The Wayward Spouse Identifies as the Victim

It can be almost impossible to  reason with or repair your marriage when the wayward spouse identifies as the victim.

By Sarah P.

Any of us who have been betrayed spouses know that our wayward spouses do and say some of the most outrageous things we have ever heard or experienced.

One of the most egregious acts I have come across is the act of the wayward spouse identifying himself or herself as the victim in his or her marriage after he or she has been caught cheating.

Instead of realizing the game is over and admitting their life-altering mistake, they stand their ground and weave outrageous scenarios to make people believe they are the victims of their betrayed spouse.

Not only do they feel empowered to have cheated, they now expect their betrayed spouse to apologize to them and make amends to them since they have been allegedly victimized by their betrayed spouse.

Sometimes therapists fall into a big trap by allowing a wayward spouse to air all of his or her complaints about the betrayed spouse. The therapists often directly or indirectly draw the betrayed spouse in to shoulder the blame.

Therapists, if you are reading, please stop doing this. You must reiterate to your client again and again that he or she made a choice. None of us can make another person do something they don’t want to do. A cheater made a choice—do not allow the cheater to blame a betrayed spouse for his or her choice.

Any readers who are actively recovering their marriage need to remember it is not their fault. If your wayward spouse has insight and is working toward a common goal, he or she is probably not a blame-shifter.

In the end, most cheaters eventually know they have done something wrong, even if it takes a few months.

So, the cheater who believes himself or herself to be a victim is not necessarily the common cheater.

But, for a betrayed spouse, dealing with this kind of cheater can break the betrayed spouse at his or her core.

This is the cheater that creates in a betrayed spouse PTSD, life-long abandonment syndrome, destruction of self-esteem, and in some cases suicide attempts or hospitalization.

This type of cheater is so narcissistic, egotistical, and sociopathic that they would rather destroy a betrayed spouse at his or her core than ever admit they are wrong. Further, they are willing to kick the betrayed spouse out of their own home and cut a betrayed spouse’s access to money.

After all, this wayward spouse is a victim of their betrayed spouse and as a victim they feel entitled to take everything from the betrayed spouse.

This type of wayward spouse has such a warped sense of reality that he or she is a danger to himself/herself and to those they allegedly once loved.

This is the type of cheater who will go to work and speak a rehearsed and UNTRUE sob story to whomever will listen. This not only gets people on the cheater’s side, but it also helps them better believe their own lies.

Unfortunately, this was the type of cheater I encountered and who destroyed me. But, by the time I got the real story – and everyone else got the real story – the damage was done to me.

What kind of cheater does this? 

  • Narcissists
  • Cake-eaters
  • People who have no tolerance for cognitive dissonance
  • Liars
  • Sociopaths
  • Garden variety manipulators
  • Spoiled brats
  • Adult golden children (of narcissists)
  • Entitled people
  • Selfish people
  • People who have never had to face consequences
  • People with borderline personality disorder
  • Game-players
  • Public figures who always need to maintain a social reputation
  • Jerks
  • Most of all, the kind of people you should not keep in your life

 

 

The Wayward Spouse Identifies as the Victim

This is going to be one of my more cynical posts because you simply cannot reason with or repair your marriage with a wayward spouse who believes that he or she is your victim.

Let me be clear, most of the commenters on this site are not with wayward spouses spouses who are in full victim mode. Many commenters are actually working through their marriages.

I am specifically talking about male and female wayward spouses who will go to great extents to perceive themselves as the victims of their betrayed spouses, even when there are piles of evidence that suggest otherwise.

A common scenario that one finds among cheaters:

Nikki* was married and had several children. Nikki had been having sex with her coworker Steve* who was also married and had several children. When Nikki was caught in her marital bed with Steve by her husband, Nikki’s husband angrily asked Steve to leave the house. Nikki’s husband later told Nikki to leave. Then, Nikki’s husband put her clothing in the rain and then changed the locks.

When, Nikki showed up at work the next day, she told anyone who would listen that she needed a cheap room to rent because her husband had a volatile temper, had been abusive, and had been viciously destroying her clothing and other items for no reason.

As a result, Nikki explained she no longer felt safe at her house and needed somewhere to live. She told her coworkers things like: “My husband snapped for no reason! I don’t feel safe with him because I don’t know what he will do next. I can’t possibly go back.” (Nikki’s husband changed the locks, filed for divorce, and Nikki cannot come back.)

Meanwhile, Nikki’s coworkers comforted her and told her she was a brave, battered wife and could never go back. Nikki successfully convinced everyone she has been the victim of an abusive man.  In case rumors of her affair with Steve ever were to get out, she can frame the affair as Steve nobly coming to rescue her from a wife batterer.

Additionally, Nikki’s husband decided to call Steve’s wife and tell Steve’s wife that he caught the two having sex in his marital bed. Steve’s wife became so shocked that she dropped the phone and asked if this it was some kind of joke.

Nikki’s husband met Steve’s wife for coffee and told her everything he has been able to piece together. Steve’s wife was shocked because they were making plans to renew their wedding vows—they had made plans to build a home—they had a spicy and frequent sex life. Steve’s wife had been working overtime to get funds for a new home. Other couples were jealous of Steve and his wife because they were the very picture of “the happy couple.” Steve’s wife also volunteered with disabled children as was known for her kindness to all.

Steve’s wife corroborated the affair through phone records and found raunchy sex videos. Steve’s wife also kicked him out of the house.

Soon, people at work found out that Steve and Nikki were together. It was Steve’s turn to come up with a story:

“I was in a loveless marriage,” Steve cried.

“My wife had not had sex with me for two years!” Steve sobbed.

“My wife was so cruel to me and made me work overtime,” Steve protested.

Finally, “Nikki was the only person who has showed me an ounce of kindness. She mended my broken heart back together!” Steve pitifully said.

Nikki chimed in, “Steve saved me from an abusive marriage. If it were not for Steve, I could be dead!”

As the days went on, Nikki and Steve kept coming up with bigger and bigger lies and talked to any and all coworkers who would listen. They were in the process of creating air-tight personas where they were the victims, rewriting any and all facts of what occurred.

Meanwhile, back to Steve’s wife. Steve’s wife was absolutely broken hearted and devastated. Steve’s wife needed to understand why he destroyed their life and she made the mistake of confronting Steve.

Without an ounce of shame, Steve was able to look his wife straight in the face and say, “You know what the problem with you is? You are no fun. You have not been any fun for years now and you made me do this. I was sexually starving to death because of you. How dare you confront me when this is all your fault!” Steve was angry and was pouting because he got caught.

In Steve’s mind, his wife was supposed to keep quiet and continue as if nothing has happened. His wife was supposed to look the other way and let Steve have his fun with Nikki. Steve is a cake eater, but he is also a narcissist and narcissists are never wrong.

Steve’s wife asked for marriage counseling and he threw her a bone, but said to his wife she was not allowed to mention the affair. He went to the counseling sessions with his wife and complained about his wife to the therapist. Meanwhile, he and Nikki are still having sex, but they are more careful about covering their tracks. Steve’s wife started to become brainwashed and believe the lies Steve was telling her about how terrible she is.

That caused Steve’s wife to work harder on her marriage and try to recover it. Little does she know he is still having sex with Nikki. Steve’s wife believed they were making progress and Steve kept getting what he always wanted: cake eating.

When Steve went to work each day, he told his coworkers a sob story about trying to reconcile a marriage with a frigid woman who never loved him. He was setting his wife  up as the bad guy and himself as the martyr in case she decided to divorce him.

But, in reality, Steve does NOT want a divorce. Why?

Well, he knows his marriage isn’t bad and he definitely does not want to get into a fight over assets. Steve is a cake-eater. Steve is selfish and he wants to have sex with two women and to ensure that he can have his cake and eat it too for as long as possible.

He does not want to choose one woman over the other—he just wants variety—there is no deeper reason. Steve hopes to keep control over his wife and Nikki so that he can keep his “double-mint twins” as long as possible. (For those of you who are under 30, the “double mint twins” were a couple of attractive twins who did a multi-year advertisement for double-mint gum.)

