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Accept the Love Bombing Gifts?

luggageDear Chump Lady,

I am 60 years old (happily divorced for 10 yrs) and I have a (male) friend from college — we have been friends for over 40 years. There has never been ANYTHING romantic/sexual and I would never want there to be as he is a serial cheater and (my opinion) a sex-addict. He’s a narcissist who needs all the kibbles and he perpetually has “relationships” going with several women at a time. (He’s rich so he gets what he wants.)

As a friend though, he’s a good guy. We (and our whole college-friend gang) get together 2-3 times a year and go to our school’s football games together, or go skiing, or just meet for the evening in our old college town and go out. I enjoy this quite a bit. If he ever tells his tales of his younger women / serial cheating, I tell him he’s gross. He defends himself by saying he’s honest with all of them. I tell him it’s still gross.

ANYWAY— over the years he (multi-millionaire) has occasionally given all of us expensive gifts. He pays for everyone’s hotel rooms or he pays the tab at dinner sometimes, etc. When I first got divorced he sent me on a spa weekend, but other than that when he gives a gift he gives it to everyone.

Except in the past year he been offering very expensive gifts to just me. Cruises. Weeks in a resort. A car. Jewelry. I have said no because I feel that this is a way to “love bomb” me or make me feel indebted to him. He swears that that isn’t it… that he’s just trying to be kind to a single mom/grandmom. He points out that he already has more women than he can handle (true) and swears that he knows that I am about monogamy and not interested in what he has to offer in that way. But still… I am not comfortable. I feel like there would be expectations. I feel like it would be like being a whore.

I have 3 sisters and they ALL say I am stupid beyond belief to turn these gifts down; that even if he DOES have expectations, I don’t have to meet them. (They only know him casually though… they don’t know all of the (gross) things that I know.) I am increasingly creeped out by these offers — though admittedly also a tiny bit tempted.

So … AM I The Moron?


Am I The Moron

Dear AITM,

If something creeps you out, that is reason enough to say no. You don’t need to justify your (polite) refusal to him or your sisters, or anyone.

I’m just wondering about this set you hang with. Would you like this guy if he were NOT a multimillionaire? Skeevy? Narcissistic? Does shared history get you that far? I’m having a hard time squaring his reported character with “good guy.”

I don’t want to slam someone for their generosity. Even if he’s the biggest swinging dick on the planet, you’ve chosen to accept his gifts. If you let him pay and then disdain him afterwards, or make him an object of pity, “Oh poor Nigel, he has to buy his friends” that would make you a jerk. Now the acceleration of his attention (and his price points) is a problem?

Unequal resources can be awkward in relationship. And you don’t have to know a multimillionaire to have this kind of dilemma. I think if you’re the wealthier friend, if you make a gesture, like picking up the tab, you do it graciously, quietly and without fanfare. And if you’re the less-well-to-do friend, you reciprocate within your means. Someone buys you dinner? Maybe you cook them dinner. Or remember them in other ways.

Perhaps you could say to him, “Nigel, this is really unnecessary. I value our 40-year friendship. I don’t need these grand gestures, but thank you very much for thinking of me. That’s kind of you.” And see what he does.

Does he need it to be unequal? Are you a prop in his Nigel Is a Great Benefactor show?

Does anyone have an authentic relationship with this guy, or is it all transactional?

I have 3 sisters and they ALL say I am stupid beyond belief to turn these gifts down; that even if he DOES have expectations, I don’t have to meet them.

So, your sisters vote for transactional. Use him.

I think that’s appalling. And you can justify it like, oh he’s a narcissist, a pig, whatever, just cash the check. That’s not how you treat people you respect and care about (aka, the “Good Guy” your friend). And it’s not how you treat people you don’t respect either.

I suppose this is where I go down the rabbit hole about love bombing and impression management and Nigel being an insufferable baboon who tries to buy you sea cruises. And if you were dating Nigel, if he were a new person in your life, I would. But you have, metaphorically, cashed the Nigel check for 40 years. You did the calculus of kibble fiend vs. friend, and came down on the side of continued friendship.

You haven’t exactly made a compelling case for his finer qualities. It doesn’t matter if the gifts come with strings or from his chauvinistic little heart, just say no thank you. And if he’s really a pal, next time you and your college chums go tailgating, you guys pick up the tab.

Keep your conscience clear and your relationships reciprocal.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • My response may not be popular, certainly not with the letter writer.

    “If he ever tells his tales of his younger women / serial cheating, I tell him he’s gross.”

    I don’t have friends who cheat even if they claim to tell the truth. And I certainly have different words to describe this behavior other than gross.

    If he tells them the truth, why do you call it cheating? Is anyone married here? Do the other women he’s having sex with simultaneously know they aren’t exclusive?

    Anyone I know who are married, seeing a married AP or not telling others that they aren’t currently exclusive gets the boot! I tell them they are risking the health and well-being of others and I cut them out. One woman I knew longer than 40 years but cheating is a line no one in my orbit crosses.

    I don’t know why the letter writer takes these “perks”. I try to live within my means and I respect the means of others. I’m financially comfortable but make a point to travel or dine out at the same level as my friends. This may sound smug but I do question the motivation of this group of “takers”

    • I have a friend going through a protracted divorce and probable custody fight with a serial cheater husband in a no- fault state. The overall moral of the story is don’t wed in a no fault state after terrorists fly planes into skyscrapers 15 blocks from your apartment and leave you too uncharacteristically addled with anxiety to see through lovebombing and demand a prenup.

      While her financier husband skillfully hides assets with the help of colleages from his evil climate change villain global firm, she’s been dragged through mediation and risks getting nothing in the settlement after being primary caregiver for children for years.

      Currently he’s furious that she called a halt due to his many sleazy affairs, porn addiction and hooker habit and he’s out to make divorce so punitive that she changes her mind. People from his religious background don’t divorce. I suspect he’d rather she be dead.

      One of his countless lies was that he didn’t support the misogynist traditions of his family religion when he obviously embodies the worst of them (but not the good parts, like honesty before God, etc.). Another lie is that he doesn’t support the values of his globally evil firm and it’s just a job. Meanwhile she’s being treated like an indigenous tribe being divested of bloodlands by petrol giant trickery so, yeah, he totally embodies his firm’s values.

      Basically, she thought she married an eco-feminist but his facade was a trap to catch a beautiful, highly intelligent brood mare to sire beautiful, highly intelligent children and, as per his family culture, once wives have accomplished this, they’re put on a shelf and never touched again. So he stopped having sex with her ages before d-day on all kinds of psychiatric excuses. Of course this continued through the in-house separation process but because she wouldn’t have him. He has so much power and legal tricks up his sleeve that he defies orders to leave the family home in the hopes of leaving her homeless in a prohibitively expensive city (where justice apparently goes to die).

      Anyway, in momentary despair, she had a fling. I think that her situation is one if the very few that warrants it. I’m surprised she hadn’t done this ages but she’s too dedicated a mom and working round the clock to earn enough to break out of this nightmare and retain custody.

      Otherwise I can’t think of more than one or two legit rationales for affairs (escaping a violent husband and a dictatorship that does not allow women to divorce by horseback over the mountains at night and setting up life as a refugee with small children comes to mind) before the ink on the divirce is dry and I don’t tolerate cheaters in my social circle.

      • Funny you call your friends’ cheating a FLING.

        Unless, Otherwise, there is an “acceptable” excuse . I could NOT disagree more HOAC!!
        There is no middle to this decision even if its justified and brief. NOPE NOPE

        • I’m not religious so my prohibitions against adultery are not scriptural but about secular morality. Like the mother of a ftiend who escaped a powerful batterer in Franco’s Spain where women could not initiate divorce and would lose their children if they left, my friend is a virtual hostage, the victim of a true scheming monster. We’ll have to agree to disagree about rare exceptions

          • Hell of chump

            I understand. Living in a sexless marriage——followed by brutal divorce.
            There is no fling no cheating here.
            It’s impossible to cheat on someone who was never faithful.
            Her husband blew up the monogamous relationship the moment he started seeing other people/ plus / denying someone healthy sex is a good ground for divorce alone.

            Keeping fingers crossed- sending your friend good vibes & energy needed to fight this abusive creep

            • Thank you for your insights. Batterers don’t always use fists and I’m happy my friend is still kicking. She was always a champion for other people and it killed me seeing her worn down like that. But she kept herself in one piece for her children. Her brother developed Parkinsonism from Prozac and that kind of susceptibility to side effects tends to be genetic so meds weren’t an option. She bootstrapped it and I respect her,

              Again, the exception proves the rule here, Cheaters suck.Though typical cheaters use sob stories and play victim to their chumps as a rationale to cheat, I figure they learn how to fake suffering from observing the real suffering in their spouses.

      • You don’t have to be religious to cut off sex with the wife appliance to “save” it for Schmoopie. My XH was an atheist and he stopped having sex with me months before he started “working late”. Also had psychiatric excuses (i.e. led me to believe he was too depressed to get it up, poor baby).

        I was 29 and horny af. Nevertheless, even after D-Day and him talking me into the “open marriage” scam I never had an affair. When things got bad enough, when he violated every term of our so-called “open” marriage, when I hit rock bottom, I just left him and didn’t start dating until last month, about 8 months after my divorce was finalized. I’m in the “2 wrongs don’t make a right” camp. Revenge affairs won’t hurt a narc the same way chumps are hurt anyway and only cede the moral high ground.

        • It wasn’t a revenge affair. She picked herself up out of despair after mediation was underway and her categorically evil husband was openly dating. It worked for her so I don’t care what it took. She faces the horrifying possibility of unfairly losing her children and the process of getting free is taking years. His colleages in the legal division play golf with the city’s judges.

          My point is that the rare and extraordinary exception only proves the rule that adultery is not acceptable.

      • She “had a fling”? While he was “having affairs”? Oh no. Cheating is cheating. There is no situation that “warrants it.” Stupid to commit adultery while trying to divorce an evil, wealthy misogynist. Not morally or ethically justified, and just not smart.

        The only excuse for cheating that I can think of is global amnesia or late stage Alzheimer’s — where the person has forgotten the spouse, forgotten that they HAVE a spouse. And that is a reason for cheating, not an excuse.

          • Agree- if you are separated and in process of divorce this is not an affair ?
            I think we are in battle over semantics possibly

        • I wish people would indicate whether their views are influenced by religious convictions and understand that not all share the same ideas. Again, my sense of morality is purely secular. It is evil to do evil to innocent people and absolutely two wrongs don’t make a right. But are we to believe that, say, the mother of the friend who escaped the Spanish dictatorship on horseback with two small children was committing an unforgivable crime when, after ten years in France, she finally dated before she could get her marriage to a violent monster and attempted murderer annulled? Really?

          • I’m not religious either, and in the two examples you give, I agree with cantbelievehechumpedme’s succinct point. Marriage is a contract, if one party breaks the terms of that contract, the other party has no obligation to keep those terms.

            I hope you’re friend who is in that terrible situation you describe, comes out of it OK.

            Rich, powerful people can control and change the goal posts whenever they want, I really feel for your friend.

            • Thanks for feedback. She’s my oldest friend. I could kick myself for not telling her this guy, for all his hero posturing and charitable work, gave me a chill when they were engaged, though I’m not sure what good it would have done to warn.

              I think ab.users like that have extrasensory perceptions of who may be their prey’s potential allies. She mat hve told him I did advocacy for battered women, thinking he’d naturally respect that because he did pro bono in a similar vein. Nope. The moment we met for the first time, I saw his mask briefly slip as his eyes narrowed at me. But no one else saw that face.

              He certainly wasn’t an idiot and was careful to conceal his true nature rather seamlessly. But I met some of his colleagues, friends and family at the wedding and thought some of them were ghouls. Maybe it was because I was pregnant but I wondered if she was surrounded by evil, a bit like Rosemary in Rosemary’s Baby. Shudder. She was.

    • Guilty as charged. I had a male “friend” who went through numerous romantic misadventures, including TWO affairs with married women. Then, it was my turn. He forced a kiss on me, and said I was “leading him on.” Later, he showed up at my workplace with flowers—so embarrassing. But, I own some of this. Instead of being his bemused listening post, I should have cut him off long ago. There is such a thing as being too nonjudgmental.

  • Other than paying for things, how is this guy a good friend? Nothing else is mentioned. Except the core values that guide his relationships, which the writer claims to find “gross.” Honesty about being shallow and transactional does not redeem shallowness and transactional morals. It just takes away the element of surprise.

