When You Lose the Pick Me Dance

Ooh, pick me!

Sometimes you lose the pick me dance. And it’s a good thing really.

***

Dear Chump Lady,

A little over two weeks ago I found out my husband of 17 years has been cheating on me …. “He didn’t feel loved.”

Whatever. Obviously, I didn’t feel loved either.

Sunday he comes over wailing like a little girl — on the floor, screaming. I am a nice and empathetic person. I feel bad. Start to wonder if he could be the person I want him to be.

Then yesterday I find out he’s still sleeping with her. Because he NEEDS to feel loved.

WTF?

Chopped Liver

****

Dear Chopped Liver,

You lost the pick me dance. Thank you for playing Win a Fuckwit. I’m sorry, the correct answer was… there is no correct answer. The game is rigged! As a consolation prize, please enjoy this luggage set.

luggage


You know what’s nice about luggage sets? They’re emotionally stable and never compare you to their affair partners. Unlike a FW, they’re useful and have extra pockets. Is your FW slumped over the sofa bemoaning his complicated love rhombus? Luggage has wheels, is on the go, and adapts to every situation. If you leave your luggage at the airport terminal, it does not hold a secret grudge and later accuse you of abandonment. No, your luggage waits for you. Luggage is solid. It understands.

Really, luggage is the winning prize.

Did HE lose the pick me dance? Did YOU feel loved?

I know it’s early days and you don’t feel this way, (oh no! I lost!) but Mr. Snotty Emotions there is not worth your heartache.

I found out my husband of 17 years has been cheating on me …. “He didn’t feel loved.”

News to you, I’m sure. Were you tripping the light fandango?

Thing is, we cannot argue with feelings. We all have them, justified or not. And we cannot be inside another person’s head to know what their feelings are. So if someone says, “I don’t feel loved” — believe them. It’s not a debatable point.

Yes, even if you have 17 years and it was filled with ponies and balloons. Even if you have evidence that he appeared deliriously happy for 16.75 of those years. He doesn’t feel loved. Then it’s up to HIM to do something about it.

There is an ethical and an unethical decision path.

Ethical path: Discussions, self-soothing, maturity (“no one feels butterflies all the time”), therapy, divorce lawyers.

Unethical path: Cheating and blameshifting his shitty behavior on to you.

Obviously, he chose the unethical path. This whole “doesn’t feel loved” meltdown is DARVO — deny, attack, reverse victim and offender. He’s victimized you, but he’s made himself the victim here of your inadequacies. You don’t “love” enough.

Where rookie chumps go next is into apoplexies of self-improvement to demonstrate their fealty and affection for the person who just gutted them with betrayal. You’ve been goaded into the pick me dance.

SHOW me you LOVE ME! DANCE HARDER!

Affair partners aren’t immune from this either. Poor FW is just so torn. Hey, Schmoops you’ll understand if you have to spend Thanksgiving alone, right? He loves you, but this is family. Be a nice side dish. He’ll be back later to warm you over like a plate of congealed leftovers.

Sunday he comes over wailing like a little girl — on the floor, screaming. I am a nice and empathetic person. I feel bad.

Don’t. But the fact that you do demonstrates that you have empathy — a component of love and connection for him — and he does not. He isn’t shedding tears for your pain, is he?

Nope. All those tears are for him. The FW who created this mess. Trust me, he’ll get over it because he’s not that deep.

Then yesterday I find out he’s still sleeping with her.

Let’s do a thought experiment. He doesn’t feel loved. So he goes and gets himself laid loved. He solved his problem. Why the deep emotional distress?

Yes, Admiral Ackbar, it’s a trap. To disarm you with compassion for him. To go easy on the consequences. And better still — to let him eat cake — go back and forth between you and Schmoopie to fill his love bank.

Eww, Tracy. No deposit, no return. 

Yes. Don’t take him back. Walk away from the rigged game.

he NEEDS to feel loved

His needs aren’t your problem. He fired you from the job of caring. Enjoy the luggage and the better life without him.

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LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
7 months ago

It’s funny how a Cheater’s needs and feelings can be used by them – in retrospect – to justify all sorts of unpleasant and unethical behaviours …. but usually only once they’ve been caught out. If I’ve learned one thing (and sadly I’ve learned many things), it’s that once you realise that you are engaged in a “Pick Me Dance” then you need to stop dancing.

