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Dear Chump Lady, Are there cheaters who left no clues?

Dear Chump Lady,

There is a lot of talk on this site and others about how — in retrospect — cheaters left clues that we can now see.  Some chumps realize that their ex broke a lot of dates, or were vague about their past, or forgot their birthday, or said really insensitive things. However, in my case I’ve done a pretty thorough post-mortem on our marriage and can’t really find ANY clues that my cheater would turn out to be one.

Up until his affair, my husband was always self-deprecating and seemed open to sharing his feelings. He worked hard, followed through on his commitments, and put me first in his life. It wasn’t until the affair started that he became withdrawn and moody, dropped most of his friends and social activities, and expressed frustration with our life together.

I’m a problem-solver and really struggle with the lack of prior evidence that should make all the pieces fall into place now that I know about the cheating and lying.  My friend says that regardless of the fact that we all thought he was of good character, my husband has now shown us who is really is… and since he’s nearly 50 we have to assume he’s set in his ways and can’t reform himself. I’m not so sure. I don’t know whether it’s possible for someone to hide their poor character for that long without SOME signs showing up.

Is it possible that there are guys who are not narcissists or liars but suddenly become so with the onslaught of MLC and/or an OW?  What causes this?

Suzanne

Dear Suzanne,

I think you’ve got a classic case of untangling the skein of fuckupedness. You’re a problem solver, and if you could just pinpoint what causes this kind of infidelity, presumably you could Do Something Different to prevent this from happening the next time. Develop a vaccine.

Sorry, Suzanne, I have no such guarantees. We don’t control other people. And while that’s a realization that can make us feel vulnerable, the flip side of it is that we’re not responsible for other people’s choices. That’s the scary thing about love and trust. We can do our very best at marriage, and all it takes is one person to drive it into a ditch.

Yeah, but WHY? They weren’t swerving around the road, or driving drunk, until suddenly one day yep, there you are flipped over backwards in a sewage trench wondering what the fuck happened.

Is it easier to point to a cheater and go, oh THAT explains it, this is personality disorder? Not really. It’s a different sort of agony to be with someone who wants to cheat on you and also stay married to you (the cake eater). In that case, you rack your brain going… was everything a lie? How did they maintain a double life for so long? Was I just of use to them?

Doesn’t sound like you had a cake eater. Instead, yours is a guy that couldn’t go the distance. Perhaps after years of vanilla, he wanted to walk on the wild Neapolitan side. (Or maybe you’re Neapolitan and he craves vanilla… I dunno.) You don’t say whether he ended the marriage and left for his affair partner, but it sounds like the marriage is over (i.e., “post-mortem”). Painful and definitive.

While not every cheater is a personality disorder, every affair is narcissistic. At some point, he gave himself permission to cheat on you. To break his commitment gutlessly with an affair. That is an issue of character. I believe good character is reinforced over time. But I also think there are people in this world who simply fail to appreciate their blessings. Who want to believe in their exceptionalism, especially as they age. Is this all there is, they might think? I’m a middle-aged insurance salesman with two kids in a small town? Because really, in my heart I’m a poet of sonnets. So I’m going to chuck my day job and find some starry eyed English student 25 years my junior who will tell me, hey Bob, you’re a POET. Who won’t see me as a regular man, but as a guy with exceptional Potential and Talent.

My grandfather would’ve called a guy like this a bum. But for some reason in our culture Man Children and Women Children are celebrated, despite the fact that the odds of being a successful poet of sonnets after a career in insurance is .00000000001 percent to nil. Folks today don’t appreciate the enormous blessing of being ordinary person with an ordinary life. (I’d like to air drop those people over Soweto.) Instead, everyone today is a gifted student. Or they could be an undiscovered celebrity! Being a regular Joe who earns a paycheck and raises a family isn’t enough, because you can’t sing an aria on the Voice or have your own reality TV show. I’m not saying your husband left you because he thought he was going to be a STAR, I’m saying whatever he had, he felt it wasn’t enough. He deserved MORE. And he didn’t have the guts to have that conversation with you, he just unmoored his boat for Fantasy Island and left.

Did you see the New York Times last Sunday? There was an interesting article on a researcher of happiness. One of the traits of unhappy people is that they compare their lives to others a lot. If you need a reason for why he did this, midlife crisis, or whatever — I think a simpler explanation was he wasn’t happy. He played compare and contrast and thought he could have more, at your expense. That’s not on you. That’s on him and inability to appreciate. You can’t be 77 flavors of ice cream. You can just be you. I’m sorry he didn’t appreciate what he had. My guess is that he’s not going to find eternal satisfaction elsewhere. He’ll just keep playing musical chairs and find himself sitting on his ass alone some day. Or coupled and silently resenting, doing a play act of commitment. His unhappiness is his problem. You go build a good life without him. Just because HE can’t value a good woman, doesn’t mean someone else can’t. And most of all you can value yourself without him.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Great post.

    Reminds me of the Dalai Lama’s book, “The Art of Happiness” believe it or not.

    It would take a lot of effort on my part to explain why, but it’s a compliment, and I need to go walk my dogs because I enjoy doing that 🙂

  • CL that sounds exactly like my wife. She felt and since there is little remorse most likely stills feels entitled to the affair that threw 19 yrs of marriage away. All because middle life wasn’t much fun for her and felt sorry for herself because the kids don’t need her as much as they used to. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t teaching the kids to be independent and self sufficient our ultimate goal? She should know this since she is a teacher and her goal is to prepare her students for the next grade level.

    In the mean time her selfish actions screwed up the lives of all the important people around her/us. Her loving and totally committed husband, our kids, our parents, our small town including all the hundreds of people that know her/us. All she had to do was find a couple of friends that as she put it “won’t judge me” and tell her she’s fucking up. Most likely making me look like the bad guy. She needs to hear the whole town tell her YOU FUCKED UP! Knowing her she’d probably still point her finger and blame me….. What a bunch of crap!

    • Wow Bud…. Ditto here…..except 22+ years….

      “While not every cheater is a personality disorder, every affair is narcissistic”. LOVE that quote CL!

      And Bud, it doesn’t matter HOW many people tell her she fu**ed up, she will NEVER believe it! I call that my “Circus Mirrors” theory. They can find a mirror to reflect what THEY want to hear. They’re prettier….YOU’RE the ugly one….etc….

    • Yep, Bud, STBX told me (and the kids) that the final OW was fun and I wasn’t fun anymore. He also told me that he needed to find out what was out there. He had spent half his life with me, every memory was tied to me and he needed to see what else there was. Classic grass might be greener.

      And yes, he does blame me to this day. I made the fatal mistake of growing up. He doesn’t want that grown up life and doesn’t see just how fun it is. His loss.

    • Ditto here right down to the 19 years. I read about other cheaters who express remorse (real or not) and at least pretend to try. My wife said “Oh well, what do you want me to do beg?” She talks about it as something she needed to do for herself – like it was a spa treatment or a new hairdo! After almost 20 years? How can a person (me) be so blind. I’m only about a month into this whole adultery thing but God it sucks so far.

      • STBX said something like that to me shortly after dday. We were talking and the gist of it was that he was humiliated that people knew and that I kicked him out and he said something along the lines of ‘don’t think I’m going to come crawling back to you’, which was apparently supposed to be my cue to crawl after him.

        What a git.

        • “What a git.” Words just seem to fail don’t they? Were you always this clear-headed or were you ever wildly unsure of yourself. I’m not a weak person but this is by far the most painful, humiliating, and gruesome thing I’ve ever dreamed let alone experienced. I can’t imagine getting past this; but, I could see wasting a lot of valuable time and energy in limbo hoping or fantasizing. I’m actually afraid of what I would do if she “came crawling back.” Where do you find strength?

          • I have little strength left, to be honest. The first 6 months I was a wreck. Then I got a bit together but I’m facing some unique issues financially and career wise. then he started being a total asshole (not just the cheating and dumb remarks anymore) by getting full of rage and very threatening about money and such.

            I was doing alright for a bit but this week it’s back to being scared to death because he seems to want to crush me financially. It’s incredible. And I lost it with the kids and said some not great stuff about their father and now I feel worse because I know I’m supposed to pretend that he’s a great guy and he loves them and yada yada yada. Well, the way I see it if he loved them he wouldn’t put their mother through hell and back again.

            • I’m so sorry Nord. I don’t have much strength to share but I’m channeling everything I’ve got your way. I can’t even imagine adding financial fears to all the others. I’m so scared all the time as it is. One thing’s for sure, don’t beat yourself up for what you said to the kids. Your only human and you don’t need self-reproach on top of everything else. Do what you can to protect yourself. You’re absolutely right about “… if he loved them…” Kids are way more insightful than we think and they’ll see what’s going on.

      • You weren’t blind. You were trusting.

        My cheater never told me that she needed to do it. But she wanted to and felt she deserved it. Lots of issues with my wife but still inexcusable.

        My D-Day was end of Nov and I was stuck in the house for the whole winter. Best advice I can offer is get outside, get fresh air, get sunshine. Be strong and you will come to the understanding that the woman you fell in love with and married no longer exists……. That marriage you had no longer exists. You’ll most likely only see someone who looks like your wife.

        You’ll lose weight, You’ll lose sleep, you’ll be beside yourself with grief, You’ll cry, you’ll feel depressed, You’ll be lousy at work etc. “It Sucks” is an understatement.

        • Bud, you nailed me on every single count. I guess in a lot of ways this reminds me of when my mother died which would make sense in the context of “she doesn’t exist anymore.” Thank you for the insight. I’m way down south so sunshine shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll give it a try.

          • HB, I also felt like losing my mother was the only thing I could compare it to. I have been going through this for about a year, all those things that Bud talked about. It takes time to go through it, and you will get through it at your own pace. Don’t feel bad if it takes you a while to wrap your brain around what happened and who your spouse really is. It’s a lot. I can’t actually leave for a few more months, so I am stuck living with a man who feels like a stranger now, a selfish, dangerous man who will hurt me if I give him a chance. You can find a lot of support at this site.

            • Quicksilver, I too fee stranded. Must remain here a few more months and the coping skills come and go. Very frustrating to say the least, like a time bomb waiting to go off at any moment.

