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Dear Chump Lady, What about the one-time cheater?

Dear Chump Lady,

Most of your blog and comments seem to be geared towards the serial cheater, the ones who have made cheating a habit.

I am quite curious on your take on the one-time cheater or let me re-phrase: the one affair cheater.

My ex used to be the best husband and father. We had a great marriage. Then he had an affair that went on for months behind my back. He was quite crafty in this, I did not suspect the least.

When he finally confessed (Yes, I did not have to find out by accident!) — he was gone in his mind, he had cut himself loose.

From that moment on I recognise everything you write about: the blaming, the looking for excuses based on what was lacking in the marriage, the trying to salvage the marriage, which was only coming from my side. (Oh yes, I danced the pick me dance the best I could) — and then the leaving without ever looking back.

The completeness with which he went into this new life was unbelievable.Completely detached, as if he never had a marriage and family before.

I’d love to hear your take and analysis on situations like this, where a partner out of the blue has an affair and leaves it all behind, without a care and without concern for the family left behind.

For me it was extremely traumatic, going from thinking that there was a good marriage to this. We divorced 7 weeks after me knowing about the affair. After I did my dancing, and didn’t get his real commitment (we reconciled twice in those 7 weeks), I confronted him. I am grateful for having had the strength to immediately file for divorce — he said he wasn’t in a hurry to divorce! Ha. I just wasn’t prepared to continue living in the middle, waiting and hoping and trying to “win” this competition. He actually seemed angry at me. Go figure.

Like I said, I’d love to hear you on the subject of the one-affair then gone guys — never a sign of trouble or cheating before — as I recognise so much from your blogs and love you no-nonsense approach.

Thanks.

Jeannette

Dear Jeannette,

Well good for you for dumping his ass within 7 weeks. You get an A for decisiveness. I’m rather stumped on your question — do I find much of a difference between the one-affair cheater and the serial cheater? In your case, whatever he is, he was definitely a cake eater and you were right to end things. Where I thought you were going was to the exit affair cheater. He confessed, he detached… at that point I would suspect IF this really was a “one-off” that he would make a break for it and leave. But he didn’t do that. He blameshifted and tried to maintain cake. Which makes me think this isn’t his first rodeo.

Why do I think that? Because if he was really all that detached, the marriage was over in his mind, he’s truly in lurv with his mistress, yada yada, then he would be liberated by your decision to divorce and put off by the “pick me” dance. People’s actions reveal what they really think. His actions say CAKE. You AND her. He was angry when you ended it. He was going to live in limbo as long as you let him. I would suspect telling you was because she was threatening to do it (or someone else was), and he wanted to control the narrative. Bonus! You can do the “pick me!” dance.

Confession can be a good sign. If he confessed because of a guilty conscience, I would expect him to throw himself humbly at your feet for another chance, for marriage counseling, to go no contact, to be transparent, do to whatever it took to save the marriage.

He didn’t do that.

Confession could also mean that he’s straight up ending it with you. “Hey, I’m in love with someone else, let’s break up.” In this scenario, I would say he was detaching for quite some time and having an affair was his sloppy, cowardly, stupid way of blowing things up to end the marriage. Nope. That didn’t happen. He was pissed you divorced him.

Which leads us back to CAKE. Maybe this was his first taste of cake, but I tend to doubt it. People who can sustain cake, who desire cake are those who, as you put it, “make cheating a habit.” They have to have the appetite for cake. A healthy person, a non-narcissist, has a hard time with a double life. So you’re describing him as a “really good guy” AND a cake eater? seems incongruous to me. I’m sorry to be cynical, but I just think you didn’t know him as well as you thought you did.

A lot of chumps would’ve described their exes or STBXs in similar terms, only to get more information that reveals, nope, this was not their first affair.

And if it WAS his first affair? Well, in the end does it matter? He wasn’t sorry. He wasn’t ending it. And he wanted you to dance for him. You only had one choice and that was to dump him. I’m sorry Jeannette, but better days ahead!

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  • I have a serial cheater who remains angry about the divorce, refuses to sign the final papers, yet says he is done with me and madly in love with the final OW.

    Here’s the thing. In one of his rare moments of honesty he told me he would never have divorced me or even have left me. He also told our kids that. He also lied about the cheating, trying to make out that this girl was the one and only. Sadly, his electronic communications revealed otherwise.

    My take on your situation (and mine as well): he may have thought, in fantasyland, that he wanted out of the marriage. But he really wanted it on his terms. Once you grabbed teh ball and ran with it, not giving him any further choice he got pissed because hey! He’s sparkly! Why doesn’t he get to make all the decisions and play everyone in the situation?

    So he’s pissed, just like my STBX is pissed…also, I do hope you’re being honest about what happened with others. I’m honest and it seems to add to the anger but whatever, he shouldn’t have screwed everyone who crossed his path…or at least covered his tracks better.

