The Unified Theory of Cake

Cake eating is the preferred Nirvanic state of the unrepentant cheater. It’s the situation in which the cheater has the affair partner (AP) and the spouse. (“Having your cake and eating it too.”) In fact, cake is a preferred lifestyle for many.

Ideally, the spouse is unaware of the AP, because that means the cheater has unfettered access to cake. After discovery, however, many cheaters will go to tremendous lengths to maintain cake. Cake eating is confusing to chumps. Chumps tend to think of affairs as competitions – it’s me or him! Or what does she have that I don’t have? Chumps see marriage through their own lens, of monogamy and commitment to one person. If they are not committed to me, a chump thinks, then they’re for the AP. So who’s it gonna be?

Cake eaters do nothing to dissuade a distraught chump from this line of thinking. They would prefer a competition in which they are the center of the drama — all attention is on them! And a catfight ensues over their fabulousness. Cheaters would prefer you not discover their cheating, but if it must be revealed, this is how they’d like to see it play out. You try harder to win them back and maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll choose you! (See “The Humiliating Dance of ‘Pick Me’!”)

The goal of cake is not to choose. Chumps often go painful round after painful round as the cheater “commits” to the marriage and then retreats. Swears to be faithful to the spouse, and then is caught again with the AP. Makes promises to both the chump (and the AP), and breaks them. The cheater is NOT trying to decide between two people – the cheater is trying to maintain cake. Cake eaters are NOT confused. They are deliberately trying to maintain an unfair situation at your expense.

Cake eaters act vague. They need time. They appeal to you for patience. They feel very, very sorry for themselves. They’ll assert that they’re trying very hard to appease you (they’re not, but they may throw you a bone like marriage counseling, or sex, or paying attention to their children), but you’re soooo unreasonable with your demands. Cake eaters are defensive when you question their commitment or the sincerity of their remorse. They really just want you to leave them alone and let them get back to the business of eating cake.

There is only one way to deal with a cake eater and that is to take away the fork and leave. 


  1. Sadman says

    I tried to win back my cake-eating WW for 3 years. Can you imagine lowering your self worth for three freaking years, believing all the double talk, lies, half-truths and false reconciliations? It’s the most painful, sordid existence that I’ve known. And I’ve been through close family deaths and tragedies before their time.

    I’m going through D now, and while painful at least I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I can believe it’s sunlight…no longer an oncoming train I’ve witnessed the past three years. Recently, I’ve started a tentative friendship with a wonderful lady, also who was a former BS (not from marriage but a 3 year engagement), and the giving character is night and day.

    • Dani says

      Don’t be too hard on yourself Sadman… Trying to “do the right thing” is what us chumps do. Some of us do it for 3 years, some for a lifetime. Just be thankful that you have recognized the unicorn of reconciliation for what is is and are moving on… It is still painful, but totally worth the walk through fire. At least that is what I’m hoping. You’ll get there… and I’ll get there… and all these chumps will be there with us. THANK GOD FOR CHUMPS!

  2. Heather says

    Do you consider an emotional affair in the same light as a physical affair? My spouse keeps telling me “she’s just a good friend.” I’m not buying it but do I end the marriage because I think he’s lying to me? Is he just trying to pacify me by agreeing to marriage counseling? Do I really want to wait around while he “works through whether or not he wants to be married?” Seriously, I think he’s pushing me to file for divorce so that he doesn’t look bad.