    This guy is saying with his actions that he wants you as another f*ck-buddy. Either you want that or you don’t—no judgement here. But if you take the f*ck-buddy retainer fee (jewelry? A CAR?!?), and then fail to fulfill the duties of f*ck-buddy, you’re using him. Which, as character goes, is also pretty darn “gross.”

    This letter is a good illustration of how low character people tend to drag everyone around them down to their level. If you want better, go find better.

  • I’m 65 years old and nearly a year out from divorcing a cheater. Nowhere near ready for dating.

    My relationships with family and friends are based on values, shared interests, honesty and reciprocity. I have to evaluate my own behavior and not slip back into pouring more into a relationship than I’ll ever receive.

    I’m also now aware that healthy people recognize love bombing (and its corollaries in friendship) as a red flag. The good news is that extra effort/energy is appreciated in volunteer work.

    • 61 here and also almost a year out from divorce being final. Almost Monday, what you say resonates strongly, especially the middle paragraph. I’m making tough decisions as to what is and is not acceptable to me. Particularly in relation to my dysfunctional FOO. I have ‘pick me danced’ for family members all my adult life. It’s a hard habit to crack. Thank you for encapsulating my thoughts.

  • Still digesting this letter, but my first reaction (upon reading the second sentence) was how on earth could anyone use the terms “serial cheater,” “sex addict,” and “friend” to describe the same person?

      • One of the ways I draw a line about who I associate with, friendship or family or partner– is by their character. Since I was cheated on, that’s a trigger for me. I have completely cut people out of my life for cheating on their significant other because in my opinion, by me hanging out with them, I am not only enabling that behavior but agreeing it’s OK, almost like I’m part of their dirty little secret and no one is going to use me to triangulate another person. I say no. It wouldn’t matter if they bought me a house and a new car or a Chanel handbag of the month, it’s all dirty money to me. Harsh, yes, but that’s how hurt I was by being cheated on. It’s a deal breaker for me in any form. If you cheat, are a serial cheater, you don’t have the morals or integrity to be called a friend of mine.

        • Yes. This. I still reflect on the Switzy-friends who are still pals with my exH; none are still pals with me, a matter of chump-blaming that comes up in therapy still. I knew people like one woman, who didn’t talk to her father for 40 years (he did her mom really badly). And another, who described his mom as having, “gone dead inside” from his dad’s cheating. How is this related to the OP? I think if you know about the devastation that cheating and lying causes, someone with a really decent and reflective character will turn away from a person in their social circle who cheats. For me, it would be unequivocal. No way I could be friends with someone I knew was a cheater! It would turn my innards over, in all honesty.

          • I recently watched the Netflix series “Maid.” While cheating isn’t central to the story, it is peripheral. But the ruptured relationship causes the central figure to take notice of how her friends choose to pal around with her abuser.

            One of the friends tells her not to bring any tough questions to her, and says “I’m Switzerland.”

            The main character answers: “You’re not, though. I see the photos on social media.”

            I thought of CN throughout that entire episode.

        • Absolutely. It’s a trigger. In my own college/post-grad group, there is that one guy. He’s intelligent and funny and would claim to be a great friend of mine…until I noticed how he was treating the women he “dated,” and called him out. I promptly became the target of his narc ire.

          Turns out the other friends in the group were well aware of his ways. “Aw, he’s just a dick to the girls he dates. They know how he is. He’s still a good dude.”

          Um, no. No, a predator is not a good dude. And sadly, that rot ate through my relationship to the group.

          Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

    • Exactly. I can’t get past that.

      This is the kind of question that seems to miss the mark, like focusing on new window treatments for a condemned house. “Which pattern is better? Would a double rod enhance the height of the ceiling?” No. The house is condemned. Just leave it.

      This guy is a skeeve. I value integrity so wouldn’t associate with him nor would I accept a gift.

      When I hear that someone still associates with my cheating x, I scratch my head. They know he lies but probably still describe him as “a good guy.” SMH

      • “This is the kind of question that seems to miss the mark, like focusing on new window treatments for a condemned house. “Which pattern is better? Would a double rod enhance the height of the ceiling?” No. The house is condemned. Just leave it.”


  • I suspect he is a guy who doesn’t know how to sustain relationships, so he buys them. Even when he doesn’t need to.

    I’m curious about the gifts. Does he offer a cruise to a place he knows you’d love to go (i.e. he has been listening to you talk about your desire to see the turtles in the Galapagos for decades)? Does he offer you a pearl necklace after hearing you talk about how much you loved your grandmother’s but it was bequeathed to a different grandchild? If the gifts seem to indicate markers of his knowledge of you, I might be more tempted to see them as indications that he is trying to use his wealth to cement a relationship (even if it is a friendship, not a sexual relationship). The gestures might still be in poor taste, since he is trying to buy your respect instead of listen to your comments about his behavior and how you do not respect that, but they may be genuine efforts to connect.

    If the proffered gifts are just expensive things that have little or no connection to your own tastes and history, I’d be suspicious of them on all counts. I’d also wonder if he’s busy telling the younger women how he treats you to luxuries as a way of impressing them, just as he tells you about his youthful conquests to impress you.

    In the end, however, the fact that he isn’t listening to you and is continuing to offer you gifts suggests a problem–one that I would be tempted to point out to him. He may have very few people in his life who accept his company unless he picks up the tab!

    I’d tell him he is welcome to buy my beer or pick up the tab at Starbuck’s but any larger gesture just undermines the friendship he seems to want to continue.

    • “I’d tell him he is welcome to buy my beer or pick up the tab at Starbuck’s but any larger gesture just undermines the friendship he seems to want to continue”

      This. For me, there’s a big difference between picking up a tab among friends and sending someone on a cruise. For me, I’d find out where the line is, draw it in the sand, and explain it clearly to my friend with loose pockets. (Him being a cheaty-cheaterson aside, for a moment, because it complicates things a little.)

      I have a male friend who used to swing by my place a lot (like, a lot) and bring me a coffee so we could sit down and chat at my place for a visit. “I’m bringing coffee,” he would text. “How do you take yours?” “Small and black. Thanks so much,” I would text back. Small because while accepting his kind gift, I wanted it to be the smallest gift possible. Black because I like the cream I have at home better. 🙂

      This was my limit for spontaneous gift-giving from him. He’s offered food, things, and–what I found I was most uncomfortable with–help with my yardwork. “What are you up to today?” he would say. “Oh, just mowing the lawns and then rototilling the garden,” I’d reply. “Want me to come over and help? I can bring my equipment,” he’d respond.

      My gut answered for me immediately. No, no I do not want help. He’d be over here for most of the day; that’s a big favor. I would feel indebted to him. I don’t want to feel indebted to him.

      This is not a cup of coffee.

      “No thanks,” I’d text back. “I’ll be done in a bit and then I have some other office work I’ll need to get to shortly after, but thank you for the offer.” (Spoiler: I was not almost done the yardwork; it was going to take a good chunk of the day, truthfully.)

      His offers of spending the day with me doing physical labor on my behalf came intermittently. I kindly declined each one because, to me, it felt like it would ruin our dynamic and give him a lot of power. Like, if he ever were to want to pursue me romantically and I said “no,” then I would feel bad about saying “no” because look at all the hours and hours of pro-bono work he’s sunk into me and my home.

      Nope. Not setting myself up to fall into that trap.

      His friendship is fine; his friendship I accept. I feel no “trap” in accepting a delivery of coffee and I can easily reciprocate a coffee gift. I’ve bought coffee for him in return and made coffee for him at my home.

      We, and our relationships with our friends, are all unique. This is just my personal line in the sand to keep a friendship just that: a friendship. Coffee? Yeah sure. A day of his free labor? No thanks. I can reciprocate one; the other, not so easily.

      • Thanks Fourleaf! I have a house that needs a lot of remodeling and I’m so tempted to accept guys’ offers to help, because otherwise it’s all on me and my poor dad. But I haven’t accepted (even from the one I’m dating), and you described exactly why. I don’t want to owe anyone or have an unequal power dynamic.

      • You were wise to listen to your gut, Fourleaf. Your story about declining your friend’s offer to help you with your yardwork reminds me of something I witnessed at the home of a former friend of mine that was both funny and disturbing. Several years ago, years before my own divorce from Snakeface, I was pretty close friends with a woman I met through the local primary school since our sons were in the same first grade class. “Charlene” and I bonded over feminism, social justice work, and other things. She was divorced, smart and fascinating. We hung out a lot together, with and without our kids, and she introduced me to her circle of friends. Her pal Dave, who was also divorced, lived a couple of blocks away and also had a son in our kids’ class, so he had a lot of excuses to be hanging around her house. I knew from the beginning that Dave was trying to work his way out of Charlene’s “friend zone”, but my jaw almost hit the curb when I showed up at her place one day and saw him mowing along the perimeter of her lawn before working his way in. My first thought: HE’S PEEING ON HER LAWN TO MARK HIS TERRITORY! It was that obvious what he was doing. (Frankly, though, Charlene took advantage of Dave and his offers for help, justifying it because she was busy not only with her job and caring for her own two kids, but she also took their neglected and abused friends in over the years, like an unofficial foster mother. I give her credit for all the good she did to care for so many kids over the years, but she’d also bite off more than she could chew and apply pressure on a lot of her friends for assistance.) It was about two more years before Dave and Charlene got involved romantically and sexually, but the relationship was short-lived. They ended it amicably, but things were awkward between them after that.

    • Cheaters are like cult leaders and can’t stand leaving nonbelievers be. Personally I think he’s trying to buy her good opinion to inculcate her into the pervy cheater fan club. I suspect his next move will be to viciously triangulate to get her ousted from the friend group whether or not she stops calling his behavior “gross.” See what a good guy he is when she has no more friends because they’ve all been led or bribed to believe she says bad things about them behind their backs or murders puppies in her spare time.

      Vetting character in other people isn’t just about maintaining integrity and standards (which is enough reason) but also self preservation.

    • Agreed that’s a bit of a side topic, I do think it is interesting as it relates to enabling people that are cheaters, and I think that’s a bit of a topic to explore.

      Imagine the guy has truly been a great friend to AITM. Who knows, he might have helped her in the past, a listening ear in her divorce etc. Does that mean she needs to turn down all of his generosity?

      I have some friends that are richer that I am (although not multimillionaire, far from it). They sometimes give me things I could never give back but they know it, and it’s ok for us. It’s the fun of giving. Like I also enjoy buying a drink or dinner for friends who have less every once in a while. As such, that is not bad.

      Then comes the cheating thing. I’ve also been friends with a guy that slept around. Yet he never made a secret of it, so as I imagined these women would be ok with that, I never judged. He was super funny company and helped me out in some situations. Until fw came in and out of my life and I developed a strong disgust for polyamorous guys / man whores. I just couldn’t take him seriously any longer, and I realised that even though we had never had sex, he was always seeking for validation. He ended up being disappointed in me when I broke the friendship, but that’s just the way it was.

      I guess society is very mild for these kind of creatures. But as this site is full of people who have lived the dark part of it, it’s hard to see in such a light way any longer.

      What exactly the friendship is between AITM and the multi millionaire, only they know. If AITM is a good friend, I’d suggest she confronts him with his behaviour, because probably he is hurting people. Do what feels right, it’s only you who knows.

    • I think this is a valuable discussion on CL because it helps define chumpy behavior, which always involves being deceived and taken advantage of. In contrast, this letter writer KNOWS this guy’s cheating character and seems to want permission to TAKE ADVANTAGE of his material gifts. #NotVeryChumpy

      • I agree, it’s worth discussing, My exhole would buy attention from his employees, through lunch, dinners, marriage presents etc. Always had a wad of cash in his pocket to pay for friends dinners, when he didnt need to, and which he would ostentatiosly pull out. It wasnt generosity- it was kibbles. And he told me about his prior sleeping around with girlfriends and whatever… he bought them off too, as often they had been employees. This letter made me cringe. I found it creepy when I was married to the guy, because I think maybe he bought me off too, when I look back at it. But I thought I was “special”. So many things that didnt add up back then, sure do add up now. Added note- it took me ages to realize that wad of cash did not come from any of our bank accounts…

      • I agree — it is definitely something worth thinking about; thinking and discussing. It has certainly made me go back and think about some of the “friendships” I had prior to the latest FW.