    I wouldn’t recommend going backwards and doing any more investigation as it will only set you back in your healing but I would bet money that, like CL says, this isn’t his first itme at the rodeo.

  • CL, you took the words straight outta my hand. First time? ha. very, very doubtful. He will ONLY confess to what he has to confess to. Could be he told you cause he feared that someone else was going to before he did.
    I got cold chills hearing him detach as he did. and anger. sure he is.
    he lost his chump!!!
    good for you!
    brava!
    and for whatever its worth, I don’t think its remarkably different from the serial cheater. (and he may, we just don’t know and I wouldn’t go there either.). Why? I think that CL said this too… because of his reaction to your leaving. yeah. best ~ L

    • I agree, it is unlekely this was his first affair and he probably confessed due to outside forces, like imminent disclosure by another.
      When I read many of the forums, where fellow betrayeds are telling a cheater that. almopst certainly the affair will be discovered, eventually, so the cheater should confess, I shake my head.
      Research shows the vast majority of affairs go undetected, forever.
      So, if you find out about one, there are likely many more.
      A long term affair, lasting more than a day or two, and particularly if it lasts months or years, requires, essentially, the same mindset as serial cheating in terms of subterfuge.
      The cheater has to be remarkably adept at and comoftable with lying. They do this with no effect on their ability to sleep, work, have sex with both the spouse and the affair partner,and all sorts of mundane, everyday things. It simply does not bother them. Thye are very, very used to and perfectly comfortable with lying with no guilt.
      So, if you have a partner who engaged in more than a drunken one night stand, I would submit that you are dealing with a person who is wired fundamentally differently than a normal person.
      It is sort of like drug addicts and alcoholics(who are incredibly well represented inthe personality diorder world). These folks lack consciences, for the most part.

  • You know, I often wonder if this was my STBX’s first A. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if he had engaged in ONS before he found his online hookup. I got a similar response, Jeannette– he was totally on the fence and “didn’t know” what he wanted when I discovered the A and was originally on board for R. I think he would have been fine with me taking the blame for the A, rugsweeping, and carrying on with our marriage like nothing had happened. He would have taken the A underground and happily eaten cake. I suppose that this just could have been an exit A, but when I think back over our past… well, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he confessed that this A wasn’t his first. It was very hard to get information out of him about the A that I did discover, so I highly doubt that he’ll be copping to anything else anytime soon.

  • I think this was a classic exit affair.

    He mentally checked out months (or years) earlier and had an affair to blow up the marriage. He took the coward’s way out – he made you end it (by filing for D).

    The rest of the stuff (guilty conscience, anger, etc.) was just background noise. Ignore it. Don’t give it a second thought.

    • Well yes Walt, except that in exit affairs people actually EXIT.

      The not exiting can be seen as forcing her to be the bad guy, by filing for D — but he’s already wearing the bad guy hat because he confessed to an affair. Why not go all the way?

      I see the not exiting as cake eating. Her divorcing him thwarted his cake, and that’s why he’s angry. As Nord points out, they get very pissy when chumps grab the ball.

      • Agreed CL – there was cake eating. Lots of it. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an exit affair.

        He probably didn’t go all the way (filling for D himself) b/c he didn’t really have everything planned out or thought through. They never seem to have a real plan beyond deceiving their spouse. When the OP grabbed the ball and forced the D, he was angry because he wasn’t ready.

        It isn’t rational, but that seems to be how Cheaters think. If they were rational, they’d just skip the affair and file D. No one said Cheaters were smart – just immoral 😉

        • Hmmm…STBX had no plan in place and for awhile I thought that’s why he was so angry. But now that he has a place and we’re more or less NC he remains quite pissed. The kids say he has a low level of anger just under the surface that never goes away. I assume the fun single life with a much younger woman isn’t all he thought it would be.

          Whatever. Who cares why they’re angry? Let them be and carry on focusing on ourselves. When it finally got through to me that figuring them out was a waste of my time and energy I started to really move on and get strong. Now I might still think about him and what happened but in a very detached way and it happens much less often than it used to.

          Leave and cheater, gain a life indeed. I still have lots to sort out financially but otherwise I haven’t felt this alive and happy in years. I’m actually laughing all the time.

        • I completely agree with Walt. Lots of these people are emotional infants and laboring under the cloak of entitlement. That they have an exit affair and then expect the wife (or husband) to still do the “dirty work” of filing. And if they refuse to file and do that dirty work, then the cheater agrees to reconcile. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real attempt to leave the marriage, just means that the cheater didn’t have enough gumption (or incentive) to actually walk out the door.

          This was my marriage, actually, as well, the only difference is I didn’t dance pick me because I was not under the impression that my marriage was fantastic and then suddenly the affair happened. Ironically, the affair was my escape hatch. Hooray!! I had no problem doing the dirty work of ending the marriage after the affair came to the light of day!