    • Rose says

      Hi Heather, If I were you, I would put on my PI hat and start investigating. Your husband could be giving you trickle truth about what he is really doing. It is possible he is only involved on an EA, but more than likely is having a PA/EA.
      He will gaslight you, manipulate you, and lie to you so he can keep his “friend” and marriage. Please, please please do not take his word for telling you the truth.
      I tried every which way to investigate myself when I had suspicions, but everything was in lockdown. I bought a voice activated recorder (small device, inexpensive.. Best purchase I ever made.. Literally.). Went out one night. Caught him chatting w his mistress. For 2.5 hours. Found out everything I needed to know. He could not deny anything as I had evidence from his own mouth in his phone conversation.
      My opinion is (not everyone agrees, but ultimately is really about you think anyway..), is an EA is just as damaging to the marriage/relationship as a PA because it is an affair of the heart. He is putting up a wall with you, you are his wife. You should be his confidante, emotional support, and friend.. Yet he is allowing some strange whore to take your place???? Hell NO!!! That means he has no boundaries in place. Disrespects you. And is giving his heart to someone else. NOT ACCEPTABLE! Ask yourself: Are you okay with that? And Heather, he should not have any secret friends. If the person is spending time with your husband that you do not know about (calls, emails, texts, meetings), she is no friend. A person must be a friend of the marriage.
      Respect the boundaries in place. sounds to me he is scared of you finding out what he is doing. Cheating. And will do anything to keep you away from finding it. Marriage counseling? Cheaters love that! Do whatever you can to get to the truth. And ask yourself what you will/will not accept. How do you think you deserve to be treated? I say if you have proof he is cheating. Retain a good lawyer and serve him the divorce papers. Good luck Heather! We chumps are here for you!!!!!

      • nomoJoe says


        Love those voice activated recorders! After my XH promised he ended his PA, he started going into the office an hour earlier every morning. So, yep, went to Walmart bought a VAR and put it in the office. Bingo, he was going in early to talk sweet nothings with her and plan their weekend get away to New Orleans for his birthday.

        • Rose says

          Way to take your power back by finding out the truth! Best of luck to you. Hope you kicked Joe’s lying, cheating ass to the curb where it belongs.

    • Rose says

      Heather, one more thing, you said, “Do I really want to wait around while he “works through whether or not he wants to be married?””
      That is a line that buys a cheater time. He can continue to stuff his face with cake eating. He wants both. Why make him a priority while he treats you like an option? Don’t wait around on him. You deserve a good man that will love you. Respect you. Be faithful to you. Be honest. Someone you can trust. Find out the truth. And make the decision to make YOU the priority. Keep us updated Heather. We are rooting for YOU!!!!!

    • Hazel says

      Hi Heather, this is how my husband started. Emotional affairs. And in my opinion it’s worse than a physical affair. They make you feel crazy for questioning it and then you question yourself. PLEASE, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. While he swore up and down they were friends and that’s not what he wanted with her, guess who he lives with now? I squashed my own gut and learned a lot from that.

      My heart is aching for you right now. Please, get yourself a good therapist and a lawyer. Also know that you are a good person. No one deserves the bullshit he’s dishing out. He may be confused but he’s lying to you and it’s simply not okay. Start working on you and being the best person you can be. It’s a tough road but you will get through it, either way it turns. xoxo

  3. anudi says

    EAs are indication of this person’s psychological problem! PA on the other hand would mean having some kind of “entitlement”, due to being more “clever”, “desirable”, “rich”, “gifted” etc. etc., more narcissistic. While PAs can go on without EA (so PA is less dangerous of the two), EA necessarily culminates into PA, if given a chance (for example a secluded place to meet up).

    Whether EA or PA or both! How does it matter? Ur hubby is not committed into the marriage. His level of commitment is the problem…not you :) .

    At this point, evaluate how much investment you’ve put in to the marriage, already. How you can plan to salvage, a lot of things, what you built together (even if it means to dupe him into thinking that you are chasing the unicorn of reconciliation, while you are working on the other)! CL’s page on “how to leave a cheater”, is very instructive. Even if you decide on one chance at marriage therapy etc., kindly draw a time-limit. A carefully thought out strategy of investing in just as much, is desirable at this stage. After a threshold is reached, pull the trigger!

    Your life is more important than all this shit!

  4. Lori L says

    I used to use the same theory when discussing the sitch with my ex. Except I used Donuts. Cakey, but not quite cake. Very entertaining read!

  5. Karen says

    Just wanted to add; I realized my ex wanted to have his cake and eat it too – WITHOUT baking any cake, without bringing home any flour or butter or eggs, without earning the money to buy those things, so he could have cake at home. He wanted a great marriage, with NO effort on his part, no giving, no thinking of me or of his kids.

    Then he tried to convince me it was MY fault he was screwing around. Yeah, right ….

