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How Do They Flip So Fast?

sacredbedHi CL,

I’m guessing by now you’ve heard it all but here’s my story:

My soon-to-be-ex-husband and I have a one-year old together, we never had any marital problems and he was actually one of the most caring, involved fathers I’ve ever met. Then we found out he was deploying (military) and he said “Well, if we’re going to have our kids be close in age we better start trying now.” We did. And I became pregnant very soon after.

This pregnancy was so different, I could tell he just didn’t want to care for me like the first time. I blew it off. The week before he went to pre-deployment training he wanted very little to do with me. During his time away he was extremely distant and when he returned three weeks later he was a robot.

I confronted him and he texted me at work to say he was going to the house to get his things and he was going to stay at a friend’s for the night to think about things. I was two months pregnant. A few hours later I told him to never come back. Not sure how I knew at that early point, but my instincts knew that things were royally F’ed.

The next day we met to talk. He greeted me with an awkward kiss then began to tell me we had grown apart, he had been unhappy “for a while”, and he wanted a divorce. He was very clear that he was not leaving me for another woman. Ironically he moved in with another woman that day! (Unknown to me at the time). I took him at his word and filed the divorce papers ASAP that Monday.

The only truth I know now is that he spent those three weeks telling some OW (who has enjoyed multiple other men in his squadron) how unhappy he is. She was his “sounding board.”

Since then he has attempted to gaslight, lie, manipulate, and mindfuck me 24/7. It is really quite tiring when you are pregnant and caring for a one-year old on your own. He actually put me into labor through all of this and tried to rub my back as my doctor told me that my body was trying to reject the pregnancy, it just couldn’t handle it.

He has since deployed and probably doesn’t tell anyone the truth. I let him Skype our son but have had to go to another room during it because he tries to reel me in to conversations. Before I started leaving the room he would say things like “Are you wearing your belly support band? I’d like you to wear it so you don’t get hurt.” Really.

His attorney sent me a draft parenting plan — he wants to come over for weekly dinners. Are you effing kidding me?! Pass the rolls please, how’s your girlfriend? Would she like some leftovers?

How do they flip so fast? He told me he thought about leaving for 2-3 weeks. Wow! It only took you weeks to decide to dump your family and shit on your pregnant wife??? This chick must have a magical p@$$&…..

Chumped by a very sad sausage,



Dear Jackie,

You’re asking me to explain how someone can walk out on his pregnant wife and one-year-old son? Someone who gave entire weeks of consideration to this abandonment? And then concluded, after much deep thought, that this was an excellent course of action?

Explain that?

He has an empty elevator shaft where his soul should be.

IMO, people like this disconnect so quickly and easily because they don’t connect very deeply to begin with. They feign the caring and sustain “involvement” until they don’t. Something gets challenging (Did a baby barf in your hair, poor sausage? Keep you awake at night?), they get bored, you didn’t sparkle brightly enough — whatever it is, they determine that They Deserve More.

You, the little people, the provider of kibbles, you can deal with the leaky tits, stretch marks, and childcare. He Is Destined For Greater Things. His suffering is unjust. Yours is beside the point.

I think people like this just play act at life. He did the role of Supportive Husband and now, for an encore, he’ll spout a few lines like an old hack playing King Lear. “Remember your belly band, Jackie!”  Husband Who Cares was one of his many starring roles — give a round of applause! Then he goes back stage, wipes off the greasepaint, and fucks the OW.

He’d like to do some encore production numbers for your son on Skype in Daddy Who Cares! But children aren’t stupid. Your son will grow up knowing who is there for him and who is a superficial waste of space. It’s your job to maintain boundaries and not let your kids get confused by cake.

He doesn’t get to play Happy Family Guy in your life. He walked out on you. He doesn’t get to enjoy the perks of marriage and the care-free single life. Get a lawyer, tell his lawyer to go take a flying leap, and say no to the weekly dinner absurdity.

Your only obligation to him now is to abide by the court ordered custody agreement. You need to lawyer up so those boundaries are crystal clear — what’s your time, what’s his time. Don’t let him swan into your life and play Family Man when he feels like it. He chose a separate life — give it to him.

You’re facing the hugest challenge of your life, being a single mom, so be kind to yourself. You’re just at the start of parenthood. It takes some serious mightiness to parent without support, but you’re not alone. Unfortunately, many of us too have bred with the soulless empty-elevator-shafts, but hey, we survived — and you will too.

You’re going kick ass at motherhood. You’ve got great instincts — you dumped the fuckwit. (((((Big hugs))))))))

This one ran previously.

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  • CL – Great follow up to yesterday’s post. Hope comments to this re-run will provide all pregnant chumps with real life suggestions.

  • Jackie, you are some kind of bad ass bitch, and in my circles that title is reserved for a mighty few.

    Fuck him and his weekly dinners. He can cook his own fucking dinners when he has his kids at his place.

    I bet this scumbag tried to come back once things with the unit bicycle blew up. I’m ex military and can almost guarantee it did…I’ve seen this kind of thing before.

    Basically you have a unit whore who fucks a chunk of the unit and most of the guys know she’s just a cheap whore. But there’s usually one who’s dumb enough to move in with her.

    Sometimes it’s a single guy, but other times it’s a guy who’s extra stupid and dumps his family, but he usually tried to go back when said whore moved on to her next fuck.

    Jackie, I hope you lawyered up, told this guy to fuck off, and moved on with your life.

  • Jackie,

    The thing to remember is that Cheaters don’t have relationships with people …. they have relationships with things that are of use to them. They flip so quickly as they see no difference between deciding to ditch their spouse and children for a new shiny AP and deciding that the old washing machine needs replacing and going out and getting a new shiny one ….. and of course they don’t pause to reflect on how the washing machine (or indeed their spouse and children) is impacted by or feels about this sudden change.


    • This.

      My ex was a filmmaker and I came to see that basically he felt the same way about life as he did one of his movies. He’s the director, calling the shots, and he casts people in the various roles in his life. But when someone doesn’t say their lines correctly or perform their role to his satisfaction, he simply re-casts them with someone who will. His life continues on unchanged, much like a soap opera where they replace an actor and no one ever comments on it. The story just goes on as usual.

      So I was in the “wife” role, but when I didn’t play it right (extra frustratingly, none of us are ever give the script) he simply replaced me with OW, who auditioned very hard for my role. I’m sure if he had lived, he would have eventually gotten tired of her “mistakes” (i.e. being a human individual and not his robot) and re-cast her as well, on and on ad infinitum.

      I think that’s also a reason why these people so often come back to their exes. They honestly don’t see anything outside of themselves, so it doesn’t occur to them that people have their own lives. Clearly the ex is simply waiting for a callback to reprise his or her role.

      • ISTL,

        Of course the Cheaters don’t give us the script; that way it’s easier for the to find fault with our “performance.” This was Ex-Mrs LFTT’s MO down to a tee. She would never tell me what she wanted or “what good looks like” because it made it all the easier for her to rip me (or the kids) a new one for failing to produce whatever it was that she wanted.

        F*ck that noise.


        • I got “I shouldn’t HAVE to TELL you”. My ex thought love was the ability to read his mind. He thought he could read mine, but he got it wrong about 90% of the time.

      • Isawthelight- this is my story too. My ex hole the lighting designer and director wannabe- cast me in a role too. Very very confusing to go beyond playing a part in a script only he knew. I used to love theatre. Now i cant stand it. 20 years of hanging out with a bunch of people- shallow people who do not give a crap as long as it looks good.

        • “shallow people who do not give a crap as long as it looks good” – this exactly. Realizing that the majority of our “friends” were industry people and were friends with him because they thought he could advance his career made it hurt less that all those people took his side in the divorce, and welcomed OW with open arms while excluding me from events for films I had a big part in making. They saw more value in being nice to his current gf than his stbx wife, in order to stay on his good side and perhaps get work out of it.

          I cut all of those “friends” out of my life and walked away from the whole local art scene, which is kind of sad. I’m quite a good costume designer, and I also did a lot more on my ex husband’s films than he ever gave me credit for (producing, casting, directing, sets, location scouting, etc.). Oh well. My peace is worth it.

  • I tried to figure out why. The father of my sons pretended to be ecstatic about becoming a father at 40. He was Italian, by lineage on his father’s side. He wanted a family and a home, and security, and perks. He also wanted a side piece. Actually, many side pieces. He somehow believed it was his right as a man. There is no understanding that. Raw entitlement is hard to swallow.

    I finally realized I couldn’t “fix” someone that broken. I didn’t want to believe he was going to change, anymore. I turned the focus on myself, getting help and working on fixing my broken parts. I also concentrated on being the sane, dependable, loving mom. Yes, the mean mom who says no, but makes sure the kids are fed, clean, and in bed on time. The one who carts them to school and doctors and dentists, and sports. Fun Dad would appear, when it was convenient, and spend time in their vicinity, but not with them. Eventually, the kids figured it out. They grew into fine young men, finished college, and they are working. One is married and the other would like to be. I don’t think they will cheat. I hope they learned how not to be a father from their own dad. We’ll see.

    • “Dad would appear, when it was convenient, and spend time in their vicinity, but not with them.” YES this is my ex. He hosts them in his house one night a week and cooks for them but he never does anything with them. He never asks them about their life nor does he ever call or text. It’s weird to me thanks for saying this.

    • Exactly. I think the entitlement isn’t mentioned enough on this blog. It’s not just that they cheat because they want to, they also feel like they they have a right to. They think that “everyone cheats,” that monogamy isn’t possible, or that their “love language” is sex – whatever they read on some shallow internet dive that conveniently justifies their desires.

      • I agree NotAnymore, serious entitlement! My ex informed me he was kind of sick of his double life so he was going to come clean and just have side pieces out in the open to get his “needs” met. In one of my coherent moments after the shock wore off I asked him, “So what’s in this for me?” and he literally said, “You get to stay married to me and I’ll be around probably more than half the time to mow the lawn and do the taxes.” Wow. Just wow. I was so devalued I went from lovely wife and best friend to someone who “gets” to stay married to a lying, cheating, money stealer who will mow the lawn and do the taxes (news bulletin- he never mowed the lawns without a big fight and the taxes were 5 years behind). He became some an entitled, deluded arsehole in that minute and there was no going back. The entitlement continued to ooze out of every pore for the next 3 years while I battled to get control of my life. I really, seriously can’t believe he thought I was just a pathetic woman who would sit by while my husband spent all his love and sexual energy on others while I sat there (presumably sexless and loveless) while I waited around for him with our daughter for the moment he decided to come home and mow the lawn. I think I was meant to keep my high- paying job, cook, clean, do the child care and everything else as well. You can’t make this shit up ????