          My marriage was me being the grown up, making all the decisions, doing all the housework, doing the heavy lifting professionally (while he kept going back to school for more and more degrees). His only task was to manage finance (I insisted it was an equal partnership, hahaha), which he did not do well. I recognized the marriage was not great and did attempt to talk to him about it, many times, but he was shut down and fancied himself the lone wolf type. That’s actually the narrative he still clings to, all the while living in his studio apartment, living the artist lifestyle and allowing his parents to finance all that.

          Of course it is easy to be a lone wolf when you have someone else doing all the serious stuff.

          The affair was the deal break and yet I’ve been the one to sort out the separation and divorce landscape. He can’t be bothered to do it because he’s used to having all that stuff taken care of for him. I made all the decisions in the marriage (because he stonewalled and wouldn’t/couldn’t) and I am left doing this part of it too.

          That doesn’t make him a cake eater, necessarily. He doesn’t want to be married or for me to do any kind of pick me dance or to get ego kibbles from me. He just wants his mommy (which is essentially what I’d become) to take care of his needs. In fact, that is why I think many of these emotional infants actually do reconcile. Because their parent/spouse takes control and gets things back in order and the emotional infant goes along for the ride because the alternative seems like just too much work for them. If the BS wants a divorce, that’s okay, let him/her do all the work. If the BS wants to stay married, that’s okay, let him/her do all the work. The emotional infant may or may not cheat again, but that’s not about cake eating really, it is about acting out against the perceived authority figure in the relationship.

          Thing is, those people don’t really want to be married, they just don’t want to have to do things for themselves, so if that’s cake eating then okay. Use that term. But this original poster who has a dude who walked after meeting the other woman, and then wanted her to do the divorce stuff is in my mind just another entitled child man who left his real mommy for a mommy wife and now for another mommy girlfriend. He has his first mommy wife doing the divorce stuff and the new mommy girlfriend to coddle him. The fact that the first mommy wife might still be cultivated for a return performance if the new mommy wife somehow doesn’t work out, that’s okay, but he probably is at the stage where he resents her. Emotional infants need soft places to land. Now, all the while, this guy could be a total cutthroat at business, could be masculine manly man like crazy oozing testosterone, but like a rebellious teenager driving fast and drinking beer at parties behind his parents’ back, he is doing these cheating things and feeling really wild and free and grown up, but really he’s just rebelling against the current authority figure in his life.

          And no of course it is not his first affair. It is the first one where he saw the merit in actually walking out of the door. Jeannette should be glad she’s rid of him. He’s going to always be the way he is. He is living his karma. Until he clears it, he will repeat this cycle again and again. Sad.

          • Kristina – Interesting point of view! Child man exactly. I was the do-er in our marriage. I handled it all: kids, vacations, planning, cooking, finances plus I was the breadwinner. There was his cake!!! I had started to indicate that I expected him to start getting his stuff together and either contribute more financially, or with the other stuff. Guess threatening to take that cake made him look for another, cake-eaters do not like demands or needs from someone else. He was completely shocked when we sat by the lawyer and I was all prepared with a list of assets and discussing child custody arrangements. Shocked him so much, my distance and action-approach, that he begged for reconciliation. Which he could keep up maybe a few days. Then he got pulled back with the OW. I forced the issue with him by confronting him with his lack of commitment and the disparity between his words and his actions: you say you want the marriage but you don’t act like it. The day he said he doesn’t really want the marriage, or he’s not sure what he wants, he is confused blablahblah I made the court date for a week later. Over and done. He has since made a total mess of his life. He is still with the OW, but has lost jobs, has collection agencies behind him and he looks like shit. Living his karma……

        • Walt – right on the head I think. He cheated and had an affair – it just happened were his words. he did not know what to do with himself and he did not know what to do about anything. He did not think it through, even though he took the first step out with the exit affair. When he realized the consequences, he tried to reconcile, but was already detached. Not willing and able to put himself back in the marriage and not willing and able to exit. He once again took the coward way and let someone else make the decision and take the action. When I said he was angry with me, I meant that he seemed angry that the choice between wife and affair partner was hard…..He said that he has history, family and children with me, and she doesn’t – so I have the upper hand. he sounded sorry to come to that conclusion. But left all the same…..
          There was no plan, he wasn’t rational. By leaving it all up to me, he must have inconsiously been setting it up so that he could always blame someone other than himself for what happened……
          Coward, cheater and dumb! And to imagine that I was planning to spend my life with him…..

          • Well, he was ambivalent, for sure. That’s one of those big “tells” for emotional infancy. They just don’t know what to do or how to do for themselves, they only know they are unhappy. They flounder around and start and stop different things and can’t ever take real hold. And typically is the fault of others.

            And they seek external fulfillment and security to be maintained for them. For a while you provided it, but then he resented you for the very thing you provided. And when you expected him to pull his weight, he bailed. Good riddance.

