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Rethinking Infidelity

From an upcoming post on Huffington Post Divorce…

Is Bob hitting you?

Did he smack your head into a wall and now you’ve got some permanent memory loss? Sure, it’s disabling, but manageable. You didn’t die or anything. He didn’t mean to do it. It was mistake. It wasn’t his intention to hurt you. Yes, he knows smacking someone’s head into a wall will result in hurting them, but at the time he was introducing your head to concrete he wasn’t thinking about that. He was just reacting. To you. To issues in your marriage. To your nagging and the way you fold laundry wrong. You need to own your part in this. How you colluded. You know he has a temper, and if you don’t please him just right, he’s going to blow. You knew that and yet you persisted. He made a mistake. He’s very sorry. He promises not to hit you again.

Is Cheryl getting plastered?

Did she pass out drunk on the sofa and forgot to pick the kids up from school? Did she call in sick at work again because she’s hungover? She doesn’t remember the fight you had last night, that the kids saw, where she called you an asshole, and you told her if she didn’t quit drinking you were going to leave her. And then she blew her last paycheck on partying. You know what the problem here is? Your anger. The way you demand accountability from her. You drove her to drink. You make her unhappy! The kids make her unhappy. And so, sometimes, yeah, she drinks too much. You should work harder to make her happy! You’re not perfect either. In fact, admit it, sometimes you are an asshole. You need to own your part of her drinking problem. And stop threatening to leave her. Recommit to your marriage. Frankly, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.

Do you find this advice insulting?

Ya think? How about if I told you what you really need after being smacked in the head is to not hang around “judgmental” people who tell you wife beating is wrong. Instead you should practice yoga. Relax! Are you offended that I said you drove your wife to drink? And put the onus of saving a marriage to an addict on you? Okay, what if I had a PhD and said it? Does that make it better? No?

Welcome to Chump World. Substitute any of those scenarios above with the word cheating, instead of hitting or drinking, and suddenly hey, blaming the victim is totally cool.

Chumps are constantly told  — by therapists, news articles, and even people related to them — that they “contributed” to their partner’s cheating. That the problem isn’t what the cheater did, or risked (the chump’s health, a child’s home life) — no, the problem is their anger about it. They’re told that the cheater made a mistake, and didn’t intend to hurt them. They’re shamed into believing they must be held accountable for not making the cheater “happy” and should “own” their failings in not “meeting needs.” They didn’t try hard enough, have enough sex, are kind of stale and boring. And truth told, it’s hard work not to cheat on a chump. Unnatural really.

The assumption is that cheating is a minor offense. Just like a generation or so ago, spousal abuse and alcoholism weren’t considered all that damaging either. The partners of drunks and abusers were told they were responsible too.

But, come on — it’s our sex lives we’re talking about here! It’s not natural to be monogamous! Screwing around is a crime? You’re going to compare that to physical abuse?

Yes, I am.

Swingers? If you want to swing, swing. Do it openly and honestly and with protection. No one is judging you. That’s not cheating in my book. If you don’t think you evolved to keep your pants on, bully for you. Stay single or polyamorous. But let me marshall my argument for why I think cheating is abuse, and our minimizations of infidelity are insulting and outdated.

1. Infidelity results in physical harm. People who cheat are making a unilateral decision about your health. (You think they used protection? You want to trust them on that?) Cheaters risk your physical long-term well-being for a side dish f*ck. For men — Herpes, HIV and Hepatitis C are no joke, but the risk to women is far more grave. Infertility from pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer from strains of HPV. STDs can cause pregnancy risks, birth defects, and fetal mortality. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control about 80%–90% of chlamydial infections and up to 80% of gonococcal infections in women are asymptomatic. Yep, she probably doesn’t know!

But you know when it’s a delightful time to find out your husband’s been cheating on you? At your next prenatal health screening when you’re pregnant with his child.

We’re schizophrenic about this, people! Many countries, including the UK prosecute people for reckless endangerment of HIV transmission. But your spouse recklessly endangers your health with hookers and the result is some therapist telling you to put more spice in the bedroom? WTF?

2. Cheating is devastating. Ask a chump if they would rather have been cheated on or thrown down a flight of stairs. Most would pick the stairs. (Admittedly, both choices suck.) There’s a reason primitive societies stone you for this. Betrayal hurts like a motherf*cker.

Think it’s no big deal? Tell that to the man who had to paternity test his children. Or the stay-at-home mom with small kids who finds her husband on Craigslist hook ups. Infidelity makes you vulnerable, distraught, and temporarily insane with pain.

