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Dear Chump Lady, What do you think about revenge affairs?

Dear Chump Lady,

Can you comment on “revenge affairs”?

The common cliche is that they are just as wrong. But, that simplistic analysis fails to consider several factors. First, the contract has already been broken and it would seem the non breacher is no longer under an obligation to the breacher. Why abide by a voided contract? 

Also, revenge affairs are often said to be worse than the original breach. This is often put forth by cheaters, with the rationale that — unlike the original cheater — the betrayed that then cheats is fully aware of the type of damage cheating causes.

But, I take issue with that. First, any person who is old enough to be married knows that infidelity is a huge abusive blow, causing major damage. That is why they hide it.

Second, a recently betrayed spouse is in such a traumatized condition, that, essentially, he or she may be somewhat non compus mentis, having diminshed capacity, thus mitigating any poor decision making.

Finally, a cheater who in turn is cheated upon can look to their own cheating as the cause of the betrayed’s infidelity. Whereas a betrayed person typically looks at him or herself and accepts the allegations of deficiencies as reason for the cheating.

So, it is much more personal to the originally betrayed.

I know this is not politically correct on some infidelity support sites. But, I feel that a betrayed person who then cheats has done nothing wrong. The contract is already kaput. They are often not trying to get revenge, but rather trying (perhaps misguidedly) to re-establish some sense of being halfway attractive. And, the original cheater is nowhere near as personally attacked as the originally betrayed, as they would link the cheating to their behavior, versus their innate self worth.

Your thoughts?

Signed,

Arnold

 

Dear Arnold,

Short answer — whatthefuckever if you’re going to divorce any way.

Long answer — Is it the same? No, I don’t think so, but it’s a pretty terrible idea.

Let’s go point-by-point on the issues you raised.

1. The contract is broken so who cares? Yes the cheater broke the contract, so IMO that’s a reason to get divorced. Infidelity is a legitimate deal breaker, which should excuse you from having to try marriage counseling, reconciliation, and other kinds of witchcraft. But if you have a revenge affair and stay in the marriage, what is the POINT? To have a marriage that has no contract or commitment? Hey, you cheated, so I get a Get Out of Jail Free card for my own affair! Is the point to renegotiate the terms? Let’s be swingers and chuck monogamy? Or is the point simply revenge? You fucked someone, ergo I get to fuck someone.

Because if the point is revenge, you aren’t going to win. There is no way you can hurt the cheater as much as they hurt you. They got there first. To cheat you have to be emotionally disconnected from someone. (I reject as bullshit that people “love” you all the time they are still cheating on you.) The cheater was already checked out. The betrayed person was the more invested party.

Now does it make revenge affairs as wrong as plain old affairs? No. Because the intentions are different. Cheaters cheat to get ego kibbles, because they’re greedy, because they lack intimacy. Presumably the betrayed spouse is only motivated to cheat because they want to even the score in some way. Out of a perverse sense of justice. To get back at the cheater who doesn’t really give a shit.

Human, but it’s still a dumb idea. A) Because you’re lowering yourself to their level. B) If it has some effect on them, all it does is convince them that you are Just As Wrong. C) It gives them ego kibbles. You want a reaction from them (pain, humiliation, jealousy). It’s all directed at the cheater, which is just narcissistic supply to them. Centrality! I matter! D) When you do divorce, you’ve just fucked yourself over legally. It’s a risky move if custody is at stake, and it’s a staggeringly stupid thing to do in a fault divorce state. Don’t think for a second that a cheater will not POUNCE on your affair. And E) If you stay married (how? WHY?), you have an even crappier marriage than the one you had at DDay. And if you have to fuck other people for revenge to stay married to someone… HELLO? Isn’t that CRAZY dysfunctional?!

2. The poor sausage excuse. You wrote: “the recently betrayed spouse is in such a traumatized condition, that, essentially, he or she may be somewhat non compus mentis, having diminshed capacity, thus mitigating any poor decision making.” Meh. Do I feel sorry for betrayed spouses? Absolutely. I think infidelity can drive you to some pretty extreme lengths. It’s not a surprise to me that people murder or commit domestic abuse because of cheating. But homicide would also be a bad branch of the decision tree. Cheating (unlike a sudden “crime of passion”) is pre-meditated. Again, I think at the point you want to screw around on your spouse — for revenge or because you’re a run-of-the-mill douchebag — is the point at which you should be divorced.

If we give the poor sausage excuse to BS, we have to give it to cheaters as well. Maybe they were in a “traumatized condition.” Frankly, the most convincing case I’ve read for infidelity are those poor saps trapped in truly sexless marriages. Assuming they’re telling the truth, and the person hasn’t put out in years and refuses to discuss it, I can understand being driven to find someone who will have sex with you. It’s a human need. To deliberately be withholding is cruel. But AGAIN, that is a reason to get DIVORCED. To issue an ultimatum. To draw boundaries.

3. The “my motives are better!” excuse. You wrote that after a revenge affair cheaters will think… well, they did this because of me. And after an affair affair, the betrayed spouse believes the blame shifting, that they suck. IMO, they’re both wrong. Both parties cheated BECAUSE THEY COULD. Because they feel ENTITLED to. The BS feels entitled in an eye-for-an-eye way, but it’s still entitlement.

Look, if the cheater thinks “they cheated because of me” — I doubt the resulting emotion is going to be sorrow and regret. I think cheaters will feel anger, they will feel central (“you’re only doing that to make me jealous!”), and they’ll also feel like they have a green light to cheat on you further. (The contract is broken, now we both know it, what the hell!)

Also cheating to feel attractive to the opposite sex is moronic. Get DIVORCED and feel attractive to the opposite sex. Be truly available. It is NOT okay to self medicate with other people and draw them into our psychodramas because we want to feel pretty.

Arnold, I get your hunger for justice. I really do — and I’m all for karma. I just don’t think it’s best delivered via a hookup ad on Craigslist. In my next post, I will outline exactly what true revenge looks like. Stay tuned.

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  • Yes, some good points. I’ll look forward to seeing what you have to say on true revenge.
    BTW, don’t you feel the expectation of forgiveness and the shaming that is done to those betrayeds who do not forgive(the”you are bitter ” deal) is based on urealistic expectations. I mean , how many of us are Ghandi or Mother Theresa?
    In my case I never got an apolgy, never any acknowledgement of the damage caused. And, if we are talking about the best revenge being “living well”, I am doing rather well. But, woulldn’t it be nice to at least see some consequence to the cheater?

    I suppose there are some consequences that remain unseen to me. My kids know all about her cheating. Her folks do, too and treat her differently now. Her brother has nothing to do with her.
    But, these disordered types are just so used to discarding folks and starting over , I am not sure she feels any of this.

    • You cannot predicate your healing on consequences to the cheater. It keeps you focused on THEM and that’s bad for your healing. The further I’m out from it, I see there are consequences for cheaters, but they just don’t feel satisfying enough for BSs in the early days. Usually the cheater downward spirals, but tries to dress that shit up. Biggest karma is being the disconnected, soulless, selfish, perpetually unsatisfied cheater. They are not happy people. You have the ability to be happy, Arnold. And you can only be happier WITHOUT the cheater in your life. So embrace that. Practice MEH about the cheater.

      • ETA, that’s why I’ll be posting life after infidelity stories here. Most have cheater karma. Look, in the first story the cheater dies of alcoholism — not enough karma for you Arnold? Karma in my story… well, a giant tree fell on his house and BMW. The Tree of Karma we call it. Also, someone posted his profile on cheaterville, so clearly he’s off being the same ol’ him to another poor sucker. He’ll die alone, uninvested, mourned by no one.

