Ego Kibbles

by Chump Lady on April 28, 2012

Cheating is a profoundly narcissistic act. (Of course, cheaters don’t see it that way. Usually they cast it as selflessly liberating someone from the oppressive bonds of sexless marriage to a jerk…)

But really cheating just all boils down to – ego kibbles. Cheaters need ego kibbles. Lots and lots of kibbles. Shrinks call ego kibbles “narcissistic supply,” but I prefer to think in terms of Narcissist Ego Chow. Cheaters need to feed. They need lots and lots of validation that they’re special, sexy, and understood by only a special chosen few. Problem is, ego kibbles are not very sating, and so they always need more. Part of that problem is the cheater – they’ve got a hole in their soul where empathy and connection should be. So, a person can shovel ego kibbles at the cheater, but they don’t fill up.

The other part is the unfulfilling quality of ego kibbles themselves. Narcissistic supply is like bad chicken feed. It’s full of arsenic, dead chicken bits, and barnyard poop. It’s cheap, commercial grade filler. It’s crap.

What’s in a bag of Narcissist Ego Chow? Flattery. Attention. Easy sex. Admiration without accomplishment. Shallow attachment. Infatuation. Fantasy. Centrality.

Cheaters prefer kibbles to love. Love requires reciprocity and connection. Love is messy and demanding. Kibbles are easier.

And remember, it takes a lot of ego kibbles to feed a cheater, and they don’t have any to spare for you, okay? Betrayed spouses tend to be very neglected during an affair. Kibbles are very, very precious. If cheaters give kibbles, it’s only because they want more kibbles back, and it’s going to be a lopsided trade. Look for a healthy, fulfilling relationship based in mutuality and respect. Don’t traffic in kibbles.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Arnold September 19, 2012 at 9:39 am

I like tis a lot. Like the image om my XW eating kibbles from her doggie bowl.
It is really true, though. Much like your article on it being “too complicated” for the betrayed to understand, these folks seem to really beleive, or at least try to sell, that their immoral behavior is , somehow a noble, brave balh, blah.
My XW told me that “the chemistry became sexualized” in her various affairs. Doesn’t that sound evolved and spitiual? She loves this type of opaque language. She found “connection” with the various strangers she would meet in bars and spend the night with.
Now, she works as the “spiritual director” of an upscale CD treatment facility, for rich folks. Nice that she has never worked the 9th or 8th step in her AA recovery. Never owned what she did and never made rstituion or amends.
Did you know that Bill W, the founder of AA was a notorious philanderer and that the founding members would assign a male to watch him at meetings so he would not hit on the young women?
So, AA takes the position that infidelity , unlike other offenses, should not be disclosed to the spouse of an alcoholic cheater, as it would damage the betrayed further.
In reality , it is just another way toavoid the consequences of cheating.


Laurel April 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

yep. the notorious “13th step.” I guess Lois just looked the other way, poor co-dependent dear. Oh, I used to live about 3 miles away from his home in Bedford Hills, NY. (now a mausoleum, I believe; shit… I meant museum, of course) ;] A couple years ago, an acquaintance of mine wrote a play based on their love letters to each other. vomit.


Nena August 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hmmmm. Interesting you should say that about Bill W. being a notorious philanderer. AA/NA type groups have PLENTY of vulnerable souls to feed upon.

That’s why I never go to them. I felt like a piece of meat being salivated over by fucked up lions. It felt very frightening. =(

I go to a special women’s group that is based on Charlotte Kasel’s theories that is MUCH more useful and MUCH more empowering!


Kristine March 2, 2014 at 5:37 am

AND the most destructive part of any “codependent” model for those who have been betrayed as that the “program” claims that the betrayed partner “must do her/his own work,” that she/he “must take responsibility for her/his part in the relationship.”

Such approaches re-victimize the victim – re-traumatize the traumatized. One does NOT necessarily come from a dysfunctional family or childhood to end of marrying a partner who betrays, who cheats…

IN old-style sex addiction approaches using the 12 Step approach, the partner of the addict is actually called a “co-addict!”
Most partners have NO clue about what is happening – and even if one may wondered at various points, to then assign that the partner “chose to ignore,” or “was in denial,” or was an “enabler” is absurd.