Since Nikki is still sleeping with Steve and since she had been kicked out of her house and rents an apartment, she had decided to put pressure of Steve. She wants to set a date for a wedding. Steve is not even divorced and still goes to marriage counseling, telling Nikki that the counselor is needed to make Steve’s crazy wife reasonable and not to go off the deep end when he files for divorce. More lies.

When Nikki asked him when he was going to leave his wife, he gave Nikki all kinds of excuses. He does not really want to leave his wife and placates Nikki. Steve says things like:

  • I have to wait for my kids to go to college
  • I wait to pay for my kid’s college account before I can leave
  • My wife might kill herself and I need to make sure she gets the right counselor first
  • It close to my wife’s/mom’s/daughter’s/dog’s/cat’s/neighbor’s/UPS guy’s birthday and I cannot ruin the occasion
  • My wife is having a root canal and I will have to care for her for many months. I cannot leave her while she is so sick and immobile
  • Our dog/cat/gerbil/hamster/parrot/pet mouse/iguana/turtle/cockatoo died and I could not possibly leave my family during this impossibly tragic time
  • I got a rock chip on my window I can’t leave while waiting for the insurance to pay for the repair
  • My wife was abducted by aliens yesterday and I cannot possibly leave until I “alien proof” the house
  • My cat ruined the furniture and I can’t leave until I have gotten a new couch that I can sit on
  • Do you really believe monogamy is normal? Why ruin a good thing?
  • Bigfoot has been prowling around our yard at midnight and I couldn’t possibly leave while Bigfoot is still at large
  • I have to mourn the loss of my prior life before I can leave; I am a sensitive guy you know
  • Our light bulbs are always going out and my wife is not tall enough to change them. I could not possibly leave her in a dark house, especially after the alien abduction—that would cause her to have a mental break down
  • 200 vigilante seagulls poop-bombed my wife’s car and it will take months to fix. I can’t possibly leave her with a car like that especially when the vigilante seagulls could come back for revenge
  • I have acid reflux. My doctor says that I am not supposed to enter into new serious relationships while I suffer from this horrific condition
  • I am a really great person—one of the nicest and moral men you could ever meet– and I simply could not hurt my family by leaving them or hurt you by leaving you. So, let us keep everything “as it is” because it would simply just kill me if I hurt anyone—I would never be able to look at myself in the mirror again and I would just die of I hurt anyone. You would not want to be responsible for my death, would you?

Which excuse was your favorite one?

I hope that some of those satirical reasons gave you a laugh. As you can imagine, I made up all of those except for the ones involving college or college accounts. Those are frequent excuses, so I wanted to make up some outrageous ones to add a little levity to the topic. Cheaters say the most stupid things anyways.

But, Steve’s wife still has not gone away and she wants answers…

She is traumatized by the affair and wants to have heart-to-hearts with Steve. She needs to know why he did this. And here is what Steve will likely tell his wife:

  • I love you, but I am not in love with you and you are victimizing me and punishing me for having found my soulmate.
  • You are so controlling and a real buzz kill—I would have withered up and died if not for Nikki
  • You need to stop abusing me all the time by asking me when I am coming home
  • I have a weak ankle. One day I just tripped and happened to fall into Nikki when she was not wearing panties. It was an accident, not an affair, and it could have happened to anyone!
  • You have to stop being so judgmental about my ankle problems. I know any other wife (except for you) would understand it was just an accident. Men trip and fall onto women without underwear every day.
  • How could I have known I was making love to another woman in another man’s bed. It was dark and it is not like I have night vision!
  • In the past, it was common for a man like me to have 100 wives. You should be glad that I only have one wife- but no, that’s not enough for you.
  • Monogamy is not natural for men and it is cruel to cage me in like an animal.
  • I do everything for you and the kids and all you want to do is take away my one slice of happiness. What kind of cruel human being would take away another person’s happiness?

The Crazy S#!t Cheaters Do and Say

What was the most moronic thing that your wayward spouse said to you during his or her affair? What was the most outrageous thing you heard when your wayward spouse was in the affair fog?

My ex-fiancé refused to admit there was an OW and swore with the Bible as his witness that there was no one else. (News flash: the last time I checked, Bibles do not talk.) How low can you go? Then he yelled at me because I was evil for even thinking there was someone else and that the problem with me was that I was not smart enough to know he would never cheat.

In my ex’s mind, he was somehow my victim although he never gave me any concrete reason as to why he was calling off the engagement. I would ask and ask again and all he would say is, “We can’t get married” and then refuse to talk about it.

Since I stood my ground and asked him to leave our mutually owned home since he was breaking up, he really felt I was being unfair.

He was so deep into the affair fog that he thought me staying and him moving out was victimizing him and unfair to him.

Unfair to him? I had to move back to my parent’s house temporarily and that caused me to have a 1.5 hour commute to work each way and five days a week.

Meanwhile, he and the OW got to live in my home and have a seven minute commute to work. Affordable and beautiful new housing was almost possible to find in that area because of all of the famous high-tech companies.

I had not only found the place, I was going to buy it on my own and he wanted in at the last minute. How convenient for him and the OW to have their seven minute commute while I had to drive 1.5 hours each way every day. On Fridays, the time doubled and it took me three hours just to get home.

I know everyone’s affair experience seems extreme, but before that point in my life I had never encountered a severe sociopath. I always assumed they were in jail—not in the workplace.

What’s the psychology behind a wayward spouse’s victimhood?

Here is Dr. Kurt Smith’s take. Even though he references men, women are quite capable of the same behavior:

“How men cheat is by dealing with the reality that they’ve hurt another by denying it. You don’t have to deal with something that is not a reality to you. A technique that many cheating men use is to shift blame – they’re not the one doing the hurting, they’re the one who was hurt. They then use this rational – that they’ve been wronged – to justify their wrong behavior, which from this point of view can now be defined as right.

How can they turn their backs without an explanation knowing how much it pains another?

Turning their back is easy when, as I said above, they deny the pain they’re causing and believe their cheating is justified. Remember that they’ve also disconnected mentally and emotionally from you, and thus they probably don’t recognize or care about your pain.

How can they leave without trying to fix a marriage or end respectfully?

Fixing a marriage first requires acknowledging that there are troubles. If cheating men are using some of the above coping mechanisms (and all of them are), then they’ll either be denying the problems or blaming them on their partner – especially the problem that they’ve cheated.

Fixing a relationship also requires change. Most of us don’t like change. Cheating men typically don’t want things to change. They like the joys that the cheating relationship brings.

Since denial is one of the coping mechanisms that cheating men use to mentally make it okay to cheat, rewriting history and blaming their partners shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

When cheaters rewrite history and blame everything on their partners, there’s even less that they have to deny. Men who are cheating will try anything to avoid taking responsibility for their wrong behavior, and re-writing history and blaming others is one of the best ways to do that.

How do cheaters deal with the fact that they’ve hurt another?

They don’t deal with it since it’s not something that they think about (see the denial technique described above). Cheating is selfish. It says my needs are more important than anyone else’s. When you’re cheating, you’re in “it’s all about me” mode. The obsession on meeting your needs doesn’t allow for thinking about your partner’s feelings. Meeting their needs is at the core of why do men cheat.

Why do the partners who have been left become the bad guy?

Okay, now you have some idea of the cheater’s mindset. When you’re denying reality, seeking to blame others and avoid responsibility, then making your ex-partner the bad guy is really pretty easy and makes sense. Making your partner out to be the bad one, and the one who has done wrong, can make your wrong behavior seem right.

Why do cheating men continue to lie, even when the affair is out in the open?

One of the core components of cheating is dishonesty. Dishonesty is what allows cheating to occur. Lying is like rolling a snowball down hill. Like a snowball, lies just keep getting bigger and bigger, and they’re hard to stop once started.

I’ve worked with cheating men (and cheating women, too) who’ve been lying for so long, and in so many ways, that they’ve created such a web of lies that even they sometimes don’t remember the truth. For some people lying can become a way thinking that’s hard to stop.

Why do they become so selfish often at the expense of their own children?

Cheaters never mean to hurt their children. Some don’t mind hurting their partner, but not their children. Sadly, hurting our kids’ other parent hurts our kids too.