  • Play acting at life sums it up. . . .What I don’t think I will ever understand is how my FW was able to keep up this charade/mirage for about 25 years. I guess I was a very useful wife appliance, until I wasn’t? Then he “flipped a switch” (his exact words!) and decided he was “done” and that gave him license to lie, cheat, betray, etc., because he was “divorced in his own mind.” But what makes someone commit to the deception for so long in the first place?

    I should note that these days, I am mostly interested in these questions from a psychological/social fabric point of view, because this worldview is so very different from my own values and ethics. I do trust that he sucks, I guess I’m curious as to why so many people give themselves permission to be the worst versions of themselves? I hope with CL/CN’s help that there is a cultural shift that recognizes infidelity as abuse, and takes more seriously the harm done by the lying, manipulation, betrayal, gas lighting, and other forms of emotional abuse involved.

    • Have you read “why does he do that” by Lundy Bancroft? It’s free online. It was quite eye-opening. Mr. Bancroft worked with men in prison for DV. It really comes down to entitlement. And success. The abusive behavior gets them what they want, so why stop?

      • This book exposed my xh for the entitled fraud he really was. It’s a life saving and life changing book.

      • Yes, this was a really helpful book, especially his point about how they are not abusive because they are angry, they are angry because they are abusive and entitled.

        Despite the wisdom of this and other resources, I don’t think I will understand why my EX invested decades pretending to be invested in our family. Why didn’t he just stay single or leave early on, like the immature jerks from today and yesterday’s posts? It would have saved me years of emotional abuse and trauma.

        • @ ISawTheLight, IMarriedJudas, MehBeSoon

          Thanks for the book recommendation, it’s on my “to read” list now and I’ve ordered it!

          Important point about evil anger vs. righteous indignation. Anger and even hate caused by deep injustice, betrayal trauma and deceit is not “sinful” or “ugly” in my opinion, but morally right.

        • Look at it like this, con people swallow their pride and ego and will do various things the average person wouldn’t do because it’s not within their values and morals, well for con people, the things they do or allowed done to them, just for the con, is within their valued and morals. That’s why they don’t see anything wrong with it. Or like an undercover person who goes undercover for a very long time and as an individual that they aren’t like in real life. Some people are truly able to separate. Since you are a person with good morals and values it boggles your mind how someone would put up with things and/or not just leave. It’s because they don’t want to. It’s literally that simple. To your ex he was just playing a role and honestly non of it mattered. You would think 25 years is a long time, but to him. It was nothing. That’s why once he was done he was able to walk out as well as cheat.

    • I think impression management is part of it. They don’t want to look the part of a cheater/ wife dumper. Some don’t want to be disliked by their kids. Many of these one day to the next leavers do it when their kids are on their way as well.

      • Zip……SO true—when the kids are on their way—-as if that makes it any better, or justifiable, for the dumped spouse OR the kids. Elevator shafts where their souls should be……pathetic.

    • “What makes someone commit to the deception for so long in the first place?” I want to know this too. I was married for two decades to “the good guy” who everyone adored, incl me. And he actually was good in many, many ways. Motivated, accomplished, present for our kids, great sense of humor, etc. I want to understand the people who were “good” well into adulthood, then seemingly suddenly make a hard right into the ditch.

      • Maybe when they were in it they were in it. Just like you liked certain clothing items when you liked them. Then when they’re no longer a value so you get rid of them

        • Ugh sorry re grammar mistakes- texting on the fly. FW used to say that I was so good for him. I think that sums it up. When we are good for a FW, they are there for that, fully invested – for the time being. It sounds like a compliment, but it’s about them.
          When they decide someone else is better for them (because they give themselves that option), they disconnect.
          If they have regrets, it’s not re hurting us, it’s re hurting themselves with their asinine life choices.

          • Shortly after DDay EH actually said to me…..”You taught me alot”, inferring his time was perhaps not “wasted” and I was “somewhat useful” and when I was in shock and blurting things out like , “how can this be??? we are married 30 years” he actually had the gall to say, in reference to my age, “30 years without me {I married at 30}and 30 years with me….its not so bad….your life evened itself out.”

          • “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me” isn’t actually the compliment we think it is…

            • Not from a FW! It could mean you gave a FW the confidence to be completely self-serving and entitled.

            • RIGHT??? OMG, my now ex used to say that to me ALL THE TIME. It always felt off, OTT somehow, but I didn’t understand what I was feeling. Sure do now. UGH.

          • This is something I read (and saved) a few years ago from an article by Lindsey Ellison (“Was the Love Ever Real with Your Narcissist?”), when I was wholly invested in Untangling the Skein of Fuckupedness:

            “Him playing his part is what made him feel love towards me. By taking him into my heart, it made him feel very special, which is what a narcissist needs. Because I made him feel so very special, he felt love for me. When he gave love back to me, and I returned it with the ultimate adulation of him, he felt love for me. So everything that he gave me, and the love he had for me, was for him, at that time, very, very real.

            However … the moment I questioned him, and confronted him like a deer in the headlights, he knew I discovered the truth about him. Because I no longer found him truly special, it was easy for him to quickly detach from me and the love vanished like a ghost.

            And this is the hardest part about loving a narcissist. The love is there one minute, and gone the next.”

            • That is spot on. They “love” us because of HOW WE MAKE THEM FEEL. It never had anything to do with THEM loving US. I came to understand that my husband actually didn’t even know who I was. That was never important to him.

              My husband actually said to me that “too much has happened between us” and that I’d never be able to forget it. He said he needed a “fresh start with someone else”. Because once we’ve seen behind their mask, there’s no going back to that adulation, and he knew it. OW had no idea who he really was, and so could gaze at him with stars in her eyes, and that’s what he wanted. He didn’t want to see his true reflection in my gaze.

      • My ex could be completely charming. He was an attentive and, I thought, thoughtful boyfriend. I felt so lucky to have found “one of the good ones”. I never worried about him cheating (in spite of his many female friends). He was the life of the party, witty, great sense of humor, talented, driven, ambitious, a gentleman (opening door, putting on my coat for me, remembering anniversaries), generous, etc. To this day, pretty much all his friends would say he was a great guy. He worked for a charity in his spare time. He seemed like a great dad.

        It was all an act. It was all impression management. Behind closed doors he turned into a completely different man. No one really ever saw it but me (and then OW). All our mutual friends sided with him in the divorce. I doubt they would believe me if I told them what he was really like. He hid it from me for almost 10 years (there were red flags, but I missed them). He was, additionally, a GREAT storyteller (writer/filmmaker) and could spin a sad tale of his difficult life that was totally believable. He could look into your eyes and lie with absolute sincerity.

        What I realized about my ex was that he was entirely ruled by emotion. And he believed that whatever he FELT was the truth. So if on a certain day things went his way, I did what he wanted, etc. he believed he loved me and was happy because he FELT he loved me and was happy. If one little thing went wrong, the whole world fell to pieces. If something annoying/inconvenient (think rain, flat tire, flooded basement, dog peed on the floor) happened on a Saturday, he’d cry that the WHOLE WEEKEND was ruined. When things went badly or I didn’t do what he wanted he suddenly didn’t love me and was miserable. Because that’s how he felt.

        He also appeared to me to believe that however he felt IN THIS MOMENT was how he would ALWAYS feel. So when he promised to love and cherish on our wedding day, sure, he meant it. Until he didn’t. I was the most beautiful, smartest, most wonderful woman when I did what he wanted me to or when our life was going well (or when he wanted sex). When that wasn’t the case, I was a was a stupid ugly cunt, a fat cow, worthless, a dead weight, a snake, whatever (I have been called every name in the book and some I’d never heard before). He would flip flop between emotional extremes (love/hate, elation/anger, hope/despair) depending on CIRCUMSTANCES. Towards the end, he would sometimes make these 180 shifts IN THE SPACE OF AN HOUR. He would fall into bouts of depression because he thought he would die in whatever dead end job he had, or because he thought that since we were going through a lean financial time that we would always be broke.

        He also always looked outside himself for happiness and validation. When I started being less than the doe-eyed, star struck girl he started dating and instead expected him to pull his weight, or apologize, or whatever, clearly that meant I didn’t love him anymore. When sex was painful and difficult due to a birth injury he refused to take that as an explanation. Clearly it was because I didn’t find him attractive. He was always dreaming big or catastrophizing, depending on the day. Reality, mundane tasks, normal annoyances of life, a 9-5 job, etc. were intolerable. He felt like the world should take care of him, since he was a genius. Anything bad that happened was clearly the universe ganging up on him. Being “average” was a fate worse than death. It’s all a very childish way of looking at things. Kids think the world revolves around them, they have big feelings that overwhelm them, they have no object permanence, they don’t like to hear no, they lie even though their hand is literally in the cookie jar.

        So when my husband found another woman who didn’t know him at all and thus could gaze at him with stars in her eyes and call him amazing, who was naïve and inexperienced (and more than a little stupid) and had no self-esteem so he could mold her into what he wanted, he dumped me abruptly (via text!). And since I was now an “impediment” to his happiness with OW, I was an object of hatred. I was the enemy. Clearly he NEVER loved me, because he didn’t love me NOW. He completely sold her on me being the spawn of the devil, and she turned around and started abusing me too (yet she knew me and I had never been unkind to her). Which is why I say she’s stupid, because why would you believe the man who is cheating is being honest about his wife and their relationship?

        Eventually OW left him too because he started abusing her (she thought I was making it all up, LOL). STBX fell into one of his pits of despair (not for the first time, but I’d always been there to drag him out), and since he felt helpless and abandoned and like everything was falling apart NOW, he thought there was no way out and it would never get better. So he killed himself. In his suicide letter he blamed everyone but himself for his problems. The women who were “falsely” accusing him of DV ruined his reputation, obviously. It clearly couldn’t be that he was abusive. It was drama to the very end. He was never going to die peacefully of old age, it wasn’t his style.

