Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Real Monkey Love vs. Barbed Wire Monkeys

I use the analogy here a lot of the Barbed Wire Monkey. Did you know bad monkey love was a famous scientific study?

This scientist, Harry Harlow, studied primate bonding by putting baby monkeys in a cage with their real monkey mommies and other baby monkeys in a cage with barbed wire mommy substitutes, which were wrapped in a thin veneer of terry cloth.

The babies with the barbed wire mommies tried to bond with that thing.

I’ve used this as an analogy as to why we keep cheaters.

Even though they get pricked and are bleeding and the entire experience sucks, inside their little baby monkey brains, they must be thinking… something better than this exists. But they haven’t experienced it. So they cling hard to the barbed wire monkey. Of course, the babies with the REAL mommies are thriving.

Moral of the story? Step out of the cage and go find some REAL monkeys to bond with. It’s scary to leave the barbed wire monkey — but if you find the courage to do it, you’ll experience true monkeys. You don’t know what you’ve been missing.

So I thought this would make an interesting thought experiment — aka Fun Friday Challenge. Tell me your Real Monkey Moments.

This blog is a litany of how much barbed wire monkeys suck — but what was it like to discover that OMG there is more to life than barbed wire monkeys?

I’m not just talking about new romantic partners (although I like those stories too). What were some moments where you thought — oh hey, this is what connection feels like?

Bad Monkey: You got a new sweater? Whatever. Looks like your old sweater. I’m very engrossed in this video game/dating profile/immersion blender right now.

Good Monkey: I love your new sweater! That’s a great color on you!

Being seen. Being unseen. Being appreciated. Being a spouse appliance. Showing up. Disappearing.

I need a field guide to Real Monkeys, CN.



It’s a Friday Challenge rerun. I’ll finally do the Valentine’s winners this weekend. And remember to check out the new private Facebook Chump Nation community!

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.
  • I have not experienced real monkey love yet. I’m skeptical that it’s real.

    I just had the weirdest interaction with Fuckwit and Fuckface (not their real names). I noticed them at a coffee shop together, and when I made eye contact with Fuckface, she threw her jacket over her face and ran out out of the shop. No words were exchanged. Truly bizarre. Who knows the minds of these zoo animals? Fuckwit and I separated two years ago when I found Fuckface’s cringy love poetry… it’s not like I don’t know about them?

    Sorry to be off topic, it’s just, almost too crazy to believe my own eyes sometimes.

    • Really? No one has ever been kind to you?

      Okay, that’s weird about Schmoopie. But come on — I don’t believe you’re cynical about the entire human race.

      • I study people now when interacting. It’s like a social experiment (life). I listen to how men talk of their wives/girlfriends. I pay close attention during conversations and sadly I compare.
        How is it that Joe Schmo from work asks about how I did on a paper that was due or sally smothers (?) pays close attention to details that even my 12 year person wouldn’t “get”. I like the post and analogy. He’s not mean or disrespectful other than a whole bout of cheating lying and waiting for it to now, go away. I recently took my step daughter to FLA. and found out she told her mom it was the whole family. Not just me and her. This reminded me we’re still fucked up. She’s fucked up. And it’s because of him. He cheated with her. And I will always be the enemy because I’m a better mother. And a wife. But no, I am NOT ok. Still. So if you’re leaving don’t feel like you’re making a bad choice. Especially if this is fresh. Save yourself lots of disappointment- he may change but it never goes away.
        Thank you for sharing this!

      • I know this post was meant to give hope to chumps, and I’m sorry, but I don’t think I will ever fully trust a kind gesture again. That’s how they get you.

      • Kind in measured teaspoonfuls in return for buckets of love and kindness poured over them every day…..

        I found this first response on the blog to be interesting. When you are born into a family of dysfunctional narcs and then upgrade to a different, more covert type of narc who you then raise two children under that roof which – surprise- creates dysfunctional, self-centered, manipulative adults…….

        I have never had an adult who would stand up for me or do something difficult on my behalf. I’m with Dracona on this one. I think it is very possible to go an entire lifetime without receiving real monkey love. Likely, we repel it if it does get in our space.

    • Can you imagine what life is like in their house ? Any excuse to be central; to create drama; to make a scene. No thank you.

    • D: Behold, the Fuck Face Drama Queen! My X Fuck Wit is with one too. Of course, she was hoping that he would dash out after her to “save her” from the accusatory eyes of the dastardly ex-wife!! The jokes on her, the FWs get tired out of this shtick real quick after the honeymoon lol

      • When I walked into the bar where my then husband used to hang out with his skank one night after going to the theatre, she saw me and ran out of there so fast. He didn’t see me at first and then got this “deer in the headlights look” when the whole bar went quiet. It was VERY satisfying, I can tell you!

    • I’m guessing Fuckface has some culty belief in witches, demons and the evil eye, thus covering her face to protect herself from you, the “demon/witch” in that scenario. Or she might be one of the 12 million people who think lizard aliens run the world and you’re the lizard queen. Maybe she didn’t have any sage or tin foil handy so she used her jacket. I’m also guessing that, for APs and FWs, “externalizing evil” onto chumps is typical. It’s similar to “splitting” in borderline personality disorder except the individual projects all their own ill deeds and thoughts onto another person, as if cleansing their souls by using someone else as a garbage dump for their own criminal traits and tendencies. For instance, if an AP or FW insists the chump “wants to kill” them, it’s basically a confession that the AP/FW has violent fantasies towards the chump. When they decide the chump is demonic, it’s a confession that the AP/FW has serious antisocial tendencies, fears going to hell for it and may try to enlist others to destroy the chump.

      In other words, if someone acts “terrified” of you for no reason, take it as a warning that they could be dangerous and protect yourself accordingly.

      • Before I knew about the affair, fuckwit said “rat faced whore is terrified of you”. I saw her in Morrison’s (UK supermarket) and she raced down the aisle and out the door like the devil was after her. She must have thought I *was* the devil.🤣

        • One time I was getting gas at a gas (petrol) station near work. I saw OW pull in, see me standing by my car, and drive out again without getting gas. The other station across the street was absolutely packed so she couldn’t go there. I thought it was hilarious. What was I going to do to her? I’d never done anything to her, and we worked at the same place so it’s not like I never had a chance.

          She was always accusing me of following her, but it seemed more often that she would show up where I was than the other way around (also, see above, we worked at the same job on the same schedule and the first part of our routes home were the same; the fact that we sometimes left at the same time and ended up on the same road is hardly malicious on my part, just circumstances). But she’d cry to FW that I was stalking her, or that I “cut her off” in traffic (I changed lanes once to get into the turn lane, and it happened to be in front of her). He’d then call me and get angry about it.

          I’m so glad she left and went to work somewhere else (following FW to his new job).

      • Yep, fuckwits probably told her that you are the equivalent of satan’s wife (accurate if you think about it) and she’s thinking you’re gonna hulk out and smash some chairs across her back. Also, drama queens like to make out that they’re the victim here, so she’s wanting everyone to think, whether she believes it or not, that you’re a violent kook.

      • I don’t know about lizard queens or demons, but before fuckwit moved out, I found her secret reddit account where she had posted all kinds of bizarre nonsense about me (that I was lazy, addicted to drugs, didn’t have a job– outrageous lies). By far the weirdest accusation was that I was a “gold digger.”

        This person was earning $7.25 an hour when we got married and has shown no ambition whatsoever. Yep, that’s me, digging for that minimum wage gold!

        Fuckface, however, seems to come from old money.

        I think you’ve helped me solve that particular mystery.

        • FW was always accusing me of being with him/staying with him for his money. I’d laugh and say “what money?”.

          He was a broke waiter with a pile of unpaid bills when I met him. We rarely had two pennies to rub together our entire marriage. I most DEFINITELY chose him for his money.

    • Same experience here. She’s run out of a store that I walked into on 3 separate occasions. Can’t she just move back to the town she came from and leave mine alone?

      • Use your superpower wisely.

        Mine is being invisible around my ex in-law clan. It’s glorious having an invisibility cloak.

        • I think of Raven from teen titans (the kids version) floating along beneath her purple cloak. She’s my favorite.

  • I learned what real love looked and felt like from a women’s 12-step group I belonged to during the Troubles. These women, most of whom didn’t even know my last name, loved me warts and all, and had zero skin in the game. They gave me the strength to create an exit plan and get out of the House of Horrors, which I did. That is where I learned what real love and connection looks like – hopefully will find that with an actual mature man someday, but honestly my new life is full and complete. I moved to my home state with no job and horrible migraines. I got a great job, bought myself a horse, and am living my dream with an incredible group of strong women horse friends.

        • What’s the plural of this Latin term? I feel it’s more than one horrible yr. It’s a long term abuse of many, many years leading up to some event where we no longer accept the shit.

          • Dunno. D-Day to divorce was 11 months, so I just round up and leave it at that.