Be very kind to your self – avoid these approaches. Read “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Marsha Means and Barbara Steffens. Seek the work on Trauma Model approaches, and note the work by Dr. Omar Minwalla, at the Institute for Sexual Health.

It is very important to understand that YOU have been betrayed, traumatized, and YOU are NOT responsible for it.

The cultural myths about “affair-proofing” your marriage, about women who are not loving or sexual-enough are deeply damaging, damning of women, deeply misogynist.


AgentD October 5, 2012 at 10:19 am

This is probably the best description of “narcissistic supply” I have read. Thank you for this :)


Chump Lady October 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm

You’re very welcome. I hope it never comes in useful again. (By which I mean, wishing you an NPD-free life!)


Dani October 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I have to say… this web site is fantastic. Exactly what I need as I cruise through the post-discovery and on towards ending the marriage. I get so bogged down in my own head that my emotions start directing my thinking. I’ve been searching and searching for a nonsense online resource to keep me thinking strait during my weak moments. THIS website will help keep me on track. Thanks for what you do!


Chump Lady October 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

My pleasure, Dani! Welcome!


Blue Eyes and Bruises January 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm

This rings especially true for me because my “Andy” (credit to My Emotional Vampire page on FB for the name) likes to present himself as an empath.

You can imagine what its like to be married to a serial cheater who says he’s an empath. He was so busy telling me he understood how much he hurt me that he never even bothered to listen to me.


Kay H April 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

” He was so busy telling me he understood how much he hurt me that he never even bothered to listen to me.” I had to laugh over this. I found a powerpoint that my husband made with the pros/cons of divorcing me. He made it up right after he told me about the affair. Bullet 1 – “She is angry and upset. I totally understand.” Phew, so glad he wrote that done. He gets me, he really gets me!


Pink Lady January 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I’m surprised there isn’t a photo of my husband next to this article. “They need lots and lots of validation that they’re special, sexy, and understood by only a special chosen few.”

Spot on.


Giovanna January 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I reread this description of my at least FIVE times. Fits my XH to a TEE!!

What’s in a bag of Narcissist Ego Chow? Flattery. Attention. Easy sex. Admiration without accomplishment. Shallow attachment. Infatuation. Fantasy. Centrality.

My X works at colleges so he has LOTS of pickins of victims by Bill W.


Laurel February 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

ugh… For most of our 25 year marriage, I called my “sweet,” “gentle” h, “puppy.” I know… pretty fukin’ nauseating, ain’t it? I think that “gerbal” or “hamster” would’ve suited him better. Rat would work too. Where’s the exterminator?


Kay H April 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

OMG, this is so perfect… Even more so because one of the reasons my husband gave to our marriage counselor for having an affair was because my dog chewed up his hat and I didn’t give him enough sympathy for it and “that’s when he realized that I didn’t understand what was important to him.” A hat = important. A marriage, fidelity, trust of his children = not important. Okay, I got it.


gotmybrainback! April 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm

i like to call them scooby snacks :D
same thing really with the canine reference, but the image of scooby gagging for them while velma dangles the box in the air is just too funny!


Neal B April 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Yes! YES. This precisely describes my (soon to be dissolved) marriage. I had surprise birthday parties for her. Told her she was beautiful. Took her on fabulous vacations. Bought a house near her best friend. Moved to the same state as her parents. Tried doing lots of house work. Worked at home on Fridays so we could be sexual while the kids were at school, an before she was tired. I did everything I could think of to CONNECT with her. All kibble. There was NO RECIPROCITY. No connection in her head. Then she had a year-long affair with my daughter’s hockey coach (nice). And after I found out, she kept having contact with the idiot, despite the emotional distress this caused me. Actually she probably did it BECAUSE it caused me distress. Bottom line = she has ZERO empathy. The whole 16-year marriage was ego kibble.


Valentine April 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

“Cheaters need to feed. They need lots and lots of validation that they’re special, sexy, and understood by only a special chosen few.”

