Did the Relationships Overlap? Am I the Other Woman?

An unwitting schmoopie writes to ask, “Am I the other woman?”

Dear Chump Lady,

I was introduced to my ex by mutual friends in March 2021 (they worked together in the police). I wasn’t really attracted to him, but I gave him a chance as he seemed like a really sweet guy. It’d been about a year since I’d ended my 8-year relationship, and I wanted to get back out there.

After a few dates (these were the days of COVID-19, so walks and coffee), I actually started to quite like him. He was 32 at the time and told me his last relationship was long distance with a girl who lived in U.S., which I thought was very strange (I later found out they met through some kind of pen pal scheme but would see each other three or four times a year) and they broke up due to Covid, (which I thought was odd as Covid won’t last forever).

After a few weeks he suddenly became very cold and aloof — I cannot explain it in any other way in that the man was crazy avoidant -– he said he was suffering with mental health and struggled with intimacy and that he needed to go away and ‘do better’.

In the year we were together, I met his parents twice, never met any of his friends, he kept me at arm’s length and gave me just enough to keep me there. I knew I deserved more, but couldn’t let go. I would often call out his lies and piece things together, which would make him really mad.

After a year, I had had enough, and now MY mental health was shot, and I broke up with him. I really struggled with this breakup -– I’d been with someone for 8 years prior to this, and I ended that -– this was way harder for some weird reason. For the next two years, this man always kept me around. I even moved to another city to get over him, as it was just too much. I know I should’ve blocked him, but I felt so bad for him. We continued to see each other intermittently and, of course, were intimate on a couple of occasions when I’d go back to my home city to work. We even had phone sex a mere 6 weeks ago. I’d told him frequently how I felt about him, and he just kept deflecting it, saying he was working on himself.

Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago. We were due to meet for coffee and were texting quite a bit and he told me he was on holiday in Spain. My girlfriends were on Instagram and found an Instagram story of his family AND the ex (from the U.S.). He told me I had absolutely nothing to worry about throughout our entire relationship, all on holiday together…. This man had lied to me for nearly a year and a half and had gotten back with her, all while continuing to speak to me. I messaged her to tell her straight away and spent the next 48 hours crying and being sick. I told my friends who set us up and they had absolutely no idea this girl even existed and were shocked.

I feel so betrayed, stupid, and completely embarrassed, and I have no idea how I’m going to move through this. He’s insistent there was no overlap, but how can I believe him? I think I’m fairly attractive, work out, have an amazing job (used to) be confident, always try and do right by others, own my own home, and have my life together — I’ve spent 2 years waiting for a guy who played the mental health card to make me wait for him who has completely lead me on. Why wouldn’t he just tell me he got back with his ex? How did he think this was going to end?

I can’t help but compare myself to a girl who lives thousands of miles away, and it’s so difficult. She did contact me a few days after and was absolutely hysterical. It turns out she was planning on moving to the UK to be with him. It sounded like they were pretty serious and have known each other for 10+ years. He told her that I was toxic, which hurt me even more.

I did reach out to her to say I was sorry and, from the bottom of my heart, hoped she was okay, but she completely ignored it. I’m so, so angry and want him to suffer for even a minute of what I’ve suffered the past 2 years.

Why would someone do this? I know I’m to blame as I kept him around and should’ve demanded better. But I honestly believed we were going to sort it all out. I feel so lost. The worst part of it all is that it looks like they’re trying to make a go of it. I don’t want him, but I want him to feel even an ounce of the pain he’s caused me. I’ve been totally discarded, and it really hurts. I know technically I wasn’t cheated on, but the pain hurts just as much.

Any advice I’d be so so grateful.

Kind Regards

Katie

***

Dear Katie,

I wonder why you think you weren’t cheated on? It sounds like this guy consistently misrepresented himself. You asked if he was in a relationship with a U.S. girl, and he said he wasn’t. That she was an “ex.” You settled for a friends-with-benefits kind of arrangement while he said he was sorting out his commitment issues. As in, there is no primary girlfriend, but feel free to pick me dance for the awesome opportunity to be an aloof commitment-phobe’s plus-one.

We’ll get to why you should’ve dumped him immediately from the first whiff of his hot/cold schtick. And your appalling hopium habit. And failure to go no contact with a douchebag. (No judgment, you’re among chumps here.)

From what I’m reading, it doesn’t sound like you were a knowing Other Woman. And the moment you found out, you told the chump U.S. girlfriend, which was the right thing to do.

You don’t control what she does with that information. She may, yes, still be with him. He’s a manipulative guy, and hopium is strong — just like it was with you.

Let’s deconstruct your letter.

After a few weeks he suddenly became very cold and aloof — I cannot explain it in any other way in that the man was crazy avoidant -– he said he was suffering with mental health and struggled with intimacy and that he needed to go away and ‘do better’.

Yeah. That’s a big red flashing sign that says:

I AM NOT BOYFRIEND MATERIAL.

But you persisted. Why? Seriously, work on why you’d want a lopsided relationship with someone who isn’t that motivated to be with you. Why would you work with that? Oh, because when he shines his tractor beam of attention on you it’s EXTRA SPECIAL? Because love is so hard for him?

Fuck that shit. Find a real monkey who can bond. Not some twit who needs a 12-step program.

Besides, as you soon found out, “struggle with intimacy” is just code for cheater.

(And a show of hands, CN: How many of you got cheated on while your cheater was out having a think on “how to do better”?)

In the year we were together, I met his parents twice, never met any of his friends, he kept me at arm’s length and gave me just enough to keep me there.

You decide what’s enough. You decide to stay there. You have agency.

I knew I deserved more, but couldn’t let go.

Yes, you could let go. It’s really important to recognize that you have choices here. Is he manipulative? Yes. Did you let your hopes and dreams about what this could be override the glaring evidence of what it was? Yes. And in spite of those two powerful forces — his mindfuckery and you wanting to believe his mindfuckery — you still have agency.

You CAN do better. And it’s an important lesson to take forward. The minute one of these freaks doesn’t measure up? Runs hot and cold?