So if cheaters don’t mean to, or want to, hurt their kids, why do they? As I described above, it’s because cheaters are in “it’s all about me” mode. Cheaters put their needs above everyone else’s, even their kids. Many cheaters are cheating to make themselves feel better (another reason why men cheat), and it’s hard to give up something that makes you hurt less, even if it hurts your kids.” (1)

 

The last part about cheater’s being so selfish that they can go on hurting their children is disturbing to me. Being a parent, to a great extent, is about the denial of self. Now, people do not have to give up their entire lives for their children and never have a moment to themselves. But, there is a big difference between doing self-care such as taking an hour to read a book or do a hobby AND cheating on your family. I have always believed that only cowards hurt their children.

I am very aware of how my kids perceive me and how I am out in the world. While I am outgoing and talkative, but not a flirt. When we go to the beach in Hawaii, I wear baggy board shorts down to my knees and a long-sleeved rash guard over my swimsuit. I stay completely covered around my sons. It is not because I am ashamed of my body. It is because I want my sons to be able to respect their mom. I want them to see that I can be a youthful woman without having to let it all hang out.  I do not want to hurt my children in any way, not with an affair, not with flirtation, not with dressing in a way that causes other men to constantly stare.

My oldest knows all about affairs. He knows because a couple of his friends from elementary school had moms who had affairs and left the children’s fathers for the affair partner. These children of mothers who left for the other man have no end to their issues: constant stomach pain and digestive problems, migraines, nervous ticks, anxiety, anger, depression, and tearfulness.  Can you image a 6-year-old with migraine disorder? Well, my son can because that was what happened to one of his friends when they were 6-years-old. The child developed the disorder after the divorce and when he and his mom moved in with the other man. (His mom was a psychologist, by the way.) My son was the only one the little boy had to talk to. Soon after that, they moved away.

understanding why you had your affair

 

The Psychology of Perpetrators

This may come as a surprise, but there were some (unethical) psychology studies during the 1960’s that demonstrated even the most moral people who claim they would not hurt a fly are capable of hurting human beings under the right circumstances. It all centers around the excuses people tell themselves, who is influencing them, and strength of character.

There was an experiment in the 60’s, the Milgram Experiment, where people were asked by a lab researcher to deliver electric shocks to someone in another room. The researchers wanted to know what it would take for a self-proclaimed moral, kind, harmless, and upstanding citizen to go against their values and hurt another human being. They were trying to understand why so many Germans were obedient to the genocidal agenda of Hitler.

In this experiment and unbeknownst to the person giving the shock to the other person, there was no real electricity involved and the people in the other room were actors who were alerted to scream in pain when the person was delivering a severe shock to the actor. Here is a description:

“One of the most famous studies of obedience in psychology was carried out by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University. He conducted an experiment focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience.

Milgram (1963) examined justifications for acts of genocide offered by those accused at the World War II, Nuremberg War Criminal trials. Their defense often was based on “obedience” – that they were just following orders from their superiors.

The experiments began in July 1961, a year after the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiment to answer the question:

Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” (Milgram, 1974).

Milgram (1963) wanted to investigate whether Germans were particularly obedient to authority figures as this was a common explanation for the Nazi killings in World War II. Milgram selected participants for his experiment by newspaper advertising for male participants to take part in a study of learning at Yale University. 

The procedure was that the participant was paired with another person and they drew lots to find out who would be the ‘learner’ and who would be the ‘teacher.’  The draw was fixed so that the participant was always the teacher, and the learner was one of Milgram’s confederates (pretending to be a real participant).

The learner (a confederate called Mr. Wallace) was taken into a room and had electrodes attached to his arms, and the teacher and researcher went into a room next door that contained an electric shock generator and a row of switches marked from 15 volts (Slight Shock) to 375 volts (Danger: Severe Shock) to 450 volts (XXX).

Volunteers were recruited for a lab experiment investigating “learning” (re: ethics: deception).  Participants were 40 males, aged between 20 and 50, whose jobs ranged from unskilled to professional, from the New Haven area. They were paid $4.50 for just turning up.

At the beginning of the experiment, they were introduced to another participant, who was a confederate of the experimenter (Milgram). 

They drew straws to determine their roles – learner or teacher – although this was fixed and the confederate was always the learner. There was also an “experimenter” dressed in a gray lab coat, played by an actor (not Milgram).

Two rooms in the Yale Interaction Laboratory were used – one for the learner (with an electric chair) and another for the teacher and experimenter with an electric shock generator.

The “learner” (Mr. Wallace) was strapped to a chair with electrodes. After he has learned a list of word pairs given him to learn, the “teacher” tests him by naming a word and asking the learner to recall its partner/pair from a list of four possible choices.

The teacher is told to administer an electric shock every time the learner makes a mistake, increasing the level of shock each time. There were 30 switches on the shock generator marked from 15 volts (slight shock) to 450 (danger – severe shock).

The learner gave mainly wrong answers (on purpose), and for each of these, the teacher gave him an electric shock. When the teacher refused to administer a shock, the experimenter was to give a series of orders/prods to ensure they continued.

There were four prods and if one was not obeyed, then the experimenter (Mr. Williams) read out the next prod, and so on.

65% (two-thirds) of participants (i.e., teachers) continued to the highest level of 450 volts. All the participants continued to 300 volts.

Milgram did more than one experiment – he carried out 18 variations of his study.  All he did was alter the situation (IV) to see how this affected obedience (DV).Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being.  Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up.

People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school, and workplace.” (2)

 

Now, I wanted to say that I have read other variations of this experiment and there were times when the participants supposed to deliver the shocks got up and left, no matter what was told to them.

In the experiments where everyone stayed and delivered shocks to the person in the other room, the person giving the shocks was often told outrageous lies about the person they were shocking and this caused them to go forward.

For example, some of the people supposed to deliver shocks simply refused because it was unethical to shock someone for giving wrong answers to questions. They would start to leave and the lab technician might say something to the extent of: “I didn’t want to mention this, but the man in the other room is actually a serial killer on loan from the prison.”

Statements such as this would cause the participant to start thinking about whether or not it was a big deal to shock a serial killer. Most people talked themselves into the idea that if that person on the other side of the wall was indeed a serial killer, then this diminished the perception of humanity in the other person. Some people probably told themselves that a serial killer might indeed deserve to be shocked. No one questioned the person in authority—that is if the authority figure said the person in the next room was a serial killer, the listener did not even think to question if such a statement were true. They believed it merely because the person saying it appeared to be in authority.

What does this have to do with affairs?

Well, I am going to do a lot of extrapolation here. I am going to hone in on the concept that some people who believe themselves incapable of harm are actually capable of harm under certain circumstances.

If a normally ethical person is made to believe something (that is correct or incorrect) about someone else AND if this belief causes them to dehumanize that person, it creates an atmosphere where the ethical person could become a perpetrator. If someone can dehumanize another, then what would normally be considered an egregious act could be justified.

This is not to say that people who cheat are ever ethical in the first place. Some cheaters were at one time ethical people until they fell off the wagon. Others were never ethical people.

Here is what I am saying: I am saying that if an ethical person can be made to dehumanize another, it is going to be second nature for an unethical person to dehumanize all those people around him.

In fact, I believe an unethical person has already dehumanized everyone around him or her. This allows the unethical person to go about his or her life lying, stealing, cheating, destroying, committing fraud, and doing anything else that suits his or her need for personal gain.

The unethical person will be able to look himself or herself in the mirror in the morning because in his mind, if someone is not even human, then it does not matter what happens to that “thing.” People become mere objects for such a person.

If a human is an object, then the unethical person will not give the object a second thought. To an unethical person, there is no difference between taking a chair that he or she has owned for 20 years to the dump and taking his or her spouse of 20 years to the same dump.

But, unethical people are rarely stupid. Intellectually, they know that there are laws in society. They know intellectually that others will hold them accountable, even though they believe they are above the law.

So, how does an unethical person get through life doing all of his or her egregious acts and not being held accountable?

It’s easy. That person creates an air-tight and water-tight false “persona.” This is usually called a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But, the smartest wolves know that they must have the most flawless “lamb costumes” or “personas” in order to fool everyone around them into thinking they are nice people.