            Honestly, they are like children in grown bodies. Honestly, they should grow up, they probably WANT to grow up, and they equate doing things like having an affair as “finally doing something for myself…” but really it is just a rebellion against their parental spouse.

            • Kristina – where did you learn all these things? They are right on!!!
              yes, he wanted a different life. he was tired of me taking charge and tired of being the nice guy. he wanted fun, he wanted a different life. As if you can “undo’ a marriage, use an eraser for your kids and wife………….
              He felt unhappy, put the blame on me – thus escaping responsibility for his own life and happiness – and at the same time justifying hsi affair……..
              He didn’t like that I started to see him for what he was, angry for his facade fading……

              • Well, the first person I knew like that was my mother, actually. And then I was married to someone similar and I have done a lot of research on the type so that I can stop engaging with them. Raging codependent.

                Looking for someone else to fulfill his needs because he can’t or won’t do it for himself. Super nice guy, though. I mean, apart from the obvious moments of passive aggressive acting out — like breaking my things “by accident”, only scraping the snow off his side of the car windscreen so I couldn’t see out as the passenger, the affair — he really is just a person who tries to be agreeable and go along and do all the right things and be supportive of those around him and avoid conflict and make sure everything is copacetic.

                But he’s not well, emotionially, and because of that he is ultimately totally unfulfilled and unhappy. And he doesn’t know how to fulfill that in himself AND maintain a healthy relationship.

                And you know, I’m probably just as guilty.

                Look, there are two sides to every story; well, there are two sides to MY story at least. I wasn’t simply just a victim. I have elements of codependency working against me too. I worked hard and made decisions and choices and kept thinking “us us us” and trying to make it work. But I KNEW I was unhappy. I KNEW I should end the marriage. Unlike you, Jeanette, and many others posting here, I knew my marriage was not right and I resented it like crazy. But instead of leaving him when it became evident that he was uninterested in really engaging with me, I stayed and tried. Codependent of me.

                And his position would be: My xW was ambitious and I supported her as we moved across the country to support her career, and then we came back so she could take care of her mother while she was dying and that was a huge change and lots of drama, and I supported her through that, and I never really built a career because I was supporting her in her career (plus I don’t like working with people, and they don’t understand my art). Plus, she liked to socialize with friends and I didn’t like to, so she would hang out with her friends and host house parties and gatherings, and try to make friends with my colleagues at work and I didn’t like to do that because I want to be at home and paint. She’s bossy and she behaves parentally with me. And she doesn’t help me with the finances. And I want something for myself because I’m really unhappy.

                And so that’s how it is. Just two codependents trying to make each other happy instead of knowing how to be self-sustaining.

                The difference between us is: I have a vested interest in clearing my karma. He doesn’t. He will just continue on how he is. I refuse to do that. All my willingness to fix and make things better has now been turned on myself.

                I am the one who needs me and that definitely fulfills that overwhelming codependent desire that I have to be a “useful tank engine, Sir Topham Hat.”

    • I don’t think you’re using “exit affair” in the conventional sense. It generally means a mechanism by which a cheater at some level *intends* to end a marriage.

      I think “exit affair” is inconsistent with a cheater “making you end it.” People in exit affairs usually confess the affair rather than being discovered, and the idea to get a divorce usually starts with them. For example, a cheater who has had an exit affiar might say, “I’ve had an affair, and having this affair made me realize that our marriage is a sham. It’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to me,” etc.).

      I think you’re giving the majority of cheaters too much causal credit and too much moral clarity. Just because the marriage “blew up” doesn’t mean the cheater wanted to blow the marriage up. It’s usually more the case that the cheater is just a selfish “f*ck up” . . . who got caught.

      • Kristina – your reply almost blew me away…..It gave me a sudden insight…Looking back I see that I knew some things were not right. Were not good for me. I carried all the weight – finances, kids, school – and I was buckling. But I focussed on us and fixing things and helping him. And I simply caught every ball that he dropped. Instead of facing it down and really resolving it together. I guess I was codependent as well…..I would never have walked away, even if it would have killed me:). And I don’t think it is a coincidence that when I was burning out – unable to eat, sleep, losing confidence in my competencies – that it was then that he started his affair. Did he sense a change was coming? Did he sense that I was no longer as willing to maintain his facade? I remember telling him that he was a threat to the financial security for our kids which I was working so hard to build. I told him that if he worked so very hard and was still unable to contribute financially, why not work less and at least relieve me from all my duties. I could not do it all anymore I told him. I went through my own crisis and wanted to quit my job and take on one where I could work less hours and maintain a better work-life balance. Funny how I never saw that my life was already crumbling…..
        The strength to divorce came from my lawyer – another coincidence, she knew the OW and told me not to sit and wait but to push through – to make sure the OW would not get involved in the division of assets…She also told me to save my tears and pain for my family and friends, but NOT to let him see any of it from now on. That was my mantra. My world was so shaken and my sense of everything so shattered, that I just took er advise and went with it.
        Katrina – thank you so much for your openness and sharing – I learned a lot……

      • Spot on, nomar! I caught my hasband and he immediately confessed, more than I asked for. He said, ‘if I was you I wouldn’t be married to me. I would divorce me’. Which is exactly what I did. Another chump move – him getting me to do something with his ‘controlling’ personality, but this was an unusual moment of passive-aggressive work. Well, he got his way, that’s for sure. Asshole.

