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Dear Chump Lady, Not everyone who reconciles is pathetic

From a comment in yesterday’s post:

Chump Lady,

At the risk of inviting a pile on, I don’t agree that infidelity is always abuse. While I’ve welcomed that point of view on my Web site (, I’ve respectfully disagreed that it is ALWAYS abuse.

Conviction without compassion prevents all of us from understanding other points of view. As a woman who has reconciled with the husband who cheated on her (sex addict, so LOTS of cheating; I hadn’t a clue), I’m all too aware of the vitriol that many of us are subjected to by those who subscribe to the “once a cheater…” philosophy. Women who leave are applauded. Women are stay are pitied and pathetic.

Life is rarely black and white. Abuse implies intent to hurt. It’s had to argue that a punch or a slap can be administered without intent to hurt…which is why I think it’s much more clearcut. But cheating? We cheat for all sorts of reasons without any intent to hurt our partner. Some cheaters are assholes, sure. Probably a lot of them are assholes and should be avoided at all costs. But many others make a horrible choice. Others still are driven by addictions that lead them to do appalling things.

Similarly women stay for all sorts of reasons that are perfectly legitimate. Their partner has sought treatment and committed to rebuilding a marriage; or an intact marriage is important to them for their children/culture/whatever…. My point is I don’t live their lives and I don’t know where their values lie. I’d always said I’d immediately dump a cheater. Yet…here I am, confident that I’ve made the best choice for myself and my family.

I’m don’t advocate that those cheated on offer up blind forgiveness (or forgiveness at all, quite frankly). But, on behalf of all of us, I am pleading for at least a tiny opening of the mind to allow for other points of view without immediately casting those who hold it as battered women too weak, stupid or scared to leave.


Dear Elle,

What you call “conviction without compassion” I call shooting straight. I’m not in the business of convicting anyone (I’ll leave that to the hanging judges of Texas) and I’m also not about compassion for cheaters. My business here is chumps — compassion for them. The bias of my site is very plain, in red lettering — Leave a cheater, Gain a life.

Also, as I have written many times before here and elsewhere, I do NOT believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.” It’s just that I see very little evidence of reformation around me. I think cheating is based in entitlement, and kibbles are hard to kick. I think cheaters can give up acting out sexually, but still retain all the entitlement thinking. I’ll give you an example — explaining their cheating with the line “I didn’t INTEND to hurt you.” That’s not owning it. If cheaters own it, I respect that. “I made a gazillion decisions that were utterly selfish and destructive and I didn’t give a shit if it hurt you.” If cheaters do the work on themselves (kick the cheating AND the kibble chasing), they could be decent partners in their next relationship. However, IMO cheating kills the relationship they’re in. It’s never the same, and I call bullshit that marriage is ever “improved” by infidelity.

Let’s address intentions. As I wrote yesterday, even if it is true that he didn’t “intend” to hurt you, his intentions are irrelevant. He DID hurt you. Grievously. He certainly was aware that if you knew about his screwing around, it would hurt you. There could be severe consequences. The break up his marriage, his home life. That’s why he kept it secret. If he wasn’t aware his actions were harmful, he would do it out in the open. And I’ll give other addicts this — most of them are pretty flagrant about their addictions. Alcoholics get hammered in bars. Junkies shoot up in alleyways. Sure, there are closet drinkers and secrecy, but a lot of addiction is right there under your nose. But your sex addict was hiding it from you, living his double life, that he KNEW full well would hurt you. What he didn’t intend was for you to find out.

Now that you know? He has to cop to well, he didn’t go out there with your personal destruction in mind. He just wanted a hit. Read: he didn’t CARE who he hurt to get what he wanted. Just like a drunk driver doesn’t intend to kill anyone, he/she just doesn’t care about the consequences of driving drunk. When you harm someone, the law is unforgiving about your intentions; it’s all about your actions.

IMO for you to do reconciliation, especially with someone as duplicitous as a sex addict, you have to minimize what they did. “He didn’t intend to hurt me” is minimization.

Here’s another minimization — But many others make a horrible choice.

Choice. Singular. No, even the one night stand is a series of choices. To put yourself in an inappropriate situation, to go forward, to conceal your activities. Many, many choices. Perhaps it is easier to overlook a single choice. It’s much harder to look past a series of deliberate willful choices.

Similarly women stay for all sorts of reasons that are perfectly legitimate. Their partner has sought treatment and committed to rebuilding a marriage; or an intact marriage is important to them for their children/culture/whatever

“Intact marriage” was important to every chump on this site. For their children, their culture. Absolutely. People do not leave cheaters because they don’t value marriage or fail to love their children. (Although cheaters love to play that mindfuck on chumps….) They leave precisely because they DO value marriage and know that they’re not getting a true commitment, mutuality or respect. They leave BECAUSE they love their children and do not want to model dysfunction.

If a sex addict/cheater has sought treatment — wonderful. I truly mean that. If cheaters stop cheating that is all to the good. But my point of view is let them do that on their own time. Recovery is a long, painful road. As any addict can tell you (my brother is one, btw, sober 8 years) — they’re a bad risk for re-offending. My brother has made recovery a lifestyle. He goes to meetings every week. He married another recovering addict who understands the struggle to stay clean. He’s a productive member of society and he’s a guy who spends an inordinate amount of energy trying to do something non-addicts do pretty easily — stay sober.

You’re NOT an addict. IMO, you have no obligation to gamble your future on such a risky investment. You deserve someone for whom monogamy is not 12-step. You can wish your husband the very best and encourage his recovery, and not be married to him.

Women who leave are applauded. Women are stay are pitied and pathetic.

I have news for you Elle. Women who get divorced are also “pitied” and deemed pathetic. I left two marriages and I should know. Even from people who knew your ex, you, and what you lived through. My own family wasn’t terribly understanding and the whiff of failure was all over my divorced status. Getting married a third time? “Oh, I hope this one works.” Good luck with that. And don’t even START me on single motherhood. You want a group that is vilified and pitied? Single mothers are IT.

I understand why many women cling to marriages to not face the stigma of divorce or single parenthood. I get it. There’s plenty of toxic judgment to go around, whatever your decision after infidelity. Part of the purpose of my blog, Elle, is to put the opprobrium back where it belongs — on CHEATERS. Chumps just get left with a shitty set of options. In my opinion, the option that will maximize your happiness is to leave.

I will say this about reconciliation — I think it takes a tremendous amount of personal strength to do it. Had an argument about this with my husband this morning on the subject. (He tried it for 10 days, and threw her out. She was still cheating.) He sees his reconciliation as regretful, humiliating, the lowest point of idiocy. I’m sure it was dreadful, but I give him props for trying. I know for me (over a year of attempted reconciliation, all of it false) — the “remorse” kept me stuck. I felt I owed it to him, my marriage, my “culture,” my values. I’ve had a good rethink about all that since, Elle, but I do think it takes a very big heart to try and forgive the unforgivable. Some may say you’re sick with codependency — but I think it takes a lot of personal bravery to stick it out.

Here’s where we part ways — I think your heart and your bravery are misdirected. I think you deserve better. Much better. I think your situation isn’t even a close call. The guy is a serial cheater. Call it sex addiction or Fucking Around Disease or whatever, the guy was very adept at living a double life. Felt entitled to it. Was good at it (you had no clue). IMO, guys like that are disordered. 77 flavors of fucked up. I don’t see how you could ever feel safe in that marriage again, no matter how much time that man spent in recovery.

My ex was a serial cheater and I consulted four shrinks when I went through that nightmare. One worked in the prison system for 20 years. He told me guys like my ex, even with a ton of therapy, don’t stay straight. Even in prison, with all the structure and shrinkage, in a clinical trial, can’t sustain their “reforms.” When they’re low, there’s a window. When things improve, they’re back at it. I didn’t want to hear that then, I stuck out R. He was right. (Read Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test)  I’ve seen it play out like that over and over and over again on every board I’ve been a member of. I know you think you’re different. You know your husband and we don’t. IMO, I wouldn’t take the gamble.

I mentioned the Psychopath Test. You’re probably taking umbrage. I shouldn’t diagnose your husband. Maybe he’s a run of the mill philanderer. A broken person with bad coping skills… I’m just saying, people who lead double lives successfully, over the span of YEARS? They aren’t right in the head. He’s got mad manipulation skills. How would you ever know if he’s playing you? You wouldn’t. And that’s a terrible way to live.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Elle,

    I think most people at CL are here because it helps us cope with the trauma we’ve been through, but also because we very much want to help ***others**s trying to navigate this horrible maze of ruin and despair. That is, we want the pain that other chumps are feeling to descrese as much and as soon as possible. I believe that virtually all posts here–even the strongly worded ones–are offered with that latter purpose in mind.

    I can’t say based on my personal experience, or my experience talking to hundreds of other betrayed spouses, that I think continuing a marriage to a known serial cheater is ever the very best way to spend your precious years on this earth. I believe there are ***always*** options better than that. But I can say that I truly wish you all the best in finding your way. Here’s wishing you the security, contentment, and joy you deserve.

  • Elle
    I don’t mean to be rude but why are you here? I applaud and sincerely hope that everyone that wants to can reconcile. That being the case most of us here have tried some sort of reconcialiation only to have been dragged further into the abyss. So do we have a specific point of view. Yes and that is probably why most of us are here-to discuss our experiences and thoughts with like minded people. I wish you the best but I simply can’t fathom what validation you want from people who are part of a community whose “motto is leave a cheater gain a life.”

    • Pearl,

      I must say that question popped into my head as well. And not to be flip, but someone coming to and telling betrayed spouses here that they should have an open mind about infidelity and, hey, it can be transformative and lead to a healthy marriage is a bit like going to an AA meeting and telling people there they should have an open mind about alcohol and, hey, it can be transformative and lead to a healthy body.

      That doesn’t mean any harm was intended by anyone. Just saying that people at this site (where “LEAVE A CHEATER” laterally appears on every page) have an intense and visceral basis for antipathy toward reconciliation.

      • Nomar,

        I find your “doesn’t mean any harm was intended” comment ironic, since her husband used the no harm was intended line to justify his years of deceit, lies, & theft of marital assets from his wife & kids.