        These sorts of people don’t know what contentment is. They don’t know anything about the happiness that comes from within. They see people as tools, not individuals. And when a tool is useful to them, they treat it with care. Once the old tool gets a bit tarnished (by gaining 10 pounds, or I don’t know, asking for basic respect) they chuck it out and get a new one. He always seemed popular and had lots of friends, but they weren’t the SAME friends. My ex went through groups of friends every few years. In the almost 20 years I knew him, he went through four distinct groups of friends, and the old groups just … disappeared. Sometime the “breakups” were dramatic and angry. By the time he left me, we were no longer speaking with anyone who had been in our wedding party. If my ex felt slighted by someone (even if there was no intention on the part of the other person, or it was a simple miscommunication), he would cut that person off, and anyone who associated with them. And since I was only allowed to be friends with his friends, I never spoke to them again either. These were people who had devoted time, money, effort to helping with his films, people we’d known for years. A lot of his friends walked away and basically disappeared (no social media, phone numbers changed, etc) because he mistreated them one time too many. He expected people to have a passion for his projects that was equal to his, with no understanding that people have their own lives and pursuits. He also hated, HATED, anyone who had money or whose parents helped them set up their careers. He cut off quite a few “trust fund babies” as he called them, because he envied them not having to work a “normal” job or because they could afford equipment or whatever.

        They can be “good” people when it serves their purposes, but when that is no longer getting them what they want, they can flip like a switch. You never meant anything to them in and of yourself. Only as a means to an end.

          • I think he was bipolar, but he refused to get diagnosed or treated for it (he was diagnosed as a teen, but then just didn’t do anything about it). The one time I brought it up he just about bit my head off, so I didn’t pursue it.

            • All these disordered people that traumatize innocent people. Take your pick ~ personality disorders,
              mood disorders…
              Today I feel hate for them all.
              Wish I could love the hurt out
              of the abused, used, betrayed.

        • My goodness – this reads like a horoscope for my stbx. I feel so much compassion for what you lived through. ❤️

        • I saw the light, that is an absolutely brilliant post. So much clear sightedness. What you describe reminds me in so many ways of the fuckwit I was married to for 23 years. Thank you.

        • This is Amore extreme version of my STBX – thanks for the very thoughtful post. They really are a different species.

      • Juniper, I guess that “hard right” when they’re well into adulthood is what most people call the mid life crisis.
        I have no idea.
        My Ex started his 2 1/2 year emotional affair before we were even married. A year into it, we married, and it continued for another year after that, until I discovered it. When I asked him -“ Why???” (Like 1,000 times!) he said, “I wanted you as my wife, but I wanted my “friend” too, and I knew you wouldn’t like me being close to another woman.”
        Okay…. So lying and hiding is a good solution????
        Mine didn’t flip a switch – he
        “Let go of the rope…”
        His exact words, – and it was my fault! Because I never recovered from his continued involvement with EA’s even after he saw how the 1st one devastated me.
        The last one became a PA (co worker) and for what ever reason it took me that long to rid myself of the abuse.
        I guess mine didn’t have a mid life crisis, now that I think about it. He just had a life crisis.
        Constantly made just about every wrong decision a person can make, and then wonders why his life is so F’ed up.

    • “But what makes someone commit to the deception for so long in the first place?”

      Because they badly want people to think that’s who they are. They can even convince themselves that’s who they are. But a long time playing the role gets wearisome and becomes boring to them, which is why so many seem to go apeshit in middle age. They want to be their real selves, but they tell themselves you are deficient and the cause of the shift and do not admit this is who they always were. In fact, they think their cretinous behavior is no reflection on who they are at all. They don’t even consider their behavior wrong. Entitlement does that. Hence the narrative that’s it all your fault and they deserve to be happy.
      Some of them can’t keep up the facade for more than a few years, such as the FW in today’s story. Others can do it for decades. It sounds like today’s FW didn’t really want the responsibility of a family and set about finding a whore to use as an exit.
      These types of guys most often seem to do it after the woman is stuck pregnant and/or with little kids. All the better to have kids as props for times they need their family man role back to impress people with.
      All they care about is what they look like from the outside. Since we live in a world where abandoning a family to go off with a schmoop (to be “happy!”) is no big deal, they can still maintain a respectable image and use the kids as impression management devices without having the day to day responsibility of them. It’s infuriating.

    • I think in the beginning many of them really don’t think they will get caught and if they do, they feel certain they will manage it to their benefit.

      And some do, but I am convinced most don’t. The longer a secret life of lies and abuse go on, the harder it is to convince others that the problem was someone else.

      Oh a few who are hanger on for their own purposes might feign, but not anyone with any capacity to reason.

      In my fw’s case I know I was useful to him, his plan was to eventually become mayor and he needed me working in the community to get him well known. But then a candidate came along that he liked and so he needed me to help him get this guy elected. And I liked the guy and thought he would make a good mayor (he did).

      For the first two years of the new admin, we were as far as I knew fine, we were going out with friends, spending time on vacations etc. I didn’t know there was a whore in the woodpile. He had been promoted to Captain within a couple years, he couldn’t discard me before he got that locked down. (or so he thought).

      I believe his plan was to discard me right after our mayor won his second election. Then he would drag the whore out of the alley and present her as a new love, and convince the mayor that so that they could continue their relationship she needed to be transferred, or she might have even been planning to quit her job as soon as we D’d. She did quit working right after they married at age 26 and never worked again.

      But, best laid plan of mice and men and all. Someone filed an ethics complaint and Kaboom, right in his face. Less than a year after he left me he got busted, put back on patrol and the relationship he had with the mayor was destroyed. The beauty of it was he destroyed it with his own perfidy. He had become radio active to the admin.

      Took me 20 years to help him reach his dream, took him and whore just a short while to destroy it all.

      To be fair he did it to himself. He was actively working on his own destruction at the same time we were building his career. But, I am sure he thought he had it all under control.

  • I did not marry or have a child with Traitor Ex impulsively by a long shot. I dated him for seven years before we got married. Lived together for five of those years. Counseling the whole time. Then we got married and started a business. I had our daughter ten years after we got married.

    That’s a long time to fake someone out.

    DDay was my 20th wedding anniversary. I heard the “I’ve been unhappy for a long time” BS. (What it really means is that he’s been a liar for a long time, and probably a cheater too). I heard he had been thinking about leaving since our daughter was a baby, but he didn’t want to leave us “high and dry”. (He waited until she was ten to leave us high and dry. I also think he was getting high and probably not dry either).

    No matter how you slice it, it is the flaming neon visible-from-space sign of a seriously fucked up individual. I do not want to be a seriously fucked up individual, be married to a seriously fucked up individual, or model Serious Fucked Up Indicodualism to my daughter.

    But I feel a kinship with Bernie Madoff victims, and four and a half years later I cannot wrap my mind around it.

    My previous poor choices in men were upfront abusive assholes (whom I was going to modify with my love!) and I ended those relationships without cheating or someone in the wings. As I was taught that brave trustworthy healthy people do by the brave trustworthy healthy person whom I was lucky to have as my therapist.

    The clandestine asshole Traitor Ex has really done a number on me.

    • Sending you a big hug VH. 25 years conned here …. It is also very hard to wrap my head around the whole thing. Part of my brain just wants to figure “it” out but there’s just no rationality to any of what XH did or does. I guess that’s the best answer I’ll ever have. Some (XH) are sicker than others.
      I’m not for today, thank God!

      • Mother—–as I said the other day….30 years here….Untangling the Skein is an exercise in futility as our brains and hearts and consciences are not wired like the cheaters are.

    • Conned 15 years. Kept the mask on all that time, feigning love, compassion, kindness, connection, and future-faking. He was living a double life. I will NEVER understand how someone can pull that off…it’s sociopathic. And it’s really gutted me. Hopefully in time, the pain will subside. They really do fucking suck.

    • That is a LONG time to fake someone out. The part of your story that really gets to me, Velvet, is how intentional you were with therapy and attempting to maintain relational health. Geez. I’m so sorry.

      • Juniper, that’s what blows my mind the most too. But it is hopefully useful experience to share here for chumps that never been to therapy, or have had a little therapy, and think going to therapy with the cheater is The Answer. I hope that my experience might help someone else not waste their time and money and get away from a cheater sooner.

    • I can relate to your post so much ….this was YEARS of my EX claiming to be something he wasn’t, in a very intentional, deliberate manner. The long term deception is harder to forgive than the infidelity.

    • Mine left when daughter was 8 citing he didn’t leave before as she was too young even though of course he was always unhappy blah blah. You are so right, the words have been u happy for a long time are just a direct translation for have been lying for a long time and nothing else. The clandestine ‘really good guy’ mindfuck ones are somehow the ones that do the worst damage as you stop trusting yourself. OK perhaps not worse than the ones that batter their spouses till they are black and blue but it sure leaves some mental scars.

      • “The clandestine ‘really good guy’ mindfuck ones are somehow the ones that do the worst damage as you stop trusting yourself.” Agreed.

      • Been tearing through Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That – have seen it recommended on here so many times – and had to come back and add this quote from the book: “In some ways manipulation is worse than overt abuse, especially when the two are mixed together. When a woman gets called ‘bitch’ or gets shoved or slapped, she at least knows what her partner did to her. But after a manipulative interaction she may have little idea what went wrong; she just knows that she feels terrible, or crazy, and that somehow it seems to be her own fault.”

        • My ex started with manipulation so that by the time he called me a bitch and shoved me, I was convinced I had done something to deserve it.

  • The second pregnancy seems to tax the acting skills of some of the FWs. FW slipped his mask as I woke him up at 11 pm because I was in labor and responded not with kindness/care but with ‘Jesus effing christ. Why couldn’t you go into labor this morning like normal people?’
    It continued with his never being involved with the second baby — no pediatrician visits, no changing diapers, no daycare involvement. But in front of anyone, he was the proud father of 2 children.
    I asked him to move out when the second was nearly 1 year old. By that time, it became obvious that I had 3 children. I was running the household, the children, and all the bills. 2 children seemed easier.

    • That phrase “tax the acting skills” really resonates with me, regarding my own STBX. I kinda wonder if he was able to hold his inner shit (that we all have) at bay with the energy of youth, college, grad school, becoming a rising star in his career, new marriage, juggling babies, a couple of moves, being a leader in the community. Somewhere along the line tho he started growing more “discontent” as he puts it (tho he only shared with me after I found out about his affair). With kids getting older and the demands of parenting lessening – and less energy, due to his own age – his usual ways of ignoring the inner shit weren’t working for him anymore. But instead of talking about it with me, he tried coping – albeit unhealthily – with hits of secret-sex dopamine. No excuses. Just trying to understand. Maybe I never will.