  • “Well, in the end does it matter? He wasn’t sorry. He wasn’t ending it. And he wanted you to dance for him. You only had one choice and that was to dump him. ” C.L.

    Oh so true! My Mr. Wonderful of 25 years had 1affair of years… His lover called me because he tried to end the affair & she thought I’d want to know. How thoughtful! I guess she didn’t think that highly of her husband. I was in anguish & oh so scared, did the “pick me” dance as we went to counseling, but apparently she did the “pick me” better because “in a moment of weakness” he just had to accept her phone call, so… He was so surprised when I called the lawyer. “Did I know how this made him feel? He was so confused.. it was complicated… he was so fragile” Isn’t it almost funny how unfortunately familiar this all sounds?
    Now he just wants to” move forward so we can heal”.” I need to get past my anger because it will only hurt me.”
    Jeannette, I don’t begin to understand it either. This seemingly easy removal from a marriage and family is incredibly painful. I see more clearly everyday that for my Mr. Wonderful he truly believes he has been a victim in life; misunderstood, and under appreciated. Perhaps that’s how he copes. I don’t know how he looks himself in the mirror. Sooo many lies.
    Stay strong and listen to CL! It’s a long road, but we can do it!!

    • Yes. You need to let go of your anger because it will hurt you, not because it means you’re more likely to kick him and less likely to listen to his excuses.

      He really only has your best interests at heart.

    • MG wrote: Now he just wants to ‘move forward so we can heal, I need to get past my anger because it will only hurt me’.

      ha – you’re so right. These guys are all the same! It floors me. stbx found a book on forgiveness and said *I* would be better off without my anger and I should read the book. HaFuckingHa!! Like, ya – poof – anger is GONE! And, you made it happen! what a shiny turd you are and to be admired all over again.

  • Jeanette…I could have written your post, exact same thing! My ex left, I thought he was struggling with the death of his mother & changing jobs, only to find out from him 6 weeks later, that he was involved with someone from the gym. He wasn’t sure how he felt about her, his words. That was it for me, and with the fact that a counselor suggested I go ahead and file for divorce. Thirty years down the drain…he has never looked back, except to call and whine about his finances, or blame me for the kids not wanting to spend time with him. I had known him since I was fourteen, now it’s just like, “Who the eff is he really?” A well respected psychologist told me expect a year for every 4 you were together to get over it. That piece of advice, along with CL, has really helped me to move forward. So cut yourself some slack because it will take time. I’m giving myself 7 years to chill & just focus on my kids…and loving my life more and more every day! Keep in touch Jeanette, we have so much in common and can maybe help each other.:-)

    • Lori – wow, weird how much alike our stories are….I would have sworn he would never ever cheat. He was always strong on family values and he was determined not to be like his father……………Yes, I look at him and wonder “who was I married to for so long”? Not this creep. Keep in touch!

    • Lori – We might as well have had our marriages and divorces written by the same scriptwriter. Mine lost both his parents within a year, had some health issues blindside him, but none of that (or the fact that I was there by his side every minute caring for and about him) kept him from managing to quite cleverly use my trust against me and chump me for over four years with another teacher he met in union activities. the 2 and 1/2 years since he filed (and he ALSO said “I’m in no hurry – but then was) has been a lesson in revision as he has tried to sell (unsuccessfully) to anyone including our two adult children that “the marriage had been bad for years” – “why shouldn’t he be entitled to be happy”, “your mother needs to move on – and I don’t think she’s let go of me yet”, etc. I caught him red-handed and have come to learn that the one long affair was preceded by at least 2 others – also with teachers he worked with. I know just what you mean when you say “30 years down the drain” – because the detachment is so incredibly complete – it’s like we never even knew each other. Bottom line – one time cheats may exist – but usually – where there’s smoke there’s fire – it’s likely a pattern. But the minute they cheat – they break all bonds and boundaries and – painful as it is to give up a lifetime together – it frees the chumps and lets us see the world more clearly, more brightly and with more possibilities than playing the fool in a sad little immorality play. Best of luck to you – and thank God for our children.

  • This is so helpful. My 25 year “Mr. Wonderful” as MG so aptly put it, had a 1-1/2 year long texting affair, with a one night stand in the middle of it. He told me. only about the ONS. the I began to unravel all the other shit…like the Craig’s List ads, (at which point he told me about AshleyPukeMadison, and AdultFriend-Less-finder…but no, he wasn’t looking to cheat, why would I think such a thing??) those accounts went back years! So now that I’ve withdrawn life support from him, and am trying to apply it to myself, he is falling completely to pieces. Codependent, infantile, moronic, call it what you like. It’s annoying as fuck. I spent all those years propping him up, he stabs me in the back, and now he want ME to put Humpty Dumpty back together again…I don’t think so.