        • Let’s go one step further.
          Lets assuming my cheating lying husband didn’t intend to harm me. However, he did and it was obvious by my weight loss and other health problems as well as panic attacks, ect. (I just saw my father in law today and he seriously asked me if I was anorexic). My kids also acted out as well. I will assume he didn’t intend any of it. However, once he saw the “unintended” consequence of his actions and continued to act like a prick, then that was a conscious decision. Enough said.

  • I’m afraid I’m with CL on this one. I found out a little over a year ago that STBX is a serial cheater. There was one affair many years ago and I thought we had worked it through. We hadn’t he was cheating before and he was cheating after. He cheated when things were good, he cheated when things were bad, he cheated no matter what–as long as there was an opportunity and someone willing.

    I wouldn’t even go out for coffee with a man who cheated after what I’ve been through. No one can tell Elle what to do but as much as I loved my husband – and probably do on some level (we were together 20 years) – nothing can change the facts I didn’t want to face: he is all kinds of fucked up and will never change. Rumour is he’s already grooming new women, even while being with the final OW.

    I just would not chance my heart again.

    • Yup. Our STBXs were also separated at birth, Nord. For mine, the vows should have read “I promise to fuck other people through sickness and health, richer or poorer, better or worse.”

      • Seems like a lot of STBX’s were separated at birth…or maybe they all got a special manual that we weren’t privy to.

  • I love you CL and the compassion you’ve shown to Elle. Elle please try to understand what CL is saying. You’re strong and you definitely don’t deserve wasting your life strength like this on a completely useless agenda. You can bring a difference in other people’s lives. You can enjoy so many things life has to offer.

    However, a filled glass can’t be filled further. Your heart is so full with all that the cheater has offered and continues to offer on a daily basis. Maybe your agenda for continuing your marriage is something different. Maybe, status quo and comforts that status quo brings, or maybe important considerations like society, children, finances or maybe your own values – but please be clear on the agenda (why you keep sticking to marriage) rather than remain in a mental fog. Being clear on this agenda does two good things: 1) It exposes your weaknesses to yourself. Once, you can know, understand and accept that – you open the door to change, if necessary. 2) It puts the blame back on cheater and not on you (self blaming damages your self esteem very badly). You continue because you’re financially insecure otw WTF ex was good enough to be dumped. You should not think that maybe ex had some unmet needs which you failed to acknowledge/ fulfill.
    You get one life, LIVE it
    And as far as definition of abuse goes: “Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit” (Courtesy: Wikipedia). Now, if you were in a monogamous marriage (atleast that’s the values you went in the marriage with), it is improper usage and it is bad purpose (intended or not intended to hurt doesn’t actually matter). And in most cases of serial cheating and associated pathological psychology/ behaviour there are elements of unfair/ improper benefit gained often clubbed under entitlement etc. So, cheating is an abuse as per the standard definition of “abuse” 🙂

  • Totally agree with CL on this one. Almost everyone here tried to R, only to learn that we were duped a second time. I really wish I had kicked my cheater to the curb on d-day, and saved myself and my sons the additional trauma. My analogy – stbx didn’t just get into a fender-bender, he fucking totaled the car. It can’t be fixed. It must be replaced. So, I am replacing my miserable life with a blame-shifting, unrepentant cheater for a future filled with peace and happiness. I don’t know what that will look like, but it has to be better than what I left. That’s my hope for all my fellow chumps that have found their way here – good, loving people who deserved so much better. Elle, I wish you the best, but hope you have prepared for the worst.

  • What is astonishing to me is that people who want to reconcile, who claim to be happy in reconciliation are taking offense to the opinions shared here. Why on earth should it matter what I or any of us who post here think of your choices? If you are happy to be reconciling, then go ahead and do it. Whether or not I think you’re codependent for reconciling with someone who has abused you, DOES NOT MATTER. I’m not over on some recon site saying: “Listen, you codependents, get yourself out of your marriages NOW!! You deserve better.” They are doing their own thing. Good for them. Eventually they will find themselves here (or on an other person support forum when they themselves cheat because they are so undervalued and miserable in their marriages that they finally act out passive aggressively).

    Really, the thing I think that reconcilers ought to consider is not what people who believe that reconciliation is not really possible think, but rather this: Does your cheater respect you? Because that gets right to the heart of the matter. Of course he or she tells you they do, that they appreciate the second (or third, fourth, fifth, or seventieth) chance you are giving them. Of course they say that and they may even mean it in the moment they are saying that.

    But they cannot possibly respect you. Because they know that you will let them get away with cheating and you will give them another chance. They know that you have collapsible boundaries, that fold back in and then lines are redrawn, and compliance manuals are set up. And if they do x,y,z and promise to live like dogs in a cage or whatever it is they promise to do (oh, yes, and WORK on themselves) then they will be forgiven. That’s the conscious stuff.

    But just as they have shown you who they are — cheaters, you have shown them who you are — forgivers. So unconscioiusly or consciously, your abuser is banking on the fact that since you forgave once, you’ll forgive again because they KNOW you were too afraid to lose them because they know that your sense of self is intricately enmeshed with being with the cheater. That’s what they bank on. And the reality is — most of these cheaters, especially the narcissists, if you cheated on them, they’d bounce. Because they absolutely couldn’t take the hit to their ego.

    Like CL, I believe a cheater won’t change until he or she faces serious consequences, and they will never feel consequences (no matter how much transparency they are expected to provide or whatever else the codependents in their lives insist upon in order to feel under control) until they are actually faced with consequences. That’s the only chance they stand to make real change in themselves. The marriage they cheated on is indeed broken beyond repair, but the next relationship they get involved in, if they do the work, may stand a chance.

    • You wrote: I’m not over on some recon site saying: “Listen, you codependents, get yourself out of your marriages NOW!! You deserve better.”

      Actually, I was doing exactly that on SI.

      • Haha. well, I’m not a masochist. And you got banned. They don’t take well to any kind of, um, dissent in the ranks over there.

        I read there, but don’t post. And actually, I read to read the thoughts of exactly 2 people. Solus Sto and UncertainOne. One is a former BS and the other one is a bs/cheater. I think both of them are self reflective and their thoughts interest me.

    • I was attending COSA meetings (people living with sex addicts) for a while on the recommendation of my therapist at the time because we were trying to reconcile.

      I heard horrific stories from people continuing to try to deal with cheaters – sometimes over periods of 30 and 40 years or more.

      I got out when I couldnt stand that thats who I would become if I stayed too, and when I started to feel like I couldnt hold in the “GET OUT FOR GODS SAKES!!!” comments any longer.

  • I love Cl’s outspoken blog. It is what it is and it’s content is refreshing compared to the drivel out there regarding reconciliation that often insists on placing part of the blame on the loyal spouse.

    Cheating takes place in very good marriages with healthy sex lives simply because the cheater is bored, or feels entitled or want variety.

    With that said, there are unhealthy marriages and I can personally understand why someone may cheat, in some marriages, if they feel that divorce would cause too much financial or emotional upheaval. I think it’s wrong, but understandable in some situations.

    I have never cheated, but I had a strong desire for a revenge affair, after DDay. There was plenty of opportunity throughout my marriage and I had always turned it down, not wanting to hurt my spouse for a silly sexual tryst.

    After learning of my ex’s affair, I wanted revenge. I was talked out of it, thankfully.

    Still, had I stupidly gone forward with it, I would not have wanted to be labeled as someone who was at high risk for cheating again.

    I do think that someone might cheat once, even have LTA and than never cheat again. I have met them at in-person support groups.

    As I have mentioned elsewhere, in some cases the betrayed spouse does have a better marriage because many issues that they put up with selflessly are addressed and the BS starts doing more for themselves and with counseling the cheater becomes less selfish and self absorbed.

    Also as I have mentioned, if the cheater is deemed a psychopath an malignant narcissist, or has borderline or histrionic personality disorder………ruuuuuuuuuuuuuun!

    But not all cheaters have personality disorders. Some are simply emotionally immature, selfish and self absorbed.

    Sometimes being caught and seeing the ensuing devastation to their family, may be the catalyst to set them on a less selfish path. It may force them to grow in ways they never would have prior.

    My ex did not cheat again, but he did continue to engage in behaviors I thought were selfish, disrespectful and immature, and being that the trust was broken and those incidents served to simply demolish it completely, I chose to divorce.

    Had my ex behaved, I could see myself reconciling and I would not consider myself pathetic, co-depenendent or weak or afraid of change for doing so.

    I am a tough woman. I grew up in a large family with both younger and older brother. Lots of them. I was always a tomboy.

    I put myself through school. Got married for the first time at 30, after living on my own since 18, and I was self supporting, no help form my parents none, either, after I moved out. They could not afford it.

    I hike, I ski, I have a pilots license, I have skydived, I camped across the US and Europe with a girlfriend, and I am not a weeny.

    Yet, I would have reconciled, if my ex showed proper respect, consistent remorse and some maturity.

    Things are not always black and white.

  • Elle

    I was born in a conservative indian family where divorce is scorned upon. My husband of 8 years was also a serial cheater /sex addict call it what u want.I heard rumours of his infidelity even before we married by an anon text message but of course I thought people envied my happiness and my lifen and besides I didn’t have solid proof.

    He cheated on me I’m sure with 4 different women.again I found messaages of which he denied flat out. But let me tell u I live a life of suspicion constantly. I was stressed and paranoid and I’d look for things and always think what if this all is true. I trusted him.he abused my trut.I invested time into him. Then I convinced myself we were happy or so I thought. We had a baby 3 months ago. Then I read it all and let me tell u -its was this other women that was trying to get away from my husband-screaming at him to “leave her the hell alone” and “how could you be so deceitful?” And “u slept with me while ur poor wife was pregnant? And “u sent. The birthday flowers while ur wife was 7 months pregnant? Your behavior is atrocious and disgusting!!” So u see elle it was my husband who was pursuing her and she was obv just as shocked. I too thort he changed-reformed,reconciled but he was so good at hiding,so good at manipulating that this affair was going on for 6 years.

    So as my father said” u were born into a family of good morals-i never abused ur mother or you in anyway so Never accept abuse from any man”

    I am now divorced and going through the emotions but one thing for sure I sleep a peaceful sleep now.

    • Beautiful post Priya. I’m so glad you’re family is supportive — and you’ve found peace. 🙂

    • Priya:

      In your case, IMO, you did the right thing. Serial cheaters, and cheaters who cheat early in the marriage, are typically not reformable.