          • Here in Wisconsin we still have winter. Snowed 8″ a few days ago. So I’ve had an extra amount of inside time making it that much harder to be outside. Priority #1 is to take care of yourself…. exercise, eat right and stay strong and don’t stay idle. I have 3 kids I keep myself busy with so that helps.

          • Boy quicksilver, I know what you mean about living with a stranger. It’s surreal. It was like my leg looking up at me and saying “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” How could something so beloved, so familiar, so integral suddenly become this insect that turns my stomach?

            Hang in there Bud, hope springs eternal. Maybe listen to Here Comes the Sun while you’re waiting for the Spring.

            • It’s hard to wrap your brain around the emotional shift from best friend and sole confidante to adversary. It happens quickly and with little warning. The man I adored and would have walked to the ends of the earth for simply ceased to exist.

              • Right! What’s so flipping hard for me is that he didn’t exactly cease to exist. He is standing there right in front of me. But he’s not the person I thought I knew, and I am not sure he ever existed, except in my mind. If he died I would get it.

              • Yep, he disappeared overnight. A month or so after dday I was falling apart and called him to talk about finances and my need to rebuild my career. What did he say to me? ‘What is it you want from me, anyway?’ I didn’t even reply. Just hung up the phone.

              • Deanna, you have given me an idea. When this finally ends and I am ready to leave, he is going to ask me what I am going to do and I plan to respond, “Have a wake, the (his name) than I am in love with died, he doesn’t exist any more.” I absolutely love laying on the guilt…thoroughly enjoy it, as well as it puts him on the defensive. Thank you.

            • I feel like y’all are my new family (or at least community if family is hyperbole). These feelings that we all seem to share are cut so deeply; they’re so personal and intimate. I kind of feel isolated from friends and family but here we all share this bond… CL really started something good here.

    • Ditto, for 30 years (28 married). Mine was always the most selfish and self centered person I ever knew. She was a serious narcissist but I didn’t know what they were.

  • Suzanne,
    I like to say my Richard the Brave developed a brain tumor. That’s truly the only way I can grasp his about face from doting husband and father to distant dark cloud with a girlfriend 2000 miles away. Plus…a brain tumor would mean imminent death and a problem solved in addition to a reason for the behavior change.

    Chump Lady’s advice is spot on and I need to print wallpaper the house with it. Men of good character do not cheat.

    • Deanna, that’s funny, cause in the days after my D-Day, I actually wondered if my ex had a brain tumor, so fooled had I been by his self proclaimed adoration of me and our children! No he didn’t but I wish he did.

      • Kelly, mine really did have two brain surgeries a few years ago and I assumed that was at least partially to blame for the huge change in behavior. I asked his shrink about it and her chair swirled around and her eyes were snarling. She gritted her teeth saying, “Being bi-polar has NOTHING to do with knowing the difference between right and wrong.” Which certainly got my attention. Had a lot of rethinking to do. Then h says, “Well, it was just that one.” To which the shrink immediately replied, turning to me, “That you know of.” Boy, was that an amazing revelation. Whew! I though she was going to break into preachin’.

        • It’s funny… I had a friend actually wonder out loud if my STBX has a brain tumor or something because of how radically he’s changed. I like the comment, Yoder, from your h’s psychologist, though — none of this would explain the fact that he can’t tell the difference between right and wrong.

          • Suzanne, I really had a hard time with the shrink thing. I really believed he could not/would not, do anything to purposely hurt me. I almost argued with the shrink. The look in her eyes really got my attention. Still, it took about a week to realize what she was telling me. His mother and father passed away and he spent his life trying to please them. Maybe he somehow transferred all that trying into acting out, rebelling, like a teenager does when they get away from home. Who knows.

            • Nah Yoder he just sucks. I like your shrink though. Mine asked me yesterday if doing bad things makes a person bad. If someone lies, does that make them a liar? I told her the reason the law treats manslaughter differently than murder 1 is that it reveals something about the character of the perp. Manslaughter could be a mistake by a basically decent person whereas murder 1 is planned, covered up, lied about, and executed with many opportunities to back down. I don’t know about you but my wife planned, covered up, lied about, and carried out her affair(s) and, I’m still early in the introspective phase of this wonderful world of adultery, but I think yes – that does define her as a person.

              • Funny that you use the murder analogy. On D-Day my cheater told me. “It’s not like I killed someone” No but she basically ripped my heart out of my chest as I crumble to the floor in a heap.

                Yeah just like all the rest of the cheaters out there. She Planned, Executed, Lied and Covered up over and over.

  • It’s all selfishness, self absorption, cowardice and immaturity. They all suck, just to varying levels of suckdom.

  • I bet unhappy people compare themselves to others because they have no clue what will make themselves happy. So they look to others for cues. They figure if they do what is “fun” or “what makes me happy” then they will be happy. But, in fact, what they need to do first is figure out what is important to themselves–what are their morals and values, and then live by that standard, not by what they think they see other people smiling about. Sad.

    • Richard the Brave recently told me “happy people don’t cheat.” He repeatedly claimed unhappiness but could never get any more specific than “I’m not happy” and couldn’t or wouldn’t name one specific cause of his misery.

      • If he gave you a specific cause then that would mean you could have done something about it before he cheated – that makes him look like an ahole.

        Therefore he won’t tell you…

    • I had a friend for most of Elementary and Middle School. She loved talking about what High School was going to be like, watching TV shows, movies, reading books and magazines. Come actual High School the fantasy did not become reality. She tried desperately to make it match her ideas of High School. She moved away from me and a few other old friends to try to hang out with more fashion conscious girls (promising those of us “left behind” that she would help get us in the popular crowd despite our lack of interest in that crowd), tried flirting with the cute boys, gossiped about things she thought ever teenage girl was supposed to find interesting, and desperately tried to create drama around herself.

      You know what, that’s forgivable when you’re in high school. Trying to fit in, trying to make the real world match TV land, not being as empathic because you’re caught up in your own drama, leaving behind friends to find new ones. Not every High School student is like that, but it’s still understandable.

      But when an adult looks around and decides reality is not living up to the fantasy they believed they were promised, and so ditches their spouse and children, that’s another story.

      Sorry, this is not the movies and you are not the tragic hero. Leave the dramatics to high schoolers.

        • Amen. If someone ever said that to me I’d laugh in their face.

          Many many years ago an ex told me he needed a break from our relationship. I asked him for how long, and he said “two weeks.”

          I said: “two weeks, schmoo weeks” – and that was the end of that 🙂

        • That phrase is code for “I want to screw someone else more than you” or “I have already screwed someone else.”

        • I was introduced to the gruesome world of adultery with ILYBINILWY! I spent 2 weeks blaming myself, begging, and trying to fix myself so I could be worthy of her “in love” again. Shortly thereafter she said she was willing to give us 6 months and I thought “Oh God this is finally the break I need.” Then she said she needed more space and she wanted to go stay in a hotel by herself Saturday night. I had just read the night before that ILYBINILWY + “I need space” + “I need to get away” = 100% Affair. I hired a PI and it was all shock and horror after that.

    • yep, I give my ex crap about his “moral relativism” (or I did when I was less “meh”)… I think I actually use the term incorrectly… I use it to describe how he thinks his actions are fine as long as there’s one person he can point to that’s “worse” than him. He has no set moral code for himself, it’s all just relative to others. He used to actually compare himself to the AP’s husband a lot (even back when she was just the assistant) and I’m like, well, I didn’t marry HIM, I don’t care what he does.

    • Stephanie, I agree. STBX I realise now has always looked for cues from others. He never learned to be himself – or was allowed to be himself – when growing up. His parents told him what to think and didn’t allow room for him to independently develop his own values and thoughts. Hell, his father even once signed him up to a political party without asking him. When STBX was 30 years old.

    • That’s true — my H was apparently comparing me to the MOW because when he broke up with her last fall (it didn’t last), he came home and I asked how he was doing since he looked so upset. He said, “Well, you’re more fun.” Kind of a weird answer to a question about him, and he couldn’t explain why I was “more fun” or what that meant to him. Later on, when he actually came to counseling and started blaming me for his unhappiness, I asked what he wanted in his life that he doesn’t have. He couldn’t come up with anything. He said, “We need to get a divorce because we want different things.” Again, I asked him to elaborate and he couldn’t describe anything that he wants. I believe that he truly doesn’t know.

      • My cowardly ex in an email said that “over the years our differences became more apparent.” WTF!!

        What differences? How many years into our 24+ marriage did the “differences” become apparent? Maybe he was really trying to say that he wanted to screw around & I thought otherwise.

        About a month after he walked out he told his brother that he didn’t know what he wanted only that he didn’t want what he had. Hmmm, lets compare: a paid off home in a lovely town vs. an apartment over a dollar store in an armpit of a town; a reasonable mortgage (at the time) vs. a monthly rental more than the mortgage payment; a loving, sexy & pretty, I might add, wife vs. a whore who does not have custody of her 5 children; a wife with a flexible job who did all the errands so weekends were free vs. doing it all yourself; respect and admiration from friends & neighbors vs. now looked upon as a piece of crap; trust & respect vs. lies, lies & more lies; great salary & good retirement portfolio vs. alimony & 65% of retirement $$ gone to ex-wife. I guess throwing it all away was soooo worth it.

  • CL, again, you hit it right between the eyes…dead on.
    This morning we were arguing (debating) a certain band and their special style of music. We used to LOVE that kind of discussion. Today, it just clearly pointed out what a lousy human being he created from a once principled man. After thirty five years together, I can’t wait to be DONE with him.

      • Tamara, closer today than ever before. Carrot juice and I am not kidding. Tried it last night and this morning he got out of bed by himself, fixed some applesauce, fed the cat and allowed me to sleep until 9:30. That’s one good day in a row. As he is totally alone, as soon as I determine he is able to care for himself, I am Outta Here.

        I have never thought of myself as a patient person; come to find out…I am amazing.