    But I’m having a helluva time finding the most productive way out of this schiessehause for a number of reasons (financial, logistics) not emotions, that I won’t go into. It’s hellish.

    Hearing that other people are also puzzling this out is very helpful to me, to seeing my way clear.

    Finally, apropos of the previous thread, almost all of my friends have vanished like will-o-the wisps. I don’t believe they knew–the ho-bag lived/lives out of state. But wow, another way to know who your friends are? Who hangs around when you ask for help at a time like this. Yeah, uh-huh.

    • It is hell, Named for Vera. I panic thinking of $ and logistics too ( i am 62, have only a part time job, spent my family inheritance through the years with Mr. Wonderful, and live far away from family because this is where Mr. Wonderful could get a job) but the only course is FORWARD without someone who willingly chose to betray. Feel stronger everyday!

  • “Then he had an affair that went on for months behind my back. He was quite crafty in this, I did not suspect the least.”

    People are not usually that good right out of the starting gate.

  • Jeanette
    I had no idea my wife was having an affair ( for maybe as long as 4-5 years)
    She wasn’t happy sometimes and I put down to been married for 18 years and justvthecrut you can get into raising a family.
    I like was in total dis belief. I was so in love. I mean I immediately just had concern for her because she said he wasn’t the answer. ( email available). As a family we a
    L just got on with a busy life. Our sex life was great. It was a deep love so I thought.
    I spoke with the OM wife and she was told that we had been separated 18 months.
    It’s extremely challenging to even begin how your wife husband leads a double life. As Arnold says it takes a special person.
    I still don’t understand how they can walk out on the family. She now wants the boys to meet him. They refuse. No one is backing down. Why does a mother act like this with two beautiful boys.
    It’s entitlement. It’s greed. It’s thoughtlessness. It’s even cruel. Its bullying
    Some of it is society now seems to allow this.
    I’m now in the limbo stage.
    What if the boys refuse ever to meet him. What does she do. She then has a choice. Live like she is with CSM staying the nights the boys don’t or move in with him and see the boys for coffee at Starbucks.
    If you drew a pie graph showing the amount of time spent with CSM compared to the boys it would be very telling. Sad.
    Our exes make choices that seem mad at the time but to them they are like they have discovered gold and they can’t get enough of it. To justify it they treat us, the people that really really loved them like shit. We must let them go.

    • “Our exes make choices that seem mad at the time but to them they are like they have discovered gold and they can’t get enough of it. To justify it they treat us, the people that really really loved them like shit. We must let them go.”

      BACI – that is beautifully put. I think that says it all – and with a poetic flare.

  • What I have learnt from the X is that these guys collect women like trophies.They can’t bear the thought of a woman dumping them.they want all the women to be in their lives forever .

    When we dump them it’s as if we show up a mirror to them and they can’t stand their own reflection.When we dump them we make them face up to who they really are.We crack their sparkly image.We tell them, dude , your behavior is unacceptable and hence you are unacceptable to us.

    They can’t accept that.

    They always want to be the dumper , not the “dumpee”.

    Like a 5 year old, who may not like this old toy of his, never want to play with it anymore,but try taking it away from him !!!!!!

    • OMG, that is so true Sanity! My ex keeps doing little things to try to restore ‘the connection he still feels we have’. He wants to tell me about work happenings. He texts me that he misses talking to me. He phones ‘to talk about the finances’, only it isn’t. He tells me he wishes we could ‘make peace’ (I’m not fighting w/him, I’m ignoring him!). I am very close to NC, just a bit here and there about the kids or the money, almost entirely by e-mail or text. But he keeps trying ….

      And now I get it, he wants to keep me in his life forever, because that way I wouldn’t have rejected him, I wouldn’t have found his behaviour unacceptable and him … uninteresting (AGGGHH! Can you hear his agony from there?)

  • Sanity is right. They want to be the dumper, and not the dumped! So, when you leave, it tosses them all off!

    Laurel, I replied to an earlier post you did about the signs of n-people. It’s back on 2/25. Thanks for posting that response.

    • oh you’re welcome, David. I’m new here and I just realized that there’s a reply option underneath everyone’s posts. In fact, it was Sanity (who I met on someone else’s site) who told me about this wonderful blog! What I love is that we have a place to bounce ideas and opinions and find others who truly get exactly what we are going through because they are experiencing something very similar. (sometimes, eerily so!)

      • Hey Laurel..hugggs.

        Glad to see you made it here.

        As i said to you, this site is so “US”.

        Laurel and i have always believed that R is not a viable option.Its just not practical.