    • UPDATE: Most importantly, 1 I’m now a mad hatter (one who is both a betrayed spouse and a cheater) and 2, always trust your gut. Don’t fall for bullshit and people trying to shield you from “hurt feelings”.

      I’d written a lot in detail last year about my suspicions concerning my husband. I only had suspicions of physical cheating after I found unused condoms loosely hidden in the back of our car, which occurred months after I’d caught him mildly flirting online. When I did sleuthing over the course of last year, I’d found out (not from his confession, but from my own thinking through things and learning how to look up location history on phone GPS) that he’d visited strip clubs many, many, many times throughout the few short years of our marriage. I put in a TON of money and time I didn’t have into therapy, which was useless for him and ineffective for me, because it did not afford me neither the closure nor answers I sought.

      As it turns out, his strip club ventures continued even as we were in therapy and I tried to get to the root of stuff. He didn’t admit until more than a year later that he’d gotten blowjobs on multiple different occasions from the strippers he’d paid for lapdances or champagne rooms. I knew it the whole time and still he’d always denied it before. Ladies, always trust your gut. In the past, I felt the need to follow the stupid American court’s method of “innocent until proven guilty,” waiting until I had a confession or proof before proceeding with a solid consequence like breakup or revenge cheating. I now feel that my time was wasted. I was strung along, gaslighted, and made a fool of in front of our therapists, some of whom likely knew more about my husband’s dalliances than they cared for me to know.

      Before I had a confession, I got so fed up that I started lashing out in secrecy by visiting strip clubs of my own and hooking up with male strippers. I definitely hit on a fair share of them and acted like I was a stripper myself, giving the male strippers risque lapdances and groping them in ways that likely would have gotten the typical pervy old guy flagged at a regular female strip club. I hooked up with two of them. One of them was a full-on hookup after I totally snapped, following my husband’s return to strip clubs and spending a large amount of money in only a 1-hour strip club visit (that right there is totally sketchy and reeks of one intentional purpose to get “something”). I didn’t tell my husband about this except for dropping a few hints here and there when I suspected he was still lying when he denied ever doing any sexual favors with other women. The main motivation for my revenge affairs was to allow myself the same kind of promiscuous fun I’d had in my younger pre-husband years (which I actually enjoyed very much in my past, and had no moral qualms against), boost my confidence, and feel a secret kind of “evenness” and “leveling the playing field”. I would NOT have been able to reconcile, move forward, or stop dwelling whatsoever if I hadn’t done these revenge flings. These flings literally helped me salvage the little that was left of my sanity. I also felt little to no guilt or remorse, mostly because I suspected he’d already done what I’d done, or at least most of it. I was surprised at how easy it was to hook up with strippers, especially since these strippers were way hotter than me; we’re talking guys who are a 9.8 on a 1-10 scale, openly risking their jobs to give extras/borderline prostitution to a girl who’s only about a 7. I had a MUCH easier time getting with these sexy strippers than I’d EVER had when I’d unsuccessfully tried picking up guys at regular bars or hangouts for attempted revenge flings. That easiness in turn made me suspect my husband’s cheatings even more, since I now saw how easy strippers were. So that’s why I felt no guilt. But because I’d cheated myself now, I also did not feel much anger or hurt at all anymore; instead, I felt closure and ready to just put all of our cheatings or alleged cheatings behind us. It wasn’t until after my husband figured out I’d likely hooked up with strippers myself (due to my hints, my newfound nonchalant attitude about his possible cheatings, and his knowledge that I was going to strip clubs whether he liked it or not), that he finally admitted what he’d done. I also got him to admit something else I’d suspected: that if I hadn’t cheated back, he probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable telling me what he did. But now that we’ve both done each other dirty, no one has a leg up or a fault to pin on the other, so we’re more open and honest about it.

      It’s not a perfect marriage. In my case, having revenge affairs–particularly the one where I went “all the way” hooking up–benefitted me and also the marriage. I would NOT have been able to reconcile or rebuild a marriage when I felt so bitter, angry, resentful, pent-up, and shrew-like pre-revenge affair. In my case, admittedly part of the reason we are working on our marriage instead of splitting is because only a day after my revenge sex affair, I found out that I was pregnant by my husband. We cannot afford to raise 3 kids while separated, since we are already financially struggling. This baby has given both of us a reality check to stop acting like party monster children, and to prioritize this new baby. However, I am thankful I acted quick and revengeful because if I hadn’t, I would have felt obligated to stay loyal in an “uneven” marriage just for the sake of preserving my unborn baby’s safety, and that would have made me feel majorly resentful and I probably would have gone crazy. I see what a faithful doormat Anna Duggar is, popping out her 5th baby and staying true to her “one and only” Josh Duggar, even after Josh Duggar has serial cheated on her. Anna Duggar is the last person I’d want to end up being like. I’d rather be called a “slut” or a “cheater” than be like that goody two shoes idiot Anna Duggar.

      People say that revenge affairs cause more harm than good, but in my case, that did not turn out to be the case at all. My husband is not the happiest about my revenge affairs, but he understands my need for doing what I did. He isn’t content, but I’d say he’s humble about it. I’m still not happy about what he did, since he did it first and he paid money to these girls (which makes me question my financial worth compared to them, silly as that sounds), but I do feel a lot of closure and ready to move on for the most part. We both made each other insecure but we also sowed our wild oats before realizing we need to settle down and concentrate on what’s really important: our baby and our family. If he later does a 180 and decides to divorce me over it, at least I’ll feel like I got my comeuppance. After all, staying faithful to a cheater is no guarantee the cheater will stay with you anyway if that’s what you want; betrayed spouses are jilted or left altogether by their cheaters all the time, sometimes for the OW or sometimes just for someone “better”. I do think we are not meant for a monogamous marriage but should instead look to open up the marriage after this pregnancy is over. Overall I feel that a revenge affair WAS beneficial for me. Without it, I would have literally driven myself insane, even if I’d ended up leaving (which I cannot afford to do, esp in a no-fault state where I make most of the money).

  • Wanted to add , that I have read stories where , rather than revenge, the motivation for the “response affair” was to gain comfort and to feel attractive vs hurting the cheater.

    And, I stand by the belief that with the original contracted voided, there is no moral obligation to continue abiding by it.
    Guess I am not to terribly evolved and am still an eye for an eye person. Funny thing is that in just about every other area of my life, I am very quick to forgive. Not sure if I would have forgiven this, but it is moot since I never received an apology or was shown remorse.
    What are your thoughts on forgiving those who never ask for it?

    • Arnold, you’re going to keep me in CL topics! I’ll post on forgiveness soon.

      I don’t think you’re obliged to forgive, especially to people who are not one bit sorry. I do think you are obliged to let go — for yourself.