LFTT

The Divine Miss Chump
The Divine Miss Chump
7 months ago

Wise advice, LFTT.
I still dance, but now only to my own tune which is preferably 70s soul music… lol. Beats the hell out of doing the chump jig.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Old R&B “FU” music is salvation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIuYQ_4TcXg

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
7 months ago

TDMC,

If 70’s Soul is your thing, then go for it. Personally I go for a bit of Free or Bad Company …. kind of ironic as if Ex-Mrs LFTT was anything, she was bad company. 😉

LFTT

Marcus
Marcus
7 months ago

I registered on the new site just to sing back at you
‘yeah!, I needed someone, but that time’s gone, now baby I’m gonna try and do it, all on my own’ !!

Elsie_
Elsie_
7 months ago

My ex tried this sort of thing after he made the separation long-distance. That and making himself the lonely victim. He actually told me during that period that his unhappiness was my fault, period. But there were always the lovely, attentive women he was meeting too…I guess he hoped that the jealousy would move me somehow.

It’s been years now since I ended the relationship discussions with him, and the divorced life is truly lovely and low-drama. He did not choose the ethical, adult path.

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie_

Mine tried to say my mom forced him to marry me. What? He was deranged in his need to deny any responsibility. I swear, he traveled 500 miles to trip, fall, and land on top of Schmoopie. Such an unforseen accident.

VulcanChump
VulcanChump
7 months ago

How utterly banal of him.

Helen Reddy
Helen Reddy
7 months ago

My first love did this to me–left because he wanted to be with someone else (I dutifully accepted his feelings, did not protest the split, let him go), then to my surprise he quickly came back as extremely sad sausage. Got some cake. When he just as quickly left again for exact same reason he’d left the first time, a little part of me died inside. I was so naive to the dynamic back then that the only thing I did right was refuse all of his direct contact attempts thereafter. But when he pleaded via my best friend a year later (cuz his schmoopie thing had burned out), I was still so naive to the whole dynamic that I wasted another two years tending his fickle FW feelings.

Fortunately, you have CL to advise you: The only thing you should ever trust again about this person is that They Suck.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Reddy

The “bad penny” routine. They always turn up again. It’s like people who can’t commit also can never let go. Though I have trouble mustering empathy for FWs, it seems like a hellish way to live. I’ve always had this very simple “when I’m done I’m done/never look back” tendency. But every commitmentphobic individual I’ve ever heard about or encountered seems to have a “pining” problem where they endlessly “regret” or “yearn” for the ones that got away. It’s fucked up.

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
7 months ago

Well, once they leave for the AP, they have created a job opening. Since we were once available and obviously decent cake providers, they see it as easy pickings. Unfortunately for us, we are often still grieving and still sometimes feel connected to FW because we aren’t stone cold robots. With people and the RIC telling us we need to try to “work it out”, it is such an easy trap to fall in. I’d almost say, nearly impossible to avoid. Ugh. They are so tiresome.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Reddy

Helen,
I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but thank you for sharing. There are likely newly made Chumps out there that will read this and might avoid the same mistake. Or less new Chumps like me that will see you took him back and he just did it again, which reinforces our choice not to take ours back.

My FW had an AP that they had been with for years before I found out, and then for a host of dumb reasons on my part, and some valid extenuating circumstances, we stayed together for another couple of years while he was still involved with her. It was awful and he continually validated his choices by telling me of all my flaws as a spouse. (Please know, I am not perfect but if we lined up our flaws and left out his lying and cheating, I would still come out far ahead in that contest) The betrayal was terrible, but living with him during it, with it in the open was probably worse. I think at times he actually felt guilty, and to lessen that, he consistently pointed out why we were not a good match. (Two decades in is a strange time for him to realize that)

Anyway, all this to say that eventually things ended with Schmoops. And then he wanted me back. Had that happened early on, I likely would have done exactly what you did. And likely would have had the same bad experience as you because FWs don’t stop f-witting. But “luckily” it was too far gone and I was not interested in being Plan B. The level of sad sausaging that ensued has been epic. It still hasn’t stopped. I see similar stories here all the time and that is why it no longer surprises me really. But it is so strange how they can turn it as if the CHUMP is responsible for ending the marriage. I avoid trying to understand him these days. As Tracy advises, don’t untangle the skein. But his sad sausaging is so convincing that I think he may really and truly believe that this divorce is entirely on me. Entirely my choice. As if he didn’t have an affair that spanned years. At some point, he changed his mind and that what..magically erases what he did? It’s bananas.