How many times have you seen a news story where someone was arrested for murder and all the neighbors say:

“But, he was the nicest guy!”

“He went to church and taught Sunday school—I just don’t believe such a nice guy can do this.”

“He walked my elderly mother across the street—he CANNOT be a murderer.”

“He volunteered at the food bank; he cannot be a murderer. Nice guys like that don’t murder people.”

“I know a bad guy when I see him and I am never wrong. That guy was the nicest guy I ever met and he is NOT a murderer.”

I have mentioned many times before that I know people who knew Ted Bundy. I think I am going to coin a new term. I am going to call it “The Ted Effect.”

The Ted Effect is when someone, such as a sociopath, has developed an air-tight and water-tight false self and spends a lot of time cultivating this false self by being “nice” to others and doing acts that others consider “nice.”

Remember, “nice” is a choice, not a character trait. A waitress is generally “nice” to you. Your realtor is “nice” to you. A politician is “nice” to you and even kisses your baby and then drives straight to a hotel to meet a hooker with herpes.

Nice is not to be confused with “kind.” Nice is something you choose to do to get along in society and in social situations because it is normative behavior. Everyone agrees you are supposed to “play nice.”

Kind, on the other hand, is a core character trait.

“Nice” and “kind” are constantly confused because unethical people know that they have to create an air of kindness as part of their air-tight false self. So, they imitate kind people by figuring out what genuinely kind people do, studying them, and then doing the same thing. So off they go volunteering at the food bank, teaching Sunday School, feeding the homeless, and picking up garbage at the side of the road.

But, when unethical people help at the food bank, they are making a choice to be “nice,” which is a behavior, in order to build their false identity.

A kind person volunteers at the food bank because this is who they are at their core. There is no thought involved—they just do it because it is the outward manifestation of their kindness. There is no agenda to build a false self because they do not need one. They are not secretly hurting people when no one is looking. There is no dirt to dig up when someone is kind—no skeletons in the closet—because a kind person is always kind. It’s not a choice they make, it is a way of ‘being.’

Again: unethical people take close note of what kind people do and make the choice to “play nice” with the specific goal of building a false persona. They know that their entire life and success (and staying out of jail) hinges on the false persona.

Let’s Pull This All Together

Both ethical and unethical people are capable of having affairs. But, when the unethical person is caught in an affair, he or she is a cornered animal and has everything to loose: the false persona. If there is a crack in the false persona and people find out who they really are, the entire house of cards falls.

They will defend the false persona to the death. How do they defend the false persona to the death?

By playing The Victim.

They weave tales, which are lies and projections, to whomever will listen about how their betrayed spouse has been victimizing them behind closed doors for years.

They make up tales of abuse and whatever else it takes to make everyone forget they were caught in an affair. They tell tales so that the betrayed spouse becomes The Evil One and they become The Victim.

They will do whatever is takes to keep their false persona intact because their life and livelihood depends upon it. They will also twist the mind of the betrayed spouse and gaslight the betrayed spouse until the betrayed spouse goes crazy and starts to believe they victimized their wayward spouse.

Then, the wayward spouse repeats over and over again false stories to whomever will listen, about their repeated victimization at the hands of their betrayed spouse. They will convince bystanders that their betrayed spouse did terrible things in secret for many years and that the other person – aka affair partner – ‘rescued them’ from The Evil One – aka the betrayed spouse.

That is the psychology behind why some perpetrators must make themselves out to be the victim at all costs. These people with false personas are wolves in sheep’s clothing. To the outside world, they do look like “the nicest people.”

It does not even matter if the wolf perpetrator is caught in the pasture full of sheep, sitting next to a half-eaten sheep carcass, burping wolf and half-eaten sheep breath. They will still fight for the false persona by deflecting, blame-shifting, and gaslighting.

The wolf will say:

“No I don’t have wolf paws with claws. You must need glasses because these are clearly sheep hooves.”

The wolf will say with great authority, “The half-eaten sheep? Oh, that was another gray alien cattle mutilation. Didn’t you see the space ship just fly away? Like I said, get your glasses.”

The wolf will say to anyone who sees the truth– that he is a wolf, “Me? A wolf? You must be the wolf around here because you are projecting your own wolf-ness onto me.  Admit you ate that sheep.”

Then the wolf will pant, “Hey everyone, there is this wolf (that looks just like a sheep) over here accusing me of being the wolf.”

And if all the sheep one day wake up and collectively try to hold that (fat and well-fed) wolf accountable, the wolf will NOT give up because the false persona is everything to the wolf. Without it, he could not do his dirty deeds. The wolf will cry:

“You don’t understand how I have been starved all these years. How cruel to let someone like me starve and that is YOUR fault.”

“You are stereotyping me. I am not like all the other wolves out there. I have love and compassion for sheep. I have so much love in my heart that I accidentally ate a sheep. Give me a second chance.”

“But, I am such a nice wolf. I built new houses for the pigs just last week at a Habitat for Humanity project.”

“I am such a good wolf that I cook team dinners for all of the other wolves on my team each week. I cannot help it if their favorite food is mutton. It’s a cultural thing and you should be more tolerant.”

“You heard from my Alpha Wolf Wife that I left her heart-broken, all for a dalliance with a little yipping Chihuahua who also had a big mouth? Well, those are just bogus rumors being circulated because one of my competitors knows I plan to run for Wolf President.”

“Sheep of the world. YOU are the PROBLEM because you exist. It is not my problem that you are delicious. That is your problem and I am the real victim here.”

I hope some of those made you laugh. It is a lot less painful to use animals in a satirical way to explore a very serious topic.

Do not underestimate the power of someone who will do everything to keep his or her false persona intact. Also, do not forget that a person with a false persona is well-skilled at looking you plainly in the face and lying without flinching.

They are skilled at acting nice. They are skilled at fooling you. They do everything to keep their false persona and those who get involved with these wolves in sheep’s clothing will pay for it with their lives.

I was involved with one and I know the price. The thing with a wolf in sheep’s clothing is that they are unable to follow social norms for any period of time. Since they are real jerks and have no ability to change, the false persona is the only thing they have that will help them continue to exploit others.

A Female Perpetrator with a False Persona

Since I usually give detailed stories about male perpetrators, today I am going to tell you the true story of a female perpetrator with a false persona. This is a story worthy of being a Greek tragedy. But, I watched it happen over a five-year period.

Most people falsely believe that they can read people accurately. Very few of us, even smart people, can see through a well-honed veneer—one worthy of an Oscar.

Lauren* was recently married and her husband, Brandon*, had gotten a job with us at our company. He passed Lauren’s resume along to our female recruiter. A panel of several females, including me, all trained and certified in behavioral interviewing did the panel interview with Lauren.

Lauren actually said some pretty outrageous things in her interview in response to questions about former employment at a coffee shop. (Her one and only job—ever.)  I remember what she said when we asked how she would handle a situation with a difficult co-worker. She went on a tirade about working in the coffee shop with an “old man” who was a “real drag.” Her solution to his “grumpy attitude” was to ignore him by blasting music and dancing around the tables where customers sat.

Hard to believe, but she actually said that along with a few other outrageous things. All of us women marked Lauren as a “no hire” unanimously.

She had no job experience, no degree in the field, and was extremely immature. We worked in a high pressure and high stakes environment where all of us put in 60-hours a week as the standard. Most of our coworkers were engineers from MIT and Stanford. They did not tolerate incompetence and the work was not for the faint at heart.

But, our boss, Boss Man, had already met Lauren and decided to hire her. The panel interview was a formality. Unbeknownst to us, Boss Man was cheating with our team recruiter and Lauren was a good friend of the recruiter. The recruiter said Boss Man needed to hire Lauren to keep her (the recruiter) happy.

So, our boss explained that he was hiring Lauren, despite our misgivings. Then he looked at all three of us women and actually said to our faces, “You are jealous because she is prettier than you.” Yes, he actually said that.

One of those female co-workers was the former prom queen in high school. She was smart and gorgeous. The other woman was also tall, attractive and smart. Then there was me and I knew what he secretly thought me because of The Incident.

Here is the story of The Incident, which I think I mentioned before.