      I am glad your parents are on your side and are supportive.

    • Priya
      Your post is beautiful and also illustrates another important reason why a betrayed spouse with children must really think long and hard about putting up with a cheater’s crap. Your father hit the nail on the head when he told you that he never abused you or your mother so you should not stand for it. In my case my father emotionally and verbally abused and neglected my mother until he died. So when I was the victim of this abuse, it made me feel like crap but I put up with it because I was used to seeing my mother put up with it. One thing that has helped me stand up for myself is that I don’t want my sons to act like this and more importantly I don’t want my daughter to ever think its normal to be treated this way. God bless you Priya for the choices you have made and the better life you have for you and your daughter.

  • “What he didn’t intend was for you to find out.”

    BINGO!!! I loved that and agree wholeheartedly with the “I didn’t intend to hurt you, BS.”
    drunk driver is the perfect analogy.

    However, just one point. For me, it was much more difficult to leave than to stay and for all the reasons that you mentioned. I think that a lot of women stay because of fear. They fear that they won’t be able to cope or support themselves or will be lonely or the next loser they encounter will be EVEN worse. The latter being, IMO, one of those total BS things that codies tell themselves to justify staying with a pig. They also worry that he’ll get himself so healthy and the NEXT bimbo will reap the awards. Really, really unlikely. Like getting struck by lightening first unlikely.
    I just know of too, too many situations where it was later discovered that the so-called reformed compulsive sexer never really was reformed at all. He just got better about hiding it. ugh. For me, the endless traumatic discoveries damned well near killed me!
    Sex addicts lie to themselves too.
    I hope that I’m wrong about this woman who believes that what she sees is real. I would love to be proved wrong.

    • I remember going through a phase where I would hear or see how ‘perfect’ everything was with STBX and the final OW and it drove me nuts. I would sit there thinking ‘well, ok, he screwed around for years in hopes of finding the right one and now he has’.

      But then I started to see that he does everything with her that he did with me…and I mean everything. It’s like Single White Female and it’s kind of creepy. Even the stuff they do with the kids is exactly what we did as a family, except she’s slotted into my place and apparently isn’t much fun…just sits and smiles and does nothing.

      Then I started to hear he was in touch with at least one former fling…and that’s when I started to feel sorry for the OW. He’s convinced her she’s the greatest thing to walk God’s green earth and that she gives him what I wasn’t able and the reality is that while he may not yet be screwing around on her he is, from all reports, unhappy and is grooming his next side piece/s.

      And you know why it plays out like this? Because serial cheaters don’t think there is anything wrong with them. They always blame the spouse, their job, the economy, the weather…there is always an excuse as to WHY they just HAVE to cheat. So they never sort themselves out and will always go back to their default setting: cheating when something triggers that ugly hole inside of them.

  • I tried reconciliation. There was remorse, tears, long walks, lots of hugs, genuine sorrow.
    But it wasn’t real.

    The pain from been gas lighted or thinking that we can recover this mess is beyond comprehension. For some bazaar reason I was incredibly calm pre d day, investigating pre d day and the day itself and months after.
    I fell apart when I realised through obtaining solid proof that she was still addicted to cake eating. That pain is something that will live with me forever.
    Fear of reconciling or fear of leaving. Fear of making the right choices. Fear of actually being able to live.
    I truly believe the reconcilors whom I respect for their courage haven’t felt the loss of the relationship- only the FEAR of losing the relationship. Two entirely different feelings.
    My therapist whom I only meet after reconciation failed has said you must completely detach. In years to come who knows but reconciation is possible. I believe the key here is that you take the old relationship and bury the bastard so it never rises again and if you reconcile in any manner in the future it may as well be a new relationship.
    The complete and utter detachment seems to be the only healthy way forward for us chumps.
    After that who knows.

    • Baci, you bring a good point up. Detach and bury it. And in the future… who knows?

      Yes. If one must reconcile, then that would be the way to go about it. But the thing is, once the detachment occurs, I would be a dozen donuts that the betrayed spouse would not go back to the cheater again. Once you break the pattern you feel the peace and you don’t want to go back into the mess.

      • I thought I would go back at one point. I was an absolute wreck and thought the only thing that could help me put myself back together was STBX. Thank God he was already enmeshed with the final OW and she had gotten dumped by her partner so they were playing happy times. Otherwise I would have cracked.

        Now? NOt a chance would I go near him with someone else’s vagina. Not in a million years. He sniffs around every so often but it barely registers with me these days. I have detached and although I’m amused from a distance at how it’s playing out for him it’s like watching someone else’s television from across the street. Not engaged in any real way, just mild disinterest.

      • Kristina:

        I agree.

        The same psychologist I mentioned who wrote the book in which she states most cheater regret divorcing after about two years, also stated that by that time, the loyal spouse will never take them back.

        They are too much at peace with being on their own or have found another relationship, by then.

        At this point, since my divorce was finalized, I could never see myself taking my ex back.

    • I did the false reconciliation for 7 or 8 years, having no clue that the affair I discovered not only went on longer than I knew but that he continued to cheat and had cheated before that. It was horrible to realise that while he was shouting to the world that I was the greatest wife on earth he was chasing sidepieces.

      He even said he never would have divorced me or left the marriage but I went to ‘nuts’ and told everyone what he had done that he couldn’t go back. So even the divorce is somehow my fault.

      These people really are all kinds of fucked up.

    • Baci:

      I agree. If there is any hope for reconciliation, the cheater must stop cheating immediately. If not, leave. No one should be in competition for a spouse. It’s over if they continue to cheat after dday, IMO.

      If they do stop, then, you are right, Baci, the old marriage has to be buried and left behind and a new marriage is the only way to go forward.

      At in-person support groups the successful reconcilers have confirmed this. In this way the loyal spouse will finally stop being the giver in the relationship and the cheater if truly remorseful cheater will stop being a taker.

      I have talked to loyal spouses who now say they are actually happier in the relationship after reconciling because now they no longer are the saver, or the caregiver or the nurturer. They finally spend more money on themselves and do more things for themselves and the cheater also pulls their weight more in the relationship.

      These successful reconcilers said the spouses selfish cheating taught them to do more for themselves and the cheaters fear of losing everything forced them, when caught, to see their selfishness and change. The marriage now becomes finally more equal.

      I read a book written years ago by a psychologist who said that most cheaters really regret divorcing a spouse for an OW after about two years. At the time the book was written most of her clients were men, but I suspect the same dynamic applies to woman cheaters.

      I think some cheater are tempted by cake, but after awhile the cake takes bitter and they realize that cake eating is all that wonderful, in the real world.

  • Love all you guys’ comments as always!

    I’ve read tons and tons of qualitative studies with Wife Beaters in prison. Pretty much all of whom said that the second she forgave them once, they knew they could get away with it again.

    I’m not aware of any similar studies in the arena of cheaters, but I’d be interested to see them if they do exist.

    I think the percentage of cheaters who reform are in the minority – like >1% minority.

    And what I would say to the men/women who suspect their partner could/would possibly be faithful to the next person? I’ve met many men on the dating circuit in the last few years. In a short amount of time, every single one has (unintentionally) revealed that it’s a pattern. It’s not a one off. And when we’ve had a disagreement in our nascent “relationship” … you can see the timestamp on the dating site where they logged back in straight away…looking again.

    Tracy – I found the first thing I disagree with you on!!! (didnt think that would happen lol) For right now at least – I *do* believe once a cheater, always a cheater.

    In any event I’m not going to risk it – once I find out a man has cheated in the past, I won’t be giving him the chance to do it again.

    • FG — you’re having that same dating experience that I am!! I cannot believe how many guys go down that path and say: “well, I did have an affair…” I mean, it is good they tell off the bat (as CL pointed out yesterday) but what the hell is going on in the world? Is everyone cheating? Sheesh! It makes me think that the stats surrounding divorce (that a majority of divorces are NOT as a result of infidelity) are totally wrong somehow.

      With respect to the beaters, I would assume it is the same with cheaters. Once they know you’re number, they won’t forget it. And if your number is 1-800-Iforgiveyou, then they are going to keep ringing that line until you disconnect it.

      • Lol – my new number is 1 800 eat sh*t 😉

        Yep… huge numbers telling me what beeyatchs their exes were… but thanks to the experience with my ex, I am now able to see through the BS pretty quickly now.

        It’s like some of the men over on HuffPo – they all seem to think if they had a reason, it’s ok. SMH.

        • Ugh, the crew over at HuffPo. They really don’t like women much at all, do they.

          • What’s odd to me about that group, a couple of posters in particular, is how no matter what they always chime in with: “But women are bastards too….”

            I mean, of COURSE we are. They obviously feel marginalized and that things are not gender neutral over there, and as a feminist I aboslutely agree that things should be equal, but they definitely are a special sort gender police. But good for them, really. Equal is best.

            • Kristina,

              I agree, “equality” is best. I just find it hillarious that when one spouse runs up thousands of dollars of debt on their affair partners (plural!), the court says half that debt belongs to the faithful spouse, because the lying cheating bastard signed a statement that the credit cards would be used “to the benefit of the marriage” (which all lenders in no-fault states require both spouses to sign in order to get credit).

              And then the court has the cajones to pat each other on the back, and talk about how ‘justice was done’.

              They might as well have been my mistresses. I was the one paying for the bitches.

              Sorry–the joke of justice & equality is still a sore spot for me! 🙂

            • I think this may stem from the fact that many of the posts and publications just seem to use the male pronoun almost exclusively when dealing with cheating, physical abuse, menatl abuse etc.
              I see a lot of guys who have had their cheating wife throw the abusive, inattentive, emotionally neglectful justification at them and they are truly doubting themselves.
              So, when you get on a support site with other betrayed spouses and start seeing comments about men as abusers with no acknowledgement that women abuse just as frequently, it feeds into the doubt the cheater has already planted.
              I heard from my son that his mom, my Xw who cheated on me serially for years, alleged that i was physically abusive and verbally abusive. I never laid a hand on her and the only time I fired back at her verbally was when she was once when she was really provoking me.

      • “And if your number is 1-800-Iforgiveyou, then they are going to keep ringing that line until you disconnect it.”