        When I was in graduate school, and going through my divorce from the husband who had choked me out and dumped me on the highway, leaving me (I believe) for dead, I was friends with a guy who was in most of my classes. We studied together, ate lunch together, sat next to each other in class. I don’t make friends easily (another topic for CL — those of us who chose poorly because our parents constantly told us we were garbage) and it was nice to have a friend in school. As I sobbed out my story of woe, Bob consoled me. As he shared his stories of woe (he had health issues and “roommate” problems), I consoled him. I thought we were real friends. As it turns out, Bob was gay and gay wasn’t very well accepted in 1980s Spokane, Washington. He was allowing/encouraging all our classmates to believe that he and I were an item so they wouldn’t think he was gay. I was devastated when I found out. Clearly, those people didn’t know me — not that I had given them much opportunity to — or they would know I was a person of integrity who would never have cheated on my husband, no matter how poorly he treated me. Bob allowed them to believe that of me. He encouraged it.

        As a chump, I have often chosen poorly when it came to friends. That’s on me. But it is something I didn’t really “get” before Bob.

        It took me awhile to learn, of course. I am a lifelong learner. The friends I chose after were a mixed bag of friends, friendly acquaintances and people I should never have allowed into my life. (The next husband being one of the latter.) But now, reading this letter and the responses to it, I realize that as a single person in a new city who is lonely at times, I need to pay attention to the sort of people I allow into my life, and how close I allow them to get. Friendly acquaintances is one thing, work friends is another. But I allowed someone who was pretty toxic into my inner circle at work (because she love bombed me) and only after I almost lost my job did I start to understand how toxic she really was.

        Clearly, I have more thinking and more learning to do.

      • I think it’s safe to assume many chumps are hyper-aware of others’ needs and wants and are highly attuned to fairness and consent (at least when it comes to how we treat others). We are known for being conscientious, empathetic and accommodating. We are focused on people and the quality of relationships, not kibble.

        Many of today’s comments – not wanting to take advantage, not wanting to be in friendships that condone abuse, not wanting to be indebted or feel pressured to do things that don’t feel right – highlight hardwired integrity. The chump code. I’d rather be on the side getting less than the side getting more, and I’d rather be hurt than hurt someone who’s innocent. Sometimes, this bites me in the ass. Even before getting entangled with a fuckwit, I was always so worried about fairness and taking too much that I didn’t take what I earned. I just gave and gave. I also didn’t value my own contributions and needs and I didn’t believe I was worthy of things that I absolutely was. My ex’s devaluation of me preyed on this. He counted on it. Now, I am more aware of this tendency, and I’m much better about reciprocity and boundaries, but I still have to be really careful.

        I’m not saying that the OP should accept those gifts. Personally, I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t want that guy around me. I am just wondering if maybe sometimes, chumps avoid praise, undervalue themselves, and have general difficulty accepting payment or credit where it is due. It seems really hard to shift this without losing some of the good parts of me.

      • Nomar yes. Like, if he’s a skeevy cheater but he’s not cheating on me its ok to be pals, right?

        This callous attitude, so dismissive of the victims of cheating, hit home for me when one of my sisters told me cheerily, not long after I had left the marriage, that she’d had ever such a nice chat with my long-term abusive gxh at an antique show.

        And when a close (ex)friend of 25+years voiced shock and horror at gxh’s treatment of me and swore she would never talk to him again – while unbeknownst to me her husband “supported” gxh through the “breakup” and she posted pictures of them all together at a gay (ex)friend’s engagement party.

        And when my mother wouldn’t remove the decorative plates gxh gave her from pride of place in her entry hall “because they remind me to pray for him, dear”.

        If you want to erase chumps and be part of the problem, thats how you do it.

        So yeah. People find their own level and if its hanging with skeevy cheaters for benefits thats a choice our poster is free to make. But again yeah, #notverychumpy

  • “As a friend though, he’s a good guy.”

    Every goddamn mutual friend who picked my ex husband. I had to quit reading in disgust.

    • Yes, how many of us have personally endured the pain and betrayal of our Switzerland friends who tell us what a “good guy” our lying, cheating, EX is, and how they don’t want to “pick sides,” etc. This kind of thinking contributes to how cheaters get enabled and excused within our culture/social values as a whole and allows the “cheating is no big deal” attitude to endure.

    • ⬆️THIS!!! ⬆️

      If I heard that my next-door neighbor hits his kid, I wouldn’t invite him for dinner because he’s otherwise a really good guy.

      The problem here is that many people don’t view cheating as abuse.

      • Right, it’s just “mistakes” (repeated and thought out mistakes, but mistakes!) or the whole “we don’t know what goes on in their relationship” crap. Well nothing anyone does warrants the lies, thievery, and health risks that go hand in hand with cheating — it’s pretty freaking simple!

    • I have zero room in my life for someone who turns a blind eye to serial cheating because the cheater is an otherwise nice guy.
      No, he is not. I don’t care if he donated a kidney, fed hungry children, paid electric bills for the elderly, or donated every penny to worthwhile causes, a cheater is NOT a good guy. He is someone who very willingly and with casual indifference rips the heart and soul from his partner(s) and doesn’t blink. Yeah, not my idea of someone I would want call a friend, much less accept a gift from.

    • I cut off someone I once considered a good friend because she went to a party my ex hosted. She was one of the few I disclosed my full situation to, and I felt I had to draw a line for my safety. She was upset and defended her actions saying that her going to his party was “just something to do”. I cannot be friends with cheaters or people who are okay with cheating.

    • Right. Nice is not necessarily kind. And while there may be “good” things that people do, it doesn’t mean they are good people. We don’t really live in absolutes, so it’s more of a balance and an informal equation to help flush out what is really at the core of people. Look to the motive, look at the full picture. Trying to teach my daughter this too. In first grade, kids can be your friend one day and then mean to you or one of your other friends the next day. I remember this. It’s exhausting. Sometimes just saying no thanks is the best move.

      Image management is real and it is EVERYWHERE. Money sure as heck helps. Maybe a parody of “Can’t Buy Me Love” needs to be written here too.

  • I think this man probably respects you because you are very open about how you see him live his life. I disagree about you being on this forum. It might help you see what his issues are because he must have thousands. He stays shallow because it keeps him from being hurt. This almost always goes back to childhood. Be kind but firm. Be a friend who doesn’t need anything from him except honesty. I think he is scared you are going to dump this friendship and his only way to hang on to people is with money. What a sad life.
    Be sure to look after yourself with this guy. If he gets too much just gradually fade from his life.

    • I don’t think he respects her. I think he likes that he can control her with money even though he knows he grossed her out. He loves that she compromises her values for his gifts.

      Now he’s decided he’s going to fuck her too. That isn’t respect. Just an abusive man doing what abusive men do.

      • I agree with your thinking Katie and would also add that since they’re both in their 60s, he may be lining up the writer to be his wife appliance/beard as his playboy-serial cheating-sex addict self slows down with age. Not only does he want a special someone to change his diapers but I imagine his lifestyle is looking pretty pathetic to this group of friends and others in his social and professional circles.

      • I agree. So far she seems to be able to decline the gifts. She is not a chump, she is skittish about the jump in gift giving but sometimes we can give support because we might be the only that he has. This guy would drive me crazy but she has a long friendship without letting go further. I can’t help it, I feel for the guy. I can’t imagine having to pay for attention.

        I still say she should back out if things get uncomfortable. Long friendship, lot of support for him, healthy barriers for her.

        • She’s taken all kinds of gifts from him over the years (like the spa vacation) while he continued to tell her stories about his sex life that he knew grossed her out.

          He already sees her as under his control.

          • I read that all of the friends were gifted and he wanted to because he has the money. I do think it is creepy that he tells her his messes and she listens to them. This is evidently a long friendship. I have lifelong male friends but they never talk about sex, ever. It’s not my life. I couldn’t handle hearing that stuff from a woman.

            So back to some suggestions. Why don’t you tell him your friendship is that he stop telling you anything of a sexual nature…….never mind. I was trying really hard to see some good in this thing but I can’t. Why is he telling you this stuff?

              • Could it be exhibitionism? He hasn’t quite exposed himself to her yet but this sounds like obscene phone calls and opening the trench coat in front of someone. If he needs a mother she is not his. He needs a therapist.
                Yeah, a lot of common sense on here made me reread her letter and he IS doing creepy gross things

  • I think the letter writer is as shallow and self-serving as the serial cheater, sex addict, she claims as a ‘friend’.

    The word ‘gross’ defining her opinion of his behaviour is like describing a wife battered as ‘a bit over the top’.

    This whole coterie of ‘friends’ described by the writer sound like a group of greedy chancers. The letter writer, the ‘friends’, and the multi-millionaire cheater scumbag/’sex addict’ all deserve each other. I have nothing but contempt for all of them.

  • It doesn’t work both ways. You can’t have a generous low-life “friend” that spackles with cash to retain friendships while exposing him for his weak character and lifestyle at the same time. Either you have values that conflict with his, which make him unacceptable as a friend, or you play both sides of the street for what’s in it for you.

    If you want to assert that you recognize the man’s failings as unacceptable behaviors and lifestyle, then move on and past it. Otherwise you’re stuck in that shady place where low-life people come and go in your orbit based on what’s in it for you. Climb the next rung of the ladder where your values, boundaries and expectations of friends can be met with acceptance and mutual respect for same.

    • “Climb the next rung of the ladder where your values, boundaries and expectations of friends can be met with acceptance and mutual respect for same.”

      Somehow I don’t think this woman is willing or able to do that. After all, she tells us she and her ‘friends’ have been slurping down the goodies provided by a man whose behaviour she herself describes as” gross”( however euphemistic I think that descriptor is) for 40 years.

      The rest of your post is spot on though.

      The whole letter stinks to me of greed and abhorrent ‘values’.

      • I also note that *nowhere* does the letter writer mention anything she, or the bunch of chancers, have done *for* the multi millionaire. Telling.

  • Thank you for a question that was a little different today. We also have other complicated relationships that we have to navigate. This was a reminder of how my marriage ended up: transactional. While beneficial at first (after getting nothing loving or meaningful), after awhile, it was soul-crushing & lonely. You do owe your friend the opportunity for a more real, less transactional relationship. If he can’t deal, well then he doesn’t value things that don’t come with a price tag. He’s just buying your friendship & taking a bit of your soul at the same time.

  • I’m not sure how you reconcile him being a “good guy” with everything you described about him no less maintain a relationship all of these years. I think you might want to take a look at that in therapy as it sound like you might be in need of some kibbles yourself.

  • I had a couple of friends (both now deceased) who loved to entertain. They often invited some people who I got to know over the years because we were at the same parties but I would never call them my friends. One in particular was a life of the party kind of guy who never married and was known for sleeping around.

    I talked to him at parties but now that my friends are both dead I have no contact with him. He was a fun guy (he certainly livened up parties) but not someone I would call a “good guy.” Sleeping with a hundred (or more?) people is not my idea of a “good guy.”

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess AITM’s “friend” does not announce on the first date that he’s screwing multiple women, so I highly doubt his claim of being “honest with all of them.” (Narcissists lie, after all… a LOT). This guy, in my opinion, is not friend material. So he’s certainly not someone to accept gifts from.

  • While I was still in practice, a patient who was also a long time friend came to me and asked me to do something truly vile in order to assist her to cheat on her husband, who was also a friend. I sat there astonished as she smiled at me, all rosy faced, and clearly expected me to have no scruples at her request. It was a deep shock, a truly horrifying glimpse of exactly who she thought I was. I sent her, and a fifty year history of friendship, right out the door and never saw her as a patient again. I have always considered myself a moral and ethical person; the discovery that my friend didn’t necessarily see me that way was one of the most lowering events of my life. Here is the take away from my experience: you don’t have to live up (or down) to your friends’ expectations. So long as we tolerate these behaviors in those around us, we have no right to expect anything better. Find your moral compass – it won’t be pointing at your friend – and follow it far, far away.

    • I would just like to say that the fact that your (former) friend saw you the way she did was not a reflection of anything about you. I’d say it was a case of her reading you through her lens. And you set her straight pronto.

      • This is so true. If I had a dollar for all the projectionary things I have read/heard written/said by either my or my boyfriend’s cheating exes, I might also be able to buy the OP a spa weekend. They would do it, so you must do it too. Far be it from them to ever think someone might not have a lizard brain like theirs. More narcissistic traits.

        • “ They would do it, so you must do it too. Far be it from them to ever think someone might not have a lizard brain like theirs.”

          This. Exactly.
          The amount of projection I’ve dealt with from STBX has blown my mind. The things I’ve been accused of have left me astonished-literally with my mouth hanging agape- more times than I can count. If I had a penny for every time he’s accused me of cheating-ALONE- I’d be able to buy a trip to the fucking moon. Forget all the other swill he’s thrown at me. I could write an entire book series with the material he’s given me.