        Laurel your toughspeak is absolutely going to be welcome here.

        And boy, when Laurel gets pissed with some asshole cheater you should hear her.

        If words could kill ,the cheater would be dead many times over.:)

        • here’s back atcha dear Sanity. Yes. Love, love, love this blog!!! FINALLY, someone who truly gets it and so articulately too!

          I’ve often wanted to write to you on the other site when I hear some poor woman who’s “confused” and is still madly in love with a man who has sex with anything and everything that walks OR crawls and I hear her desperately clutching at nothing to just make it all go away.

          the bottom line for me is always the same. Once someone has betrayed me in this way, how can I EVER trust him again? You can’t. When I hear a woman say that he’s been “sober” for the past whatever… all I can think of is, really? HOW DO YOU KNOW? The reality is that unless you are with him, literally joined at the hip 24/7, you DO NOT KNOW, what he is up to. In fact, the hardcore cheaters, derive extra “pleasure” by taking you for a loooooooooong ride.

          its not for me.

          and my hope is that one at a time, you and I and others who understand what the real deal is… can shed much needed light and help others to avoid the traps that we fell into.

          It is true. None of us believed that our spouses were as sick as they are– at first, that is. But, they are not who we thought they were or need them to be. Healing comes when we can release that fantasy and embrace the reality of who they really are.

          It is fine to stay with such a person. Lots of people sell their souls every day.

          • hear hear Laurel. You speak with one tongue (ie: not forked) and you are so right. Welcome to the site. Love you already.

  • I’ll buy that it was his first affair. Every cheater has to start somewhere. Does it really matter, anyway?

    I’m not sure if I consider one-time cheaters different from serial cheaters… are they just future serial cheaters? I don’t know how long my husband’s affair would have gone on if he hadn’t been a dumb-ass about covering his tracks. And if I let him off the hook like he wanted, who knows how long it would have been before it happened again.

    I know the longer the cheater has been living a double life, the more evil the cheater can seem (and maybe be?) and that’s a longer period of time the chump feels shitty about. I do believe that there are shittier guys out there in the world than my STBX. But he’s the one that has treated ME the shittiest!! And his actions are the only ones I really care about. I’m not going to say “it’s okay” just cause there are guys out there that have done worse things to their wives. That’s the moral relativism that cheaters love!

    All cheaters lack moral character. They are all cake-eaters and have justified their actions in some way. And thought nothing about the chump at home. The person we thought they were is an illusion for every type of cheater.

    • So true, so true. I had over 10 years of this, I just hope it doesn’t take 10 years to get over it! Had clues, but no proof, someone tried to tell me about another OW years ago, as did my daughter, then found out about 3 in one day…THAT did it Thank God….

  • Calling my X. A serial cheater,would in fact , be paying him a compliment.!!!!!!

    Serial would mean ..in a series..one after the other.

    This guy was two timing naah..more like multi timing me with every available woman.

    So let’s not call them serial cheaters..Nord please take this on boArd ;)….it’s more like multi. Timers.

    And yes , been quite sometime since I dumped him , but he yet thinks I have lost somebody who loves me cares for me and misses me the most.!!!!

    He feels persecuted and wronged.

    And the best part, it’s not that he is putting up an act , he really believes it.

    Neurologically, they are wired veryvery differently.

    • Multi-timers…yeah, I’ll buy that, since STBX was not only having an affair with the current OW but also having a number of other flings, flirtations and attempts at meetings with various women. Current OW knows this but has a special connection or something so thinks he’ll be faithful…which he probably will be, for a time.

      At this point it’s all sort of meh…he’s a rutting pig, basically, and he’s not my problem anymore.

  • Ya know what it is for me?

    Its being FUCKING LIED TO.

    sure. go ahead and fuck all the women who will have your stinky, scabby body. Flirt with your (married) co-workers on facebook and confide in your ex lovers about your other lovers. Ignore your wife who is spending 100s of hours every year advocating for your ADHD son and your autistic son and is beyond exhausted and just wants some time ALONE with you. The same wife who also solely supported the family for 3.5 years.
    Do really gross passive aggressive shit that you know is going to irritate the hell outta her so that she will then begin to bitch slap you like your mother did. That’s right. turn your wife into your mother. That way you will have an excuse to go and fuck around. right? I mean, you needed a reason to justify the piggy selfish behavior you told me that you deplored in OTHER men!

    but why couldn’t you just tell me the truth? no? it shouldn’t be so difficult? Even when I asked you outright what the hell was going on with the separate computer systems and SEVEN FUCKING EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES, you lied to my face and even mocked me. you told that controlling cunt (who’s fucking her shrink) in Israel — EVERYTHING!!! and left the one you took vows with completely in the dark. marriage should just come “naturally” you say? and if it doesn’t… oh well… you’ll just look for some “excitement” elsewhere? why?

    Its not “marriage” that’s the problem, you idiot.

