and love their jobs. There are others out there. Be kind to yourselves and keep looking.

  • “But then you bravely regroup and move back to the UK, and live with his mum, and buy a fixer-upper while you’re studying for your boards! That’s a LOT to take on.
    You did all this pivoting for him at a time when you really needed security. No wonder you were depressed. Every time you seem to regain your footing, he’s there flinging chaos at you.”

    This ring so many bells for me I thing someone is practising changes in a large church! All the years I was doing my PhD, and trying to establish my career I got the undermining destabilization. Each time I reached a professional accomplishment–and it wasn’t easy, since academia is also a sea of sharks, or should I say narcs?–Exhole was there with his drama.

    I can attest that this behavior can seem very subtle if you are a super committed partner/chump. But it’s always awful and makes you feel like crap. Over years, you really doubt yourself. Thankfully, I am many years divorces from his ass and all the rest of him. Still in therapy though; I was married for 25+ years of that crap. That crap plus the cheating and lying crap.
    Doctor Chump and all the other chumps out there in chumpland, stay safe, get vaccinated, and know that you are wonderful.

    • I’m adding Exhole to the list of new nicknames! You’re right, I felt like total crap and on bad days I still do. I will soldier on though. Knowing all of you are there having gone through the same is no end of help. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Anything good in the relationship was you. You carry that forward with you.

    He’s a shallow self serving person. He showed his true colours. He’ll go from partner to partner, blaming them once the initial honeymoon stage inevitably passes.

  • Dr,
    Take it from me- he’s a toxic ass. Fuck him. Get out and stay out. Take your power back. He’s triangulating you and enjoying every minute of it. It’s harder to see when you’re in it. I got the open relationship shit too. And of course it was because I wasn’t meeting his “needs”. Now I realize his “needs” were actually just lying and cheating and triangulating. He wasn’t available for the kind of relationship I wanted- you know, a loving intimate committed one with respect. It’s been two years for me. I’m getting past the trauma and realizing I’d rather be alone and lonely rather than sitting around being someone else’s punching bag. Sounds like you’ve got the makings of a great life. Find someone who deserves you. ❤️🥰

    • Thank you! Maybe I’ll start looking one day in the future. For now, it’s me on my own! 😀

  • Once again, CL is right on target in her analysis and advice.

    I have one caveat, however. For me, reading about narcissism and other forms of entitled behavior helped me not only understand what happened to me (forget about “diagnosing Jackass”) but also helped me see my role in the dynamic. Why did I crave “love bombing” and idealization? What are the signs of devaluation? Because knowing those things about myself was how I rebuilt a life that doesn’t have any jackasses in it.

    So I don’t think reading Dr. Simon or Lundy Bancroft is not necessarily about untangling the skein or about staying stuck railing about a cheater being a narcissist for years and years. It’s about understanding the difference between healthy, reciprocal relationships and abusive, dysfunctional ones.

    • I think untangling my OWN skein is going to necessarily involve untangling a little bit his, since ours were intertwined for so long. Once his skein has been cut loose from mine, then I can trust that he sucks.

      Thanks for that sage advice! Appreciate you weighing in!

      • Yes I agree, LAJ! Especially when you have several disfunctional relationships on your emotional CV (like me). Mentally normal people seemed too boring to me. Boy, did that change..

        This is also where I find sense in the “lost years”: if it weren’t for this very painful confrontation, I would never have been able to learn how to get out of my own disfunctional behaviour.

        I actually just finished Bancroft and can really recommend it. I read another book on narcissism (Healing from a Narcissistic Relationship by Margalis Fjelstad, recommended by people commenting here) and it’s interesting to see how Bancroft really focuses on the accountability of abusers, while NPD is seen as a medical disorder and reasoning will never help.
        There may be an overlap between the two, as according to Bancroft only few abusers have NPD. Anyway, it would be untangling the skein to diagnose that, but they both show a similar dynamic, which is one we should never have to accept.

  • What is it with cheaters and dishwashers. I got that too and it’s not the first I have heard of it either. I guess dishwasher loading skills are important to fuckwits.

      • In addition to my dishwasher issue, I did not send him sexy poems and limericks. OW is, and I quote from one of ex’s emails ‘very talented, and good at limericks too’. This from a then 53 year old. I was not asked to provide sexy poems and limericks. I can be funny, and my written skills are good. Perhaps if I’d known that this was what he needed to become sexually aroused, I could have given creative writing a go. However, one of my other failings, and there are many, is that I ‘should have known’ what he needed. He needed a kick up the backside and he got that! Two years out, whilst there is sadness, there’s also a lot to laugh at. He was and probably still is the most ridiculously dull little brat on earth.

        Dr CH, I can tell that you are getting there.

  • I got the “lies of omission are not lies” rationalization too. Followed by “I didn’t ALWAYS lie, some of the the things I said are true.” To get the full effect of that latter statement, you have to say it petulantly, at the massive unfainess of not getting credit for the times you told the truth.

