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Why Is He Copying Me?

Dear Chump Lady,

My ex cheated on me relentlessly, with a mind-boggling amount of women. We had four D-days before I had the strength to get the hell out of there, so yes, I’m a super chump. It’s been a couple of years, but he still reaches out and seems clueless as to why I hate him.

Recently, he texted to congratulate me for bringing HIM success in his new career choice… which is the same career as ME. I looked at his social media and saw that he’s friended all of my professional contacts, and even had the balls to ripoff one of my pieces. (I’m a commercial artist). He’s also bought the men’s version of a very distinct clothing piece I wear. (I know this is petty but WHATTHEFUCKKKK).

Not surprisingly, things did not end well between us. It feels melodramatic to call it harassment but I FEEL harassed! Why is he copying me, and how can I deal with him forging into my industry when all I want is for his sadass-self to disappear? I already hide from so many of my once favorite places, because I know I’ll run into one of his dozen cheating partners. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing I give two-Fs, but WHERE IS HIS SHAME?! Also, his work is embarrassing, and I hate the idea that he’s telling everyone that “I taught him everything he knows.” I just want to be classy and hold my head high, but God it’s exhausting.



Dear Feelingstabby,

Love your username. Yeah, an ex going all Single White Female would make me feel stabby too. I wrote about this copycat phenomenon in “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” (The cartoon I used here “An Array of Jennifers” comes from that chapter.) The same thing happened to me, and it happened to my husband with his cheating ex too, so apparently the appropriation of your core essence is a THING. Either that or changelings are real. (Keep watch over your cradles, mamas!)

So, why is he trying to morph into a off-brand Stabby facsimile? Why is he professing to love the things he was indifferent about (or perhaps even hostile to) previously? Why is he stealing your coolness? Because he has no self. He’s just a conglomeration of appropriations.

Hang on, Tracy. He has a self — he’s a serial cheater.

Well yes, Stabby, but those dating profiles don’t write themselves. He needs quirk. He needs your quirk. He requires the facade of character. You can’t expect a shallow nitwit like your ex to actually invest in real interests and develop talents — no, he’ll just steal some of yours. It might help polish his veneer of humanness.

Back in the earlier days of my chumpdom, when I didn’t understand the wisdom of no contact, I took a glance at my ex’s dating profiles and was ASTOUNDED to see him list obscure singer-songwriters I like and claim he enjoyed trips to the Neue Gallerie. WHAT?! As I wrote, the man wouldn’t know an Otto Dix painting if it bit his left nipple. Why was this freak appropriating my interests?

Same reason yours is. It’s a masterstroke of mindfuckery. First off, he’s creating a chump decoy. Mine wanted to attract another “arty hippy chick.” I was prime kibbles. So just list all the stuff Tracy likes, and the chumps will alight on his freak pond.

Your ex did one better — he became an arty hippy chick, all the better to meet other prime kibble sources like you. He probably misses your kibbles.

The other reason copycatting is masterful mindfuckery is that it upsets you. And it probably upsets his latest round of fuckbuddies too. Who can get him over the tragic breakup with Stabby The Artist Who Didn’t Sufficiently Appreciate Him? Ooh! Pick ME! I’m special! Wearing your signature look signals to the Schmoopies that they have to pick me dance harder. Take it off! Pick ME! This is a winning strategy for fuckwits — it keeps everyone off-balance.

How can I deal with him forging into my industry when all I want is for his sadass-self to disappear?

By ignoring him. By having iron boundaries of NO CONTACT. He shouldn’t be able to call you, and you shouldn’t know what the hell he’s wearing, or who he is talking to. If some mutual acquaintance reaches out and tells you what he’s up to, shut that down. “He’s pathetic and I don’t want to know what he’s up to, now or ever.”

It bears repeating — there is no louder “fuck off” to a narcissist than silence. Don’t react to his provocations. Don’t take the bait. Don’t warn everyone. Just. Keep. Being. Cool. He can’t be you, he doesn’t have the raw materials. His act is pitiful, and anyone who falls for it is an idiot you could never respect.

Remember “forging into an industry” is WORK. And these freaks don’t like work. Effort is for chumps. Wait him out, and he’ll change his focus. (Look! Shiny thing!) I promise you, he can sustain an art career about as well as he can sustain a relationship. Relax.


Oh, right there next to his wood-burned dog portrait on Etsy. Hey, this could be a Friday Challenge — WHERE IS THEIR SHAME? It’s there in his art installation of cigarette butts. It’s pickled in a tank of formaldehyde (Damien Hirst joke for all you art nerds.)

Stabby, he has no shame. Trust that he sucks. His talentless, cheating ass is out of your life. Be grateful. Keep rocking your originality. He’ll keep sucking. Nothing to worry about here.


Rerun today, because today is Save Democracy and VOTE Day! Get out there and cast your ballots! I’m off to the polls shortly. (Taking turns with Mr. CL because Monty the Puppy cannot be left alone without mournful howling. Or perhaps those are political opinions and I don’t speak Golden Retriever. Anyway… it’s a busy morning here at the Chump household.)

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “Wtf did you ever see in him?”
    “All the best parts of myself.”

    It’s especially awful when all you want is for them to just leave you alone, right?

    • I forget exactly where I heard/read it (I read and watched SO MUCH after D-day), but we often talk about narcissists/cheaters projecting on us (such as accusing the chump of cheating). It is also true that we project onto THEM. We project our character onto them, believing that they are acting from good character like ours (a place of integrity), when in fact, they are only mirroring us. (I am not saying this as elegantly as I might, it’s early.) It really helped me when I stopped ascribing good motives to FW. It was hard for me to wrap my brain around that fact that some people enjoy deception and enjoy hurting others. It’s so foreign to me. FWs use us to get good character by association. That’s why they so often choose good, honest, kind, generous people. They benefit directly and indirectly from that. Realizing that the good life we had was more my doing than his helped me move on with my life and have the courage to rebuild without him, because he didn’t take that from me. I still had all those resources within myself, things he could never have on his own. This is exactly how it panned out, with my life getting better and better, and his going down the drain (rapidly). Sparkly new AP wasn’t me and couldn’t keep his life together for him the way I had for years.

      • The mirroring thing has happened to me too (several times), where they pretend to have all these things in common, sometimes I wonder what on earth my former boyfriend was actually like because I reckon for just about each and every person he took on a new persona, and of course it never occurred to me that some people were dishonest, because I wasn’t – it just never crossed my mind that people would just so blatantly lie – unfortunately I am older and wiser now, I feel like I must have been so naiive and trusting. I wish someone had taught me about that when I was a kid, but there was not a whole of functional parenting going on when I was growing up, and of course a crap parent is not too likely to teach you to stay away from bad people – because they would effectively be ratting on their own self.

        • After my FW moved out, he left a couple boxes that he had brought with him when he moved in, but had never unpacked. I opened them to see if it was anything worth sending to his new residence, and they were full of cowboy belt buckles, roper boots, wrangler jeans. It was so bizarre. The man I knew liked the Cure, listened to Morrissey! Was very into modern art and wrote poetry. He said he had never ridden a horse. Who fucking knows who he really was. I’m so glad I don’t care anymore.

      • “Good character by association.” Beautifully said, ISawTheLight!

        We Chumps are mighty useful to FWs in this regard. I fully believe my ex doesn’t give a rat’s ass that I’m no longer in his life, but I have no doubt he sorely misses the cloak of respectability my presence offered. He was scared as shit when I walked out and filed for divorce that I would lift that veil and expose his true self, so much so that I was able to use that to my advantage during the property settlement negotiations. I remember getting a text right after I left begging me for an “amiable” resolution “given the circumstances.” (Or as the UBT would interpret it, “if people find out what I’ve been doing, my name is mud in this town.”

        This is where they sorely underestimate the power we gain when we leave and go no contact. We take the good will and good character with us. When that is gone, they are left with the constant concern that the other shoe is gonna drop at any given moment. To keep from being exposed, they are forced to mirror our good acts or our positive traits as they are empty vessels.

        • Or you can get my ex-FW who didn’t care. We lived in a large city, he’d already told people at work about drinking and rehab, his parents have money, our son already knew the truth, etc. I remember my lawyer salivating at the possibility of getting a great settlement by threatening to expose ex-FW ( and he did some crazy things like committing felony bigamy by marrying AP in Vegas while we were still married and I was still totally in the dark) but I had to tell him to let that idea go. He couldn’t believe a fellow lawyer couldn’t be bullied that way. Guess it shows just how f-ed up and narcissistic ex-FW really was.