  • Here’s the thing about their consequences, CL: thinking these folks suffer becaause of the miserable types they are may be wrong. I liken it with many of the criminals I encountered as a young , criminal defense attorney.
    I would hear the crime victims amd their families talking about how they expected the criminal to suffer in prison, reflecting on his or her misdeeds, ruminating about them etc.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. None of these folks, or at least very few, ever gave a second thought to the folks they had hurt.
    I do not think that many of the cheaters I come across have one iota of remorse and they are not at all miserable. They just find new sources of supply.
    Remember the book”When Bad Things Happen to Good People”? Well, what is even toughter to get past is “When Good Things Happen to Bad People”.
    But, you are right. I have moved on. Believe it or not, I am pretty happy with my life now.
    But, in a corner of my minds, I envision revenge, legal revenge, of course.
    One scene that comes to mind, living in the frozen tundra ofMinnesota: It is 30 below and we are in a blizzard. I am driving on a remote country road, no traffic, when I spot my Xw stranded in a snowbank with her disabled vehicle.She sees me and tries to flag me down for assistance.
    As I drive by with the window rolled down, I smile at her, give her the thumbs up, and throw her a crust of bread and a vibrator. “Have fun, Blimpie Pie”. Very satisfying fantasy to me( and, oh so mature, eh?).

    • My point isn’t that they feel remorse. I don’t think many of them do, frankly. My point is they were pretty miserable people to begin with and I think they stay miserable. They just don’t seem like very integrated, connected, happy people. I also don’t think cheaters (and narcissists) are deeply reflective people. The happiness isn’t that deep, neither is the angst.

      Just be happy you’re you. What you do in a snowbank situation is between you and your God. 😉

  • I’d suggest thinking about what a betrayed spouse has a “right” to do isn’t as productive as thinking about what is best for the betrayed spouse.

    The number one reason not to engage in a revenge affair: It diminishes the betrayed spouse. Someone who has been cheated on has a special need to marshall his energies to be his/her best self. Cheating only undermines character, making it harder to navigate infidelity.

    Look, if you were starving in the desert for 10 days, you might in some sense have “earned the right” to eat 7 Bic Macs and a stick of butter. But it wouldn’t be good for you. And you’d likely feel like sh*t when you were done.

  • Gotta agree with you. It does diminish one. But, I really do hate the allegation, oft presented, that it is somehow “worse”. Now that is a crock. SI has a lot of this type of thinking.

  • I considered a revenge affair after I kicked him out and even went on a couple of dates. What a waste of everyone’s time. The first date tried to kiss me and I literally giggled like a school girl and ran. Imagine a grown-assed woman running down the street, ducking into an alley and lighting a cig to calm her nerves from the first kiss she might have had from a new person in 20 years.

    The second date was worse. He didn’t even try to kiss me.

    I knew I couldn’t do it and although I do understand teh need to feel desired and attractive again I also know that I can’t do that yet, although flirting is definitely on the table.

    Don’t do it. Get the D, work through your shit, and when you’re ready to plunge into dating treat the person the way you know you should treat them. Don’t let the idiot who broke your heart change who you fundamentally are.

  • “I also don’t think cheaters (and narcissists) are deeply reflective people. The happiness isn’t that deep, neither is the angst. ”

    This is so true, and why revenge affairs are a waste of time. The WS just doesn’t give as much a fig about the BS as the BS gives a fig about them. The BS could have an orgy in the living room in front of the WS and they would not feel the same life altering pain. They might cry, or yell and what not. But later they will sleep like a baby. They just don’t feel the same way. That’s why the BS often has such a hard time wrapping their head around the “why”. ‘Cause the only why that matters is because the could and they wanted to.

    I thought about a revenge affair too. For about 15 mins. I went on Match and I was going to find a hot single guy and have myself a little affair. Why not? He had his fun. But then the logistics kicked in; filling out the damn Match profile, searching for men/reading profiles, thinking about where I would meet said hot guy, where I would have sex with him, etc. etc. It tired me out just thinking about it. Cheating is a lot of damn trouble and effort, and sooo not worth my time. Then it pissed me off that WS had no trouble making such effort. And finally it occurred to me that WS would not be as hurt or surprised by my little affair. He would think he had it coming, he would think we were even, and so that made it not revenge at all.

    The best revenge is divorcing their asses.

    • Amen! Cheating IS “a lot of damn trouble.” When you think of the thousands of decisions that go into coordinating a single affair… Jesus. They gotta want that cake BAD. I agree the best revenge is divorce… and then a wonderful life without them.

      • CL, the thing is, for some of us DIVORCE requires a LOT more effort and money we don’t have than to simply engage in a revenge fling, especially in this digital age of Ashley Madison, Tinder, and smart phones. In my case, I am the primary breadwinner, the provider for our family’s healthcare policy (through MY job), and the one who brought a house and cars into the marriage. Currently I make a middle class salary that looks decent on paper; but because of my area’s sky high taxes, my student loans, my employer’s 5-year ongoing salary freeze, and all the sky-high expenses I put out just to work at my thankless no-raise job, my seemingly “decent” gross salary has is struggling. My salary alone is way too high to qualify for any government assistance whatsoever, but not nearly high enough to aptly afford basic costs of living for my family…much less the exorbitant legal and alimony expenses associated with a divorce. Furthermore, I live in a no-fault state…so any cheatings my suspect husband may do or have done has no bearing whatsoever on the divorce settlements. They go strictly by salaries and financial info…which unfortunately works in my disfavor, since I’m the primary breadwinner while my husband makes less money and at mostly contract/cash/under-the-table handyman gigs. If anything, opting for immediate divorce in lieu of a revenge affair might even have ME paying HIM the cheater alimony! I don’t think a divorce would even bring me child support moneys, since my husband would most definitely pursue 50/50 custody; he’s admittedly a good, very hands-on dad. So is the unfortunate case in no-fault divorce states.

        So yeah, in my case, divorce would financially devastate me and most definitely send me on a slippery slope to foreclosure and possible homelessness. It wouldn’t matter that I’m the ever-faithful betrayed spouse, or if I revenge cheat, or if I’m the perpetrator/cheater spouse. At that point, I feel that I should do whatever I feel I need to do to stabilize myself sexually and emotionally…regardless of whether I stay or leave. In my case, after many ineffective months of thinking things through, reading, research, improving the marriage, and paying for therapy, I still cannot get over my husband’s likely extramarital fling. I need closure and the confidence boost, neither of which has been addressed in therapy at all, not even on a surface level
        Revenge cheating is the only thing to help me find emotional closure so I can move on with a marriage that is otherwise okay except for my husband’s past indiscretions + not making enough money. Although I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of revenge, I don’t know if a revenge affair would really even be primarily about “revenge” or “hurting back,” especially if I do it all for myself and my own sanity, and without telling my husband about it.

        • I’m in almost the same situation. Husband cheated. No amount of therapy can bring me close to where I was before his affair. I am in the midst of a revenge affair now with a man that is younger, extremely well off, physically fit handsome surfer (my husband can’t surf any more) and the list goes on. I am the primary (blue collar) breadwinner. On paper it is a better living than most. In the event of an affair though, I would loose half my retirement account as California is a community prop/no-fault divorce state. I am close to retiring and would not be able to recover the assets I would lose in a divorce. My cheating husband would get a handsome monetary parting gift as a reward for his infidelity. It would be a jackpot for him. He’s 66, gets 1,000. in social security and makes a pittance at a part time job at a local driving range. We live in Santa Barbara in a large home that my family owns so he as no claim on that. He would depend on getting my retirement money just to survive the high cost of living here. Even with that he may still end up living in his car. He wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid/Medi-Cal either when this money is deposited in his account. He would be dropped from a top notch health plan from my government employer. He’s got some health problems and is on several meds. He can deal with Obamacare in whatever form that may exist. He doesn’t want a divorce and wants to work on things. He understands what I need to do for myself and is fully aware of my affair. My affair has taken my focus of my husband and all the tormenting thoughts of him and his “girlfriend”.