Lizzobye

I would often call out his lies and piece things together, which would make him really mad.

This should be a deal breaker. You can’t feel safe in a relationship with someone who habitually lies to you. Date for character. Words and deeds should align. You should feel safe.

He’s MAD at you? And not apologetic? Not tripping over himself to explain or do better? (Despite all that time in the forest contemplating his bad life choices?) He’s ANGRY? Again, big clue you’re dealing with a FW.

After a year I had had enough and now MY mental health was shot and I broke up with him.

See, you can break up with him. Trick is, you have to stay broken up. Which is accomplished with NO CONTACT.

For the next two years this man always kept me around.

No. You kept him around. Stop giving him your power. He might be guilty of violating your boundaries with continual contact (these freaks often are — it’s called hoovering), but you allowed him in your life.

I know I should’ve blocked him, but I felt so bad for him.

Funny how he doesn’t feel bad for you. But feels entitled to your understanding of him.

Yes, you should’ve blocked him. Please do that now. And get an STD test.

even had phone sex a mere 6 weeks ago.

He’s using you.

Ask yourself — is this acceptable to you? Are you satisfied with this arrangement? Or do you want a full relationship?

If you want a full relationship, don’t waste your time in these other scenarios. People live in hope (hopium) that they can convert a casual hook-up into go-the-distance relationship — and there are a bunch of romantic tropes to this effect.

But all you’re doing is encouraging his cake-eating. At some level you know you’re not the ONLY friend in the friends-with-benefits line-up. (Oh right, he’s busy the rest of the time examining his issues. Snort.) And maybe you think, they’re ALL casual, and he’s going to pick YOU!

Why does he get the power to choose? What if you looked at his wandering dick and said, “Not good enough”?

I’d told him frequently how I felt about him and he just kept deflecting it saying he was working on himself.

Ouch.

This man had lied to me for nearly a year and an half and had gotten back with her, all while continuing to speak to me.

Right. Because he’s a lying liar who lies. So much for working on himself.

Am I the Other Woman?

He’s insistent there was no overlap, but how can I believe him?

You shouldn’t. Because he’s a lying liar who lies.

He’s a cake eater, and has always been one. He may have bestowed Primary Girlfriend status on one of the Solid Gold Pick Me Dancers. But his actions show that he’s got to have a harem. He maintains his sexual entitlement with lies.

I’m saying reject his entitlement. Don’t be a chorus girl. Don’t wait to be chosen. Be the director of your own life.

I’ve spent 2 years waiting for a guy who played the mental health card to make me wait for him who has completely lead me on. Why wouldn’t he just tell me he got back with his ex?

Because that would be honest. It’s much harder to get people to go along with his preferred arrangement of lopsided benefits if he’s honest. Also, she was never his ex. Nor was she his primary girlfriend. There’s just a rotating pussy buffet.

How did he think this was going to end?

It’s a perpetual feast. It never ends. The menu options just change because everyone is replaceable.

I’m so so angry and want him to suffer for even a minute of what I’ve suffered the past 2 years.

Let that go. He doesn’t suffer because he doesn’t feel. His punishment is being a FW who can’t bond. The only cure is to get away from this entire clusterfuck and raise your standards.

Why would someone do this?

Because he can.

Because it doesn’t hurt him to hurt you.

Because it is good to be King.

I honestly believed we were going to sort it all out.

Well, you did sort it out. Just not in the way you were hoping it would sort out.

All you can do with experiences like this is learn from them. Some lessons going forward:

Have boundaries and enforce them. Know your worth. Have the courage to end things when a FW batter rams your boundaries. Not everyone is so brazen and manipulative. Time you’re spending on a FW is time you could be knitting a scarf or spending in the company of your dog, or a better boyfriend.

Don’t take on projects. That’s your own narcissism – that you can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse and improve a person. DIY is for houses, not FWs.

You can’t feel safe with a liar. No one is 100% honest all the time, which is why we often let things slide. I find the Dr. George Simon pointer helpful here — it’s WHY people lie. Are they hiding enslaved fugitives in their basement? Do they not want to tell you your ass looks fat? Are they spending their bonus helping their aged mother? Or — are they concealing their double life as a cheater? That’s a different order of magnitude on the deceit scale.

But when someone lies habitually when it’s their go-to move to not be held accountable when you feel like you’ve stuck your head in the mindfuck blender every time you question something shady? RUN. Game OVER.

Relationships should make you feel safe. Not off-balance. You spent two years with someone who made you feel crazy.

Learn from it. Stay no contact. Do better.

((Hugs))

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unicornomore
unicornomore
6 months ago

Im really sorry that you spent too much time of your precious youth with this FW. CLs advice is perfect, I hope you can find a way to follow it without beating yourself up any more than you have.

I dated a guy like him…I think I was a side piece to another relationship he had where he attended college (we were at colleges 40 miles apart and he claimed to have an ex at his school. I think they hid their relationship so classmates would not know their business but he used that to hide his duplicity).

Anyhoo, I didnt just date him, I got tired of his future faking and I set a boundary. We were by then through school, starting careers and living states apart. H had told me we were getting married “someday” no date mentioned except for New Years Eve when he said we would get married THAT year then he pretended he didn’t.

Oh I was so clever, I would call his bluff…and I did and we got married. I did not threaten suicide or unilaterally stop birth control, I just told him I was done waiting…he could have walked, no problem.

He lied and cheated and abused for 26 years.

Im so sorry you got betrayed but it was a good lesson to learn young, really. It still sucks

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
6 months ago

Katie,

I don’t think that I am the only one who thinks that his “Ex” was ever really an Ex; he just used you as an option and to “fill in the gaps” while his “not really an Ex at all” wasn’t available.

On the upside, you have seen the light; you deserve so much better than this man.

LFTT

MichelleShocked
MichelleShocked
6 months ago

Katie, you were never an intentional OW. But now you know that this FW led a double life and is a liar.

And here’s the thing… He stayed so private… you may not be the only one he was doing this to. The woman he’s with now is no winner in this. He’s a real piece of work.

Lesson learned.

Please get therapy if you need it to help you break free… and do as CL and stay no contact.