      • ISTL “We project our character onto them, believing that they are acting from good character like ours (a place of integrity), when in fact, they are only mirroring us”

        Thanks for this, i hadn’t thought of it, but of course you’re right.

      • “This is exactly how it panned out, with my life getting better and better, and his going down the drain (rapidly). Sparkly new AP wasn’t me and couldn’t keep his life together for him the way I had for years.”

        Same here. Oh I don’t ascribe to “karma” at least not as I understand it. I do believe in “you reap what you sow” And fw kept making one bad decision after the other. Only difference was he couldn’t blame me anymore for his sad sausage-ness. That was all on him and whore.

        • I don’t believe in karma, either. But I do believe our decisions come back on us eventually.

          It was rather vindicating for me to watch things fall apart for him. I didn’t have to lift a finger. FW had blamed me for EVERYTHING that was wrong in our lives, particularly our financial issues. But my bank account kept growning and he was as broke as ever and up to his ears in debt, even though he had AP sharing expenses and I was on my own. He blamed me for his misery and his anger and his drinking, but he was just as miserable, angry, and drunk with her. He blamed me for his abuse of me (!?!?), saying that he “had” to yell or whatever because I wouldn’t listen. But he did the same thing to AP. Once I decided to leave them to their own devices, and they no longer had a convenient target, they turned on one another. She ended up leaving him. He threw away his whole life for this woman and she bailed, only a month after they moved in together (the affair had been going on for 4 years). Whoops. He put out feelers towards me, looking for sympathy, and started inviting me to do activities with him and our child or to stay to dinner when I’d drop off our son (I declined every time), but by then I felt absolutely nothing for him, and in any case would never have taken him back. So he ended up alone.

  • I enjoyed that, CL – thanks. And, with regard to elections: God be with America, God bless our democracies, and God help our nations live together with grace and growing maturity.

    Hey, you’ve got to aim high, right?

  • In my case he didn’t copy me himself, he started turning AP into me. He was very good at subtle manipulation, and would do things like compliment me in front of her, so she would in turn try to do those things that I was doing (cook my recipes, wear clothes like mine, do her hair like mine, etc.). It was truly bizarre to watch. Some of it may have been her own insecurities and trying to keep him interested in her, since he waffled a lot and asked me to move back home at one point, etc., but I think a lot of it was him trying to replicate me (at least the parts he liked, or a version of me from when we first got together). He did use some of my ideas, and did things with her that I had always wanted to do with him. It impressed her and it got under my skin (two birds, one stone). I hadn’t implemented no contact at that point.

    But like Tracy says, he can never be you because it isn’t real, it’s an imitation. Same with AP. She tried to be me, and she couldn’t, because she wasn’t me, and didn’t have my qualities. None of it stuck, as she has gone back to the way she was before, now that she’s left FW (and he died so there is no more reason to impress him in any way, even as revenge). FW thought he could simply replicate our life with her in my place. But our life was in large part because of me, and he chose a replacement who lacked character and integrity, who had issues, who didn’t possess a lot of life skills. Things very predictably fell apart when I decided to leave them to it, and stop helping to manage his life (I pick me danced so hard I was still making his doctor appointments and helping him choose clothes, manage money, etc. for over three years after he dumped me – it’s embarrassing to me now). Once I recovered from the shock and heartbreak (and the crushingly low self-esteem I had from his years of abuse), I turned all those skills, which he had been benefitting from for years, towards improving MY life. I’ve created a life I love. I paid off my debts. I’ve saved money. I’m doing well at my job. I made a new home that is all mine (and my son’s). I’m FW free. I’m happy. My home is peaceful and full of love and laughter. Sometimes I’ll be dancing in my kitchen and just marvel how nice it is to be free of criticism for what I love to do.

    On a separate note: the professional aspect of the OP’s story is understandably very frustrating. I would suggest copywriting your work, and if it is a blatant plagiarism, there are entertainment lawyers that handle intellectual property issues like this. If it gets to the point where his ventures cut into your revenues or your market, it might be worth investigating legal options. If there is any way at all to block him from your website, social media, etc. do so. At one point (early in our relationship) FW had sent a screenplay to a fairly famous director (it was requested ofter they saw a promo pack he’d done. And while FW (like an idiot) declined to sell the script to the studio (yay, the narcissism of “only I can do it right”, ignoring the incredible opportunities it could have created), news came out shortly thereafter that the director was making a new film. The synopsis online was suspiciously close to FW’s story, just with the gender of the main character changed. FW’s script was copyrighted. FW got an entertainment lawyer, who contacted the studio, and the no more was ever heard of that film production. So it is effective (not sure how it works with other media, but still), if there is a real impact on your own career. As far as professional contacts, this is probably a good way to weed out low-quality people and find out who you really want to work with.

    • Same unpleasant shape shifter boyfriend did a similar thing to me too, he tried to turn a later girlfriend into a clone of me except she was younger, less attractive, but none the less I was nonplussed at a party to see her imitation that must have been at his behest (some unusual details of dress). She looked miserable, being pressured into looking like someone else and having to buy the stuff. He was (well still is – I have not heard he is dead) a ghastly parasite with a battalion of flying monkeys, so she would have been funding the entire operation.

      • “a ghastly parasite with a battalion of flying monkeys” – a very poetic description of my ex, lol.

        As I unfortunately had to see AP and FW all the time, it became clear to me that she had to have been miserable. She aged considerably in the time she was with him, and got so thin she looked sick (FW liked “tiny” girls and … she was not [not overweight at all, just not a petite body type]. He definitely made me feel like shit about the 10 lbs I gained post baby, so I know what he was doing to her and why she lost the weight). She was clearly under a lot of pressure to perform for him. And yeah, she wore specific things that were kind of my signature, including my hairstyles. I was not the only one who noticed she was turning into “me”. The [not] funny thing was, FW turned it around and accused me of copying HER. He put it in his damn divorce petition (my ex is a crazy stalker who copies my new girlfriend, which shows she’s mentally unstable). I was like, WHAT?? I assembled photographs of me and AP, going back YEARS, so that if necessary I could show who turned into whom. Oh my. I’m glad that’s all over and I never had to get that deep into anything (FW died before our trial).

    • OP doesn’t mention her location, but in many places, copyright exists the moment you create something i.e. you don’t have to file anything.

      A consultation with an intellectual property lawyer would be money well spent, IMO.

      • I think you are talking about registration vs copyright. Copyright is conferred automatically, but registration with the copyright office gives you more legal avenues to pursue (e.g., certain penalties, hearing in Federal courts).

    • This is my story also: “ AP tried to be me, and she couldn’t, because she wasn’t me, and didn’t have my qualities . . . FW thought he could simply replicate our life with her in my place. But our life was in large part because of me, and he chose a replacement who lacked character and integrity, who had issues, who didn’t possess a lot of life skills. Things very predictably (have been falling) apart . . .” AP was living at her cheater father’s home (at 32?!) working a minimum wage job as a delivery person for a court reporter. She met XH in the elevator of his big law firm where he was a top 7-figure earning partner. I’m also a very successful 30 year attorney and have taken 500+ depositions. We have 4 kids, one of whom was 28 years old when Dday occurred. XH said, in our absurd marriage counseling after Dday that he admired AP’s ambition to go to law school to “one day take a deposition.” WTF?! what a ridiculous reason to become a lawyer! I can’t even….. XH abandoned the family, lost everything but his wages, moved AP out of her daddy’s and into a studio apartment with a mattress on the floor (buying furniture required too much adulting dontchaknow) and spent the next 4 years paying big $$$ for her to attend law school. She graduated 3 years ago and is openly going after her new boss as her next mark because she covers his big boat and waterfront home and openly complains that his wife “never has to work and never lifts a finger!” AP said this at a birthday dinner for XH in front of my grown kids. Watch out! The mate poacher is on the hunt. Not my monkey not my circus. Thank God.

  • FW and OW believed a judge would give them full custody of my three kids because OW used a bigger vocabulary in her fake-ass social media posts and had a full-time job or some shit like that. Anyway as FW was laying out his plan to dismiss me from my role in my whole own life, I asked him what I was supposed to do. He said, “I don’t know. Get an identity?” I thought at the time it was just a really mean thing to say but of course now I get that OW truly intended to take on my identity. Part of having my identity included being married to a drunk self-loathing narc and she figured that out fast. Plus I didn’t hand everything over and walk away, nor did I agree to let her call me whenever FW was drunk and violent. So she bailed as soon as it became work for her (within 3 months).