    • In my mirage (thanks, VH!) story, our firstborn took the spotlight off the FW. The XFW was actually jealous of our newborn son. He didn’t come out and say that, but he sure acted like it! I have many, many stories that I could tell about the XFW acting like a total asshole when it came to our son. At the time I didn’t know why he was acting the way he was, but a narc/sociopath has to have ALL the attention ALL THE TIME!

      And of course, when I got pregnant with our daughter, he flipped a switch and turned into a cold, mean and distant jerk. I cried every single day during that pregnancy, because I had no idea what was going on with my husband and our mirage. Now I’m 100% convinced that he was having an affair with one of the office whores. He even got fired from that job and I’m 100% convinced it was because he was fxcking a ho-worker. At one point he said to me, “You and the kids will be fine financially without me.” I should have left his sorry ass, but I signed myself up 14 more years of abuse and then of course I caught him once again cheating with an office whore. These creeps do not change! The lesson of the story for pregnant chumps — RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

  • “I think people like this just play act at life.” Bingo! Some can play act for years, some have a shorter window. I think Jackie’s ex is in the shorter window category. I hope that when her ex starts with the faux concern shit she laughs, tells him to knock it off and find someone else to impress with his act. Wouldn’t hurt to prepare her kids for his horseshit. Kids can get confused when the absent shithead of a parent says how much they care but actions clearly state otherwise.

  • Coming over for weekly dinners?????
    That’s the literal translation of “ having your cake and eating it too”. Just that you get to make the cake for him in real life!
    He’d be gobbling up some delicious kibbles there, “ do you mind if my gf joins us next week so she can meet our son?!”
    No buddy,no.
    You don’t get the happy little family life AND the gfs.
    Keep moving by like the clouds,man
    My ex wanted to divorce me after 38 years of marriage and then start dating me.( ?!?) I’d get to compete for his awesomeness with his harem of gfs.
    Or he even suggested building an apartment onto our beach house for his mistress. ( ?!?) (That one was a scary look into his psyche.)
    Their brains are greatly disordered, we try to imagine we are dealing with someone who thinks like us, cares and loves like us, but that is NOT the reality.
    They view themselves as entitled and special and they truly believe they deserve that status.
    Their brains have been hijacked by massive delusions they convince themselves are very real, it’s truly warped and frightening.
    My ex spouse got so much worse once we started having kids. He would even tell me he had guilt sometimes about being jealous of his own kids and the attention and love that I showered on them.
    Weren’t we doing this child rearing together and shouldn’t we both be loving the hell out of them as a team?! ????‍♀️
    Something deeply off with a person who would deny their children love because they feel neglected. That’s a squadron of red flags waving in your future. It’s a road that will take you nowhere good.
    Jackie, you don’t have a unicorn in your possession. He’s a FW with a carrot horn.
    Absorb the sage and wonderful wisdom of our fearless leader, CL, who has Superwoman level X-ray vision and uncannily sees through BS like it’s her life’s mission to do so. ( I think it may actually be!!)
    Good luck to you and your babies, there is peace on your horizon but not with this loser you need to lose yesterday.
    Trust that he sucks.
    “ He has an empty elevator shaft where his soul should be”.
    That’s enough for you to know. Don’t drive yourself nuts thinking there’s more to get than that, you will never have the answers you would like to have.
    ( I also believe you’re going to kiss ass at motherhood, you are mighty enough to recognize that you deserve more and so do your kids!)
    Best to you, you got this!

    • “Their brains are greatly disordered, we try to imagine we are dealing with someone who thinks like us, cares and loves like us, but that is NOT the reality.
      They view themselves as entitled and special and they truly believe they deserve that status.”

      Yep. This is it.

      And it helps me to understand some things, such as:

      1. How it was possible for x to think that our daughter would embrace the OW and that she would allow her Dad and this woman to babysit her child. Ummm, nope! Our daughter not only won’t let them babysit, she refuses any contact with him. That he envisioned a different outcome shocks me.

      2. How it was possible for x to think that our adult son would LOVE to share a beer with him while chatting about the affair. Nope. That didn’t happen. Son is NC.

      3. How, when the kids were younger, it was possible for x to be jealous of the attention I gave them. Who thinks like that?

      4. How it was possible for x to mock my desire to be close to the kids (i.e., within driving distance of grandkids). Alas, he just moved across the country. I hear that he and his wifetress are living with her parents for now. My how the mighty have fallen. FYI: He’s only 10 years younger than wifetress’s dad. That must be fun.

      Bottom line: He 100% miscalculated, which speaks to his effed-up, disordered thinking.

      That said, I sometimes wonder about my own thinking. After all, I tolerated his BS for years. High on hopium and spackling like mad, I actually thought I had a fairly good mirage (thanks, VH).????

      • Spinach, you trusted him and he is an expert liar and you don’t have X-ray vision or the ability to read minds. “WTF does me hanging with him say about me?” still crosses my mind. And I have to remember that he puts a lot of energy into his Nice Guy facade. DDay (mask slipping, truth revealed like a bag of nickels upside the head) is what initially broke the spell for me.

        There are a LOT of other people still falling for his charm, just like I did, even some who know he cheated. The only thing that breaks the spell is the personal experience of being betrayed and lied to by him. My therapist reminds me that the people closest to him know the truth. As for the rest, believing something is true doesn’t make it so, as we sadly know all too well here.

        Traitor Ex planted another vegetable garden in raised beds he built at our business. What a Nice Guy! Farmer Traitor offers me lettuce and cucumbers! What a Nice Guy! I thought, “Yes. I can make a chopped salad using the knife in my back that belongs to you and your harem of cockroaches.”

        He offered me lettuce! That he grew himself! Awwwwwwww!

        That’s how they do it. Sprinkle some Nice Guy/Gal here and there, keep quiet about what they really think and feel, and hide what they are really doing and who they are doing it with. It’s basic intermittent reward cemented with deception, which makes for very powerful anesthesia. It took hard evidence of a secret sexual double life to defibrillate me awake, and then it took some time for the anesthesia to wear off.

        All the OW is, and all she ever will be, is proof that he is a jerk and a loser. She is the key evidence that had been missing in my evaluation of him.

        And like many of us, I even believed him when he blamed me for his cheating. It was only the other day, 4.5 years later, that I remembered that I had been with overtly abusive men in previous relationships, and I had communicated honestly during those relationships, acted with integrity in those relationships, and ended them without cheating or without someone waiting in the wings. Despite the actual horrific things they did and said to me.

        Cheating and lying proves the Nice Guy/Gal is a con artist, and sadly it’s usually not until our wallet is missing that we see the truth. It does not prove any deficiency on the part of the victim. Blind spots are not shortcomings (and I did have blind spots!)

        There is nothing wrong with you.
        It’s just that it’s hard to believe the Titanic is sinking after what seemed to be such a lovely voyage.

        • This Titanic analogy is so apt.

          I’m coming up on the anniversary of DDay (dump day for me, because he denied having an affair, obviously a lie) and it has made me remember more than I usually allow.

          I asked myself, from the distance of time, what I missed when I thought we were happy. The answer is I missed that he was lying to me (or steering us into an iceberg I couldn’t see and he didn’t tell me about, to continue the analogy). I refuse to regret trusting my own husband, so I cannot regret my own actions, and I had no control over his.

      • Spinach….I think I have told you this before…our EHs and marriages are frighteningly similiar… longevity, spackling, jealousy of kids, adult kids totally NC since DDay (3 years ) as am I, non-understanding of bonding/connectedness to our children……and like you, I told everyone, and the masses believed, I had a good marriage. HOLY HELL.

      • I could have written this OMG. STBX lied to daughter about his gf so much that she decided she didn’t want anything to do with him. He texts her asking to see the kids and alternates that with nasty comments either making fun of a pic of me on my profile ( he is blocked so he is finding out somehow) and then back to asking to see the kids. He stalks her drives by my house or hers weekly. Told her that his life sucked being married to me and that her and her brother were a big part of that. Sounds like a jealous dad. He said I spent too much time babysitting our grands and he felt unloved and started cheating. Mind you that was the second time. Divorce is pending. She can have him. My kids know who he is and he wasn’t father of the year by far. 32 yrs I had blinders and thought my love would fix what is obviously unfixable.

    • Oh boy, this is so familiar. My FW was jealous of our son. I am sorry but from the minute he was born, the baby needs care, attention and love. I don’t understand how FWs cannot seem to understand that kids need the focus. During our very brief RIC encounter, the FW mentioned this was one of the things that bothered him for over 25 years that I paid more attention to our son!!!! Guess I am just a horrible person for trying to raise a good kid with values and moral (and yes he turned out great and is NC with FW). Parenting is hard work and kids have to be a priority. So for years FW held this any many more things against me which explained why he needed a Sugar Baby Schmoopie. They always seem to come out with their needs not being met as the big excuse for cheating. Of course there are many other creative ones they cycle through as well. Ugh!

      • That’s a pretty common one in the textbook isn’t it. Mine said he didn’t know having a child would make him lose a girlfriend. Oh grow the fuck up. It’s an easy one needs not being met. I would say everyday my ‘needs aren’t met’ in some way but do I go round like a sad sausage acting like the world owes me a living. It’s just all easy stuff out of the handbook to log over at you. I think would admire a cheater in a small way who just said I had an affair and I am leaving. End of.

        • Yeah. There would be some redeeming value to a cheater who fesses up to an affair, apologizes sincerely, doesn’t blame the chump, is compliant throughout the divorce, agrees to a fair settlement, pays child support/alimony, and doesn’t play the role of sad sausage.

          Alas, so few seem to take this high road.

    • Coming over for weekly dinners rang my bell, too. When my now-ex and I were living apart for five months, before I knew there was an OW (a real one and the porn fantasy one he playacted he was), he’d come over every Friday for dinner, although he was the one on sabbatical, and I was teaching. When he got there, he’d grab a beer from the fridge, sit in the living room reading a magazine, never ask if he could get me anything or help, or even hang out with me in the kitchen. I used to think he wasn’t even a decent guest, let alone a husband! I have no idea what his motivation in coming home was, because he sure didn’t want to spend time with me.

      That five months went a long way to stripping off the mask, and I didn’t even yet know about the OW, just saw the entitled behavior of a man long checked out of our marriage.