WalkawayWoman
WalkawayWoman
6 months ago

Two words immediately came to mind for me when reading this letter:
Intermittent reinforcement.

You weren’t that keen on him initially. Then he lovebombed you, and you got sucked in.

Then he withdrew. And you spent a couple of years chasing those crumbs he would sporadically toss in your direction.

As someone who left an 18-year marriage only to – a few years later – get sucked in by a Lying Cheating Loser, I get it.

I too wasted years chasing crumbs.

CL is right: it would serve you to examine your own baggage, your own motives for choosing to remain in that mindfuck blender.

In my case, I had to look at things like my control issues, my insecurities, and my cherished outcomes.

I dumped the LCL over five years ago now. Time, distance, and no contact have been the key ingredients in regaining my emotional balance and building a badass life.

I used to wish ill upon him for all the bs he put me through. But here’s the thing: even if all the bad things befell him, disordered people don’t really suffer. They just kind of shrug, put the blame off on someone else, maybe throw a little tantrum, and get on with being a FW.

We’re wishing suffering on people who don’t suffer. Our time is much better spent focusing on the joy in our own FW-free lives. And the more we focus on it, the more joy there will be.

Elsie_
Elsie_
6 months ago
Reply to  WalkawayWoman

Yes, I wasted years chasing crumbs. I get that every relationship is a little different, but I spent most of our years together wondering if he’d miss me if I took off or dropped dead.

If he suffered, it was over the loss of control, which is pretty sick when you think about it. His own attorney ranted with mine over how controlling my then-husband was and how the decline in his client’s mental health was tied to that. Closeout was more of the same. His attorney died of COVID, and then he got COVID and disappeared for almost a year.

He’s basically disappeared again, so maybe he’s finally accepted that he’s not in charge. But he never really was in charge, was he?

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
6 months ago

Sadly, there are many people out there like that, they treat others as an option because they won’t do the hard work to fix themselves and they cannot be alone. They would rather hurt others than face the possibility of pain because relationships leave you vulnerable to it. I learned that the hard way, and it sucks.

My picker was so bad that I ended up with someone like that and it will set you back and cause you a bunch of unnecessary pain. I was not ready to date, but when a little attention was thrown my way, I fell into it hard. They are not worth your time and effort, find someone that is a good person, time will tell.

KattheBat
KattheBat
6 months ago

Girl you sound exactly like I did with my last “situationship.” Three years of it.

Met on a dating app, hit it off fast, dated for four months before he tells me he’s “too busy for a girlfriend.” He didn’t actually end it though, he kept coming back and treating me like a girlfriend for stretches months at a time. It would be 6-7 months of girlfriend treatment, peppered with “I cant date right now” every now and again. He got super mad at me when I asked about meeting a friend of his, never met his family. Every time someone who cared about me pointed out how his inconsistencies were driving me crazy, I got super defensive. Because they were right and admitting that truth was more painful than his push-pulling he was doing.

Of course I could have ended it myself, but I was high on hopium and my self confidence was so bad I was desperate for him to finally fully commit.

How’d it end? He finally told me he was “in love” with his coworker…more than a decade his junior, who also happened to have a boyfriend. Yep.

It’s been almost two years of no contact. My confidence came back, and I am able to look at that situation and admit my friends were right when they said he sucked. I have also been in a relationship with a man my friends and family both love, who has always been very decisive and honest that he wants to be with me. I have met many of his friends, who are now my friends, and his parents sent me a sympathy card when my dad passed.

Better is out there.

hush
hush
6 months ago
Reply to  KattheBat

Well done breaking free of his intermittent reinforcement manipulations! There’s nearly always someone else secretly in the picture when they mistreat women in this specifically avoidant way.

ChumpedForANewerModel
ChumpedForANewerModel
6 months ago

Katie, Sorry that you had to go through something like this. It is not easy finding out that someone you felt something for is nothing but a lying cheater who will lie. It is hard to believe that they don’t mind hurting you because they do not care about anyone. That is just how FWs are. They are wired that way and they will not change.
Please don’t blame yourself but do block this guy and NO CONTACT Ever!!!! yes, you are a chump and you invested but you are a person who can bond and love so that is to your credit. Work on putting up and enforcing boundaries. Give yourself time and grace. You will come through this.

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago

Thank you for your advice. I think the worst part about all this is that I cannot believe this has happened to someone like me. I’m such a smart girl and I cannot believe I had the wool pulled over my eyes like this. I’m so angry

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
6 months ago

Katie – I hope with no contact YOUR pain eases. If you hope he experiences pain (or confusion), that also is the only control you have.

Part of healing – and not to be confused with the deliberate wounds he caused – is coming to terms with a future you didn’t anticipate. Is it the loss of a partner and perhaps having your own children? If that’s the case, give yourself a break for right now.

Get that individual therapy and add mindfulness which helps you stay in the present. “Take care of this moment” – Mahatma Ghandi. It doesn’t have to be all woo-woo. Just develop that list of healthy activities which keep you busy until the feeling eases.

And be confident in your demonstrated ability to be independent and caring.

Ka-chump
Ka-chump
6 months ago

Uurghh, I had a similar one. We were set up by a mutual friend but were long distance. He had a vague ex-fiancee he worked with.. the crazy thing is that he was the one seemingly super-invested in the relationship and pushing for us to get engaged and to meet my family. I didn’t stay to find out if he was actually cheating. The red flags of being controlling and having temper tantrums sent me running. Looking back I believe I dodged a huge bullet of a dangerous abusive nut job ..

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
6 months ago

My new guideline is LEAVE AT THE FIRST LIE.

Check out Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. An oldie but a goody, I am reviewing it myself in the wake of discovering that the Nice Guy I thought I was married to has a mind-blowing secret sexual double life that probably goes back all twenty-seven years I was with him.

WWLTM could be revised as People Who Love Too Much. Read and substitute the appropriate pronouns for your situation.

Yes, this guy is poison, but the best antidote is to find out why you kept drinking it after he showed you. BF Skinner and intermittent reward was mentioned; that’s proven neuropsychology that helps explain it. It’s good to find out so you can leave instead of blowing through STOP signs next time.