    • Wow, so many similarities to my story. FW thought he’d get custody because he had a home with two “parents” (him and AP) and “siblings” for our son (her kids), while I lived with my mom and then on my own. The custody evaluator set him straight on that when he tried to use the fact that I lived with my mom to discredit me. The evaluator told him “it doesn’t matter if she lives with her mom for the rest of her life – it’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS”. Ha.

      I asked FW what I was supposed to do after he left, and said I had nothing without him, and he said that was my own fault. Never mind that he had systematically eroded my personality over more than a decade by insulting and criticising me for everything that I enjoyed doing and insisting I spend all my time and energy on him or risk the “punishment” of being ignored or yelled at. It took a really, really long time to find myself again, but I did.

      OW also thought she’d just become me (see my post above) and FW basically slotted her right into our life. But like you, I didn’t just hand everything over and walk away. I asked for what I was entitled to (like child support, half our stuff, etc.). And I didn’t just disappear from their lives. My ex was also a drunk, violent, self-loathing (once you dug under the confident [arrogant] facade) narc. She’d been with him for four years before they moved in together. I gave it a year. She lasted 4 WEEKS in the same house with him before she fled in terror, leaving the state and changing her phone number. Whoops.

      I don’t think OW would ever have called me when FW was violent (and she never did) because she wouldn’t have wanted to give me the satisfaction of having been right when I’d made allegations of abuse during the divorce (she was convinced I was slandering him). Though after she left him, OW did try to ally herself with me, sending an “apology” (a pathetic one) and offering to be a witness in my divorce case. I ignored both emails, other than sending them to my attorney. After FW died (by his own hand), OW tried to stay a part of my life, calling and texting me, telling me I was such a good mom, offering her help, blah blah blah. I unfortunately had had to contact her to get the landlord’s phone # so the police could get in FW’s house, since he had disappeared and I didn’t know what had happened (though I knew SOMETHING had, because he would never have not picked up our son from the bus without contacting me first – he was very protective of his “good dad” image). She used that as some sort of “in”, and also did the same thing with FW’s sister. It was weird. These shallow, self-centered people can’t bear not being relevant. I had the satisfaction of telling her exactly what I thought of her, before blocking her on everything. FW’s sister told her to not to contact her either. She wasn’t allowed at the funeral.

      It’s such a relief not to have any of these people in my life anymore.

    • That is awful to go through.

      I remember years ago there was a movie on TV about a nurse who lost custody of her little girl to her ex and his new wife. (based on a true story) I cried most of the way through it and I had never even gone through that.

      Bad enough having to share time with an outsider, but to turn them over. Unbearable.

      • Yes, in that movie, he left her then claimed the child because she worked night shifts.Im sure that was deep in my mind when I was so reluctant to leave because I was a nurse and worked night shifts. I had no idea what I would do as a long term single parent who needed to work full time. (My parents helping was not an option).

    • Sounds like she played a stupid game and won a stupid prize.

      Sorry you went through this. How are you and the kids these days? The judge told OW and FW to kick rocks, right?

  • Stabby, sue his ass for appropriating your intellectual property. Fortunately, you’re a commercial artist, so you can put a dollar value on his theft of your work. Please don’t let your “no contact” coolness extend to allowing him to rip you off without doing something about it. Please see a lawyer ASAP!

  • Stabby,

    Do you share kids with this freak? If not, there’s no reason to keep any lines of communication open. Block his number so you don’t have to hear from him. While you’re at it, block his email(s) and all his social media.

    If he’s ripping off your work, have a lawyer send him a mean letter about copyright infringement, if that’s what a lawyer says you should do.

    >I hate the idea that he’s telling everyone that “I taught him everything he knows.”

    Assuming he is (because he’s a narcissist, so I’d be surprised if he gives credit where it’s due) – anybody with 2 marbles rattling around upstairs will notice he seems obsessed with you while you don’t appear to know he exists, because you never acknowledge his existence. Who looks pathetic here?

    I dealt with one of these freaks a few years ago. He was just a friend, but did incredible damage in the year we knew each other. He started shaking me down for professional favors, mimicking my personality traits, and parroting my ideas to other people while claiming credit for them. It was infuriating.

    Thankfully he ghosted me to marry his next victim (a woman he described as a doormat, who he’d met months earlier). Last I heard through the grapevine, he’s hard at work destroying his life: crazy debt, burning bridges, about to be fired.

    These people are parasites and don’t impress most people to begin with, but they really lose their luster once they lose their hosts. Block him so you don’t have to waste anymore time bearing witness to his chaos. You’ll feel better without his poison in your line of sight.

  • I look at these freaks as robots. No feelings and artificial intelligence that uploads stuff about us. They have no sense of self at all. Their whole life is a façade. Kinda sad really. CL is right. It’s not original and they will fall flat. Best is no contact at all.

  • My kids watched their dad take on a different persona after he left to be with the AP. “Why is dad acting so weird?” “Why is he doing things he never did with us?” “Why is….”
    So much fun having to talk my kids through their dad’s transformation into the AP. Empty Vessel (good one CL) & becoming the port one sails into is an apt description. Don’t continue being a chump & letting your ex profit/rip-off your work!!

    Good luck to the USA in your elections today! I’m hoping one party wins big over another & I don’t even live there. But I feel from over here too that democracy is at stake.

    • Wow, same here. My son (at 9) asked “what happened to dad? He’s so DIFFERENT.” I asked if I had changed and my son said “you’re exactly the same. Dad is like a totally different person.”

      These narcissist parasitic FWs are chameleons to fit what they need. Can you imagine being like that? Having to change to fit —- wearing a mask all the time?? Blech

      FW copied and used everything I introduced to him. He courted AP by taking her to the restaurants I showed him … they went on a big vacation to all of the places from our HONEYMOON (places I had picked). I mean ewwwwwwwww

      He even asked me to dress him —- while he was using the clothes I picked to cheat on me with AP. WTF

      Just look at them for what they are — pathetic. Disturbing. Creepy. And walk away.

      For some reason this made me think of the movie Big Eyes (Walter Keane took all of Margaret Keane’s paintings and passed them off as his own.)

      • I’ll have to watch “Big Eyes”. Love all the descriptions here: empty vessel, A.I. robot, shape-shifter, mask-wearer, chameleon, parasite, facade….
        Damn! I almost feel sorry for them for being rip-off artists of originals. I mean how insecure, un-orginal & un-formed one must be to do that. On the other hand, if the intent is to manipulate & con, that’s a whole, darker story.

      • Recently, my accountant (who still does taxes for FW and me) said to me, “x has really changed.”

        x appears to be letting his jerk flag fly, no longer even trying to be appear to be a kind, respectable person in public.

        When we were married, he often asked me to review an angry email so that I could clean it up or advise him not to press “send,” but now I think he’s just spewing whatever he wants, alienating people right and left.

        Fun times for him and the AP, I’m sure. lol 🤣

        Toward the end of our mirage (thanks, VH), he used to talk about having “feet of clay.”
        I just now looked up the reference. I think he was right.

        From Wikipedia: An entity with feet of clay may appear powerful and unstoppable, but they cannot support their splendor, and will easily be knocked over. –The phrase originates from the Book of Daniel in the Bible.

      • @MichelleShocked, It is as if you are describing my ex to a T. He went on dates with AP in clothes and shoes I bought. Having impregnated her, he suddenly turned into a caring chivalrous man who attended clinic appointments something he hardly ever did with me. He is now using all my ideas on child rearing on their child. Asking her to use phrases I use, including phrases i use to describe my nanny. Is trying to find out where I buy children books because I did solo parenting buying and reading to our daughter whose English mastery is extremely good
        and vocabulary range is so wide and is quick witted. He wants her to make their child the same through my methods. He is making her ape me in my parenting and she quite frankly can’t match my book smartness. Something that always made him feel insecure at times. He has even copied my health and education insurance plans. He knew nothing about insurance.
        I was the one who handled that bit. They aren’t original these FW’s. Bask in the knowledge that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. They can never be you. But if it’s affecting your income source and work, lawyer up chumps

  • After long marriages, I often see people ask, was any of it real. Was my whole life a lie? No, you had a real life, with real emotions, real experiences, real choices. They did not, they are hollow. It’s why they take that trip you always talked about, go to the restaurant, grocery store, movies etc. that you pick, you liked. The OW hasn’t slipped into your life, your ex has no real self, so can only recreate yours.

