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Empathy Aside of Infidelity

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20yrsagoBS posted 12/12/2019 09:31 AM

Last Thanksgiving, WH and I drove to pick up a ham we had ordered. Upon leaving the parking lot, we saw a man holding a cardboard sign, asking for money. He had a dog next to him. We stopped next to him, awaiting our turn out of the parking lot. I rolled down my window, and handed the man a $20. The man thanked me and smiled (aw). I returned the smile, said Happy Holidays, then we pulled out of the parking lot. WH lit into me, suggesting the man would probably use the money for drugs. I told him it didnít matter what the man used the money for.

Then WH was upset that it was a $20 instead of a $1. I didnít have any $1 bills, only the $20.

I gave the man the money because it was the holidays, his dog looked so sweet, and the man asked me for it. It didnít harm me to give it away. I felt his sincerity, his hunger. I empathized.


The very fact that WH lacks the ability to empathize i, likely, why he is an unremorseful cheater.


He canít seem to grasp doing something kind for someone simply because itís kind.


Do you have the same experience?

whatIknowNow posted 12/12/2019 09:48 AM

Good for you!

And yes, I've heard that excuse "he'll just buy booze" and like you I don't care.

Whatever he does with the money, it will at least give him a short list of options he does not have without it!

DIFM posted 12/12/2019 09:50 AM

Certainly in my case, and it seems in most others written about here, one of the most constant and common elements of a cheater is the absence of an empathy gene. It takes most cheaters a long time to "get it" because the #1 ingredient to getting it is empathy.

I think to be comfortable with cheating, there are numerous personality and mindfulness traits either non existent or woefully unpracticed. No empathy and a high level of comfort with dishonesty are tied at the hip with waywardness.

[This message edited by DIFM at 9:50 AM, December 12th (Thursday)]

landclark posted 12/12/2019 10:04 AM

one of the most constant and common elements of a cheater is the absence of an empathy gene

I had never thought of this, but it's a good point. I will have to pay attention to my husband's level of empathy. Could certainly be a factor! I feel like he has great empathy when it comes to his older kids and family, but it is lacking with me and our son together.

20yrs, good for you for giving him money. In that moment, you could have made a world of difference to him. What he does with the money is on him. Your conscious is clear.

ShatteredSakura posted 12/12/2019 10:22 AM

I wonder how my WW would have reacted. Probably not as bad, but might get a comment or two. She's incredibly stingy with money (it got better over the course of our relationship at least...).

Once her brother had a similar experience, but he had no money on him, he actually went to a nearby ATM and withdrew $20 to give him. I think WW thought he was nuts, but "it's his money" so she didn't really care. I thought it was a nice act.

He canít seem to grasp doing something kind for someone simply because itís kind.

Now this really describes WW, she doesn't really do thoughtful things for people with the justification that they haven't done anything nice for her. And she sometimes thinks people (like coworkers) don't like her or she isn't popular...I tell her bake (or buy) cookies to bring into the office and then you'll be real popular lol.

I might be ragging on her too much here, because her background is Jewish + Russian (first generation, her parents were born in Ukraine/Belarus). They fit the stereotype of frugal, careful, wary people.

Buzzy posted 12/12/2019 10:47 AM

You did the right thing for the right reason if the guy spends the money on booze or drugs thats on him.

You are a good person so keep on doing the right thing.

keet posted 12/12/2019 10:57 AM

WH isn't a serial cheater, but he is a rule breaker. He'll climb a fence with the kids to play on a playground. He thinks rules should be evaluated, and if they don't make sense, you shouldn't follow them. I've always had a problem with that.

My DD plays Dungeons and Dragons. The characters have "alignments" that have good-neutral-evil one one scale and lawful-neutral-chaotic on the other scale. She says I'm "lawful-good," because I'm a good person inside and I follow the rules. Even before the A we'd all joke about what WH's alignment was. I think DD decided he was somewhere between chaotic-good and chaotic-neutral. So even my kids can see the difference between us.

Buzzy posted 12/12/2019 11:08 AM

An old saying.