        I have worried about losing social connections because I feel sure his/our friends will accept him “as is.” I have a new book coming out in about 3 or 4 weeks, so book signings, etc., will become a way for me to shift the old life to the new…new circle of friends. He knows I am leaving and also knows I am here only “out of the goodness of my heart” to take care of him. Don’t worry about me, he is so tired of being ill, he is doing everything he can to get well. I am sure there will be pleading to the end, but I am not having a thimble full of it. Have lots of things packed and put in storage already. Oh, and thank you for asking…I feel pretty alone right now.

        • Definitely not alone. For your sake, (and as a human being,) I’m glad he is on the road to recovery. I am really glad to see you’re moving forward with your life… new book and all is very exciting. Knowing you’re amazing is a great feeling…. it helps in those chumpy dark hours when you think…. geez… am I an idiot, or what!

          You are amazing, and you’re not an idiot. Neither was I… just felt like it a bunch.

          Kisses

          • Good for you Yoder! You are not alone, I’m right here on the interwebs – being truly alone is better than being alone with your spouse. I found that out after my divorce. Carry on, you are awesome.

            • Datdamwuf,, so good to know others understand. The most amazing part is how all of these “strangers” tell basically the same story. We suddenly become members of a rather elite sorority/fraternity, which includes a very select group of individuals that believe in the sanctity of marriage, honesty, forthrightness, kindness and generosity. We certainly didn’t go to the same church, or grow up in the same home…I think CL is the only one who can keep us all calm and keep our noses focused on the future. It is hard when you are trying to “act” your way through a divorce and all the bat crazy stuff going on. I remember in college, a professor was teaching separation/grieving psychology and said, “It is a proven fact that someone going through a divorce (either side) goes clinically “crazy” for a time, shorter for some, longer for others. I’ve kept that little piece of wisdom in the back of my mind and so far, it has served me well. “Crazy” is the best way to describe it. As I began to realize wtf happened, I reacted like a true nut case. He was just sort of numb at my revelation, which gave a little time for me to get it together. I am older than dirt (come June I will be 4 years from 70) and all of life’s lessons have not been wasted. I feel badly for the young ones, especially mothers with children. It has to be doubly hard for them.

              • Yoder… YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!! As we all are. But I admire you so much. I really like the line your professor gave about “going crazy” for a short time. I feel like I have passed over my “crazy”, but it still rares up its ugly head now and then. Thanks for helping me put a picture of it in my head. Hugs to you!!!!

              • Dani, if I said anything that helped you, I am most grateful. I usually feel as if I am the needy one and lean on others. I am through the crazies too, but when I have to get through a “situation” I still lose it on occasion. Time is a great healer.

              • Speaking of “crazy” has anyone read Joan Didion’s “My Year of Magical Thinking?” She writes a year out from her beloved husband’s sudden death & realizes that during that first year “magical thinking” had taken over as a way to help her cope with the unfathomable. It was so profound that I found myself thinking about it for several weeks. It also frightened me because I was afraid of my own husband dying before me & how I’d ever get through it. Well, 4 years later my beloved husband dropped the bomb & was gone. I grieved just like Joan because the man I married had “died” suddenly. I ended up with my own magical thinking to the point I was hospitalized twice for attempting to take my own life. I look back now (well more than a year out) & say, “who was that woman who thought ending her life would solve everything?” It was “magical thinking” of the worst kind.

              • Hurt1, “Magical Thinking” reminds me of “The Fear of Flying.” And don’t forget the Oakridge Boys’, “smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo, don’t tell me I’ve notin’ to do.” All cliches and all relevant. We so wrapped our lives and minds around another human being, so trusting, so gullible, we thought we no longer had to protect ourselves, our hearts and most importantly, our minds. The hurt becomes all consuming to the point of not being able to think about anything else. To focus on a simple grocery list is almost too much. I am over that part of the tragedy, thank goodness, but there remains, so much yet to get through. Each level, each step to recovery is like walking through thick muck, so slow, so tiresome and exhausting. But with each step, I come closer to mental/emotional freedom and must keep the goal in mind, :I will be free, my life will be my own.”

              • Wow Yoder, I really hope the ability to concentrate comes back someday. I used to joke that I had Attention Surplus Disorder because I could feel my brain unwrapping from a task any time i got interrupted; but, these days I feel like I’m playing solitaire til dawn with a deck of 51. I can’t seem to finish anything or put two clear thoughts together.

              • Written a check yet and do not eve know what month it is, let alone the day? Try to cook and can’t remember if you’ve added something or not? Found a glass of milk in the cabinet? Miss the turn to the street where you’ve lived for years? Always take two calls to get to the person I was trying to reach. Get upset with myself because I missed a tv program I wanted to watch because I completely lose track of the time. Left a bag of groceries in the trunk for two days, couldn’t figure out where they were. Washed a load of darks when it was the whites I needed. Wander from room to room not really doing any thing. LOTS of wasted movements.

              • … and speaking of good ole country music, RIP George Jones. I loved the song He Stopped Loving Her Today when I was a kid but man does it hit home now.

              • HearthBuilder, “…aint it funny, how time slips away?” It is quite amazing how the perspective changes. Country music has been dependent on hurt and pain to spawn hit songs. The melodies and the stars that sing them sell the record, but it is the mass of chumps that really take them to heart.

              • “Here I am again, mixin’ misery and gin, sittin’ with all my friends and talkin’ to myself.”

          • Tamara, thanks for the kind words. At night in the dark, when the house is quiet…well, those are the hard times. During the day, care giving is more than a full time job with no rewards, except that when I finally go to sleep, it is with a clear conscience and that is worth a lot to me. Thank you again.

          • Nwrain and Tony, thanks for the support. As all I write is non-fiction, biographies, every word has to be researched thoroughly. The index alone is over 13,000 words. I don’t know how I did that with all this turmoil going on. I guess it was something positive I could do for myself. My daughter, when in chaos, cooks. Her freezer is filled with what I refer to as “Chaos Cookies.” I know other people clean like crazy; their houses, spotless. I wonder what others do to expend as much angry and resentful energy as possible to keep from killing their spouses. It beats going to prison.

              • You are very kind and I hope so too. You can’t earn a living on a title or two. You have to have six titles, all in print, to do that. Wish I could have started my writing career earlier in life. Too busy getting an education, raising children, trying to be a trophy wife. All that dumb shit. So glad I can now get out and take care of me for a change. Who knows, maybe one day it will be my own biography I write, after all, it is stacking up to be far more dramatic and interesting than I ever thought it would.

  • Anyone familiar with the Charles Kuralt story? No one would have suspected this guy of being what he really was. I mean, Charles Kuralt, the little rolly polly cherub- NOT.

    • yeah… I did know about that one. just goes to show… something or other. But cheaters aren’t necessarily dashing, that’s for sure!

  • Love your response to this CL. (as always!)

    Bud, she can blame you for leaving the toilet seat up, forgetting to pick up bread, even though she texted you 3 times during the day to do so, buying her cheap flowers for VD day, criticizing her in front of the children, or challenging your cooking/cleaning/sewing skills. (not to say that you have ever done any of these things) ;] She can blame, blame, blame you for whatever short-comings you may or may not have, but the one thing she cannot EVER blame you for is her breaking HER promise to you.

    That is… unless you held a gun to her head and said, “fuck around bitch, or I’ll blow your brains out.” Then, she might have a case, but otherwise, no. not a chance.

    One thing I’ve learned (because I did not heed this) is that if you don’t want people to think that you’re the bad guy… stay away from the fray. Don’t get caught up in the drama and be the voice of reason. Hard to do when your very heart has been torn outta your chest, isn’t it? My husband is soooooo calm and even and totally non-emotional. I was in the early weeks and months the emotional train wreck who because of this trauma, undoubtedly linked to my childhood trauma, I was prone to massive freak outs. Believe me, when I tell you that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Oh, her? what a nutcase– total whack job. poor man.

    see how it works? I finally woke up and even though I want to scream my fucking head off I’m so pissed… I realize that its only going to have the opposite effect.

    how can you make someone without a heart or a soul, hurt? you can’t. you can only make them feel vindicated if you give them any reason whatsoever to pin this shit on you.

    I believe that the truth will prevail (in time) and karma will bite her sorry ass and the town may not be saying that she fucked up, but that doesn’t mean that’s not what they’re thinking. IF they are thinking anything at all. Most people aren’t that capable, IMO.

    BTW, if she feels unneeded by her kids, I could use a hand with mine. (and they’re young adults now!) Its so interesting that she chose to spend her new-found free time engaged in shit, when she could’ve taken a course in something she was always interested in, done volunteer work, written a book, scaled a mountain, jumped out of a plane… whatever floats her boat.

    and yes, she’s totally full of shit.

      • I forgot to add “Reading” as one of her boat floating things to do. Just so happened she finished reading “50 Shades of Grey” right before the physical affair started.

        • Oh man, Bud. What a cliche. You’re not being Christian Grey to her (whatever that woman’s name is… Anastasia?)! Like that novel represents a healthy and normal relationship… I can’t believe how people how people think that real life should be like romance novels. I got over that notion when I was a teenager!

    • I kept trying to make my XH FEEL my pain. My best friend who is one of the wisest people I know told that ‘I was swinging at a ghost.’

      The day he walk out on he told me to get a life, move on because he was, go get some friends and do some things with them AND get a boyfriend. How cavalier! I couldn’t believe my ears. Here was the man who I thought loved me with all his heart telling me to GO GET A BOYFRIEND! Two weeks after I caught him sneaking off to a motel with OW. I was dying. I lost 20 lbs in a month. My hair fell out. I couldn’t sleep or eat or get myself to work. All I could do was cry. And the MF told me to go get a boyfriend. Talk about a soulless ghost. It’s been several years and since he’s out of the twitter pated stage with her and seeing a bit more clearly I give it to him good sometimes. I remind me of his utter and complete cruelty. Who knows if it sinks in. He forgot he had given me his password and I found all their goopey goo emails to each other when the affair started. I know what’s in a murderer’s now and I hate him for that. I went from being a happy and delightful person to being a bucket of blubbering snot for months. I lost a child years ago and I can honestly say what my husband did to me hurt worse than that.
      And sometimes I still grieve for him. This past Christmas I spent by myself. Him and his new OW bought a house on Long Island Sound. I bet they had a tree. Most the time I’m okay now but the holidays were rough. It would be so much easier getting to MEH if I did have a boyfriend. I’m pretty snake bit. I won’t settle for less this time.

