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.
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!