          Now that I’ve spent so much time rehashing conversations from throughout our relationship, picking apart everything I can remember him ever saying to me (because #WasAnythingReal), I’m putting together stories of his from his past, as well as his family and friends. Given the characters and natures of the people he’s either been surrounded by, coupled with the people he’s CHOSEN to associate with, no Wonder he assumes that I’m capable of the levels of debauchery he’s accused me of over the years. He, and everyone he’s been around in his life, DO those things. Because I chose to be with him he assumes that I do as well.

          How wrong he IS and has been.
          I actually feel bad for him sometimes. I don’t let it sway my anger or my goals, though. He can continue to embrace the fuckery and be unapologetic about who he is. I will not ride along as a passenger anymore.

    • “So long as we tolerate these behaviors in those around us, we have no right to expect anything better.”

      Well put. That’s also why a chump trapped in a reconciliation with a FW notice that things don’t get better when we “take the cheater back”… they get worse! This also goes for the friendships we keep.

  • I wonder if the AITM is really asking if she can leave the “friendship?” But it’s coming out wrong? Or maybe they don’t understand the true damage that a real narc can do? I feel like the letter throws around words without truly knowing/acknowledging what they mean. A serial cheater has severely endangered all those partners, possibly harmed them, both emotionally and physically. How on earth do you overlook that? The friend “swears” something is true?? I mean.. you said he is a narc…. so why on earth are you swallowing his stories? It’s like the LW doesn’t understand that a narc will ALWAYS LIE TO EVERYONE. You’re not special. The offers of gifts make you feel special… and they are supposed to! The are WAY OTT into love bombing territory. This guy wants the LW to feel indebted in some way, and the LW’s sisters approve!! YIKES. The whole thing is skeeving me out. AITM, please, you know the answer here. Get away from this damaging, lying, horror show.

    • “The friend “swears” something is true?? I mean.. you said he is a narc…. so why on earth are you swallowing his stories? It’s like the LW doesn’t understand that a narc will ALWAYS LIE TO EVERYONE. You’re not special.”

      Exactly. It seems like she’s throwing the word narcissist around without really knowing what it means.

  • You’ve found a way to be “friends”, for forty years, with someone who treats people badly.

    Just put the gifts in the “good guy” compartment.

  • I see it as a conversation about balance.

    It wouldn’t be a big deal for a person who has a lot of money to spend a lot of money on us being us, if the relationship is balanced in deep ways that make the money a non-issue. If my very supportive friend and I are very supportive to one another over many years and that friend wants to go with me on a trip to Fiji, or fly me to Scotland to care for an ailing elder, or pay for my breast reduction, or my kid’s tuition, that money can reasonably be a resource that is all part of that ongoing sharing.

    If the friend is a party pal and is suddenly flinging gifts that are weirdly out of proportion my way, in a manner that’s incongruent with anything else we’ve ever shared, that’s suspicious for the same reason all lovebombing behaviors are suspicious: it’s out of balance.

    Why do want to change the balance between us? What do you want me to feel like I owe you? WHY do you want me to feel like I owe you?

    Overgifting has a desire for some reciprocation at it’s root. I buy you flowers and an expensive dinner, you’re supposed to go home with me. I pay for a weekend Paris getaway, you’re supposed to fall in love with me. I give you my beloved dead grandmother’s special necklace, you’re supposed to give me something equally personal to prove our friendship bond runs that deep. I give you way more attention than you’ve ever had before, you’re supposed to ignore the elephant in the room and swoon. Later, if you ever don’t do what I want, that gift becomes a promise you never meant to make. “I thought we loved each other.”

    Accepting too much gift is a signature on an invisible contract.

    So, how to decline? If you say “thanks but no thanks” and the gifter doubles down — whether by pushing the gift harder or getting angry when you don’t accept it — that’s a sign that the gift has strings, whether the gifter realizes that or not.

    So, I say, if you ever have any reservations about accepting a gift, it’s because your intuition is clearly giving you the message that the gift feels out of balance. On some level, you’ll be staring down the barrel of the expectation to balance it, even if doing that is bad for you. If you don’t want to be in that position, or feel you can’t step up to that obligation, then my advice is, don’t accept the gift.

    And if the the gifter gets more aggressive, double down on the no and start digging in to why giving the gift feels important enough to push it so hard. The answer may surprise you both.

    • (And, as others including CL are noticing and pointing out the gifts everyone is already receiving and accepting from this person are buying everyone’s silence, complicity, validation, acceptance, etc. It’s a hard pill, but one his escalation of imbalance is starting to force you to swallow, however uncomfortably.)

    • Many good points, Amis. Your comments also makes me think about how powerful a weapon withholding is. Once you accept something from someone, they can withhold to show disapproval the moment you do/say something that doesn’t suit them.

      Withheld love fueled my pick me dance, even when I couldn’t respect or love my ex anymore. It was a total mindfuck that, even at the time, I knew was crazy.

  • My take is a bit harsher than whether or not to accept the gifts.
    I would, personally, question my own moral integrity for maintaining a friendship with a person who is knowingly harming other people.
    You are actively, partially perhaps unwittingly, condoning his behavior by maintaining a friendship with him. A serial cheating, most likely a sex addict in your estimation, does gross things that you are glad your sisters aren’t privy to, treats women with shameful disrespect and endangers their emotional and physical health but he just happens to be a fun, generous, “ good guy” to hang with. Yikes!

    Hmmmm, that’s a big fat NO to all the gift giving gestures that are buying your acceptance and approval of his life, even though you don’t even realize you are giving him that. That’s a high grade manipulative narcissist getting his needs met in every single direction of his life, from old friends to new victims.

    Would you maintain a 40 year college buddy friendship with a child sexual predator, and still take the spa w/e he offered you after raping three eight year olds before dinner out with the old gang?! These people will never stop taking advantage of others if they are never called out on their actions! Don’t we hold some accountability for not accepting someone else’s ill treatment of others? I think we do.

    There’s this organization, O.U.R. ( Operation Underground Railroad) that I support that breaks up child trafficking rings. I saw a film they had on their site about it. They train hotel workers how to recognize potential situations in their environment ( ppl who only pay in cash, language communication issues, young person paying for room, many ppl in and out of room, no room service, etc). One ring was broken up, some business man type of guy was caught with the petrified underaged minor in the room and during his conviction his defense was that he didn’t kidnap these children and if he didn’t screw them, someone else would do it anyway. He literally absolves himself of involvement, he’s just buying the service, like any porn type purchase. The point being, it’s easy to see the role others play and to bizarrely justify our actions with some “ not my problem” narrative. It’s all everybody’s problems!!

    Emotional, sexual predatory behavior is not a side hobby someone dabbles in, it is who they are in their souls. Way easier for the rich to play these sinister games. He gets the hall pass because he gives himself up out of the gate to the victims?
    Nomar put it perfectly( which I already copied and pasted to my notes) by saying:

    “Honesty about being shallow and transactional does not redeem shallowness and transactional morals. It just takes away the element of surprise.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. It back burners any little snippets of guilt that may arise in a person knowingly harming another, but not enough guilt that they would step down from doing it.

    Morals and integrity aren’t what we pick up and use every now and again, it’s who we are and how we want to treat others and live our true selves with intention and value. It’s not always the fun and exciting choice, but it’s the one that counts the most and will keep you from inflicting harm on yourself and others.

    If Ted Bundy was a billionaire and bought all of CN a new Bentley, would we all drive away happily in that vehicle forever more, counting our lucky blessings? I know that is quite a stretch of an exaggeration from your scenario, but your friend is doing harm to other people and you can’t take the high road and the perks by not wanting to listen to his escapades and think that makes you somehow absolved of his abuses to others. He needs to know it’s not okay, and hear it from ppl that care about him.

    We, as a society, worship these rich, entitled A- holes that see ppl as disposable and always available for their personal entertainment pleasure, as if they have earned the right to treat others so poorly, they are that special.

    Wealth does not give you free rein to take who and what you want from this life and cause harm along your way as you get all your own needs met by trampling the needs of others. That’s not a “ good guy”.

    No, no, noppity no. If we all start disapproving of their toxic lives instead of laughing and drinking the $500 bottle of wine with them, maybe we can guilt some of them into changing it up and realizing that their actions are not acceptable to the good, decent people they want to hang out with.

    I would not just refuse his gifts, I would refuse his friendship as long as he makes the choice to hurt others. You are telling him his actions are naughty but the bottom line message you are giving is look the other way and try not to dwell on the fact he’s an abuser because you are having a great time in his orbit. That’s the message they get from everyone in their world, so what would make someone like that stop abusing when there are literally no consequences in his life to such horrific behavior. That’s how they are continually able to carry on.

    Leave that friendship, perks and all, and then tell him why you are doing so. You may become the one true friend he ever really had and then lost. He knows what he’s doing is wrong, he’ll probably never change and has no reason to do so, but in the very deep recesses of his vanishing soul, he would have great respect for your integrity.

    Not one of us is a perfect, unflawed human. Isn’t it our responsibility to help each other be better all the time?

    • Excellent points. I took the angle of — is this really a friendship? It sounds transactional. You say he’s a good guy, you say he’s a creep. Which is it?

      I think many people straddle having serial cheaters in their lives (like their parents, for instance). But an old college friend is not someone you have to have in your life.

    • AbsoFuckingLutely! I have ‘jeopardized’ two friendships with men in my social work circle. Both attractive middle-aged men; #1 divorced and in a 8 year live in relationship with the AP. He’s good friends with #2, a never married serial womanizer who really likes the younger ladies. Both are solid men in the respect that they run their businesses well, they do what the say they are going to do – perform solid work – as long as it comes to non-relationships. I recently cut off #1 in a convo where he mentioned something about #2’s fooling around, prostitutes were mentioned. I shut that shit down immediately. I didn’t want to hear any details. I sure as hell wasn’t going to listen to the story and laugh about it. I stated very clearly that screwing around, soliciting prostitutes was NEVER EVER acceptable FOR ANY REASON. My respect for both of those men has fallen so far because of their casual attitudes towards woman, relationships and their male entitlement. And #1 knows it. The look on his face when I stated my position. The fleeting look of guilt that passed across his face. (Hmm, did you solicit a prostitute too?) And our relationship has now changed significantly. I am friendly, as is he, but no flirting, no long talks about life, there’s definitely a boundary existing now in exactly what kind of conversations we will have or not.

    • “Emotional, sexual predatory behavior is not a side hobby someone dabbles in, it is who they are in their souls.”

      Absolutely right. To compartmentalize people like she’s doing bothers me. He’s not predatory and abusive to his friends, in her estimation, but just to his sexual partners, so he can still be considered a good guy? Nah, bullshit. He’s a creep. Further, he *is* preying on his friends. He is buying their approval so he can consider himself a good person, which he is not.

  • Keep saying no. No cars, cruises, or jewelry. No individual gifts from this creep. He sounds manipulative and is not a true friend.

    If the group enjoys being together, and he pays for more than just your expenses, so be it. I have people in my circles who routinely pick up the tab, and sometimes I pick up the tab. That’s what friends do sometimes.

  • If you are a true friend of this person, I don’t see any harm in accepting gifts, due to your unequal finances. I suspect that many on this site don’t know what it’s like to be poor, and I don’t see any harm in a wealthy friend making life more comfortable for a poorer friend. The opposite (the wealthy friend never offering to help despite the poorer friend’s hardship), can itself drive into a friendship.

    The core issue here is not the giving, but whether or not he is a true friend. From your description, he doesn’t really sound like it. You don’t respect his character, for what might be good reasons- I say “might” because your description of his transgressions is a little vague. If that is the case, it isn’t a good idea to accept his gifts.

    • This resonates. I have a dear friend who has very little, and I always pick up the tab and have paid for trips with her and her kids. Besides a great friendship, she gives back in many ways, the best being invites to her large extended family gatherings of amazing people who treat me like family, an acceptance I don’t have in my own family of origin.

      • I was poor after FW let me with the kids; I’m still poor, even though I live comfortably, because I live off of student loans and support two dependents. So I can definitely come from the perspective of what it’s like to be a poor chump. But I won’t accept the larger gifts that the original poster describes. For me, gift-giving in a friendship is all about reciprocation or, if one is poor, potential reciprocation.