      A post on here was interesting. Something about one of the clues about cheaters being vague about their past. My X was VERY vague about his. I finally figured out why. It was because he had so many skeletons in his closet if he opened his mouth bones would fly out. Had a whole bunch of ex’s he failed to tell me about when we got married.

      I also don’t get why people would choose to cheat with married people. Where the hell are their morals? Why in the world would you risk such bad Karma on yourself? Why would you hurt so terribly a total stranger who never did a thing to you? Why would you want another human being to hate your guts that bad? Why would you think your life is going to be good with a cheater?? I don’t get any of it.

      Anyway, love this site. Been reading every word since I discovered it a week ago. Thanks CL for putting this out. We’re the walking wounded.

      • I completely agree. I lost a daughter. It was hell beyond compare, but I understood there was nothing or no one to blame, life just sometimes takes away someone you love. In this case someone deliberately, but inexplicably murdered you. It is worse than losing a child because you cannot understand how another human being can do such a thing.

  • I saw the playwright Tony Kushner speak the other night about the screenplay he recently wrote for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” film. And he said he was struck by how far we’ve wandered from the sense that Lincoln and many in his day had that we are inextricably bound together, that we depend on each other. He said that we live in an era of ***”psychotic individualism”*** in which government is bad and compromise and cooperation are viewed as weakness and people feel no responsibility for the poor and the sick and the weak in their midst.

    I tend to think that a lot of cheating flows out of this tendency, this . . . psychotic individualism. The only thing that matters is MY pleasure, MY excitement, MY sense of importance. In short, MY kibbles. How my pursuit of those things affects others? Including people who depend on me and take care of me? Not much of a concern.

    I think that definitely was a strand I untangled from the skein of my ex-wife’s fuckupedness. She is and always will be, above and beyond everything else, an individual. Even now that she’s remarried I don’t for a minute think she’s bonded in any substantive way with her new husband. He is simply of use. For now. Until something better comes along.

    Figuring out whether these values lay dormant for decades, or were hidden by spackle or deceit, or only emerged after the passage of many years like a plague of monstrous cicadas is a fool’s errand. Your husband is what he is . . . now. And that’s all you need to know. The world contains people who can couple and bond and see that as a good and desirable thing. Finding one of them is a worthwhile pursuit and can even be quite a bit of fun.

    Abraham Lincoln as sex symbol. Who knew?

    • Abe is kind of hot.

      “Your husband is what he is…now. And that’s all you need to know.” I like that and it rings very true.

    • Nomar,

      Good observations. We live in an age that celebrates narcissism. Christopher Lasch wrote about this over thirty years ago. That’s why CL’s forum is important. It’s a counter-movement.

      Lincoln is a good example, as is Frederick Douglass. Slavery was institutionalized racial narcissism, and when you read about the planters (who were big on cheating on their wives!), there are parallels to the powerful and the deceitful that we deal with today.

    • “Psychotic individualism” is a GREAT line. Totally sums it up. And I think you’re right, there is a narcissism in our culture — this PI is a scourge. It’s all I got mine and fuck the rest.

      This is the quote, or something similar he said on Charlie Rose recently.

      “The fact of the matter is that when you’re elected president of the United States rather than king of the United States, you have to work with a very cumbrous, unwieldy machinery. Obama has made a very determined and conscious effort to keep saying over and over again: ‘Government is not the enemy. Government is an expression of the better angels of our nature.’

      “You have people like these Tea Party people protesting government, and then asked if they really want to give up their Social Security payments and they don’t seem to know that that’s actually part of what government is. There’s this rejection of this sort of basic idea of human community.

      “Now that we’re facing challenges like climate change that absolutely demands a global, collective response…we have no hope for survival as a species if we continue down the path of this kind of psychotic individualism.”

  • “But I also think there are people in this world who simply fail to appreciate their blessings. Who want to believe in their exceptionalism, especially as they age. Is this all there is, they might think? I’m a middle-aged insurance salesman with two kids in a small town?”

    YES!!!!! This is my situation to a T. My STBX was never perfect, but there were never any indications that he’d have an A. Once we had the kids, the house in the suburbs… all bets were off. We weren’t going jet setting to Europe any time soon. There wouldn’t be any long weekends at a romantic B&B (not while the kids were little) or spontaneous dates wherever we wanted. STBX couldn’t handle that reality– that the average night was having spaghetti, wrangling the kids into bed, and flopping in front of TV. He was vastly disappointed that neither his nor my parents were interested in taking the kids for a week while we flew out of the country for a vacation (as was part of his upbringing). Life became about paying the bills, having family outings, juggling child care schedules… that’s EXACTLY what he thought: “Is that all there is?”

    Yep. Sometimes, that IS all there is– but for some of us, that is enough, and that is what makes us happy. I wanted the small-town family life, and he went along with it, but like CL says, he couldn’t go the distance.

    Funny, though. He’s rushing into remarriage with the OW, so she’s moving to our small town with her two little kids and moving in with him. He’s doing a reboot of the life he claims to despise (with a woman who is actually two years older than I am) and is now also going to be a stepfather of two more children. He’s turned their naughty trysts into more of “is that all there is?” I can’t really get my mind around that, and I won’t bother to try.

    • Good lord, were you married to my husband? His “everything” is a married mother of two who was looking for houses in my small town last time I hacked his email. Her kids are younger than mine and she is a little older than me. The only difference is she is willing to leave her kids for extended periods of time and I wasn’t. She is also willing to put him first above them (clearly, because she left her marriage, too) and I wouldn’t do that either.

      Our marriage was “boring.” Bills and kids and not having a lot of extra money wasn’t fun for him. I was willing to push through the hard times because I knew it would get better. He didn’t want to work that hard.

      • Yes, I think we were! Same here about the OW– she was a SAHM who was more than happy to run off and meet my STBX for unprotected sex while leaving her kids with whomever. So, I’m sure she’d be delighted to dump her kids with her ex, a babysitter, etc. so that they can run off for long weekends and romantic vacations. I’m sure that she also feeds STBX TONS of ego kibbles, which he totally gets off on. My STBX will just make sure that it’s my time with the kids, and voila! He’ll finally get the amazing marriage and doting wife he always wanted!

        Until he starts asking… isn’t there ANYTHING else? :S

        • His everything is a career woman who has found great success in their shared field. I was the Mom with the part time preschool teaching gig who preferred family life to a “lifestyle.”
          My goal in all of this is to make sure they never have a weekend without kids.
          It might also be interesting to note that she lives in California and we live in Missouri.

          • Often those who run off and those they find share a hobby, like golf.

            Strange, the priorities such people have.

              • PSA
                You really don’t want to talk about hacking any thing on a public comment thread.

              • When I asked h what he and OW had in common he couldn’t think of anything. I knew all about her (I am a very good detective) and knew they had nothing in common. I asked him how they would spend their time together once they got together permanently and he responded with, “I’ve been thinking about that and I don’t know.” This guy has an IQ through the roof and suddenly became one of the stump dumbest funckups I have ever known.

              • “…I am a very good detective…” – I borrowed this statement from Yoder, since it is so true for me as well. I did not think I had it in me until shit hit the fan. And boy, was I great at it. I am wondering what others’ experience has been. Do we all of a sudden get these super powers or something?

              • AFA, don’ know what happened to “Reply” on your comment. “Special powers” comment caught my attention. My daughter was in awe of what I was doing. It truly was a hold your breath kind of thing. She was behind me all the way, but could not I believe I pulled off the goose chase on which I sent the OW. It was at the moment the OW realized she had been “had” that I began getting over things. For some reason, I HAD to dispose of OW for good. Nothing feels as good as complete revenge. It left h totally alone, no one to go to, no one to spill his guts to, no one who gave a dam about him. I relish in the reversed roles of submission. Gloating is one of the 7 deadly sins, so I won’t hang on to it, but…honestly, I did it for all of us. NO ONE should have to feel this rotten. She…they all…deserved it.

              • This site has some very smart, educated and talented people posting. Such a nice alternative to the other blogs out there.
                Just want to chime in that I love Steve Martin as well. And…3 years ago, after 20 years of being married, my ex left for the AP who was 20 years younger.
                And I still look for sites like this at 11.30 at night.
                Stuck indeed.

              • Linda,
                I am glad that you found this website; I have found nothing else like it.

                My ex brought his girlfriend, now wife into our home to meet me after more than 20 years of being married…what a shock!!! Amazing I did not attack anyone!!! (I actually think he wanted that so he could call the police on me…sorry did NOT succeed)!

                I DO NOT believe that you are stuck, you are just going through what comes natural. It took me at least between 2 to 3 years to stop blaming myself . I talked to another woman who went through the same thing and she said that at 2 years I was still raw and it would take some time….she was so right! Life does get better…be patient, you are worth it!!!

              • Whenever I hear of someone who left for a person 20 years their junior, I always think their ego must be out of control. In my experience, people pick a “kid” to date because they want absolute power and control in the relationship dynamic.

                When that kid grows up, they are going to get a nasty shock. And so is the db that picked them.

              • A power imbalance is usually part of the motivation I think. Also often playing a role is some kind of Peter Pan (or Patty Pan?) syndrome whereby the older cheater is able to imagine him/herself as younger by hanging around a younger affair partner. Youth by association, if you will.

                My cheating ex wife had affairs with men older, younger, and roughly her own age, so she was an equal-opportunity kibble consumer. But the slug she ended up with when the game of mindfuck musical chairs ended on D-day is 8+ years younger than her (now 39 to her 48). Given his track record of shallow choices I wouldn’t be surprised if he wakes up one day in a couple of years, realizes he is dating a fifty-something-year-old with hormone issues from thyroid cancer when he could be romping with half a dozen healthy thirty-something hotties, and dumps her like last night’s Indian dinner.

                When are these assholes comfortable in healthy, reciprocal relationships? Let’s just say Peter (and Patty) Pan lived in “Neverland” for a reason.

              • Yep, STBX seems bent on recapturing his fading youth. It’s amusing to watch in a sick sort of way. If he would just be normal about money I would almost applaud his hilarious efforts.