BINGO! Sounds so LIKE my ex. The other woman gave him this in droves…probably still does since they ended up married. Lucky for me, that’s her problem now! I mean, why does HE have to change right? HE is ‘perfect’ and ‘precious’. Insert vomiting emoticon here.

There was a time when I would given anything to be a fly on the wall when she finally figures it out but no more! I am done with the whole drama-seeking lot of them!

Hindsight is 20/20 and now I can see clearly that he was always an narcissist in need of so much Ego Chow that I could not keep up. It had to be CONSTANT. I swear, I had to tell him he shit beautifully or he would follow me around asking: did my shit not stink? Was it perfect shit? etc…Unfuckingbelievable.

Thank you, Chump Lady for starting this blog! I have gotten many a chuckle (and an occasional scream when remembering my past acts) out of it. How times have changed for me…

And all you who are just starting on the journey to enlightenment….trust me, it really DOES get better.


RioFaline August 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm

OMG….your comment is friggin’ hilarious & oh,SOOOO true!!! I can relate all too well ;-)


Sick of HER Chump December 3, 2013 at 9:27 am

Valentine, I think we were married to the same man! Lol. My mom to this day says that my EX couldn’t even take a shit without asking if it was ok. Pathetic. I do have a question for you though. My EX married the OW last weekend and I’m having a hard time getting past it. How did you get yourself to a point where you didn’t care about being that fly on the wall anymore? Was it just time?


Karen April 21, 2013 at 10:32 am

My ex from head to toe. And the stupidest part is that he would have had a generous supply of ego kibbles from me (I’m VERY affectionate, love to give positive feedback for positive action, am a huge chatterbox, so people around me get lots of attention, did see that he was smart, good at the technical side of his job, and good looking ….) except that he couldn’t give any back. He wanted it ALL, and got it; the pretty smart wife (that would be me!!!) who loved him like crazy, the nice house, the good job, the beautiful, healthy kids who love him, the family friends, outings and trips. But I got worn out doing the one-sided-marriage thing, and reduced (didn’t even eliminate!) the ego kibbles. We were actually in quite a good period in our relationship, but he went away for work, and didn’t want to make any effort to stay connected to home, so the ego kibble supply went down. Then he had to throw all the good stuff away, in order to screw somebody who looked at him w/adoring eyes, while demanding nothing.

Almost a year now, since I figured it out, I feel better and better (although obviously not to ‘meh’ yet!) and he’s not happy w/his current life. Poor thing.


Michelle April 23, 2013 at 9:02 am

Wow! A definition of a narcissist that I can understand. I always knew we all have narcissistic traits and when I’d read the definitions I could always find something that would not fit my husband, but this hit the nail on the head. However, it still makes me want to cry. He isn’t 100% bad. I see so much good in him except for this MAJOR FLAW. I’m trying to get my head around it. I don’t think he is a good mate for me, but at the same time I will miss his friendship.


Ellen May 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Chump Lady, along the same lines as Michelle’s post, do you think there is any hope at all for these soul-sick bastards? “A hole in their soul where empathy and connection should be…” I am not in any way shape or form trying to excuse their behavior, and I have spent the last four years deliberately using my increasingly failed attempts to help a NPDer to ferret out and conquer my own enabling co-dependence once and for all, mostly so I can make sure I stay aware and protect myself from future encounters with these people, since I inevitably seem attracted to them, but at the end of the day, he’s still a pathetic human being who has actually done quite a lot for me, and where I come from, people are supposed to feel empathy for those less fortunate than ourselves. “Captain, if we assume those whales are ours to do with as we pleased, then we would be as guilty as those that caused their extinction in the first place.”
The only problem is that I was hoping that enough kibbles would finally make him sick of kibbles, or at least close up the damn hole in the bottom of the bucket, but to no avail.

What to do?? How do you walk away from an injured child? Or is that part of forcing them to grow up? This sucks.



Laurel May 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I’m sorry, because you didn’t ask me, but if I may say so… Is this your husband or your child, we are talking about? Romantic love is NOT unconditional. His mental issues are not YOUR responsibility, either!

How do you walk away?

You pack your bags, say good-bye and put one foot in front of the other. That’s how you do it.