            I only did 6 months of Latin (which was actually taught in French) so I don’t think I’m competent to answer. I’m sure someone in CN knows, though…

            • My D day was also 11 months to divorce and during that time re-connected with college boyfriend who provided genuine comfort, care, empathic listening, legal support (he’d been divorced earlier) and eventually our rekindled friendship turned to love. I’m discovering now all of the ways I was trying to be loved by barbed wire monkey for 35 years. Also discovered and learning the mistakes I made in the marriage and learning to connect again in genuine, kind, adult relationship. I thought I “had it all” until I lost it all. I’m just learning what i didn’t really have and how to find it, nurture it, keep it.

            • Gratias tibi, Adelante. (I’m a former high school French/Latin teacher with an eternal love of language and etymology.)

        • This would be a Good Friday Challenge – I love the idea of an expression that sums it up but doesn’t convey bitterness, even if the bitterness is there 🙂

        • “Annis horribilis” is the plural according to Google Translate. Remove one “n” from annus horribilis and it’s “horrible anus” which seems fitting. I had two semesters of Latin but all I remember is “sum vacca superba” or “I’m a conceited cow.”

          • I did Latin at school. All I remember is “amo, amas, amat”. And “she carried the bones in a basket”. No idea why that’s stuck with me.🤣

            • We studied Catullus for two semesters and I remember that “odi et amo” is the lament of a sideboy but have to Google the rest: “Ōdī et amō. Quārē id faciam fortasse requīris. Nesciŏ, sed fierī sentiō et excrucior.” “I hate and I love. Ask me why, I do not know. But I burn.” It must have been tough for APs in the days before penicillin.

            • Maybe we carry the bones of our miserable relationships in a basket. Or maybe you’re waiting for him to kick the bucket at which time you can carry his actual bones in a basket. Would that be legal? Or sanitary?

      • I use that phrase, too. It reminds me that my Irish ancestors were oppressed, and their struggle for freedom was called “the Troubles.” Those troubles were much worse than mine, of course, but recognizing a struggle for freedom seems to be a universal experience. It is also a civil way to discuss bad events. I find I am not accused of being a Bitter Bunny when I describe oppression in this way.

        • Actually the years in Northern Ireland from 1969 to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement are called The Troubles. The long intermittent struggle for freedom over an 800 year period does not have one all encompassing name.

          • You are a better historian than I am! I thought the British referred to all their problems in Ireland with that term! I’ve heard it used in that context all my life. I have ancestors from all over Western Europe and the British Isles, but the immigration to America on my mother’s side was mostly Irish and German. I know for sure my ancestors did not come with wealth, but they did want to live free.

            That is how I started associating my troubles with my ancestors.

            • I am Irish so no prizes for knowing my country’s history. I am also a history graduate so again ,no prizes.

  • It was the middle of discard, I strongly suspected ex was still texting and phoning the AP after promising not to, my life was a mass of confusion and I was going away for a weekend to get my head out of the blender. Our friend, a huge black-bearded Iranian gentle giant, was driving me to the train station. He held the front door for me, the garden gate for me and the car door for me. I was almost in tears as I realised I hadn’t felt so looked after in ages. Just those simple things showed me how much I was lacking consideration and basic respect. I’ll never forget that, or how easy it is to help others with very simple acts of kindness.

  • Well … I did meet someone just after my x left the house, 6 month after D-Day (her parting words were that I may as well file for divorce) … I was still reeling from the shock (and dry retching for the past 6 months), I had no plan on meeting someone and certainly was not looking, when I met the most wonderful, kind and compassionate woman a few months later. It was very disorienting at first as I have not been used to being genuinely appreciated or not being gaslighted for quite some time. Now I know that for some this may seem a bit quick to start engaging romantically so short after, however she was very good friends with a lot of my friends so she came with references so to speak (don’t mean to be flippant, but it makes trusting someone easier if people who you know and trust can vouch for that person) and a few years down the line we are still together and very happy … I am one lucky man.

  • I’ve told this story on here before . I had a guy friend I met at college back in the day. We dated briefly when I was 18 or 19. We belonged to the same small friend group and all of us stayed friends for life.
    He was diagnosed with a devastating terminal illness and was perhaps turning back the pages of his life. He had married happily ,had kids and built a nice life. It was so sad that he was facing death in the prime of his life.
    Just after D day he called me for a chat. I hadn’t yet told him about Arseface and his sociopathic hidden life or the trauma I was going through.
    He had quite enough to deal with without hearing about my woes.
    Anyhow this lovely man,out of nowhere, asked me if I remembered our brief romance of long ago. Of course I did, though neither of us had mentioned it since.
    I had always felt that maybe it wasn’t something he particularly recalled or that it might be awkward to refer to it.
    He said he wanted to tell me that he remembered it vividly … that it was lovely and sweet and a very fond memory for him.
    He was so kind and gracious
    I howled when I got off the phone and it struck me that this man had said more to me about a brief teenage fling than the stone cold sociopath had said to me when he pulverised my heart and soul and discarded me like yesterday’s trash.
    I clung to that barbed wire monkey despite the pain and it took quite some time before I could unpick myself from the jagged spiked wires.

  • My bad monkey spent 30 years ignoring me. I even asked him what my eye colour was as he barely looked at me. He left a note and disappeared without warning. I was in a state of shock. Then one day one of my students was asking me for advice and I found myself moved to tears. Someone cared what I thought! Someone was treating me with respect!

    • Uff, Marigold. Same.

      Once I was asked by a colleague what *I* wanted (we were deciding something) and I almost cried because it had been so long since it was asked.

      • I know this feeling.When I was in the hospital with my son during his multiple hospitalizations for psychosis during the lengthy discard. The director of my clinic, also a long term specialist at the hospital, happened to see me & told me if there was anything I needed to let him know. I just broke down in tears. It had been so long since someone expressed concern for me.

    • My ex didn’t know what color my eyes were, 7 years into our relationship (married for 3.) He made a comment about my “pretty brown eyes” but my eyes are green. And not a hazel green that could look darker, they are emerald green. I frequently have people ask me if I wear colored contacts! But HIS are brown, so I guess he just assumed everyone else had brown eyes, too. *insert eye roll here*

  • I’ve experienced it. When I met my (now) wife, I felt lightening strike. I knew we belonged together. (This was 4-ish yrs after my divorce). We married this fall. Dating and all was lovely and all those nice things.

    But real monkey-love-marriage is not for the faint of heart, especially those of us (me) with trauma from the first-time around. Marriage takes a lot of bravery. Falling in love is easy-ish, but trusting again is really hard. *BUT* it feels safer. It feels steady and stable.

    My real-monkey-marriage-love success story is that my wife is real, authentic and honest.

  • I haven’t found Permanent Monkey Love yet, but last year I dated a very decent man for six months. I had to pull the plug when the divorce I was assured was imminent was looking to be a longer process than I was comfortable with.

    (Please no lectures. I verified with his friends and family that they have been legally separated for three years and she lives out of state. Their divorce isn’t even contentious. They just have assets to separate after a long marriage. I had an acceptable timeline and this wasn’t it for me. )

    But this man will someday make someone a Legit Monkey Love Partner.

    He did not Love Bomb. His gifts were small things like Makeup Brushes and a Pulse Oximeter that I mentioned I needed offhand.

    I got hit with 3/4 major appliances dying and 1500 dollars in car repairs and frozen pipes last winter. The appliance repair place took a 600 dollar deposit from me. The only chunk of savings that I now have that large is in my 401K.

    He paid for my car repairs and brainstormed with me on the rest. He did this as a caring friend and not an obligation. He said he had seen enough of my character to know I was not a spendthrift.

    We’re no longer together but I’m over halfway to paying him back and I also replaced my broken appliances and fought for a refund.

    I don’t want rings and hearts and flowers. I want a real partner who does real shit in the real world where it really matters.

    Even though it didn’t work out, I’m thankful every day for him coming into my life.

    • From every comment of yours that I have read on this site, I would say you exhibit real monkey love every day to your family and friends! You certainly have provided good laughs for me over the years with your descriptive language. You have also made me very hungry when you talk about your cooking. I haven’t had authentic Louisiana cooking in a long time, and I am thinking there should be a road trip in my future to enjoy that cuisine again!

      Did you ever watch that old movie called The Misfits? It was a sad old Hollywood film, but it had some dialogue I really enjoyed. When Marilyn Monroe’s character was talking about a past husband, for instance:

      Roslyn : Why can’t I just say he wasn’t there. He – I mean you could touch him, but he wasn’t there.

      Isabelle Steers : Darling, girl, if that was grounds for divorce, there’d only be about 11 marriages left in the United States.