Just because we can fantasize about doing something doesn’t make it excusable. You want sex with people you’re not married to? I imagine strangling fellow drivers in Austin every time I get stuck in traffic. Heck, I didn’t evolve to obey traffic laws! I’m guessing 100 years ago, homicide due to my whims was completely acceptable in Texas. Encouraged even. Doesn’t make murder okay. There’s a remedy for your sexual frustrations (unlike Austin traffic) — honest conversations and/or divorce.

3. It is emotionally abusive. There’s no cheating on someone without lying to them. Cheaters deny reality. They gaslight, and the worst among them project their sins on to their chump. “How do I know you’re not cheating on me?” They blame shift. I collect these absurd excuses on my blog. It’s everything from “you were so cold I couldn’t divorce you,” to “you’re a liberal, so I thought you’d be okay with it,” to  “you never played board games with me.” Absurd, but the damage is real. Someone abuses you and then tells you that you brought it on yourself. Classic.

Hang on, I hear you saying. Chumps aren’t perfect! Stop playing the victim. Admit you “created an environment” that allowed this to happen!

Listen, a chump might be the crappiest, most sexless spouse there is, and living another day with them a toxic mistake. If you’re married to that person? Get out. Don’t cheat. Cheating keeps you locked in the dysfunction and makes you a villain. Why would you choose that? If you beat the tar out of them with a leaded pipe, I wouldn’t give you a pass either.

4. Cheating is financially reckless. Just like cheaters make unilateral decisions about your health, they do it with your finances too. Spending marital assets on affairs, hotels, gifts, travel, secret cell phones. That’s your average cheater. If your cheater is a “sex addict” with a hooker habit? God help you. People write to me every day saying they discovered their partner was spending thousands on escorts and draining accounts. There are online communities for women to help them heal and understand their husband’s sexual “compulsions.” It’s been 100 days since he last looked at escort sites! How do I know? My key logger told me so. Who wants to live like this?

Folks, let’s change the conversation and call infidelity what it is — abuse. Why don’t we do that? Because minimization makes it easier to reconcile (and more acceptable for cheaters to cheat). Who wants to reconcile? Cheaters who don’t want the consequences of divorce and chumps who are afraid to start over. You know who else would like you to stick it out with a cheater? The Reconciliation Industrial Complex — those selling the snake oil of “affair proofing” your marriage or re-dos on monogamy. There’s a lot of billable hours in you staying muddled. “Hopium” sells, and it’s addictive too.

We need to stop excusing infidelity. Let’s begin by putting the responsibility for cheating back where it belongs — on cheaters.

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  • Thanks again CL for a great post and another slap in the face. Reality sucks but there it is.
    Especially the part about cheating being emoitionally abusive. The heart ache I have suffered since finding out the truth has been more than I expected. Just starting to see what a tail spin I have been in

  • Awesome. Awesome. Awesome truth. It is high time to raise people’s awareness that infidelity IS ABUSE. And completely unacceptable. No more excusing infidelity and place the accountability and shame on the cheater–where it belongs. Great post again CL.

  • So thankful I found this site a few months ago. It’s my go-to on darker days. I have been divorced 18 months from an 18 year marriage that ended when I found out about an affair with a woman 20 years younger than me.

    At the time every book and every article I was reading was giving me the information that I was likely at fault and to step into reconciliation with love and forgiveness. Luckily for me I had two therapists who both said “he’s an asshole.”

    And a third, a couples counselor who walked us through the hell of therapy when he wouldn’t admit to the ongoing affair. As he pointed at me and said “I blame her!” the couples counselor shook her head incredulously. And told me to get out as fast as I could.

  • I really love you CL. I know without a doubt that a lot of the anguish that I have been going through during this whole awful thing is the shame I feel! I am so tired of flinching, trying to make all the incidental injured parties feel better and the expressions of pity and questions when IT’S NOT my fault!!!!

    It’s like going through a minefield some days and it takes a lot of effort sometimes to go anywhere or do anything. I hope I live to see the day when these people will be openly regarded as the scum they are, instead of being romanticized. I mean when did it become such a Bad/Stupid thing to just want to live my life as a good person?

  • The fear, the humiliation, the pain, the standing in line at the lab to give your STD samples, the loneliness of emotional and physical abandonment, the taunting from your partner and the OP, lies told about you, your intimacy broken, consoling your kids, the financial repercussions, the reorganizing your life, the stares and pity from bystanders, the crash weight loss, the depression all caused by cheating –oh, that is straight up abuse. No doubt about it.