        Does a richer friend want to make my (or me and my kids’) life a little easier by buying me a coffee, or a meal, or taking us out to a movie every once in a while? That’s nice. That’s friendly. Because that’s a gesture I could reciprocate. I *could* buy a coffee in return one day. Or, to keep it cheaper for myself, I could make coffee for my friend or invite them over and make them a meal and, even if I couldn’t take my richer friend out to the movies, I could *potentially* take them out to the movies… or, heck… invite them over to my place to watch a movie on TV to keep things cheaper.

        If I could reciprocate the gift–even theoretically–then, yes, I see no problem with it.

        For myself, however (a poor chump), I do see a problem with accepting gifts that I never could reciprocate in my wildest dreams–jewels, vacations, cruises, and the like. I would resent being put in that position because it takes away my power to be a friend in return on equal footing.

        • My friend is disabled with a congenital disease and has spent her life in and out of hospitals. Her family is poor and she and will never be able to work. We have been very close friends for over 20 years. When we first met we had an instant rapport and made each other laugh so hard, and still do. She is of an ethnicity known for its wamth and generosity that manifests in ways not always understood by society at large. There is more than one way to show generosity and reciprocate. Her entire family has my back and have shown up when I’ve really needed love and support. Plus, they’re amazing cooks!

        • As well, I have a friendship of 40 years. When I met her she was struggling with a violent schizophrenic husband. My boyfriend and I moved her out, and though we didn’t have much, we were able to move her and buy some groceries a few times for her and child. She still says she does not know what she would have done without us. Though both of us have lived various places over the years, we are still best friends and travel to see each other. For a few years, she and her husband lived in a nearby city. I have also had miracles of others helping me when I needed it. I refuse to play “tit for tat” with people when it feels right not to.

  • In case you missed it above….

    Giving with strings/expectations = manipulation.

    Whether it’s.a cup of coffee or a cruise or a casserole when someone dies or a favor.

    (Expecting someone to reciprocate is an expectation, BTW. When I give a gift of an object or time or money, no one owes me anything).

    • You can find out pretty easily if someone is manipulating you with their giving.

      Be authentic and honest with them.

      If there’s any conflict, you will most likely hear about everything they’ve ever done for you, what they’ve given you, how you owe them. They will take things back. They will take things away. They will renege on things they promised you. Etc.

      In cleaning up my own giving, I run it through three checkpoints…

      Do I want to?
      Can I afford to?
      Is it something I am capable of?

      If I answer YES to all three, it’s a green light.

      After that, it is a done deal and never ever brought up or held over the recipient’s head. I don’t keep score.
      If I find I have a resentment about any giving I did, I look back to see if I should have said NO when I said YES or made the agreement. I keep that process to myself; it is my error and has nothing to do with the recipient, to whom I say nothing. I keep the agreement or the promise. It teaches me about thinking it through carefully beforehand.

      I did a whole bunch of work in therapy around giving in the mid 80’s with my therapist. I agree with what she taught me.

      Gifts and giving are a manipulation minefield in sick families like mine.
      I was very eager to learn how to extricate myself and be a clean giver.

      One thing I know for sure….an alcoholic will give you the shirt off their back and hate you when they get cold. That was definitely me before I got sober and true of every practicing alcoholic I’ve ever known.

      In Al Anon I learned to do good turns/give without being found out, another good way to test the motivations of my own giving.

      Some thoughts on giving….

  • Hi All,

    OP here. Thank you CL for publishing my letter – I wasn’t sure if it “fit” here. You’re right that I didn’t list the good things about him (and while I do think he “buys” women he doesn’t have to buy anyone in our group… I don’t think any of us think of him in that way); in fact he has been a good friend over the decades in a non-financial way (supportive, a shoulder to cry on during tough times, etc).

    The consensus here is: why am I friends with this person. It’s a fair question and has led me to really think about that. Certainly when we were all in our 20s and 30s and going through those things that people that ago do (graduating, finding careers, getting married, having kids), we were all good friends. During those decades he was not “gross” or a narc or a cheater (or he was but I didn’t know enough yet to realize any of that). The “buying women” behavior really emerged when he got wealthy in our mid-40s. Before that we were all on “equal’ footing and what we gave each other was moral support and companionship. You guys are correct to note that this friendship has become increasingly unequal.

    You guys are also right to question why I stay friends with someone whose moral character I do not respect. It’s hard to turn away from someone after decades of close friendship. I’m not saying that’s a good excuse… it just is how I feel. I think it’s a little harsh to call me a “garbage person” because of this but maybe you’re right. I’m certainly looking inward on this matter.

    The only thing I disagree with here is the sense that I ‘want’ those gifts. I do not and have firmly said no to every one. (Yes it’s tempting when it’s a car, or whatever, but not tempting enough…) I wrote CL after months of my sisters telling me how dumb I am, and even though the judgement of me on here is not positive, I’m still happy I wrote because I feel validated for turning the gifts down.

    CL you suggested I say:
    “Nigel, this is really unnecessary. I value our 40-year friendship. I don’t need these grand gestures, but thank you very much for thinking of me. That’s kind of you.”

    I do say a version of that every time. But he hasn’t given up. Maybe there’s a waver in my tone that I have been unaware of? I will pay attention to that.

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my story and give feedback. Really 🙂

    • AITM,

      If his actions reveal good character that outweighs the bad character that was described (serial cheating, narcissist, e.g.), it might make sense to keep him as a friend—at a distance (though for me that’s A LOT of bad character to outweigh). But most of us at CL have had to sever friendships of many decades to reach a point where our values are *integrated* into our relationships and our actions (that’s kind of what *“integrity”* means). I lost the best man from my first marriage, a friend if 40 years, because he was a serial cheater and probably slept with my ex wife while we were married. But in the end, a shared history can’t replace shared values. Good luck.

      • “But in the end, a shared history can’t replace shared values.”


        It can be a hard pill to swallow.

        I understand the nuance of some of these relationships. It’s easy to opine on this site (which I do often), but real-world interactions can complicate matters.

        Now that I’m divorced, I’m struggling with whether to jettison a friend who continues to do stuff with my x, all while trying to argue that he really doesn’t want to. lol Frankly, he’s a weak, conflict-avoidant man. I wager that x invites this guy to fish, and the guy can’t say no.

        I hesitate to sever all ties with him because I really value my relationship with his wife. She’s firmly on Team Spinach. Typically, she and I will get together without her husband. But it’s happened that he’s been in town, and we’ve had dinner.

        Ugh. I have one foot out the door.

        Yet another example of how these cheaters fuck with our lives.

        p.s. Nomar, sorry about the best man at your wedding. My god!

    • People that batter ram your boundaries and refuse to hear “no” are into power and control. Not friendship material, imo. It would be wonderful to have “forever friends” but sometimes we change and go in different directions.

      • I don’t believe in forever-spouses, forever-friends, or forever-anything anymore… but I’m also extremely jaded. 🙂

        • Nursery rhymes that are fallacies

          “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”
          Fool’s gold needs to be tossed back into the river, down the mine shaft. It doesn’t matter if I’ve known somebody for decades. If they stab me in the back or shank me in the gut, stand there smirking or giggling, they get dumped. I’m working on having a platinum relationship with myself.

          “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Words do matter.

          “Two wrongs don’t make a right” Why do bullies often trot this out ? You shove back and land a solid blow (metaphorically speaking-not advocating violence !) and they may think twice about abusing you. Or not. Repeat until the message is heard.

        • I’m currently in the same camp as you. Recently I found a song called “Forever is a Lie”. I don’t like all the lyrics but agree with the title.

    • What you aren’t noticing is that he’s a boundary bulldozer. He does not respect your “no.” He continues to push you. That’s about POWER and CONTROL, even in a friendship.

      Here’s what I would say: “We’ve been friends for 40 years and I value all the times we’ve supported each other when things went wrong and how we’ve kept in touch with our college friends. But if you don’t cut it out, I’m not going to spend time with you, period. Don’t push me on this. I don’t like it when you throw money around instead of respecting what I say.”

      I don’t judge you harshly. I think you are the frog in the pot of water. You grew up with college friends and siblings and you just accept them at face value, rather than noticing when their values are not the highest and best. Many people get their heads turned by money and things. You should notice that those people are not giving you good advice. And when you go out, arrange for a separate check before the waiter even takes the food order. If Mr. Moneybags wants to buy a bottle of champagne, by all means have a glass but don’t take advantage.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping up with old friends, but it’s dangerous not to notice when their values are centered on money, possessions, and taking advantage of others. One thing you can do to help yourself is to stop sharing these sorts of life details with your sisters, who come off as materialistic and gold-diggerish. Talk about family stuff. Talk about your pets. Talk about whatever, but don’t set yourself up to hear a lot of their BS advice.

    • “… while I do think he “buys” women he doesn’t have to buy anyone in our group…”

      Dinners, hotel bills….

      Do any of you give anything to *him*? Just curious.

      “It’s hard to turn away from someone after decades of close friendship”

      Whitecoatburnout has an excellent comment on this. Would you stick with someone you discovered to be a murderer, a paedophile, a rapist, a bank robber? No? Maybe you don’t think routine emotional abuse of women is that big a deal?

      You say you have continually turned down his gifts, but he still continues to offer them. That should tell you something right there, he has no boundaries himself, and couldn’t care less about yours.

      I’m still curious as to whether you, or the rest of the group, have ever given this man anything.

      • “Maybe you don’t think routine emotional abuse of women is that big a deal?”

        This is the crux of the problem. As a society, a lot of people don’t give a rat’s ass about emotional abuse. Infidelity is the stuff of romantic comedies. We root for the cheating couple. So remaining friends with a philanderer is no big deal.

        Once you’ve decided that it’s NBD and he’s still a GOOD GUY, then you can struggle with whether to accept gifts.

        But he’s not a good guy in my book, so the gift question is moot.

        Perhaps AITM is worried about upsetting the dynamic of the entire friend group. I can appreciate that. I like to think of it as a friend test. The good apples will stick with you.

    • It gets harsh around here because this is the emotional ICU for severe trauma patients. People here are in tremendous pain, which you couldn’t know if you haven’t been in the shoes. All are at different stages, some way more raw than others, but it’s a place full of deeply wounded and sensitive people, most of us also injured by friends/enablers of the partners who cheated on us. Naturally on this site a lot of us would notice the primary concern of accepting gifts rather than his treatment of romantic partners. A letter to Miss Manners would have possibly eliminated the cheating backstory feedback (but maybe not. I do think she’s way more skillful than I at pointing out unsavory backstories).

      To me, your letter sounded like the motive for writing in was that you were unsure about turning down the gifts.

      Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in any kind of relationship with him, and I’d tell him why on my way out.
      How someone treats one person is how they treat everyone.

      • “How someone treats one person is how they treat everyone.”

        This is why I always pay attention to how people treat the waitstaff at a restaurant.

        • Sorry, but here I disagree. My fw was super friendly with the staff in supermarkets, in restaurants etc. I think he was pretty much friendly with anyone – as long as the relationship remained at a reasonable superficial-ish level.

          I think the only person who got the worst of him were his girlfriends, and I’ve taken that role for a while. Heck, even if I look back at myself I’ve done horrible stuff to men in the past just out of fear of intimacy, while I’ve always had good friendships.

          The difficult conclusion is, most people are not entirely good or entirely bad. The people we talk about on this blog are on the extreme part of it though.

          Nonetheless, yeah if people treat staff badly that is a bad sign.

          • “Nonetheless, yeah if people treat staff badly that is a bad sign.”

            Conversely, if they treat them well, it’s not necessarily a good sign (re your x).

            Looking at patterns of behavior and taking into account the context help, of course.

            • Yeah. STBX -not long after d-day 1- gave a far too generous tip to our female server. It’s a restaurant we love and usually the food is great. This day, his meal wasn’t right and he complained to me and his mother about it but never said a word to the waitress. Then he left her a huge tip – we always tip 20% but this day it was more like 35%. When I asked why, especially since her service wasn’t what I would call exceptional and she did NOT go above and beyond, he said it was because of her Led Zeppelin tattoo.

              I still haven’t told him that I saw him watching her throughout our entire meal.
              I know it was more than her stupid tattoo.

              • Oh brother. My x did the same. He gave a ridiculously huge trip to impress a tattooed waitress. She was his daughter’s age. I’m sure she didn’t even notice his wrinkled, sorry ass. But this covert narc probably thought he had a chance!


                And, by the way, he was rarely overtly mean to the waitstaff. This man did things in a passive-aggressive way. NO yelling. Just cutting remarks spoken softly If he was upset, he complained to ME.

                I just think it’s a red flag if someone is shitty to those who provide services.