A couple of weeks before Lauren’s hiring, I was working late on a Friday night. That night, Boss Man had left the office, went to the bar across the street, and returned to work late.

Even though no one was around, Boss Man called me into his office. He said he needed to talk to me about my physical appearance. No, I am not joking and I was scared to death.

I sat there for almost 2-hours, as still as a statue, listening to my drunk boss rambling on about my smell, my clothing, and my hair, and other various drunken ramblings with seemingly no connection.

Remember, this guy was already cheating with the recruiter and I believe he was simply casting a line to see if he could pull up a different kind of fish for his cheater’s aquarium.

There was nothing special about me—except for the fact that I was “different looking” than the other two.

Boss Man had a slender and petite Asian fiancé and a blond, athletic recruiter-mistress. Apparently, he needed someone with long, auburn hair (who was taller and built differently than the two others) to diversify his menagerie of women.

Who can blame Boss Man?

All of the books on investing talk about diversifying your stock—and apparently women were a type of livestock to Boss Man. So it was only logical for him to diversify; any good financial planner knows that and he was just doing what his financial planner said. (Sarcasm.)

After The Incident, I went home and pretended like it never happened. I also went to the mall with a female friend and looked for any clothing resembling to a burka to wear to the office. After that, my hair went into a bun and I skipped perfume.

I did not want to go to HR. The guy was drunk and I wanted to forget about it and get my job done. What would I say to HR that was not obvious? The boss was drunk and said a bunch of stupid things. I cared about keeping my job and my intuition told me to stay quiet. I figured Boss Man was probably doing this to others and someone else could come forward if they wanted to.

I was also in my mid-twenties and had spent over a year searching for the perfect job. This was the job that would bring about huge career opportunities and so I put my head down and kept working.

For anyone who knows me, they know that I have always planned to tell the whole story of working at that company. And I still have many friends who want to send me their crazy stories about that company as well. We were all in the craziness together.

At that particular job, every day was like living life in a very poorly written soap opera.  I was not the only one living in the soap opera; we all did and we all have tales to tell.

I do not wish to tell the identities of the people who did all of these stupid things because this is just another sordid tale of human nature. People do really stupid stuff.

 

A segue: The story I am about to tell could happen in any company and in any state and to any silly fool under the right set of circumstances. Plus, I don’t do revenge. I just do not and never have. Revenge is not good for the soul. If someone is living their life wrongly, they will eventually show their true colors. But, I use examples of people living their lives wrongly as instructional material for others.

It is the dynamic and the consequences of actions that are important and never the identity of the person. I will never disclose people’s identities because I do not like publically shaming others. It feels wrong to do so and there is nothing good to gain from it. It is small behavior.

Back to Boss Man…So, it was that Boss Man announced aloud that Lauren was prettier than all of us and that we needed to work on our jealousy. Thus, Lauren was hired.

Lauren loved gaslighting. In secret, Lauren immediately started bragging to a small group of us women that she was waiting for her husband’s parents to die because they were millionaires. Then, she said she would divorce him afterwards.

One time, in an attempt at gaslighting, Lauren wanted to walk me to my car to talk about work when I was leaving. As she followed me out of the building, she spoke about work. But, the second we were alone, she looked at me sneakily and said, “You know what?” I responded, “What?” And Lauren said, “I am sure you know you don’t have an attractive face and you have rather large hips. Your flaws are obvious to everyone. I (Lauren) would look perfect if I only had your shape up top. That’s the only thing good about you, you know.” Then, Lauren turned and walked away.

Say what??!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, Lauren said that. I went over and over those words in my head trying to figure out if I misheard. Well, I did not because she said the same thing two other times after that and was even more specific (also when we were alone.)

Lauren had a habit of saying the most outrageous things when she caught me alone. I did not know why the heck she was acting that way, but I knew it was a trap of some sort.

I realized that if I were to repeat what she said to others in the office, they would think I was crazy. That way Lauren could damage my reputation and make herself look like a victim, especially to Boss Man who would have told me to stop spreading rumors born from jealousy.

I told the one woman I trusted at the office. We were friends and she knew I did not make things up or spread gossip. She knew I was telling the truth, but like me, she could not wrap her head around why Lauren would do such a thing.

My friend and I had not yet heard of gaslighting and we had never really experienced it. So, we had no frame of reference for Lauren’s behavior. We both decided to steer clear as much as possible.

But, Lauren was sooooo nice to everyone around her and had an air-tight and water-tight false persona. She was so professional (when she needed to be) and she was so outgoing and had such a great attitude. The male managers just loved Lauren.

Lauren, who was 23, wore so much make-up no one knew what she actually looked like.  She flipped her platinum blond hair and announced several times to us women (when we were alone) that she would be our boss in a year. (More gaslighting).

But, we did not see that happening. All of us were more experienced, had more degrees, and were senior in the company and senior on the team. We did not take Lauren seriously. Big mistake.

Then along came Mark*.

Lauren decided to target the new director, Mark, because she knew who had the power to make things happen and who did not. Mark had the power.

Mark was a married, obese, fully gray-haired 50-something department director whose cube was right next to mine. He and his wife had many children. I was helping orient Mark and he was shadowing me until he got his office.

So, Lauren came to his cube each day and sat on his desk and looked into his eyes and told him he was sooooo smart. And she laughed at everything Mark said.

All the while, Lauren’s husband, who was a shy but handsome man, sat somewhere on the same floor, totally clueless as to what Lauren was doing.

Until Mark got his office, she spent almost all day in his cube cooing, sighing, giggling, mooning about, and telling him he was soooooo smart and she always learned so much from everything he said.

Lauren announced to Mark she just would not know what to do with herself if Mark had not so kindly offered all of his advice because he was soooo smart.

Here is another thing Lauren did and I know this is hard for you to believe.

All of us women saw Lauren do this certain thing at least 50 times and we still could not believe our own eyes.

Lauren would wear a miniskirt and sit on Mark’s desk with her legs spread facing him as she talked. Basically, when Mark would sit in his chair, his eyes were at her crotch level and he got a front row seat to see Lauren’s flimsy underwear and the outline of what was underneath.

We also saw Lauren doing this to a few other married men, but these married men would turn away. We thought about going to HR, but who would believe us. So, we stayed quiet.

I have no idea when Mark and Lauren started sleeping together. One time, they were out on errands on a lunch break and I saw them holding hands and kissing.

I dodged behind a tree because I did NOT want to even get caught up in that mess. (This was in the 90’s and I was in my mid-20’s. Because of the corporate culture, I knew well the messenger would get shot).

Oh my goodness, Bless Lauren’s talented little heart….

A year later, Lauren was made the manager of another team and they gave her a bunch of newly hired people who had no idea the cow pie pile they were stepping into.

I was lead on our team by that point and had hired these poor folks who were handed over to Lauren without choice.

I wanted to stay out of it, but could not.

Two of Lauren’s direct reports had type 1 diabetes. They had a schedule for insulin and food. Lauren told them that they were not allowed to leave their desks for insulin and food. (No joke.)

Finally, since I was the one who hired them, they came to me and begged me to go to HR because they were becoming very ill. They looked like death warmed over.

So I did.

Against my better judgment, I went to HR.

I knew Lauren would get out of this one because she got out of everything. But, the part of me that had integrity told me I could not sit by and watch while people’s lives were at stake. It would be unethical to know of the problem and stay silent.

So, I sat by these two individuals with diabetes as they told their story to HR. I told HR that (as they already knew) it was against the law to prevent someone with a known medical condition from taking their medication at a certain time. We did not do “shift work” and we did not have a clock to punch. But, Lauren treated these employees as if this were the case, which was also against company policy.

When Lauren was called in, she sweetly told HR that she absolutely loved all of her employees and their health and wellbeing was her highest concern.

Then she lied and said she was never told they had diabetes, despite the two team members with diabetes telling HR they told her over and over again and had even been disciplined by Lauren for stepping away to take medicine. HR believed Lauren; they said it was a misunderstanding and let it go.

A few weeks later, one of those team members had a close call and we called an ambulance. I accompanied the two to HR for a second time. Lauren pretended not to understand what was happening (even though she was born and raised in America.) When that ruse failed, Lauren called Mark in to tell HR to back down.