Rules are for the guidance of the wise and the blind obediance of the stupid.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 12/12/2019 11:18 AM

Oddly, no. It's one of the truly mysterious things about my WH. One of the things my WH has said about me, that reminded him of "why he loved me so much" was an incident where we had left a restaurant (it was a nicer place and we were dressed up pretty nicely), and it was cold and the sidewalks were slippery. An older man who looked potentially homeless, and clearly intoxicated, slipped and fell on the street a few feet in front of us dropping the bag he was carrying in the process. I immediately handed WH my purse and ran to help the man up and made sure he was okay. He was okay but had hurt his ankle in the fall and it was clear he was going to have trouble walking. I asked him where he needed to go and he said he lived a few blocks away, so I told him to put his arm in mine, and his other arm in my WH's and we would carry his bag and walk him there, which we did.

WH said at that moment he had never been more in love with me, precisely because I was willing to help some stranger who really needed our help. He wasn't unhappy that we were late getting home, or that we had some rather boozy guy clinging to us for 4 very slow blocks. When we got him to his house we sat outside and talked with the guy for a about 20 minutes and he told us he had lost his wife recently and was living alone... My WH still mentions him from time to time: I wonder how Paul is doing? He has even talked about dropping by and checking in on him...

So he can be this sweet caring person one minute and a fucking mind-numbingly self-centered asshole the next. The lack of consistency is astounding.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 11:18 AM, December 12th (Thursday)]

LLXC posted 12/12/2019 12:23 PM

Sadly. Nope. Part of why I adored my ex was HE was the one who would give money to the homeless. I do too, but I can also walk by homeless people and not see them, much to my shame. He was like that.

My clue with him was the way he talked about his mom.

I think not giving to the poor or homeless is a sign of self centeredness. But giving to the homeless doesn't mean you are not self centered

ShatteredSakura posted 12/12/2019 12:23 PM

That's a very sweet and heart warming story, ThisIsSoLonely. Thanks for sharing!

HeHadADoubleLife posted 12/12/2019 12:48 PM

Oddly, no. It's one of the truly mysterious things about my WH.
he can be this sweet caring person one minute and a fucking mind-numbingly self-centered asshole the next. The lack of consistency is astounding.
Yup, this is my story as well. One of the things I loved most about my XH was how much he cared and how emotional he was. He too used to give to the homeless all the time, far more than I did. There was a particular girl in our neighborhood that we saw all the time, so we gathered all of the girls winter clothes they had grown out of and brought them to her along with gift cards to the grocery store.

But yeah, it could swing to the complete opposite pretty quickly too. It was like full of empathy one minute, zero the next.

hikingout posted 12/12/2019 13:00 PM

Yup, this is my story as well. One of the things I loved most about my XH was how much he cared and how emotional he was. He too used to give to the homeless all the time, far more than I did. There was a particular girl in our neighborhood that we saw all the time, so we gathered all of the girls winter clothes they had grown out of and brought them to her along with gift cards to the grocery store.
But yeah, it could swing to the complete opposite pretty quickly too. It was like full of empathy one minute, zero the next.

I worry maybe this is me. I can be an empathetic or at least a sympathetic person (depending on how much I can relate to a situation). But, obviously having cheated an in evaluating my own behaviors, there are flickers that it can be not there. Not sure what that means or not, but when I read these things it's almost always to self evaluate. I think it depends on the situation for me. I am not sure there is really enough energy to give the same energy to all things though, so maybe I am normal/healthy. But, I always stay open to the idea maybe I am not, because I wasn't before and didn't know.

crazyblindsided posted 12/12/2019 18:57 PM

Yes I can identify with all of it. My STBX never gives money to the homeless and he has no empathy for abandoned animals either. Kept trying to get me to get rid of an abandoned kitten I adopted... hell he is about to find out he is going to be ass out here soon!

Honestly can't stand people like this. Then there are all the idiots on the Nextdoor App that have nothing to do all day but complain about how the homeless affect their privileged lives.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 6:58 PM, December 12th (Thursday)]

staystrong101 posted 12/12/2019 19:07 PM

Yes i have said this also about the lack of empathy. Years ago (before ex WH was cheating, as far as I know..) we had a conversation about empathy. He said he understood the definition and the thought of putting yourself in someone elseís shoes, but he also doesnít get it. He said he just doesnít have that in him. People shouldnít try to bring him down by sharing any worries or sadness with him. This is also a FOO issue. Ex WH was raised by very cold parents. Itís all very sad really.