XXOO

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I’d never heard of Norwood until I read a breakdown of her approach in feminist journalist Susan Faludi’s “Backlash.” But I get why the book seemed revolutionary when it came out. Another book was published several years later,”Men Who Can’t Love” (later amended to include women who can’t love), which I think includes the basic message of not trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear but without Norwood’s codependency philosophy.

lulutoo
lulutoo
6 months ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I agree about reading Women Who Love Too Much. The first time I read it, I thought, (obviously in deep hopium), “Oh, this book would be good for my friend Nancy.” Luckily I re-read books because the second time I read it, it hit me between the eyes and started me on a path to recovery that has never ended.

Elsie_
Elsie_
6 months ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Absolutely. I apply that to friendships too and dropped several of my female friends after my ex took off. I realized that I no longer had the energy for drama in my immediate sphere, so I pushed them to the edge. LOL.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
6 months ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

The lying, directly and by omission, breaking agreements, word games, exaggerating, fudging goes way back. I was twenty-seven when we started dating and I did not have the emotional maturity or psychological astuteness I have now, or the amount of knowledge about how healthy relationships work. Therapy and counseling was a regular part of our relationship, the entire twenty-seven years, at my request from the beginning. It only served to keep the double life hidden. Now? I think I may have been a PROP, not a wife. He even lied to the co-parenting therapist he nagged me to go to after he left. I resisted going for a year and a half. That we go was suggested by our daughter’s therapist. I finally caved in and went. 15K wasted, except I was validated, every single session. Her final comment to him was “your dishonesty is profound.”

So don’t anyone here be fooled by them going to therapy with you.

Brit
Brit
6 months ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

An example of how manipulative ex is, when we went to counseling we each had seperate sessions then a session together. Ex was always disinterested when I had been trying to communicate with ex prior to counseling, but was well aware of my concerns.
Our session together we walk into the counselors office and sit down,. Ex sat unusually close next to me. then starts rubbing my back and shoulders. I remember thinking this is weird. Ex looks at the counselor and says, isn’t she beautiful? She’s a beautiful women.. the counselor looked at me and said, you know, you’re a lucky woman, this man loves you.., there are alot of women who would do anything to have a man like him. I see it everyday. He went on to say I need to go home and appreciate my husband or I might find myself alone. When I’d tried to talk this counselor would interrupt with how lucky I am.
As we were walking out ex and the counselor acted like old friends laughing, chatting about baseball.
Ex and I got into our car, ex bursts out laughing and says, it looks like we don’t need to go back to counseling.
They’re not interested in counseling. They’re master manipulators. Pure evil.

Elsie_
Elsie_
6 months ago

Your terms were very different than his. He assumed that lying and game-playing was OK. No, it isn’t. It hurts so much when a person you care about does this. It’s hard to see this as a necessary ending, but it is. I’ve been there.

I was separated long-distance (my ex’s choice). The lawyers weren’t involved yet. I was struggling with a husband who supposedly wanted to reconcile but was being vague about how he spent his time and who seemed to have female “friends” who were more important than me. When I wanted to talk to him on the phone, he seemed to have a busy schedule that he wouldn’t share with me, but at the same time, he’d demand that I be available at certain times and would want to know why I wasn’t. I had nothing to hide, but he’d rant if I wanted to do something that was important to me as if he trumped everything in my life. He was also looking to me to fix our problems, which seemed twisted.

I got to the point that I decided that I didn’t trust him. There was also a long history going back before the split that seriously undermined my confidence in him, paired with the belief that he truly didn’t grasp what good relationships were.

Yes, do better.

tallgrass
tallgrass
6 months ago

Chumplady, this is the most important lesson I have learned from you. It was such a total mind shift when I finally “got it.”

I do some dating now, but it feels so very good to know when to “fold em and walk away.” And strangely, I no longer even wonder if I did the right thing, if I stayed long enough to be sure, etc. That stuff eats up years of one precious lifetime! I see their actions, over time, with me voicing my hesitations or concerns to them with little or no response… and then I feel strongly my ability to CHOOSE.

And I just choose. The world never shrieks to a halt nor does my town burst into flames. It’s just a choice. And frankly, is no one else’s business. It’s a private thing. I don’t need to explain it or defend it to anyone. Groundbreaking power!

As my counselor reminds me – “If you feel even a bit of gut intuition saying no – act on it!” She reaffirms for me that I spent decades ignoring my very powerful and protective natural intuition. Now I need to coddle and nurture it. Appreciate it’s love and protection for me! It loves me. It sees what I like to spackle. Now, we are a team.

UXworld
UXworld
6 months ago
Reply to  tallgrass

Oh, if I’m able in some small ‘fatherly’ way to pass this bit of wisdom on to my daughters, I’ll have given them one of the best gifts possible.

Melon
Melon
6 months ago

This could have been me.

When he started pulling away – I justified his behavior. He gave me nothing and I came to believe that I deserved no better. He was just a selfish person, and that was okay.

Why? All because he chose me 18 years ago.

He chose me 18 years ago, and then chose himself, year after year, month after month, day after day.

And that was okay with me.

I’ve been single now for almost two years and have no desire to date again. I don’t know how to fix this impulse that I have to make excuses for someone else and shut my eyes when the truth is hard to see.

I won’t date again until I have a handle on it. I can’t. Unlike FW, I have no desire to repeat the past, so much change myself to change the future. If that meant that I’m not dating until I’m 90, so be it.

mcwolff
mcwolff
6 months ago

This sounds so so sooooo familiar. .. and jas happened too frequently for me.

Everything pointed out by CL is worthwhile, bang on, important, excellent advice.

Why keep giving a losing loser lying liar who lies a second thought. I wouldn’t even do the “official” breakup and just delete and block. This type of person doesn’t care anyway , however I do feel they thrive on your sadness and attention..