      I felt that emotion many times when I was married. I could touch him, but he wasn’t there. I believe that is what we missed. Maybe really being there is real monkey love. Being present isn’t enough, but it is a start. Maybe your timeline was off with your friend, but at least he was there when he was present. Who’s to say that wasn’t real? Maybe he was a friend for a season, and not a friend for life, but at least he was a good friend!

  • The best examples of real monkey love in my life are my friendships with a handful of fellow introverts.
    My longest friendship spans 28 years and has waxed and waned over the years but is ever-present like the moon.
    My shortest friendship is less than a year old, with my new next-door neighbor.
    I accumulated a lot of toxic baggage in my marriage. Ex used to tell me I was unsociable and rude, people didn’t like me etc. In hindsight, I think he did it because he wanted to exclude me from his social life. But I internalized it, and as a result, struggled to make new friends in my single life.
    Also, it’s harder to make friends in middle age. But ONLY hard, not impossible.
    The name of the game in my FW-free life has been to untangle my own skein, understand why I picked such crappy romantic partners, and to heal and grow into the person I was meant to be. And that person is a pretty great friend to a few, carefully vetted and selected, people.
    I’ll never say I’m grateful for all the bs I endured with two FWs (first in my marriage and subsequently with the Lying Cheating Loser), but I now know the difference between barbed wire monkey love and the real thing.
    And for that, I am eternally grateful.

    • WW, the ex told me, as one of the faults that he had held on to for 26 years, that I made ‘people feel, very very uncomfortable’. It was the ‘very, very’ that got to me. I was interviewing for jobs at the time (at 59). This comment knocked me for six and my confidence was at the bottom of a very dark hole. I came to see that he was projecting his feeling that I was making him feel ‘very, very uncomfortable’ because he was a lying toerag!

      • MightyWarrior, this placing of their feelings and opinions onto a proxy is a phenomenon I became very familiar with during my marriage. Ex would criticize me by saying “people say” or “people think” this or that about me. I never quite figured out who these “people” were lol.
        One time, early on, the very first time I broached the topic of divorce in a serious, rational way, he came back from a trip to the park with our boys, who were 2 and 4 at the time. His reply regarding the prospect of divorce? “Son age 4 doesn’t want us to divorce.”
        Fucking cowards, the lot of them.

        • I received an email from ex-h that said ” I Don’t want a divorce. The kids don’t want a divorce. The dog doesn’t want a divorce.” The dog that he abused. The kids that thank me for leaving his abusive a$$. The only one that didn’t want a divorce was him, because, as he has shown, he is incapable of adulting.

      • “I came to see that he was projecting his feeling that I was making him feel ‘very, very uncomfortable’ because he was a lying toerag!”

        I remember once when the my ex (still husband) walked in the door, and he was pretty late and I asked innocently where were you? He screamed at me, you make me feel guilty every time I walk in the door. I rarely questioned him about anything, it was rare for me to ask where he was etc. I don’t remember, but I likely asked because of worry that night. Anyway, I just said, “make you feel guilty?” I rarely ask about where you are, how do I make you feel guilty. That of course was a big red waving red flag, but I spackled it. About six months later he had left and was engaged to the town whore.

        I didn’t MAKE him feel guilty, he felt guilty because he WAS guilty. After the D was final, and we ran into each other at a rare family event, he wouldn’t even look me in the eyes. Town whore looked me in the eyes, but she didn’t even recognize what she did wrong, it was her way of life.

      • I’m so sorry! Last night I asked why he talked to me more when I was away for 3 days than he does in person- he said “because you’re nicer there in the sunshine”.

    • My crappy ex would say the same things. What I found is she is the insecure one and would act extrovert and friendly, but she could never form deep bonds with anyone.

      • Same with my ex. He’s not an awful human, nor disordered (imho) but has deep insecurities stemming from his FOO that he masks with braggadocio and getting drunk in social settings.
        Not a good look if you want to form lasting friendships.

    • I also get to witness, and privately celebrate, the romantic real monkey love in my line of work.
      Although I’m a working artist now, I was a housepainter for two decades and still take housepainting jobs occasionally. It doesn’t take long, being in someone’s house, to suss out whether a couple has real monkey love or the barbed wire kind. When I get to be in the vicinity of couples who display respect, reciprocity, care, and connectedness, it fills me with joy.
      I don’t envy them, or pity myself. The choice to stay single is absolutely the right one for me.
      I’m just happy for all the real monkey love in the world, and especially when it touches my world.

  • It took me four years to get a masters (started it right after Dday) and since I’ve pretty much gone no contact with all friends and family, and I didn’t want to force my kids to “come watch mommy put on a gown and get a degree” I didn’t go to my graduation. But I have two friends (new friends) that were super happy for me and sent me a gift in the mail to celebrate. I was SO surprised and touched that they did this. They have also helped shuttle my kids to and fro so many events at school (far more than their actual father). And while I don’t think much of graduation ceremonies that degree is absolutely PROUDLY hung in my LIVING ROOM lol. REAL monkeys rule!!

  • I’d have to say it’s been an experience this year, one of the most bizarre and hurtful, yet entertaining.

    What’s been awesome is how my life has come full circle after all the mess. I still have all of my wonderful friends from years past, and have made many new ones, it’s been amazing at how warm the people I have met are (there were a few bad eggs, but I learned boundaries). It forced me to become more open, more extroverted (maybe that was me all along, but I closed off and buried that part of me while married). I’m at meh with my ex, I don’t compare myself to her or her fiancé anymore, I am my own person.

    I done a lot of work with counseling and care groups, and have found my stride.

    I may purchase a house and go back to school this year to earn a masters in counseling.

    The icing on all this is I received a random text from a long-time friend a week ago and she asked if I was still single, to which i replied, yes. She then introduced me to a friend of hers and we are chatting daily.

    • Josh that’s awesome! I hope you do it… I was inspired to start school by my first therapist, after telling her I’d love to be a therapist:) on my way to a bachelors and God willing- the masters. Start now!

  • I still struggle with accepting kindness. But my BFF gives real monkey love, best seen in her flying 2000 miles to spend 3 weeks with me right after D-Day, during a sub-zero polar vortex, when all I could think about or talk about what what happened.

    • Yes, I have an aunt who did that multiple times after my ex left. She’s now in a nursing home, largely unaware. I fly out several times a year to see her anyway and make sure everything is being handled. I organized and led her husband’s funeral in 2021, and one day will do hers.

  • Ex, together for 26 years, never saying anything other than ‘you look nice’, and that rarely, and not saying anything at all about me on our wedding day.

    One of the registrars at Fulham Register Office saying to me ‘I was told to come and look at this stunning bride, and you are stunning’ (I was 41).

    My close friend who is also my hairdresser saying ‘you are so beautiful that you can never look a mess’ (I’m 63!).

    The truth is somewhere between the two extremes, except that to the people who thought/think I am stunning/beautiful, I am stunning/beautiful and to my dog I am everything perfect in the universe.

    The ex was a real barbed wire monkey narcissist who was incapable of giving a compliment to anyone else (exactly like his mother). With hindsight, he felt that it diminished him to say lovely words about others. But everyone else had to say lovely words about him all the time. I feel ashamed to have ever loved him because I sold myself so short. Now I give real love and kindness to myself.

    • I recently visited my younger brother, and he told me I am truly “stunning” and named certain features. He said that he wasn’t saying that just because he’s my brother either. Here I am heading to semi-retirement, and I’m “stunning.” Got it.

      Mind you, I was so very much “less” to my ex. He perpetually compared me to other women, which shattered my confidence. One of them was a woman he had dated decades before that was a perpetual shadow across our marriage. There were signs that he ran to her, but it doesn’t matter now.

      What matters is that I have wonderful people around me who are real and honest.

      • Elsie, your brother is wonderful. The ex cheated on me with his ex from school. Only after being dumped did I discover that she’d been there in the background throughout our relationship. She even sent him cards to our marital home. It’s why I will not celebrate the coronation of Charles and his affair partner in May. I am relishing seeing Matt Hancock deal with karma here in the UK. A snake trusted a snake and the cheater is being publicly humiliated.

    • MW, I could have written that last paragraph. Throughout 25 years of marriage, I got the occasional “you look pretty” from X. That was the one phrase he would use, about once or twice a year. Couple that with his seeming disinterest in sex with me, only to find out he was screwing my friend (after years of looking at porn) – it’s taking awhile to recover from it all.

      • Juniper, I feel your pain. The ex had no interest in sex with me for the last 10 years of our marriage. I tried but he repeatedly turned away and, of course, he wouldn’t discuss or get help. He was saving himself! I became the OW in his relationship with his exgf. Now I have rediscovered my feminine self after 26 years of it being crushed. It is 3 years exactly since I saw the ex in real life (last time was online mediation in July 2020). I still have low days (and weekly therapy). This week has been hard. I was working on a job literally round the corner from his office for 3 days. I have reached the stage where I know I could handle seeing him but I wouldn’t acknowledge him. He was and is someone I used to know. That’s all.