    • All that and to be told by them “So WHAT …Get over it!…it was no big deal”……Yea big deal at all….Well I did get over it …called it quits and for 5 years
      (in about 2 weeks from now) and she still wont get the hell on with her miserable life…I do admit its been kind of amusing watching her wither and dry out along with all that wonderful green grass she was so sure she was rolling in…HAAHAaa ….I wish there was a law that these NPD twisted Idiots have to have Chumplady record all her blogs in voice and it be blared at them in a locked room for a week straight ….see if it sinks in on them…

  • The surprising thing about the argument you put forth, is that there are functioning people amongs us, people who author books, have therapy practices, appear on talk shows etc, who , actually, disagree on this stuff.
    I mean it never ceases to amaze me that some adult, like this Tammy Nelson or Marhta Gibbs,can find a way to put food on their tables and survive. They do have followinggs and supporters, folks who , actually , pay them for their services and writings.
    It depresses the hell out of me that we have so many of these really stupid people among us.
    You can tsalk until you are blue in the face, show them all the arguments, and they never get it. You’ll . often, get some of the weird, word salad, new age mumbo jumbo that you have written about, in response.
    Then some weak minded simpleton/follower type, will like the sound and cadence of the phrases emmitted and jump on board with a “You go Girl/boy. You are so “evolved”.
    Martha Gibbs is ancient enough (check the flab on her arms) to have figured out she is an idiot by now. Yet she persists.
    Tammy Nelson, our erotic/sex expert, looks like a flaming asshole in her pink scarf and shit eating grin shown on her site. I think the fastest route to permanent impotence is to look at her and imagine being with her.

  • The cheating is abuse, and the aftermath, if you are foolish enough to reconcile, as I was, is heightened abuse.

    After dumping me for TWO married OW, threesomes and orgies, and after a 20-year marriage FILLED with his constant, anonymous sex with other men, the ex wanted to reconcile a few months later. I was so STUPID, so DESPERATE, so SCARED, I agreed.

    Within just a few weeks, he was telling me that “if I couldn’t forgive him, he didn’t see how it could work out.” Telling me that he “had forgiven himself, so why couldn’t I?” Telling me how HARD it had been for him when I filed for divorce and moved out, even though he was actively having affairs and had TOLD ME he didn’t want to be married to me anymore and never loved me. Saying that I “tore our family apart.”

    It went on and on, the emotional abuse in this “reconciliation” and finally I had to say forget it. Went ahead with the divorce, which was final a year ago.

    Came to find out the only reason he wanted to “reconcile” was to get out of paying child support and because he planned on me working full time to support him while he tried to become an actor. He was cheating during the reconciliation same as always.

    Those who say “it takes two for problems in a marriage” or that the BS “drove” the cheater to cheat, don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. When you are married to a DIAGNOSED narcissistic personality disorder like I was, it’s just one long nightmare.

      • –“Telling me that he “had forgiven himself, so why couldn’t I?”
        Oh GladIt’sOver, that is simply priceless.

        And yes, they actually are making decisions, draining accounts, and manipulating you and your children, for their financial and social gain. A snake would be more trustworthy.

    • Mine also wanted R so that he didn’t have to pay child support and so that his nice guy image would be preserved. I could tell that it wasn’t about wanting me– at all. If he had been able to fool me, we would definitely have been in false R. I have no doubt that he would have taken the A underground and continued to cake eat for as long as he could.

  • How dare you stop my victim blaming! Don’t you understand how hard my life is without people constantly telling me how wonderful and/or desirable I am? I need the kibbles! It’s not my fault. It’s because my parents/my low self-esteem/that new guy at the office/my spouse. Honestly, the way you talk betraying the person I promised to love is a BAD thing.

