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?
- People who have no tolerance for cognitive dissonance
- 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
- Public figures who always need to maintain a social reputation
- 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:
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.
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:
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.
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?
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
- 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:
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.
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.
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