Mehitable
Mehitable
6 months ago

Katie, Katie, Katie….you can learn from this definitely, ,as we all can, but stop kicking yourself over this. This guy is a deceiver and he deliberately kept you in this position as a piece of cake for him to access whenever he wanted. He kept all this info from you so he could have choices….but NOT YOU. That is despicable. People like this can seem very nice and sweet…..because they HAVE to be, how else would he get victims…..she doesn’t see through it yet (you are great for telling her, btw) but…..she will someday. And it will hurt especially if she marries this ahole and has children with him. There’s a phenomenon that I think you were experiencing, I don’t remember what it’s called but sometimes when you give rewards intermittently…at unknown intervals….the addiction (which is how I would term your relationship) becomes more powerful than if you were getting regular attention from this guy. I don’t really understand how this works, but it’s been proven over and over. It’s intermittent reinforcement and it’s highly addictive because it keeps people hooked. Maybe it’s the mystery of not knowing what’s going to happen….and then he pops up and you get positive reinforcement…and then he goes away and he comes back, etc. It can be very hard to break from that especially if you don’t realize it’s happening. So don’t keep kicking yourself – KICK HIM (I wish you could) because he’s a piece of shit and thank God you’re not physically proximate or you might be talking to us 10 years down the road in a worse scenario. Try to learn from this and NO CONTACT WITH THIS GUY & NO CHECKING SOCIAL MEDIA OR MUTUAL FRIENDS, ETC. Let him evaporate like the bad smell that he is. In the future, one of the main things you want to look for in a person, friend or lover probably should be CONSISTENCY. You want someone who is consistent in their behavior and way of life. That makes them much easier to judge. AVOID MYSTERIES. Good luck, Katie!!!! (and kudos again for telling the GF – that takes guts and integrity)!

Mehitable
Mehitable
6 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

P.S. Katie….with his foreign connections and generally mysterious life….you may also not be the only Chump (aside from the GF). Stop blaming yourself. This guy works at this.

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I do worry about this. Also his career (undercover cop) there were so many red flags!!

Orchid chump
Orchid chump
6 months ago

This was also a hard lesson for me to learn. Leave at the first lie. Life is too short.

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago

Wow!

Never for a second did I think this would get published. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to every single person who has taken the time to respond – I have taken in and absorbed every word and it’s helping so much. For the record. I had absolutely no idea that 2 months after I broke up with him he had gotten back with his ex girlfriend – and then continued to hoover and lie for the next 1.5 years. I never would’ve entertained it and I believe that’s why he didn’t tell me.

I’m having twice weekly therapy and acknowledging that this is quite a big trauma – maybe the first big one of my life. When I say this man has encroached on every value and moral I aim to uphold everyday within my life is an understatement. I know I probably appear incredibly pathetic and believe me when I said that I am generally an incredibly strong and stoic person – I would’ve never ever said this would’ve been me in this situation but a word to everyone it can happen to ANYONE with the right manipulation but never again. I think deep down I didn’t want to believe someone could do something like that. I certainly have never met anyone capable before. When I confronted him he even said I was toxic?! My friends are all in disbelief that I put up with this and maybe a little hurt I didn’t share with them (meaning I knew it was wrong). I had a few of them in tears at what this had done to me. I am usually the one telling my friends they deserve better and to be more strong and empowered women – a cause hugely important to me. I believe women should support other women. My therapist is aptly telling me that the only reason he treated her ‘well’ is because she lives on another continent. In another time zone (no disrespect to anyone here but I don’t believe in LDR that didn’t start face to face and ESPECIALLY overseas no matter how many times you’ve met up. You’re your best version on vacation right?) My therapist said this is the perfect situation for a covert narcissist. And I got the real version – she doesn’t actually know him and he certainly isn’t a prize. I wouldn’t want to be with ANYONE with such a lack of integrity or who could treat another human being this way. I wasn’t chasing I wasn’t begging nor the desperate, tragic or ‘crazy’ ex. My friends and family have trawled through the evidence over the past few years, mostly text messages of him completely leading me on. Being the other woman is a scar I hope I won’t wear forever and I’m doing lots of work to try and heal from this. One positive from all this is that I had no idea how many supportive friends and family I had. Even that friends were waiting for him to trip up because they could see he was poison speaks volumes. I think I didn’t want to believe it because we had mutual friends. I made way too many excuses for his job which was bullshit too. Although she has confirmed they weren’t speaking whilst we were together I still can’t be sure something else wasn’t going on with someone else. I’m lucky I love to read and research things and it’s helping so much. If that person decides to relocate her whole life overseas for someone like that I just feel sorry for her. I won. Thank you again to everyone x

Last edited 6 months ago by crazystupidkate
hush
hush
6 months ago

“it can happen to ANYONE with the right manipulation” 🎯THIS!!!!

Oh sweet (((SaneWisedUpKate))), I also got hooked by an old covert narcissist into a crappy secret love vaunted dodecahedron, along with a very remarkable and accomplished older woman who held 2 Ivy degrees, and another incredible, gorgeous & hilarious younger woman who also had a brilliant education, and they both spoke like 5 foreign languages (impressive as they’re both Americans) and both had traveled and lived all over the world; just super cool and interesting women. His type was just the intellectual, cosmopolitan cream of the crop with killer resumes. Upon discovery, I seriously felt like the least accomplished woman in his surreptitious harem!

None of us knew we were not his only one, until I randomly found out the truth and informed the other 2 awesome women (the 2 I knew of!) who he was playing. One of them denied being involved with him and politely asked me not to contact her again, the other one called me back and blocked and deleted him and we’re great friends to this day. Thank you, Kate for being the kind who risks telling the other Chumps. This abuse can happen to ANYONE from any walk of life!

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago
Reply to  hush

I think maybe naively I imagined that she would tell me she’d kicked him to the kerb and girl power would prevail. That hasn’t happened – which makes me think she’s going to try with him. There’s a big lesson in here that not everyone would behave as I do. I certainly couldn’t ignore a message from someone making sure I was okay but I don’t know what’s going on in her head or what he’s telling her. I just have no idea how anyone in their right mind could take someone back that would do this. ESPECIALLY with distance involved. Even though they clearly had entertwined lives (meeting families etc) I don’t know you just don’t know a person fully until you’re in a lived experience with them IMO.

hush
hush
6 months ago

“I just have no idea how anyone in their right mind could take someone back that would do this.” Cognitive dissonance, denial, hopium, and sunk costs are a hell of a drug cocktail!