        Kristina – this is brilliant. I am printing this out and carrying it with me so I stay strong now and in the future. Definitely changing my number to something like FG’s. LOL.

      • from Kristina’s postKristina March 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm: FG — you’re having that same dating experience that I am!! I cannot believe how many guys go down that path and say: “well, I did have an affair…” I mean, it is good they tell off the bat (as CL pointed out yesterday) but what the hell is going on in the world? Is everyone cheating? Sheesh! It makes me think that the stats surrounding divorce (that a majority of divorces are NOT as a result of infidelity) are totally wrong somehow.


        Based on recent studied cheating has dramatically risen over the past ten years and the internet and cell phones are being blamed for making it so easy for cheaters to stay connected and to form relationships and make last minute plans to meet, when they have a few hours free of the loyal spouse.

        I think the loyal spouse crew is a very small percentage, and one reason I am not really even bothering to date right now or maybe ever.

        Cheating seems to be encouraged by our society and when someone cheats, everyone looks away with a wink and nod and there is really very little consequence for the cheater. They are not shamed, they are not shunned. Everyone just shrugs it off, or worse yet, they blame the marriage or the loyal spouse.

        You might want to talk to Arnold about divorce almost always being routed in cheating. Arnold is an attorney and he has mentioned that many times.

        I think the divorce might happen 20 years after cheating but it’s almost always at the root.

        A marriage can survive many ups and downs, but once a cheater breaks the marriage vows, the loyal spouse may forgive but will rarely forget.

        Then when things in the marriage get too bumpy instead of sticking around to try to smooth things out, again, as they always have in the past, this time, after infidelity, they just decide enough is enough and bail.

  • Elle, you say “Abuse implies intent to hurt.”
    I could not disagree more. I have lived with abusers too much of my life. They don’t really intend to hurt, they just don’t care enough not to hurt. They feel angry, they hit. They want sex, they fuck. They like to be in control, they manipulate and bully. It is all about what they want, what they need, what they feel. Sure there are some abusers who actually get off on the pain they cause, but most of them just DON’T CARE.

    I read so many folks here who say all the regret is about how the cheater has suffered. I have to listen carefully when I hear statements of remorse. It sounds like they are sorry, but really they are sorry for themselves, but that’s the only person they cared about in the first place.

    • “I have to listen carefully when I hear statements of remorse. It sounds like they are sorry, but really they are sorry for themselves, but that’s the only person they cared about in the first place.”

      QS, yes. And, moreover, people who wish to reconcile do have big hearts and want so desperately for things to get back to normal, that often they project what they wish to hear into the situation. So an outsider would hear the same exact words coming from the mouth of a cheater and would say: ‘that’s not remorse, that’s someone wallowing in self-pity’ but someone who wants to believe the cheater will say: “He gets it!!” (or she gets it, to be gender neutral)

      The cheating husband of a person I know sent the betrayed spouse of his affair partner an apology letter at the bequest of his betrayed wife. In the letter, among other things, he said: “I have always loved my wife, but she loves me more than I love her, and that makes her a better person.” the betrayed wife thought that was just the most romantic thing she’d ever heard the guy say and that it showed that he really got what he’d done. But all that really did was appeal to her codependent personality, speaking as it was (at least superficially) to her worth for being so very very loving. Far more loving than he.

      She thought it was true remorse, all the rest of us were like: “wow… first of all, do you really want to be married to someone who admits that you have always loved him more than he loves you?” That’s a set up for absolute disaster, because he’s now going to say: “well, I could never be good enough or love you enough and so I don’t deserve you, so I can’t succeed. So now I’ll cheat to make myself feel better and I’ll cheat with someone who is more like me, more at my level.”

      It is not good to be on someone’s pedastal.

    • That’s EXACTLY it QS — “They just don’t care enough not to hurt.”

      That’s the benign sort. My toxic ex, I don’t think he “intended” to hurt me with his cheating, but he sure as hell got ego kibbles from my pain. It registered to him that he *mattered*. It gave him centrality. He so wanted me to do the dance.

      They just don’t give a shit. And I’ve never known a cheater to admit that. It’s always the bullshit of “Oh, I loved you all the time I was cheating on you!”

      I also agree about the “remorse” — they can’t sustain it before it devolves into artful self pity.

    • You are absolutely spot on, quicksilver. I’ve seen this with STBX. He really doesn’t care, other than how it’s impacted him. It’s like there’s a major empathy strand missing from their DNA. I’ve seenSTBX be absolutely cold and callous to the kids, refusing to deal with their pain and anger…literally running away from it…and it made me want to beat him around the head because it really scarred the kids.

      So yes, it is abuse, no question in my mind.

  • I am relatively new to this forum, and as others have said, it has been a real lifesaver for me. So many insightful posts and comments. Has really helped me understand and cope with the recent discovery and now divorce of my serial-cheating, ex-husband.

    Just want to add one more observation to the many good points people have made: Ive seen a few people say that a cheater is not hurting the BS, at least during the time that the BS is still in the dark about the cheating. Ummm, sorry, but am going to have to call bullshit on that one. Everyone, even a cheater, knows that cheating damages marriages and families. As long as cheating is occurring, the cheater is actively engaged in hurting the BS and their marriage. I don’t know about you, but if a stranger (let alone my spouse) was actively engaged in destroying my marriage — even if it were unintentional (though of course we all know that cheating is intentional) — I’d be pretty damned pissed off and hurt.

    As far as the knowing/ not knowing, it seems a lot like the stories on the news about teenagers who create fake FaceBook profiles to go after kids they don’t like. The predator teen secretly tries to destroy the other kid’s life, while all the time posing as their friend. Just because the victim doesnt know whats going on, that doesnt make the behavior any less abusive. And when it gets discovered? “Hey, it was just for fun,” the predator teen says. “Didn’t mean to make the kid suicidal.”

    Yeah, well, cheating is a pretty despicable and voluntary act. It has clear victims who experience enormous pain and suffering. Nothing short of criminal, if you ask me…

    • Sunshine – The time when I was still in the dark about his cheating caused some of the worst harm to me. He was treating me like dog dung on the bottom of his shoe, yet I had no clue what was going on. I have told many people that when I finally found definitive proof of his affair, my first emotion was relief, at least briefly. He almost had me convinced I was crazy. He knew I was confused, hurt and scared by his behavior yet he chose to do it anyway. That sounds pretty intentional to me.

      • I agree, i didn’t know he was cheating but i was being lied to and gas lighted and he was telling everyone who would listen things that weren’t true about me and I thought I was really the crazy when. When I found out about the affair at least it made sense.

    • Great response, Sunshine, and welcome.

      I agree its not always roses when you don’t realize what’s going on behind your back. At the time things are happening in the family, I was clueless, but he acted increasingly aggressive and violent with us. Looking back, I think through guilt, or the strain of keeping up the double life, or we weren’t as “kibble-friendly” as the hookers who told him what a stud he was for their $400 -$500 fee, he ramped up his anger issues.

      I remember vividly a time when we were relaxing in the living room, and he was watching football. My 10 year old son was sick with Strep throat, and had a 102 degree fever and was miserable and crying and whiney. XH started screaming and yelling at my son, and actually got up and mimed that he was going to slug him if he didn’t shut up. I was so horrified that I took my sick son and my daughter out of the house and left for the afternoon. Poor kid. I was seriously considering divorcing him then, but he was all contrite later, and he’s never physically gone after them before, so I didn’t know what to make of it.

      Financially, he hurt our family as well. He spent $2K a month on hookers in the year before I found out, and had been using them for 10 years. He easily spent $80K +++ on his addiction, and yes, that hurt us financially big time. Could have paid for the kids’ college educations. And time….he bought hookers in 2-hour appointments several times a month, not to mention the hours a day he spent texting hookers, reviewing them online, and watching online porn late at night and early in the morning. All those hours spent disconnected from us, his family. At one point we had our house on the market so we could move closer to his work so we could spend more time with him. Thank god the house didn’t sell. The reason he wanted to move was that it would have put him a half-hour closer to his two favorite hookers.

      Once D-day hit, and after months of indecision and fear, looking back at the increasing aggressiveness and anger really helped me decide he wasn’t worth it.

  • You know what’s pathetic?

    How we treat infidelity in our society.

    We romanticize it in the media– isn’t it sexy and exciting!?!?!

    BSs are expected to hide it– it’s terribly shameful and CLEARLY reflects back on how awful we were as partners.

    The remorseless WSs don’t receive any other punishment– many BSs end up paying them alimony/CS, and they spend money on the A that they are not required to pay back. This is only the first of things on the list of what they get away with (and I mean in a legal sense… I’m not even addressing morality and decency here).

    BSs are the ones who are saddled with guilt when they rightfully want out– YOU are deserting your marriage, BS. What about the children? Aren’t you supposed to stay for the children, you selfish thing!??!

    The only thing we should be ashamed of is how there is no longer any shame about cheating. Oh, there might be little pockets of it here and there, but I see more “look the other way/don’t get involved if you see cheating/it’s no big deal– it’s not like the cheater murdered someone/stay in the marriage and try to right things despite the fact that it’s a soul sucking experience” than anything else.

    *insert vomiting smiley icon*

    • Moving on:

      Excellent post. The biggest problem, IMO, and the reason why cheating is on the rise by both men and women is because there are no consequences.

      In some states, woman can boff an entire football team and still force the husband to give her half and pay alimony, and she still will get full custody of the kids. Some states will even force a man to pay alimony for a child that he later learns is not biologically his because the wife cheated. How fair is that?

      Also, if a man spends 50 thousand in cash on his OW, there is really no way for the wife to prove this or recover those funds.

      Someone mentioned that a cheater should after divorce end up with nothing but the cloths on their back. The house and all the savings and other assets should go to the loyal spouse. I agree with this.

      The reason I agree, is because the cheater ALWAYS had the option to get a quick and easy divorce prior to cheating.

      • I really think that we should do away with “no-fault” divorce. I think laws should be that if you cheated, then you should take a financial hit. Maybe just maybe, it would deter some of this disgusting behavior. The OW in my case cheated on her husband with mine, but when her husband divorced her she got the house, joint custody and from what I can see alimony since she doesn’t work and still has a nanny/housekeeper.

        • Pearl:

          The same my ex’s serial cheating OW. She got half, she got the house, she got three years alimony and she still has a housekeeper and a nanny.