          • I lived with Mr Nice Guy for 27 years. In the end I realized his “nice guy” is all about image management. Phony. Insincere. Not authentic.

            Lying and cheating to me directly and being deceptive about who he is, being fake Nice Guy to everyone else, is what I mean when I say how someone treats one person is how they treat them all.

            He uses and lies to everybody. His actual outward behavior was overt in my case and covert with others.

            Like most dishonest people.

            I would never hire someone who embezzled from Company A but not Company B.

          • He would have used and abused every single one of those supermarket and restaurant staff of the opportunity presented itself and it benefited him. They weren’t special to him. If someone will abuse their life partner and family, they will abuse EVERYONE. If they aren’t abusing someone, that’s just because it benefits them more to be friendly to that person… for now.

            Good people don’t abuse others. Someone who abuses people is an abuser. They don’t get a pass because they know how to be polite to a waitress.

        • I lived with Mr Nice Guy for 27 years. In the end I realized his “nice guy” is all about image management. Phony. Insincere. Not authentic.

          Lying and cheating to me directly and being deceptive about who he is, being fake Nice Guy to everyone else, is what I mean when I say how someone treats one person is how they treat them all.

          He uses and lies to everybody. His actual outward behavior was overt in my case and covert with others.

          Like most dishonest people.

          I would never hire someone who embezzled from Company A but not Company B.

    • “It’s hard to turn away from someone after decades of close friendship”

      I hear this. It is hard, you’re right. It’s really, really hard. But it’s those feelings of not wanting to give up something that we’ve had for so long even though we don’t really have it like we used to that got a lot of us chumps in trouble.

      My X was all I had ever known. I had known him since I was 15; we began dating when we were 17. I had history with him… lots of history! I didn’t want to give that up! So, I get it. But the more I hung onto him because I didn’t want to give up everything we had and all those years we had together (even in friendship), the worse he treated me and the more boundaries he crossed.

      I’ve lost a husband… but I’ve also lost many friends in my life too. Friends that I had years and years (decades even) of history with. In one way, losing a cheating, abusive spouse is harder because of the raw pain involved. And, in another way, losing a long-term friendship is harder (but I’m struggling to come up with a reason why).

      Losing a long-term friend is hard, I’ll grant you that. I’ve cried myself to sleep realizing that an old friendship was gone. It hurts; we don’t want to lose things that we’ve put years into. But don’t stay in the lion pit just because you’ve been there for over 40 years if all your friend is doing is steadily adding more lions.

      If you still want to stay friends with him, I wouldn’t be kind or gentle anymore about it. I’d be blunt: “Nigel, I’m extremely uncomfortable with the expensive gifts and I don’t want to be involved with your cheating and womanizing anymore (you talking about it to me involves me! stop that!). If you truly value me as a friend, you’ll stop involving me with both of those things. If you want to go out for a coffee sometime and talk about college then, cool, let’s do that. But no more of those other two things. If that continues then, honestly, we’re going to have to stop hanging out because you’ll clearly be showing me that you don’t care if you make me uncomfortable.”

      If his answer is to offer you a car and tell you about his latest conquest then you’ll know that he doesn’t care about making you uncomfortable.

      And, as always, no one ever has to take my advice. I don’t have a lot of close friends left anymore, so I am certainly not an authority on keeping them.

    • Hi AITM, thanks for posting. I sensed a little bit of what you’ve been writing in your initial letter and feel like some of the comments are a bit too harsh here. But you bravely asked a particularly wounded population, so it’s pretty much the most confrontational you can get, I guess.

      I think friendships exist to keep guard over one another, which also means being critical when someone is doing not-ok things. Whenever your friend proposes you yet another cruise, have you tried talking to him, saying that you’re a bit weary about his lifestyle and the person that he has become? He might then understand why you’re saying no, which could even lead to some self-reflection. You as an old friend have known him in better times, so you may have an impact.

      If he doesn’t seem to be motivated to question his behaviour at all, it means the friendship has become purely transactional and perhaps then it’s time to move on and find friends elsewhere.

      Take care!

  • I have a cousin who is a wealthy skeeve. And he sometimes wants to get together. And I find ways to avoid it politely. He’s not skeeving on ME … but he’s a skeevey guy and treats women like garbage. Because he’s family, sometimes I can’t avoid him. I’m polite. That’s it.

    I dated a guy for a very short time that was very very wealthy and turned out to be skeevy. I immediately ended it.

    I had a female friend who was extremely wealthy and would have mega parties that were literally cocktail parties with the expectation that everyone dress up and wear heels and put their kids in little Brooks Brothers suits… for her child’s THIRD birthday. I ended it.

    My point is… wealthy is not a reason to stay with anyone. If they suck as humans… get free of them.

    Of course if you just want to use this guy, that’s up to you. But I’d rather live with a free conscious. Clearly this bothers you enough to write to CL about it.

  • I read this with disrespect for the writer, her friends, her sisters. Then I realized why it got under my skin. I had a brief relationship last year (first one since divorce the year before) with a woman I was deeply attracted to but who had completely different values. I saw it early on and ignored the huge red flag that it was. She was very wealthy but spent a lot of time explaining how “simple” and “down to earth “ that she was while she clearly was not. Ask her personal shopper at the Louis Vuitton boutique. I did care for her – or thought I did. My pattern had been to find people I could help with my disproportionate empathy and understanding. I know: stupid. And I did try to make the relationship something that it wasn’t. I thought I loved her. It just proved to me that I had a LOT more work to do on myself.
    And it was transactional.
    She sent me and my daughter brand new iPhones for Christmas after the relationship ended. I told her not to, but when they arrived, I kept them. I am typing this on mine now. This mirror is very uncomfortable and I am going to call a therapist today and get back into therapy to explore why and how I can get back to what I believe my values are.
    And thank you

      • LAJ,
        Thank you. I have always appreciated your sharing your wisdom and spirit here. So your opinion means a lot to mean. This was a painful experience, but necessary in my growing. CN continues to lift me up and guide me faithfully through the metaphorical minefield of disentangling from the Skein. That’s my part, not RIC bullshit.
        Didn’t mean to not address the OP. Thanks AITM, for giving me an opportunity to learn about me. Wishing you well on your own journey.

    • ❤️

      Great reminder that RECEIVING can also be a minefield to navigate.

      Thanks for sharing.

      When the X reneged on agreements in the divorce process, I left mine in place. Not as a result of sainthood, but from the giving/receiving work I’ve done in therapy. I never pointed it out to him. My lawyer said I was very much on the high road.

      And I remain a Work In Progress.
      (My nickname is Whip, for Work in Progress). I am still in the student seat…

    • …..and it’s been my experience that when people who treat people badly give, they also send an invoice….

      • VelvetHammer,
        My WHIP friend, your voice vibrates truth for me so often. I can relate to taking the high road in the divorce – often shortchanging myself, but my self-respect was intact. That’s one reason why I cringe knowing tgat I made an unspoken agreement with that girlfriend for a transactional relationship. It was my first with a woman, first with someone from a completely different socio-economic realm, and I knew the rules shortly after it started. Part naivety, part willing recipient. I think I saw her giving as her way of responding to my emotional support of her (she was a mess and a drinker and…my picker hadn’t changed as much as I thought!). But part of me heard myself lying to myself. I know. TMI.

        I don’t post like my early days in the CL Emergency Room, but i read often. VH, You have done a lot of solid work on yourself and I respect that. I have been in therapy, but struggle to see my progress. As a therapist, i suppose I expect myself to have better meta-understanding, but that just ain’t so.
        Thank you for your succinct clarity, acknowledgment of growth being a process, and willingness to share it with us. You are one of my favorites!

        • I was so disappointed to learn as a psych major that I could not fix myself or my family! Drat!

          No one can….remember?

          A noble profession where the doctor can never help themselves!


          • ????????
            So true.
            I have a feeling that perhaps greater than 90% of psych majors (the assorted paths to psychotherapy careers) go into it with some personal stake. “I’m asking for a friend.” Certainly my case. Recovery from alcoholism & various trauma led me down that path and it was gratifying to learn I could help others. But it doesn’t work on ourselves (or family, or friends, or…).

            Being teachable is a blessing. That was my first and toughest lesson.

            The good news? We do this TOGETHER! People recover faster with a support group. CN proves that. CL is a genius.

            • If you want to see your progress, compare yourself now to when you first got help…not to who you have been recently!


  • I think CL said all that needs to be said about the problems of friendships that are not balanced and reciprocal, friendships where the friends are not on equal footing. That doesn’t mean financially equal; that means where the respect for boundaries runs both ways. All I will add is that someone is NOT a good guy if he continues to push the boundaries once you make clear that lavish gifts aren’t welcome.

    What I want to address is the sisters. Why do so many people put their business out there for others (including siblings) to comment on? And why would “Am I the Moron?” listen to sisters who encourage her to accept gifts that actually erode her sense of self (e.g., make her feel like a whore).

    I work with college and grad students. If we have lunch, I pick up the tab because I have a full-time job. I tell them, “When you have a job, it will be your turn to buy lunch.” That ends the discussion and establishes WHY I pick up the tab (students are relatively poor) and that they are equals who will at some point reciprocate. And they do.

    No matter how much I would love a sibling, cousin or friend, giving me terrible advice that highlights their shallow character would required me to stop confiding in them in order to maintain a relationship. It’s like why we don’t talk politics in my family. So no–you are not the moron but you are hanging out with Team Moron and looking to screwed up siblings and friends who take advantage of the rich guy’s generosity for moral advice. That’s a bad idea.

    • Ok, I gotta ask!

      When you tell them it will be their turn to buy lunch in the future, how does this come up? Is it a mutual agreement between all of you arrived at before the lunch? Does this come up in a conversation about who is paying during the lunch?

      I would be very uncomfortable if someone offered to buy me lunch and then told me it would be my turn to pay in the future. If I offer to buy, I buy without any riders (for lack of a better term). If they offer to reciprocate, I say thank you, that would be great.

      Inquiring minds (me) want to know!


      • My take on LAJ’s words was that she’s suggesting that the student one day pay it forward to someone else in need. That’s what I always told students whenever I treated them to a restaurant meal.

      • Yes, I’ve done that with students too. I’m not expecting them necessarily to take me out although a few have tracked me down and done that. I just tell them that when they are working full-time in a professional capacity, take someone out who might not be able to do that on an intern or student’s budget.

      • Well, they’re kids or poor grad students. I have a full-time job. I don’t “offer” to buy them lunch and then tell them I expect payback. I tell them that when I was a grad student short on money, my mom would help me or a friend would pick up a lunch tab. So I pay it forward to them. And someday it will be their turn to pick up the tab for some young person or someone having a lousy day. And in fact, I’ve gone through the dining hall line to find out a student with extra money on his food account has bought my lunch. The point is to notice who might need a hand up or a random act of kindness and to suggest to them that someday it will be their turn to pick up the check for someone else. Reciprocity, but not necessarily between just two people.

  • Moron,

    In a single word, “yes, you are a moron.” You are a cheater apologist and have poor integrity. It’s offensive that you are tone deaf to those on this site who have been gutted, infected, robbed. . . ABUSED by guys like your “friend.” It’s people like you that stand by these evil fuckers. I’m sure you’re getting off on the kibbles this attention is giving YOU. Sickening.

    The great Chump Nation doesn’t need your types. Go away. There are great threads on Reddit for you (cheaters are my friends, choosing chester’s side in friend’s divorce, etc.)

  • Even playboys need real friends – if only to call him on his shit. I dunno. Is he married and cheating or sleeps with married women or is he just a Hugh Hefner wanna be? It sounds like he only knows how to buy love and it’s most likely a very old problem of his, absorbed at the parental knee. I think it’s ok to be friends and tell him frankly that your friendship has never been for sale and you’ve always had to wade through his mess and just like him for him – if that’s true, of course. It seems, though, that you laugh at him behind his back and disrespect him but enjoy the ride. But in being a good friend, you have to encourage the positive, authentic him – and be real, too. A real friend is priceless – a lesson we all have to continually relearn.

  • I was not impressed at “I have a male friend of 40 years” . It just went downhill from that.

    But friends with a cheater? That says about YOUR character even more than theirs.

    • What’s wrong with a man and woman being platonic friends? My best friend is a guy I’ve known since college. Granted he’s gay so there could never be anything between us, but even before he came out there was never any sexual tension between us. Saying men and women can’t be just friends kind of implies that (straight) men lust after every woman they meet and/or that (straight) women lust after every man they meet. Neither is true and both are demeaning.