Mehitable
Mehitable
4 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

Reading this column late but the thought that comes to mind here is: They always want something ELSE.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
7 months ago

“I don’t feel loved.”

As Socrates would say, FW’s soul is a leaky jar, and no amount of pleasure or “love” can ever fill it.

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
7 months ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

Heh, indeed. My thought with that phrase is “I don’t feel loved.” was “That sounds like a you problem”. If he didn’t communicate that before the affair, then that’s his problem now.

Confused AF
Confused AF
7 months ago

My ex FW used to comment when we were with other coupled friends, how their women were more loving to their partners and showed more affection and why I wasn’t like that.. It always hurt me and made me think, why he would say that, when I always felt I gave him a lot of affection. I didn’t throw myself at him while we were in company of other people, but you know, I gave him a normal amount of affection, most definitely more than he gave me.. In retrospect I see how toxic that was and how comparing me to other women was already a tactic of making me doubt myself and pick me dance to give him more and more.. He ended up having a 2 year affair with one of those women (wife of his friend of 20 years). So yeah, she was a true gem with her love and affection for her husband.

Dear Chopped Liver, remove yourself from this situation. It only gets worse and he will try to put your brain in a blender as CL says it. And that is exhausting, it robs you of your reality and leaves you drained. These people are a black hole when it comes to validation from others. Nothing is ever enough, but that is their problem to solve, not yours.

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago
Reply to  Confused AF

The whole point of saying shit like that is to put you on the defensive….you’re not doing enough to worship your little tin god. You need to put on fake displays like those other women, LOLOL. That’s a game that can’t be won, it’s a losers game…..you can never pour enough love into that open yawning pit of nothing. Might as well throw the virgin in the volcano.

Confused AF
Confused AF
7 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

“..you can never pour enough love into that open yawning pit of nothing. Might as well throw the virgin in the volcano.” I laughed out loud. Thanks for that 🙂

And yes, you’re exactly right.. putting on fake displays – that’s all these people see and do. It’s more important how you present yourself to other people and how they see you, than who you really are and the actual relationship you have. It’s very sad actually, how shallow these FWs are.

Dontfeellikedancin
Dontfeellikedancin
7 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Mehitable — everything you said, exactly.

I “wasn’t thankful enough.” I was like, wtf, for what? Did I forget to genuflect? Leave an offering?

I am a person that says thank you, probably more than normal. I remember right before DDay thanking him for picking up our dogs’ poo. It wasn’t even officially my chore, I just usually did it because he wasn’t around. Why did I even thank him? It’s like fathers that say they have to “babysit” their own kids.

He didn’t want me to thank him. He wanted me to bow down and fawn all over him and make a big deal of how amazing he is.

I give up. Might as well throw the virgin in the volcano.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
7 months ago

When I had cancer, my then-husband was probably fucking around. (Hindsight is 20/20) I know he frequently went to the home of a female work colleague to “work on projects.” I had a sick feeling about the situation, but dismissed it as being “paranoid because I am vulnerable right now.” Fresh from bilateral lumpectomies, going through radiation therapy and anticipating chemo, I felt decidedly un-sexy. The Cheating Abusive Douche (CAD) kept telling me that I should be more grateful for “all I do for you.” He drove me to radiation therapy and then flirted with the staff while I undressed, arranged myself on the cold table in a room with three-foot thick walls and then remained immobile while a robotic arm showered me with radiation for a seemingly endless period of time. I thanked him every time — when we got in the car to go to radiation therapy, when I left the treatment room to find him still flirting with other women, when we got home and I crawled upstairs to take a nap.

Four years later, the CAD was still flinging in my face that he had found me to be insufficiently grateful for all the “care I took of you.” The thing is, he didn’t take care of me. He drove me to treatments and drove me back home. He didn’t bring me cold rags or a bucket when I vomited or cover me with a blanket when I fell asleep on the couch or plan meals around my new ability to tolerate or not tolerate certain foods. He did order take-out — he ordered the things HE liked, not what I might like at that stage in my treatment. When he left on a two-week trip to see the long distance other woman (he said he was going to visit his friend Steve) he said he hoped that his absence would prove how much I needed him, and how ungrateful I had been. I finally figured out (about the same time as I learned about the other woman) that there was no way I could ever possibly be grateful enough to suit him. He didn’t want me to thank him. As you so accurately put it, he wanted me to bow down and fawn all over him and make a big deal about how amazing he was.