          • Thank you for sharing your story. I agree, we are in similar plights, except I’m younger than you, and my house (which I financed all by myself prior to the marriage) would likely be fair game for him to pounce on. I can barely afford my mortgage’s minimum payment, let alone a 50% equity buyout to him to keep my house all mine. I agree with you, what type of “revenge” is it when we leave a cheater husband with a court-ordered alimony “parting gift”. It is so angering and unfair. I think in our situation, maybe the closest we can get to leaving with dignity would be to separate but never actually sign for divorce. But then again, what kind of way is that to live?

            In my case concerning me telling him that I’m entitled to a fling, my husband has fluctuated from hypocritical violent rage to meekly requesting that if I do anything with someone else, to please just be open and tell him afterwards. The latter was said during a continued infidelity discussion we had right after a couples therapy session. In my case, my decision is murky because he’s never admitted sex and I have no proof of it. All I have is circumstantial evidence, probable common sense about the situation, and him eventually (months after I found evidence) admitting to both trying to cheat “without success” and lightly fondling a girl. In that kind of situation, what do I do? Trust he never actually had sex with anyone else, or follow what every other woman I’ve seeked advice from has told me, and presume he’s had sex? Just the mild fondling alone has me wanting to do the same with another person.

          • Cool…
            In my case though it’s not the cheater ex I feel worried about but it’s the self righteous people around me.They seem to be more angry at my cheating than my ex’s infidelity.Not that I really care what they think but it’s really fucking annoying.

      • One last thing I’ll mention about my perceived effectiveness of having my own revenge affair: I know it’ll emotionally bring closure because I’ve been through it before. When I was cheated on but didn’t revenge cheat (mostly because I didn’t have the opportunity to do it, given I didn’t even discover the cheating until a day after I “dumped” him due to him “ghosting” me/going MIA on me), I regretted not cheating back, and never seemed to get over it. That situation happened to me not once, but at least THREE TIMES! Then when I was in a situation where I did cheat back, I didn’t feel like the best person in the world but I did feel justification. When I later found out that the cheater guy had actually done me even dirtier than I’d originally known, I felt even better in hindsight about my revenge fling and felt relieved that I’d finally stood up to the jerk. So yes, I can honestly say that I have experience with revenge cheating versus staying good versus staying obliviously good and loyal. Maybe what works for me wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.

        • It’s working for me too. Glad it’s helping you. I felt like I got kicked in the stomach and got the wind knocked out of me. Right now I don’t feel as powerless as I had been feeling. Good luck to you, Lucinda.

          • Thanks! Good luck to you too! I haven’t actually done anything yet (physically at least), just chatting online and meeting for drinks. Already those little acts of discretion-but-not-technically-cheating have me feeling more at ease though.

          • I think that what you guys are doing is really healthy and normal. I am serious. Good for you. Fuck your cheating asshole husbands.

            • Thank you, Arnold for your words of support and to Lucinda and all who come here to share ideas and experience in order to help. Good luck all!

              • I want to share my experience with “revenge cheating”. I found out my husband cheated on me with a Craigslist Casual Encounter in April. I was, of course, shocked and sick to my stomach but also very curious about what Craigslist personals were about. So a few days later I go onto Craigslist, for the first time in my life, in the personals under “strictly platonic” (sure) and I answer an ad from a guy looking for help with his marriage. I naively thought he really wanted suggestions and help. We start this 2 month emotional affair through email and I have to tell you, it was exhilarating! I finally agree to meet him and pow…sparks and chemistry. We are now having a full blown affair!

                I try to feel guilty about it but I don’t, my husband opened this door by making the decision to cheat and really I only found out about one time but I am sure there have been many times when I think back on my marriage. I have not confronted him or told him about my affair because frankly it is none of his business, he lost that right. I do feel bad about how how marriage has ended up but I have no plans on divorcing him and changing anything regarding my life with family, friends, lifestyle, etc. He will have to do that if he wants to and deal with the fallout from his choices and then subsequently my choice.

                So I’m not here to give any advice, just perspective. I don’t feel that my experience would be for everyone, however, right now I feel like I made lemonade with lemons and added a shot of vodka to it!

          • Lieil, read my update below. I am no longer a suspected betrayed spouse, but a former betrayed spouse and a madhatter.

            One thing I’ll say about other people intervening and slut shaming the betrayed spouse who gets revenge, moreso than the original wayward spouse/cheater: I actually had that happen with my mother-in-law, before I even cheated back. So at that point, I might as well get the pleasure of engaging in a fun revenge fling and feeling “even” and sane again, right? Before I did anything, I hadn’t told my mother-in-law a word about the things I’d already caught my husband doing, the obvious suspicions I had, or the literal mental and psychological trauma I went through that entire year. Anytime I tried to talk and/or broach ANYONE who knew my husband about what they suspected my husband was up to, they all said “oh he’d never do that, he loves you too much” and my mother-in-law also said, “he’s too stupid to know how to cheat on you.” Bull. They were either hiding stuff for the sake of not wanting to hurt my feelings (in turn treating me like a small child), or they were that oblivious, likely because my husband never really cheated on anyone else before (lucky me, right? makes me feel SO great about myself knowing that). Then whenever I so much as argued with my husband, or threatened to go do stuff with other men (all talk on my end at the time), or made pervy jokes on Facebook about “hot” male celebrities, my mother-in-law would throw it up in my face: “You’re BOTH at fault!!!!!!” Meanwhile, I hadn’t even physically done anything with ANYBODY yet. Things were moving in the direction that if I continued to stay loyal, my mother-in-law probably would have wrongly assumed I was “the slut” who cheated even if I didn’t…because that’s what a few of my exes’ mothers wrongly thought of me. So at least I eventually got my comeuppance and my naughty fun.

            Also, for a while it was probably partly my own fault that my mother-in-law denied my husband’s wrongdoings, or assumed that I was “just as bad” as him–before I actually did anything, because I hid my husband’s wrongdoings and evidence from her. I did this to protect him. I realize now that if you have to conceal your partner’s wrongdoings from your and/or his parents, then that’s a bad sign. Most likely it’s because you know things are really crappy. Eventually I broke down and spilled to her everything I knew about my husband at the time (found condoms, caught him on dating sites, caught him trying to meet up for sex with a random Internet stranger who was actually myself in disguise, etc). She was shocked, totally stunned. Realized why I was so angry and disturbed all year. But also made the remark, “I don’t know, you BOTH make my head spin.” At that point, I knew that no matter what I did, I’d still be stuck bearing some sort of blame, so why not just do what I want to do at that point?

            On a side note: Then there’s the job situation. My job was a miserable, thankless, unfaithful job in and of itself; compounding my husband’s infidelity with that job’s infidelity (e.g., implementing a 5+ year salary freeze on all of us loyal faithful workers, while hiring new workers for higher salaries behind our backs! talk about “job infidelity”!) made me resent the job more than ever, especially since I attributed at least part of my husband’s infidelity to the job occupying so much of my time and mental health. I ended up floundering in my job immensely and reaching the breaking point where I quit. I’m now back in school and pursuing a more lucraative career path while temping. Yes, infidelity was the death toll to my thankless, raise-less “career”.