  • I am a strong woman, always was. After finding out my husband had been cheating for at least 17 years (of our 25 year marriage) with co-workers, including multiple affairs and unprotected group sex, I kicked him out and got a very quick divorce. I also continued along doing well and advancing in my career, remortgaged the house into my name alone, and single handedly support our three children. I went to counseling, kept my chin up, accepted and let the emotions “pass through,” and took care of “myself” and made time for “me.” I worked at not being “bitter” or a “victim” (god forbid), tried not to let him have “room in my head,” and made sure I didn’t stay too angry since so as not to continue to give him “power” over me. I read a small library of books on cheating spouses, narcissim and sociopathy (maybe I’ll be a psych in my next career). I look better than I have in years, and even found a new and awesome boyfriend. In many ways I also feel better than I have in years, free from the negative influence I did not realize my ex- exerted, energized and free from the claustrophobia the lies and deceit were subconsciously causing. So, from the outside, I’m simply fucking amazing…whew!! But, that being said, one year almost exactly past D-Day, deep inside I still feel bewildered, stunned, somewhat disbelieving he actually did what he did and that he doesn’t love or care about me or the children. My shrink says I am suffering from post traumatic stress types of symptoms, even dissocation (a part of my mind simply seems to be trying to play catch-up with what I know, and I somehow can’t process the betrayals, games, and gaslighing he engaged in, along with the cheating and squandering of the best years of my life). I get angry, and look for regret or sorrow on his part for what he did (perpetual disappointment there). I sometimes still feel very weary, as if I am just pretending to be ok. Sometimes, I feel that I may not actually mind if I wasn’t alive anymore, except I am the sole support mentally and physically for my children. So what he did wasn’t abuse? I somehow have some blame? I contributed to causing it? I need to see my part? The insistence that this is the case is in my opinion just another way for us chumps to be mind-fucked. I am an abuse victim, I have post traumatic symptomology as a result. I’m smart enough to know that my life and my psyche has been permanently damaged, and there ain’t no getting back the last 17 years of my life. And it wasn’t a stranger off of the street; it wasn’t a random car accident; it wasn’t a lightening strike or act of god. It was the man I was SURE, absolutely SURE, loved me, supported me, who was the love of my life and vowed to love and protect me. I would rather he shot me, it’d be infinitely easier.

    • Wow, Kelly, I could have written your post almost word for word. I understand exactly what you are going through. I still find myself wondering what the hell happened, how it could be that the man I loved for more than 20 years was a total fake, liar and con man, and how I was so brutally suckered for so long.

      I’ve come to believe it’s something I will never “get over” entirely, but that I will eventually accept it and work around the scar.

      • Haha yes, GladIt’sOver, I was simultaneously commenting on your post above.

        I saw somewhere a woman state that she ultimately came to accept that she would “go to her grave stunned” about what her ex-husband had done to her. I am working on acceptance of the fact that I may never get over this stunned feeling. You’re right, they’re con men of the worst sort.

        I know I’m working around the scar, sometimes it’s just fatiguing and mindblowing all at once!

    • Kelly,
      Your feelings are absolutely normal and I would tell you to be concerned if you did not feel like you do.
      You accomplished a tremendous amount of change in a year. Your brain and heart and feelings have not even had a chance to stop, let alone process what has happened in your life.
      I cannot believe that I am writing this but you need to have patience.
      You have moved on physically.
      Now comes the really hard part. You need time to process what happened, how you feel about it and who you want to be in the future.
      You need to go through all the feelings of rage, hurt, loss, bewilderment and many more issues. Only then will your head and heart begin to match the person on the outside.
      There is no way around it except to plow right through it. And, brace yourself, it is not easy.
      If you can continue to be strong on the outside while you give yourself the gift of time to fall apart on the inside, you will be great…..some Tuesday afternoon in the future. And if that perfect outside has a few cracks in it (or some big holes), don’t worry, it will come back, even stronger than it is now.
      One year is a drop in the bucket. This process does not come with a “finished by” date. Sorry. But it will get better.
      I promise.
      By the way, when people said that to me, I didn’t really believe it, but I listened just in case maybe they knew something I didn’t. Some days, it was all I had to hold onto. But it is true.

      • Oh Rebecca, I know you’re right, and that really really helps. It’s so good to know that I am not alone. Thanks!

    • Kelly what you said in your last few sentences says it all about why infidelity is so awful for all of us. We don’t have A LOT of control over preventing harm to us. At any moment driving we can be hit by a drunk driver or someone having a heart attack at the wheel of their car and plowing into us. Think about this, even someone who ends up criminally charged with say vehicular assault or homicide NEVER intentionally thought about getting drunk and then plowing into someone changing their lives for ever. They of course got drunk and got into a vehicle but they never planned the carnage.

      Not so with a cheating spouse. The cheating spouse intentionally plans out EVERYTHING usually with the affair partner. They put us at risk physically, damage us emotionally and throw away our years together that we ‘thought’ we had. Yet, society doesn’t punish them for their intentional act of harm or deception with any sort of crime.

      For years I felt ‘dead’ after being discovery my husband’s affair and waddling through the aftermath. That woman who was is now no longer.