Catwoman posted 12/12/2019 19:07 PM

I do believe people with a lack of empathy have a wire crossed internally.

I also don't think you can measure empathy such as concern for the less fortunate, animals, etc.

I think you need to look at it as an overall attitude. Some people just cannot factor in other people. Like I say, they don't know where they end and where other people begin.

Those on the extreme end of the scale simply can't fathom ANYONE having a different opinion than themselves. You can ask "how would you feel" until the cows come home, but they really can't grasp other people's feelings. At the same time, everyone is supposed to instantly know their feelings and be automatically sensitive to them.

Narcissists, in particular, see others as an extension of themselves, so they simply don't understand that other people have feelings.

I also think that people can become more AWARE of being empathetic, but if the wire is missing, I don't see people being able to BECOME empathetic.

Cat

Justsomeguy posted 12/12/2019 19:52 PM

If I find an extra $20 in my pants pocket, you can bet I'm buying beer. Its not a crime. If you are a true libertarian, you would never dream about telling people what to do with their money. JK but not. Hell it's Christmas people.

StuckinBetween posted 12/12/2019 21:21 PM

Iíve had these thoughts about my WH as well. He seems to be quite kind and giving to people he sees as worthy (ie they are high up in the sport in which he coaches). He is always telling them how wonderful they are, and has given $ to sponsor them. Has never thought to give a thing to charity. He will hardly pay attention to my parents who live 5 minutes away unless he wants something from them or heís in a particular frame of mind. My sister died a few months ago and he just didnít do what you should do at a time like that. He just seems to come up short - just not aware that if my mom drops by he should be kind, ask her about her, have a conversation. As he told me recently, heís just selfish. His affairs werenít because I did anything wrong, he said. I was just nowhere in his mind. Hmm small comfort.

cocoplus5nuts posted 12/13/2019 07:24 AM

I've read that empathy is a learned behavior. IIRC, we are all (except psychopaths and/or sociopaths) born with the ability to feel empathy. That ability has to be nurtured. A lot of conventional parenting quashes empathy, especially boys. Empathy is seen as weak. Empathizing with our children is (was) seen as coddling.

Kid falls, gets hurt, and cries. Parent tells kid he's fine. It didn't hurt that bad. Suck it up. Don't cry. Empathy quashed.

My fch didn't mind when we gave to panhandlers. I remember one time he, I, and my then 10yo son were walking in DC. My son saw a homeless man and wanted to give him some money. My fch gave my son money to give to the man. My fch would never give the money himself, though.

My fch doesn't exhibit empathy, but he's not cruel. It's kind of weird, contradictory. It would never occur to him to help someone on need, but when I suggest it, he's all in. I think, for him, it's about appearing to be a good, kind, caring person. He doesn't actually feel it, though.

We're working on it. He grew up in a very authoritarian home. His feelings were irrelevant. He suppressed them so much that he doesn't even know what he feels, much less what anyone else does.

ShatteredSakura posted 12/13/2019 09:05 AM

He grew up in a very authoritarian home.†

What's interesting is my sister and my WW's brother turned out very different from both of us. My sister is not a warm, caring person (or at least not to us) and also a cheater herself.

WW and her brother grew up in an authoritarian house where their mother was the tyrant. Like I said in an earlier post, the brother is very caring...he'd probably give you the shirt off his back if you needed it...but he's also extremely coddled and dependent on his mother giving him direction or doing things for him (he's slightly older than me!). He's a peace maker type IMO, and he just accepted his mother dominating him and didn't bother really growing in the responsibility department. Their mother does what she does "out of love", as she says.

Meanwhile, WW started rebelling when she hit 12 years old. The irony is I increasingly see more of her mother in her as she's gotten older.

And speaking about squashing empathy...one story that is coming to my mind is she used to get yelled at by her parents for "distracting" her brother from doing his homework. Like it would be near bed time, she did hers, he procrastinated and didn't do his, and they just are having a casual normal conversation and she'd be the one to get yelled at. Despite being two years younger she always felt like she was the older sibling.

It's interesting how siblings can turn out very different in the same environment.

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