      • I’d tell my lawyer he can come over for weekly dinners if he

        A) sits at the kid’s table while the kids sit at the grown-ups table with me, because place cards are customarily arranged according to the emotional maturity level of the dinner guests.


        B) he eats out of a bowl on the floor
        like the dog he is.

        (I apologize to dogs everywhere for this joke)

    • ..”he even suggested building an apartment onto our beach house for his mistress.”
      Did he expect you would both be there at the same time, and he’d go back and forth between homes like an emperor with a harem? Did he think you’d want to set foot at your vacation retreat knowing his mistress lived on your property? How painful and cruel for him to suggest this. Shows you he was living in fantasy land. Yes, he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. No conscience.

    • I got “I’ll still be friends with her, but you’ll be my first choice and she’ll be my second choice.” Oh, HELL NO!! How do these FWs even think of these things? Best not to try to untangle that skein unless you want to lose your mind.

      • Ugh, I got this too. He told me right before I moved back (WHY?) that he wasn’t going to cut off his friendship with OW because “what if we don’t work out? Then I’ll have nothing.” I still went back. And he kept having an affair with her. I was a mess in those days. JFC, I’d never do that now.

  • “I think people like this just play act at life. He did the role of Supportive Husband and now, for an encore, he’ll spout a few lines like an old hack playing King Lear. “Remember your belly band, Jackie!” Husband Who Cares was one of his many starring roles — give a round of applause! Then he goes back stage, wipes off the greasepaint, and fucks the OW.”

    Utterly profound, CL. This is who FW turned out to be after being with him for 20 years. A year later, and my mind is finally coming around to the idea that people like this actually exist. He just plays a character for what ever the situation is or for whatever end he is trying to obtain. There is no one really there. Once you see, you can’t unsee.

    • “He just plays a character for whatever the situation is or for whatever end he is trying to obtain.” Ugh. Yep. During the past three year of trying to reconcile with my STBX, his extreme people-pleasing tendencies have become much more clear. I’m not sure some of these disordered people are fully aware that they are LIKE THIS. In other words, I think some have grown up and into being a chameleon. But bc it’s all they’ve ever known – the shapeshifting – it feels normal to them.

  • “He has an empty elevator shaft where his soul should be.”

    correct. for some reason i immediately pictured how chumps fall down the elevator shaft where their X’s soul should be, kinda like the mission impossible movies. free falling through space, headed to a concrete basement.

    but there’s a miraculous updraft in the form of CL, and it halts the crash at the bottom of the shaft, thank god. and she provides safety gear, too.

  • Weirdly the same in my short marriage minus pregnancies. Happy and super loving, then distant, then robotic and pouff he’s leaving. He walked in the door from a business trip a completely different person.
    FW used the exact same words….’ growing apart’ ( I thought we were actually growing together as it was a new marriage). Swore there wasn’t an OW, just a good friend he talked to ( but he left me for the OW ‘friend’). Apparently we hadn’t been ‘happy’ and obviously neither of us liked living together! That was news to me.

    He was also worried about me and came over the months following to do nice things, and show me what a great guy he was ( I was traumatized, confused and depressed, so I let him.

    Later he admitted if OW hadn’t come along we’d still be together, living our life – which was a good life. She was married with young kids, but just so ‘fantastic.’ They had a connection.

    People are so disposable to this type of person.

    • My ex told me he’d met someone else as he came back from a business trip. He told me as I opened the door and he stood there in the doorway. Apparently leaving after a trip happens a lot.

      • Yes, I’ve heard that. I’ve heard it’s because we are out of sight and they are fantasizing and or corresponding a lot with the fantasy 0W (who are working it). I’ve also read that narcissist forget about you when they don’t actually see you. I preferred to talk on the phone rather than FaceTime, but I found out later they were FaceTiming when he was away on business trips.
        It’s easier for them to detach when they don’t have to come home and see you every day.

  • Jackie, I discovered the cheating when I was pregnant with my third (STIs discovered at pre-natal appointment). I had a 2 year old and 5 year old. A 1 yr old is harder because they are still so little but some things that helped me through those days after I kicked him out but was still pregnant with 2 littles (and working): 1. release yourself from expectations and Mom guilt. Be radically compassionate with yourself.
    My kids got a lot of screen time. PBS Kids was my co-parent. Keeping it to PBS Kids eased my guilt a little because at least it was “educational” and slower moving than some of the other kids stuff.
    My kids would do Play Doh for hours. It would last even longer if I made my own dough and they had to knead in the food coloring themselves. The stained hands were worth it. I went to a warehouse store and bought a big bag of rice which I dumped into a long, shallow, under the bed storage bin that I could put in the bathtub (with no water). I’d bury small toys and treats and plop the kids in the bin and let them get digging. Keeping it in the bathtub kept the rice that spilled out contained and easy to clean up. When I couldn’t bend over to pick up toys I used a dust mop to push all their toys to one corner, or under a table and call that good (hardwood floors). I don’t know if they’re even open anymore because of Covid but McDonalds playplaces were also helpful. More contained and easier to supervise than an open park. And WiFi.
    Unfortunately, I let the cheater move back home a few days after the birth of the baby. It was my 3rd C-section and I couldn’t lift the baby out of his carrier or crib, or really do anything that required a twist and lift, so someone needed to be there. We tried wreckonciliation (one of my favorite CN phrases) for about 3 years before it all fell apart. We’ve now been divorced for 4 years. We had a 70/30 custody split but his weekends with the kids slowly dwindled this past year and now he just takes them to dinner about once a month. The kids don’t really seem to care. I’m happier than ever. I worried about how the stress I experienced during my pregnancy would affect my 3rd but he is the sunshine in my days. He is happy, sweet, curious. Looking back, I don’t know how I survived and it feels like a dream. But trust me, it will be so much better on the other side of the pain and without him in the picture. You got this!

    • Movingontomeh- How kind of you to share real solutions. You’re amazing!

    • Just noting that this is so extremely close to my story. Initial d-day while I was pregnant with my third. I gave myself permission to do whatever would relieve stress during pregnancy and mostly never even saw him. I told him I never wanted to even hear his voice. But in the fog of the new baby, he moved back in. Four years later, d-day number two. I hate that I wasted those years, but I also have no idea how I would have done it on my own. Sometimes you only have strength to get through each day. It’s now four years after d-day number two, and I’m happy to report I’ve been divorced for 18 months. It is such a long road. But I’m so so glad to be on the other side of that relationship. I’m so much happier than I ever was in marriage. Speaking of not having been happy for some time…

  • The OW was my ex’s sounding board, too. It blew my mind that he thought she was an appropriate person with whom to discuss whether he should leave his wife.

      • Me three. Younger, attractive, subordinate at work – great choice for a ‘friend’ to talk to!

        • same here except the howorker in my situation has a very ugly face. As a borderline-average looking person, I don’t feel bad saying that at all. She does have great fake tits tho, so she must be really deep.

        • Same here.

          Except she’s actually rather plain, she just puts a lot of paint on her face, and when she was trying to snare/keep FW away from me, she dressed like a $10 hooker.

  • Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

    One of my favorite things is setting up boundaries and making it known that the only involvement we have is the kids, it’s so nice to say you’re not a part of life like you think you are. Nothing gets her going when she starts with a rude text and I get to say the conversation is over and you’re not a part of my life like that.

  • In retrospect, I would have benefitted from trauma counseling after my ex husband dumped me with absolutely no warning. Having your life completely upended out of the blue is a trauma, similar to any other catastrophic event. I was so blindsided and just trying to make it through the days it didn’t occur to me at the time, but maybe it can help someone else.

    • I got a trauma therapist and she was amazing. The first person to tell me I had a right to feel angry (it didn’t make me a bad person), and who told me I’d basically been living a war zone for years. I had PTSD, panic attacks, couldn’t sleep or eat. It is definitely trauma to be cheated on.

  • If you didn’t want the kid, I hope you seriously thought about abortion. It wouldn’t be fair to bring them into a home where they aren’t wanted. I grew up in a home like that, where I was told I wasn’t wanted. It feels awful.

  • I really wish we knew what happened to Jackie. I am 2 years into a similar situation. While I am so much better off fuckwit-free, I still grieve for my kids. Every time they are over at the other house, I worry. my 3 yo cannot swim and they have a pool with no gate.

    • I also wonder what happened to Jackie.
      TSINMS, even if a pool gate/fence isn’t required by law in your jurisdiction, common sense should prevail. Talk to your lawyer ASAP about the situation. Perhaps you could help FW see common sense by addressing this danger to your kids in the custody agreement?

    • I agree with BB, get with a lawyer and make it a safety issue. My 2 year old great niece drowned many years ago and it was a horrific time.

      Drowning was a huge fear of mine for my grandchildren. They both loved the water, but also their mom and dad were very cautious, so that helped.

  • Yeah, I had one of those amazingly perfect “Husbands Who Care”… until he got tired of posing and ultimately dropped the act. If you’re not prepared for the Jekyll/Hyde conversion, it can be a shock.

    • It really is a shock. I am pretty sure my fw was living a double life for quite a few years, if not our whole marriage; but I was unaware.

      I was busy building a life, helping him in his community endeavors, raising my child. He evidently was enough of a sex fiend that maintaining an active sex life with his wife whom he secretly never loved was no problem with him.

  • Jackie, I do hope that you got away with a good settlement. Hopefully being in the military, he’s going to be out of the area and will just see the kids a few times a year.

    A friend of mine put in the “family dinner” clause in the first custody order, and it immediately went really bad. When her ex wanted it changed so that he only had the kids every other weekend instead of 50/50, she had her attorney stall and complain, and then only agree if they dropped the family dinner. Frankly, the whole thing was a win for her because she got more time with the kids and no more dinners.

  • Leaving after a business trip is described in the book. “Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal” by therapist Vikki Stark. She talks about how they use their time away to emotionally disconnect from their partners, and usually have secretly monkey-treed to someone new. I got this around the same time I got LACGAL, and highlighted almost everything in my copy.
    Although I’m not military, a book about divorce and military spouses turned up in my Little Free Library, so I read it then returned it. I don’t know the author, but she was a military and it had a lot of good info specific to their situations.