    • Thatgirl, you’re a fool in my opinion. You paid for Match.com and didn’t even use it? Also, you say you didn’t have time to find an affair…but your WS did. If he could make time to do it, then he deserves to stay home with the kids, pick up the slack on the extra housework, etc while you go out “with girl friends” to scope the scene and/or sow wild oats. The whole way you describe an affair, you make it sound like it’d be an obligatory chore you’d do only for another person (in this case, trying to hurt WS). It sounds to me like you don’t have a sexual bone in your body if you wouldn’t find a fling fun. Please don’t say you can use WS for sex if he cheated on you (how could you ever do it with him again, knowing he stuck it in someone else, all while you’re still being loyal to him??) and if you’re so offended by his affair that you’re planning to divorce him. Smh given your lack of appetite for a fling just for fun, I can only imagine how frigid you might be in the bedroom priorto the affair, thus driving WS to use that as his lame excuse to cheat.

  • Yeah, but, Walter, is one really stooping to their level? There is no longer a valid contract. All bets were taken off the table, already, by the initial cheating.
    Where is the wrong doing in not abiding by a broken agreement?
    This is what I do not understand about the objection to a betrayed having a relationship post the discovery of cheating, even without a divorce(that is, after all, just a formalization of the end of the contract. The contract no longer exists even before the divorce).
    So, where is the wrongdoing( provided the new partner is made fully aware of the situation and is not , him/herslf cheating on anyone).

  • If you want to stoop to that level and have no character than a revenge affair is great. Let’s see, you’ll be making a new contract with a perosn just to hurt another effectively hurting two people. You’ll be a characterless cheater who is no better than the person who cheated on you. But they already broke the contract you say. My five-year-old always complains to me that his seven-year-old brother hit him first when I yell at him for hitting his brother. Very simply, just because someone hit you doesn’t mean you have to hit them back. But then again, I’m talking to children. Sort of the same intellectual maturity as a perosn who thinks cheating is a good way at revenge.

    • Walter, sorry but I think your example of “don’t hit the bully back” is a HORRIBLE analogy. Mostly because in the case of kids getting truly seriously bullied (maybe not the case for your sons though) or hit, unfortunately sometimes standing up to the bully and hitting back is what it takes to get the bully to stop. I had a friend who grew up in the ghetto and was always bullied for being overweight. One day he finally fought back, and let’s just say the very trait that had earned him ridicule, worked very much to his advantage for physically beating the bullies. Yeah, slender jerks were no match for the tall heavyweight lol. They earned a new respect for him that day and never bothered him again.

  • Walter, I think you are wrong on several fronts. First, no third party need be hurt if there is full disclosure and consent. And , I am not talking about situations where a new contract has been entered.
    Second, not abiding by a voided contract does not reflect poorly on one’s character. It is well accepted under our law.
    Third, there are consequences to our actions. if your 7 year old belts his brother, I see nothing wrong with him getting the same. WTF, you yell at your kid for fighting back?
    This turn the other cheek mentality is what got some of us into this situation to begin with.

    • It’s not about contracts. It’s about morals. If you really belive in “eye for an eye,” then you are right. But a whole lot of historical blood feuds shows us that really doesn’t work too well. What it’s really about is getting out in one piece, and that’s where the morals come into play. A revenge affair is meant to hurt the cheater, not heal one’s self. The cheater can’t really be hurt or they wouldn’t have done it in the first place, so there is no revenge. Really you would just still be their victim. You aren’t so don’t make yourself into one. What cheaters hate the most is when they realize they are their own victims, or, next, when they realize you know you aren’t their victims. Then they dont have anymore power and that’s what cheating is mostly about.

      • I agree Matt. If you are having a revenge affair all you are doing is stooping to the level of the cheater. If you do then you are stuck. If someone cheats, get out, fast. Work through the pain but move on and don’t look back. Revenge never works. Never has and all you feel is empty in the end. Are you hurting the cheater? Who cares. Why act like them. Act with character, somethign they don’t have. That is how you make them feel bad. Don’t get caught in their sad place.

          • Its all about a persons character and emotional maturity and emotional sophistication. If you need to get someone back then please do. Lofe is not a movie but some like drama. They say youll only be with a person who will abuse you s much as youll abuse yourself and no more. Makes sense based on some responses here. Affairs can be gotten over. Takes aot of effort from both. Scorecards dont help. Anyone that thinks so is lying to themselves

    • Walter, you tell him!! I was bullied as a girl and mistakenly thought if I kissed up to them, eventually they’d become my friend. Nope! They just thought I was a doormat! Same shit followed with dating. 🙁

  • Let me start by sayiung that I have never had a revenge affair. But, I am not sure there is any evidence that “revenge never works” or that an “eye for an eye” is always a bad idea. I also do not see how one is “stooping to their level” if the cheater already voided the contract(and most secular law is based on a moral code).
    See , we seem to put forth these ideas/sayings. like the “revenge is never okay etc” with little analysis. They sound very nice and warm and fuzzy/evolved, but, in reality is it true that revenge is never okay?
    What about the deterrent effect? What about fundamental fairness and justice?
    In many areas of my life, revenge was useful. When I played basketball in college, if someone intentionally elbowed me in the face or undercut me, getting similar treatment would, often , cause him to stop.
    For me , in the marriage situation, it was not worth exacting revenge. I just wanted to get out asap.
    But, I have read several stories where the betrayed and the cheater remained together after the betrayed had a revenge affair and it was alleged the revenge affair provoded some benefit.
    Seems the original cheater felt somewhat let off the hook after that, which allowed him/her to have less guilt going forward.
    And, the betrayed felt a sense of justice , thus dissapating the resentment.
    To be honest, had my self esteem and confidence not taken such a hit, such that I doubt performing sexually was an option, I might have gone this route. But, I am glad I did not.

  • I will say this- there is not much literature on the singular benefit–confidence. I was cheated on and was devastated- never felt so horrible- disgusting used- beaten up. 18 years of marriage – 2 kids — in the toilet. her affair lasted about 3 months. Life was bad and I learned first hand what real depression is. After about 6 months – I woke up – i refused to take the blame as many do -and found myself in repair mode– at the gym- working out–starting to smile and get my life back. I began doing the things I loved with passion…All this time I stayed and kept her in limbo as to whether i would stay or go– i still didnt know what to do. A few months later – I was compelled to completely repair my damaged esteem by testing the waters to see if I still had it by cheating-never knowing if i would go through with it when i started. So as harsh and twisted as it sounds- I did. I played around on and off for about a year. Nothing brought my esteem back and even greater than before than this. It actually repaired me completely and then some– never about the sex — it did bring me back to a much higher confidence level. (confdence-esteem-and trust are the things that vanish instantly when this happens to you) There is the downside now of regret- yes of course — but. No amount of treatment from a dr could have brought me back feeling stronger than ever. My affairs now are over. What did i gain? 1) I understand the excitement she may have been seeking at her time-simply by doing something taboo. 2) I learned to be a better more passionate lover 3) I fully gained my esteem and confidence back quickly 4) I learned now to forgive her and myself …completely

    • Ken, I feel curious and intrigued about the part where you say that your affairs helped you to become a “more passionate lover”. Can you please explain? Do you mean that your new sex partners showed you sexual moves you didn’t know, or that your surge in confidence made you perform better with your wife? I’m curious because I too am contemplating a revenge affair–but in my case, it’s a difficult decision to make because I still don’t know for sure if my husband physically cheated or not. He is a known liar who has habitually lied or concealed wrongdoings in attempts to evade hurting or angering me. We’re in therapy but it hasn’t helped him to open up more than me presenting him with evidence and logic has.