    • Gosh I so know that feeling. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I once gave my heart and soul to such a turd as my ex. Shudder.

    • That resonates, MW, my dog thinks I’m the moon and stars and it was only recently I realised compliments the narc ex gave (how’s the prettiest girl I know?) were by rote and had no meaning to him other than keeping me pliant whereas I thought them words of love. Don’t know which is the worst or best, false compliments or no compliments.
      I have a lot of making up to do to myself.

      • Or a way to keep from having to call me by my name. I doubt in 40 years he ever used my name more than a handful of times. I think it’s a way to dehumanize and devalue. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve noticed since the divorce. People ask me my name, smile because I have a cutesy fun kind of name,
        and then talk to me using my name. It’s so weird!!!

    • My ex was deliberately stingy with compliments about my appearance. His reasoning: He wanted me to lose weight, and if he said too many nice things about my looks, he thought I’d “get comfortable” and never lose the weight.
      Ironically, I never lost the (normal post three babies in five years) weight until I discovered his affair and told him the marriage was over. And that weight loss was not on purpose.

      • Heaven forfend that you should be ‘comfortable’ Walkaway! That’s disaster for a cheater.

    • This certainly resonates with me! My ex rarely gave me a compliment and frequently ogled other women when I was with him. I felt insecure about my looks for most of our marriage. This came up in discussions with a wonderful shrink I saw briefly after I left my ex and she gave me a reality check that there was nothing wrong with my looks. My partner today frequently compliments me, including expressing frequent admiration for my silver hair (I stopped coloring it during the pandemic and let it grow out)—and I know it’s genuine. Although it’s been Tuesday for years, I will never forget how insignificant and inadequate I felt when I was with my ex. I want to wrap my arms around my younger self and tell her “you deserve better.”

      • 20C Chump, you (and others) give me hope that there are decent people out there. And I guess that, here, we are able to wrap our arms around our younger self equivalents and say ‘you deserve the world’.

  • Early days after my ex asked for the divorce, I needed to borrow my dad’s SUV. We swapped cars & I apologized that he had to drive a dirty car, I hadn’t had time to run mine through the wash. Next day I drive over to swap back and… my car’s washed and fueled up. It was such a stark contrast to my ex’s behavior. I always had to “ask” for help, and half the help I asked for was gate-kept and denied.

    Had I listened to my dad’s dating advice when I was younger, I wouldn’t have stayed with my ex long, but I was too forgiving, and willing to let things go and blame them on his “immaturity.”

    Unfortunately my dad passed unexpectedly just a few months later from a heart attack. Still miss him terribly. (And he was such a doting grandpa to my daughter, I’m sad she only got a few years with him. She would snuggle up on his lap while he’d read to her and they’d share a bowl of goldfish crackers. He was the BEST storyteller. Such a contrast to FW’s dad that barely sees her.)

        • Oh Curly Chump…please know that I am simultaneously genuine in my compassion for your loss and benevolently jealous that I have never ever had a moment with my dad like yours. For years I held close my fondest memory with him then one day realized it was a 10 minute drive to a liquor store where he said one marginally-nice thing. He hates children and has never showed a moment of tenderness to my kids. You had a dad worth grieving for and Im glad that you did.

    • My dad always took care of my car, too. He’s a certain age now and I think it’s too much for him but I felt so supported by him. That’s real monkey love.

      • I have been blessed to have that dad too. I am so sorry for those who have lost or did t have a good father. My daughter has a no good “dad”. And I am sorry for that. That I couldn’t make a better choice at 20 years old. She has been such a blessing to me.
        Dad always fixed my car too. I dont ask anymore, I am just grateful to have him. I doubt there could be anyone like him. Sometimes I notice he will be the only one who asks if I have cash, how the car is running, is the furnace working right? Things like that.

  • After the fw left I moved in with my middle daughter to help raise my grandson as she had left her highschool sweetheart cheater husband. She lived in a cul-de-sac with lots of young families. I was a new empty nester in many ways (lost my mom, youngest launched, fw abandoned). In the 3 years I lived with her I became Grandma Spoonriver. Even now when I pull into the cul-de-sac the kids yell my name and come running to greet me. The adults will come outside even before I’m in the house and wave. Being wanted, appreciated and loved was what I needed and they filled me up and continue to.

  • In my Divorce & Recovery group I became friends with an engineer. He’s introverted and working on it, 10 years younger (no romantic interest). I’m the daughter of an engineer and worked with engineers.
    We go out occasionally and chat. In one conversation he told me I was a high value woman and points out what’s great about Sandyfeet. He still does this when we talk. It’s great to hear.

  • Healing from a fuckwit, I went to stay with a close male friend in LA for a while. Nothing romantic. At one point during the trip, I was hungover and sad and he cared for me and spoke to me kindly, I had this ‘aha’ moment of ‘this is what trust and reciprocity feels like.’

  • I am blessed to experience true monkey love with my only daughter.
    Her father and I were married for 35 yrs when he left us. She supported me till I could support myself for 7 yrs. Now, it’s my turn to support her through her divorce for as long as it takes for her to support herself at which time, I hope we will have broken the pattern of picking cheaters for life partners. My hope and prayer is that my 3 grandchildren have learned from our mistakes. But, if not , we will be here to hold them us until they are strong enough to support themselves … and so goes the circle of real monkey love from one generation to the next.

  • In the aftermath of D-Day and the Ex-Mrs LFTT driven lunacy that followed I was really “knocked for six.” A female work colleague that I worked with had the emotional intelligence work out that I was well and truly “off my game.” She also had the moral courage to take me to one side and ask me if I was OK and whether I needed to talk.

    She showed me more empathy, patience and sensitivity in that moment (and in the time that she spent helping me subsequently) than I had seen from Ex-Mrs LFTT for many years. There was no romantic entanglement or anything like that, but she showed me what it felt to know that someone had my back and was there for me.

    I will always be grateful to her.


  • My healing came in a 12-step group. I have mutually loving friends there who are all in. They text me at the airport with concern when I’m flying to a state with blizzard conditions and give me funny gifts like slippers with beagles on them (I have a beagle). I reciprocate, of course. Now I’m on the leadership team with that group, and I’ve never been with such a lovely group of people. We truly keep each other cared for and on-topic.

    One of the 12-step gals is getting married in April, so I’m helping with a few bits and pieces there. It’s a good relationship, and they’ve been together for eight years. I can’t wait. It’s fun to see true love.

    There are still some friends on the edges from my marriage days, but I realize now that they have a lot of issues themselves that make ever being close to them again post-divorce unlikely. Some of them still don’t quite know what to do with single me. It’s been YEARS now, and they still don’t know. I’m not waiting around.

    One recently decided I don’t have enough faith because I’m not expecting my ex to return YEARS after he took off for the beach and living the single life. You know, Paul had a spiritual awakening on the Road to Damascus, she says. Even if the ex did return, I’m truly NOT up for unpacking that mess and figuring out if he’s at all trustworthy YEARS later. Note that, YEARS later. She doesn’t listen to my objections, so she’s been pushed further out.

    One of the benefits of my mess was that I finally got that I can choose to push disordered people to the outskirts of my life while choosing to have the good ones close. Life post-divorce is lively and loving because of that.

  • Seeing the world through the eyes of a covert narcissist for so long was disturbing and disappointing on so many levels.

    Once removed I could see the kindness from people who actually cared and showed it through their consistent actions. Real monkey love does exist. Because I was so depleted I’d cry with gratitude when I saw the difference.

    My son and granddaughter who lived with me after Dday are capable of real monkey love and demonstrate it effortlessly.

    I also see it demonstrated with chump friends. And when I struggled the first few years my landlord allowed me to pay rent whenever I wanted during the month, lowered my rent, and gives me gifts and a check every Christmas. They drop off vegetables from their garden all summer and fall.

    The Limited despised these wonderful people and had nothing good to say. His attempt to move me from my home failed. I’ve been here for 17 years and I love my home.

    There are good people who surface once the dead weight is eliminated.

    • “There are good people who surface once the dead weight is eliminated.”
      That is such a true statement! Removing the toxicity blinders opens the portal to allow you to see and feel kindness. I notice kindness

  • After being conditioned to do everything myself, isolated, and married but still a single parent, I had difficulty asking and accepting help but no trouble offering help and trying help solve others problems. It’s a work in progress.
    After we left but before the divorce, my dad died. My brother and I went to close things out. When we arrived he took my luggage from the car. I was stunned over that small thing. I privately cried.

    I’m in line with others here on holiday neglect. The empty stocking syndrome. The first year we left the kids decided we’d only give what fits in the stocking and they would take care of mine. It was so much fun and every year since mine is as fun and thoughtful as I have made theirs. They absolutely notice what’s happening in the home.