How did Lauren get away with this?

Very simple.

Mark, was her boss and the senior, department director. He intervened each time Lauren got a complaint against her. In exchange, I imagine she gave Mark regular sex all the while Lauren’s husband still sat on our same floor none the wiser.

But, there were more men than just Mark.

Lauren hired a male, personal assistant just out of the military who was young and buff. After she had fake sex with Mark, she would have real sex with her Thor-like personal assistant. Then, there was also her husband, whom she treated terribly.

Lauren was constantly trying to bring other men into the mix and I cannot even tell you why except for the fact that I believe Lauren was a sociopath; this is what sociopaths do. There is no logic to what sociopaths do. Perhaps Lauren also knew that the more men she brought into the mix, the more she could blackmail people.

My ex and I both worked for this company. She hit on my ex several times and I was surprised that he even told me. Lauren hit on my ex by grabbing his private parts under the conference room table during meetings.

This happened several times. He would tell me the whole story each time and I think that was because Lauren was not his type.

Of course, him being transparent about Lauren caused me to trust him even more. So, for him, it helped build that iron-clad façade to hide who he really was—also a big cheater.

I watched this drama with Lauren go on for almost five years. By that time, I was on a completely different team and had many promotions. I was no longer working on the same floor. Thank God. I could not stand the sight of her.

There were so many stories about the body count Lauren left in her wake, wherever she went. She was a sadistic person and liked to be cruel merely for cruelty’s sake.

Toward the end, Lauren had a large team and Mark had given her many promotions. Mark also ensured she always got employee of the year in that department, so that they could go to Hawaii together with the executives and without their spouses.

So, when did London Bridge come tumbling down?

One day, Lauren sweetly told Mark that she wanted to be a junior director in the marketing division (a completely separate area) and that way they could carry on their affair more easily. That way, they had a chance at being together because no one would see them together. That way, any gossip about them would go away.

But, here is what Lauren did instead after she got her new job:

I remember seeing part of this and wondered what was up. Once day, I sat in the parking lot eating my lunch in my car. I saw Lauren standing outside the building. Lauren was crying in a very dramatic way and a concerned woman twice her age was comforting her and hugging her.

Had someone died?

I did not know what Lauren was saying, but apparently it was very important and hurt Lauren very deeply.

But, it turned out to be just another part of Lauren’s ruse.

It turned out the women who comforted her as she cried was her new boss on the marketing team.

I found out she was (fake) crying because she was recounting how she had (alleged) that she had been raped by Mark for years and wanted to file a sexual harassment suit.

The female boss bought the story hook, line, and sinker and went to HR with Lauren.

Also, allegedly, witnesses saw Mark being fired and escorted out by security.

Lauren’s husband finally figured out his wife had been cheating for years. It is my opinion that somewhere in his heart he knew what Lauren did was consensual, that she was one enormous liar, and so he divorced her.

Lauren filed a sexual a harassment complaint against the company. Others said she would drop the lawsuit if she got a higher job title within the company and cash payout.

Not only did Lauren get out of sleeping with Mark, which had been her goal all along, she used the affair to wield more power and do a cash grab.

How do I know all this?

I worked with Lauren’s alleged best friend and also the only woman who wanted to talk to Lauren, let alone have a friendship with her. Her “work” best friend was on my team. Her friend was always asking me what to do about Lauren, who was in a perpetual state of drama. 

Even though Lauren was the perpetrator, she had made her (female) best friend at work believe Lauren was the victim all along. So, Lauren’s friend would come and spill her heart out to me, telling me stories of Lauren’s victimization. I listened and stayed out of it. (Why did her best friend tell me these things? Because I kept my mouth shut about my true feelings about Lauren. Additionally, everyone in the office told me everything and it had always been that way. It still happens to this day in person.)

I would imagine that Lauren’s female friend was also instrumental in getting Mark let go because Lauren would tell her friend the story as if she were Mark’s alleged captive against her will. And her work friend was naïve enough to believe it.

Lauren had an end-goal and she had decided it years before. Yes, it is my opinion that she was that cold and that calculating. If such a story is too hard to believe, I recommend the book The Sociopath Next Door.  Most sociopaths are not in prison and many of them happen to occupy executive positions in corporations. Seems the bigger the sociopath, the bigger the success in the most cut-throat industries.

Now, how many people saw Lauren coming?

Almost no one except for me and one other person—that person was my ex. I saw her coming because of what she said in the behavioral interview, because of her gaslighting towards me, and because of how I saw her “groom” Mark. It was hard to miss since he sat right next to me and there were no walls.

Obviously, my ex understood her because he recognized another cheater like himself. He was also witness to her hitting on him and saw her sitting on the desks of married men with her legs splayed open.

My ex told me when he first met her that she was untrustworthy and that everyone should watch their backs. (No kidding.) I was impressed that he saw what I saw. I thought he saw it because he was intuitive and could see through the mask she was projecting. Nope, he saw it because such people recognize each other.

But, in time, everyone else became fooled by Lauren’s sweet-as-pie act. During the times she slipped up, Mark was there to clean up her mess.

Why is Lauren’s story important?

Well, it is important to show how perpetrators make themselves out to be victims, even though they are the person who victimizes. They work their way into people’s lives and have affairs or do other dirty dealings. Then when they are done with their victim, they create an elaborate story about how they were victimized (by their actual victim) and they tell the story to those who do not know any better.

Lauren did just that and it disgusts me to this day.

But, I also wanted to tell this story because most of my stories involve men being the perpetrators. There are female perpetrators, but they seem to fool people very easily. Many people cannot see a female perpetrator coming. It is my opinion that female perpetrators can also plot, plan, and act in absolute cold blood.

I also wanted to say that married Mark was probably in a midlife crisis. Even though Mark was smart enough to work in an incredibly competitive industry, he never paused to ask himself why a married Lauren would be interested in him.

I mean really—he was so foolish he could not see that coming?

I also suppose Mark could have coasted on wishful thinking for a few weeks.

Or he could have gone in with his eyes open and decided it would be a quid-pro-quo kind of deal. He may have been as corrupt as Lauren and thus Mark was happy to trade favors. But, he never would have imagined she would have the last laugh.

He probably knew what she wanted and why she was speaking to him. And he did not care if it any of it was ethical.

He probably figured he would have fun while it lasted.

He probably thought that one day they would both move on like nothing happened and their spouses would be none the wiser.

He probably thought he would benefit from an affair with a young body and could have cared less if she was actual management material or did well by her employees. He did not care. He watched her abuse people, but since she was supplying narcissistic feed and a young body, he allowed people to get thrown under the bus.

I know for certain Mark never could have imagined an alleged rape or sexual harassment claim coming his way.

I knew Lauren and all about her antics, but even I did not foresee that coming.

I was a neutral third party. I saw for myself that this was one of the few situations where the young, ingénue groomed the older male and not the other way around. I saw her go after Mark with a laser-sharp focus that shocked me.

No one could have foreseen that Lauren out-skunked the old skunk. That was the shocking end of it all.

If male wayward spouses are reading: please take my word for it. That younger woman in the office will ruin your life. You will not be an exception. She is NOT your soulmate. You are delusional and you have a hellish road ahead of you if you stay in the affair. It is not true love. She is not the love of your life and your children WILL NOT be okay. Don’t be a selfish jerk—your children will NOT be happy despite the fact that you believe they will be happy if you are happy.  The research shows this is NOT the case. Children are traumatized when their parents leave for the affair partner and they are even more traumatized to hear their parent say it’s true love and they are happy. This RUINS children and they do not get over it.

So, get your head out of your you-know-what and stop being selfish just because of your personal weakness and deficits. The other woman could very well be a Lauren. These women are predators. If you are having an affair with one, you could lose everything in the fallout just like Mark did. Your family? Gone. Your job? Gone. Your reputation? Gone. Your financial future? Gone. That is the price you pay for playing with the Laurens of the world. Make love to your wife each night and stay focused on her.

This is a lesson to everyone, male or female. If you are married and someone who is vastly out of your league and your age group wants to have an affair, ask yourself why on earth they might want an affair with you.