    Gay or straight, all FWs are identical twins when it comes to ethics. In the cult classic “Rosemary’s Baby” the protaganist is trying desperately to figure out why everyone around her seems evil (turns out she inadvertently slept with the devil, just like all of us here) and is given an anagram to decode. She finally arranges the letters into the proper warning “ALL OF THEM WITCHES.” So here’s an anagram for chumps to decipher, see how well you can decode the secret message: ALLOFTHEMASSLOHES.

    Chumphead, here’s to you acing your boards and giving Dr. Demento the boot.

    • I do wonder whether they actually believe this shit, or are they just saying anything and everything to avoid accountability. It’s fascinating to me!

      Dr. Demento added to the list!

      Thanks PrincipledLife!

  • I’m so sorry bro. That was a long and heartfelt post. What hit me hardest is the open relationship bullshit. I got that after 13 years with my wife and so many others on this website have, just like Tracy said. I know people change and that’s life, but that’s a complete 180. They only say that to justify what’s already been done or about to happen. I mean really, think about it. You are the love of my life, I only want to be with you yada yada yada. NOW, so convenient that I don’t believe in monogamy. So either you’ve been lying to me for YEARS, or you got hit in the head with a fastball. I’m sorry, I don’t believe that kind of change happens that quickly. So basically he’s a liar or a narc. Probably both. I can only speak from the hetero side because I’m only into females, but I don’t think relationships or better said “emotions” are any different. I and chump nation are with you. It will get better if you want it to, just be you!!!

    • Thank you so much sheepwhodancedwithwolves!

      You’re logic here is irrefutable. He was just full of shit. Sad.

      Luckily, Chump Nation is here!

  • Dear Dr Chumphead,

    I’m so sorry you find yourself in this terrible infidelity place. I’m glad you found CL though, this place saved my life.

    I was a registrar when I met my ex husband. He was already a consultant of several years standing. I thought I was such a lucky girl to be chosen by him (vomiting noises). So many red flags in retrospect.

    Eight years together, three married, one 25-year-old surgical technician AP. Add months to years of covert emotional abuse condescension gaslighting devaluation and you pretty much have the story. He even commented on my lack of muscles too!

    Here’s the thing: I was born and raised a chump. As a senior registrar and young consultant I was very nice. I was qualified at my job and I could stand my ground when I was defending patients. Myself? Not so much.

    Once the dust settled after D day and no contact, I have become the best version of myself I have ever been. I would never wish for this trauma on myself out anybody. But now I value myself and act accordingly. I can see through so many more of the games in the robust environment in which I work. My co-workers have admiringly noticed the difference. I am a much better doctor, my practice is streets ahead of where it was. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s real. Not a narcy house of cards

    Good luck with the exams.

    • Thank you so much!

      Looks like you’ve been through the ringer as well! I’m pleased to hear you’re out the other side now and doing better! This place saved my life too!

      Its so strange the contrast between who we were at work and who we were when we were at home. Both of us have had our personalities and best qualities compressed and pushed away by these arseholes! Both of us thinking this was normal or how things happened the whole time.

      Like Chumpenhearted says, these new people won’t last. I don’t know anyone who would put up with Dr. Fucknozzles shit for five years. But then, I wouldn’t have said I would put up with it before I met him. So powerful are their manipulations.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  • It’s a little eerie to see my own experience mirrored so closely with this doc’s letter. A huge part of the problem was that I didn’t recognize that I was being emotionally abused by my ex-husband for decades. It wasn’t until that abuse left to live with his Schmoopie that it became clear. 3 years out and I still hear his voice in my head. It’s a process, for sure.

    • It’s so strange isn’t it!? I thought it was all part of the ups and downs of being in a relationship. I think there was tiny kernel of doubt in my mind somewhere, but I never had the courage to admit that being told I was “too sensitive” was emotional abuse.

      These narcissists all believe themselves to be perfect and somehow special, when in fact, they’re just like all the other people who have betrayed us chumps. They won’t beat the stats. They aren’t outliers. They play the same games, spout the same lies, shift the blame to others and hate accountability. Then Chump Lady gets a million stories, all following the same pattern. They will tread the same path as the other FWs here. An empty, vacuous existence with one of their kind or a lonely miserable existence alone and only three people to turn up to their funeral.

  • I terminated a relationship with a man whom I understood was a textbook narcissist after he went very close to sexual abuse with me, lying to gain my trust, manipulating, the lot.
    Whenever I read about someone who had a similar experience to mine, my stomach knots up.
    It is very hard to stop feeling this enormous pain but it gets better and it is true, afterwards the signs of a personality disorder can be seen much more easily.
    In the case of that man, the signs of covert narcissism were all there from the beginning, I just couldn’t recognise them.
    Now I do, I have been no contact with him for a year and a half and subsequently, I distances myself from two more men who exhibited similar signs.
    It is hard, sometimes I cannot believe that it really happened to me, but no contact is the only way to go.

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