  • Story of my life, except i wasn’t pregnant, our kids were 5 & 7, and he showed no kindness to me at all — even fake kindness. The Christmas after he left, I asked him to help me put the Christmas tree box away, and he kind of kicked at it, looked at me and said, “Chump, that’s ok, you can handle it,” and proceeded to step over it and walk out the door. When i got pregnant with our first (who was planned), he traded in his car for a 2-seater sports car. He is so beloved and well liked, i was fooled into thinking he MUST be a good guy. He has all these friends, people admire him and love spending time with him. But the truth is, he’s sparkly but completely self-centered. He sparkles for the attention. I got busy with life, work and 2 kids, and he lost interest. My replacement somehow juggles it all, which is baffling to me. But if she was even half paying attention, then she knows what he expects, and she’ll keep it up if she wants to keep him. They are empty shells of human beings. Devoid of soul and compassion. You’re better off. That said, i am truly sorry, because i know it hurts. Take care of yourself and those sweet kids. Sorry their dad is a f-wit.

  • Why why why did he encourage another baby? They aren’t whimmy, disposable objects, for goodness sake. I just cannot. That’s crazy. My ex pulled this but at least he didn’t want another kid beforvtge big ditch. I don’t get that (among the many other things cheaters do).

    • “I think people like this just play act at life. He did the role of Supportive Husband and now, for an encore, he’ll spout a few lines like an old hack playing King Lear.

      Maybe a Friday challenge? Roles in their Fuckwit Filmography

      For the Kunty Kibbler:

      Cool Girlfriend Who Subscribes to Playboy And Wants To Do Everything That UXworld Wants To Do (1996-1998)
      Fiancee Who Talks About Registering And Wedding 24/7 (1998-2000)
      Newlywed Who Wants A House And A Pregnancy RIGHT FUCKING NOW (2000-2002)
      Stay-At-Home Mom Who Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way Yet “Has No Life” (2002-2007)
      Simmering Malcontent Temporarily Distracted By Relocation To A New State (2007-2011)
      Spouse Resentful That Family Financial Adviser Forces Her To Get A Job (2011-2015)
      Open Marriage Proponent Finally Becoming “The Person I Was Always Meant To Be” (2015-2016)
      Free Spirit Whose Only Burden Is A Bitter and Cruel Ex-Husband Who Makes Things Difficult (2016-2017)
      Divorcee Who Smokes, Collects Tattoos, and Shows Off New Writer Boyfriend (2017-2019)
      Newlywed Who Wants A New House In A New State RIGHT FUCKING NOW (2019-present)

  • I made one weekly dinner for my XW, the week she moved out (for the sake of the kids). I somehow thought that the dinner dynamic would be better – that since she wasn’t living in the house she’d behave as a guest rather than as an entitled FW. I was wrong. She blatantly texted her AP (in violation of our “no phones at the table” rule, also), refused to help set the table or clear the table (she was on Facebook while all the kids and I were washing dishes), and didn’t thank me or show any appreciation of the effort I’d gone to. Basically, she acted the same way she’d been acting for months in the marriage. It’s not behavior I’d accept from a guest (not that any of my dinner guests have ever been that rude, actually), so I never invited her into my house again.

    This is just to say: don’t be under the illusion that your XH getting his way (no more family! 24/7 access to the AP!) will improve his attitude or behavior towards you. I advocate minimizing contact as much as possible, which is certainly not compatible with you being legally forced to cook for him once a week.

  • CL, I wish that could run in place of every agony aunt advice column out there. This is succinct and perfect.

  • I hope Jackie is living her best life now. As for the question of why these people flip so quickly, I think CL is spot on. There’s no “there” there to begin with. That doesn’t mean they don’t have overpowering emotions or are total ciphers even if they appear robotic at times. It may even be that their raging, self-centered, infantile internal life is so intense that it blocks out the ability to feel anything else for anyone else (poor dears). But they’re just not who they seem to be on the surface. Furthermore, it could be more dangerous than we’re led to believe. If anyone still feels compelled to untangle further (but not in the direction of “forgiving” fuckwits, quite the other direction– understanding how potentially dangerous these freaks can be and running like your hair’s on fire), read up on batterer psychology. It’s all there give or take broken ribs and cracked skulls. That includes chumps dealing with female FWs. The syndrome might more often manifest in extreme ways in men but there are enough women who fit the profile or there wouldn’t be so many witting female side dishes who show their propensity through proxy abuse.

    I recommend (as I usually do) Donald Dutton’s The Batterer. Also any of his other books and studies though The Batterer seems the most accessible. Dutton researched batterers in prison settings for decades without seeming to have identified with his subjects. He calls for stiffer punishments for batterers, arguing that it’s the only thing that statistically even slightly dents recidivism though the overall warning is that few ever significantly change. Unlike John Gottman (who shifted from writing about DV to becoming a RIC guru), Dutton doesn’t provide flashy “categories” for batterers though he describes different flavors in behavior and psychology between abusers which I think apply very well to types of cheaters. If I remember correctly (not a complete list) Dutton describes loose and overlapping categories of abusers like the heavily borderline types who are all sloppy emotions, overt infantile dependence on partners, possessiveness, self pity, tears, paranoia and chaos. There are coldblooded antisocial types who may be violent/criminal beyond the family and then what Dutton describes as the most statistically lethal type who display something called “masked dependency.” Gottman’s “Cobra” and “Pit Bull” classifications for batterers feel like cutesy, artificially delineated simplifications of the above that lack subtlety and don’t get as nitty gritty about coercive/psychological control as a chief component of DV as Dutton does. But then Dutton is drier and not that populist, basing arguments on (yawn) his own and others’ peer reviewed research and carefully distinguishing informed supposition (calls for further studies) from things that can be backed up with fact. Dutton also carefully squashes a lot of mythology surrounding battering, including the typical take that victims are all hot messes to begin with. He also nods to the existence of female abusers without tarring all victims under the “takes two to tango” view.

    The devil is really in the details that the RIC/CSAT carefully leave out. Without the subtleties, it’s harder to see the overlap between subviolent abuse and physical violence. So speaking of cheaters who seem to suddenly flip, take the “masked dependent” type of batterer as an example. I bring it up a lot because there are so many stories of FWs who seem to suddenly shift from devoted partner to coldly or viciously abusive and discarding. Dutton describes this type as not typically displaying overtly traditional gender expectations like the sloppier or more generally antisocial abusers might. They might seem politically correct on the surface. They also don’t commonly express jealousy or possessiveness, but apparently this is what makes them particularly dangerous because it’s all boiling subconsciously under the surface until it explodes. My understanding is that, like the emotionally sloppy abusers, masked dependents harbor the same type of attachment disordered, internally-generated and shifting/dueling infantile terrors of either abandonment or “engulfment” by partners but they deny and hide these things (possibly from extreme shame over the “weakness” of dependency on partners) even to themselves and are even more dissociative. From working in advocacy for survivors, I started thinking of it as the “Manchurian candidate” syndrome. They were pre-programmed and waiting to explode like land mines but part of that training was to carefully keep all the aggression in the realm of the unconsious. The abuser is able to maintain and live out a projected image of themselves that they deeply believe in until something triggers the “flip.” They really don’t consciously know what they’re going to do until they do it and then show even less control of their actions than other types of abusers which may be why their explosions can statistically be more injurious or lethal. That could potentially be applied to sudden explosions of betrayal/psychological abuse: maybe this type is more likely to drive victims to suicidality. Dutton argues that this type also shows particularly poor recall of their own destructive behavior. They confabulate memories, can’t report what they do or why they do it, so Dutton appears to take perps’ self representation with a giant grain of salt and puts the pieces together from patterns and evidence rather than perpetrator narratives.

    In pop-psych I think this kind of psyche is commonly described as “compartmentalized” which makes it sound kind of banal and maybe a bit sad sausage– because childhood trauma! Nevertheless, considering FOO issues can be interesting and provide a few clues for the sudden shift as well as the danger that implies. Take Chris Watts with his coke-head dad and denialist, victim-blaming mom who displayed what looked like covertly incestuous competition with Shanann to the point of endangering her own grandchildren (giving the allergic child peanut ice cream against Shanann’s explicit warnings). Watts had reportedly never been violent to his wife before. On the surface he seemed to support his wife’s career and be kind of feministy. It appears he cheated before but seemed not to have been as fixated as he became on Nichol Kessinger. To me it looked like a Manchurian candidate shift. Why? Did Nichol smell like mommy in some psychological sense? Was the fact that mommy had just begun a war with Shanann and seemed to be giving subtle orders to sacrifice Shanann and their children in that moment the trigger for Watts to replace Shanann with a mommy-scented Schmoopie who, the night before the murders, had texted Watts the thrash metal song “Battery” that included the line “killing the family”? This isn’t to go all Freudian and blame “mommy” or “damned wymins” for everything. Who knows if this doesn’t involve an exchange where formerly victimized individuals who’ve gone rogue intuitively know that green-lighting the aggression they sensed in other people around them is a way to stay on the “safe” side of that aggression. But I sense it’s a terrifying dynamic between extremely manipulative, unreflective people who each fear each other for different reasons so that it’s the dynamic or exchange that’s so “familiar” and compelling and can act as a trigger. I’ve heard stories of women being battered after a male friend of the abuser (due to daddy issues or homoerotic undertones?) felt threatened by time and attention spent on the victim. These women felt as if their abusers were responding to “orders.” Then advocates would try to point out that someone capable of responding to orders in this way is incredibly dangerous in their own right and can’t be absolved of their own conduct like the “agentic” study subjects in Milgrim’s experiment.

    Just something I started suspecting while working as an advocate. I think that some abusers/cheaters (virtually all batterers cheat, so…), even those who may have had previous but not very intense affairs or “indiscretions,” might not totally “flip” to overtly discarding or attacking their primary partners until they encounter a particular type of “supply” that reflects unresolved childhood whatever, likely smelling of the right melange of psychopath/narcissist. In a strange sense, these cheaters/abusers could be captor bonding with someone they sense is dangerous in the same way as an abusive or incestuous adult from their past had been. It may be compulsive reenactment in which they try to replay past events with the hopes of finally achieving a better outcome. It could explain the sudden, hateful disloyalty to partners, as if these abusers were reporting for duty to a higher authority and that fear could be underlying the motives to offer the new supply the scalp of the former. What I thought was poetic about this idea is that victims have traditionally been accused of “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and reenacting childhood dysfunction but what if it’s really abusers who are the most prone to doing this? What if abusers themselves periodically get burned by pursuing relationships in which they’re reenacting past dysfunction and then, while licking wounds, view chumps as a departure from the pattern (then get bored and go back to factory setting)? Maybe I just like ideas that mess with victim-blamey traditional assumptions but I with there were studies on this.