  • I had a revenge affair too. A year and a half later I admitted it to my husband. He is devasted. He is acting like he didn’t have it coming even though I threatened him with getting him back. I thought he would be more understanding considering he broke our contract first. Dealing with all of this has been so stressfull. I should have just left him when he cheated or should have never confessed. We are going to counseling because he wants to work it out, but I have my doubts. He is always depressed and is constantly asking me unconfortable questions about my affair. He questions everything I do, everwhere I go and is always checking my phone. I know this is all normal behavior, I went through that too, but he is treating me like I am a slut who had an affair because I love sleeping with other men instead of accepting that I did it out of revenge. I don’t know how much longer I can deal with him. I should have just filed for divorce.

    • Update: After an entire year since the confession of my revenge affair my husband & I have seperated. Chumplady was right. My husband used my revenge affair to justify doing whatever he wants, drinking excessively and not coming home etc. I ended up kicking him out because he repeatedly didn’t come home after going out drinking and he basically said “Good because I don’t really want to be with you anymore because of what upu did”. He says he’s traumatized and can’t get over my revenge affair. Ironic how now I am the bad guy in this marriage. Anyways, we are pretty much done. I feel saddened, guilty, and well pretty screwed up. We were married 8 years, 2 daughters, a business, a house and many great years together and now it’s all gone to shit. On the positive side I am looking forward to some freedom. I will no longer live in fear from his jealousy, controling ways. I will no longer have to live with someone constantly questioning everything I do and being constantly reminded of my revenge affair. Here’s to a fresh start and finding some inner Peace.

      • “feel saddened, guilty, and well pretty screwed up. ”

        Why?
        You do realised the marriage is already broken is it?

        • Because I love him and feel that I didn’t handle the situation correctly. My anger got the best of me. There was obviously issues in our marriage that we could have worked on (and he was willing) but instead I chose to act on my anger & gave in to my pride.

          • I don’t know Debbie.But reading from your descriptions of him.I didn’t think he even realise the extent of damage an affair could cause.But even after he is given the taste of his own medicine.He still unable to grasp the momentum that cause this motion in the first place.And you still feel like you owe him.If he is willing trust me he wouldn’t say those words to you.

            • Sebhai, I agree with you. Regardless of what she did with revenge, the husband is still way more in the wrong. If anything, Debbie, it sounds to me like you’re a bit of a pushover, letting him push you around, control you, slut shame you, etc without you ever throwing up his initial cheatings or mansluttiness. Also, I do not know your whole situation but something in the way you write has me suspecting that maybe it took a lot of abusive cheating behavior (yes, I think cheating is a form of emotional abuse) before you did your one revenge affair. Just my opinion but it seems to me that maybe your husband cheated a lot, followed by you tolerating it and trying to remain a faithful supportive “willing to work thru it” wife, before you were driven to the point of revenge cheating. In that case, I don’t know if the marriage was even salvagable or worthwhile at the point prior to your revenge affair. Now that you’ve experienced his double standard hypocrisy, now you know for sure it isn’t a marriage worth staying in…especially since you forewarned him prior that you were entitled to a cheat-back. At least you gave him a taste of his own medicine while presumably having fun doing it.

              • No Lucinda, you are incorrect. I was not aware of any other affairs. I am not a pushover, never have been, never will be. I’m simply accepting my share of responsibility here acknowledging that it took two of us to screw our marriage up. Both times (after he cheated & after I did) he suggested couple’s therapy and although we did attend a few sessions we did not follow through because Of time & money. Both times he insisted that we join a regular church but we never went. You see I feel that I could have done more to save our marriage, but I didn’t.

              • Okay, fair enough. Thanks for clarifying. May I ask you how long you waited between his affair and yours? Were both affair one night stands or were they ongoing affairs each with the same person?

                Also, you say that you could have done more to save the marriage but didn’t, but I still stand by my earlier opinion that it wouldn’t have been worth investing more money you didn’t have into therapy to save a marriage not seemingly worth saving. Obviously your soon-to-be ex husband has shown himself to be a hypocrite. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a chauvinist too, feeling that guys “will be guys” with “uncontrollable sex drives” while women are supposed to be faithful “ladies”. I think this because of his recent behavior, slutting around town with more women than ever. Given how readily and numerously he’s revenge-revenge cheated back on you, I even wonder if maybe there was more cheating going on than the one single time you knew about. How did you even find out about that one cheating of his anyway? Did he confess, did a friendpass word to you, or did you find out on your own by snooping, walking in on him, or by chance? In my opinion, the way you found out says a lot about his integrity and worthiness as a spouse.

            • Oh no Debbie please don’t be so hard on yourself.Remember you said that he was being very controlling and jealous.Even he said he doesn’t want to be with you anymore after you cheated.I just want to say the ball was in your court.You can throw it away if you wish and declared the game is over.While he just want to say Fine I don’t want to play with you anymore.The next time you meet him do remind him that line supposed to be your line not his.If you do feel that you could have done more to save the marriage,it means you are still feeling like a chump that the chump lady herself is telling us all about.The website exists because it try tells us that we should not feeling bad for kicking the cheater to the curb.

          • “Here’s to a fresh start and finding some inner Peace”

            Keep remind yourself of these words everyday.Do not ever feel saddened,guilty or screwed up.You may have a right to feel ashamed for your eye for an eye approach.But do not feel guilty for ending the marriage that you yourself know has been damaged from the very beginning.

      • Debbie, good for you. If he has this type of hypocritical double standard and lack of empathy and reasoning ability, life with him would be shit.
        He had it coming, no doubt.

  • I had a revenge affair. After ten years of being cheated on the “moral high ground” just did not pay off any more.

    I agree with Ken. It healed me. I learned things I never learned from my ex-husband: tenderness, gentleness and respect.

    On a very carnal level his constant infedelity communicated to me that my sexuality was unimportant and secondary, and doing this this so blantanly was a means of asserting my sexual significance.

    I have absolutely never needed to cheat again, and I don’t believe I will. I believe I will just leave.

    But I did then – I did need to do it. I don’t believe I would be mentally, emotionally and sexually stable if I had not done it. It went against everything I believed and I tried everything else – nine counsellors and a spiritual retreat to India included.

    An affair with someone sexier than him, that I then told him about, was the only thing that took the rawness away.

    He hadn’t just hurt me on a spiritual level, an intellectual level, or even on an emotional level – at least not to the extent that he had hurt me on a carnal, primal level. A sexual, animalistic level. And it was only on the animalistic plaine I once so loathed and judged, that I was able to find my healing. I have found so much freedom and beauty from doing this empowering thing for myself, by “bearing the accusation of betrayal without betraying my own soul”, that I can not but be for revenge affairs.

    No, they are not the same thing as they are not motivated by the same thing – selfishness. They are motivated by a deep-seeted need to be okay again.

    And do not be so quick to dismiss the argument that the BS is not in the correct state of mind because I was freakishly out of balance , I was drowning in my devastation and was hurting so many people because I could not contain the extent of my own pain, or the depth of the injustice. I sought healing aggressively for two years before falling into the arms of a beautiful man, who is now a good acquaintance.

    I’m glad I did it. I needed to do it. Health on very few other plaines would have been possible without that move I defiantly made for myself. Very empowering.