      The strange conflict is I can be more forgiving of the criminal and actually have more compassion for him than my spouse who intentionally inflicted harm on me. The person who I loved and was the love of my life essentially ‘killed’ me. I totally understand the feeling of preferring being physically beaten or physically harmed by a drunk driver- than my husband.

      • Yes Hope, it is beyond horrible to be deceived, used and abandoned by the one who was supposed to hold us most dear. It is unfathomable that the person we most trusted to love, care for and protect us and our children has become our betrayer.

        • EXACTLY…we mourn them as a death…only they come back and wage war on us…they continue to betray us…humiliate us…belittle us…financialy drain us…just when there seems to be a calm sea you get a stupid F’in text or email or letter from a lawyer or a call from some Gov’t branch reminding you about YOUR responsibilities or a false claim of your lack of…it never ends!!!!!
          They then work on our children we share and draw them into this twisted loyalty bind till it wears them down and they choose sides as well.
          You know we have laws protecting you if some stranger harrassed you but not from these mental morons….why is that?

      • Well it turns out that here in Wisconsin adultery is a crime. Problem is it’s hardly ever prosecuted because the DA doesn’t want to open up the flood gates. So right there it shows you that even the judicial system enables the cheater.

        • Sorry I meant my comment to be a reply about what CL wrote in her last sentence of the post.

          “We need to stop excusing infidelity. Let’s begin by putting the responsibility for cheating back where it belongs — on cheaters.”

    • Kelly,

      I relate 100% to your comment. On the outside, I’ve done all the right things – divorced ASAP, focused on the kids, got therapy, started dating, etc. But 18 months after d-day, I still have moments where I think WTF? How did my life get here??? Why did my XW throw away 15+ yrs?

      Now, a year after the D, I have to deal with her bitterness and pettiness. Apparently, she didn’t realize life would be hard post-D. Money issues, no one to help with the kids on your days, etc. My standard of living hasn’t changed much post-D, but hers has drastically. I guess the rainbows and unicorns of the OM turned into a mirage…

      But – you move on. Fake it till you make it, right?

      Best wishes,

      • I still don’t get the anger and bitterness from him. He got caught cheating. It then turned out he’d been cheating for years. I kicked him out. We are nearly divorced. 18 months later and he’s more angry and petty and ridiculous than ever.

        And why? He’s living with someone in their 20’s, he got rid of the boring middle aged wife, he sees his kids a few times a week and it’s all pizza and fun times, never the homework/clean your room/go find something to do times.

        I’m screwed financially, his family has pretty much stepped out of my life, mine is far away…yet he’s angry and pissed off. Maybe it’s because I still have loads of friends, the kids still respect me, he figured out that there are consequences to his actions and maybe hanging with the younger generation isn’t as much fun as he thought.

        I don’t know and I don’t bother trying to figure it out much. But it’s annoying as hell because he visited this whole shitstorm on me and then wants to somehow play the victim. Fuck him and yes, that’s just continued abuse.

        He can’t even take responsibility for any of this happening.

    • “I have in years, free from the negative influence I did not realize my ex- exerted, energized and free from the claustrophobia the lies and deceit were subconsciously causing”
      Kelly, I am have been doing OK in the last few months since D-Day, and I hope to get where you are…but the above phrase keeps going through my mind…..I honestly have wondered alot if I wasn’t really crazy because to me there seemed to be a kind of black haze in the house/my mind. Almost like I forgot how to think/feel…? I think I knew, and like a card trick all the fragile cards are just falling one by one by one. If I can ever get to “OK” , half financially stable at least I am going to try and go somewhere really nourishing…healthy and in nature, if only for a few days to let my mask ‘slip’.. I did alot of this in the first few weeks, but I can barely even remember it…I think we all need a Chump Lady retreat!!

      • Chump Lady Retreat… I like that! Toni, I so know the black haze you talk about (I describe it as like trying to feel my way, blind and disoriented, down a dark hallway). Being released from so many years of lies is both a relief and a burden. Though we just want to be through and done with this gut wrenching process, you can’t really rush it. I am a year out from D-Day now and I know I will survive. I shudder when I think how strange and frightening that dark hallway was a year ago. You will get there Toni, be patient with yourself (I hated when people told me that but it’s true!). Love and hugs

        • Sign me up for the Chump Lady Retreat!!! That is a fantastic idea.