    In any case, did anyone else notice how banal and trancey (“compartmentalized”) Watts seemed even in videos taken before his affair and the murders of his family? I would wonder if he had conscious idea what he was capable of before he did it. He had that same air of suddenly standing it attention like a trained soldier and “following orders.” I also suspect that Dutton’s analysis might apply in that Watts obscured to police what may have been the real reason he killed his wife and children: because Shanann had just threatened to leave him, flipping him from his terror of engulfment back to terror of abandonment. Typical of a masked dependent, Watts would have hidden, even from himself, his own pathological dependency on his primary partner even to the point of admitting the more heinous MO of killing her and their children to get them out of the way of an affair. It kind of fits.

    Anyway, I suspect that once anyone sees the overlaps between domestic abuse and cheating/sexual aggression, they can’t be unseen even by people in the throes of desperately dosing with hopium. Equivocating battering to cheating has a bonus of cutting past the RIC’s bullshit (including the degree to which sex addiction/CSAT therapy involves itself in reconciliation) because the RIC is all about obscuring the association by changing the definitions of what constitutes abuse just like abusers are all about obscuring the association by changing the definition. If confronted with the incontrovertible evidence of what they’ve done, the psychological torturer says, “But I didn’t cheat on him/her.” The cheater says, “But I didn’t hit him/her.” The hitter says, “But I didn’t punch him/her.” The puncher says, “But I didn’t stomp him/her.” The stomper says, “But I didn’t shoot him/her” and on and on until the victim is dead. The big, dangerous lie is that it’s not all on the same continuum and so there’s no possibility of sliding from one to the next.

    To quote Holocaust survivor and historian, shifting definitions could be seen as a “precious service rendered to the negators of truth.” Any kind of truth in whatever sphere. I think it has political ramifications beyond the interpersonal.

    Nobody sees the bland, trancey, compartmentalized ones coming but they should. Humanity has received warnings, which also shows how obfuscation of the link between psychological abuse and overt violence and the scuttling of red flags and definitions by trendy pop psych outfits like the RIC/CSAT is even politically dangerous in a sense. Bland, banal and compartmentalized are also the way in which political philosophers like Hannah Arendt describe certain Nazi participants in the Holocaust. Arendt has such contempt for “banal” functionaries of evil that she doesn’t concern herself with discussions of FOO issues and sexual manifestations of political perversion. But Nabokov and Kafka do (at least for aspects of sexual/political perversity) and current filmmaker Pablo Larrain seems to have made the exploration his life’s work. People are probably more familiar with Larrain’s English language biopics of famous, subtly-victimized women like “Jackie” and “Spencer.” But his more balls-out, Spanish language explorations of the political significance of sexual betrayal and violence really expand on Arendt’s theory of the compartmentalized/banal functionaries of tremendous evil. I hope I’m not doing Larrain an injustice by summarizing his overall gist: that if you want to know how your friends and neighbors will behave in the case your country is overtaken by a violent dictatorship, thou shalt know them by their secret sexual aggression and perviness. In Post Mortem, Larrain focuses on a banal, shy, wormy assistant coroner who, just moments before Pinochet’s violent military coup in Chile, develops a sudden, flash-of-lightning fixation on the showgirl who lives across the street and then immediately and cruelly dumps his lover/coworker. It’s interesting that the wormy protagonist accuses the spurned lover of being a floozy since the showgirl is numbly promiscuous and doesn’t seem capable of loving anyone or anything. Spoiler alert: the way in which the wormy coroner incrementally relies on state terrorism as a means to entrap and control the showgirl overlaps with the way he incrementally betrays his coworkers seems to be an illustration of how terror regimes take and maintain power– because wormy little compartmentalized nobodies see their chance to let their sexual freak flags fly. Larrain’s “The Club” follows a similar arch but in the context of church sexual abuse facilitated by dictatorship. “Compartmentalization” runs thick in the latter film as the bland, banal central characters are slowly exposed as monsters and enablers. In his first film “Fuga,” there’s another association made about pedophilic rape and political opportunism among functionaries of terror states with an added note of how childhood victims can become perpetrators. The latter sort of relates to dissociation and compartmentalization.

    That there’s my thinking on the “sudden flip.” Very, very scary. People should know just how scary. Obviously I’ve been mulling it over for a long time so forgive the length of this.

    • A family in New York City got national, and probably international, coverage because of the absolute horror of what happened to a child in that house. This was a well-to-do family. They adopted a girl and the father beat her to death by the time she was six or seven years old. His wife had been so beaten down by him that when she went on the witness stand she looked absolutely nothing like her original picture. Her face was pulverized. I don’t know if she was found guilty or not, my memory is not that good but he appeared to the outside world as a good guy. There are probably exceptions because no one who knew the wife could have failed to see the change in her. These people are very scary.

      • The Lisa Steinberg case. The father was a doctor and the mother was also highly educated from fancy schools.

      • God I remember that. It was the first severe child abuse case I ever heard about and it traumatized me. This was in a movie theater and my friend’s parents were talking about it with other adults in earshot. The theater smelled like burning popcorn which I somehow mixed up with the mental image of a child who’d been beaten to death. I could picture it. To this day if I smell burning popcorn I feel like I’m going to throw up. I also can’t watch kung fu movies because that’s what was playing. Now the idea of it lingers because Joel Steinberg was considered reputable so no one stopped the abuse of his two adopted children and partner.

      • Thanks, ISTL. Ah, I’d need another degree in something like criminal or forensic psych to qualify being lead author of anything related. Advocacy isn’t a clinical setting but you see a lot on the ground that substantiates some existing studies while negating others and eventually it can string existing research together into new amalgamated theories that could in turn pave the way for meaningful new research. A lot of this puzzle-solving is done by survivors themselves and the results can be mind-blowing.

        One thing you wouldn’t see in a clinical setting is survivors getting up, dancing around and laughing in joy in reaction to some seemingly dry piece of new research because it corrects false assumptions that had been used as sticks to beat them with in literal ways (being refused orders of protection or medical care, losing custody of children because they “let” themselves be abused, being arrested under dubious “dual arrest” policies for defending themselves, etc.).

        For better or worse, science is the new religion in the developed world and is consequently intensely political. It can either weaponize perpetrator narratives or exonerate victims from manufactured blame. This is why I think people fighting for their lives can so quickly become science literate. It’s out of recognition that modern laws and policies are often formed from scientific theory and that the “voice of scientific authority” may influence bystander perceptions and official response by which survivors and their children live or die.

        In other words, in order to participate in democracy these days, one has to be functionally science-literate enough to detect commercial junk science, which is probably why the establishment frequently rails against the “democratization of science.” It’s not really the flourishing of “woo” that’s feared (and, ironically, the public being science-illiterate only promotes woo) but loss of power. It’s kind of like 10th century prohibitions against translating biblical texts. Reading books like David Price’s Weaponizing Anthropology, Hugh Gusterson’s Nuclear Rites or Peter Breggin’s The War Against Children of Color really brings the point home.

        In the meantime I’ve edited or researched for actual experts. It’s a way to slip ideas into print because in the end I don’t really care who gets the ideas out there as long as they get out there.

    • “That could potentially be applied to sudden explosions of betrayal/psychological abuse: maybe this type is more likely to drive victims to suicidality.”

      This is a major insight among many of your excellent musings HOAC. I believe my cheater wanted me to suicide so it would be “hands off” (no harm / no foul by him personally) and – bonus! – it also meant “problem solved” as in I would no longer be an obstacle to him and OW enjoying their happy ending. Not to mention the numerous other benefits to him of gaining 100% of all the marriage assets, control of the narrative, playing the role of sad sausage aka grieving widower (loads of kibbles here) and in a *suitable* time frame (read:socially acceptable mourning period) sneak OW into the new picture. He was very much the Chris Watts type and his mother scarily matched too. I ended up in a psych hospital such was the degree of trauma and emotional abuse inflicted on me after the abandonment and subsequent DDay(s). I absolutely thought **trigger alert** that my own death was my way out of the living hell my previously perfect life (mirage TM per VH) had become.
      There are also overlaps on the masked dependency and the homoerotic undertones in his circle leading to the probable suggestibility of abuse by several of my cheater’s “friends” who I thought had an unhealthy interest in our relationship and often targeted me with criticism and I don’t doubt a lot more was covertly said or perhaps maybe implied to add up to a “toxic sphere of influence” too. Or a Manchurian candidate activation. Who knows. It no longer matters and I am free.

      Thank you HOAC for continuing to unpack the danger of the under-researched and vastly under-reported “nice guy” sub-violent batterer for our communal benefit here. It’s critical and important work and has greatly helped me personally in my recovery journey.

      • Samsara– Your comment has inspired me to write to some “real experts” about this dead serious subject. After the Watts and Dulos cases and my own experience as an advocate, the fact that high rates of cheating among batterers is rarely if ever mentioned in tomes on domestic abuse or coercive control seems strange and possibly political. Batterer jealousy and paranoia about partners cheating on them is a frequent theme but not batterer cheating or elements of battering within cheating.

        Again because science is the new religion, forms laws and policies and because it’s obvious from Perel’s and RIC-style psychobabble that the opposition understands this perfectly, I can see the need for a book devoted to framing infidelity as a form of coercive control and battering and doing it in a scientific framework. I’ve noticed that advocacy organizations in the UK are starting to include cheating as a form of intimate partner violence but I think that’s because advocates typically see what’s happening on the ground more than clinicians.

        There’s one more possibility to consider regarding why your ex-monster seemed determined to drive you to your death: so he wouldn’t have to worry about you moving on to a new partner and a better life and, most important to FWs, a better sex life with which to negatively compare his prowess. He would not have enjoyed his “freedom” to do this had you had the same freedom so destroying you was a way of ensuring that this wouldn’t haunt him. Of course not having to share assets could play a part but oddly enough, this heinous conscious motive seems less shameful to someone with masked dependency than the motive of sexual control/territoriality/possessiveness towards intimate partners which is a primary element of masked dependency and why the whole thing is masked to begin with. In that sense, devaluing is preemptive sour grapes in the abuser’s hopes that they can convince themselves that no one else will want the victim or that the victim will be too broken to ever love again. Or dead. I’ve even surmised that the “Houdinis” who suddenly disappear and ghost their LT partners while seeming to never look back merely want their last impression of their victims– lying bleeding in the gutter calling the abuser’s name– to be frozen in time and to remain unchallenged by updates of the victim– oh no– recovering, moving on, etc. It’s a way of killing someone in one’s mind. Anyone who’s ghosted in this way should consider that the other alternative their abusers were seriously mulling may have been murder. They run so fast and hard in order to stay out of jail.