              • The thing I hate about the trading the old model in for the younge rmodel deal, is that,many times, if you compared yourself at that young age to the current youngster, you would have been superior, physically.
                My first wife once woke me up to brag about the physique of the young bike racer she had done that night. Igot the full description of his musculature and ripped body etc.
                Well, I was about 40 and had been flying a deslk for years, supporting us. I lettered in 3 varsity sports in college. I was a good point guard, a really good centerfielder, and captain of the golf team.
                I bet, in my prime, when I had the time to train, I could have beaten this kid in most sports, especially those involving a combination of skill and athleticism.
                Bootom line: how can you even expect to compete whenthe pplaying fierld is so stacked against you? I had kids to watch, a full time job, bills to pay, housework, yardwork etc.
                No fucking way was my body going to be as in shape as this guy’s.

              • I agree. A male friend of mine was saying the other day that he would be embarrassed to leave his wife and kids for anyone, never mind the clichéd much younger woman. He wouldn’t be able to face his friends because he’d know they were laughing.

                IN STBX’s case the two friends he has are idiots so they’re just ‘whatever’. His family is riddled with cheaters so they don’t care, other than that she’s not attractive and she’s quite boring. But he makes her feel like a grownup and she makes him feel like he’s a big man so it will work for a bit. I hope they get stuck together forever. It will make me laugh to see them miserable for all eternity.

              • Arnold, speaking of Viagra, my h has been impotent for several years. I pretended it didn’t matter. He tried some prescription meds, but really didn’t work well. Having explained this, I never did figure out what h and the OW did in that motel room. I am literally, laughing out loud. All said and done, he has nothing and no one while I am looking forward to a new life, full of fun and misadventures.

              • Well, Viagra is a bit of a lifesaver for us old guys. No shame in it, as it is normal(we live a lot longer these days).
                One thing that always bothered me about the my first wife’s cheating. At the time, I was still young, in my prime with full capability in the performance department. She cut off sex about three years into the marriage(and it had been infrequent before that. I tried everything, the canldes, romanc etc to no avail).
                Essentially, since my wife was my first and only lover. I feel robbed of having had a decent sex life, wheil she, apparently, was sampling all types of wares.
                So, now I am 60, need drugs and have a much diminished capability and interest in sex.
                And, I was pretty good looking way back then. Had a lot of overtures which I declined.
                Oh well, I have golf and my cats, kids and smoking hot girlfriend(who has full capability. What she sees in my sorry old ass is beyiond me).

              • I think your GF sees in you what blinded your ex. You go for it and let us baby boomers enjoy what years remain. There is never enough time.

              • Yay for you Arnold, you deserve any happiness that comes your way. am bitter and stunned yet at times at what my ex stole– my best years without a doubt, while he cheated and betrayed. I am 52 now. But I do have a great new boyfriend too and I thank God every day that I have him and that I am out of that joke of a marriage.

              • Linda, confession time. Last night I fell asleep while writing a comment. Being able to address our fears, anger, chumpness or whatever is fouling up our lives, late at night, is such a blessing. “Connecting” when it is the darkest and bleakest is so comforting. Hope your healing is getting stronger. Steve will be so sobered when I eventually tell him what his small part in the Muppet clip meant to so many people. He is actually, a very humble man.

              • I just always had a good feeling about Steve Martin. He comes across as a very decent guy. He is in excellent shape, too.

              • Kelly, what a nice compliment. I figured the best way to get revenge, was to get the ow out of the picture all together, then I could focus on what I would do to get even with him. Neither one of us has ever heard from her again. Now he has only me, is totally dependent on me and I won’t take him back into my life, especially into my heart. Feeling cold sometimes serves its purposes.

        • Good lord,
          How can these stories all be so similar. I was raising three small kids 8, 5 and 3 and he cheats with a chubby married woman who left her kids with god knows who so she could go screw a married man. Totally feel bad for her kids though

          • OMG, for real?!?! I was a SAHM, who worked part time. The current OW watches kids in her house…he would go over while they were napping. Fucking gross!! I would lose my shit if that crap was going on at a sitter’s house. So would my husband, frankly. Well, if were his kids…

            Yeah, she’s chubby, I’m a fitness instructor and look a thousand times better 24 weeks pregnant than she does not pregnant. But, she started working out and lost some lbs. She has older kids, but the youngest is the same age as our 2 year old. It’s nuts!!

        • Mine is a shallow one. His final affair, the one he ‘fell in love with’ is 20 years younger and had a boyfriend but no other ties. So he sees the kids a few times a week then relives his 20s the rest of the time.

          • Nord, I can’t understand these cheaters who risk everything to relieve their twenties. We’ve been there, done that and it is over. We look forward to the future, what lies around the next turn in our lives and want to relive the past. Leaves me confused. I I’ve heard for the last decade are high school stories, college stories and military stories. I cannot think of one time h has mentioned our years together. Very sad for them. The boat sailed and they missed it.

            • I think it’s fear. They hit middle age and suddenly see the paths they didn’t take and want a shot at redoing it. It never works, of course, but it’s what they do. In my case it doesn’t matter. The current OW was what led me to discovering he’s a serial cheater so it was over either way.

              • This midlife do-over always reminds me of the line in “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”: “Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now.”

    • My STBX has a bad case of ‘is this all there is’ as well. He more or less said that on and after dday, as in ‘I need a clean slate, I don’t want all this baggage’. It was sort of ‘dude, I didn’t make this life by myself and create all of this in a vacuum. This IS life: kids, bills, squeezing in some fun times, dealing with each other when things aren’t so great, kids having problems, neighbours being a pain in the ass, friends not always being great friends…etc. It’s just life and you’ve got to find the fun and joy in it. I sincerely believe that he cannot do that. He’s hooked on fantasy and reality is too much for him.

      • The funny thing is they all think their story is so unique and they have cornered the market on their special brand of unhappiness. They are sad walking-talking cliches.

      • Nord, MO and Deanna – your story is my story too. “I am slowly dying here. I have no space of my own.” she would rant. I think she felt I was passive-aggressively sabotaging her attempts at fantasy. (We really, really could not afford a $6K trip to Paris if we also were to pay off those health care bills and get a used piano for the kids.) When I had assets and fewer debts, I was guilty of trying to provide for her things we couldn’t really afford, but now, the credit is maxed out and we’re living month to month, and so now she’s found herself a successful [married] businessman.

        Let’s see, Trip to Paris or Piano for the Kids or Adulterous Affair? I think she made a bad choice.

        Good luck Mr. Businessman. Sorry about your wife and kids. They didn’t deserve this either.

        • Yeah, well current other woman is young and wanted travel and fun and an exciting life and I think she saw STBX, with a seemingly successful career who had traveled all over the world and then looked at her boyfriend and saw dullssville with the boyfriend and excitement with STBX. NOt sure that’s working out all that well because now he has nearly not as much money and is trapped a bit by his visitation schedule but she got what she wanted. She’ll find out soon enough that he’s not all that much of a prize.

  • Yeah, well, maybe if we were a bit more “evolved” such that we could understand the fluidity of the connection paradigm resonating with ephemeral profundity, we peasants could appreciate just how challenging the mundanity of everyday life is for our superiors.

  • Suzanne, my sister had a very good point when the shit hit the fan here. After 23 years we had worked hard to get to where we were and we we just about to reap some of the rewards. He had all he wanted to make him happy, but he wasn’t. Must have been my fault since it couldn’t be him.

    • Totally how it worked around here, too. Kids are finally getting into their teens and becoming more indepenent, both of us well established at work, money starting to get less tight ….. Time to reap the rewards, right? But NOOOOOOOOO, “he had all he wanted to make him happy, but he wasn’t. Must have been my fault, since it couldn’t be him.”
      Must have cake and throw it all away.

      It doesn’t make me feel any better that he’s STILL not happy. Nut just a jerk who sucks, a STUPID jerk who sucks. Y’all gotta see this;

      http://cantrip.org/stupidity.html

    • Same here. Worked so hard all these years raising 3 kids, two dogs. Did all the fun family stuff too, Camping, Vacations, Disney, Yellowstone, Water parks, etc etc. So close to having the house payed off. Oldest going off to College. Other two getting very involved in the world of High School. Life was getting to be a new kind of exciting to me. Not the kind of exciting she wanted I guess. She felt she deserved something else/more. Fucked up!

    • Count me in. After a number of years struggling, then some up and down years we were settled and relaxed and money worries were no longer an issues, the kids were doing fine overall after some bumps and it was all just nice. I get the feeling that he needs drama because he’s too boring to find fun in regular life.

      • Very Very True Nord. Mine is a drama queen and I just am not into that. His new girl friend has drama abound with daughter. Granddaughter and $$ issues. Lots of back and forth on the “secret cell phone” about that!

  • It is good to know that no matter what happened, we deserve to have a better life without that person and internalize it. Thanks for the pep talk 🙂

      • Weird, Steve Martin (the waiter) is a friend of mine and I must tell you all, he is one of the nicest men in the entertainment industry. He is also an attorney. I have never seen this clip. Someday, when the time is right, I hope I can tell him how much this scene helped me. Thank you so much for posting this. Kermit and I both feel better.

      • I wrote recently about Steve Martin, “He was a comedian who used a banjo in his act, now he is a musician who uses comedy in his act.” Siting “Athiests Ain’t Got no Hymnals.” Such a funny song.

  • I’d like to know how many spouses went after younger men/women? Because my ex did not do this. In fact, my friend looking at a pic of the OW said to me “it’s like he picked a pale shadow of you, I thought it would be some young pretty woman”. I’ve heard this from others too, why go find a woman that is less educated/successful/physically attractive than the person you are married to?

    This occurred to me because CL said: “So I’m going to chuck my day job and find some starry eyed English student 25 years my junior “. And this is the stereotypical scenario usually batted out. We even have the movie “First Wives Club” and others that reinforce it. But I don’t think that most cheaters do this, I think they do the opposite usually. Just curious…

    • My x started with prostitutes, then went to a drug addicted disbarred attorney that he literally picked up off the side of the road because she was too obliterated to walk. She was older than me, and not very attractive. His reason was….. “she needed me, and you so obviously didn’t.”