I was sick, and for the first time in our marriage, he was not the center of my world. He was my spouse, the person I should have been able to count on to have my back, to support me during the devastating diagnosis and the demoralizing treatment. He was the person who should have, without question, been there for me. He wasn’t.

When I finally gave up the PickMe Polka, my life got so much better. I wish I’d had the energy to let go of my end of the rope a whole lot sooner.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

So– let me get this straight– he liked to flirt with the types of soulless mutant sociopaths who would flirt with the husband of someone getting radiation right in front of them? Then no kibble from you would ever have been enough because he only enjoyed shit-flavored mutant sociopath kibble. You failed to be rat-like, shitty or mutant enough for his low and stinking taste, alas.

If I’d been in that waiting room witnessing that repulsive flirting scene I would have been mentally damning your ex and anyone enabling him straight to hell. It’s unbelievable.

ChumpedForANewerModel
ChumpedForANewerModel
7 months ago

Chopped Liver,
Do not enter the endless pick me dance. CL is absolutely right, in the end you really won. You have the luggage and someone else has a FW and soon she will have to dance for him.
You will not be able to win because you cannot trust him and he cannot be trusted. Trust and safety are needed in a marriage. Don’t fool yourself and take him back because he will just do this again.
Leave the cheater in the dust, pick up the pieces, heal and move on whether you are by yourself (liberating) or you find someone else (not another FW). You deserve better. You deserve reciprocity.

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago

Yeah, AP(s) won’t be able to “love” him enough either. Even with a pole in the living room….there can never be enough “love”.

Chumpolicious
Chumpolicious
7 months ago

Mine confessed he fucked a coworker 3 months afterwards. Why? Because he felt guilt and couldnt keep an erection with me. He went to a urologist who said its common to get ED after affair. He told him to confess to me. He confessed and cried because he felt sorry for himself, that he had done this and ruined his life. Divorce, loose kids, loose house, fed me over sell my business. Like an idiot I forgave him. He confessed and showed remorse. But guess what your marriage will never be the same. He promised to tell me if any thoughts about other women Im sure he meant it. But guess what? He started an emotional affair with another colleague. They cant hell themselves. This is who they are. The tears are for the consequences and maybe because they realize they are crappy people!

tallgrass
tallgrass
7 months ago

I enjoy my luggage! It took over two years of healing but I think about how lucky I am to have won second place – the luggage – quite regularly now!

Plus a new set of luggage hints at new adventures, new people and new locations!

Chumplady, you are so very good with words! I know I would not be this stable and functioning if I had not come across your book in my darkest hours.

Eirene
Eirene
7 months ago
Reply to  tallgrass

Hear, hear! It’s always such a pleasure reading her witty, thoughtful essays.

Last edited 7 months ago by Eirene
Viktoria
Viktoria
7 months ago

Such funny writing! Love the luggage bit.

Dontfeellikedancin
Dontfeellikedancin
7 months ago

Chopped Liver,
They’re so dramatic in the self-pity stage.
He’s saying whatever he needs to to make his choices not his fault.

My FW gave the same excuse, he “didn’t feel loved,” then went so far as to say “I didn’t think you’d even care!” It’s one of those things they say that snap you out of feeling bad for them – a demonstrable lie. If he didn’t think I’d care, why did he keep it secret for a year? Hide with his phone on family vacation, delete messages, lie to me for three months even after I straight up asked him? It made no sense, but it fit the narrative he was trying to spin that this was my fault. It was supposed to make me say how much I cared and loved him (kibbles!) and pick me dance (he typed a list of things I could do – not kidding, it was four paragraphs over two pages).

So be assured, they literally will say anything if they think it will get you to do what they want. Maybe some is true, maybe none of it is, but either way his feelings and motivations are not your problem anymore. He’s already shown you he’s not your friend, fired you from the job of giving a shit. Divorce is a godsend.