When we give Chumps the proof, after we have gotten ourselves to safety, we let go of the outcomes. When I tell folks, I completely let go of their response to me. Recall that in my situation, one of the Chumps flat out lied about being involved, which that is anyone’s right to do when a stranger makes contact with her. All we can do is plant the seed and keep moving! You did great!! BRAVA!!!

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
6 months ago

Just read this Katie, having responded above. I’m so glad you are in therapy. It is going to be make a huge difference to the quality of your next relationship.

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago
Reply to  Mighty Warrior

It’s helping immensely. I wouldn’t even speak about him in therapy previously as I knew I’d be reprimanded. My body gave me all the warning signs!

Mehitable
Mehitable
6 months ago

Katie, it’s not you. Yes, there are lessons you have to learn as we all do going through life but this guy totally victimized you and this other woman and maybe OTHER women too. Playas frequently have multiples. Learn from this, don’t kick yourself over it. You are NOT the Other Woman when you don’t know there’s somebody else. You’re the victim of an abusive, nasty person. I really love that you contacted the GF and warned her – even if she does not believe this (or want to), she WILL be suspicious from here on in – that little voice in the back of her mind will probably sound off now. You may have saved her from a lot of trouble in the future – I hope so. For yourself, it takes time to get to know someone and as you can see, you have to get to know all of them….unfortunately we don’t live in villages any more so we have to take a lot on trust but as someone else here, I I think Velvet Hammer, said – leave at the first red flag. Don’t give second chances. That’s a pretty good rule of thumb. We all want to be kind and accepting and forgiving but…..that’s how a chump is born. Leave at the first red flag, the first time you get something they can’t explain or you get a negative feeling about. You WILL find the right person, sometimes you just have a streak of bad luck. I did too but now I’m with the same guy for nearly 25 years. Good luck and big hugs to you! That guy is a damn fool anyway.

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Thank you. I’m so lucky to be around people that echo your sentiments. Their hearts are in the right place – “you’re a beautiful intelligent career driven young women he’s an idiot” but still doesn’t make the pain any less. Everything you’re saying is so true too. He still hasn’t blocked me either which obviously means he’s going to circle back round at some point! I don’t know about you but that’d be the first thing I’d be doing.

Mehitable
Mehitable
6 months ago

He might try to circle back, that’s pretty common, but now you know what a snake he is…..and what he’s said about you. NO CONTACT is the way to go here and try to avoid any social media he might be in or your friends talking about him if they know him. In this kind of situation it’s usually best just to let the memory die and you know that won’t happen easily if there’s any reinforcement. It takes a while but maybe not as long as you think. I also advocate thinking as negatively about the ex as possible, magnify every fault and every bad thing he ever did or said….it helps to break those remaining loving or longing feelings. At least it’s helped me in the past.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago

OMG, you’re not “pathetic.” This is something I often repeat: in a perfect world, kind, sweet, trusting people would be wonderfully adapted and the absolute pinnacles of social and emotional health. That remains true even if, in this effed up world, it can be dangerous to be so kind, sweet and trusting.

To me, the only real “glamour” is “harmlessness.” I have friends that I treasure because of their incredible gormless kindness and generosity. It’s a kind of super intelligence. In comparison, I feel a lot more spikey and flinty because life has made me so but it’s not like I feel superior about it. I can recognize the beauty of true innocence and understand that something can be lost when we adopt defenses. But, just like every country (say, especially those with a wealth of natural resources) require military defense systems, so do people. All the same, I never forget that, in an ideological sense, it’s really a shame this is even necessary.

Think of yourself as a country with a wealth of resources– young, smart, empathic, healthy, great job, attractive (not to mention literate and able to construct well written paragraphs). For all those resources, you do require a DOD and counter-intelligence division. But let’s not pretend that this isn’t a bit of a sad statement about reality. In a better world, you would be perfectly safe dancing down the street naked strewing flowers and emotional support to everyone like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music prancing through mountain wild flowers.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago

Btw, since it’s the anniversary of my father’s death, I want to share how I learned to value innocence in this shitty world.

My dad was raised in a ghetto orphanage and grew up in a violent environment. Consequently, when he was drafted and ended up in combat, he said he wasn’t that sensitive to shelling and danger, yet he felt like his “toughness” was really an artifact of damage and scarring, not something to celebrate. One of the few “war stories” he ever told me were about his memories of a very sensitive guy being drafted into his unit who’d been recycled to too many fronts and tended to dive under bunks whenever shells hit nearby. The guy, who was nicknamed the “Rabbit,” ended up being scapegoated and constantly tormented by the knuckle-dragging idiots in my dad’s unit.

My dad said he recognized that this kid was probably from a normal, decent family and just wasn’t that well adapted to horrifying carnage which wasn’t really a bad thing. Consequently, my dad figured out a way to defend the “Rabbit” and make the bullying stop. He sort of mindfucked the bullies. Then my dad was shot through the arm during one of the worst battles of the twentieth century. He probably would have bled to death but guess who crossed the line of fire to drag my father out of a trench and bring him to the medics? The “Rabbit.”

This all happened before I was born. Arguably, the only reason I’m here is because there are people in the world who aren’t that perfectly adapted to ugliness and horror. I guess the moral of the story is that, even if defenses are required for survival, never forget how beautiful you are that you were forced to acquire them and weren’t exactly born with them.