    • What a great story.
      I ventured back in the archives to this topic, which I started years ago, as I wondered how I had felt back then.
      I was so glad to see others have a similar view on this, as back then, when I first posed this question, it seemed few were on board with my position.
      We never see an advocacy for the revenge affair on SI with folks proclaiming it makes one “stoop to their level” or that ” two wrongs etc”.
      But, I am always amazed at how the relatively simple concept of it not being wrong at all to no longer honor a voided contract is not considered.
      How could it possibly be wrong to no longer abide by a contract breached by the other party?
      This is not some mystical realm. It is simple contract law.
      And, as I mentioned, in addition to providing some healing to the betrayed via boosting confidence and equaling the playing field, it should, theoretically ( unless the cheater is a complete hypocrite) help the cheater to deal with guilt.
      One would think that a truly remorseful cheater would be happy for the BS as now the BS has been able to experience similar pleasures.

      • Great points, Arnold. I was betrayed too and have been feeling a need for revenge. It’s interesting to look at it from a contract law perspective but the terms of the contract are different for every relationship. I am thinking (out loud) that violations of the terms of contract may not necessarily result in the contract becoming void in every case. There could also be penalties imposed on the transgressors for such violations such as asking them to leave home for a while, insisting on therapy, holding them accountable in front of loved ones etc. The equivalent of a void contract is divorce imo. Staying in the relationship and embarking on a revenge affair is tantamount to holding a valid contract and violating certain terms (that the other party has also violated). Such a violation may have undesirable consequences for the violater, who is now you.

        Also I feel that a revenge affair will not fulfill my emotional needs. I realized that I don’t want to just feel desirable, beautiful etc. I already know that I am. I wanted to be the *most* desirable and beautiful to my spouse and the infidelity shattered that feeling of exclusivity.

      • I am reading through these posts 46 days after my husband confessed to cheating on 4 occasions 10 years ago, one craigslist hookup, three paid encounters. I have to say that I find your argument compelling, Arnold. The contract of a 25-year marriage has been breached and a new one is not yet in place to replace it though we are attempting to heal our marriage. I think calling it a revenge affair would be a misnomer in my case. I feel it should be called a Recovery Affair. I also wonder if it might help to put our relationship back together by replacing my sense of humiliation and powerlessness with a sense of agency.

        We both felt we had a happy, not perfect, marriage and have had an enthusiastic and experimental intimate life. So, these encounters really came as a shock. One of his reasons was a perceived need for a variety and an escape from everyday life. He claims he stopped after paying for sex with a woman who he found unattractive and dirty and made him feel like “a disgusting pig”.

        There’s something so intimate about this type of betrayal that makes one feel discarded and undesirable. I am not sure if I will ever tell my husband if I do this because it is about restoring my self-esteem and sense of control over the events of my life. It’s been a long time since you posted but just wanted to respond to your thoughts.

  • From the BS’s perspective, no affair is a good one, but my husband took his affair to sickening new heights, even took our two 5 and 7 year old kids along for the ride. The other woman had something like 13 convictions for fraud, check kiting, embezzlement, etc. I found out after three months and was so freaking traumatized I was hospitalized for 3 days. HER three children had actually been taken away from her by the state (she did cocaine with her 14 year old son and had him sell Lortabs at school, AWESOME). I was destroyed–my husband didn’t just fuck around, he fucked a convicted, sociopathic compulsive liar. I googled her and found her mugshots online. I literally ran to the bathroom and vomited. I could go on, but my shock turned to anger, SERIOUS anger, and nothing would come close to decreasing all those horrible emotions that you get jackhammered with. SO I HAD A REVENGE AFFAIR AND I LOVED IT. I have never felt a single twinge of guilt and never will. It boosted my confidence, esteem, the guy was half my age so yeah, I totally cougared the boy (he loved it, as did I). It was only a one-night stand, that’s all I wanted–no mental energy for a “relationship.” Loads of people will argue it makes you just as immoral as the person who cheated on you, nothing good comes of vengeance, just divorce and move on, blah blah blah. Well, it served as a much needed boost to my system. It was great sex with a gorgeous young man and my husband deserved every minute of the revenge I “thrust” his way. He found out about it by reading my journal, hit the roof, then realized he had no grounds to protest. He was hurt. He felt betrayed. He was jealous. Well, welcome to my world, honey. Sometimes you have to give Karma a little boost. It was more than worth it to me. I will go to my grave knowing I did what what best for me, what I needed to do. Revenge affairs may not be for everyone, but I’d be REALLY hesitant to make negative judgments about them….this isn’t a “one size fits all.” Some people benefit from them. I sure as hell did.

    • I had no regret as well. In my view it is like self defense. I never apologized for what I did and anytime he has tried throwing it in my face I simply say he deserved it! I’m not sure if our marriage will overcome this. But if it ends because of this someday I will be at peace with myself because I did what I did to overcome his betrayal.

      • Chiquita, you wrote this in August. I don’t know if your marriage overcame it or not, but I will always believe you did the right thing—his affair was all about himself, he broke the vow. Your actions were something you needed to keep TRAUMA under control. If your marriage ended–or if you are still married–I hope you have found some peace. I certainly have. And nope, to this day I haven’t felt a remote twinge of regret for my “One-Nighter.” I earned that shit. 🙂

    • Same here.I heard some of my friends keep telling me two wrongs doesn’t make it right but I reply the first wrong shouldn’t happen in the first place.At this point I don’t really care whether our marriage would survive or not.If he files for divorces then at least I could get out without feeling like a victim.

  • Seriously, what is the purpose of abstaining from revenge cheating if I can’t get any emotional or sexual benefit from doing it, and apparently cannot even benefit from it in divorce court????!!!

    Let me back up here for a min: I live in a state that has both at-fault and no-fault divorces. Pennsylvania, in fact, which you’re familiar with, Chump Lady. Good for you that you were able to serve your cheating ex with an expensive-for-him at-fault divorce. Apparently that won’t be likely for me. I consulted with a divorce attorney today. It became very very obvious that he was pushing me to just go with a no-fault divorce. Said it was the “smart, economical” decision with divorce. Said I wouldn’t gain anything with pursuing an at-fault divorce on my cheating husband, even with my documented evidence that puts my husband completely at fault, except for $1000s lost in attorney fees. In fact, the attorney was so adamant that my pursuit of an at-fault divorce is a bad idea, he wouldn’t even entertain the idea of an at-fault divorce. Mind you, I make a lot more money than my husband and I provide the health benefits and the property.

    People–including some on websites like this one–told me that revenge cheating is bad because when I pursue divorce, I won’t be able to claim at-fault divorce on grounds of adultery if I’ve done some cheating of my own, even if my cheating was merely retaliatory. But with a no-fault divorce, I get no award, no positive recognition, and no “brownie points” (these work kind of like ego kibbles, but for the morally superior/goody-goody chumps) for begrudgingly staying faithful to a cheater. I get no high-fives for staying celibate. Why bother staying faithful when it doesn’t even benefit me any in divorce court?? It’s not like I’d only be engaging in an affair for “revenge” with no fun or benefit to myself. On the contrary.

    Chump Lady, have the laws and policies in PA changed that much in the years since your PA 2nd divorce, or did you encounter this too? Did lawyers urge you to forgo pursuit of an at-fault divorce against your ex? Or did I just get a crap lawyer consultation today? (The attorney was a man, not sure that matters or not)

  • We madhatters like to feel unique. Let me be that unicorn! Makes browsing infidelity websites/forums “a challenge” to say the least. And yet, being a madhatter is curiously not rare. Hmm.

    My shitty coping skills and conflict avoidance as to why we were sexless prepped me for an unexpected EA. I was then so into that, that even though it was one-sided I couldn’t give it up for a looooong time. And then I allowed myself a ONS with a mutual friend.