You DO know, that by staying with him, you are only enabling him, right?

and honey, FEEL all the empathy you wish!!! Absolutely. Feel sorry for him and then, continue to put one foot in front of the other, because his brand of illness will destroy what’s left of your soul. Do you understand?

The most loving, kind thing you could do for him, would be to leave. And furthermore, its the most loving kind thing you could do for you. Think he would stick by you if the shoe was on the other foot.

no. he wouldn’t.

Will he get better if you leave? verrrrry doubtful. He’ll find another patsy, I mean woman to latch onto. Feel sorry for her too. She fell for his charms, but he will do to her what he did to you. guaranteed.


Blue Eyes and Bruises May 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I have to agree with Laurel.

The justification that you are “helping” them get over their NPD is the same argument that Andy’s affair partner put forward at one point.

I am *not* comparing you to his affair partner. But mindset is the same: “he’s a wounded bird; he needs help; I just need to mother him enough,” etc.

There’s nothing healthy about parenting a romantic partner.

If it is your child, a conversation with his/her pediatrician is in order: how much “helping” is helping, and when does “helping” become denying a child the opportunity to do for themselves?


nomoJoe July 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I have to agree with Laurel and Blue Eyes. A NPD is constantly looking for that “perfect love” which he/she will never find because they are incapable of loving anyone but themselves. I think of my EX as a vampire – he sucked the life out of me and left me for dead. A great book on the subject (which I discovered almost three months after kicking my N-ex out in May last) is Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On. I had to read it TWICE in order for it to sink into my numb brain. I call it my Ta-Da Day – finally, an explanation of how my “perfect” marriage ended in betrayal, lies and a broken heart. He had gotten everything he wanted out of our fake relationship so, time to move on.

For a woman (or man) who has been betrayed, forgiveness is about taking back the power to decide you are whole, valuable and own your own life. More than 14 months out and I’m still struggling with anger but I sure have come a long, long way. I had never met anyone like him nor do I EVER want to meet another man even remotely like him. We did try to reconcile last Fall but I knew from the beginning it was wrong. I found he was asking other women out and packed up and left for the West Coast (we lived in FL). The day before I left he told me, “You know you’ll never find anyone else like me.” I replied, “That’s my plan.” He actually looked hurt.


Lara October 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

“The day before I left he told me, “You know you’ll never find anyone else like me.” I replied, “That’s my plan.” He actually looked hurt.”

LOL! Best.comeback.ever. Well said! Had to deal with a NPD ex, and I was a zombie by the end of it. He also cheated on me (with a prostitute — and that’s the one I know about, he must’ve done it with others as well), and had a harem of narcissistic supply (mainly consisting of exes and women he had met on his business trips whom he admitted he had taken back to his hotel but never slept with or done anything sexual with LOL! ) . He actually put me at the risk of STDs. NPDs are so dangerous, I am so glad I got out of that relationship and to this day, after several STD tests, I am still anxious about having an STD and want to go in for a test every month or so. :S


KarenE October 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Ellen, if you haven’t yet read the Simon and Bancroft books CL recommends, you need to! The injured child MAY even have begun the process of their becoming NPD, but where they end up, as adults, is immersed in that entitlement – and often the injured child becomes yet another justification for their continued bad behaviour. “Oh, you can’t blame me, I’m so messed up, it’s not my fault!!”.

Firstly, ADULTS have to take care of FIXING what’s wrong with them, even if it’s not their fault they got that way. And that goes doubly when their behaviour is hurting others, as well as themselves (but actually, the narcs don’t CARE about that part). And secondly, you deserve to be with an adult, who can love you back, not just keep sucking ego kibble out of you (you’re right that the bucket has a huge whole in it, it will never be full).


Eddie the WTF dude of 49 days August 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

SW said to me “I need to be emotionally poured into” (which is also this horrible alcohol reference as well) meaning she wasn’t getting enough ego kibbles from me. This is after I caught her cheating, she fell off the wagon (and started smoking pot) and had went half time at work causing us huge financial problems. And she still wanted kibbles. She sucks.