    I find fellowship with others who I share common values and interests. Real people

    • I agree with you Informal. It’s hard to have someone do things for you and care for you when you’ve been through a neglectful relationship. I feel guilty a lot and for no reason. I have trouble accepting and opening up to someone being loving and giving. It’s the scars these selfish people leave us. But real love is abundant and opening up to it feels amazing! My daughter and I feel grateful every day for our lives- something we didn’t have when my ex was here- even for my daughter, her own father. So sad for him to be unable to feel that with us.

    • Informal, I’d forgotten about the luggage thing. I’d be packing as little as possible because I knew I’d have to manage it myself. And skis! I’d look sadly at men carrying their female partners’ skis. I was always left carrying my own! To the ex, I did not exist as a person.

    • I was so accustomed to experiencing the world alone (even when Cheater was there) that it was all I knew. My now husband and I travelled to an exotic locale and he said “you walk around like you are alone” at first I said “no I dont” but I did. Im so glad that he expressed his observation instead of taking it as a rejection.

  • I believe real kindness exists in human form. I understand the barbed wire monkey — my FOO was full of barbed wire. I have never stopped believing there was real kindness in the world. At my lowest point with my father, relative strangers stepped in and assured me the opportunity to have a good life. I had to work to achieve it, but they made it possible when my BWM abandoned me. At my lowest point with my Exs, my good friends stepped in and assured me I was doing the right things, for me and my sons.

    I have not ever experienced the kind of love and respect in a mate that some of the chumps in Chump Nation have found. I don’t believe it will happen for me, but I do not close the door to the chance it can happen. I am not looking for my personal real monkey, but maybe he is out there, somewhere, swinging through the jungle wondering where the hell I am. Every day when I look through the comments of chump nation, I am reassured there are good people in the world.

  • I was a musician once upon a time before I met the fuckwit. A group of fellow former musicians invited me to join while I was still married and I knew that would make my life horrible at home if I even showed interest, since it would require I travel and be “alone” with real friends. So I didn’t join.
    Fast forward to freedom and I joined that band, and those people have had my back, sides and front ever since. They were at my wedding, they were IN our wedding. And they fully adopted my new, wonderful husband into the family too.
    I didn’t see until I escaped how damaging fuckwit was to my friendships and even family relationships. He didn’t want me to have support from friends or family, a way out. The first steps I took alone, but almost immediately had friends back by my side helping me navigate after my 20 year “sentence” with my ex ended.

    • Music is an amazing way to communicate with people. I’m convinced my FW secretly was hoping I would leave behind my piano — not because he played, or loved music, but because it was like a status symbol for him. In my new life now, my daughter lives nearby and comes over with friends, all of us working remotely, maybe once a week or so. One of her friends loves my piano and just wants to practice, so we’re all working remotely, flopped across the furniture, while he’s practicing. It’s the most welcoming and amazing way to spend a day. I bake cookies. They bring bagels.

    • “I didn’t see until I escaped how damaging fuckwit was to my friendships and even family relationships. He didn’t want me to have support from friends or family, a way out. The first steps I took alone, but almost immediately had friends back by my side helping me navigate after my 20 year “sentence” with my ex ended.”


  • Here’s one new experience (or maybe an experience that I haven’t had in so long I’d forgotten what it felt like).

    After I separated from FW, I moved across the country, and when I got to my new life I started seeking out friendships within my new neighborhood. My X was so snobbish and judgmental I always felt awkward bringing people over to the house. He always managed to find fault with anyone, even someone I was convinced he would love. Sometimes it even seemed like he was looking for ways to get rid of people who wanted nothing other than simple friendship from me.

    Now of course I see it all different: when you’re hiding your double life, any extra people in your life just add on to the burden of who you’re forced to lie to. I suppose he found it exhausting to have to pretend to be a doting and loving husband.

    But, in no time at all I’ve accumulated a really good, supportive group of friends who like to do things like “go for a cup of coffee” or “go for a nice walk” or “go out for dinner” and I don’t have to burden the group by inviting sourpuss to join me. I even got an opera subscription with one of my new friends — and it’s been wonderful. I don’t have to apologize or explain it to anyone, I just do it because I want to.

    It’s like if you were carrying around a 30-lb sack of potatoes for two and a half decades, and then one day you were able to put it down and discover what “walking” suddenly feels like. Totally new, totally different.

    • Walkbymyself, I can totally relate! The X squashed my interests so he could fill our life with his. What did I know? I didn’t have the tools to stand up for myself then. Now, I do. It feels so good, the freedom (hence my name)!!! Your friends sound wonderful 😊

      • “X squashed my interests so he could fill our life with his. ..I didn’t have the tools to stand up for myself then. Now, I do.”

        I love this. Sometimes I am hard on myself that I let me ex so completely annihilate everything that made me “me”. It took me years to find myself again. But I just didn’t have the “tools” then. I wouldn’t go back to the person I was before all this happened. Experience was hard, but I am much stronger now and happier.

  • My new spouse has been teaching me real monkey love, sometimes it’s tough love, like he can tell when I slip into victim mode and he doesn’t support that side of me, which brings me back to reality as I choose to not be a victim. If I start dancing and trying to gain his love and attention when I think he disapproves of me, he reminds me that he loves me no matter what and even if he’s angry at me, he still loves me. I don’t have to dance for approval anymore, he just loves me. I think that’s real monkey love.

    • New husband and I were having a pretty bad fight about something important and not getting anywhere near a resolution and he told me “please dont ever question my love for you” because it is real and constant, not because questioning it is an inconvenience (like with cheater)

  • About six months after my divorce, I had an experience at the grocery store I’ll never forget.
    I was mindlessly pushing my cart down an aisle when I heard someone gasp. I looked up to see a lovely young woman at least half my age staring at me.

    Fearing I was blocking her way, I opened my mouth to apologize, but before I could say anything, she blurted out, “Oh my goodness, you are so beautiful!”

    I was speechless. In the 36 plus years I was married, my ex had never told me I was beautiful, pretty, or marginally acceptable. Couple that with him burying his head in a pillow every time we had sex so he wouldn’t have to look at me — well, let’s just say my self image was not a good one.

    Yet, in this one moment, a complete stranger gifted me this random act of kindness which made me feel better about myself than I had in years. When I got back to my car, I flipped down the visor and looked at myself in the mirror. And I saw a beautiful woman in the reflection looking back at me.

    To this day, I consider this my turning point in the healing process. I’ll never know who she was, but I’ll never forget her.

  • My family is real monkey love. My ex FIL showed me kindness throughout my marriage that my ex did not. Unfortunately for both of us, we were married to barbed wire types. He was always ashamed of how his son acted & now whenever we see each other, he throws his arms around me & gives me the biggest greeting! His wife just scurries off & hides. Yup, the FW definitely is his barb-wired mummy’s son 🙄

  • I told my Pilates instructor (also a friend) about FW’s cheating a couple weeks after D-Day. Simply “he cheated,” none of the sociopathic details. She dropped off a care package on my doorstep that made me full-on ugly cry: a journal, massage gift card, and bath products with the loveliest note about taking good care of myself during this tough time.

    • That is so awesome! Thanks for sharing. We need those people, and we need to try to be those people when we discover a need.

  • This is easy for me. Not romantic love but family love.

    My adult children and their partners stepped UP. They stepped up when the going was so terribly tough. Surrounded me with love, care, graciousness and support. Knowing exactly what I needed in my time of dire need. I’m truly grateful to them all and immensely proud that during their navigation of the shit show caused by FW they acted towards me in a way that truly got me through.

    It’s taken a while before I opened up to those outside my tribe, I’ve been pleasantly surprised and humbled by the kind, generous and loving people that I’ve met. I know there are many more I will meet.

    My eyes are open as is my heart.

    Hugs to you all 🤗

  • Bad times after Dday in 25th year of marriage when caught again: “you make me feel inadequate and therefore I had to be with her (AP)”

    Good times now- 8 years later: ……(quiet morning in bed), puppy on my lap lightly snoring, early spring birds chirping outside, fiancé (a real mensch) next to me, turning pages of book as his leg gently presses against mine, leans over for a kiss with full eye contact and says “I’m really lucky to be with you.”

    Cheater who? He’s just some asshole I used to know— good riddance!

  • The monkey analogy was really powerful for me!
    The Good/Bad monkey example sounds verbatim like conversations I have endured. It is so validating to hear that I deserve to hear “You look great!”. I don’t deserve it because I, in fact, may look great- I deserve it because a caring monkey will uplift you and want to see a smile on your face- and we all deserve that person. I deserve it because I am a living feeling human being.
    “Spouse Appliance” Ouch! I’m new to getting help after years of being invisible (30+ years). It’s a little shocking to hear someone call it out exactly like it feels to me! In a way, that is so encouraging. I am not alone (not that I wish anyone to go through this pain). I am NORMAL and people UNDERSTAND.
    Thank you

  • Real monkey love is my family. My brother, who came 150 miles and sat with me whilst fuckwit collected his shite from our home, who came with me to Court. Who listened, and replied to all my distraught texts. My nephew and niece, who sent me a beautiful bunch of flowers, with a card telling me I was the best Aunty in the world, and they loved me.