      • My ex Fuckwit insisted he and the rat faced whore were “just friends”, then it was “she’s my best friend, but you’re my wife”.

        When I foolishly invited rat faced whore for Christmas, because chumpy me believed the “just friends” spiel, the cunt informed me my husband was her “best friend”.

        Anyone who has a “best friend” of the opposite sex, when they’re married or in a committed relationship, is taking emotional energy and time away from what should be the primary relationship, and investing that energy and time where it shouldn’t be.

        I’ve heard lots of stories where the wife/husband/SO has been blind sided by this kind of bullshit malarkey, “oh, we’re just *friends*!”, and ended up being chumped by a cheater and a whore. So I think it’s self-serving bullshit.

        • “Anyone who has a “best friend” of the opposite sex, when they’re married or in a committed relationship, is taking emotional energy and time away from what should be the primary relationship, and investing that energy and time where it shouldn’t be.”

          My current BF might disagree with that statement. He has no problem with my having a male best friend, particularly since said friend is gay. Sure, some people spend too much time with their friends to the extent that they neglect their SOs. But that can happen when the best friend is the same sex too.

          “I’ve heard lots of stories where the wife/husband/SO has been blind sided by this kind of bullshit malarkey, “oh, we’re just *friends*!”, and ended up being chumped by a cheater and a whore. So I think it’s self-serving bullshit.”

          Hmm, my XH said he was “working late” or “swimming at the YMCA” with a male friend to cover his tracks when he was cheating. Does that mean that all those who work late hours are cheaters? That men who swim together at the YMCA are inherently up to something nefarious? Or does it mean that cheaters take a value-neutral thing and abuse it, as they abuse everything and everyone else?

          • I’d also argue that he was lying about her being a friend. Narcs are not capable of real friendship. I do not know your ex, but I’m willing to bet he didn’t see her as anything more than a convenient hole/kibble source. Cheaters are lying liars who lie. That doesn’t mean non-disordered men and women should not take pleasure in one another’s company unless they are also sexually involved. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

          • “He has no problem with my having a male best friend, particularly since said friend is gay.”

            1)Would your boyfriend have a problem with it if your male best friend was hetero?

            2) shouldn’t your *boyfriend* be your best friend?

            3) do you discuss your boyfriend with your best friend?

            Do you discuss your relationship problems with your boyfriend (if any) with your best friend?

            I think the crux of the matter here is the fact your male best friend is gay, so your boyfriend doesn’t perceive the relationship as a threat.

            OTOH, if 1,2,3, and 4 are taking place (I’m not saying they are) then you would be directing emotional time and energy towards the wrong person, whether he’s gay or not.

            “Hmm, my XH said he was “working late” or “swimming at the YMCA” with a male friend to cover his tracks when he was cheating. Does that mean that all those who work late hours are cheaters? That men who swim together at the YMCA are inherently up to something nefarious? ”

            Total misdirection here, that is *not* what I said.

            Would you be OK with it if your boyfriend had a female best friend, gay or otherwise, who wasn’t you?

            Would you be OK with it if your boyfriend and a putative female best friend discussed you and the relationship?

            I am not saying if you’re in a committed relationship you can’t have *friends* of the opposite sex. What I’m saying is emotional energy and time should be directed at the *primary* relationship. If it’s not, in my view, that is a betrayal, whether physical or not.

            • “1)Would your boyfriend have a problem with it if your male best friend was hetero?”

              Not sure, but from what I’ve seen I doubt it. I do have a straight guy friend too, and he doesn’t have a problem with that.

              “2) shouldn’t your *boyfriend* be your best friend?”

              I hope that will be the case some day. As it is, we’ve only been going out a month, so to say that at this stage would be moving too fast. I was a complete person with friends and interests of my own before I started going out with him. I don’t need a man to complete me. I would also hope that he doesn’t need a woman to complete him either.

              “3) do you discuss your boyfriend with your best friend?”

              Intimate details, never. I don’t discuss those with anyone. A general sense of whether I am happy in the relationship or not, yes.

              Do you discuss your relationship problems with your boyfriend (if any) with your best friend?”

              It’s still too early to say what exactly our relationship problems will be, let alone make the call on who, if anyone, to discuss them with. I did talk to my best friend about Nitwit’s cheating after D-Day and I am glad I did so, as he was 100% in my corner and earned the title of a non-Switzerland friend. Growing up with homophobic parents, he understood very well that abuse is not always a raised fist or belt, that abuse can be words or even silence.

              “Would you be OK with it if your boyfriend had a female best friend, gay or otherwise, who wasn’t you?

              Would you be OK with it if your boyfriend and a putative female best friend discussed you and the relationship?”

              My boyfriend already has female friends who are not lesbians. I’ve seen no indication that they are anything more than friends, so I’m cool with it. As for discussing the relationship with them, as long as he keeps it at the same level as I keep it with my male friends I don’t have a problem with that either. Now, if he went into depth about when we hit each base and what it was like I would object to that. But I would also object if he shared those details with a male best friend. Oversharing is oversharing, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

              “I am not saying if you’re in a committed relationship you can’t have *friends* of the opposite sex.”

              Great! The OP was considerably more ambiguous, which was why I felt the need to chime in.

              “What I’m saying is emotional energy and time should be directed at the *primary* relationship. If it’s not, in my view, that is a betrayal, whether physical or not.”

              I’m still unclear as who exactly is being harmed/betrayed in my current situation. I don’t have a problem with my BF having female friends, of any sexual orientation. He doesn’t have a problem with me having male friends, of any sexual orientation. Like I said, oversharing or neglecting the relationship in favor of a friendship is something that can happen to any relationship, regardless of the friend’s gender. Women can get so caught up in supporting their female friends through a tough time they neglect their relationship with their husbands or boyfriends. Men can boast about their wives’ and girlfriends’ physical attributes to other men in locker room talk. I’m not sure why opposite sex friendships were singled out by the OP as automatically suspect.

  • This guy sounds like he is just trying to get himself set up for his final years.

    He wants someone to take care of him in his old age, and he figures you have the personal resources and money to fit the bill. If he can get some reliable sex out of it, even better. You’re feeling like there are expectations because there are expectations.

    I’d skip it if I were you.

  • This guy buys people to get what he wants, and now he wants to buy you. You already know that. You could just take all the gifts, cash them in, then donate the money to a women’s shelter. Tell him what you did afterward and then drop this “friend.” (I would relay this senario to others in the group who may exclude him, as well.) Put his “generosity” where it belongs, to women who have been harmed.

  • OT and maybe it’s been discussed but I have been following Anna Marie Tendler’s art (estranged wife of comedian and super rat John Mulaney). She says so much without saying anything. I have found it very evocative.

  • AITM –
    You describe your friend as a serial cheater. How can he cheat serially if he’s honest with everybody he’s sleeping with? If you know this guy’s wife, you owe it to HER not to continue being friends with him, which is tantamount to normalizing his behavior and minimizing his harm to others.

    Since my D-Day #2, I have struggled with Switzerland friends – I have still retained contact with a few people who are at least nominally friends with STBX – in some cases, because we have deep friendships going back to college. And I have to say, it hasn’t gone well. It recently turned out that one of my Swiss friends is a cheater himself. Surprise! (Am no longer speaking to him.) I have had the tough conversations with the couple of other friends, letting them know how I have felt when my STBX has weaponized things they have said against me.

    But I have definitely distanced myself from those friends. Here’s why: in my gut, I feel that anyone who knows me and details about my experience, and still supports my abuser, is complicit in my abuse. I wish people in general would think more about what happens when they make light of very bad behavior in their “friends,” EVEN IF they are not close friends with the people their friend is harming.

    At the very least, as other chumps point out above, you’ve been hanging out with someone of low character, and you’ve had to eat the shit sandwiches of hearing about his “gross” behavior. But how about your impact on others? AITM, can you honestly say you have not been complicit in the abuse of others, in the same way that many of my STBX’s friends have?

  • This subject interests me because my newly departed EX was a notorious leech. He always talked about how much money and big deals he had. He would have “business meetings” with other “rich” people, where he pitched his investment opportunities. The interesting thing to me was none of these guys ever admitted they had any cash, their funds were always “tied up” and none ever reached for the check!

    He also tried this leeching with his friends. He would show up at supper time, drink their beer, fall asleep on their couch. Many of his “girlfriends du jour” had conveniently located apartments, and kept toilet paper, soap, clean towels, etc on hand when he “stayed over.” When we started dating, I was young, and I didn’t put it together until much later that my hospitality was probably even more attractive than I was. CHUMP!!!

    When he died we notified people he had called friends over the years. We’ll see who actually shows up for the funeral, because I know he had alienated many of them over the years, and they had not stayed in close touch. I think he chose people to use based on their being polite, and willingness to share. He was good at finding tolerant people. We were not stupid, we figured out what he was doing, eventually, and some of us called him out on it. But still, we laughed about his habits. I don’t think that made us bad people, but I have had to have talks with my sons over the years about living within their means, and not expecting to use other people’s money.

    Rich people are not obliged to pay for others, unless they invite them to an event as their guest. If a man invites me out for a date, I expect him to pay for it, if he’s worried about it we can meet for coffee. If a relationship would develop, then there would be a discussion about who pays for what. If there is a huge difference in income, I think it causes problems in the power dynamics of a relationship, even with friends. I would never just “drop in” around supper time, and I would not appreciate someone who did.

    Several years ago, I had a work friend who was married. She and her husband had a time share in Mexico, and had planned a trip. At the last minute, he could not go. She asked me if I would go with her, all I had to pay for was my plane ticket. The resort was all inclusive, and she didn’t want to go alone. We had a blast. I did not give her extra money, because she invited me. I did however buy her a nice gift of appreciation for the hospitality. That was reciprocity, in my mind.

    If a rich person feels they have to flaunt their wealth to have friends, that is a strong indication of their value system. If someone expects you to always be the giver, and they take, it is the opposite side of the same coin. Chumps need to learn NOT to enable others, or fall into these traps. It is a strong boundary to set, and must be maintained. We all have value that should not be defined in terms of dollars and cents. We need to find friends who have the same values.

    • This is reminding me of something. My uncle was a wealthy man. He had two familes from his two former wives; many friends and relatives. Most of those he knew were middle class or lower (except those in his lucrative field), and he still lived in his first humble small home. He often went out to eat with his stepchildren and grandchildren from his first wife, a table of ten or more, and always paid the tab. His wealth, in part, was due to his inherant frugality and investment skills. He was also a generous and sentimental man with a soft heart and often taken advantage of. As his POA, I had a terrible time trying to get him to stop giving away so much to those who appeared to he using him (which went way beyond dinners out) as his good judgment began to really deteriorate toward the end of his life. This is often the case with the elderly. One evening we took him out to eat at a restaurant of his choosing, and my husband left the table at the end of the meal to pay the tab. When my uncle discovered we’d paid for dinner, he had tears in his eyes. He couldn’t say “no” to people with their hands out, but knew what was really going on.

  • So he’s a “good guy” because he’s nice to her, even though he broke one or more hearts with serial cheating? What a self-centered point of view. Moreover, he’s using her to feel better about himself. That’s what the generosity is about, and he’s probably hopeful that she’ll be his fuck buddy too. He says he isn’t trying to turn the relationship into anything more than friendship, but if he’s a cheater and a generally sleazy person, he will certainly lie about his intentions. Why believe anything he says?

    I see this friendship as being transactional on both sides. He picks up the check, so she puts up with his grossness. She’s just feeling uncomfortable about how obvious he’s making it that he buys friends. She’d rather he toned it down so she can continue to pretend it’s a genuine friendship and not look at what’s really going on.

  • Movie Indecent Proposal applies here, The woman says, ”What do you think I am?” To which the man replies, ”We’ve already established that — we’re just haggling over the price

  • Cheaters are masters of compartmentalization, allowing them to switch between “I’m good” and “I abuse people” with the flick of a mental switch, playing mind games to justify their lives and blame others. Don’t act the same by trying to keep this guy in your friend compartment.

    AITM, your humanity bothers you enough to ask strangers on the internet if it is OK. It is not.

  • After divorcing a covert narcissist, I fell into the relationship with the FW. What I thought was attentiveness and love was actually love-bombing. I didn’t recognize that until well after D-day and dumping him.

    When I kicked him out he immediately expressed sincere regret and did many things to try to reconcile. He dumped the OW (which benefited him as he cheated way down and he didn’t want to be stuck with her).

    He also gifted me MANY THINGS. Many things were household improvements or things that he bought for my home that I shared with him. So I didn’t feel like they were his, they were for the household (firepit, glider, even some of the yard tools/equipment, etc.).