    I AM NOT MARRIAGE. I AM LAUREL!!!

    I am so, so glad that I left him. 27 fucking years.
    now. just have to figure out how to have a life. the life I thought I was going to have.
    its not too late. Its never too late. Its just going to take a while, I guess.

    so many things started to fall into place– incredibly easily the moment I decided to leave.

    thanks for listening. if you’ve gotten this far. LOL

    • Oh Laurel, I hear you. It really is *being lied to*. Mine decided he just didn’t feel like being a parent any more too…just kind of a drag; he wanted to be hipper than that, you know? (I’ve since told him to go buy a stupid hat. That’ll work).

      But in the end, they lose. We get the wonderful love of our wonderful kids,no matter how hard it is to parent through the crises. And no matter what we do or don’t *tell*, I think the kids know. I mean, kids know stuff; they just do. They know which parent was there for them, was their rock, their advocate, held the wold at bay, or pushed them into it, when needed.

      Years ago I knew a woman whose baby-daddy had abandoned her. She was in grad school and struggling. She told him then, “If you screw this up, it doesn’t really matter what else you do right.” It’s been a creed of sorts for me. And I think it’s true.

      You sound like a kickass mom, and good for you. Keep going. Remember: work is love made visible. You are there for you kids and therefor an admirable role model.

  • Hey Laurel..hugggs.

    Glad to see you made it here.

    As i said to you, this site is so “US”.

    Laurel and i have always believed that R is not a viable option.Its just not practical.

    Laurel your toughspeak is absolutely going to be welcome here.

    And boy, when Laurel gets pissed with some asshole cheater you should hear her.

    If words could kill ,the cheater would be dead many times over.:)

  • I was totally blindsided by my ex husband’s affair. I came upon something suspicious the day after Christmas 2009 & asked him about it. He immediately started spewing untrue things about our almost 25 year marriage and he blamed me pretty much for everything that was wrong in the world. He yelled & screamed & frightened me in a way I never knew I could feel. He was gone in 3 weeks (he moved out of the county & into an apartment over a dollar store in an armpit of a town) & filed 3 months later. I never had a chance.

    I fell into despair, lost 30 pounds in weeks & ended up hospitalized. I had to go NC immediately or I wouldn’t survive. I saw him just 3 times & they were court appearances related to the divorce process. No one but good friends came to see me, feed my pets & check on my house.

    My heart was ripped out & I still wonder who was this man & what happened to him. We didn’t have children & my parents are deceased; a brother lives overseas. His family was my life. As you can guess, they shunned me. I went from having a fabulous life with a wonderful man & equally wonderful family to ….words can’t describe.

    It’s still not quite a happy ending yet. The divorce was this past June & I was hospitalized one more time. I can’t explain how the rock solid ground of my life opened up leaving me to flounder in a bottomless abyss. Knowing that he “checked” out of the marriage sometime before I found out was crippling. I did have therapy & will forge on. 2013 will be the year that he is no longer in my life. Oh, this site & the MidLife Club site has helped me immensely.

  • Chump Lady and all commenters: you blew me away with your insights and feedback! Thanks so much! I learned and read it all up! Cheaters are cheaters and being able to walk away from a wife and kids and a whole life, without remorse or ever looking back, indicates an emotional emptiness and immaturity which is beyond us to comprehend…..That’s why I should stop trying to understand. I never will. My mind set is entirely different…..
    Thanks guys!

  • To Hurt1

    I can so relate to your story- the frightening screaming came out of nowhere and he was unrecognizable – when he was the deceitful one! I have also found comfort on the runawayhusband site – you probably already know about it. I was also erased by his family members- after 20 years – glad you are doing better!

  • My X had no plan….. after he sat me down and confessed, because “betraying someone is the slippery slope blah blah blah” he said that the outcome of our “chat” didn’t turn out the way he thought it would at all. I’ve always wondered what he thought the outcome would be…… Honestly, he’s so invested in the “nice guy” thing that I think he thought I would tell him I was happy for him – that he deserved all this and that I couldn’t be more pleased that he’d found his soulmate schmoopie – honestly, I think that’s what he thought would happen and then, when I told him I wasn’t gonna wait around…… he panicked, just panicked. And then things just got super weird from there. Stupid stupid…….

    • When he got caught causing my confrontation(s) I was actually afraid of him due to his regular, random bursts of anger. But I have a temper too! Funny thing though, after a couple of weeks went by I DID wish him well with his “soulmate shmoopie” because I just wanted him to go away, and he did not like that at all..telling me they fight, he doesn’t really love her, trying to give me false hope I think. You just can’t win! Thank God for CL and ya’ll, I worked on my NC anyway no matter how much it hurt!

  • @ Arnold what you said “Research shows the vast majority of affairs go undetected, forever. So, if you find out about one, there are likely many more.” and the rest of your post was to the point without being blunt, the combination making me feel very sad. Because it was all so true.

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