Ka-chump
Ka-chump
6 months ago

Thank you for this amazing story. 🙏🙏🙏 This moves me to tears. I’ve a dear dear friend who’s a bit like that, very sensitive man we worked together. Didn’t fit in the typical work environ, he’s a genius but semi asperger’s. I befriended him by chance. The next 10+ yrs as I went through every kind of hell from my sociopath ex, he’s many times rescued me from the brink of ruin, with his analytical logical non judgmental neuro-atypical problem solving & sweet near-thoughtless generosity. Truly a treasure😙

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago
Reply to  Ka-chump

Wow, lovely story and really illustrates how the “meek” shall inherit the earth as they say. Consequently, I haven’t been that surprised at times when very “fragile,” tremulous seeming people end up having spines of steel.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago

I used to work for an eco-health publication and read a lot of studies about bio-mimicry that remind me of how FWs and abusers manage to use certain behavioral tricks to “get under the skin” of their targets and then lodge there like heavy metal intoxication or antibiotic resistant staph infections, both of which are notoriously difficult to “undo” so are best to avoid from the get-go.

The term bio-mimicry is used in a lot of different ways and not all of them fit what I’m trying to describe. One example of bio-mimicry that could fit is how, if you’re calcium deficient, your body is more apt to absorb lead from the environment because of how lead is confused for calcium on a cellular level. So one simple way to reduce lead absorption and sequestration is to maintain adequate calcium stores.

Then there’s “aggressive mimicry” like how, say, a breed of predatory katydids mimic the mating calls of female cicadas in order to ambush male cicadas.

By that token, Katie mentioned two things in her letter that hint this exFW managed to exploit certain vulnerabilities in Katie that might be analogous to bio-mimicry/aggressive mimicry. One hint was that this FW was able to make her feel “so bad” for him. That rings a bell because I think FW in my situation managed to latch onto my maternal instincts which are so overpowering that I sometimes feel like some dumb, hyper-reactive species of Chinese fighting fish that flies into a tizzy over every cue (like I can’t hear the sound of a crying baby without feeling suddenly panicked and activated, am always the first adult to rush to some kid caught in a subway door, etc.). I don’t think only women have this impulse (my dad was the same and so is one of my sons, in fact he was like that since infancy– would flip out if he heard his siblings crying, try to “save” them, was always “saving” other kids on the playground) but that it’s probably more common or prominent in women.

Anyway, it’s something to consider. Some FWs seem very skilled in “bio-mimicking” mewling babies who need a diaper change or a boob and, at least for people who tend to kick into action in response to those cues, it can set off some autonomic nervous system impulse to rescue/tend/fix/feed/save. I think the challenge is to train ourselves and our lizard brains not to respond to aggressive mimicry but *without* desensitizing our all-important instincts to protect actually vulnerable beings– in other words, how do we become more selective without becoming cynical or callous? I’ve even joked that there should be neurofeedback training exercises where chumps are hooked up to electrodes and buffeted with the sounds of moaning FWs vs. creature-in-actual-dire-need until our nervous systems simply stop reacting to manipulative pity parties.

Another hint from Katie that this FW managed to “burrow under her skin” is that his go-to reaction to her questions eventually became anger– which is scary. There was a poll of men and women over what each feared most from the opposite sex. For men it was mostly “being laughed at,” for women it was more often “being killed.” I’m sure this varies and depends on circumstances but the basic idea is that if someone is always angry, it can induce fear which fits with a calcium deficiency analogy. I think this relates perfectly to the cycle of abuse where abusers– through systematic boiling frog guilting and scare tactics– tend to induce a kind of emotional deficiency (panic, fear, anxiety, exhaustion, insomnia) in their prey and then, via lovebombing, trick us into accepting a toxic form of love and security (= “lead”) because our systems are so desperate for real love and security (= “calcium”).

Sometimes– but not always– chumps could have had previous traumatic or abusive experiences prior to meeting a particular FW that induced this kind of “love/security deficiency” but, barring that, many abusers are skilled enough in the art of “fear/obligation/guilt” and other forms of coercive manipulation to induce a deficiency where it didn’t previously exist in a perfectly healthy, strong person. I guess an analogous way to prevent that susceptibility is to never allow ourselves to get so socially isolated (“calcium deficient”) that a toxic abuser becomes our only source of emotional “nutrition.”

Ka-chump
Ka-chump
6 months ago

“neurofeedback training exercises where chumps are hooked up to electrodes and buffeted with the sounds of moaning FWs vs. creature-in-actual-dire-need until our nervous systems simply stop reacting to manipulative pity parties.”

This. Plus all the kids of FWs need it to neutralize the grooming.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago
Reply to  Ka-chump

Lol, we could generate a race of human lie detectors.

OHFFS
OHFFS
6 months ago

“Why would someone do this?”

Because he’s an irredeemable asshole. Don’t look for some deep, dark, obscure reason. Sometimes it really is that simple.

“I know I’m to blame as I kept him around and should’ve demanded better.”

You are not to blame for the way he treated you. He is 100% to blame for his behavior. How you treated yourself is on you, though. You didn’t know your worth and settled for less than you deserve. But it’s going to be okay. You will know your worth from now on, right? You won’t ever settle again.

“But I honestly believed we were going to sort it all out.”

If somebody says he’s working on himself, there should be evidence of that, some kind of positive change over time. In this case he kept saying it for two years without any observable change. Just take the lesson (yes, I know it’s a horrible way to learn) that words don’t mean jack shit unless they are backed by actions.

Forget his GF. You did your best to warn her and apparently she wouldn’t listen. He’s her problem now, and he’ll be cheating on her habitually. You dodged a bullet in that you didn’t marry the creep. You got out before you had actually built a life with this man. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but someday you’ll be thankful that it didn’t go that far.

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

One thing I would like to know is if someone can be a narcissist with certain people and not others? That’s what I’m struggling to get my head around. How he can be the perfect bf for her and treat me so badly? Obviously for the first couple of months he was wonderful but I now know that it’s something called mirroring and I actually fell in love with myself 😂😂 x

Mehitable
Mehitable
6 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

“Because he’s an irredeemable asshole. ” BRAVO – this is so often the simple truth in life about people. We can spend years trying to figure them out and the bottom line is….he’s an asshole.

OHFFS
OHFFS
6 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Yep, and the reason they’re assholes doesn’t matter. Maybe the FW had a crappy childhood. Most chumps have as well, but we aren’t assholes. Our FWs gave themselves permission to be assholes long before they met us.
I do think understanding where FW pathology comes from can be useful, though, but only for spotting them, avoiding them and predicting what an asshole ex will do.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Actually I didn’t have a crappy childhood and my parents were pretty decent. But I certainly projected a lot from my experience onto other people, assuming “best intentions” which weren’t always the case. It’s arguably a type of vanity.