          How sick is that.

          Her husband wanted to fight this, but his attorney told him he would just waste his money and she would still end up with her ill gotten gains

          Also, some treacherous women make a living off of marrying and divorcing guys just to get half or the alimony.

          Yes, this needs to change. I do think it would be a huge deterrent.

          • I agree– I didn’t get a 50/50 split when we divided the assets, but my lawyer told me that I’d probably lose anything additional that I’d gain in lawyers’ fees if I fought it, and she basically told me that I was getting a pretty decent deal (and it is compared with others) and that I should take the money and run.

            What should have happened, though, is that he should have gotten very little. Instead, he takes a minor financial hit but otherwise comes out of this smelling like a rose. He got rid of his bad wifey, kept his sidepiece (whom is he now integrating into his kids’ lives during visitation), and got more than half of the marital assets. Why wouldn’t a person cheat if this is what happens? They get to screw the AP and screw over the BS, so they get the best of both worlds. I know I’m better off without him, but I would have loved to have seen my STBX pay. Hitting him in the pocketbook would have been a huge blow to him, and it’s the least he deserves.

          • yeah, this type of thing is why I can sometimes see some of the point of some of those guys that are posting on the Huffington Post. Although some of them seem to be using divorce laws as an excuse to justify why they have affairs instead of get divorced. God forbid they suffer some kind of financial hit!! Let’s just make the wife miserable instead.

            There were a couple times when I told my husband when he would complain about the money stuff that he should just be happy he got a chance to screw up so completely and cause the divorce. Because apparently I could have just woken up one morning and decided I wanted a divorce and I would have still gotten the same amount of money.

        • I may be wrong, but I think that you can still sue for infidelity, but you have to be able to prove it, its exceedingly expensive, very, very time consuming, and emotionally draining, and you might lose and lose big. In theory, however, I agree with you completely.

      • Unfortunately, Cheaters find it much more exciting to be sneaking around, this is why they don’t get out first by divorcing. The affair partner knowing that their new piece is married allows the relationship to evolve very quickly since the married person thinks that this side piece knows what they are getting into. Then they get the pick me dance on the OW/OM side to feed their ego/kibble deficit. IMHO especially a man dives in much more quickly than if they were single, where they would have to worry about proper dates, or the woman wanting more than a screw. This is the perfect set up (an affair) for the two to dive right into passion without regard for sending the wrong message.
        (I told her I am married, it’s not my fault she got so attached).

  • CL is right when she says cheating is about entitlement. I read the posts everyday. I am in the middle of just trying to figure out what to do but CL and all who comment here help keep my persective. In my case I have come to see it wasn’t so much a sexual affair but ego stroking ( long distance via Facebook and secret cell phone) I also seems to have come to a grinding halt ( he deactivated his Facebook page and the cell phone seems to be a thing of the past) Yet he feels he is entitled to slip back into our everyday life and I am too angry to just let it happen. He refuses to talk about it and when I get mad he says I’m the witch. IF there is reconcilinating in the future there is going to be some BIG changes. I doubt he can change and so sadly this marriage will be over. Reconciliation is not pathetic it is near impossible.

    • Sorry, but the truth is that if he just wants to “slip back” into everyday life without being held accountable for his cheating, reconciliation isn’t just near impossible – it IS impossible. Most of us have been there and trust me, we understand. R isn’t for the faint at heart 🙂

    • I also agree on the entitlement issue. I think my husband doesn’t want to be married to me because we don’t have “passion” and he “doesn’t love me the way a man should love a wife” (hahahahahahahahahahahah yes now i can laugh at this). I think he would stay married if i continued to look the other way and let him do what he wanted. ANd while I did eat the sh*t sandwich I also didn’t let him get away with doing anything he wanted and expected some work on his part. I totally think he thought he was above having to do any work to save the marriage. F*cker.

      • Janet, please don’t let him try to minimize his cheating just because it was done on FB and his cell phone. He will probably try that, if he hasn’t already. Have you read, Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass? It explains emotional affairs and the terrible damage they can do to a marriage. My stbx had several in addition to the main event. Take care of yourself because it sounds like you are at the beginning of this horrid journey.

        • Thanks for the reading reccomendation. It struck a nerve. When confronted about the excessive text messages on our bill he said “She’s just a friend. Can’t I have a friend?”

          • Ummm….NO!! He can’t have that kind of friend. Period!! It is totally unacceptable and you are not “a witch” for standing firm on this.

            • It’s funny because he would even get upset if I got phone calls from men regarding church business.

              • Not surprising. Cheaters tend to be overly jealous as a rule. That’s because so many of them are disordered. It all goes back to their sense of entitlement. Janet, hang in there. Right now, your life is upside down. But I promise you, if you stay strong, it will get better. Keep checking in here. We’ll listen and CL will give you a dose of reality.

            • “Not surprising. Cheaters tend to be overly jealous as a rule. That’s because so many of them are disordered”.

              Interpret this gem from my STBXWW, from about 3-4 mo post D-day before NC:

              “I hope you find a really good looking lady someday; just not as pretty as me.”

              So you want me happy, just not too happy, and this new women better be homely or you would be jealous???

              Disordered indeed, and her insane levels of fear of loosing her looks/getting “old” is so evident… I told her all the time how hot, young, and sexy she looked, great body, and meant it all; guess she had to hear others fill her ears and ego with softly spoken magic spells.

              • Jay, your wife sounds a lot like my stbx. Totally narcissistic. Everything was always about his looks and (fading) youth. Did you ever see the movie Zoolander? I can’t say it was a great movie, but it is one of my favorite laugh-out-loud flicks. Dumb, but funny. There is a line in that movie that still cracks me up to this day.

                (Derek Zoolander questioning the meaning of life:)
                “There has to be more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously good-looking?”

                It’s absolutely hilarious in the movie, but not so funny when applied to people we know in real life like my WH and your WW. My God, I “almost” feel sorry for them.

              • And Jay, please don’t think I am making light of your post. I just need to laugh sometimes. I tired of being sad 🙂

            • oops. put that in the wrong place. It should’ve been several comments higher up. :]

      • Pearl,
        EAs are worse than PAs (though both are bad, one is worse). Well, if you take animal instincts, sex is a need and can be comparable to other needs. Human societies acknowledged it and in their own ways provided for it throughout human history in various ways (some ways may be deplorable in modern times, albeit they did serve their purpose in those times). Marriage fulfills this need but goes far far beyond that. A monogamous marriage is based on “EXCLUSIVITY”. Now this is as important to believers of monogamous marriage as “reciprocity” in any other (CL is very particular about reciprocity).
        Now what does “exclusivity” bring in into marriage? A monogamous marriage is about growing old together, where everything after marriage is shared: kids, goals of life, family relationships, other relationships like friends, colleagues, finances, reputation and so much more. The contracting parties therefore, need that assurance from each other that since they are sharing their whole lives with the other, they needn’t be speculative and that they can fully trust each other. EAs disrupts things at this level. So, exclusivity in matters of heart is important for survival of such a relationship. An open marriage or live-in relationships, won’t put in as much for sharing. Their costs of sharing is calculated and so devastation from breakage of trust is that much less.
        PAs may not be acceptable to people who are romantically involved with each other. period. It is based on animal instincts of “mating and mating rights”. It is a different level of trust, one that may be broken by a surge of testosterone or chemical imbalances too. I am not negating its impact on involved betrayed partners in any way, but I am just distinguishing its levels. PAs can exist without EAs but opposite is not true. An EA necessarily transforms to PA, given a chance (a meeting place, good for sex).
        EA classifies the offender on a basic different level. Kindly, refer George Simon on CL’s page (you can refer to his book too). Offenders of EA lie in that zone that author Simon talks about. It is about manipulation of a much higher degree. They can violate trust at a very basic (soul or core) level. Such people are dangerous to any relationships and abuse all their contracts viz. as employee and employers, as friends and colleagues, as parents and children and as whatsoever. So, a person assuming monogamous relationship with such as person should become careful. It is a bad business deal. Remove your shared assets. Take a control, a charge of things that matter to you before it is too late!

        • Pearl & Janet,
          Sorry I intended to address Janet in the last post and inadvertently wrote pearl there!

        • Given the opportunity, an EA will always turn into a PA which then leads to an LTA. These types of affairs will go on indefinitely until the affair couple either “breaks up” or is caught. It really is that simple. That’s why the “we’re just friends” excuse is complete bullshit. If that was the truth, why go to such great lengths to hide your friendship? Because, they are not just friends, they are dating while married.

          Anudi – this was my situation, and yes the emotional involvement between my stbx and his OW was the most painful thing for me. But I am always leery to say that one type of affair is worse than another. All betrayal hurts. I can’t imagine the pain of being married to someone who was willing to jeopardize my health, marriage and family for casual sex. Ouch.

          Their motives may be different, but the damage is the same.

          • Sher:

            I agree both EAs and PAs are equally bad and painful to the loyal spouse.

            I read the EA/PA is the worst and the most difficult to get over.

            As for an EA though, I do think there has to be a sexual component to the relationship before it can be classified as an EA rather than a friendship.

            The hiding part to, needs clarification. For example is the person hiding the friendship because the spouse is the overly jealous type? If the spouse is than I think it might be understandable that a spouse may hide an opposite sex friendship.

            However, in my case, I was very liberals about my husband having same sex friends. So, the fact that my exe’s affair started as hidden EA would have been a huge red flag had I known about it.

            My ex had an EA/Pa, and reading the letters they wrote to each other that were sent to me anonymously was very painful. It obviously did not start out as just a friendship. Sex was on their minds from the first meeting, based on the emails.

            • Sher:

              Oops sorry meant to say I was very liberal about my ex having OPPOSITE sex friends.

              BTW: I now realize how stupid that was and would never allow that again in any relationship going forward. It’s a boundary issue, IMO.

              • I was also very trusting and never had a problem with my stbx having female friends. And he had plenty! That should have been a huge red flag right there. But, it was the “friend” I didn’t know about that was the problem. When I read their emails, it was obvious that their friendship was sexual from the beginning, therefore I consider it an affair from day one. It was never just a friendship, and they both knew it.

                I admit, in the future I would run from any man who had too many opposite-sex friends. Maybe that’s not fair, but I don’t think I have it in me to ever be so naively trusting again.