          And Kelly – you are totally sane and going through something I have been struggling with for almost three years since I found out about the cheating. It is PTSD, I think. You can do all the right things, follow all the advice, reinvent yourself….but if you are a person of any depth, you remain gobsmacked by the absolute shock of having the love of your life be the one to do his/her best to destroy you. That “stunned” pain and your brain’s struggle to make sense of everything creeps in late at night and early in the morning, when you are most vulnerable. I don’t know when it ends. I don’t know IF it ends. I wish I was as far along as you in that you have a new relationship. I haven’t been able to take that step. I just feel………well…….neutered. Dead inside – kind of an emotional zombie. I walk, move, function………but inside there’s just nothing but the stunned silence of losing 25 years of history that I thought was perfect and turned out to be his lies and my unicorns. If someone can tell us how to heal from the shock of being so destroyed by the one person you trusted more than any other – I’ll take that pill! Either way – you are not alone in this.

          And CL – as soon as you plan a retreat – sign us up! 🙂

          • Char, it’s like hearing myself talk when I read your posts. Neutered… gobsmacked… shock…..stunned… I suppose it’s a little hang up we have when the love of your life TRIES TO FUCKIN DESTROY YOU (and why exactly do they have to do that by the way??). I do now believe that evil walks the earth.

            Anyhow, I decided that when they put me in my grave, the last story in my romantic life was not going to be the depravity and betrayal my ex committed (Char, it was really really bad stuff). And through Facebook I started talking to my now-boyfriend, a life long and wonderful friend of my brother who has himself been divorced for years (yeah he was a chump too), and we just hit it off. You can do it, don’t let the terrorists win!!

            • Kelly,

              Yes – I’d pay a million dollars (that I don’t have) to answer that question – WHY does the love of our lives turn on a dime to actively destroy us? I wish I knew that answer – maybe it has some twisted thing to do with their own guilt and need to justify the behavior – who knows?

              Much of your story is such a mirror of mine, I will look to your happy next step back into relationshipland and keep hoping. That line about not letting that a-hole write the last page of your romantic story is a powerful one. I’ll do my damnedest NOT to be cowed by his emotional terrorism!

          • One of my Aunties got so riled up on the phone with me one day about five months after the break that I dropped the receiver — I swear, it was rattling with how loudly she was yelling: ‘He’s trying to destroy you, and DON’T YOU LET HIM!!’ God love her. I’m still here. 🙂

            There’s definitely a traumatic element to betrayal. The complete and utter trashing of one person by another is the worst existential injury we can go through…’having the love of your life be the one to his/her best to destroy you.’ It’s a life threat. People either get this or they don’t.

    • Kelly, I understand how you feel. I’m a year into this and lately I’ve regressed. I think the realization of what she did to me and our child is sinking in, as you say, the lies and betrayal and our being powerless to change any of it. Just have to swallow it. I too would not mind going to sleep and not waking up. I’m not suicidal, just so tired of these feelings of anger and the inability to process all of it.

      I’m in this for the long haul though. She isn’t going to destroy me, I get up every day and tell myself that I’m one day closer to these feelings being gone. I know this is temporary, and in spite of the suffering, I take solace in the fact that I’m not like her, A self-centered lowlife who would hurt the two people who loved her more than anyone else.

      • ” I take solace in the fact that I’m not like her, A self-centered lowlife who would hurt the two people who loved her more than anyone else.”

        Jeff, I too see a regression as it sinks in, and I realize that yup it’s real and it ain’t going away, and yup he doesn’t care about me or the kids, even now. I loved your last line, above- they have truly given up the people who loved them more than anything in the world. I remember saying that to my ex early on, and he simply looked at me with cold dead eyes, and I knew he was gone.

  • Dr. Tammy’s head is going to explode, followed quickly by Vickie Larson’s!! LOL

    Great article. Truth is truth, and you speak truth.

  • I agree with our dear CL that honesty is at the heart of things.

    I think its possible for someone to make a promise in good faith, and then to conclude, even years later, that he can’t keep his promise anymore. That seems very human to me.
    In our culture marriage isn’t slavery or indentured servitude. Its a voluntary institution and its considered legal to leave. We need to make it “moral” to leave too.

    So, when my Ex realized he couldn’t keep the “forsake all others” part of his vow, *that* was human. I could sympathize with *that*.

    The moral thing at that time, was to come clean. To tell me what he could and could not do flat out ~ to admit that this was not the deal we struck, and to take it on the chin. To not lie, to not try to cover up, to not be angry when his double life was exposed, to not fight me over really basic things in the divorce.

    To just be honest about it.

    And you know what? Lots of folks do that: they have the “I’m not in love with you anymore” speech and they own it. They file for divorce, or encourage their spouse to do so. They are fair in settlement. They tell the kids that it wasn’t their spouse’s fault. They accept responsibility. When family and friends are mad at them, they don’t shift blame. They don’t wallow. They move on and start over because in the end they were the ones who changed the status quo.