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
6 months ago

HOAC, I think that having a good childhood with decent parents can be a disadvantage when dealing with FWs. It’s like coming from a beautiful garden into an ugly space. There’s a cognitive dissonance as to why the ugly space isn’t the same as the beautiful garden followed by an attempt to fix the ugly space that becomes more frenzied as the attempts fail. For those of us with dysfunctional FOO, the FWS are easily recognisable and it’s possible to mistake that for having found the perfect life partner. It feels comfortable when it shouldn’t.

2xchump
2xchump
6 months ago

So in addiction studies and Rats, they found that a treat given now and then still gives rats the compulsion to keep hitting the treat lever even though they hardly get a reward. Like Gamblers who play Till they are broke and still keep borrowing money to play on. That is the hopium CL talks about. I did this in my 32 year marriage and my 14 year marriage with 2 cheaters who had no feelings, no heart, no caring. What they did have for their tools was, lying, sex, lying, manipulation, lying and using everyone they come in contact with. USING everyone, not just you. You were hooked by hope, future healing and sex now and then. Enough Rat treats to keep you hitting the lever for nothing. The only cure ONLY one, is zero Contact. You are coming off of Crack. The truth is, these liars DO NOT FEEL, they fake human feelings, they cannot love but they can use you and anyone else. They can do multiple sexual encounters and tell EVERYONE they have mental health challenges. My second cheater got all his OW telling them his mental health issues and how he was getting himself together. I fell for that for the last 15 years of our marriage. His mental health issues were hoe to keep track of all his extramarital encounters. They feel no pain. But I did and escaped to go NO CONTACT and get a life. Which I have. Divorced 3 months I am at peace. I want to live a real life, not at the center of someone’s abusive mental and physical games.

2xchump
2xchump
6 months ago

Katie, be kind to yourself most of all. None of us in CN had crystal balls. We did our very best for warm hearted people who care. These people mimic us, mimic love and cry plastic tears.Everything they say or do is faked. This is not human and those of us who care, are human. Those who fake have no feelings so never truly hurt. I had a friend who was a loving thoughtful friend. She had a brain tumor removed and after this surgery, became cold and distant, she said she could not feel feelings or sorrow or guilt anymore. She was never the same. These Liars and fakers are to be pitied but left alone. But unlike my Sad friend they are intentional. Run

FYI_
FYI_
6 months ago

He’s insistent there was no overlap, but how can I believe him?

Wait, what now? You have photographic proof of the overlap. I don’t understand. Why are you trying to believe a demonstrable lie?

He is on vacation with the American (again, photos show you that), basically while he is texting you, setting up coffee dates with you, and having phone sex with you. He’s planning a family vacation with his girlfriend while he’s having sex with you. How is this anything but overlap??

Ka-chump
Ka-chump
6 months ago
Reply to  FYI_

I think she means back at the start of their relationship, was he still with this “ex” that he’s now got back with?

crazystupidkate
crazystupidkate
6 months ago
Reply to  Ka-chump

That’s exactly what I meant

susie lee
susie lee
6 months ago

These guys are con artists. It is in their nature. Also, they will be the ones screaming the loudest when they perceive that they have been shit on. Per my son fw acted like a big ass three year old when he got busted in rank and put out of his cushy office as chief ass kisser to the mayor. In his diseased mind the mayor had betrayed him. No fw had lied to the mayor and fucked his direct report right under his nose. Difference between the mayor and me is he had the power to do something about it. And he had to do something, he was trying to resolve an ethics complaint against FW without the city being sued.

I read about the demotion in the paper, it was framed as an organizational move, bit everyone knew. FW pretty much finished off the destruction of his life after that.

I was spared ironically by FW dumping me. Scars yes, but I was able to rebuild and have a good life.

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
6 months ago

I was left for an ‘ex’ from over 30 years ago. The FW and I were together for just over 26 years, married for 18 years, no children (which I believe made me more easily disposable as did the fact that I had been married before). The FW may have had emotional and physical affairs with other women during our relationship. His exgfOW had emigrated to Canada from the UK with her then husband. This may have been the trigger for him to decide to marry me but who knows! There’s a lot that I could speculate about. With hindsight, she was probably always in his life, with the long-distance element facilitating the easy hiding of what was going on (plus communications being sent to the workplace although I found evidence that she had communicated with him at our home too). At 63, with lots of therapy, I have reviewed all of my past significant relationships (4 including 2 husbands). In every relationship I settled for the crumbs of the second best choice. My valuation of myself was consistently low. My FOO was dysfunctional and I knew that as a very small, oldest child who was effectively the only adult in the home. In every relationship, the man romantically idealised someone else. I did the adulting. They were emotionally unavailable to me but I served a useful purpose to each of them. I ended my first marriage because the way my then husband behaved was unacceptable to me (he came out shortly after the marriage ended but people still blamed me for leaving him). I was so anxious and desperate to make the second marriage work that I accepted pretty much everything he did, including no sex for 10 years, by which point I assume that the relationship with exgfOW had ramped up. At the time when I was in my 50s and in my prime, I was accepting of a cold, almost hostile marriage. It’s worth adding that my attempts to discuss the state of the marriage with the ex were met with a sad sausage face, a head turned away, and some love bombing shortly afterwards. Intermittent reinforcement because I was still of use, financially and professionally. I feel huge pointless shame about the way I let myself be treated. I say pointless because that shame merely adds to the low self-worth creating a vicious circle of self-harm. I’m saying all of this, Katie, as an example of how years and years can get wasted on the external distraction and drama (there’s always drama with these characters) rather than the self-analysis as to why it happened/keeps happening without blaming yourself. Therapy could be an excellent investment for you, with the right therapist which may take some searching. The BACP in the UK can help you with that. You sound young (in a good way). Don’t wait to be 63 to explore the context for why you accept abusive behaviour from FWs.