  • He is a vampire. He needs to feed off your self esteem, talent and power. The only thing I can think of is to shut down any way he can get to you. You cannot stop his thievery but you don’t have to see it…unless you want to sue if he has stolen material and not given credit.

  • This was, and is, reframing gold from CL. Explains so much, and is a great reminder!!!!!

    (Yay for voting! 😊😊😊😊😊)

  • Cmon, why is he not blocked? You have control over yourself and your phone. Serial cheaters never stop. Why are you allowing him any control over you?
    Right now you are keeping yourself entangled in this. Move on or keep yourself stuck.

  • A chameleon comes to mind. They change colors as the mood fits the need. It’s quite pitiful to think that someone made it to adulthood (figuratively, not literally because they’re emotionally regressed) without any authenticity, values, integrity, depth, creativity, or stable sense of self. In place of the appearance of an adult is a vaccuous hole waiting to be filled. Adopting the identity of others makes sense once you realize they have to fill that empty hole of a self with pieces of one, parts of another, mannerisms from here, style from there. This becomes one of their major talents – impersonating others as self. When they master that they then get good at knowing you better than you know yourself. That way they can exploit and stage a coup to their advantage when the time is right.

  • I hope we hear from the OP. I think the mirroring is part of the FW Cheater Manual (possibly under Annoying Options to Pursue to Aggravate the Chump chapter). I know mine is replicating the same vacations that we took together with Schmoopie. It annoyed me when I knew about it but since going NC, I don’t know and I don’t care.
    Most cheaters are not known to hold onto a good persona for long. Their true colors eventually shine through and the masks drop. They cannot seem to sustain. It is just another useful tool for them to keep the AP dancing. As far as I am concerned, Schmoopie won the pick me dance. I am glad she did. I may only have won the set of luggage but I plan for it to take me places. My divorce becomes final in two weeks and I could not be happier!!!!!

    • Yes, that too, the same vacations at the same resorts with AP.
      Normal people would see this as a reminder of the many vacations he took with his wife and family.
      Being at the same restaurants, the hotel rooms, would bring back memories.
      Then again were talking about self absorbed cheaters with no imagination or originality.

  • Reminds me of when I discovered the predatory opportunistic parasite adopted my brand as part of his username on Match-2N4U. I’m a horse breeder, the ‘2n” brand references a nickname my former husband gave me (toon). I came unhinged. Completely senseless on POP’s part to say the least. They have no imagination and do the dumbest things. Ten years later his life is totally in the crapper where he put himself.

  • They have no sense of originality. When Cheater was seeing his first AP I noticed he started wearing white baseball caps and wearing white t-shirts when he went running. He always made it clear that he would never wear white shirts because of the under arm staining. He’d ridicule people who wore caps while running. It was odd but I shrugged it off as him being weird. That was until Dday and began doing my own investigating and found photos of him and AP wearing white caps and white t-shirts. She is a triathlete and cheater became a triathlete. Later I came across photos of the two of them wearing matching fluorescent cycle ensembles. Which is another thing he’d ridicule is couples who dressed alike. He once told me that if he ever wore matching clothing with someone to shoot him.
    Maybe I should have took him up on that.

    Speaking of dating sites, even though he and AP were a couple, I found him on dating sites.
    His profile made me laugh, he claimed to enjoy weekend getaways, wandering around small out of the way places, yeah, right.., we never went on weekend getaway the entire 20 years we were married. If I mentioned I’d like to go someplace for the weekend, he’d complain about the traffic, complain about driving, what kind of people would be there, then what about the drive back.., These are the complaints he had just mentioning going away for the weekend. He also claimed to enjoy going to concerts, again, married for 20 years dated for five, we never went to a concert and if I mentioned going, same list of complaints plus how noisy it would be. He also said he liked going to the beach, walking the beach.., we went to the beach maybe two times while we were married and he hated being there. He hates sand on his feet, he felt like he had sand in his hair, he hated the Seagulls, he complained the entire time. So essentially he was describing me and what I liked which I suppose would be attractive to potential hook ups.
    No sense of self or originality. He doesn’t have the creativity to come up with anything on his own. He didn’t while we we were together. Eventually they run out of our ideas and they’re back to who they are..

  • The copycatting is hysterical. Completely incapable of original thought. Also, I already voted via mail-in so here’s hoping for democracy’s future. FW was my BOSS at a university where I taught piano (as an adjunct for horrible pay). My job was as dead-end as my marriage and it took the pandemic for me to see it. I had already put FW on as little contact as possible and dropped any and all friends and family who even spoke to him, but we still worked together- which SUCKED. As I began to lift from the covert-narcissist fog of not only FW but my mother and several friends, I realized that I’m not nearly as incapable as they all treated me and decided to pursue a career in nursing. I ended that job with FW (there was some seriously shifty stuff done by FW which I won’t go into) and started a job as a pharmacy technician. It pays more and is closer to home and will work around my nursing school schedule while I learn stuff on the job. It’s so nice to have him completely out of my hair. I occasionally hear from my kids about things they’ve done- he takes them to the same place where I’ve been an avid hiker for years before I met FW (rarely went while we were married)- my youngest likes hiking so I’m glad- but it’s totally to fuck with me (it doesn’t). He recently made bone broth soup because our son was sick (he doesn’t eat meals with the kids he drops stuff off for one dinner once a week- he lives with AP one state over). The man has never made soup in his life but now he’s making my signature dish (or making AP make it?) BWAHAHAHA- it was CLEARLY labeled “BONE Broth soup” because he knew it would be in my fridge- DUDE- I’m pretty sure the kids are going to remember that I’m the one that ACTUALLY took care of them when they are sick and your Bone broth soup doesn’t BOTHER me- one less meal I have to make – if the kids don’t eat it I will!

    • FW taught AP to cook my recipes (as well as he could, since he didn’t really know exactly how I did it). He and AP even did a podcast episode together while they were cooking (lame), and he referenced a dish that *I* had made up and had been making for him for YEARS as something he and AP just “came up with” one day. LOL. WTF. If there was one thing he did appreciate about me, it was my cooking. It was something he missed and was trying desperately (and unsuccessfully) to replicate it. He even tried to get me to write a cookbook of my recipes (“you could publish it!”). I didn’t fall for that trick.

      • Ew, ISTL, sorry there’s a podcast of the fuckery. Gross. The OW in my story is desperately trying to be a famous Moth storyteller (!?) They really need their sorry lies to be seen and heard

  • Cheaters (and people with NPD, specifically) are personality “shifters”… they don’t have a core of character or values or sense of self. They become whoever they want to be based on what the situation demands.

    Mr. Sparkles had a dozen personal ads across multiple sites. He was a MWM looking for a fling; he was a BiMWM looking for a couple; he was DWM; he was single… and on and on. Then, when he left me for an OW he found at the gym, she was a mini-me… breadwinner; two little kids; upper middle class home; educated; planned all their events/holiday… he left me and our son in October… two months later he was taking her and her kids to the very Christmas light displays we had gone to as a family for the prior 5 years. WHO DOES THAT? A soulless monster, a psychopath, a person without depth… a shapeshifter.

    No contact was the only way to keep my sanity when working through the discard. Even with co-parenting, it can be done. Scheduling software was my best friend.

    At the end of the day, cheater’s aren’t good people. It is that simple. So ask yourself, if they aren’t a good person, why do I care what they do with their life as long as I’m not in it. Not your monkeys, not your circus.

    • Mine used to brag that he was a “chameleon”, and could mingle with any and all. Which was true. I had no idea this was actually a red-flag. When we got together, he took on my hobbies, started listening to the music I liked. What I didn’t appreciate was how he would complain about my private students….but when they did well in competitions, the same students suddenly became “our” studio. We purchased properties that needed a bit of TLC, with the idea that we would rent them out. He had the chutzpah to call himself a “landlord” when he refused to do any work on them, and left all that to me. I paid all the bills related to them, I located potential properties, I contracted the workers, I screened applicants. Meanwhile, as best as I can tell, his “real” self was home jacking off to porn while I did all the work. But MY accomplishments were HIS. According to his disordered mind.
      He started bringing me clothing that his main AP wore. He wanted my hair cut super short (like hers). Suddenly French jazz was playing in our house, which, until then, was usually either classical or classic rock.
      Out of the blue he decided he wanted to become a biologist (which Schmoopie was). THAT didn’t happen.
      I have NO idea what his real self is, other than being an emotional vampire.