      This was after I had to work for over a year to get him out of a third world prison (real estate deal, of which he was totally innocent) lost everything I owned and had a civil suit filed pro se against the person who threw us in jail (yes, I was there too, but only for 3 days, he was in for 6 months.) Not to mention dealing with the PTSD and abuse. So no, I didn’t need him……… I was in fact his caregiver.

      I continued to be one until the civil case was over, he was in some meaningful therapy(which he has since discontinued) and we could both rebuild our SEPARATE lives.

      • I think there is something very powerful about their need to be needed. Mine, too, said that he thought I was strong and didn’t need anyone. He never expressed the sentiment that the OW needs him, but his counselor (rightly) posited the theory that she has a rescue fantasy. She is in a loveless marriage to an emotionally abusive evangelical Christian who literally keeps her barefoot and pregnant. She is forced to homeschool their six kids, lacks health insurance for herself or her children so she makes her own cough syrup and hopes for the best, and is not allowed to have her own meal when they socialize with others — she has to share his entree. By contrast, my husband has apparently decided that he’s James freakin’ Bond and takes her out for fancy steak dinners, wears cufflinks (with JEANS) and is child-free. Of course she blows smoke and tells him he’s the best thing ever. Why would she want the gravy train to end?

        • So true, Suzanne. My STBX loathed that I gave time and attention to our kids, my job, and other friends/hobbies. It was supposed to be ALL about him ALL the time, and I am just not like that. I’m pretty independent, and I thought I had a partner who was comfortable with that and enjoyed his own degree of independence. I think he really wants someone to gush over his every move and follow him wherever he wants to go. I can’t live that way; it makes me feel suffocated, and I’d never want a partner who treated me that way. I’d tell him to go get a life!

          • oh wow, just had a flashback to almost 10 years ago. I was driving, STBX was riding shotgun and the kids (approx 1 and 4 years old at the time) were sleeping in the backseat. I was driving cause my STBX had gone out drinking with my dad and was plastered. Well, STBX was ranting, literally yelling, because he was pissed off at the time I spend online talking to friends. Mind you, this was with him in the same room so he knew it was just chatting and that I never crossed any lines. He was ranting because, and I’ll try to quote this as acurately my memory will allow, that he should be the most important person/thing in my life and I should focus on him above anyone or anything else.

            What I find the most ironic in all of my situation, is that he bitched all the time that our sex life was too boring. Now he’s with his gf, who is 20 years OLDER than me, and whom he still hasnt managed to get into bed. 🙂 I guess boring sex was better than no sex huh? LOL

        • Suzanne: Or at least that what she tells him her home life is like. I doubt she would have the freedom to carry on an affair if she can’t even manage to buy cough medicine.

    • Mine picked a psycho redheaded gynecologist…coupla years younger than me, waaaaay crazier. Way. As in, certifiable. I suppose crazy has its own kind of good looking, but, wow, what a risk!

      I think the thing is, she makes a habit of it. I purged her (from my mind) by reading her divorce records…all 3 years of proceedings and statements and all. Public record. What a whack job! She made a habit of going after the ministers at her church, among others, and made up an imaginary stalker who “left” notes on her car…in her handwriting…. yeah, uh-huh. One of the depositions closed with a statement to the effect of, “I beg the court to keep this woman away from me and my family forever.” [eta, she had an affair with the husband…called him her “fiance” when she was with *my* husband. As if.]

      So, even though they’ve broken up (chorus of, awww), she was by far one of the most fucked-up peeps I’ve ever come across in fiction or real life. He’s welcome to her! Really! I just wish he hadn’t brought the 100% genuine bunny-boiler into my daughter’s life. That’s so not cool.

      In sum, it was a matter more of available and willing: hot to trot if you will, than especially attractive, per se.

      • H hooked up with someone my age, who looks much older, claws for nails, over weight, massive black eye make up…just so unclassy which is what he used to be all about. What a ding bat.

        • Yoder…where is she now? Why isn’t she the one feeding him carrot juice?

          Hope it’s not too personal, but I always wonder when the AP doesn’t workout, where do they go? How do the cheaters justify their poor choices and broken zippers then?

          • Nothing is too personal for this nit wit skit. I LOVE the broken zipper reference. As a writer I WILL use that some time.

            I removed her permanently from the picture. Sent about 55 collected and graphic emails to her husband. He said, “As do they all”, he was not happy. Now to your question “why isn’t she feeding him carrot juice?” At D day I pulled myself together and told him, “I don’t think she will take care of you.” He immediately texted the same to OW. She flew off the handle and texted back, “Take care of you? What about me?!!! Who is going to take care of me?” Whoa, what a realization for h. Nobody wanted him, nobody was going to take care of him and by the way, his zipper was broken. He’s been impotent for years. Can’t imagine what they were doing in bed. Don’t care, just laughing outregously at the thought. Two very sick individuals, reaching out for something that will never exist for them. I, on the other hand, have my health, sense of humor, a focus on the future and as I keep telling h, I am so much smarter than I ever knew I was. From desperate victim chump to offensive end happens in a nano second and shifts from one to the other, but with time, I have found that I am losing interest in the game and more mental energy is spent thinking about what I can do to make my future more pleasurable. An adult beverage is coming to mind.

        • They never leave for better because a great looking, smart successful and mentally stable person doesn’t get involved with a married person!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Except when that person is lead to believe they are engaging with a single, smart, funny, attentive, and wealthy partner (none of these true). In my case the other person was a 10 years younger divorced mother of two.

          • So true!!!! She knew my now ex was married and anyone who knew me and my ex and saw the two of them together said that they couldn’t figure out what he saw in her. After divorce proceedings started, they both showed their true colors when I didn’t back down and got myself a good lawyer….oh the lies that were told about me, but I don’t care because I know the truth and God knows the truth. This whole scenario made me realize that I am much better off without him for sure. Love my life way more now 🙂

          • Amen to that, sister. They can only be with someone more screwed up than they are so they appear to be normal. My H left for a woman who is older than I am, has horrible dry skin that he says gives him the creeps, and because she’s had SIX kids he says having sex with her feels like putting his d!ck in a “bowl of warm water.” Yeah, good luck with all of that…

      • mine also picked a psycho redhead! His bipolar assistant who is close to 10 years younger than me and thinner. But not as attractive. And stupid. Very stupid. She literally could not even sign a birthday card without misspelling something 🙂

        Except he didn’t really pick her either. She is just useful as his assistant and maybe occasional side piece. I’m sure he’ll get someone more respectable to be his first real girlfriend that he introduces to people. Not sure how this future girlfriend is going to handle it when I casually mention the reason for our divorce and who the affair was with… 🙂 I guess he better hope I never meet her.

        • Okay, this is totally weird– mine also picked a redhead. She’s older, is a college dropout with zero career prospects since she not only doesn’t have a degree but has been a SAHM for years, and has all sorts of FOO issues (at least that’s what she told STBX who then told me shortly after DDay). From what I can tell, she’s not wildly unattractive, but she’s someone you’d pass on the street and not give a second glance to… just rather ordinary.

          I have nothing against redheads and know a few who are very nice, but… that’s just weird.

          • luckily my best friend since high school is a redhead or I might be tempted to despise them all on sight 🙂

            yeah, my ex’s AP actually had to get her GED because she got kicked out of high school for fighting! Hahahaha! Classy chick.

    • Mine went for a much younger woman in his final affair. the rest, from what I was able to figure out after dday were not much younger, although all were single. One was even older than me. The final one was much younger but in a relationship. The one time I spoke with her she said it had ‘gotten boring for the last six months and your husband was just so charming and fun’. Well, yes, he is charming and fun and thank yu for noticing.

      But she’s not too bright and she’s a drama queen (they have all sorts of blowups and it’s hilarious to see him playing this young person’s drama game) and in the end he looks miserable and exhuasted. But he’s happy! How do I know? Because he tells everyone all the time. ‘I’m so happy! Happy! Happy! Happy!’ 🙂

      • Mine found an old love on facebook. “It was bigger than both of them and she is oh so sorry she broke up our marriage” In all fairness she is pretty, about 7 yrs younger than I am with long blonde hair and very thin. My sister who knows of her says “yes she is thin in an unhealthy way and looks hardridden” My husband is very successful and has a good job. She was a crossing quard. I see the attraction $$$$ for her.

        • Janet, a CROSSING GUARD? I didn’t realize that was a profession! I hope you can see the humor in that. 🙂

          • Suzanne I may laugh one day when he realizes how much I contributed to our lives financially. He is one of those men who because he has a good job and makes good money he choses to ignore how much I make (almost as much as he does) because it would deflate his male ego. He will find it hard to live on his salary alone (he has lots of toys and fishing trips to support) especially as he will owe me alimony!

            • I was wondering about your getting alimony if he makes almost as much as you do? Laws in each state is different, I guess.

    • My ex picked a woman a few years younger than me, but who actually looks older. And she looks A LOT like me (probably nice like me, too, he’s not entirely stupid!), as did his first affair partner 7 years ago. Either he has a ‘type’, or he’s even more fucked up than he seems.

  • This is so perfect. My husband ‘unmoored his boat for Fantasy Island’. That is a classic line and so perfectly descriptive of all the douchebaggery deeds my husband has done.

    • Well, Arnold, I wonder if you are referring to bluegrass or acting? Bless your heart, I hope there are many comments that somehow hook us all together. The support is so comforting.

      • Yoder, I have made one of my best friends, for about 5 years now, off a support website like this. We had so much in common, this guy and I. We were both basketball junkies, both attorneys, and both had serially cheating wives.
        He PM’d me one day and we exchanged #s and have talked for hours about what happened.
        He came and visited me when I was in Palm Springs playing golf(he lives in Santa Cruz and I am in Minnesota).
        There is a bond between people that have been through this. I think having a disabled son and this ordeal has helped me develop a decent sense of empathy, much more than I had ever had. So, tha tis a slver lining.
        And , I met my GF, another BS and was able to help her figure things out ,a little.
        Steve Martin is hilarous. I lve some of his routines, the “excuse me” deal and his sililoquy on “What I believe”.

  • Holy crap, a redheaded,psycho gynecologist? My wife was with an unidentified , one armed man.
    I mean, really, despite all the pain, sometimes you just have to laugh.