  6. Maria says

    Does he want his cake still?
    After 16 years my husband started an affair with a girlfriend from 18 years ago who dumped him after 3 years because he was down (lost his job) and she was too young at 20 to deal with it. fast forward 16 years met him on FB and within 4 weeks he has said the I’m not in love with you I love and care about you but I have feelings for her.
    He is now spending every weekend at her house with her children and coming back Monday night to our house so he can go to work and the gym.
    We don’t really talk only hello/goodnight and I have started the divorce but every night he annoys the dog to get a reaction me I don’t cook or wash his clothes anymore he moved into the spare room and went and bought a new bed as the other one was hurting his back we are getting divorced and will be selling the house so why bother as he is telling friends he is moving in with her soon I am not working at the moment so he says you can go out during the week but have to stay at home at the weekends for the dog or get rid of him it’s his dog! It’s like he is reliving his 20’s going to bars where he used to drink seeing her and going around with the biggest ego he is happy for his work friends to know and family oh and FB friends but not our neighbours as they don’t need to know what the f@@k is going on is he a cake eater or is he just starting a new life ?

    • PattyToo says

      So sorry Maria! Is he a cake-eater? The better question is- do you want to be treated as the fall-back girl, dog-sitter, motel for the week? Don’t let him use you anymore!
      You seem to almost know you want, and are making choices to help yourself, but you need to realize how much he sucks. He’s not who you thought he was, he’s this guy, the one that comes around as it’s convenient, is mean to his own pet, and clearly enjoys USING women. Very sad, you deserve better. Keep going on that divorce! He won’t change. Read everything Tracy writes over and over until your heart and mind align and you start to find Maria again!

  7. says

    I’m baffled. He had a EA not PA (yet) for 2 months, I found out, talked to her, wrote her letters, I think she ended it, and I think he hasn’t talked to her since March 2013. I monitor cell phone/house phone online, and I snoop alot. I haven’t found anything.
    We’re getting along OK, sex could be better. He won’t say “I love you”.
    I can’t tell if he’s recovering, trying to forget her, and we’ll get there, or if he’s lying, planning and biding his time until he’s ready to go.
    I’m a pretty smart person, but I can’t figure this out!

    • says

      kathy, you need to read more posts here; he’s not recovering at all! And why on earth would it be YOUR job to talk to his AP????? Check out especially the posts on ‘Reconciliation and Remorse’ and the recent one on ‘How Can I Trust …’

      You need your eyes open, and if you’re going to try the reconciliation route, you need to demand WAY more from him!

      • PattyToo says

        Yes, unfortunately you have become the dreaded Marriage Police. Are you happy? Wouldn’t a healthy relationship cause you happiness? Your guy sounds like he’s on the trail of other women, it doesn’t usually end well.
        When my X was in his last, really huge and sexual, affair (EA and PA), we started having wonderful sex almost daily. He was high on cake!

  8. mmburned says

    The self-serving nonsense continues…

    I got an acerbic email from my OMGP-STBX about how he had information about a situation between our 15year-old and myself which ended with the folllowing drivel:

    “…My right to know as a parent about anything that may have had some serious emotional impact upon my daughter is important and just that – a right.” (I’m gonna hurl)

    Well the fact was my daughter and I had an arguement about her demanding me be on-time-to-the-minute and the fact that she is always late and rude about it… typical teenage stuff.

    After some serious editing – my first drafts always say exactly what is on my mind – I replied with facts a-b-c and went on to volunteer the tip of the iceburg regarding our daughter’s psychotherapy (2x a week). I closed by saying:

    “Quit casting aspersions. You chose to lead a double life which continues to have, in your words, “serious emotional impact on my daughter” that you certainly weren’t forthcoming/inclusive about.”

    His reply OF COURSE made no further inquiries into her wellbeing… “Thanks for being forthcoming and filling in the blanks that were of concern in this matter”.

    WTF is wrong with this man? Filling in the blanks??? He obviously just wanted to stick his sun-damaged, pock scarred chest out and crow. No genuine interest in our daughter at all. Just his ego. Yum-yum.

    • says

      mmburned, you have no obligation to provide this kind of info to your ex. Your daughter is 15, she can communicate what she wants. You’re right, he just wants to look like a good dad who cares about his daughter, AND to rub in the fact that your relationship w/your daughter is not a perfect one (just as nobody’s is! Especially when they’re teens!). He’s looking for ego kibbles!

      You can reply just with; ‘I will immediately inform you when there is anything going on that could have any serious emotional impact upon your daughter, and I assume you will do the same.’ AND NO MORE!