  • Dear Stabby

    “Also, his work is embarrassing”
    You are hilarious, & you will get past this by continuing to ridicule your pathetic ex. AT A DISTANCE. From a stance of NO CONTACT.
    Thank you for making me laugh. I hope you can take your (justified) outrage to a bunch of women friends & laugh at him til your faces turn purple.
    He is an ersatzStabby, & his work will be held in equal ridicule.

    Keep on trucking, & keep laughing. Even your anger will become funny to you eventually, given enough NO CONTACT.

  • A petty concern in the grand scheme of things, but falling to see my cheater ex’s FB profile claiming to like bands, movies, and public figures for which she showed outright contempt when we were married and I liked them. Either her post-divorce liking of these things on FB was fake, or her pre-divorce contempt for them was fake and she just wanted an excuse to show contempt for me.

    Cheaters are all about the cake and the fake.

    • I read once that abusers deny us what we want, and therefore have no problems expressing those wants to the new victim. It makes us feel low and think that the new person must be so much better. But the new victim has other needs, which in turn will be denied.

  • My drink.
    I am not much of a drinker, but especially when we would go out I would order a Jack Daniel’s on the rocks. She would have white wine.
    On DDay I found a stash of receipts (she had been a bookkeeper at one time and saved everyone) from restaurants/bars. She was now drinking my drink. I also found a little note to remind herself of items to take on a weekend fuckfest with the AP. A bottle of Jack Daniel’s was on top.
    I have long since given up untangling the skein, but this is just weird.

  • Ex morphed into a new person for the OW and OW weirdly looks a bit like me. I once saw them together and she was dressed just like me. She doesn’t anymore, but it’s been almost 7 years.

    Ex all of a sudden started taking a real interest in a particular band (I can’t remember the name, I think I’ve mentally blocked it out of my mind). He would listen to them with his headphones on and say things like ‘I can’t believe I’ve never properly listened to them before. They’re amazing’. OW’s favourite band, it turns out.

    Oh and then there was extreme interest in musicals! OW loves musicals. This one made me chuckle though.

    Around the same time, he cried uncontrollably about our son. While sobbing, he said ‘He’s just like me and I wanted him to be just like you’.

    And then there was the time, he ordered OW a present on a passing comment I made about a product being good.

    They have no self… Would it be worth speaking to a lawyer in case he starts to take business from you?

    • “Ex all of a sudden started taking a real interest in a particular band (I can’t remember the name, I think I’ve mentally blocked it out of my mind). He would listen to them with his headphones on and say things like ‘I can’t believe I’ve never properly listened to them before. They’re amazing’. OW’s favourite band, it turns out.”

      Haha. Mine too. After expressing how much he loathed Mumford and Sons, he was suddenly really, REALLY into them. Played the CDs in the car. OW’s favorite band, as it turns out. He even went to their concert with her.

      My son also commented that he and daddy listened to Taylor Swift, and I was like “Daddy HATES Taylor Swift” and my son was like “no, he doesn’t”. OW is a huge fan. My ex made no end of fun of TS’s music and her fans.

      • I guess I should feel grateful that the AP’s taste in canned pop music was so gruesomely bad that not even FW could bring himself to mirror it.

    • Mine did the same. He suddenly liked absolutely wretched music and TV shows which he couldn’t stand before. I thought he was going middle aged crazy and trying to pretend he was young, because it was all stuff younger people like.
      OW was middle aged too, but with the mentality of a 13 year old.

      • Mine (formerly untidy) started folding plastic shopping bags into small triangles (I am told the OP is OCD and has a room full of handbags including one for her dog). It was a bloody pain going to the shop trying to unfold these teeny triangles at the front counter.

        • Not that it doesn’t all suck but that sounds better than having a FW become even more of a slob because the AP scurries around with a dustpan and shines his boots with her bum.

          • It got very Sleeping With The Enemy, tins lined up, when ex rearranged his wardrobe to look like something from the menswear department. Seeing his floordrobe transformed into a colour coded, immaculately folded display was what finally made me wake up that something was very wrong. The wardrobe makeover then triggered a chain of events which lead me to work out he was cheating – I decided I needed to tidy up my act and iron a shirt, which I never did, which then lead me to the burner phone which was plugged in behind a shelf in the garage where the iron was also kept. These drongos give us some anecdotes to share at dinner parties at least, although if I am still going on about triangle shopping bags in 20 years time Im going to end myself.

      • Fleabag! Wouldn’t watch it with me. Just before I was discarded, out of the blue, ‘someone told me Fleabag’s really good’. We endured it together, we laughed occasionally (we are Brits so you might expect us to have found some of the humour funny and some of it was, but not all). ExgfOW: big Fleabag, female emancipation, women do what they want, who cares who gets hurt, life coach fan!

  • Snort! They mirror the shiny parts of everyone they come aross. Mine did it too and it was uber creepy to see him repeating funny things I’d said, observations I made (and also wearing my lingerie, but that is another story)…and then get a job in my field, about which he knew nothing but what I’d told him. These guys are good little parrots and mimicry is one of their few talents. But you need not worry that he is telling people you taught him everything he knows. Not at all! He is telling everyone that HE taught YOU everything you know. Ask me how I know that…

  • I’m always amazed at the number of Chumps who allow an X to use text messaging? Have kids? He can use a app to contact you in an emergency and everything else can go to email. Even phone calls (if you have kids, only) should ALWAYS go to voice mail first.

    I don’t get the ones who copies the people they’ve chumped; both Jackass and XH the substance abuser had their own playbook that they use with all of their conquests and wannabes.

  • My ex faked being an avid reader, symphony goer, and art lover in order to hook me. After we got married he bluntly informed me that he didn’t want to hear any more about the books I was reading and he didn’t want to go to any more symphony performances or art shows. I would basically sit across from him at dinner and talk about the weather because he was suddenly a stranger to me and we had nothing in common. It was torture.

  • Yes, don’t react. Just be yourself.

    My ex was far away when we separated, but our mutual therapist warned me that he would look for a replacement that was a lot like me in order to rewrite the narrative for himself. She might even have kids about the same as ours. He failed at one, so maybe a redo will help. That just seemed really weird to me at the time, but she had been 100% right in her predictions so very many times that I believed her.

    I’m blissfully ignorant of most of it other than what his attorney blabbed to mine, but whatever. The therapist also noted that if he was busy with someone else, he might just leave me alone. And he pretty much has in the last few years.

  • Narcs take on your traits. They appropriate your core characteristics. They pick you originally based on all the great traits they see in you. They are empty shells with no personality or sense of self. They are confused and lost. They grab onto us, act like us. They need us desperately. We are valued members of the community? Check. You are artistic? Check. You like pizza? Check. Running? Check. Do they understand that they hurt us? No. That we hate them? No. That we dont want to get together with schmoops and the kids for holidays? No. Completely clueless. In human shape but not human. Shape shifters. Aliens.

  • I’m a little late catching up this morning BECAUSE I HAD TO GO OUT AND VOTE ONLY I HAD TO BRING THE DOG WITH ME BECAUSE SHE CAN’T BE LEFT ALONE anyhow where was I …

    My late father (who died long before I even met FW) was a very successful musician. He was also extremely humble — he played with everybody, but you’d never hear him boast. Of course, I had all kinds of LP’s and CD’s that my father was playing on, and my pretentious FW then-husband used to boast to his fuckbuddies about his wife’s famous musician father (note: this was exaggeration; my father was not famous, he just worked with a lot of famous people). And yes, my FW even after the divorce is apparently still boasting about this particular six-degrees-of-separation even though by now it’s six-degrees-of-separation-followed-by-divorce.


    • First, second and sixth degree star-fucking was such a big thing when I lived in LA. It took mirroring and brown-nosing to the next level. What a circus. There are so many personality-disordered people working in media and entertainment because they’re ready-made empty vessels who can morph themselves into alignment with whomever has the most power. One thing that drove me nuts in that city was the type of person who wouldn’t take ethical stances on *anything* because they never knew if the next producer or media honcho they worked for ate babies for breakfast and then they’d have to ditch any previous prohibitions against baby-eating. So it was better to never take a stand on cannibalism to begin with the better to mirror the next target. If it was just cynical climbing it would be one thing but so many climbers would transform themselves into their icons body and soul. They only felt they existed in proximity to fame and power. It was such a rare relief to meet anyone else in the media industry who recognized what a horror show it was. Not surprisingly, these were usually the only people around with any real talent.