              • Hi Sara8 and Sher,

                Your story is my story too. I endured all kinds in good numbers: EAs, PAs and LTAs. The first time it happened was around 5 years back. My spouse tried to convince me with all remorse (he lost weight and went into clinical depression for around 6months after discovery: How could I not fall for this “remorse” thing?) that it was not physical. Just some “bad habit” of internet chatting as I was a working lady (not very common in my Indian culture) and was not giving him enough attention (I was taking care of the household, child, finances and yes his brothers stayed with me and I took care of a lot of things on my in-laws side, yet).

                What I was pissed off, even then, was that I was broken that he was sharing too personal things with strangers (at least strangers to me). These were outright violation of my dignity. I told him again and again that if he thought that there was a problem of “connection issues” and if that required me to slow-down or quit my career, I am willing to do that than share my intimate details with other gals (at my life’s cost: yes I contemplated my death, only the responsibility of my young son kept me sane at that time). He saw me dieing within every day after the first revelation for around a year after which I decided to keep things buried and did all to keep my husband satisfied enough that he didn’t cheat.

                While I was doing this unicorn of R, I was put on a pedestal. Yes, he told to all around me (he took care that news reaches me through them what he was saying about me to public in general) that I was the Goddess, who saved him from destruction and was the reason behind his spectacular rise in career (which is true as I did earn while he studied to rise the ladders of career). I was too happy. I thought of “rekindle”…or whatever and thought that EAs was not so bad after all, it made us come closer (I had seen him in sexual chats with atleast 3 affair partners then, whom he professed he never met and all my spying confirmed this fact then).

                So, down the memory lane 3 years. Here I was with the discovery of EAs, PAs and LTAs (as long as my marriage of 12 years) with numerous partners! The second time was just….you can understand.

                Now when I look back and also discovered the ways these guys operate, it is very clear in my head. I believe in toto about CL’s Dr. Simon’s Page. These are “character disturbed” people not sex addicts or psychologically ill (bipolar, BPD, NPD, Histrionic…nothing). My ex has been a manipulation king! He would spend hours on phone contemplating the fall of his immediate boss with their super-boss and other colleagues. He spent a lot of time with his “new found friends” in the management of the building, in which we resided and there was a lot of politics, snooping in other people’s affairs and dirty games there. He and his brothers were directly involved in planning and plotting the escape of a “runaway bride” in his extended family and then held his uncle responsible for bad grooming of their daughter…so much manipulation! And therefore, my ex never had enough time for his only son (real work and no manipulation could suffice here).

                Compare this with PAs of those who go to prostitutes and then continue on with their lives (as narcissist as this can be but no manipulation there!). These guys are not manipulating you. Yes, this is ugly. Your health and well-being is at stake. But your soul hasn’t been transgressed, as much. But, people capable of EAs (sex discussion is necessary component as all of us here understand and live in an open environment about friendship with opposite gender), are capable of violating just anything. This potential (to do anything under the sun) or “character disturbance” is what is more threatening, more painful. So, I distinguish. I have undergone both and more. But the transgression of my heart, my soul, my core matters to me much more than that to my body/health.
                This is the point I wished to make.

              • yep, I was trusting in that way too. Like I knew my husband’s assistant really thought of him as a friend (since she would always tell him about her white trash drama), but I guess I didn’t really think he felt the same. He would tell me the stuff she said and it wasn’t like it seemed like he was hiding anything. I wasn’t suspicious or worried or jealous. But she was clearly crossing boundaries with the stuff she would tell him. But then I heard other stories from other people at his work that weren’t appropriate either. So I just thought it was his weird workplace… that maybe small businesses were more lax than the places I’d worked. Anyway, it never occurred to me he would cross boundaries back… I’d ask him sometimes and he would always tell me he never told her stuff like that. And I actually believe he didn’t for a long time.

                Eventually there were a few things where he seemed to treat her in a way that a normal friend/coworker shouldn’t (like just do a few personal favors and stuff) and I would say something and he would act like I was just crazy/mean. And he did stop complaining about her as much as he used to. I only really became jealous during what turned out to be their affair. Because that’s when I knew they were talking outside of work. Guess my jealousy was a little too late 😉 But I really do believe people need to trust their gut on these things.

                I do worry about having trust issues in the future… because you can’t prevent them from ever interacting with someone of the opposite sex. But I definitely will have a discussion about boundaries and make sure we’re on the same page. And I won’t be made to feel crazy/mean again. If I have a problem like that and he won’t alter his relationship and understand where I’m coming from then I’m outta there. I don’t need to become paranoid jealous or go through this shit again.

                Question: what do you do if you know another woman/man is crossing boundaries and your SO isn’t responding (yet)? Like would you actually ask your SO to make a significant change (like change jobs or something) just to get out of that persons presence?

      • The Cheater has someone either way…nice position to be in right?
        You and OM/OW are the potential losers in this game, and they know it.
        Agreed it is entitlement.

  • CL,

    I am going to “share” away on this one.

    Couple of people who follow my blog, that I really hope will read this one.

    Thanks for tackling a subject fraught with fragile emotions on both sides.

    • Anudi, I have read many of your posts and 2 things are very obvious to me. One…you are a very good person. Two…you were screwed royally by your husband. He was such a player and a shark. Now he has lost you. What an idiot! As far as the debate on EA vs. PA. Well, that’s subjective. Personally, I will never be able to accept my stbx’s emotional involvement with another women. Period. It hurt my soul. All I was trying to say, is that others have experienced hurt that isn’t exactly like ours, yet must be just as devastating. Stay strong!!

      • Hi Sher,
        You’ve put it together so succinctly! Thanks 🙂
        And yes, we should refrain from judgement on others’ hurt.

  • I have an off topic question that for me is moot at this point. But I know many of us have been told that the lack of “passion” and being boring was what led their spouses to their affair. I remember being on a host of reconciliation cites that talked about “rekindling” and “reconnecting.” Affairs aside, does anyone think that is possible or is that another unicorn. I always (and of course this goes back to why my husband was “forced” to cheat on me) thought that love and relationships grew and changed over time. And that the excitement and “passion” faded as a consequence of time and life but that the trade offs were a shared history, affection and friendship along with sex (just not porn star sex).
    I was just at therapy and I had to admit to my therapist that I am so fucked up right now I have a complete aversion to dating, men or even picturing a new relationship.

    • I always like a quote from the old sitcom “Designing Woman” “I don’t see what the big deal is about sex. It just messes your hair up!”

    • I think any person who thinks a long-term loving relationship is fireworks and sparks every single day is delusional. Love evolves and grows. There is the “honeymoon” period at the beginning, when things are exciting and new, but then it settles into what is supposed to be deeper and more meaningful. I think we just need to find people who are realistic and look for the real kind of love as we do, rather than fantasy.

      • Dawn:

        I agree and IMO, cheater types simply always have an UNREALISTIC expectation of what marriage is like.

        For my part, I always knew the fireworks would die down, but for me, a good marriage was about more than just sex. Oh well.

        • do they? or is that just yet another excuse? And a way to blame their SO.

          I think they do value the marriage and what it gives them. But they also think they deserve those new “sparks” as well. Oh, but their marital partner doesn’t apparently.

          Hence, cake-eaters.

      • Yes, STBX said he needed sparks and butterflies…well he got them with a very young woman who appears to bore the tits off him these days. Meanwhile, I’m flirting with a number of age appropriate men and feeling not sparks and butterflies but a great sense of fun and possibility. But I’m a sensible girl and know what I want.

        • only sparks and butterflies mean a lot of empty short term relationships. And if he can be happy with only that for the rest of his life then good luck to him.

      • It is so much more about what happens outside the bedroom. A compliment,help without asking for it, time spent asking how my day went and then listening to me. Treat me like a servent all day, ignore me and then expect me to be all hot and ready for you when you come to bed (without brushing your teeth) well there are no butterflies there.

        • Amen, Janet! There’s my marriage during its last few years. I was also expected to be a sex goddess at the end of a long, difficult day, but you know what? He didn’t do much to make me feel sexy, either in or out of bed, and I certainly communicated what I liked. So, we fell into that same pattern, but it was my fault, of course. He thought that if he did the dishes after dinner that I’d go wild with longing. Right. Takes a wee bit more effort than that, you dope!

          • Well at least he did the dishes LOL. Mine can (if moved to do so) carry them to the sink but not a few steps further to the dishwasher. You know after 23 years there aren’t too many tricks left from either partner. I really thought it was all about comfort and love. We won’t even mention ED.

        • Yes yes yes. My scenario was eerily similar – picture a morbidly obese balding man with fungus and farting issues. Comes home from work, yells at the kids, eats his dinner, plops on the couch with his laptop in his lap and watches tv and plays online poker (aka, online porn) until bedtime, then comes over to me, kisses me on the neck and says, “Let’s have sex”.

          Ummm….yeah, nice sweet nothings, there. Rev yourself up with porn, but then if I don’t spread my legs as soon as you snap your fingers, I’m “not fulfilling his needs” and he gives himself permission to use hookers and turn himself into a professional pervert. But yes, it’s all our fault.

    • You and I both, Pearl. Seems like there are plenty of single guys around, but every one I meet seems just a bit too polished. Hmmm, I think, he must have had lots of practice picking up women to have become so smooth, which of course makes me think of my ex, and then I get sick to my stomach. OK, probably all these guys aren’t cheaters, but damn if the whole experience hasn’t made me want to swear off relationships and marriage forever. My ex was ready to marry the OW before we were even divorced, but the last thing I want is to invite another @$$hole into my life to screw up my heart and my kids…

    • I so agree.

      My passion was I loved that we had our own shorthand developed over 22 years, a comfortable synchronicity born of kind, devoted familiarity, the secure warm reassurance of knowing I had her back and her mine, planning what our future would be when our daughter moved on and the excitement of visiting her as loving parents, making love with her again with just us in the home like newlyweds; Hell, even the simple act of me getting up a half hour or so before her on a cold weekend morning, firing up the heaters, having the coffee ready, savoring the anticipation of first hearing her walk down the hall, then meeting her beautiful eyes, and equally beautiful smile… The thrill and passion never left me, and I NEVER wanted for another. I never felt there were tradeoffs; simply change, growth, and the ability to look back with love and a feeling of satisfaction.