Confused AF
Confused AF
7 months ago

OMG, yes. My FW told me shortly after D-day (when I was in complete shock and traumatised for finding out about a 6-year double life with dozens of women) that he thought I knew all along and didn’t mind!! Jesus f**k, how that pisses me off to this day. The audacity..

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago

“I didn’t think you’d even care!” 
If only we all had the presence of mind to say…..”I don’t”. That’s the answer they deserve!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

If only we had the presence of mind to say, “You know, since we’re sharing, you’ve started smelling weird to me for awhile, like something rotting…”

Mr Wonderfuls Ex
Mr Wonderfuls Ex
7 months ago

As Klootzak announced he wanted us to move 4 hours away and that I should then find my own place to live, and acted too timid forest creature to say divorce, he said “It seems you have discarded me.” He immediately launched how it would be good for our child if he could demonstrate a “healthy relationship” for him. So I asked if there was someone else and he said no.

Fast forward a few years to where I found the affair he had been carrying on with a married high school classmate (he was 46 at the time) and notes where he was asking attorneys how he could divorce me in a different state so I couldn’t file on adultery grounds and get less spousal support. Ohhhh… but he was so SAD that HE was discarded! 🙄

They are all the same.

2xchump
2xchump
7 months ago

It’s a trap!!!!!!!! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Remember I married 2 cheaters. One for 14 years, another for 32. Tracy speaks the truth. CN has the truth. These weak characters will keep you if you will dance 💃, turning you into a side dish because from now on, D day forward, you are a Chump and a side dish. Schmoopie sings a better song and has no intimate history and can keep him warm and exercising all his organs. You? You keep house, hold the Family cash, work and kids. Now do what you’re told or i will leave you. Even though you are A very usefull member of said Harem. It is so sad but the sooner you absorb this the better for you. GET TESTED. Spread eagle on the exam table I had an epiphany. NEVER AGAIN!!! My GYN so handsome and kind..showed me true compassion. I want my luggage prize!!! Freedom is my prize forever free from my user Xs.
My 2Xs cried and one dropped tears on my feet, both of them. Then looked up from the floor and gave me the dead eyed stare. He said, after the fake tears. .that I DESERVED ALL this betrayal because I stopped dancing and he felt unloved and had to find true love ah random sex, to feel loved again. Unloved, yes I felt the same but I did not find true love on line, at work or at the gym. I was faithful. These shallow men do not share my values now that the game is up. I am divorced 3 months now and feel transformed. I love my luggage and my life. Thank you CLfor your truth that matched my truth and your words that carry me through each day.
I owe you my new Xcheater free life. I love the new me. Sassy, vocal, angry, spitting rocks and happy to the bone.
I feel my own love now and it is enough.

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago

Oh yes……and cheating with some bimbo is REALLY going to make your wife wanna love you. That’s how it works. Cheat harder, baby!!!! I can’t even imagine my response if I got this from my husband…..I think it would involve a frying pan. Of course, it’s always the spouse’s fault – YOU didn’t make ME feel “loved enough”…..I don’t know how you fill up a vast empty pit of nothing except you end up throwing yourself in at the end. It never works. GO FOR A DIVORCE, CHOPPED LIVER….You can never “love” him “enough” and he doesn’t love YOU at all. Time for a change.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
7 months ago

“You didn’t love me enough, so I cheated.”
“You didn’t love me enough, so I set your car on fire.”

You see, the second one sounds unhinged, abusive, and crazy, but I can honestly say that my FW’s infidelity caused at least as much damage to my life as setting fire to my car would have. And yet, victims of infidelity are expected to navel-gave upon their contributions to their own abuse.

A narcissist will exhibit entitlement and grandiosity. They are amazing and deserve everything they want! The flip side of that grandiosity is that no person can experience as much suffering and resentment as a narcissist who isn’t getting what they want – that is a cosmic injustice! That is what allows them to put your lack of sufficient affection on the same moral footing as cheating. Yes, they cheated, but you didn’t LOVE them enough, and that is a true, true crime.

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago

Of course, if you turn it around and say “but your cheating makes ME feel unloved – what are YOU going to do about it”….try that and see what FW says.

OutWest
OutWest
7 months ago

I have to say 10 years later, my luggage has never let me down! I rarely think of my ex and his shenanigans. I have finished getting my kids to young adulthood and they are thriving. I have moved closer to my family and I travel. Keep the luggage, ditch the dead weight!