      Being so adaptive isn’t possible for people with actual character which gives an edge to those who have none. People wonder how the Harvey Weinsteins of the world manage to get away with it for so long. They couldn’t exist and thrive without a sea of flying monkey climbers and empty “mirrorers.”

      • Funny you should say this … in fact, we were living in LA at the time — FW is still there. I found it embarassing.

        • I just couldn’t get into the cannibalism. Or dusty palm trees. Or blond surfer dudes with unlicensed guns in their Patagonia backpacks. Or former models named Cindy who’d invite you to parties full of decrepit vampires palming roofies and driving Bentleys. Or real estate agents peddling screenplays and three-ways. Or aging action stars lurking outside clubs after last call to see if anyone’s drunk enough to go home with them.

      • I feel like my ex would eat babies if it benefited him in some way.
        I make this online anonymous pledge to never eat babies.

    • He’s such a loser he brags about knowing somebody who was almost famous, a man who he never even met? Pathetic.

    • My father, now deceased, is related to a legendary English footballer from some decades back. The footballer was and is very famous and important to the history of football in the UK. Statue level famous. The ex, who comes from the same part of the UK as the footballer and my dad, used to joke that the only reason he was with me was because of that connection. I used to laugh affectionately. Now, not so much!

  • When mirroring is a sign of psychopathy.

    On a forum for abuse survivors, there was a particular, often repeated tale of male abusers who show no signs of being gay but who, at odd times, flip into a “womanish” voice that can sound stereotypically “gay.” Advocates monitoring the page or leading groups heard the story enough that the trait ended up on a list of red flags for personality disorder and potential violence with careful qualifiers that it didn’t apply to openly gay or trans individuals who consistently speak in lighter tones as an expression of identity and group affiliation. It applies only to ostensibly straight men who flip into the voice at certain times and aren’t doing it as a send-up.

    It felt politically touchy to even discuss such a thing so I coined the term “abusosexual” to make it clear we weren’t open to pathologizing homosexuality or any gender preference or identity. Instead, the idea was that, in order to have a gender preference or identity, someone would need a soul first and abusers are more or less soulless. To quote Red, the Morgan Freeman character from Shawshank Redemption, when asked whether the prison rapists were homosexual, Red answers, “No, they’d have to be human first.”

    No one could nail down exactly what this behavior signified. People came up with all sorts of theories about it. But reading today’s post just gave me a big revelation: The one thing we didn’t consider is that abusers are such empty vessels that they’ll mirror anyone they wanted something from or fixated on and that some of the people they emulate might be the opposite sex. In other words, if an abuser is attracted to someone, some take it a step beyond simply aligning views and tastes to the target. On some level, they almost try to become the target, “wear their skin” in a sense. When this is really extreme, they may even take on behaviors of the opposite gender without realizing it. And they tend to collect these emulated personalities over time like a collection of useful masks they pull out on various occassions.

    It might explain a lot, like today’s post on ex-cheater copycatting. But it could also explain why abusers eventually develop so much resentment towards their victims: because they tend to emulate and “wear the skin” of whoever they’re lovebombing, when that “skin” gets too “tight”– when the traits of the partner (like morals and boundaries) start to make the copycat feel constrained in the things they want to do (like cheat, lie and embezzle), they feel “engulfed” and begin to blame the partner for “forcing them to be someone else.” Never mind that the partner likely had no idea that the abuser was mirroring and emulating in such a frantic way, the abuser will blame their victim for the abuser’s own fraud. This in turn could explain the “push-me/pull-you” behavior of batterers who, due to internally driven freakiness, shift back and forth between fear of abandonment and fear of “engulfment” by a partner.

    And here’s another thing it could partly explain– why cheaters’ personalities change so radically during affairs. In a sense, in putting on the skin of an affair partner, they may also take on any hatred, resentment and jealousy the affair partner feels towards the “rival” primary partner. Of course the other big reason for cheaters’ sudden hostility is that guilt is ugly and they need to demonize partners in order to justify defrauding them. But some of it could just be “deep mirroring.”

    The revelation I had about mirroring today doesn’t discount some of the other theories and ideas that advocates drummed up back in the day which might still apply in different cases. It got very interesting. We consulted with psychologists who explained the phenomenon of “cubing” ( or partial split personalities of psychopaths. While each separate personality within someone with full-blown dissociative personality disorder will be completely unaware of other separate personalities– as if there were floor-to-ceiling partitions between personae– someone who “cubes” is aware that they trot out different personalities in different circumstances depending on agenda. It’s as if the walls between personae are short “office partitions” and the whole collection of personalities are controlled and orchestrated by a central, evil, organizing persona. This isn’t mental illness so much as a criminal disorder because the perpetrator knows enough to switch into “rational and credible” mode to convince cops and bystanders of their innocence and “credibility” when it suits them– common in batterers as well as serial killers. “Cubing” is described as akin to method acting except, from my experience working in media with the occasional method actor, it sounds far freakier than that and that psychopaths invest far more deeply in each different “face” they show to others. The different faces might even have differing tastes, opinions and memories.

    There were speculations that the vocal flipping was actually a kind of pathological age-regression that only accidentally sounds womanish as a grown man strains to raise his vocal pitch to that of a child. If the age-regression happens in the context of sex, it could potentially indicate the person was sexually abused as a child and this is the “mode” they flip into when “re-enacting” past trauma. There are women who do this too– abruptly flip from normal adult voice to “sexy baby voice” in certain circumstances (there was a lot of hoopla about reality TV personality “Jessica” from Love is Blind doing this: ). Or it could indicate something much worse. Since many pedophiles actually believe they’re “trans-children”– children in adult bodies– a pedophile who tries to “get down to the level of children” as part of the grooming process might put on a childish voice and demeanor and more or less believe their own act. Or it could indicate someone so sexually compulsive and boundary-less that even if they’re wired to prefer sex with the opposite gender, in a pinch they’ll have sex with anyone– something cops call “trysexuals” to identify certain rapists because they’ll literally try anything. Unfairly, trysexuals give actual bisexuals a bad name. It’s not at all the same thing.

    Anyway, thanks for the lightbulb post today and everyone’s insights.

    • “On some level, they almost try to become the target, “wear their skin” in a sense.”

      I’m getting Silence of the Lambs flashbacks.

    • Maybe when you ~ the internal object ~ deviate from the role you were ascribed, in order to maintain constancy the narc has to mimic you ~ the internal object. Or maybe it is some form of protective identification. Geez what a mindfuck.
      The fawning voice is what gets me the most ~ having misinterpreted what it meant for so long, and then realizing what it really means. I cant even bear to hear my ex speak as he cycles through different characters but the fawning voice is the one I despise the most. I saw the fawning in writing to various people as well it was so cringey alarm bells were going off even though I didnt know why.
      I am getting some SOTL vibes too

      • Come to think of it, recognizing a SOTL vibe from an ex is probably the fast track for hopium detox. Once you see the overlaps between deranged offenders, DV offenders and cheaters, there’s no brain bleach strong enough to unsee them.

      • The fawning voice– ugh. FW always read “authentic” before he started drinking his lunch during the affair. Then he suddenly became smarmy. It was gross. Towards the end of the affair, he withdrew even the smarminess and would get so caustic and hateful that he’d push me to the brink, then would pull back into smarm at the last second to keep me from kicking him out. On D-day I was gearing up to mourn “losing” his “love” to a “rival” but then realized that, at that point, all he was capable of was barfy treacle in between mansplaining and overfed grunts. Tragic loss, I know.

        • This is odd. I’m late to the thread as I was out all day yesterday. But I mentioned Hannibal Lecter in a WhatsApp group this morning without having read these comments. I’ve often described the ex as a chocolate bunny covered in gold foil and with a red bell, looking lovely and shiny. That’s the ‘skin’ he steals from others. The chocolate underneath is nowhere near as tasty as a straightforward bar of chocolate would be. Give me the slab of chocolate any day. The bunny gets eaten very quickly and is deeply unsatisfying two minutes later. And it’s hollow. The bunny could be a Santa, or a Christmas Tree chocolate decoration, or any other version of the same premise. The result is the same. It doesn’t matter how it’s wrapped, it’s unsatisfying and hollow. The ex’s father and two of the sons including the ex had numbers of feminine traits, including a tone of voice (rather than a pitch) which sounded quite womanly. The sons used to mock the father for being ‘camp’ (it always made me feel uncomfortable and I always tried to shut it down). This is making me think. Those feminine traits could easily have been mirroring, to manipulate women into feeling sorry for them and looking after them. I’m so glad I’m out of this toxicity!