    Even my mum- she’s a bit of a narc, and upset me in the very early, raw days, but she came through with the money I needed to pay for a solicitor.

  • I found out about DDay on a Tuesday and took the rest of the week off. I posted a message on Google Classroom for my high school students telling them I wasn’t well and so many of them commented with well-wishes and they coudn’t wait for me to come back. They really cared about me and felt my pain. Meanwhile, my ex BF didn’t even reach out to me until I made contact with him 3 days later. I’m so glad he’s gone! Haven’t spoken to him in nearly 2 years 😀

  • Colleagues who consistently valued my opinions and discussed different views respectfully. Observing how several married male colleagues spoke respectfully and lovingly about and to their wives, and introduced them at work events. It was such a contrast to my then husbands actions that had frog-in-boiling-water become uncaring, disrespectful, and in hindsight, sometimes abusive.

  • I learned that I have wonderful people living in my neighborhood. I learned that there are kind people working at the hardware store who will reach out to me with care as I walk in the door sobbing. I’m having a bad day today cause my children were convinced that I am evil and I was truly emotionally abused for 50 years…but there are a whole lot of people out there who treat me with manners and respect. I had had zero friends for 10 years and I have friends now who are there and comfort me on bad days like today…and Chump Nation has literally been a life saver as I was so emotionally beat that I was planning suicide. Thank you Chump Nation.

  • These are so uplifting!! Great Friday idea.
    In the early days of dating my BF, he said let’s go to a music event tonight, his friend was singing at a club. I got ready, and put on my new wine colored dress, and some fun jewelry. I’ll always remember when he walked in the door and was literally stopped in his tracks. LOL! He just said WOW and hugged me, then got himself dressed up so we could go. This feeling like I’ve never had before just flowed through me. The X purposely never said anything to make me feel good about myself, or anything I did. can’t believe I put up with that for 32 years! I escaped his prison of Narcness.
    But my favorite person who has helped me to come out of my shell is my daughter-in-law. I got so lucky, because she has a master’s degree in social work. She’s just the sweetest, most genuine person, and is always building me up and inviting me to visit with them. So is my son, and they have a very good partnership, hallelujah! It’s funny, because she says she won the mother-in-law lottery, but it’s so mutual. Life is sweet, and I’m so grateful ❤️

  • I don’t like this Friday challenge because I have to look at the realities of my life. My own parents were hybrid monkeys. Very good at caring for us physically, watching out for us, teaching character and conscientiousness. But they sucked at acknowledging emotions. They had few emotional expressions other than angry and neutral. Fortunately we most often saw “neutral”because they were well educated, well off financially, and determined to be good, responsible parents. But I felt the lack of connectedness with them, felt they never understood me, and felt intensely lonely within my FOO.

    Years later when one of my children was diagnosed with ASD , I recognized many traits of autism were present in both my parents.
    I struggled with some traits myself, like not looking at people’s faces.

    I experienced a bit of real monkey love when I started working with a counselor who commented on MY facial expressions, and told me that my face showed certain emotions although I wasn’t talking about them nor giving them any importance. He helped me realize that body language and emotions are important. I started with a children’s book on facial expressions & went on to YouTube and other resources, and began to practice with the counselor & a friend at work. This really helped me get to know and understand myself, my own kids, and my dad. By the time my mom died, I could read even the minute changes in my dad’s face & could recognize when he was exhausted during the wake.
    It was like that counselor helped break open the secret of why I felt uncomfortable around other people.
    I probably did comfortable with my husband initially because he was not very emotional and I accepted that he ignored my emotions because I had been ignoring them myself. I did have great girlfriends but didn’t understand what I was missing. They helped model caring for emotions but I sometimes felt like a barren stick in the middle of luxurious foliage.
    All of this is still no excuse for that FW cheating on me.

    • I hear you. I get it too. I am fortunate to have one real-monkey love in life but otherwise a lot of gaping black holes…mom, dad, only sibling – all personality disordered and selfish. My oldest son (who I poured love into by the bucket) also has ASD and flat out told me he did not love me (until he got cancer and got a wee bit more sentimental…and I do mean wee bit). My other 2 kids seem to prioritize remembering their dad fondly over all other dynamics. I have had friends with loving parents, siblings, kids and to me their lives looked so full and rich. Im blessed by what I do have but its limited (he is a great guy but is a flawed human like the rest of us).

  • I experienced real love when I said I didn’t want sex and I was listened to. I know that this should be a given in any relationship but it was such a pivotal moment when it happened!

  • Bad Monkey: 2nd place in a field of 87 others for the Best Yard in town? { yawns} 2nd Place is the first loser.

    Good Monkey: Incredible! So proud of you! Let’s celebrate! 🎉 I’ll make dinner reservations.

    • I came in third in my age group in a 5k pre pandemic and pre-D-day. It was my first race.

      Bad monkey (aka FW): The two ahead of you had much better times. [What the what??? I internalized this constant criticism for 35 years. I thought he had a point.]

      Good monkey (new friend who heard about that race): Wow! That’s amazing.

      • What a jackass! I know that had to sting.

        It did for me. I was so proud. When he saw my confused shock, he accused me of having no sense of humor. Classic NPD DARVO move. (I knew nothing about either at the time).

    • Second best yard out of 87 is a HUGE accomplishment!!
      I busted my ass in (and around) our houses to make them lovely and spend zero money and I was really good at it. Once I had to hang myself out of windows to replace rotted moulding on our bay windows…it was a zillion step process that saved a HUGE bill from a carpenter. When Cheater (a home project procrastinator of the worst sort) got home and saw my work, he said “that is not how I would have done it”. In a rare moment of challenge, I said “yes, you are right, because you would have never done it at all”.

      • What a showplace your homes must have been! Glad that you put him in his place. Gotta love a woman with the confidence to use power tools. 🏆

        Your story proves the point that we Chumps were never seen as an equal partner but as a competitor to be bested emotionally and mentally (and possibly even physically and financially).

        • Yes, Colonels XC, to him life was a competition and he needed me to be wrong so that he could convince himself that he was right. Once I told him that 2 people can both be wrong, so proving me wrong doesnt mean anything. I am SO accustomed to whoever Im interacting with declaring me wrong that I have more comfort in it than most people. It comes in handy in some human interactions.

          But yes, he had to best me in as many ways as possible and I normally let him. In our small city I am known for some of my professional accomplishments and I remember once going to Panera and the cashier saw his credit card and our last name and as I stood quietly, she turned directly to me “Oh you are ____ who works at ____, I know of you!” He looked shocked….so funny!!

  • I have a real monkey relationship now. Real monkey love feels like:

    He enjoys my company
    He hugs and kisses me
    He doesn’t expect me to act like a porn star in bed.
    We have connected loving sex
    He asks me how I’m doing
    He notices and cares when I’m down
    He makes me dinners
    He is where he says he is
    We can have an non-mind-fucking conversation about our feelings
    I can actually feel loved in his presence and it isn’t contingent on me being a certain way

    Don’t get me wrong- I still have loads of baggage but it’s amazing to realize there are decent loving people out there! I often feel bad about what I missed though too. I was married to an asshole for 25 years so it’s gonna take some time.

    • Yes, me too…its wonderful even though we still live in the real world where people have conflicts.

      My hubby is so good to me in some ways, I dare not even tell my friends at work because they will hate on me for it, but last Thursday, I was in the dentist chair about to endure misery and I let on about my secret “every other Thursday, my cleaning ladies come and my husband does the grocery shopping, so I go home to a clean house filled with fresh food”

  • During the horrible times where I was losing the “pick-me-dance” to his “ho-worker”, we had road work and sidewalk work being done in front of our house. It was going on for weeks–but the workers were incredibly nice. They would stop traffic so I could leave my driveway and every time my daughter got on or off the bus, they would talk to me kindly when I left or arrived at my house–they never acted like my needs were of no matter! I remember remarking about this to my FW/now-ex, that it was sad how these workers made me feel appreciated more than him!
    Even that made no difference to him–he just thought I must have the hots for one of them!

    • “he just thought I must have the hots for one of them!”

      That’s because the only time they ever think of being nice to someone is for sex or some other benefit to themselves. They see no reason to be kind/thoughtful/polite otherwise. I once smiled and waved in a friendly way when a coworker drove by, and FW accused me of flirting with the guy.

  • Lately I’ve been thinking about a dear friend in NY who died of kidney failure the year my first child was born. He was a professional jazz musician originally from a tough Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. I met him during college through a singer friend who performed with him. The singer friend adored him because, without ever trying to take advantage of her, he’d coached her through a terrible breakup with another musician who’d joined some existential cult. He was that kind of friend.