Dontfeellikedancin
Dontfeellikedancin
7 months ago
Reply to  OutWest

Awesome, OutWest! Right behind you 🧳✈️

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Here’s my theory which is my theory which is mine (lifelong Monty Python fan): I think a lot of FW’s end up mesmerizing themselves into believing all sorts of total bs about their chumps merely because some FW tend repeat these fabricated criticisms so much as part of the bimbo-himbo/AP “training program.”

There’s a thing in psychology called “covert/indirect persuasion” where person A tells person B all sorts of terrible things about person C to invoke hubris and competition in person B who will then trip over themselves to avoid behaving anything like person C.

I only recently learned this had a clinical name but, back in college, my friends and I called it the “hubris trap.” There was also the classic pick-me dance “jealousy trap” where person A rubs person B’s face in person C’s amazing qualities but it seems like the hubris trap was more common, maybe because people tend to bond more over mutual dislike or criticism of third parties. Back in the day, we started noticing that, when person A happened to be male and person B female, the negative tactic usually relied on person B’s internalized misogyny to work because men like this would typically put “person C” down for assertive traits, like “My ex was such a ballbreaker and so jealous. Not like you who would never, ever go through my phone or nag me about where I’d been on Saturday night…” The whole idea is that person B would instantly start competing for world’s biggest doormat. Anyway, among my group of friends, it was a whole social justice thing to resist being manipulated by attacks on other women.

When FW suddenly started criticizing me mercilessly a few months into his secret affair, it set off my spidey senses because his attacks sounded suspiciously “rehearsed” and it vaguely reminded me of something. But then I chumped out, huffed hopium and went into denial for awhile. But in retrospect I know perfectly well that FW was doing the hubris trap thing with the affair partner because he’d tried the same shit on me when we were first hanging out as friends before dating.

When we were first spending time together in college, FW would drop hints what he and his friends “hated” about various women– basically unsubtle code for any kind of assertive behavior, the message being “Dance pretty for me and don’t do these things to avoid my contempt.” I just assumed he was young and clueless and laughed at him. I’d turn it around and say something like, “My friends and I just HATE men who try to train women into being doormats with the comparison game. Men like that are so WEAK and insecure that independent women scare them…”

FW then ran to all his friends and his favorite professor to say he’d met the “most amazing woman.” It should have been a giant red flag that he sounded like he’d never met a woman who didn’t eat shit before. But AH! That was *my* hubris trap! I loved being loved for my feminist creds! I fell for it and, twenty years later, learned my mistake: when they tell you who they are, believe them the first time. Eventually my novelty wore off, he became bored and returned to factory setting. In the end, he really liked groveling suck-ups.

After D-Day when FW was blathering out confessions, it turned out to be true that he’d pretty much been using me as a “head on a pike” in order to extract all sorts of self-negating behavior out of the AP where she’d scurry around him like a servile dog, act like his boring mansplaining was scintillating, etc.– anything to avoid being condemned like his ball-breaking bitch of a wife!! Probably from sheer repetition, over time he started believing his own fabrications about me and the marriage.

I think the “hubris trap” probably works particularly well on women with preexisting cases of internalized misogyny, though I’ll bet it works just as well on male APs with equivalent gender identity insecurities. For instance, a she-FW could probably ply a male AP with: “My ex was SOOO effeminate– always so hypersensitive and needy and, like, always expecting me to wear the pants and pay for everything…. I’m so GLAD you’re nothing like him!”… as she reaches for idiot’s wallet.

In short, that weird 180 where FW’s go from “You’re the love of my life and marrying you was the best decision I ever made!” to “I never loved you and you’re a bitch/asshole/sexless loser” in a short period of time probably has more to do with AP “compliance training” or “hubris trapping” than anything else.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
7 months ago

HoaC,

Your theory very well may be what solves a huge mystery for me. My FW defends his cheating with a version of “you didn’t give me enough attention”. It usually is a very vague accusation, though rarely it gets super specific, like “you didn’t sit with me on the sofa”.
The common thread is that he waves that around while stating this “drove” him to cheat.

I know that trying to figure them out is fruitless, but this particular aspect always nagged at me because it was so amorphous a claim. We had a good sex life according to him, though apparently I was not aggressive enough for his taste and in every other aspect of our lives, I deferred to him. I did this because he was so easily displeased and I was constantly dancing to keep him this side of disgruntled. It rarely worked, but chumpy me kept right at it.