    • Mine at odd times would start using a feminine voice and “pretend” he was gay.
      Made me uncomfortable because he was too good at it.

      One night we had friends visiting. One friend is a married men who has a small build.. Ex followed him around most of the evening using his feminine voice and “pretending” he was gay. It was obvious the guy was uncomfortable as were the other couples and myself. I pulled him aside asking him to stop. Ex got annoyed and said they thought it was funny. I pointed out that no one was laughing. He refused to stop.
      It was weird.
      After Dday one of the wives told me that her and her husband thought ex was gay.
      He definitely fits the profile of having a personality disorder, an abuser and potential for violence.
      Also extremely cruel and vindictive.

      • Sounds like the classic “abusosexual” more than gay or straight or anything in between. I still keep my ear to the ground about whether SOTL is transphobic or not. I originally thought Hannibal’s line that Buffalo Bill only thought he was transsexual while actually being something else, something very dark, ruled out biased tropes but I’m not sure. I still think the idea of it– that violence and sadism trump gender identity and preference in terms of defining sexuality– is interesting.

  • One thing I learned with my ex is that these phony fucks didn’t fool as many people as they think, or that YOU think.

    My ex is as phony as they come but in the months and years after I left i heard comments that confirmed that a lot of people had his number but didn’t want to speak up.

    So definitely ignore him…I ignored my ex and it drove him crazy….but keep in mind that a whole lot of people have his number and think he’s a weirdo.

    You can fool some people some of the time, you can fool some people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    • “So definitely ignore him…I ignored my ex and it drove him crazy….but keep in mind that a whole lot of people have his number and think he’s a weirdo.”

      Yep, it is easy to forget that, because we (I) thought that everyone saw him as I did. Oh there will be hangers on that dismiss their shit because they are getting something out of it, but even most of the the hangers on won’t turn their backs on them.

      It is like stepping in dog shit with tennis shoes on. That stink ain’t ever coming out of that shoe.

    • It’s easy to forget that other people see through the cheater in the way that targets and current spouse/partner do not. Thanks for the reminder, Kim. I found after DDay that I was over keen to put my side of the story (he’d been maligning me for years and so some people were never going to accept what I said). Therapy has helped me to see the world differently in that some others were not taken in by the ex like I was. The mistake I made was to shut my mind to the possibility that other people were right about him all along. Heaven forfend, some people did not like him very much! When my friend (was my hairdresser and cut both my and the ex’s hair) described him as a Grand Bambino I thought this was affectionate. It wasn’t! My friend was sick of the ex waiting until the end of a haircut and then insisting on one tiny bristle of hair next to his left ear being cut. He would peer in the mirror, identify a random bristle and insist that it be snipped, just as my friend had put his scissors down. My friend would say ‘there’s nothing to cut’ but the ex would insist. My friend reached the stage where he pretended to ‘cut’ just to get rid of him. I can see now that there was some mental process going on in the ex’s mind that required him to behave like this. Others could see the petulant lip sticking out when things didn’t go his way. They could see his emptiness. And I continually defended his actions, to the point where some people looked at me with sympathy which used to puzzle me. I’ve learnt a lot from this horrendous experience.

  • I come from a long line of cheaters — my father cheated, his father cheated, his grandfather cheated and I have a photo of his great-grandfather (married at the time) on a date with my great-aunt on my mother’s side. My sister has cheated on everyone she’s ever dated, been engaged to or actually married, she cheated *with* two of my ex-husbands and, according to my father, most of my ex-boyfriends. All ten cousins on my father’s side are cheaters. I saw the harm cheating did to families, experienced the harm cheating did to children and resolved never to be a cheater myself.

    Cheaters copy anyone, especially when they’re trying to charm . . . which means they’ll be one person when they’re with you, another person when they’re trying to charm their secretary into bed and someone else again when they’re enticing the church choir director. I have always dreamed of sailing around the world on my own boat, despite ridicule from my sister — and wouldn’t you know, that was my sister’s “dream” when she was going after her first husband. I took up scuba diving decades ago while going through a divorce from a cheater, and though my sister ridiculed me for that, it became her “dream” to scuba dive when she was going after her second husband (while she was still married and so, evidently, was he.) She couldn’t come up with her own college major, so she copied mine. I watched her focus on a target and then gradually begin to mirror their opinions, hobbies, ideas and dreams. She would appropriate their friend circles (and demonize the friend circle she was exiting).

    Evidently cheaters copy your traits when they’re not done with you yet but still trying to charm the pants off the next woman. They aren’t original thinkers, they don’t really build their own lives. So they copy the parts of yours that they like the most. Some will try to turn the next target into you, some will mirror the next target — but none of them seem to have the ability to create a good life on their own. My sister has totally absorbed the ideas, opinions and hobbies of her current husband who seems to have absorbed them from someone else.

    I’ve been No Contact with my sister since my mother’s funeral. I should have gone No Contact decades sooner.

  • Vote early and vote often. 😉

    It’s true that FWs have no identity. That’s why they mirror others. They mirror their APs and friends as well as their chumps. This is to be expected. They need to pretend they have a personality in order to get by in life.
    Going so far as to steal the chump’s work is next level, though. If my FW was making money off my work, I’d sue his ass for every dime.

    • The mirroring/lack of identity explains the breakdown of relationship with kids as they grow older and get a sense that the narc dad/mum is a cardboard cutout and ain’t all there and/or cant sustain the multiple fake personas with different people in the same house. They must know the game will soon be up. I reckon my exs bizarre panicked frenzied charging about all over the place increased when my kids became teens. Horrible disease for all involved.

  • I think FW in my case mostly mirrored my values and ethics but we always dickered about tastes and politics. I think he mirrored the AP’s quirks more than he ever did mine but claimed he did it in a cynical way, pretending to accept her taste in art, lit and music (puppy and bunny pastels, pornographic pulp crime fiction and white elevator rap) and toning down his lefty-politics in order to avoid setting off her Trumpian triggers. After D-Day, he tried to argue that he was being “real” in the marriage and the affair was just fakery and transactional as if that was reassuring.

    But even if she bilked the hell out of marital assets, I don’t think it was just transactional on the AP’s part. I think the bilking was partly about wanting FW to transfer family assets to her because denying his family meant she was “winning.” And she practically lit her ass on fire to mirror and cater to FW. A short time after the affair started, the AP baited and switched from offering no-strings-fling to turning on the whiny tears every week because FW wouldn’t dump his family. Then she apparently tried but failed to accidentally-on-purpose get pregnant. Her mirroring/copycatting got really frightening when she started competing with my kids. She obviously wanted to displace them, if not to start a family of her own with FW then to replace the kids in terms of FW’s attention and love. All three kids are proficient classical musicians who got into college programs in their tweens. Though FW did almost nothing to get opportunities or resources for the kids other than to pay bills (and not always willingly), he wouldn’t stop bragging about it once all three turned out to be “prodigies.” So suddenly the AP began demanding a tremendously expensive musical instrument that she’d studied for half a semester in seventh grade and never played again. I think FW forked over a token hundred bucks towards the instrument fund which pissed the AP off and she spent the money getting her butt waxed instead. Or we could assume so because my PI caught video of the AP running into a Brazilian waxing salon.

    Then the AP seemed to be trying to copycat me for a spell after getting dumped on D-Day. When my PI sent some of his sleuthing material on the affair to my attorney, my attorney pulled out a recent work bio photo of the AP and said it looked like the AP was “single white femaling” me and I might think about investing in a security system. It was pretty clear by comparing surveillance photos of the affair and previous work pix that the AP had radically changed her appearance after the breakup and it seemed like an attempt to look like me. We look nothing alike so the similarities in appearance– hair, clothes, etc.– were awkward and eerie. I did install cameras around the house but fortunately the SWF thing didn’t progress to getting stabbed with a stiletto.

    • “And she practically lit her ass on fire to mirror and cater to FW.” Yup. AP did that with my ex. I remember when he first told me about his new coworker. I’d like her, he said, because she had similar interests to mine. “She doesn’t watch movies, she reads. And she doesn’t like horror.” My ex wrote horror films, wrote about horror films, and loved watching them. Guess who turned into an afficianado of horror films?