    He was so vital and filled with energy that you’d never know he lost a kidney at 20 and had to be on dialysis for the remainder of his life. He read voraciously, especially about ethics and the human condition. He didn’t just recycle the ideas of others, he really absorbed concepts and made them relevant. He was also hands down one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, gave the most thoughtful advice in any situation you could imagine and became a kind of role model for other jazz dudes. He organized a sort of informal, alcohol-free salon society and being around him felt like the center of the universe. I remember how his friends all adopted conscientious language. It was a trip seeing all these hardcore New Yawk guys quoting philosophy and discussing emotional justice. He was brilliant at anything he put his mind to. When his health eventually prevented him from touring, he took up day trading and made a killing at it because he wanted to leave his wife well off. Towards the end of his life he seemed to be conserving energy for his family but he left such a mark on everyone he knew that it’s like he isn’t gone.

    I left NY before he met his wife. I think she was a lucky woman though it must have been that much harder to lose him.That’s another thing. He was completely faithful to whomever he was dating so I assume he was also devoted in marriage. One thing I learned from him is that some people regard friendship as so precious that they see it as an honor, not an insult, to be “friend-zoned.” There was never any question about the Platonic basis of his friendship even when he was between girlfriends. I was the biggest perv magnet at the time and don’t have brothers so I really valued having a truly safe male friend who also made sure everyone around treated me with respect. But what was different is that his protection didn’t turn into a protection racket. I didn’t feel boxed into the little sister princess role. I was free to be funny, express anger, share ideas, etc. And caretaking was reciprocal. He once came over to make me Italian wedding soup from scratch when I had the flu. Then there was another time after a particularly horrible round of dialysis that he asked to stay the night because he was afraid he might die in his sleep. His dad had developed health issues and he didn’t want to trouble his parents so I slept with one hand over his heart so I’d wake up if he went into cardiac arrest. Never for a second did I feel “groomed” or unsafe.

    He also set the bar forever about how people are supposed to respond when someone is victimized. I asked him to meet me for coffee after my first experience with serious workplace harassment and attempted assault as an intern. I was nervous talking about it because I’d already gotten barraged with victim-blaming from idiot bystanders and Swiss colleagues so, after telling him what happened, I mechanically capped the story off with, “Well, at least I learned something.” This seemed to be the kind of pozzy, slightly apologetic thing people demand to hear from victims lest victims sound too “blamey” or “bitter.” But instead of patting me on the head for spouting self-negating spin, this friend surprised me by taking off his glasses and crying into a table napkin in the middle of Little Italy. He said, “Why would you say something like that? Like you *needed* to learn anything from that piece of shit?” Then he said something that will stay with me for the rest of my life: “Someone like you could have learned from books instead of having to live through it.”

    As someone who was facing premature death and had fully processed all the usual calendar poetry about dealing with adversity, it’s no wonder the idea of “learning” from adversity or, God forbid, “thanking” it, seemed so offensive to him. It’s tantamount to wishing it on others since apparently it’s so edifying. We ended up joking about it. Should slaves thank slavery? What about babies with leukemia? Now I bristle anytime I hear someone thanking adversity or telling others to do so. I also realized that he was probably tired of people assuming he was such a great guy merely because he had to wrangle with death. Maybe that was just him. And I think he was exactly the kind of person who would learn all those deep truths from books or just from listening to other people.

    I also learned from this friend that “nice” doesn’t mean “weak” or being a pushover. I declined his kind offer to have the perp’s legs broken so, the next day, he marched me over to the police station to file a report. Cops weren’t too enthusiastic about cases like this at the time and had tactics to discourage reporting but my friend’s presence seemed to suddenly inspire everyone to do their jobs. He urged me to follow through on prosecution, saying “Either you send the warning or I will.” He picked me up from work a few times after I told him I was getting pressure from Swiss gang at work to “let it go.” We crossed paths with the Ivy League perpetrator who shit his pants and started telling everyone that I was in league with the mob and was going to have him bumped off. All my friend did was look at the guy without smiling, that’s it. Suddenly management was on my side and the flying monkeys backed off. The creep was arrested, had to appear before a judge and got only a slap on the wrist but the message was sent.

    I was too traumatized to complete the internship but I had enough support that the experience wasn’t career-killing. Not at that point anyway. I eventually left that narc-filled industry after more horrible experiences but I feel like my friend’s behavior and the behavior of other good people left me with this self-fulfilling expectation that I’d be able to find support in dire circumstances and I’ve always managed to. I fought back and didn’t go down easily.

    One of the most diabolical things that evil people do is to convince their victims that decency isn’t an option because it doesn’t exist. I think that total lack of faith in human decency is partly what makes evil people so evil and it’s like they can’t rest until they’ve implanted their hopeless world view in others. It’s the alibi of rotten people to believe they had to be corrupt because there’s no other way to get by. But some people are walking proof that the alibi is a big lie. They represent hope and it lives on.

      • What’s funny is that he was always saying, apropos of whatever, “Look, I’m just a regular guy.” In other words, “Everyman.” It wasn’t false modesty. You couldn’t walk ten city blocks with him without him stopping to chat with people he knew from club owners to cleaning ladies. What made him special is that he thought everyone was special. Except sharks, rapists and creeps. Then he turned into a Bronx leg breaker. But we all have our quirks. 😉

  • I had a really bad cough a couple weeks ago. I was getting over some bad sinus problems with seasonal allergies and I developed a cough. Usually happens at least once a year. The cough sometimes makes me choke it gets so rough.

    So I was over at my boyfriend’s place, full of benedryl and robitussin, and he wrapped me up in bed in his blankets with his cat. After we went to sleep, my cough was keeping me awake. Every time I felt myself actually falling asleep, I would cough and it was actually pretty miserable.

    It was probably like, 3 am, and I coughed really hard and lost my breath and had to deeply inhale a few times to catch it. Then I felt his hand rubbing my back. He had turned over and started rubbing my back and shoulders and then wrapped his arms around me.

    He went to work in the morning and let me sleep in at his apartment. I woke up around 1, and told him I was exhausted. He said I must be, that cough kept me up all night. I apologized for making so much noise with it. He said “It didn’t bother me at all babe, please get some rest today.”

  • Ok I have one. About my mom. Right after I found out my husband was cheating on me I packed up my 10 month old son and moved in with my parents.

    The first morning I was getting up with baby and trying to figure out how I was going to go to the bathroom with baby. I had a play pen at “home” that I put baby in while I was getting ready in the morning (because my husband couldn’t be bothered to help – barbbed monkey). I’d do the single mom thing of having him in the bathroom with me or just outside the door and just getting the bare minimum done for myself before he stares to scream. I hadn’t grabbed the play pen in my exit. I didn’t have any idea what to do as I stepped out of the bed room.

    And my mom was standing in the hall waiting for me. She offered to take baby. For the first time in 10 months I was able to get ready for the day with speed rushing and keeping one eye on baby. She got baby changed and dressed and brought him back…

    I broke down crying. It was the first time someone had taken care of me since I had gotten married and had become a wife appliance. I have been relearning that I have value and deserve to be allowed time to take care of my basic needs.We now have a lovely routine in which I get 30 mins all to myself every morning while grandma gets baby changed and dressed and feed. And boy do I need it after all night baby duty.

    • What a revelation, right?! I was fortunate that my mom helped out when my baby was little (cause like you, the cheater ex did very little). But I was groomed to believe (by her and others of her generation) that his lack of interest and involvement with our baby was normal guy stuff. It was heartbreaking, but I guess I just sort of accepted it. And we lived out in the country relatively isolated so I had no real time comparisons. Flash forward to watching my brother-in-law’s total engagement with his first baby–diapers, nighttime feedings, insisting on nap times for my sister while he took baby duty, just simply looking adoringly at his new baby, etc. And my heart broke again realizing that my baby got none of that from her dad. He did whatever he could to avoid caring for her, and in fact came across as resentful to her alot.

      Some people just should not have kids…although I’m beyond grateful that I got mine from him cause she’s the best.

    • When I had babies 1 & 2, mom showed up, got drunk, messed up my house and told me I was doing everything wrong (I cared for newborns for a living and could resuscitate one if need be). She put tequila on the pacifiers, left my 2 year old alone in a store, and told me car seats were silly.

      When baby 3 came she never showed up. Its all much worse than this but I dont have time to type it.
      I cant even imagine what it would have been like to have a kind mom.

      • So very sorry, Unicorn. FWIW, putting a touch of whiskey on a baby’s pacifier was my grandmother’s old-country remedy for a cranky teething baby. Apparently, it did work; however, I’m the only teetotaler in a family of alcoholics, so who knows…? In any event, you have my deepest sympathy for what you endured. I’m so glad that your life has love and appreciation in it now. Better late than never.