    • An unidentified one armed man? This is hysterical! I have laughed myself through so much and it has totally avoided the pain I was in. Survival technique I guess.

      • Arnold, was it the guy in the film The Fugitive?
        Mine ran off with a twice divorced mum of 4 kids.
        His life with me was sooo unbearable.
        But at least they shared the same hobby (gym).
        We just shared kids.
        The happiness thing is so relevant. Constantly chasing rainbows, magic and happiness and failing to see everything that is good in there lives at present.
        Some people are just incapable of it.

  • I have always maintained that revenge is healthy and appropriate. Too much new age wierdness advocating forgiveness and the old kumbyah stuff for me.
    I’d fuck either of my cheating wives over in a heartbeat, if a legal opportunity presented itself.
    I’m sorry if that is unevolved or that i am “stuck”. But, I would.

    • I think that you just want justice for what was done to you and I think that is normal. As you said “if a legal opportunity presented itself”. We are NOT vigilantes, we just want what is appropriate, the punishment fitting the crime and it IS IMO a crime when people feel “entitled” to do whatever they want regardless of other people’s feelings. I do not believe that you are “stuck”, just human.

    • I think that those of us who have been through this are a justice-seeking lot. We know the difference between right and wrong and we want the world to work in that way. I sometimes wonder if that was always the case — or if that is the outcome of the betrayals perpetrated on us. I think for me I’ve always been someone who tries to make things work out in the way that is most fair. What do you think?

    • For me it’s I want everyone to know exactly why. Not wonder why…. But to KNOW WHY we are not together. Will I go around and tell everyone? Maybe not but I’m not a liar and I will not hide it and make something up when asked. There will be no “We fell out of love” BS. Whoever asks will know the reason we are not together is because she decided to go and fuck her old boyfriend….. I’ll even give them his name, phone number and address if they want to know…..

      • Bud, I have been thinking about this too. So many people want to “remain friends with both partners” as if nothing has happened. I told one friend, of many decades and she was so sympathetic and dismayed and disgusted with my h. As she readied to leave and go outside, I said my good byes. She went outside and as she approached her car, h came along to tell her good bye and she hugged him. At that moment I realized No one truly understands the devastation that occurs when someone destroys a marriage, unless someone has cheated on them. I can only assume that all our friends will accept h at face value and will not hold him responsible for his repulsive behavior. What I want, is to shout it from the roof tops, scream bloody murder, but I am afraid it will hinder, more than help my situation. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

        • I think because cheating happens all to often people on the outside do not totally understand what we the betrayed spouse go through. They still see the cheater as the same person they work with, The person they go and have a couple of beers with etc. Not the same person we lived with, grew with, connected with, spent our day and nights with, were intimate with etc. We knew them below the surface (or so we thought). They on the outside really only know them at face value. So now if we go shouting from the roof top screaming bloody murder. We end up looking like the crazy one.

          Of course my cheater has already called me crazy and dense and I wasn’t even close to a roof top or screaming bloody murder…..

          • I know you are right about this, it would not help me in any way, but there are a few that, once the ink is dry on the big D, I will send them some of the emails and texts, with a note, “Thought you would like to hear my side of the story.” This is for a few of his friends and family whom he has simply said, “I made a mistake.” No explanation, no nuthin’. The thought of those people not knowing the truth drives me nuts.

            • This is good, Yoder. Just short, sweet and to the point. No sermonizing etc. The e-mails speak for themselves.
              Unfortunately, almos t no one who has not been on the receiving end gets how repugnanat the behavior is.

        • Yoder, I’m obsessed with this subject. My natural instinct is to hide it for her; but, I can’t figure out why. I know I don’t want my 13 and 14 year old daughters to know because a) I think it will be damaging to them and b) because I still want them to have a good, positive relationship with their mother. Is that realistic or even possible? Is it really just shame and humiliation that makes me want to just disappear? There is enormous temptation to say “LOOK WHAT YOUR MOTHER HAS DONE TO US!” but is that just another desperate Pick Me dance only with my children? I’m 1 month past d-day and not very mature in my thought processes but I am really clear that nothing matters more than my girls (sadly “my girls” now only refers to 2 people).

          • I struggle with this all the time. their dad plays happy dad yet spends an enormous amount of time trying to ruin me financially. I finally lost it tonight and told my kids some of what we were facing, mainly because it’s not going to go away and I want them to understand that we are facing tough times here. It sucks because one of my kids ends up defending his dad and I just say ‘yes, sure, you love him’ but the thing is I don’t think STBX really loves the kids, he wants them because it hurts me.

            If he loved them so much he wouldn’t have screamed at them for months to meet OW when they were begging him to please stop ruining everyone’s lives. I was the one who stepped in and made things calm down after he hit one of them.

            I fucking hate him right now.

            • Nord, that anger is just eating us up. I look at how much hurt and anger is represented by all of us and wonder why their are not more dead cheaters. Just twists the mind up as tight as a too small girdle.

            • I wonder if there is a school somewhere that teaches these people how to hurt us. I know I’m not qualified for that kind of psychological war Nord. So what do we do? I guess we focus on the things we have control over and love our children.

        • I am really struggling with this issue. Last week, my STBX sent notes to several friends (and my 18 year old niece!) telling them that he’s “sorry it had to happen this way, but Suzanne and I just couldn’t resolve our differences.” First, there is no WE here. The facts are that he tried to find an affair partner for over two years, then screwed her in secret for 18 months, then broke up with her and “worked” on our relationship for two months (which for him consisted of attending couples therapy but staring mutely at the floor the entire time), then finally ran away while I was at an eye exam. In the meantime, I spent hours every day reading self-help books to try and find an answer, humbled myself to have conversations with him about our marriage and my potential personal failings, etc., etc., etc. I feel like I tried everything. The last week he was at home he was extremely tender and caring and it felt like we turned a corner and were truly on the mend. He said that he loves me and wants me in his life forever. Then I left the house for an hour to come home and find it empty.

          I’m sorry, but none of this sounds like a mutually-agreed upon separation to me. For him not to own up to his role in this thing is very hurtful. I want EVERYONE to know what he did, and to understand that I was completely blindsided by all of it.

          Some friends who have been through trials in their life get it and side with me. Others who have been blissfully ignorant of the harsher side of life do not. They can’t grasp the changes in my STBX and think of him as the happy-go-lucky guy he always appeared. I think some of them are still in shock because, unlike me, they didn’t have to go through the agonizing months of having him be emotionally distant while he was having the affair, then the months of trying to make sense of it all before he ran away. In fact, I think some of them don’t really grasp that HE RAN AWAY and think I might be exaggerating. I have one friend in particular that I finally got frustrated with and told her that I don’t appreciate her trying to tell me that I simply ignored the signs. I finally gave her a tangible example of a time when I tried to talk to STBX regarding the fact that I was worried about how he seemed to have dropped several of his friends and social activities and was becoming increasingly withdrawn. I asked him how I could help if he felt that he was depressed or wanted to do something different in his life. He flatly refused to engage in conversation. I think she might be finally getting a clue.

          My current tactic is to let a phrase slip out in casual conversation like “before STBX ran away in January…” Most people aren’t stupid and have a pretty finely tuned bullshit meter. I don’t need to say anything more and his self-destruction speaks for itself. They can see STBX living like a college student with a futon and packing crates for furniture, running around like a moron with flighty MOW (about whom he used to complain was unintelligent and uncultured), and leaving me high and dry financially. So that is how I’ve handled the situation with close friends.

          The one thing I haven’t decided yet is whether or not to reach out to some extended family members of his who still send occasional cards or letters to our house. I’m trying to decide whehter a simple: “Hi, STBX doesn’t live here anymore; in January he ran away to be with a MOW” would be appropriate or cause me to look silly. Thoughts?

          • Suzanne – I could have written your first paragraph. Similar to my story. http://www.dowehavetotellthekids.blogspot.com/2013/03/three-weeks-in.html

            I’d love to send a note out like you to the extended family but I think you might come across as the jealous ex then. I don’t know. Unless someone has been in our shoes, they don’t seem to have much sympathy and just want it to remain behind closed doors (which I find repugnant and exactly what is wrong with society that excuses such bad behavior).

            • I could not agree more. It is as if there is an epidemic of fuckupedness and it is contagious as hell. Is it us, talking about it so openly and sincerely, with such fervor and contempt in our voices?

              • I just tell people and leave it at that. He’s a serial cheater and I found out. And now he’s tring to ruin me financially. They’re always shocked. I’m always amazed.

          • I’ve described this technique re disclosing before. It has worked well for me. Take it for what it is worth.
            A betrayed spouse, invariably, is being protayed as unstable/psycho by the cheater.
            One has to really be careful of the “fundamental attribution error” phenomenon when disclosing.(This is the deal where the betrayed, in his/her trtaumatized condition, acts unstable/angry/psycho and outsiders see this, fail to realize it is in response to severe abuse/trauma, and assume it is the BS’s normal behavior, thus valifdating the allegations by the cheater).
            Anyway, you want to appear non-vindictive, a not overly zealous revenge hound.
            So, when inquiry is made re how you are doing or what happened, you mention the affair as an aside.
            Example: Arnold, we heard about the divorce. How are you?
            Response: Well, it was tough there , for a while, what with the affairs and all. But, I anm rebounding etc.
            If they did not know of the cheating, they inquire further : What, affairs? We had no idea. Etc
            Response : Oh, I am sorry. I just assumed you knew, like most people blah, blah”
            See, this does a couple things/ You have deseminated the info, but indirectly. You do not look vindictive or overzealous.
            And, the way you mention it, as if it is common knowledge, undermines the cheater’s denials. Folks hear you referencing the community knowing, and just assume that it is true( or at least give it greater weight).
            I did this with great success and got favorable results.

            • Arnold, you are a genius! Writing the script now and will get it memorized and down pat so that I don’t even have to think about it. My gosh, your theory is so simple…you can tell I am not thinking clearly. Thank you so much.