    If my ex had done that, the divorce would have been faster, he would have retained friends and family over time and we’d both have lots more of our money left over, that’s for sure. It was the *need* to have it both ways, and the inability to be honest about it (and suffer the consequences that lying didn’t spare him) that did the most damage.

    I hope CL does a column on cognitive dissonence soon.

    • Don’t forget, the subterfuge also results in theft of the BS’s time, lost opportunities etc.
      If my Xws would have just told me, vs scamming me, I would not resent them. But, their affairs were being subsidized by me. And ,after all, what opportunities could someone as inferior to them as me, been missing? I mean, I had them, the pinnacles of desireability and fun, excitement, etc.
      Why was that not enough for the peasantry?

    • I agree.

      My parents were married for 50 years when my father died, and my mother would have gladly been married to him for another 150 if she’d been able. He loved her dearly, too, and still liked to buy her sexy lingerie for Valentine’s Day, even when they were both past the ages when popular culture think people give up on that sort of thing. My mother refused to do the “death do you part” thing in her wedding ceremony. She thought that one could never tell. Too much can change.

      So I would have been devastated but less so if my STBX had told me that he no longer felt as if we were a good couple, and that a divorce would be best. He could have worked out a settlement. We could have gone our separate ways. Unfortunately, his lies have only compounded the betrayal.

      As Arnold points out, infidelity is lying, deception, and theft. Just about Dday, I asked STBX if OW had feelings for him. His response? No. When OW posted inappropriately on his Facebook page, I brought it up with him, asked what was with her, and asked if I had anything to worry about. His answer? He didn’t know, it was weird, and no, I had nothing to worry about. By this time, I knew for months he’d been cheating on me. Then there was the fact that he’s paid the OW’s house payments. Twice. Paid her insurance when she was jobless. Paid for a security system. And recently he gave her his SSN so he could help her open a credit card account since her credit is lousy. We live in a one-pot state, and what he’s done will influence the court’s determination of the settlement in a major way.

      Worst of all is the time theft. I can look at his phone logs and see that he’s called her 3-5 times per day. He’s never called me that many times. They worry about how to see each other all the time. STBX and i used to go out to dinner on a date once per week. We’ve not done this in over 3 years–and because HE said that he was too tired from work. But he’s not too tired to try to sneak some Saturday breakfast meetings in with OW.

      If he’d spent that time working on our marriage instead of trying to see OW, we’d be in a very different place now.

      My sneaking suspicion is that he doesn’t want a divorce. It’s too much stress. He probably doesn’t want the affair, either, as it’s too much stress. When I file, I picture him telling me that he’s sorry, and that WE can move beyond that, and that people at work say an affair is no big deal.

      I’m not those people, and yes, it’s a big deal. Screw him and all the other cheating assholes.

      • guys… the problem is that we keep making the same mistake.

        we keep thinking that the playing field is even— that our marriage partners actually have the CAPACITY to UNDERSTAND that what they are doing is wrong. Its not that they don’t know it, but that they don’t leave because they have a sick need to fuck us over.

        Male cheaters are misogynists. I don’t know what the female word is for “man-hater.” I looked it up, its a misandrist. Every hear of it? (It didn’t pass the spell checker either.)

        But, cheating is about CONTROL. It is not about love. Do you think that they actually LOVE their paramours, sextresses? Oh, he left YOU for THEM, claiming love?

        Its not love. Its all fantasy. Its infatuation. Its the excitement of planning a tryst. Its a diet of cream puffs and napoleons and yes, cake, but without taking any vitamins or eating any fruits and vegetables. Cheaters live in a world of make believe because the real world is just too, too much for them. He DIDN’T mean to hurt you. He didn’t mean to hurt you, because he does not have the capacity to not hurt. He does not know what love is either. There’s a hole where his heart and soul is supposed to live.

        do you understand?

        97% of the time that affair partners marry, it also doesn’t work out. After all, its a marriage built on lies and deceit. Doesn’t seem to me like a very solid foundation for a healthy, strong, intimate relationship.

        If he couldn’t be honest with you, do you think that he’s any more honest with his AP?

        no fucking way!

        Does it change our devastation? Our trauma? no. it doesn’t. but maybe if we hear it enough, it’ll sink in that our partners are just plain sick. Maybe if we think of them as some non compos mentis geriatric in an assisted living situation that would help?