  • I’ve certainly experienced real doggy love. I much prefer it to so-called romantic love. I’ve never had a romantic relationship, or even a friendship, where the person turned out to have my back and to be ethical in general. I know there are truly good people out there, but they are very hard to find. There are a lot more crap people and mediocre people. I don’t want them. Maybe my standards have boomeranged to being too high since I got fucked over not only by FW, but family members as well, but oh well. I’m just so done with dealing with people’s bullshit. I’ll stick with my daughter and my dogs. They don’t lie or betray.

    • Oh, I almost forgot about the challenge. Here goes.

      This happened when I wrote my first screenplay.

      Bad monkey FW, after reluctantly reading it; stony silence. Not a single comment, and no reaction when he was reading it. He just put it down and walked away to go back to his computer games.

      Good monkey daughter; “Mom! It’s incredible!” She also laughed uproariously while reading it and read it over and over.

      I don’t suffer from either a rampaging ego or false modesty. I believe I have a realistic sense of my abilities. So I knew it would be funny to anyone with a well-functioning sense of humor. FW did what he did just to put me down. If anyone else had written it, he’d have loved it.

      FW hates that I have any abilities which he does not. Like all covert narcs, he’s an insecure and envious guy.

      • Oh yes, a thousand times Yes! “Like all covert narcs, he’s an insecure and envious guy.” This was at the heart of all problems with my XFW. Add in more than a touch of jealousy as I got promoted while he kept looking (supposedly) for employment that befitted his inflated idea of himself. So naturally when everything went very pear-shaped, it was all my fault, everything! I “made him do it”… Who knew I had such powers?!

  • If you want to know what real monkey love looks like, watch The Crash Reel, a documentary about Olympic snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his family. The documentary is about Kevin’s career-ending life-changing accident, when he fell during practice for the Olympics. The way this family interacts and supports each other had me glued to the TV, and coming back to watch it again.

    I’ve been to Simon Pearce in Queechee, Vermont on a couple of occasions, and it looks to me like the secret of this family’s success and ability to overcome adversity is that they know that love is a verb, and they are good at it.

    I was handicapped as result of pneumonia. Traitor Ex turned down my request to help me rehab at the gym. Kevin’s brother quit his job to help him rehab. Just one example of the love and support and kindness this family shows one another which I didn’t know was possible. The family gets together to talk about how they feel when problems arise.

    If you want something, you need to know what it looks like so you will be able to find it. I highly recommend The Crash Reel. It’s inspiring for many reasons, but IMHO it will give you a good idea what real monkey love looks like.

    • I am also a longtime fan, and student of Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners. Her books are a cherished part of my library, not just because of her razor sharp sense of humor, but also because of their educational value. I now read them not just to educate myself, but to train me for what to look for in others’ behavior.

  • My example is not romantic love.

    My EXHs parents stood by me – I mean 100 percent. I talked to my MIL every day for just short of two years.

    During that two years they made sure my son bought me birthday and Christmas presents, had us for dinner, came to our house for dinner, and offered infinite numbers of hours of conversation. They never used those conversations against me, at times when EXH tried to spin his image saving lies told him to shut up and tell the truth. I know they stopped him from being more of an ass than he was.

    I knew these two cherished people for almost 40 years. They didn’t have a pot to p33 in but would give you anything. They helped me so much. I lost them within six months of each other due to long cancer. They treated me better than my parents did.

    They showed me love.

  • Bad Monkey: My ex never said thank you and would tell me constantly that my contributions in team building for our adult recreational sports team or hosting events for our social groups was pointless. He had no appreciation for hosting or organizing. However, he did like being the center of attention at said events!

    Good Monkey: My friends and teammates thank me for putting events together and creating community. They give small appreciative gifts to me, send thank you cards, or tell me how much they value my contributions. I’ve been told I really seem to know how to put together a team of people that have fun above all else and really connect with each other. And, I loathe being the center of attention! But, I really enjoy being a point of connection with others I care about.

    I will never allow anyone that is unwilling or unable to see and appreciate my gifts into my life again.

  • During the final, worst years of my marriage, an indie ebook publisher accepted and published my novel. I did want a real hard copy volume but it seemed a horrendously expensive and complicated process to get just one copy. I must have mentioned it in passing to my daughter because it wasnt something I really shared. That Christmas I opened a parcel … I was overwhelmed, burst into tears and hugged it to my heart. My 5 kids had all chipped in, and somehow arranged to have it privately printed and bound in red with a gold-tooled cover. They were suitably vague about how they managed it! No barbed wire there, just real monkey love from my 5 lovely monkeys.

  • I love being alone now and I’m too scared to be out and about in search of real monkeys. But I have seen so much kindness all throughout the divorce process. I have a friend who I was not really very close to and she said, “I will come have dinner with you every two weeks. You can talk or vent, or we can just eat.” That was so unexpected and priceless. I vented and cried so much during those dinners. After several dinners, while I was blabbing on, her eyes popped out of her head and she said a buried memory just came back to her out of nowhere. She just remembered that her father moved out of their house when she was in high school because he got the housekeeper pregnant. Her mom forgave her so they reconciled but she had blocked off that memory completely and just remembered it 30 years later! We sobbed a river that night.

  • I’m a day late to the party, but I have an example from yesterday evening I want to contribute.

    The situation:
    I’m about to take off on a multi-day car trip back to my mother’s home, which after her death I must empty and place on the market. It’s a big task, it’ll be emotionally tough, and I have been dreading it.

    The example:
    A friend texted and said she wanted to stop by, and arrived with a carrier bag full of “road food” (the bag has a little monster on it saying “Hangry”): fruit (fresh and dried), nuts, a couple of chocolate bars, a set of notecards she’d made with photos of willow sculptures I’d admired with her (complete with a line of stamps), so I could keep in touch. I was overcome by her thoughtful kindness. She said it was thanks for all the “great meals and conversation” (she is a full-time caretaker of her partner, and I invite her over for dinner monthly so she can have some respite time).

    That is real monkey love.

    After she left I sat thinking about how her gesture had lifted my spirits, and how unused I was to such treatment. I also realized she’s a friend I’ve cultivated since my divorce, and was heartened to realize this is a relationship based on reciprocity.

  • Bad monkey;
    Going through Rchop chemotherapy alone because, to quote her, “I can’t handle this now we have an 10 year old to take care of and I know you will be alright.” And me feeling guilty for putting her “through” that.
    Sad that during discovery it was evident she was with one of the APs during my scheduled chemo visits. He slept over while I was in hospital for sepsis

  • I posted this a few years ago, but it is lovely in its simplicity. I love warm beverages in the evening but caffeine late in the day will keep me up all night. We were traveling in the UK where every hotel room has a kettle. We got back to the room and I said “Oh I wish I had an herbal tea bag” whereupon my beloved reached into his pocket and handed me one. At breakfast (when I had a manic fixation for coffee and pastries) he was thinking about what I would want/need 12 hours later.

  • I’ve been shown real monkey love by my work community. I was a SAHM until my child headed to school, and then I returned to my profession part-time at first, in a community based field. My work place, and particularly the management team have shown me such kindness and decency and foster a kind, inclusive, but take no shit attitude in the culture they create. They have wrapped their arms around my child and myself and protected us and supported us through all my stumbles as I’ve got up and got out. I’ve never turned down extra assignments and have managed to support myself thanks to the opportunities they’ve given me and their encouragement and ability to meet me where I am at on some pretty shitty days, and through my lack of confidence. I’ve cried at times at how nice and humanly decent they’ve been compared to FW’s cynical, paranoid take on the world. I felt like I was propping myself up for so long, by myself, when noone else understood the particular shit sandwich I’ve been eating, but I’ve met a few chumps along the way and their solidarity has made all the different too. Just having people that say, I get it, in actions and words has made all the difference.

  • When I was in the marriage, I was very separated from everybody. It turns out he had actually separated us from everybody. He had told my sister she wasn’t welcome in our house at the day of our sons birth 27 years ago. He used to take my personal items and hide them in the kids rooms so it would look like the kids were stealing money and items and jewelry from me. He was separating me for my children by trying to get me mad at them. Note: nothing has gone missing since I divorced and separated from him.

    So when I separated from him and divorced him, basically a whole world of real monkeys opened up. Now I have not dated or anything like that but I have visited my sisters who are fantastic monkeys. I visited my brother in the hospital when he was sick. Great monkey. my children and I are getting along better.

    I was given a Bible study ministry at church and I have 42 fantastic people in that study. It’s like he went out the door and life came in. It’s not perfect and I’m still scared a lot but BOY! it’s better.

  • I now have a good (platonic) male friend. When I invited him over for homemade soup, he texted back “Shall I bring bread, salad or dessert?” and when I said “dessert” he brought brownies. My favorite and he remembered that.

  • >