So when he makes these vague accusations to me, a person who was there living that life with him, they are confusing. I don’t really know what he is talking about.

But if he was telling his AP these tales, well, that starts to make a lot of sense. She doesn’t know me. She didn’t see our life. When he makes a vague claim about a lack of attention, SHE can fill in the blanks and picture a man that was ignored and shunned by his wife. She doesn’t know better. And it has the added bonus of causing her to give him attention 24/7.

And of course, after telling her these tales for years, he starts to believe his own BS and spouts it off to me.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

SOOI– I think that’s exactly what happened in my case as well. By the time FW got around to spewing his fabrications to me directly, they’d mutated so far from reality that I had no idea what he was talking about. Yet he seemed completely convinced to the extent he’d long rehearsed the horseshit. I think it explains why chumps typically start wondering if FWs have brain tumors. If combined with the concepts of “triangulation” and “brainwashing,” I also think the behavior relates to a phenomenon I read about in criminology many years ago while working as an advocate for DV survivors: “neutralization.” You can read about it for free by clicking “download”: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/9/2/46

I generally think of “skein untangling” as any kind of psychobabble theorizing that chumps use to try to fix FWs and that keeps us engaged and entrenched. But, because neutralization is often clinically applied to the behavior of serial killers and domestic batterers, it’s not much of a psychobabble hopium generator, more a “run like your hair is on fire” exhortation. I’m imagining that, if an understanding of things like “neutralization + triangulated bimbo pickme training” went viral, more people might be able to recognize the behavior when first being subjected to it by FWs. Victims of it might say “Aha” in recognition rather than sinking into confusion, paralysis, despair and pickme dancing.

If you think about it, this kind of triangulated rehearsal of fabricated villifications (if anything ever needed a simplified acronym) serves many purposes: 1) Helps neutralize any guilt or sense of stigma that FWs might have over betraying partners; 2) Being able to repeat these lies to a receptive audience helps polish FWs’ backstory if they’re caught and need to snuff their victims’ side of the story; 3) provides APs with ready made moral rationalizations for meddling with chumps’ marriages and lives; 4) Since studies show that people tend to bond more strongly over mutual dislike and mutual criticism of third parties, FWs’ triangulation against chumps acts like glue for the affair relationship; 5) criticism of victims prompts APs to pickme dance as an attempt to prove they’re nothing like the wicked and contemptible victims; 6) Attacks on chumps acts as implied future faking by giving APs hope the FWs’ marriages will end and the FWs will eventually fully commit to APs.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago

True, basically the fw trains his new supply to be just what he wants her to be. She of course is likely already well versed in alley catism, and had several married man rodeos, but if she wants to get the brass ring before she ages out, she bends over backwards and give it her all. (no pun intended)

And vice versa of course.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
7 months ago

I don’t have a ton of money, but I definitely enjoy feeling flush with it occasionally. I love the fantasy of having dollar bills fluttering down on me, preferably in large denominations, (which has never once happened, so why think about it?) My bank helps me with my money — they do their part, I do mine.

But those days when there’s just enough to pay the bills with none left over, I still manage to not rob a gas station to get when I want. I also don’t expect my bank to throw open the doors of the vault so I can plunge into a mountain of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. This is because I have sane, reasonable expectations of life, like most normal, emotionally mature, functioning people. I’ve also accepted the fact that if I one day go insane and rob Fort Knox, (I like my fantasies to be outlandish… the improbability keeps me honest) there’s an excellent chance my bank will wise up and not only freeze my account, but will physically remove me from their lobby with orders not to come back.

As I cry for the bank to take me back while I’m busy pushing stolen gold bullion and million dollar bills back into my coat pockets, I’m pretty sure the bank will not be swayed. I robbed Fort Knox and I am officially a piss-poor risk. The bank understands the reality.

Emotionally stable and decent people understand that reality, of banks and marriage. There is a commitment, an agreement, and you don’t get to make unilateral decisions. I don’t, they don’t. If I really want to feel rich, I have the option of working and investing, and the bank will do their part. The same thing with marriage, (it’s really just too simple, right?): if you want that dizzying feeling, you need to invest in your spouse and your marriage.