      All gone in an instant, and seemingly all forgotten by her, replaced by the constant post D-day din of cruel blame-shifting from her not feeling butterflies anymore?

      • So sorry, Jay. 🙁 Rest assured, there are those of us out there that long for what you willingly and lovingly offer.

      • Jay,
        I am guilty of believing that men are polygamous by gender. This belief is important while women are going through R phase as it brings down dissonance. Thanks to our culture and media that most women chumps seem to carry this belief like me. Your beautiful post does a good job of hitting out at that concocted belief system. So, there are good men out there who seriously believe that sharing and growing old with that special someone is possible. That is like a Man! Hugs, dear! U are just one of those few men, who I shall admire for what you are. The Real Man! The Worthy One!
        Please don’t fret. There are a lot of worthy women, I assure you. Just give yourself some time to grieve and get over the loss. I wish you good luck 🙂

      • Those damned butterflies. I can’t count how many times I’ve read and heard about butterflies since this happened. STBX even told one of the kids that ‘real love is butterflies in your stomach when you see the other person’. That should work out when things start to get humdrum.

        • Funny thing is that even though we have been separated and not living in the house for a year now, my spouse still keeps his “persona” life a big secret even though I have called him out on it a million times. I swear i think he still likes to pretend he is sneaking around my back to keep up the excitement of the affair with the OW, even though they got outed.

          • Yes, I think one of the reasons he remains so pissed – and she pretends I don’t exist – is that it somehow keeps things exciting. Unfortunately for them I stepped out of the triangle a long time ago and refuse to partake. It’s simply not of any interest to me.

            • do you know what my STBXH told me the other day? That “now I would actually be fun to have sex with”!! A-hole. I think the main reason for that might be because now it isn’t allowed since we’re moments away from divorce… so there would be the illicit aspect to it that he apparently likes.

              The fact that it’s been almost a year and I’ve lost 10 pounds probably helps too.

              Even though I can look at my STBX and find him good looking I have zero desire to ever go there again. He might as well be a eunuch as far as I’m concerned 🙂

  • Pearl
    Welcome to ‘the fucked up club’. It’s a big club so you might find it hard to find a seat.
    Fucked up is the club next to going insane club. Not pleasant experiences but clubs we have to belong to in the journey out of this hell.
    At stages I couldn’t even talk to people let alone date. I think it will be many months before I’m totally relaxed and at ease with myself. It’s a whole new world and its very very challenging detaching from the old one.
    I don’t think affairs particularly LTA are all about sex. They’re more about entitlement and cake eating. Unless the cheater is been totally abused its just a weakness.
    Like every aspect of any relationship sometimes you need to work at it if you value it. If you don’t go ahead and fuck your brains out

  • Hello everyone. I am so thankful for this website and all of the comments. It has been almost a year and a half since I found out about my husband’ s adultery. He is a “trustworthy” police officer. And they wonder why they get no respect anymore. Lol. I am laughing to myself because CL has said that things get better on Tuesday and this Tuesday is when I will file for divorce. I am sorry for all of your pain but also thankful for your willingness to share your thoughts and experiences. I am glad I am not alone through this mess.

    • Hi Casey, and welcome. Glad to hear that you are taking steps to get off the crazy train. Divorce is never easy, but it my opinion, it’s preferable to staying with a cheater. Good luck and hope to see you around. Stay strong.

  • This is what I believe about reconciliation with a serial cheater: serial cheaters are broken people. CL is right. They have a need for excitement that can’t be met with one person in an honest relationship. Married sex can’t compete with the lure of hookers or someone new. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, you can’t unring the bell.

    And no matter how much they pretend to want to do those things, it’s just a lie. They may stay true for a few months or even years. But once they’re in the clear with you, they will chose to go on the hunt again.

    It’s almost like a twisted version of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They gave into temptation and now they see. Innocence has been lost. They can’t unfuck, unexperience that excitement. And now married life is boring and mundane.

    We chumps can never compete. We’re all about housework and responsibility and children and bills to them. They want silk stockings and heels and wine. They want lies and fantasy. Lies and fantasy are so much more fun. And it’s all about selfish fun for these guys because, once again, they are broken people. They believe they deserve better, deserve more. Fuck responsibility. Fuck bills. Fuck commitment. You’re only young once, right?

    Serial cheaters are bad people to begin with. Entitled assholes. And that doesn’t ever go away. The lying and intrigue is too much fun. It’s built into their personalities. Serial cheaters are a special kind of broken.

    • Agree completely. STBX is a serial cheater and on one hand he has said a million times how important family and all we had is, yet on the other he was screwing around when the opportunity presented itself. One incident that I pointed out happened during a fabulous time in our lives was met with ‘it was just a blow job’. I am not even joking.

      • Oh my God, Nord. I STILL get that line … “It was just a blowjob,” as if that makes it better somehow. My head starts to hurt when I try to understand the logic in that statement. It’s just a way to obfuscate, to minimize, to make us seem unsophisticated, to take back power.

        If it was not wrong, why do they fight so hard to keep it a secret? Why, if it was JUST a blowjob, did they not just say, “Hi honey, so today I paid the Visa bill, took the dog for a walk, got a blowjob, and mailed that letter. How was your day?”

        • The one time I heard that I said ‘so, you’d be ok if I snuck off at a party to let some guy stuff his tongue up my watoosi?’ His reply ‘if that’s what you wanted to do, yes, it would be fine’. Erm….???

          • Um, yes … I’m sure he would have been totally fine with it, Nord. Just another example of twisted logic and double standards. He would have flipped.

            • Of course he would have. Like a true serial cheater he took great offense at any slight indication of flirtation or interest in me. I honestly think he used anyone flirting with me as an excuse to screw around. The more people thought I was great I think the less great he felt.

              Hell, he’s currently with the final OW and I can say that the general, unbiased opinion is that she’s dull, unattractive and far too young. I think she’s perfect for him: no threat.

        • Well hello Sad in Seattle hope all is well with you. Keeping up with no contact? Did you get your cat and important papers? See a lawyer?

          • Ugh. Don’t ask how it’s going, Janet. I’m embarrassed to say.

            • We have all been embarressed to talk about our chumpness but you are in good company. Hang in there and let us know how you are doing. We do care

  • Sad in Seattle, above, at 9:35 is on to something. I’m writing here from the perspective of Chump Son, a guy who was chumped by his father for many years, chumped as in spoken to (even as an adult) in a way that made me uncomfortable and repeatedly spoken to that way, even though I objected in every civil way possible. This ended when I shut down the relationship. I did not cut off contact, but I put an end to it — not by yelling, but by becoming the Chump who trumps.

    The point of the above is this: If Elle wants to reconcile, that’s her choice. I don’t have a problem with that. If it works for her, fine. If people want an open marriage, propose it and negotiate that, transparently and openly. If folks want a divorce, then go for it! What I have found, however, in my experience was this. So long as I was “Chump Son,” the kid who would engage my father in conversation hoping that we’d have a nice father-son interaction, it always opened me up to him. His verbal weapon against me was to complain vociferously about my mother. I asked him to refrain from this, but he would not. Instead, like a nasty Little League coach, he was good at starting a seemingly nice conversation with me (about memories of World War II or finances, both topics I enjoyed discussing with him), but he’d always keep a raft of complaints about his spouse/my mother in reserve. And personally I think he liked making me squirm. So long as I kept hoping for reconciliation, I was open to this uncomfortable form of verbal abuse. (My point to my father was, not that he had to be happy in his marriage, but just that I didn’t want to be his marriage-complaint-confessor.) Sadly, so long as I said the above (the parentheses), I was actually empowering him. I was trying to be reasonable, to reconcile (since he was no fun to grow up with), to be that enlightened, forgiving, transcending soul that so many celebrate. I wanted to forgive and forget. But, in fact, that could never happen. My father was an N-guy and he was, i think, slightly jealous of his son (me), and he enjoyed complaining about “Yer Mudder” (including the deliberate mispronunciation) and watching me squirm and then hearing my broad-minded, forgiving, bleeding-heart request that he refrain. He got off on that.

    This ended the day I told him, in serious but not screamy tones, in a businesslike tone, that I did not like this, that it bothered me, and that I would never want my daughter to marry a man like him. That was it. Burned the bridge. I was done. I did not/not stop speaking to him, but I had drawn a big flaming trench in the sand, and it was over.

    And I felt relief. I had left a cheater (of sorts) and gained a life.

    Now, I won’t say this doesn’t bother me, but it bothers me a whole lot less than it used to. My point is that if the reconcilers want to reconcile, that may work. Good luck to them! Maybe they have the person who has a revelation and becomes worth forgiving. I prefer the form of ice cold acceptance — (Maybe call it sub-zero forgiveness, frigid forgiveness? Which is really grim acceptance.) — that I describe above. No, it’s not lovely transcendence, but it does draw lines and (in my case) asserted delayed boundaries that should have been there all along. That’s why I’m much more sympathetic to CL’s blunt approach. I think it’s too easy to get addicted to a crack-like hopium that causes us ever-forgiving chumps to go back for more. Some folks really only understand clear roles, tough boundaries and interacting with them requires heavily guarded frontiers (think NATO in the Cold War). This is not the death of hope for humanity, but the building of appropriate fences where they need to be.

    So, I wish Elle the best. I do share CL’s concern that someone who is capable of years of deception might be someone who came out of the factory with a fatal defect. But I support Elle in her reconciliation attempts. If that’s what she decides, I support her. I have to say, however, that in my own experience as Chump Son, a CL-type approach worked much better, gave me much relief, and allowed me to see a fundamentally problematic relationship for what it was, to mourn its passing, and then to have an polite but, in my case, appropriately distanced relationship with a person who I think had many narcissistic characteristics.

    So that’s my two cents worth. Hope it helps. If folks want to do something different, I support them, but would add the warning note, above, from my own experience.

    Chump Son

    • Chump son:

      If a person is truly dealing with a personality disordered person, the only solution is to freeze the out as you say. Divorce that type of cheater asap.

      But, here’s the thing, not every sex addict, and affairs are now being classified as sex addictions, has a personality disorder.

      If they don’t they may be redeemable, and it is up to the spouse to decide what their breaking point is.

      I don’t see any reason why we who have chosen to NOT reconcile, need to pile on to Elle or any other reconciler or to chase them off.