  • I think many times they seemingly flip so quickly is they disengaged long before they told us. Just waiting for the most opportune time for them.

    Doesn’t make what they are doing to another human being any better, but they are just way ahead of us in pulling away.

    • I agree SusieLee, they disengage long before they tell us. I was devastated at D-day, it was incomprehensible to me. He was calm as can be and very annoyed I wouldn’t stop crying. His response was that it was hard for him to get upset, when this is who he was for the last 20 years!
      My devastation was new though, but very telling how that took a back seat to where he was personally with all this. He didn’t have the patience for my reaction. He wanted me up to speed and on the same page with him so I could see why he was leaving with his mistress and we could all just move along.
      They gave us caring about us long before we ever knew we had an issue.

      • Yep, and it doesn’t mean CL is not right in that there is no there there. If they had really bonded to us as we did to them, they likely would not have pulled the same shit.

        I know I never could have. You just don’t treat a human that way.

        But chances are that had we caught them the first time, they would not have been ready yet, so we might have gotten the “unicorn” treatment for a while. Lets be honest, they were always going to lie and cheat. Sure there might be some exceptions, but I doubt many.

      • Chumpasaurus45…the fact that they had already “checked out” of the marriage long before our discard is what is still painful all these years later. Here we are going about life as usual with our spouse while unbeknownst to us there is hatred, resentment, disdain & disgust towards us & we had no clue. I remember my therapist saying early on that ending the marriage was a decision they made in advance & had already worked through the details & that they are actually taken back at how shocked we are because it seemed so simple to them that they are moving on.

        • “the fact that they had already “checked out” of the marriage long before our discard is what is still painful all these years later.”

          Exactly it is heinous to treat another human that way; but they are getting themselves in position to cause themselves as little pain and inconvenience as possible. They simply don’t care how it hurts us.

        • Hurt—Your post perfectly says what I feel…100 percent. At the age of 64 I dont want to have this pain of having been blissfully ignorant of the disdain and resentment to linger and remain unresolved for years. The possibility of that makes me sad. My therapist told me EXACTLY what yours told you…..sending you understanding, support, and a hug.

        • “I remember my therapist saying early on that ending the marriage was a decision they made in advance & had already worked through the details & that they are actually taken back at how shocked we are because it seemed so simple to them that they are moving on.”
          Gosh, this is so spot on, Hurt. My ex was completely dumbfounded by my reaction, he’d already crunched all the numbers, dotted all the i’s and it was purely just a logical conclusion that the marriage should be ended and everyone just move on. “ People get divorced Chump 45”, is what he said to me. Like just get over it, it’s not as big of a deal as you make it out to be. I’ve already moved on a long time ago and now it’s time you did the same.
          The lack of empathy in someone we believed loved us is astounding to me still.
          And your are right, here we are going about life as usual and trying to justify their reactions to things out of a place of love and concern, not hate, disgust and disdain like they were radiating to us. That wasn’t even a place we would even consider existed.
          The confusion is what kept me in the game as long as I stayed, I thought he had a mental illness and I wanted to be there to support him. I had no clue how far he pushed me out of his life and just wanted to break free of the old wife and family drudgery and move on to more exciting adventures. It’s all surreal.

          • Chumpasaurus45…yes, the “crunching of numbers.” Ex was an engineer so of course his plan to move on out of our life was plotted & calculated. While still in shock just after dday he presented me with a spread sheet of how the financials were to be divided – way, way skewed in his favor of course. I even saw the outline he took to his attorney’s office less than 2 weeks after dday. One of the top bullet points was “other women – who needs to know right now.”

            • Its’t it astounding that they think they will control the law and the chump even after stomping them into the ground.

              The fw in my case called me and told me he had it worked out that I would get this and do that and what he would get and do. Basically it left me chained to our marital house and the only small house we owned, while his mother still lived in the small rental house. He of course would kick in a small rent each month but I would have to agree to let his mother live there for her life.

              My response: I am not talking about the D settlement.

              His response: If we don’t do it this way, I am selling everything and there will be nothing.

              My response: Knock yourself out big boy. Then I hung up the phone.

              He called back about 20 minutes later and apologized. I am pretty sure as sad sack as his trailer park lawyer was, he told him to call back and apologize.

              (He didn’t give two shits about his mother when he and whore were sneaking around and lying to everyone.)

    • I agree Susie, they want what’s best for themselves- so they wait…..weigh their options, wait for the kids to get older etc

      • Yep, and of course they don’t want us to have an inkling because they need to keep us in place until they are ready.

    • I agree that some traitors shift and fake before they pull the rug. On the other hand, I’ve seen people flip in a hot minute, Manchurian candidate style. That doesn’t mean the potential wasn’t there all along in people who mistake infantile dependency for love. Dependency can be shifted from one target to the next unlike actual love and a lot of rage and resentment can unconsciously build up under that kind of dependency (because the partner has the power to abandon even if they don’t or wouldn’t, which narcissistic egos can’t tolerate). It seems that this kind of pathological dependency doesn’t have to be earned with “lovability” either, but is probably more about the promise that “supply” might precisely fill the holes that are always forming in the souls of disordered people. It’s a bit like the way chimps immediately accept new alphas the second the old alpha is killed by a rival. It’s also the way beta chimps who had, for all appearances, shown deep and groveling loyalty to one alpha but, in a space of a second, can rise up and murder the alpha they’d previously wholeheartedly worshiped just because the opportunity arose.

      Basically I think this attests that human beings stripped by whatever means of the capacity for love “devolve” to primordial factory setting and become nasty, dangerous monkeys. It might explain why FWs can be so beguiling and convincing at first: many may really believe their own bullshit until the second they just don’t.

      • >Dependency can be shifted from one target to the next unlike actual love and a lot of rage and resentment can unconsciously build up under that kind of dependency (because the partner has the power to abandon even if they don’t or wouldn’t, which narcissistic egos can’t tolerate).

        I learn so much from your comments HOAC. I quoted my favorite parts of your post. However I don’t really trust talk of alpha/beta. It sounds too much like the not so great side of Elon Musk.

  • “I think people like this just play act at life. He did the role of Supportive Husband and now, for an encore, he’ll spout a few lines like an old hack playing King Lear…He’d like to do some encore production numbers for your son on Skype in Daddy Who Cares!”

    I am so glad I saw this post today because I needed this clarity so badly. My FW has professionally supervised visits with our daughter. In addition to cheating on me, FW watched porn in front of our baby when she was 6 months old, was playing interactive, pornographic games with lolichan and incest themes, and had a Google search for “Teen Dating app” in his phone. He only moved across the street when we separated, so there’s this constant pressure from him when I run into him for me to just let him come over while I’m home so I can supervise and he can see his daughter and “assure her I haven’t abandoned her”, as if its my job to help him with navigating any of that. He’ll also occasionally say patronizing things to me like “I hope what I’ve done doesn’t break you forever, mowmow. You deserve to be happy and healed someday.” (while he gets therapy on my health insurance because the divorce restraining orders keep me from booting him off entirely. So infuriating!!) Its all play-acting…he didn’t give two figs about how his actions would impact my happiness when he was hiding them from me. When we first separated, he was telling all our neighbors that my taking custody from him was a sign that I’ve become just as overbearing as my mom, which hurt like hell because my mom has been stalking me for 6 years now, following me to every apartment or house I’ve moved to and moving either right next door or within a block or two of me to “prevent me from cutting contact with our family”, as she has admitted to me. Consequently the neighbors all think I took our daughter away from a “good” father and are giving him advice on how to get custody back from me and “that crazy family” (as one of them said, never mind that for the last 4 years it was FW himself who refused to let me sell the house and move the hell away from her.) My therapist told me to pay less attention to his pleas to see his daughter and more attention to what he’s actually doing, which is doing image management with the neighbors by downplaying his actions and smearing my name, and short-changing his daughter by not paying the full amount of his court-ordered child support (and requesting that the courts lower the amount entirely!) He’ll drop off $30 worth of groceries at my house when he feels like it, but it’s not like I get the option to just choose when I feel like going grocery shopping for my daughter like he does, or to only spend $30 at a time. I know I’m rambling but seriously I am so glad I saw this post tonight because sometimes I start gaslighting myself and asking if I went too far with the professional supervision. The courts would have told me I was reaching too hard if that was the case though. I have to tell myself that California is a 50/50 State by default and professional supervision isn’t just handed out like candy on Halloween here. I needed this clarity so badly. Thank you!!

  • No empathy = sociopath. Faking family life = gaslighter. Entitled behaviors = narcissist.

  • Jackie, just read your story, as it is a rerun I hope you are in a much better place now, with your 2 children.
    Talk about the present, sane parent! Jackie, that is definitely YOU.

    As a Chump who was cheated on in first trimester pregnancy and having a young child, I feel your pain.
    But, in your case,I also hear your strength and your fortitude. Good for you.

    I was a mess, I pick me danced, told no one. He stayed. ( OW felt bad about taking him away from older child, and I believe he stayed as he did not have the guts to tell her about the pregnancy).
    Even though he may never have actually cheated again, it has never been easy, NEVER.

    My heart goes out to you and to your Children. Mine still do not know, but the bond between them and me is inexplainable.
    I remain their present, sane, loving parent! ❤️❤️

    Big big hugs, and love, to you & yours❤️❤️❤️

  • I can’t believe this rat did this to you…..but he’s just a rat. CL is right about what he’s like – he plays roles. He’s playing roles with the OW too. Maybe they can put on West Side Story in their living room – that shit ain’t gonna work out either. I’m so sorry he put you in this position and I wish you the best. If he wants weekly dinner, make a nice big pile of rat poison, lol. Listen to CL…..set your boundaries clearly with your lawyer, don’t deviate from them, don’t fall for the charm (especially if he comes back) and go as low contact as possible, considering your kids. Just don’t engage with his bullshit. Let him play handball in another court.

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