      “AP had radically changed her appearance after the breakup and it seemed like an attempt to look like me. We look nothing alike so the similarities in appearance– hair, clothes, etc.– were awkward and eerie.” Same. She looked like a totally different person to when I met her. And disturbingly like me ten years ago. She went from super short hair, little to no makeup,and dowdy clothes (mom jeans, dirndl skirts with loose blouses, big sweaters) to growing her hair long (and dying it red like mine), makeup all the time (though far trashier than I’d ever wear), and clothing that was super short and super tight (mini skirts, tank tops, bodycon dresses). Some of my friends/coworkers even remarked on it. I once in a while check her socials for my own amusement, and she seems to have completely reverted back to how she was before FW, now that he’s dead.

      • Yikes, dowdy is the word. When the PI brought back the first report, the 15 year age gap between the AP and I (and the 22 year age gap between FW and AP) was jolting. Such a cliche and FW had been putting me down mercilessly. But the more the PI sent, the less the age difference bothered me and the more I worried about drunken drive-bys and STDs.

        Someone must have told the AP that tan fat looks thinner than pale fat. She had an orange salon tan or bottle tan year round. She had heavy acne scarring and it’s hard to match the color of pancake makeup to tanned skin so she looked like she was wearing yellow craquelure. I would say she originally dressed half trad-wife/half barfly. Every picture showed her in the same sleeveless rayon swing top or one or two swing midi dresses– whites and pastels (to signify “innocence” and contrast the perma-tan). It looked like she was simultaneously placating her fundy parents, showing off back tatts and concealing a good-sized beer gut. And skinny jeans so tight she reportedly had to lie on her back and buck to yank them on (thank you “full disclosure”). I don’t see how that’s necessary given the lycra content in most jeans but maybe the size was more important than circulation and yeast infections. Anyway, the sudden change to some mall rendition of “classic fashion” was noticeable. She also started wearing a big padded bra and hair piece draped over over one shoulder.

        I can’t imagine that it’s any consolation when a FW opts for a prettier AP. But seeing them going through the bargain bin has its own “wtf” charm.

    • “After D-Day, he tried to argue that he was being ‘real’ in the marriage and the affair was just fakery and transactional as if that was reassuring.”

      Don’t look at that man behind the curtain! lol

  • Our family therapist who saw us on a regular basis for ten years fired him after DDay and is still my therapist and my daughter’s.

    I remember her saying, “He is so codependent you may never have been compatible.” I believe this.

    One example of today’s topic sticks in my mind. I think I’ve shared it before. I love Asian culture and art and collect what I can afford. I belong to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I had to drag him to the Chinese New Year parade every year. These were interests of mine he disparaged and criticized. He seemed enthusiastic about going to Japan with me. I found out why after DDay.

    The Craigslist cockroach is a Chinese national. In a note to her he said, “I have come to love the ways of your culture.” He told me he had always been attracted to Asian women but had never acted on it. (News to me after 27 years, but it explained why he went to Japan with me and where he probably was the day he said he was going to tour a manufacturing facility.).

    What a phony. For our entire relationship he complained about my love of Asian culture and art. He never set foot in a museum or attended any kind of exhibit and grudgingly participated in cultural events. He didn’t like sushi until I took him to really good places.

    He just got back from a trip to Hawaii with her. I don’t know if he rented our regular house in Lanikai, but you can be sure whatever he was up to on Oahu was a blueprint of whatever we did there as a family. I was the reason we ever went there and what we did there was mostly initiated by me. We spent so much time there over the years that I cannot imagine how he could go there without seeing ghosts and memories everywhere. There are other Hawaiian islands and certainly countless other places he could go on the planet and why he would pick there is just bizarre to me.

    I’m the opposite in that I want to get rid of and stay away from as much as possible that reminds me of him. Little Hammer does too. I have no desire to go places that used to be ours. That he does is just more evidence to me that something is really wrong with him.

    • “I cannot imagine how he could go there without seeing ghosts and memories everywhere.”

      Yeah. I just don’t get it. It’s as if they are somehow wired differently.

      • Memories come from emotions & they’re not emotionally engaged whatsoever. It finally made sense why my ex couldn’t recall memorable moments or only at random times.

    • Completely agree with you VH, and it’s completely dumbfounding.
      Something is really wrong with these people that can do the exact same things with someone else and not be moved by the ghosts and memories while doing it.
      My FW became superintendent of the school he graduated from after he dumped me for the mistress and moved her into residency with him before the ink was dry on the divorce decree. Having a huge celebration on his appointment with all his family in the area without the only person they know to be by his side in over 40 years not there and another in her place. Who has the balls to do that and imagine there is anything okay with that?!
      I was dating him through the 4 years he was on that campus as a student, picking him up every w/e to take him home, going to every single ball game he played in there home and away. ( his parents never went to his games, even in high school, but my parents went to every one!)
      We were married in the chapel on the grounds of the college in 1980. ( I don’t know if he marry Schmoop in that chapel, he very well may have. My kids would not know either because they didn’t go and were not invited. He called them three days before the wedding, after he told them he would NEVER marry again, and then was so annoyed the following week when none of the three had called to congratulate him!) WTF?!?
      How he can’t see my face as he relives life on that campus day to day without me by his side (we talked many times about getting that job after he retired, the school being 30 mins from both our families. It was exciting to think of it. At least that’s what I understood, but I was wrong about maybe everything!)
      He saw someone 15 years younger than him that completely worshipped him and doesn’t know he’s a cheat and a “lying liar who lies”.
      She may imagine he got away from a crazy wife and she saved him from that with her ‘love’, lol. It’s a good story, too bad it holds not an ounce of truth.
      He can easily just switch out families and live his dream with a fresh new life. It’s that easy for him.
      That’s a deeply dysfunctional and very damaged person in my mind. There’s no logical sense to be found.

    • My FW is now married to his Chinese massage parlor girl. For the entirety of our marriage he often expressed racist views towards Asians. I would always have to correct him when he called them “Orientals”. He would make fun of their mannerisms and accents and make disparaging comments about those who “refused to learn the language”. So I was shocked to learn his AP is a Chinese woman who can barely speak English.

      As far as seeing ghosts of the past, he bought a house for her in the same neighborhood where we bought our first home. He has to pass our old street to get to his. It’s like he wants to recreate his life with a new woman. Weird.

  • I think that the behavior that Feelingstabby is observing in her cheater-ex, can also be a form of stalking/intimidation/hoovering, a subtle way to abusively get control over the chump’s sources of support, in this case, her professional circles. I think that Feelingstabby’s cheater ex may well be trying to exert control over her by appropriating her work connections, friends, and creative outlet and lifework. That this is yet another example of his abusiveness.

  • I did not have children with the ex. What’s crystal clear to me from reading here is that being able to go completely ‘no contact’, together with as much therapy as I could afford, has made all the difference to the pace of my recovery. During his ‘headspace week’ when it transpired he took exgfOW on holiday, they visited two places that had been special to me and, I then believed, him. If I had to witness any of his life since he walked out the door in September 2019, it would have been trauma on trauma. I would have tried to understand why he was doing what he was doing and I would have failed. I will never understand because my brain is wired in a completely different way. My approach has been never to look at her social media (he doesn’t do social media). If others do so and try to pass information on, my response is to say ‘thank you for caring but I do not want to know’. People say ‘aren’t you curious?’. My answer is ‘no’. Curiosity killed the cat. It is abusive for an ex to force feed their former partner information about their new lives, either directly or via children. It shows a lack of empathy and respect for the other person, and is evidence, if still needed, that their actions are entirely selfish. I’m sad that I do not have children. I’m happy that it means I never have to engage with him, his family, and his friends ever again. It reminds me of one or two people at school who made a career out of sitting next to and copying the work of others. The sly little eyes peering over the page in a test. Copying is not the highest form of flattery (one of my mother’s favourite sayings). It’s dishonest. It takes some thing from the person being copied. It upsets the person being copied. It’s harmful. These people are parasites, living off the hard work and achievement of others. It is best to avoid them as much as possible, and when contact is forced enforce boundaries. You do not have to listen to or read their rubbish.

  • I somewhat disagree. I would not reply but I’d screenshot any “thanks” he gives, date it and keep it in a file. It might come in handy for any copyright infringement claims.

  • Dear God. The fuck wit ex took his new much younger but very dowdy partner to our exact honeymoon location, as in the same hotel. He took pictures of her in front of the hotel landmarks, various sites in the city that we ventured that had honeymoon pictures, and then he sent me copies of them. How do I burn out those brain cells so I don’t have to remember what he did?

    • Stop the pain shopping and block him on everything.
      Any form of contact keeps you entangled.
      Out of sight out of mind works but only if you do it.

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