              • You can come up with a lot of variations on this, Yoder. The main ingredients are to refer to it tangentially, remain calm(maybe a little sad but not angry. Wistful works.), and state it like it is a well accepted fact. No selling it etc. Act sort of “uninvested” in whether it is beleived.
                Even throw in your own original doubts, which were , eventually, dispelled :”You know, it was really hard to beleive Laurie was capable of this. Thank God her brother followed her and verified it for me. Who would have ever believed it etc”

              • Arnold, very good to have choices. I am an excellent actress and have worked out a few scenarios.

                How have you guys been?
                “I am really too old to start over, but his affair was the last straw.”

      • If they are such great star crossed schmoopie soulmates, why aren’t they shouting about their affair from the rooftops? It was fate, energy, a vortex etc.

    • Old kumbyah stuff… LOL. Yes, I think revenge is healthy as well. Didn’t the bible say an eye for an eye? (I don’t know, my 10+ years of Catechism was a long time ago.)

  • My xH left me for an alcoholic with no job, no savings, no children–but a husband. She did (does?) have that. She is older than I am, by two years, and quite lovely looking. Most importantly, she is blonde, and he loves those. I’m sure he appreciates all the free time she has to devote to him and his whims, while I raise our children. She is “adventurous,” he said. And, yet, he is angry. My fault–if only I would sanction his new life–even be a part of it, for his amusement–that would be just right, for him. Maybe then the kids would respect him. They should respect him, the way he sees it. He has a right to be happy, and he is doing a lot of fun things now.

    • Fun, fun, fun…combined with anger towards us. It’s weird that so many walk this same path. Life just got too danged boring and yeeha…off they went to find some fun. Meanwhile we’re still picking up the pieces, dealing with the same real life we dealt with before but usually with a hell of a lot less money, a ton more worries and kids who are scarred by the bullshit.

  • Thanks for the link to the happiness article. That explains something I could never understand – why some people never seem satisfied or happy with what they have. More importantly, why those people feel the need to compare with others in a superior way when the comparison is not necessary. Second, why they don’t express happiness at others good fortune, because all they are thinking is, why don’t I have that… I can’t imagine living like that; never feeling happy about the good that happens in someone else’s life must suck.

  • Yes, he is living younger. Surfing, traveling, skinny jeans, many tattoo’s, long hair, fashionista sunglasses, new expensive car, new expensive house. We are left on a tight budget. And telling all old friends (and kids) that he is sooo happy now. Divorce is sooo worth it. All kids in therapy. Oldest boy, a senior in high school, legally changed his last name. He hasn’t spoken to Dad in three years. Since Dday. But Dad is happy. But incredibly nasty to us. Even tho we only email when absolutely necessary.
    I get that things change. I just can’t shake the anvil on my shoulders. Probably the hardest (exhausting) thing is every day thinking, “I gotta be happy! I have to win the happy race.” Stupid, but true.

    • I understand the “happy” race. I am sure h will cling to some old friends who all have money. They of course, will be charming to his face, but will be disgusted by what he has done…when they find out. Me, on the other hand, I don’t know that I am searching for happy. Maybe I am seeking something less, perhaps “content” is what I mean. I still have thoughts of having a T-shirt made that says, “I’m Not With Stupid Any More.”

        • There really IS a shirt that says, “I’m not with stupid any more?” Great gangs of toads, I thought I was just responding to negativity in my own mind. Guess I need one of those.

    • Linda I think Happy as a concept is elusive at best. Yeah he’s got all the external trapping that look like happy but at some point it will come down to those bedrock things family,closeness,love and he won’t have them. My Dad went on to marry 4 other women after dumping my Mom. Lived in Florida lived the good life. My Mom plugged on worked hard, raised her daughters. When Dad hit his 60’s all of a sudden it hit him and he tried to become the father/grandfather but it was not the same as it would have been. My Mom died 10 yrs ago not a day goes by that her family and friends don’t miss her. When my Dad died there were few at his funeral 2 sisters went out of obligation (I didn’t) He rarely crosses my mind. Hang in there some days happy is a job to go to,a car that starts and a roof that doesn’t leak!

  • I can relate to this on so many levels…. in fact, my STBXH is an insurance agent who believes (yes, believes!) he’s a soon to be discovered rock star (with his skanky girlfriend singing back up…) Can’t wait to see that duo: balding, beer-belly 62 year old insurance agent and his muffin-top, dowager-backed, skank…. So, so, cool! So, so, glad I don’t have to be a member of that fan club!

  • My STBX isn’t a personality disorder, I don’t think, but he is a narcissist–and the affair itself is definitely narcissistic. Since Dday and planning my exit, I’ve grown more and more to “trust that they suck” rather than trying to “untangle the skein of fuckedupness.”

    That said, the NYT article was a bit of an eye–opener. I’ve always known that STBX was not a happy person. I, on the other hand, am generally happy. I think he’s extended his unhappiness to include me, and perhaps because compares his unhappiness against my happiness. Maybe he thinks that I don’t have the right to be happy, especially since he works so hard and is generally unhappy. The karmic balance of the universe, in his mind, is that there’s only so much happiness to go around, so if one person has more, then someone else has less.

    I am sure that OW does not make him happy. Rather, OW allows him to fantasize about what he thinks might make him happy. OW is a little over 10 years his junior, though she looks significantly older. STBX started cultivating this bad boy biker image, including goatee, to make him look younger. Ironically, the goatee makes him look older, as facial hair doesn’t work well with his face structure. OW has had a tough life. She’s 40, overweight, underemployed, and has a 1.5-year-old grandchild, and a medically-fragile daughter. STBX gets to play Knight in Shining Armor, rescuing the damsel in distress. All this gives him a fantasy of happiness.

    Of course, the reality that OW offers fails to offer any happiness. Her life is a mess. I suspect that STBX understands this on some level, which is why he’s not divorced me to live with her. For a while, he’s getting ego-kibbles and cake. Ironically, I bet that he’s even less happy than he was before.

    And interestingly enough, now that I’m less worried about managing his stress level (i.e. his unhappiness), I’m even happier.

  • I enjoy reading comments by guys who got dumped as well. I wish all of us chumps could form an online dating site. What kind of man walks out of a 31 year marriage for his 42 year old married graduate student and moves into her parent’s basement so he can be closer to her? Really, how can someone we thought we knew so well turn into another person before our eyes? Only another person who’s been through this could truly relate. Other people just wouldn’t believe it.

  • Very good, Yoder. You worked in another thing I forgot to mention: a little self deprecation. That really helps. I would go with the old ” I am just so naive, too trusting. It was right there in front of my face but i did not see it.”
    And, you can also use the plural. “we”, when disclosing the uncovering of the affair, like: ‘Yes, we finally found, what we had all been hoping was untrue”. That way, it looks like others have uncovered the same evidence and can verify.
    Of course, you do need some allies in this, folks who have, in fact, helped in the investigation. In my case I had a PI, her parents , and her siblings. That is usually not available, but you might have someone like this. If not, thank the internet/phone records etc.
    My good friend who has been through this, is a lawyer, as well. But, he does not try cases and he just went about things way too emotionally, alienating folks.
    I think the trial training was really helpful as most good trial lawyers( I have watched a lot) realize that the impression one makes is every bit as important as the substance of the message.
    Your acting training should help in this.

  • Yoder and Hearthbuilder,
    Being able to focus on the task at hand is a problem for me as well. It certainly doesn’t help the diminished sense of self I am fighting to regain. I used to feel accomplished, organized and efficient. At work, I move from one thing to another without finishing anything. I sit down at my desk and look through the smallest pile and can’t decide what to do with any document and it ends back in a pile and set off to the side again. I forget meetings, double book meetings, can’t find things on my desk or on my computer. I was the type that had my desk cleaned and everything laid out for the next day. I took a lot of pride in doing my job well. Now that I could use the extra self-esteem from my competence, it’s gone. Fortunately, I have dear work friends who I have supported when times were tough for them and a supportive boss, but it’s upsetting. I can’t even keep my shit together and it’s been almost two years.
    I want my old self back. 🙂 Guess I better get to work on finding her again.

    • nwrain, perhaps our old selves are gone forever, perhaps the answer is to create selves. New self will have the same positive traits as the old self, but without the baggage dragging us down. Reinventing one’s self isn’t new, Lady Gaga does it about every week, and think about Madonna, even George Jones, may he rest in peace, reinvented himself when hardline country music stopped selling. We are capable, now, it is just doing it.

    • I guess for me it’ll eventually come out at work that I’m divorcing or divorced but I’m still so humiliated by the whole thing that I haven’t told anyone. So far I’ve been covering and hiding it but it must help that everyone knows and it sounds like they are supportive. That’s really good. I definitely get what you mean about finding your old self. I’ve been with my wife since I was 20 so I’m not even sure who my old self is.

      • HearthBuilder, As I am still living in the same house with h, there are many issues I cannot yet address, where and how will I live, etc., but I CAN get my head on straight and realize that the longer I am here, the stronger I become, my pained emotions are in check because now, I want outta here so much. I have envisioned so many scenarios, but how ever it works out I will know I did not act with a knee jerk reaction, I made up my mind and then acted on it accordingly. My first reaction was to tell him I would be leaving in three days and would go live with my daughter. Her children are grown and to be honest I thought she might like the company. As two days rolled along I began thinking differently. He was still texting, e-mailing, etc. ow. I read one where he told her, “I was in shock at first, but then I got to thinking about it. If she goes to her daughter’s house, I am left with the motor home, the truck, and all my things.”

        He of course, had no knowledge of this. I never said another word about leaving or anything about that e-mail. Initially, I was so hurt that he no longer loved me and had done this terrible thing, that I just wanted to run as fast as I could, as far as I could to get away from him. I can’t stand to be around people who do not care for me.

        That is when I started planning and scheming. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I had to have a plan and that would take time. Have a book coming out in about three weeks, royalties are paid once a year in January. Long time off. All I have is social security and it is penny’s compared to his. When he was diagnosed with cancer, then had surgery, etc. it bought me time to make my plans. He is feeling so guilty, (I don’t really think so about ow) about my having to take care of him, he is so apologetic that I have to do this, and so appreciative, he will agree to anything, which will include alimony. That will get me to the point I can leave and then royalties start in January. That is the plan to date. That’s my new self…learn to take care of myself.

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