      We can better help them by encouraging them to stay vigilant for lack of boundaries, or to seek to have a doctor evaluate their spouse for a personality disorder.

      Just like we who have chosen to divorce cheaters need to be reminded that their are nice people out there who likely won’t cheat, even though we may think we are looking for a unicorn, there are also marriages that may be able to be saved, after cheating, even though some people think it’s like looking for a unicorn.

      There are a lot of variables in every situation. Black and white thinking, BTW, without possibility in between is a heavy BPD trait and a lesser trait of NPD and HPD.

      So I ask that we all remain open to those who wish to reconcile without being mean or chasing them off.

      • “So I ask that we all remain open to those who wish to reconcile without being mean or chasing them off.”

        Sara, CS says he “supports her” in her reconciliation. So who is this addressed to?

        I want to be VERY clear — Chump Lady is NOT a reconciliation site. That’s NOT my message — it’s LEAVE a cheater. There are a gazillion places on the web for people to reconcile and get support for that decision. While I do not wish to be mean to people in R, or chase them off (they are welcome to read and post here) — my point of view is highly skeptical of R, especially with a serial cheater/sex addict. And my bias is out in the open — I encourage people to leave cheaters, which yes, may leave some people in R feeling hurt that call.

        This forum is not about being “open” to R. That ship has sailed for most chumps.

        I appreciate that you want to be welcoming to all sides, but there is a POV here that is in opposition to encouraging R.

        • Thanks, CL. Took the words right out of my mouth.

          I wish Elle and others luck with reconciliation. It may work. It’s their choice. In fact, when it comes to relationships, I say let a thousand flowers bloom. If folks want open marriages, that’s fine, too. Just pursue that goal honestly and be up-front with your spouse/partner. I am only adding a cautionary note regarding reconciliation. My own experience suggests that reconciliation efforts by chumps often open the door to further manipulation by that narcissistic segment (n-segment) of the population that has no interest in changing. So, I wish the reconcilers luck. All the best. As a father/a friend/an advice giver, however, I’m more inclined to be skeptical.

        • ChumpLady,

          How do you reconcile with someone who has been lying to you for 5 years? Why would a person want to stay married? They didn’t respect you when they decided to have an affair for 5 years. Wouldn’t they have even further NO RESPECT for you because you are staying in the marriage?

  • Elle,
    Either you have not read anything AT ALL on this site, or you enjoy hurting people.

    Please get a life, we are trying to get ours back.



  • Another Erica,
    This seems to be the tip of the iceberg. Good you are on the Chump Lady. You can learn from other people’s experiences. There are sure telltale signs of your husband being a manipulator kind…I’m sorry but these signs are all there.
    1. His getting you convinced that she was the one crossing boundaries (and he was the innocent one!). You didn’t confront her on this knowledge. Why? It is clear that the odds of position issues would be there. He would get angry that his reputation as a boss will be threatened…(covert-aggressive) blah blah… or that it was beneath you to do such a thing? A clear answer is needed. If the answer has elements of the former, then he has clearly manipulated you well enough that you know your boundaries all too well not to rock the boat.
    2. Think what would you have done if your colleague (boss, coworker or junior) would do this to you. Would you just be complaining to your husband about his abrupt behavior, or would take strong actions to deter him from doing that. Has your husband done any strong action to prevent her? If the answer is “no”, clearly he is enjoying the ego kibbles.
    3. You heard skirmishes from his office. Enough to tell you that your husband was not handling it well at the office. I mean if it was normal in his office that people indulged in extra-marital affairs, why should there have been these “talks” about. Clearly, all is not normal. And I do not understand why you didn’t relate it to your prior work experiences. Is there a covert thing about his office environs being such going on…?

    Many similar questions! You are being royally screwed (thanks Sher for this one) in exactly the same way as I was, with your eyes open. I mean can’t you spot manipulative behavior on your husband’s part? If no, well good for you. If yes, then girl now systematically analyze with as much objectivity and rationality as possible:

    1. His behavior with his friends. What kind of friends does he have (who would be manipulators or brag about how they manipulated others including their significant relationships? Is he really very sympathetic to them or would he also manipulate them for his mean ends? and similar question. Remember, “Birds of a feather, flock together”

    2. His behavior with kids. Does he give enough time to kids? Does he really love them or is it more of a lip-service or show-business?

    3. His behavior with extended family members and his parents and siblings: This aspect gives telltale signs of the values he has been brought up with. Be objective and discerning about how people got their ways in their family. Was manipulation and power abrogation playing a big part?

    I do not ask you to evaluate his behavior with you at this stage. It is clear you are in a mental fog. But you can be more objective with these other relationships. If you find indications that his manipulative capabilities is higher than normal (or atleast yours) then I seriously recommend you to go through Dr. Simon’s books and blogs that you find here on CL.

    Read about character disturbed people. See ways to deal with such men. One thing is certain. You’ve to not let him beware that you’ve understood that you are getting manipulated. Then, you evaluate your position with and without him. Evaluate many practical things like shared assets, alimony issues, kids, culture and your own support systems. While you do all this, keep yourself positively engaged in activities that interests you. If you have a job, it is all the more rewarding as you may not be as financially dependent on him. And yes get therapy just for urself. You need to unwind the damage done by his continuous manipulative behavior over time.

    After some time has elapsed, you’ve got to get therapy and are better able to see through the mental fog (even if the fog hasn’t quite left you), plan your strategy. If he continues his manipulative behavior, he’s out (ensure that he loses a lot in leaving you). You’ve to get a strong person, a counselor or a lawyer with you, while you sit down and clearly talk your points about his
    1) general manipulative behavior that you’ve endured and are not willing to endure any more.
    2) specific infidelity issues (some investigation to back up while dealing with manipulative people is very handy).

    Be sure you do this, when you’re under total cool and composure. He should see a clear threat. A clear-cut agreement on a stamp-paper for you to stay in the marriage in spite of aberrations from his side shall suffice, even more. And yes, the objective but strong third person is a must during this conversation.

    Now, if you still choose to stay, it is more clear to your husband that his boundaries are drawn. If he respects his boundaries as “character disturbed” people are intelligent and may see the loss they’d have if they don’t, then you live a quieter life ahead.

    However, CL is about leaving such people and so am I. So, caveat is that even if you eventually decide to remain in marriage, please be always aware about the personality and character disturbance issues of your partner.


  • Dear CL,
    Another Erika asked a question on a conversation about EAs between me, Sher and Sara 8, in this thread. I believe she needs to hear from me (my first stage of revelation was exactly like hers! but unfortunately there was no CL then 🙂 ).
    I request you to send my last post to her in her e-mail as well, just in case she misses this one here on this blog.

  • Hey! Those who wish to reconcile have plenty of places to go. Those of us who do not choose to read all that sappy bullshit have finally found some sanity RIGHT HERE!

    This site belongs to CL. Her site, her rules. She calls the shots. Whew! Am I ever glad for that. I have a hard enough time trying to catch up on reading all the truly great posts here. I’m grateful the ones who want to preach about therapy and reconciliation don’t monopolize here.

  • Howdy, Chumps: I’m coming in late on this, but I’m an Elle fan and as such, feel compelled to back her up as she is sorely out numbered!
    I’ll try to make this quick…perhaps Elle’s error was that she hoped she could find a small measure of support for all betrayed spouses here. We all feel the same anguish and anger after DDay. We only part ways when we choose the Road Back to Happy that works best for us as individuals. Elle’s blog, as well as mine, cater to the women that choose reconciliation, but welcome all that have experienced the same pain. This site is obviously intended to bolster the resolve of those that decide to leave their cheating spouses and start fresh.
    To each her own…Why can’t both choices be OK? Why can’t we, as women, support one another with being so damn judgmental? Opinions are great. I’m one extraordinarily opinionated bi-yotch, but if I want others to respect my outlook, it sure helps if I try to respect theirs.
    Knowing how much Elle has done to help ALL betrayed spouses, regardless of their choices after DDay, my guess is she just wants to share her opinions with you in the off chance someone lurking out there in the blog-o-sphere might need to hear a reasonable voice that shows compassion for all options after betrayal.
    So for that I say….Bravo, Elle! And, Thanks.

  • Hi There All; Just wanted to point out (and yes I am a female co-dependent chump who is 3 years past D-Day) that so many posters say they “know” there was only one affair, or that the affair was a PA and not an EA, or vice-versa. Or, that our SO was seeing hookers for 3 years, or escorts, or whatever. What I wanted to point out is even though my SO admits to a 4-5 month affair that was a PA only… do I really know? How will I ever know? I think we are all faced with things that “don’t add up” and have to come to the conclusion that not only are we not only NOT certain, we never will be. I believe this is the reason that CL believes these relationships are doomed. Once the trust has been so violated, where do the lies end and the truth begin? And as one person brought up, once they have tried and liked the secrecy, the fantasy, the newness, etc., how does a regular relationship compare? I don’t want to be a hooker, stripper, porn queen or phony woman looking to use men through their unbelievable preoccupation with their penis. I don’t want to compete with this fake BS, I want a real relationship!!! I like exciting sex and romance too, but am grown up enough to know there is much else to life. How do we REALLY know what they have been up to or are up to? We are going to take their word for it? The truth is not their strong suit. That uneasiness never goes away. you know all the things that are said in your bedroom have been said to someone else. Real special!!

  • Dear C.L.
    I have a question and a comment.
    Why when I google , Cheating, the Other Woman, Divorce etc,….
    your website never comes up ?
    You are doing a dis-service to” newbie chumps” by not being to find this site and your valuable advice.
    The comment. I adopted this long ago…..
    “Everyone…EV-ER- RY- ONE , gets ONE chance to treat me like shit.
    He got his !”

  • I went to Betrayed Wives first and Elle very kindly let me know my Cheater probably wasn’t good material. I am grateful to her for being there for me during my early days of deciding what to do since I was not ready to give it up yet. She had him pegged though as we worked through it. I then went to another site that taught me to see him as he really was and to move on, which lead me here to CL, where CL gave me the awesome strong kick to embrace my exit and continue to hold firm! I am so GRATEFUL! I can’t image where I would be navigating this all on my own.

  • The Cheater has someone either way…nice position to be in right?
    You and OM/OW are the potential losers in this game, and they know it.
    Agreed it is entitlement.

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