  9. Tess says

    Mine says at a fast pace and high loud pitch “I’m not going to talk about it” so it is a shut out as to what is going on.

    Only, wow, that I’m not going to talk about it sort of is telling.

    Really don’t understand how that is supposed to not let me know the affair is going on when months ago me and our children were told it was over and he was going to stay in the marriage, only he still needed time, he just doesn’t know what he is doing.

    He has said he doesn’t know what he is doing a long time, it brings to mind an image of him running down a sidewalk with a straight jacket on, not that it happened, but hearing that…I flash on the image.

    I wish he was in a straightjacket, it would explain all this.

  10. tess says

    wanted to add, the statement is parrot like

    he says it

    then if I start to say something

    it is repeated at a face pace


  11. chasing the sun says

    Exactly..Don’t prey on somebody who is monogamous in thinking.. You would be effectively taking away his or her health or sanity to meet your needs….Pretty words don’t make an ugly dishonest soul any cleaner or easier to deal with…

  12. Jayne says

    Hi, 4 days ago I found out the father of my 18month old son is seeing someone else 10 years his junior! He says he still wants another baby with me and still wants to come round and spend time together as a family! (What planet is he on!!) The weekend, as you know, has been emotional but on Sunday I started to get my act together. I know there is life after infidelity as I’d already experienced it with my first husband who cheated on me with another man – that took me 4 years to come to terms with and have the confidence to go out dating again. I thought I had found the one this time but sadly once Id given him what he wanted – a son, he started to play around. Every time over the last 12 months he has managed to manipulate his way back in, usually by making me feel sorry for him (he was adopted and had a very unstable first 2 years of his life, which is his excuse for his narcissistic behaviour). So as this is the second time of being cheated on I started reading websites to help deal with the hurt and betrayal better. I came across the No Contact theory and apart from a very brief and matter of fact exchange when collecting his son for a visit 2 days ago, I have so far managed to ignore his texts, emails and haven’t looked on his twitter, instagram or fb. But today I felt a little down and came across your website – fantastic, everyone who has been cheated on needs to read your website! your choice of phrase makes me laugh. But what made it more so was my eldest son from my first marriage ( now age 7) gave his step dad 2 cakes when he came for his visitation and reading this Theory of Cakes, I just burst out laughing at the irony that the last I saw of the cheating pig was walking away with 2 little cupcakes!! He thought he could have his cake and eat it!! Not anymore ….

  13. Ann says

    Reading Calum’s posting my first thought was this is a bunch of BS!

    In an additional comment he says, “You are right enough. Your forum is your own so even if my question remains open it has no place here. Your strength is your black and white clarity. feel free to delete it.” —- Umm, CL doesn’t need your permission to squash your BS.

  14. ing says

    Duped. You were gaslighted. This is incredibly damaging and rips your sense of self apart. One of the things you may not be thinking about right now is that there are an almost equal number of males out there in the world that were also gasighted Also in their 50’s and also not looking as gorgeous as we once did.

    Forget the lies about your sexual dysfunction. Get yourself screened for STD’s for your own peace of mind and get fit.
    It gets better!! Really.

  15. Duped says

    Thanks, Ing. I was tested as soon as I found out and got a clear bill of health.Well, except for those precancerous cells and the HPV but you can’t prove that…

    It’s surprising, but it shouldn’t be, how deep the damage can go. I didn’t imagine it would affect other areas of my life. While remodeling I had to be talked off the ledge a couple of times by the sweetest contractor because I was sure subcontractors had plotted to cheat me because they knew they could. It seemed so real and then so embarrassing. I also have caught myself thinking my dearest friends didn’t think about me like I thought they did. I guess it takes a while for things to surface and then you have to deal with them.

    Anyway, thanks for your kind words. They help.

  16. anudi says

    Dear Chump Lady,

    Can we have a connecting wire among givers?