Men are not the only ones who fall for this. I know cases where women have fallen for it as well. Look at Zsa Zsa Gabor; some believe or allege she was abused by her husband during the last few years of her life.

Recognizing a Sociopath

The words psychopath and sociopath are used interchangeably and mean the same thing in casual speech. But, the official term for this condition is “anti-social personality disorder.”

I have told you a story about a sociopath from my perspective, but that is filtered through my perspective.

I have found a couple of articles where a female sociopath speaks for herself. The way she describes herself and line of thinking is far more sinister than I could ever dreamed up. I see the fall-out, but it is rare that one gets a glimpse into the mind of a sociopath.

Here are common traits of anti-social personality disorder:

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight (3)

M.E. Thomas for Psychology Today says:

“I have never killed anyone, but I have certainly wanted to. I may have a disorder, but I am not crazy. This is my story….

Remorse is alien to me. I have a penchant for deceit. I am generally free of entangling and irrational emotions. I am strategic and canny, intelligent, and confident, but I also struggle to react appropriately to other people’s confusing and emotion-driven social cues.

I was not a victim of child abuse, and I am not a murderer or a criminal. I have never skulked behind prison walls; I prefer mine to be covered in ivy. I am an accomplished attorney and law professor, a well-respected young academic who regularly writes for law journals and advances legal theories. I donate 10 percent of my income to charity and teach Sunday school for the Mormon Church. I have a close circle of family and friends whom I love and who very much love me. Does this sound like you? Recent estimates say that one in every 25 people is a sociopath. But you’re not a serial killer, never imprisoned? Most of us aren’t. 

You would like me if you met me. I have the kind of smile that is common among television show characters and rare in real life, perfect in its sparkly teeth dimensions and ability to express pleasant invitation. I’m the sort of date you would love to take to your ex’s wedding—fun, exciting, the perfect office escort. And I’m just the right amount of successful so that your parents would be thrilled if you brought me home. 

I was a perceptive child, but I couldn’t relate to people beyond amusing them… I didn’t like to be touched and I rejected affection. The only physical contact I sought usually entailed violence. The father of a friend in grade school had to pull me aside and sternly ask me to stop beating his daughter. She was a skinny, stringy thing with a goofy laugh, as if she were asking to be slapped. I didn’t know that I was doing something bad…

I like to imagine that I have “ruined people” or seduced someone to the point of being irreparably mine. I dated Cass for a while, but I ultimately lost interest. He, though, did not lose interest. So I tried to find other uses for him. One night he and I went to a party where we met Lucy. She was striking, particularly in her similarity to me, which made me want to ruin her. I did the calculations—Lucy is smitten with Cass, Cass is smitten with me, I had unexpected power over Lucy. At my direction, Cass began pursuing Lucy. I found out everything I could about Lucy from her well-meaning friends: Lucy and I were born hours apart on the same day; we had the same predilections, the same pet peeves, and the same style of distracted, quasi-formal communication. In my mind she was my alter ego.

For as long as Lucy dated Cass, I kept him as my sidepiece: I would induce him to make and then break dates with her in favor of being with me. He knew I was using him to mess with her. When he started to feel pangs of conscience, I broke it off with him. I waited until he focused all his attention on Lucy, waited until she got her hopes up, then I called him again. I told him we were meant for each other and I was just testing him.

Lucy made things worse for herself—she had no sense of keeping personal things private, particularly from people like me who could use the information against her. Meanwhile, her friends sometimes thought I was her. Things could not have gone more perfectly.

The thing that kept it interesting was my genuine fondness for Lucy. I almost wanted to be a true friend. Just thinking about this makes me salivate. But when she became a dessert too rich, I began to avoid her. I made Cass break it off with her for good… I know my heart is blacker and colder than most people’s; maybe that’s why it’s tempting to break theirs.” (4)

 

Don’t take it from me. What this woman has explained about herself is far more damning than anything I could imagine. Don’t fool yourself and think the woman who describes herself above is immature or misguided. That would be misguided.

Anti-social personality disorder stays with a person for life. Since there is no empathy, there is no conscience. Conscience would be an emotional that could bring a person into therapy because they would feel guilt for harming another. People with a conscience would wonder why they are so driven to hurt others and would want to find a way to stop. A sociopath does not care; hurting others is a delicious act and an amusing game. It’s how they get their version of joy from life.

In Summary

Many perpetrators like to play victim. I have explained the psychology behind why they do it. So what do you do?

You always act with integrity and stick to The Truth and The Facts of the events that happened. Do not allow a perpetrator to blame you. Keep coming back to the facts. Keep stating the truth. Tell everyone around you The Truth of the events. Do not get pulled into gaslighting or being blamed for a cheating spouses actions. You did not cause it, you did not create it, and you cannot control it. You can control yourself and stand by The Truth, no matter what liars say. The Truth is your greatest weapon against being blamed for your spouse’s affair.

 

 

Sources:

Dr. Kurt Smith. How Do Men Cheat? Here’s How. From https://www.guystuffcounseling.com/counseling-men-blog/bid/84686/How-Do-Men-Cheat-Here-s-How

Saul McLeod. The Milgram Experiment. From https://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

M.E. Thomas. How to Spot a Sociopath. From https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201305/how-spot-sociopath

M.E. Thomas. Confessions of a Sociopath. From https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201305/confessions-sociopath

Photos:

rubimefti

Sharon Mollerus

Sabine Mondestin

 

    17 replies to "Changing Places: When the Wayward Spouse Identifies as the Victim"

    • Nearly Normal

      I liked the acid reflux excuse.

      Although I did not have to suffer through this, thankfully, I have seen it in others. Hideous.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Nearly Normal,

        Glad you got some humor out of that. I have a quirky sense of humor and so I like to use irony and absurdity as my basic go-to’s. I have to be careful in real life because not everyone understands the art of absurdity. It can come off as offensive, when it’s not meant that way.

        So what have you seen others suffer through? Have you ever come across a “Lauren” who ruined the life of a male co-worker? I hope and pray there are not two of her, but that is wishful thinking.

        Sarah

        • Nearly Normal

          Hi Sarah.

          I saw a woman who was not exactly a Lauren. Started canoodling with another man, and then when confronted by her husband, tried to lay all the blame on him. Boo hoo, what a poor victim she was! Got a good, close-up look at the insanity. Not pretty.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Nearly Normal,
            Did the husband stay or leave and where are that at now? Married? Divorced? Remarried?

            • Sarah P.

              Where are they at now? (Not that)

            • Nearly Normal

              I’m not sure what happened in the long run. She left him for her younger boy toy and they got a divorce. He tried to get her to wake up, but she didn’t (at least not before I lost track of them).

              Two kickers: 1) They had two little children caught in this mess; 2) The straying wife in this scenario was close friends with my wife.

              I’m not sure about the timing, if it was before, after, or in the middle of my wife betraying me. Was there influence from one to the other? They used to spend a lot of time talking. I wish it would have served as a signal to my wife to knock it off and come clean, or not do it in the first place. But done is done. At least my wife did not completely lose her mind and run off with some boy toy, or start blaming me like she was the victim.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello All,

      I know that was a looooong article. Pretty sure it was my longest ever.

      Did this article disturb you? Is the fact that some people act this way hard to believe?

      Did any of you go through a period where your wayward spouse was 100% convinced that he or she was your victim? If so, what did he or she do?

      What was the most outrageous thing your wayward spouse did?

      Anything…? I can hear the (virtual) crickets chirping, my friends.

    • TheFirstWife

      Sarah P. Good article. Loved the humor.

      I had two friends (sisters) both married to serial cheaters. Hard to watch the M self destruct but they both ended up remarried and happier.

      I had to endure my H in an emotional state when he ended it with OW temporarily (6 weeks). He was mean and nothing I did was right.

      That period ended when, unbeknownst to me, the A resumed. False reconciliation. That was eye opening when I found out months later.

      And yes i do know women who have no morals. I had a very good friend become the OW and destroy a M. At the time I believed her when she said his M was over and they started dating. I was young and naive. Now I know better!

      We are no longer friends BTW. She went on to have an A with a co-worker (also M) and have a child. To this day I don’t think he supported the child or the wife was told about the OC.