    I fully realize this isn’t a website where “the fog” is a valid state of mind. Then again, for those of us who have LEFT it, that’s a good sign we agree it’s not valid. (That would be your cue to reevaluate what you think about the “fog” having zero legitimacy.)

    But boy, we sure can recognize it in others in a way non-cheaters cannot, just sayin’. So when I confronted my wife and tried to let her know she may feel differently in the future about the “path” she chose (the path being to cheat …) she just shrugged it off of course.

    According to her, I of course had given her no other option than to cheat, and really, it’s not cheating since I broke the contract first and it’s only been a marriage on paper for years.

    What’s hilarious is that even though she denied nothing and calmly stated she will continue unabated, she’s still taken it underground. But I already got the screenshots I needed.

    For years I felt stuck. Today I’m shopping for lawyers.

    I confessed first. Up until recently I would have been totally mortified if anyone learned what I did. Now I don’t give a shit who finds out; actually I’ll be landing those truth bombs myself. But first I’m going to embarrass her AP at work and likely get her work contract with his company voided.

    Moral high ground? Not really. Strike first? Yessir.

    Do I feel entitled to “re-cheat?” Hell no. I never want to be that person again, and do not intend to be.

    Bottom line, from where I stand, is that madhatters are a toxic combo to be split apart. Saying you now understand each other better is nice and all, but that’s like saying one theif totally understands other theives best. Great, but so what?

    • GetGrilled, I must admit I recognize you from another infidelity site. I’m a madhatter now too, but in my case my husband initiated the cheating. My revenge fling definitely boosted my self esteem and humbled my husband into him letting me do what I want “or else” I’ll leave him. The revenge affair showed me that I was indeed capable of getting someone else myself, and very attractive ones too. Before that, I got rejected or flaked out on. Thus, finally succeeding at obtaining a revenge fling + growing the courage to actually act upon it did help me a bit.

      Eventually my husband cheated again, along with continuing to spend our very tight budget on sex workers, then progressing to shamelessly charging hotel rooms on his (traceable) credit card. Yet still denies it, now more than ever. This time I reacted much much quicker, meeting a ONS at a hotel the very night I discovered husband’s hotel charge on our credit card statement. Yes I cheated but then again, I initiated an in-house physical separation for a full month now, starting the day after he (unbeknownst to me at the time) took someone to a hotel. I had already told him that for all he’s done to me, I deserve an affair. I said that to him before I found my husband’s hotel charge and before I actually made plans with a male friend to meet me at a hotel.

      Like you, GetGrilled, I’m pursuing divorce now except I’M the one pursuing it. Still not sure how to do it, and I can’t afford to pay him alimony nor would I ever want to pay a cheater, over my dead body will I. Like you, I’ve been an open book whereas my husband keeps acting undercover even when I wave proof of his infidelities in front of his face. Him doing that has me feeling stupid, like he thinks I’m that gullible. I don’t want to stay with someone who treats me like I’m naïve and stupid, spends all our bill money, steals from me behind my back, and keeps cheating. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not enough for him. It should be the OTHER way around, him worrying that he isn’t good enough for ME! Especially considering how good I treated him, up until his infidelities drove me into a deep depressive state that literally ruined my career.

      • Yes and I am only on SI, and only very recently. There’s an amazing amount of clusterfuckery embedded there. More of a necessarily evil for me, to pick though what I can use. Some discussion is of course, spot-on.

        I’m likely viewed as hypocritical in the eyes of other madhatters, as for example I don’t agree to the sense of entitlement and “how good I treated him” in your post. Reminds me of what I did to my wife, even before I cheated. Shutting down, checking out. Avoiding it. Reminds me of how my wife, even before she cheated, said she felt it was sufficient for her just to hang around; that her presence alone should have been enough for me to be satisfied.

        So no, you’re not “better,” this isn’t a competition, and oh yeah, nobody wins at revenge. He re-cheated on you, after all.

        You can be open about what you do, but all it does in delay the inevitable. Kudos for moving the peg to get out.

        • You’re right; he still re-cheated. I should have left immediately after I got closure from my revenge fling the first time. I shouldn’t have stayed to give him opportunity to keep up his wayward behavior. (Although I really was/am in no shape to afford divorce, thanks to being in a shitty no fault state) If I had no kids and no shared living arrangements, it would have been worlds easier to leave.

          However, I’m STILL glad for my multiple revenge affairs. It boosted my crushed esteem, gave me closure, and literally kept me from mentally going off the deep end. I waited over a whole year to revenge cheat, mostly because I was taught earlier in life to gather proof and never jump to conclusions (esp since I’d been falsely accused of cheating by exes multiple times in my past). And of course he lied and denied. It took a full year for me to think “enough is enough,” it’s easy to tell he’s cheated even without hardcore proof, if I really want to cheat then what am I waiting for. As it turned out, he did in fact cheat (claims it was not past 3rd base but how can you trust a liar). He didn’t fess up until he figured out I was just as bad as him, so for that, I’m thankful I indulged in the ego kibbles and cheating fun. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, as the spouse who cheated first. But I’m being honest. Like one of the women on that “other” website, I knew I wouldn’t have been able to reconcile or continue in the marriage if I didn’t get even. In my case ultimately staying probably wasn’t the best decision regardless. So I guess that’s one possible disadvantage of revenge affairs, that it may cause some to stay in toxic marriages they might refuse to stay in otherwise. Then again I had no real choice in order to be able to support my children, at least not right away until I researched ways to divorce and support my household while laid off and broke. I have zero support from family, friends, or my enabler in laws. Sometimes we have to sacrifice for our kids to ensure their bare basic needs are being met. At least my revenge affairs made this temporary trainwreck marriage situation less unbearable for me. If I hadn’t cheated, I’d literally be in the mental hospital right now. What kind of mother would i be to my kids then??

        • Also, I must say that overall I agree with and am a huge fan of one particular guy on that other site. We’ll call him “R” for short. He had a revenge ONS on his remorseless serial cheater wife, then divorced her butt a few months later. He’s my age and a parent too but less kids. I agree with his POV that once the other spouse cheats, it voids the vows so if having a revenge affair gets you off, then go for it. He also regrets not divorcing sooner. I can relate to all that. In my opinion there’s a lot of doormats on that site, especially the prudish pearl clutchers who condemn revenge affairs yet they stay faithful to their serial cheater spouses despite not even being religious (e.g., someone who has sewer in her name). They are so ridiculous at times. They show me who I don’t want to be like. So it’s refreshing to hear the voice of intelligence and logic from R.

          Furthermore, going beyond anything R would advocate, again I know I needed closure in order to save my sanity, and while a revenge affair didn’t solve or close everything, it definitely helped with some aspects. It showed me that I am still desirable. When my husband first cheated, I’d just very recently given birth to our last kid. I was tired looking, homely, and put on a lot of weight AFTER giving birth. This was opposite of how my body went after my first kid, when my weight rebounded easily. DDay caused me to lose all that extra weight and FAST, but I still mentally felt like the Fat Girl, until my revenge affairs. Yes I wanted the ego kibbles. No I do not feel guilty in the least.

  • I will tell my story in later posts….
    But i thank all of you for your comments, opinions, and perspectives….so helpful as i embark on a possible revenge affair.
    I have many things to consider and do not plan on acting on anything soon. When I have time I will send my story your way and anxiously await for your replies and responses.
    But so far this has been very helpful.

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