    I mean, I find all the people out there looking for potential mates to be suckers! Maybe, the experience of being in a serial cheater husband’s trap for long 14 years with a 12 year old kid has made me “very skeptical” about ever being a possibility of getting at “truthful relationship”! I feel this happens to a lot of BSs! So, while the cheating spouses seem to get too many takers, the BSs seem to have a hard time figuring out, whether all the good ones are already taken. What is going on here? Do you see any common thread among BSs in this aspect? If you do, kindly, lead BSs in their quest for finding another giver like themselves. Since, you’ve successfully transcended this phase, this will be very insightful and beneficial to co-dependents or givers or BSs or whatever shade they wear, in one of the most uphill task in resurrecting themselves.


  17. nomoJoe says

    I guess I need some serious counseling – I’m not attracted to nice, giving, respectful men. I’m seeing a great guy – former BS and a giver but there is no “spark”. Maybe it’s just too early, I just want to be friends. I’m so trying to improve my choosing skills and even stopped dating for a while.

  18. Duped says

    Dear datdamwof,
    I was fortunate and caught it early enough that it should be no problem. I’m fortunate that I can afford regular health care. So many cannot.
    I don’t know what I’d do if I’d contracted something in curable. That seems like the most callous of actions cheater could do. I’m sorry.
    My “gets better” was meant as the layers of damage slowly slough away giving you time to consider each one. Iof i felt any twinge of sympathy or longing for him, i would imagine him in the middle of one of his most sordid behaviors and it was like pouring poison on what was left of my feelings for him. I’d imagine an enormous dandelion shriveling as I poured acid on it.
    There was a time I did not believe I would be able to think about the cruelty of his deceptions and almost laugh in disbelief that anyone could be that fucked up.
    Take good care of yourself.

  19. Nena says

    Exactly. If you don’t want to settle down, or you like the whole polyamory thing, make sure EVERYONE knows intentions. It sucks when you promise people love and trust and then welch on it. Find others who like to sleep around and party. Don’t prey on somebody who wants to have a monogamous committed relationship.

  20. Regina says

    For every horrific, selfish & cruel act there is in the world, there are people that can rationalize it and follow through with it without a care. However, as has been pointed out by others, they sure don’t want the tables turned where they are the disrespected fool (Chump). Otherwise, there would be rules that were the same for everyone in the relationship. I feel it is the ultimate in childishness & immaturity!! It is hard to have respect for someone who feels the rules are different for them. I hope there is a special wing in hell for those who can do this and have “fun” getting “attention”, “love” & “sex” from another & not giving a thought to the one who has their back & who they committed to exclusively. This man is nothing but a little boy with pubic hair & a hard on. Not attractive to grown ups!

  21. Domestic Triffid says

    Hey Guys, This may be bit late, but if you’re talking about herpes, there are dating sites specifically for people who have herpes.

    I am also under the impression that herpes is only infectious during an actual outbreak ? I certainly wouldn’t turn up a good person because they had an STI and I truly hope that you will find someone for whom this simply isn’t an issue !

  22. LE says

    I realize that I’m rather late to the discussion but thought I should reply as I have worked with support groups for people with incurable STDs. Herpes (HSV) can be transmitted when no outbreaks are visible. However, there are strategies to deal with that fact. If a person is concerned about getting or giving a partner HSV, then he or she could use protective barriers (condoms or dental dams) and suppressive therapy (acyclovir, an oral medication), which reduces the risk of transmission by 50%. I feel sad knowing that people feel hampered by this condition, which is quite common (a lot more people have it than know it and will admit it).

  23. Debbie L says

    My husband’s favorite is “Everyone has their own truth” or “That’s YOUR opinion of what the truth is, mine is different”.

  24. nwrain says

    Debbie L, I hear you, sister.

    “Everyone has their own truth”

    Almost word for word.

    And then eventually through gritted teeth, “You’ll never find out the truth!”

    Oh, so there are more sordid details? Well, I’ve learned enough, thank you.

  25. Annie says

    My ex called cheating…continental. As if only for the upper class. He had an effen analogy for EVERYTHING. Oh yeah, when he insulted you, he did it by pretending to give you a compliment. Only to cut the jugular.

  26. Regina says

    Arnold, I read that in another of you posts and it struck me a advanced mindfuckery, “the chemistry became sexualized”, it would have been funny if you had said “I know what you mean, the common whore spread her legs like so many low class women before her! I know I would not have thought that fast either, being lost in the hurt of how unique she is trying to make it sound.
    As if to say this is not COMMON cheating, this is special…yeah, right.

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