      She was a stunning girl – but just broken on the inside. Smart. Good job. Good family. But just made many poor choices looking for who knows what!?

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TFW,
        I keyed in on the “stunning girl” part. I always wonder why women who could easily get a single and high status man go for the married ones. Do they think so poorly of themselves that being able to steal a married man somehow makes them better? I don’t understand what drives these women.

    • Puzzled

      Sarah: Oh how there were so many things she said that wrecked me and, honestly, now make me think she was suffering from early on-set dementia. 😛

      But, I think the craziest or oddest thing she said in regards to why she did what she did was: “you’re too nice & everyone loves you”. Yep, that’s why it was ok for her to lie, cheat & try to destroy our marriage. I was “too nice & people like me”? And, crazy enough, I remember my response to her was pretty simple: “Fine. I’ll be mean to people and you can tell everyone I cheated on you or did something awful.” And she responded with…”That would never work. No one would believe it. You aren’t that type of person.”

      The sad part about my response was it was before I actually knew she was cheating on me. At the time I still just thought she was “lost” or “confused” or whatever. I was simply trying to save my marriage and help my wife.

      But looking back now at her behavior and words: I fully believe in temporary insanity…

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Puzzled,

        Yup, the good, old affair fog causes temporary insanity in some people. But, I also tend to believe that affairs can sometimes bring out latent qualities that people have. Other times not.

        Sounds like there was some deep insecurity in your wife. Perhaps the affair magnified that. It also sounds like your wife was trying to come up with a “valid excuse” to have an affair.

        NOTE: there is no excuse or reason for people to cheat.

        They simply make the choice to do so.

        But, when people are in the affair fog, they will grasp at straws to find any reason whatsoever to believe that their spouse drove them to it. It assuages guilt otherwise guilt eats them alive.

        She could not find anything so-called reason to cheat and also knew that people would know you are too nice to hurt anyone. If she were to be found out, she could NOT tell others she was your victim because they would know otherwise. If it came out, everyone would be pointing the finger directly at her and there would be no “plan B” story about how abusive you are or how drunk you are or how sadistic you are or how mean you are. People would know she was lying. She had nothing to fall back on and I bet the guilt was eating her alive.

        I am no expert on your wife, so I am guessing this was the case (at that point in time) while your wife was in temporary insanity mode.

        How does she treat you now? How are things?

        So sorry you had to go through all that gaslighting and wade through lies that were waist deep.

        Sarah

        • Puzzled

          Interestingly enough, you’re spot on about my wife and insecurity. She’s always been somewhat insecure and a people pleaser. I’m not sure if this other guy used that angle or if it was simply the slippery slope scenario for her. Either way, it stinks and it was wrong. I know something else she said always bothered her. I am an avid exerciser and during her affair she remarked how she always hated hearing how “in shape” I am. That probably leads back to her insecurity even though I have never bugged her about exercising or fitness. It’s just something I enjoy (partly because I love to eat!!).

          I think the guilt was killing her but she “couldn’t” stop if that makes sense. I think she was so swallowed up by the affair fog that she really couldn’t grasp what she was doing, saying or thinking. It’s no excuse for what she did but I’ve learned way too much about affairs, affair fog & emotional/physical affairs to not understand what was happening. Does it still sting? Of course. Do I wish for my simple belief of naive love? More than anything. Do I wish for my old marriage back? No. That one died in a fiery mess of an affair. I guess going forward we have taken the path of the phoenix, rising from the ashes and rebuilding something better.

          And that’s where we are now: building something new and hopefully something better. My wife tries every day to work and build and repair. It took a long while for her to get here but we are in a better place. I think we are both more open and honest with each other. We both tended to bottle things up but now bring them into the open to discuss. We have made great strides and will continue to do so. I’m certain of that.

          One sticking point for me that I try to shake (but can’t quite get there) is the fact that my wife has never told me who her affair partner was. She has said it was someone from work. I’ve never believed her on that one because she works in a large hospital where I know nobody other than the nurses with whom she works.
          I still feel it was someone that I know. I’m not sure if this keeps me from truly releasing my anger/fear/confusion/etc. I often wonder if I should just bring this up and say “fess up” or accept that the “who” isn’t really as important as that it happened but we are rebuilding.

    • TheFirstWife

      I wonder if her beauty did not cause its own problems. Like being famous.

      You don’t know who loves you for you or who just wants to be with you for your looks or money or fame & fortune, but doesn’t have any real feelings towards you.

      I think my friend could always get a guy. But she tried to weed out the shallow type. So if a seemingly “good” guy fell for her – even if married – she went for it. More than once sad to say.

      Just my observation. Could be she really was an evil person. Though she never appeared that way (at least towards me).

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TFW,

        I think you are onto something when you say she was an evil person. I will tell you that some of the most evil people can appear to be sincere if they need a friend. I judge people by their actions.

        Many women are beautiful, even stunning, and they just don’t do such things. Even though this woman was stunning, she would probably have been evil even if she was not stunning. I have seen many ugly women poach handsome married men and the men fall for it. Go figure.

        Sarah

    • Sarah P.

      TFW,

      PS- Just wanted to add to the idea that stunning/being a model or model-like doesn’t necessarily connect to going out with married men.

      Not trying to say you are right or wrong about the issue of women being so beautiful they don’t know who is sincere. I can see how that could be an issue for sure.

      But, I thought of a family friend and one of my dad’s former students. She was Mrs. America 1991 and her name is Kristianna Nichols. There is a link where her photo can be found towards the bottom.

      https://www.pageantrymagazine.com/magazine/features/2002/a02/a02promhairwebed.html

      She is honestly one of the kindest and most Christian people I have met. (She lives Christian values without bragging about her Christianity).

      She married her high school sweetheart and is such a bright light in this world. It appears they are still married. That was long ago when we lived in Indiana. We are not from Indiana and I moved back to my family’s part of the country in 1998.

      Anyhow, I still remember her fondly because of her genorsity and her loving spirit. She was older than me and was willing to be kind to an insecure teenager (me) and build me up. She was one of those rare people (really rare) who just beamed kindness and love and had not an arrogant or mean bone in her body.

      Just wanted to say that while I suppose it’s hard for beautiful women to find a sincere mate, looking in the pool of married men on the worst way to find a good man. Sheesh.

      What ever happened to that lady? I mean do you know if she ever got married or came to her senses?

    • TheFirstWife

      The last I heard she had a child with her married boss. He never was a part of the child’s life and his wife never knew.

      The mom – my former friend – never married. Stayed single. Don’t know if there were any other men in her life as I have not spoken or seen her in 30 years.

      The whole thing is just crazy if you ask me.

    • Trusting God

      Hi Sarah,

      What I’ve experienced:
      •Rewriting of history- not one good year, not one. He’s not been happy our whole married life (7 years)
      Truth, this is news to me. He did “stop being happy” about 2 years ago when I stopped allowing him access to my inheritance. Money was just flying out the window without consideration of who brought it to the marriage and what to plan for the future.
      •Blatant sabotage using passive/covert/overt/aggressive behavior.
      •2×4 blindsiding.
      •Projection/blameshifting-accusing me of doing the opposite of what I actually do. Such as, I support him in his efforts to spend more time with his sons- father/son bonding time- by not always including myself in their activities. I offer suggestions, I’ve even helped plan and fund weekend getaways for them. However, I’m accused of getting in the way of him bonding with his sons, saying no to this, no to that.

      When confronted about the blameshifting and all, is when he punched the wall.

      Then he threw me under the bus to his ex and his sons (over another matter).

      Our marriage counseling sessions keep getting hijacked by him and the counselor talking about him and his ex, or him and his sons. This has been going for months. Our counselor even quipped “well, you’ll have to be on the back burner again”. I’m wondering if he (the counselor) has a strategy, almost like he’s trying to prove to me that I’m better off leaving this jerk, that my H is consumed with himself and won’t take the steps necessary to save/rebuild our marriage.

      He’s asked us both why we are ok with living with so much dysfunction. I’m not ok with it. I want it to change. And I keep trying.

      I’m thinking of the definition of insanity at this moment…

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