Only generic FWs and disordered people think otherwise. They want the high of feeling infatuation like a seventeen year old again. It might occur to them that they haven’t invested in their marriage, but they don’t care… They want the easy route, the piece on the side, the whole fantasy that they finally found their soulmate. They can’t be bothered discussing this with their actual mate because, ewwww, consequences. Anguish. Buzzkill.

They approach their desires with the mental gravitas of Veruca Salt, and they want that chocolate bar, they want it right now, daddy! Even if they get their way, it won’t be enough and they will want you to get your entire factory working overtime to supply them with more chocolate bars — right now!– so they can chase the dream of the golden ticket.

ALL FWs are Veruca Salt. And Mr. Salt was a PickMe Dancer extraordinaire. But no matter what, at the end of the day Veruca was still Veruca.

Dear Chopped Liver… please don’t be fooled by your Veruca’s tears. Lock him out and keep all the chocolate bars for yourself. You won’t regret it.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
7 months ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

Quick side note: Chopped Liver’s description of her FW’s behavior is exactly what keeps the RIC in hot demand. “If you just give your wandering spouse enough time to screw his/her head back on, they might choose you! But do better, accept their lying, understand they’re confused. Just hang in there forever and always be supportive.”

Your FW cried and said he was sorry and then managed to go right back to the AP? That’s not “confused”, that’s unimaginative, predictable manipulation. Bleccch.

kokichi
kokichi
7 months ago

What I find funny, the X must have a luggage fetish. He bought me luggage while we were dating (that was a good set). He bought us matching luggage for our honeymoon that had locks (pre-9/11), and then he promptly lost the keys, so had to break the locks. (Not very conducive to a pleasurable honeymoon… breaking Luggage locks with what can be found in a hotel room…) Then there was my “disposable luggage,” bought on the cheap because we needed lightweight suitcases that I didn’t have to care about being destroyed. He hated that. I switched things to tote boxes for our overseas, long-term living. About five years before D-Day, I was sorting our garage and found a suitcase that he had “gifted” me for an anniversary (?) because it was recommended by a radio host that did weekend travel (our vacations were always week long, thus making the luggage useless). Ahh, and then, for my 2017 Mother’s Day gift, he bought me “carry on” luggage that was oversized and would not pass the on-board regulations, which I could tell immediately and he acted like I was ungrateful. Uhm, it’s really small for checked and too large for carry-on… What is funny is that he always gifted himself back my gifts…

It feels like I am missing another luggage set… When I started to connect the dots it was creepy. But, it proves that FW’s are unoriginal.

Guess what, during discovery I found a receipt for Schmoopie… his and her matching luggage… and that was the trip that ratted him out! Hope it was worth it… He acted like luggage was a status symbol. I’ve never cared what anyone packs their clothes in to get from point A to point B. I only care that my luggage ARRIVES on the same flight as I do!

Yes, I need some EMDR for my luggage trauma…. We were called out of the TSA line over the intercom more than once and I had no idea how easy it was to travel until I attempted it without him. Schoompie- he’s all yours! Enjoy your luggage! It’s 240 pounds of FW!

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
7 months ago

Yeah. FW still tells me about things in his life as if I give a crap. He so desperately wants me to dance. Ignoring him and his emotional outbursts has made them much less frequent to the point that I do believe I haven’t heard from him all week. We have a son together so there is a little communication but I have, over the years, learned to drop that rope. I no longer forward school emails to make sure he knows about it. I don’t remind him of anything for school other than sending him bills for stuff he needs to pay me half of. That requires no discussion either. It is great.

In a couple short years I won’t even need to do that. I would be lying if I said it was easy and that it happened right away. But recognizing necessary communication versus glurge he expects me to respond to, I can cut out about 90 percent of what he thinks we need to talk about. It even got to the point where he would dump huge info on me and then end it with “but I suppose that isn’t your problem, sorry for venting”. A few no replies or simple “KK” to whatever kid info was transferred and he hasn’t done that much in a very long time.

They expect us to care because we are people who CAN care and they love that. They crave it. I no longer have the energy to give to him in any way, and he isn’t entitled to that energy either. I no longer give him my mental load talents. I’m going through menopause and my give a fuckometer is permanently broken. I can hardly care about people who are nice to me occasionally anymore, let alone a FW who tried to destroy me emotionally, mentally, and financially. No thanks.

It takes time, but let go of that rope.