Jane August 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I love this blog! This is just what I need as well! My own personal Zombie Apocalypse started 7 months ago and I hope whatever blood and flesh that is to be sucked out of me will be complete by years end!
Thank you Chump Lady for posting your wisdom to we who have been abandoned/betrayed ie… Chumped!


Blue Eyes and Bruises August 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm


I love your description of the “Zombie Apocalypse”.

It took about 6 months after D-day before I stopped feeling like an extra in a zombie apocalypse movie–paralyzed by brain fog of fear, obligation & guilt.


Holly October 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I love this site. I came across it while trying to figure out how to deal with being cheated on. I thought my life was over. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me. Narcissist Ego Chow is something my XB has been eating most of his life. His mother probably put it in a food processor and bottle fed it to him. The description fits him to a “T”. Thank you for this blog and helping me cope…helping me to realize that it isn’t me…it’s him. I started to second guess my decision to leave him after he cheated on me. He said it didn’t mean anything to him and there was “no sex” involved. HA! I did leave a cheater and I am on my way to gaining a life. Wish me luck!! :)


Blue Eyes and Bruises October 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm


Welcome to a select club no one wants to be a part of, but is full of some pretty amazing people.

Sounds like you’ve got your head on straight and aren’t falling for the justification BS.

If you haven’t realized it yet, eventually you will find that your life now is much, much better than it was then. I wish you the best of luck, the best of friends, and the best of good times in your new life.


mary October 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm

This has been a great help to me, Thank you! To the point, practical and so positive. I was with the man of my dreams for 5 years. I couldn’t believe my luck – joint interests and wonderful times together. (Should have realised that it was too good to be true!) Discovered an affair with his best friend’s wife. I was told not to judge him! He told me that the affair pre-dated me and that he didn’t love her. Said it was just sex but meetings had to be arranged as she doesn’t drive. We didn’t break up at that point but he has since finished things over a year ago. Completely out of the blue after a lovely weekend holiday together. Said he wanted to be on his own……truth is he had already started a relationship with his younger first cousin. He is over 60 and she in 40s. I told him never, ever to contact me again! And fortunately he hasn’t. But like the others in this blog I feel so sad. I know he defo doesn’t deserve me.


LLazarus November 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I am curious what you all think of me then. I cheated on my husband and then divorced him. He told me I was fat, ugly, and no one would want me. He told me I had to do all the work and clean the home because I was the woman. He would deliberately set out to make me jealous with other women. There were at least three. He then pressured me into swinging so he could watch. I met this nice charming never do well who made me realize i wasn’t dog squeeze. It was awesome to have someone tell me that I was sexy and intelligent. Ran around husband’s back, handed him his divorce papers, haven’t looked back. Am remarried and entirely faithful and have kids.

So I suppose I needed those love kibbles. It was awesome; it set me free. Maybe i need them more than an average person and am a narcissist. I apologized to my ex. It was unworthy to run around; I know I ultimately hurt him, even though many people said he had it coming. I don’t regret divorcing him one bit though. Not one bit.

To everyone hurt here, I am terribly sorry. I know how I felt when he used other women to make me jealous. But por favor, not all of us are pathological.


Frannie December 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Thanks for the info about the cheaters having a hole in their soul. Now I understand why he is so cold and justify their betrayal. Why he doesn’t engage with our daughter or grandsons. ( although he has said it hurts him to see them so he doesn’t bother ) Again all about him.Biggest cop out going. But he has all kinds of time for his whore. Selfish Pr–k!
Just over 9 months down and still very angry. Some days are getting better. Like a dollar coaster. I just feel he’s a sick SOB. Pathetic!


Susan January 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm

My narcissistic soon-to-be-ex decided he didn’t love me anymore after 30 years married because I didn’t want to ski with him (I have bad feet and drove the family to and from the mountain) and that I wasn’t there to see him make his way down the 18th fairway when winning the club golf tournament. Really??? Well, in is his new apartment,he is surrounded by all his trophies to the point that they block out pics of his kids. New girlfriend (an old college gf) is visiting this weekend for a romantic encounter. Hopefully she’ll start to understand the real him. I’ve told him that when he wakes up in three years, he’ll still be searching for “happy” and I will have found it on my own!


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