    BUT, getting to the point: Last Christmas as he was supposed to clear out his stuff from the garage, he ended up leaving thousands of dollars of gifts for me, a huge pile in the garage, including a lawn tractor, which I only discovered a day after he was there. He found one last chance to love-bomb me, as I had blocked him every other way. He could afford all of it but he was a cheapskate, and he went overboard.

    I was appalled and disgusted. I made him take everything away (when I was gone) , and then I changed the lock code on the garage.

    Love bombing is a dysfunctional way to act in a relationship. Love-bombing is also transactional. That’s an unbalanced power dynamic. Don’t play that game. It’s not worth it. Don’t sell yourself for material things.

    • Yes, it is dysfunctional. Anyone who thinks they can buy your love is truly not worth having in your inner circle. It’s baiting you in a sick way.

      A friend calls it, “Love with a string attached…”

  • If you reached the age of 60 without developing the ability to answer this question for yourself, then you probably want to explore that as an issue of concern. At your stage of life, you should understand your own value system enough to make some quick decisions on this type of thing.

    For the record, I have zero problems accepting and giving gifts and gestures from friends, even grand ones, but as CL wisely points out, the relationship must be reciprocal and non-exploitative to fit into my life.

  • Apropos of the giving/receiving dynamic, I’d like to share a little something that gave me long-delayed peace.

    Not Steve from BluesClues (although that one gave me the FEELS), but from a guy named Topher Payne, an alternate ending to the classic (indeed!) The Giving Tree.

    Here, here!

    Please excuse me if someone else posted about this. It does bear repetition, kind of like re-reading a childhood story over and over and over….

  • I’ve written about this before but when the Twat left my friends nagged me into trying online dating (at 51 after being married for a trillion years???)! Any despite many misgivings I finally, in the end, set up on online profile – and don’t laugh but it was actually on a site called Swissfriends – for the simple reason that I was working in Switzerland. And believe it or not, with one exception I had good experiences on this site and ended up dating a 14-year younger engineer (who wanted me to move to Berne where he would take care of me – errr nope, but thanks) and a LOADED lawyer (4 years younger than me), working for one of the top 5 drug companies we’re hearing so much about in the news right now! I had no picture on the site (I’m not ugly but I was still 51 right) so I asked him why he contacted me and he told me he thought my profile was great. I had written an “alternative” profile about how I wasn’t “romantic, sensual and loving long walks on the beach” and he told me he was so used to getting approached basically by prostitutes because from his profile, if it was honest (it was) he was rich. This guy was loaded. Oh he made good money as a lawyer anyway, but the bonuses these guys made was unbelievable. So we started dating but, as I pointed out to my friends, so what if he’s loaded, he asked me out, not the other way around. Penthouse on Lake Geneva and a collector of fabulous works of art – the whole shebang! He tried impressing me with the art but I’m a complete pleb so it didn’t do anything for me, but when he showed me an original edition of Don Quixote de la Mancha I asked his permission to pick it up and basically just smell it, as I’m a complete book freak. Anyway, to make a very long story shorter (hopefully) he asked me one day how much the mortgage was that I had had to take on to buy the Twat out so I told him – and he offered to pay it off! I almost fell over laughing because I didn’t think he was serious but he soon made me very much aware that he was totally serious! I mean, why? And that’s when he told me that he’d given more money than that to the Prado Museum! I admit I had vague dreams for about 30 seconds of pointing out to my twat of a husband that a rich man had paid off my mortgage, but I soon woke up and said thank you, but no thanks! When he asked me why I just told him that you can’t put a price on independence and I valued mine too much! And I think THAT is what has meant that we have remained friends 12 years later. I was not interested in his money and I sure as hell wasn’t giving up my hard-earned independence for it either! So to the OP, if you value this friendship please tell him to quit with the ostentatious gifts and start being a friend “just like the old times”. See how things work out when you finally set a boundary. I wish you luck!

    • Yes, I have a friend and also a relative who offered to pay all my legal bills during the divorce, not a trivial amount. I appreciated the sentiment, but there was something satisfying about working my tail off and paying them off myself. I had some reserves that I held back because my monthly income was so low, but managing the balance and then getting the final closeout letter was part of my healing.

      Now I’m in a position to help others, and I always weigh if it is truly what they need and make sure that I’m just in it for the giving, not for any personal benefit. I’ve indeed paid for a lawyer, plane tickets, and even a handicap ramp. No jewelry or cruises, LOL.

  • Here’s an interesting way to look at it:

    If A had a friend B who never paid for anything and always took, took, took without giving back, A would dump B as a friend.

    Here we have a story where A has a friend B who gives, gives, gives without taking, and yet A is keeping B as a friend.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why A might be tempted to keep B as a friend in the second case. But it’s important to recognize that both friendships are unbalanced, unhealthy, and ultimately unsustainable.

  • Posts like this make me think all over again about why gift-giving has such incredible significance, the world over.

    Anthropologists and sociologists study this stuff closely. It really matters.

    It tells you HEAPS about ideas of power and love and reciprocity in that culture. Or even in that family, or that couple.

    If you can learn to understand the many different roles of gift-giving in human relationships, you can learn a lot about how a person sees you, or how a community sees you.

    We all know, for example, that shitty gift-giving – with no consideration of who the recipient is, or what they like, or what they might want – is a classic ‘tell’ for narcissism.

    This letter is a good example of ‘gift-giving as boundary erosion’ or ‘gift-giving as bribe’, or ‘gift-giving as social enhancement’.

    Or all of them. Either way, it’s a gift with a lot of strings attached. And it seems to have very little to do with the actual recipient, and a lot to do with the giver.

  • Being rich has nothing to do with character. Being poor has nothing to do with character. Ask yourself this. Does him buying a Maserati for you mean more than you’re Niece giving you a picture she drew of you taking her to the zoo to see the Giraffes? Which one will you cling to most in dire moments?

  • Reminds me of a wealthy ex I had that I’ve written about here before. I’ve never been to the country of my mother’s birth but within two weeks of knowing me, he offered to take me there. I felt weird about it and said no, if I was going to go, I wanted to go for the first time with my mother.

    I had never been love-bombed by a wealthy man before and couldn’t tell the difference between manipulation and “this is just what wealthy men do when they’re wooing.” I was a student in my 30s at the time, and the boyfriend before had been psychologically cruel. When we’d go to dinner, we’d go where he wanted, and he’d drop $400-500 for the two of us. I could never reciprocate at the same level, and I could sense he didn’t want to stay home eating pasta on a Friday night. He owned the townhouse by the water, I was renting a room and had a roommate. When I expressed concern about my ability to reciprocate, he told me not to worry. I asked family members about it. My parents got spacy and vague and my uncle said, go for it, that’s how men are.

    This guy was also a ‘climate change’ power player who hobnobbed with the people who administrate carbon offsets and green business initiatives. I too thought I was dating an ecofeminist and it took a minute to realize I was a very expensive/rare accessory meant to bring him credibility in Black and minority communities. He gave a big screen TV and many other things to a widow who had two daughters, a tween and a teen. I think I’ve written before of how his interest in the oldest one, who for some reason had run away, and his willingness to expose himself to the 11-year-old. When I said something, he ran right to the mom and told her how silly I was and she basically was like, oh, yes, how silly. It could have been one of those tik toks where the audio is one thing (“ha ha can you believe Magnolia thinks I’m being pervy?”) and the subtitle says something else (“hey, want to keep the cash coming? reassure me I’ll still have access to your kid”).

    I was vulnerable to it because I’d spent my life in a FOO where my Dad introduced financial instability and was unwilling to spend on us, and then found boyfriends who repeated my parents’ dynamic of responsible woman / moochy guy. I cried early on in our dating, telling my wealthy boyfriend that no one had ever been generous with me financially. Once I was attached emotionally, he showed that he took many women friends and clients out for $400 meals, turned the phone off, etc. I knew that there would always be a steady stream of inexperienced (or experienced!) women who would feel as special (or entitled!) as I had under that attention.

    My most recent ex had the keys to my house when we broke up (I actually cringe now to think that I broke up with someone for not being trustworthy while I was still out of town and he was watering my plants! but I really didn’t think I’d picked someone who would trash my house). He had always promised grand things (to me it was a grand thing to say he’d clean my fridge … who does that after a few months of dating? and then not follow through. He’d come out with these things he was gonna do and then I’d feel weird wondering if he’d ever do it). When I came home, my fridge had been cleaned and a whole bunch of little chores and fixes were done and he left a long handwritten list of everything he’d done on the fridge for me to find.

    It was a weird experience of “receiving a gift.” He wouldn’t follow through in the relationship, and seemed to like the reaction he got when he promised things, but when I finally give him the boot he gives me a day’s worth of maid service? It felt much more like a “fuck you, this is what you’re missing” than a gift.

    It took the experience of being offered money to look the other way to realize I had those boundaries. The wealthy ex showed up at our break-up talk, which I deliberately asked for after cleaning my stuff out of his place and arranging to meet outside so that I could run if necessary, with a L’Arrivée guitar that he said was my intended birthday present. I took it. To this day think that it’s there to support speaking up being gaslit by rich cheating pedos and other abuses.

  • I don’t understand why this letter was sent here.
    Nobody here would say anything positive about the cheater.
    And just saying that the cheating was gross but at the same time spending time with him – he knows it can’t weigh too heavily on AITM’s mind.
    Actions not words

  • I have a work colleague who who up until I met him 2 years ago was a self confessed cheat. When I met him I could tell he was a person who was all about image. He comes across as a super friendly good guy. A crafted image.
    As work colleagues we talk and bounce ideas off each other and generally have a good working relationship.
    I realise he would nip out and he’d return with little treats for me or my children. When I’d return the favour he would comment that I like to keep balance. I do.
    He cheated on his wife for the better part of their marriage.
    Here is where I give him points : upon divorce he left his wife and children with the house and continued to pay the mortgage. I believe the house is now in her name. He continued to cook weekly for the whole family. He pays maintenance plus any other extras his ex wife asks. He rushed over to the ex wife (fiancee in tow and left in car!l) when wife was sick to tend to her.
    He admitted to me recently that all of these things are done out of guilt at how he treated his wife and his behaviour in general. He has a religious up bringing and training and that always factors into his discussion and seems to keep him at odds with his conduct. He also lamented that many of his friends were still married while his was over and wonders how different it could have been for he and his ex. To listen to him he is a man that lives with regrets that he does not vocalise widely.
    I think some òf these persons carve the good guy image to assuage their internal discomfort and also to rationalise mistreatment of those individuals they single out.

  • I don’t like to be anyone’s charity case.

    I’d rather do a day trip I can afford than be in emotional debt for a week long trip someone else pays for

  • “here is where I give him points : upon divorce he left his wife and children with the house and continued to pay the mortgage. I believe the house is now in her name”

    Bitch cookie.

    “He continued to cook weekly for the whole family”

    Totally inappropriate. This fucker dumps his family for a whore, but still keeps the hooks in said family. Cake. Also, “see, I’m not such a bad guy, I cook for the family I betrayed! I’m a good person!” ????

    “He pays maintenance plus any other extras his ex wife asks.”

    Bitch cookie.

    ” He rushed over to the ex wife (fiancee in tow and left in car!l) when wife was sick to tend to her.”

    Triangulation and centrality. ” I’m such a good person!” Why was the fiancee in tow? Let alone left in the car! Pick me dance for the fiancee. Was she the OW? Dance harder to show me you’re worthy of the wonderfulness and magnanimity of *me*!

    ” He admitted to me recently that all of these things are done out of guilt at how he treated his wife and his behaviour in general”

    I has a sadz. ????

    “He also lamented that many of his friends were still married while his was over and wonders how different it could have been for he and his ex.”

    I has a sadz. ????

    Gosh I wonder how different it could have been if he hadn’t fucked around?

    “To listen to him he is a man that lives with regrets that he does not vocalise widely”

    Yeah, consequences are a bitch. And I’d bet you’re not the only one he snivels to.

    “I think some òf these persons carve the good guy image to assuage their internal discomfort” Well, yeah, but this is just basic image management, a lot of these scumbags do it. I suppose some of them might feel some ‘discomfort’, but I’d bet for most it’s just the knowledge that *other* people think their actions are shit, so they try to look remorseful, plus they don’t like the consequences of what they’ve done.

    This guy is just a common or garden fuckwit who snivels over consequences. Puke.

    Do you know his ex wife? I’d love to hear her take on all this self pitying bullshit.

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