        No one is really home. No one that I’d ever want to live with, much less make a life.

        • Wow Laurel, perfectly and beautifully put (and it’s haed to put tuis topic into beautiful language). And you are so right, my ex is I guess a player and “loves” women (obviously that explains the multiple affairs and group sex, right??)

          But I realized post D-Day that he actually hates and fears us (same in reverse for cheater skank wives). And he feels best with the dirty pitiful ho’s who would do whatever disgusting thing he wanted and prove in his desperate mind that women are beneath him

        • Yes, Misandry. It is not in spellcheck because society seems reluctant to acept its prevalence(but, watch a movie and see how many times a guy gets slapped across the face by a woman with the audience just accepting it).
          Look up Hypergamy, as well, for an explanation for why many women cheat.

  • CL, I agree, being cheated on is emotionally devastating. Right after DDay, I cried more than I thought possible, hardly ate or slept, had panic attacks when my husband was in the same room (new to me – I had never had these before in my life!) and lost 10 lbs in 14 days. All this while he was supposedly in marriage counseling with me, yet still seeing the OW. I told him that his affair was hard on me, and that didn’t know what it feels like to have your spouse cheat on you.

    But he didn’t care; he had no empathy.

    • Seems to be the norm.. I’m going to watch my daughter play softball this afternoon and the OW and my STBX will both be there

      • Ugh, that sucks that you will have to deal with that, a price of admission to your daughter’s softball game. Yuck. Prayers to you to be strong and just focus on your daughter’s game and not your STBX’s drama.

        I am dreading this very same situation in my own life. This is actually one of the things which initially brought me to (false) R, because I dreaded dealing with custody/Affair Partner drama surrounding the kids.

        But then I thought about it some more, and realized: When my STBXH was deep in his affair, he took our daughter ON A DATE with him and the AP. That really, really hurt. So I realized that what I was dreading was something that had already happened anyhow, and should I stay, would certainly happen again. I would rather deal with this drama as a divorced mom, retaining my dignity, than have it continue to happen ANYHOW behind my back.

        • Same here too….. Ironically, NOW my ex makes SURE to attend games ( still on her week ONLY, but twice as much as before…..) so EVERYONE can see her and he new hubby–affair partner and how dedicated they are to my son.

          She still doesn’t watch the game, has to gadfly with anyone who will give her attention, then complain about the coach….to the embarrassment of her son…

          My son asked me once, “doesn’t she know everyone is laughing at her”? I felt terrible for him, because I knew he was ashamed….

          So they not only crap on their spouses……they crap on everyone from their “Former life”, even the ones they profess to love more than anything…….

          • That is TRUTH, JamesR. That last line said it all. My STBX showed up everywhere, but my daughter laid the law down that no way was he to bring the OW. But on away games, damned if he didn’t start showing up with her in tow because he knew I didn’t attend away games very much. And when my daughter called him and told him to either stop bringing her or she’d cut all communication, he pouted and blamed me!

            He never cared about his children’s feelings – only his. When they didn’t magically accept his new life – he blamed me. Now we all have no contact with him, and recently his own brother got fed up and broke all ties with him. And he emailed me at work and blamed ME. The crap just keeps flying from him.

            • Char, my kids chose the same- no contact. My ex apparently expected family time with our 3 children and his main AP (one of his group sex partners and someone we thought was a family friend). When the kids were ignoring his invitations for get-togethers, I asked if he seriously envisioned his children and AP, and perhaps even the other AP (the AP ‘s are best friends) all getting together for “happy family time”. He was stunned, as if he never thought about it before or considered it could be a problem for the children. And oh yes, he and the AP’s blame…wait for it….me (yawn). Leave them to the living death they have chosen.

          • their problem is keeping up that appearance that they created by telling everyone what a POS you are and bragging how great they are except they start to run out of people who believe them…the drama starts to get old…the people see you and thru their own judge of character realize it doesn’t add up …yes they become parent of the year only when it conviences them or as you say have something new to show off but the true colours bleed thru eventually. I know it’s hard to endure and the humiliation is unbearable at times but really what did the guy get…your hand-me-down?.. and now that you know what she’s capable of with the cheating and betrayal SERIOUSLY what kind of prize has he won ?….and don’t think it won’t happen again either by her or him (if he was a cheater as well) sooo unfortunately we just need to press on …let on she isn’t even there ..ignore her as always and one day your kid will tell her not to come if she keeps up the embarrassing parenting….remember they need the spotlight on them….pull the plug every chance you get….don’t worry man one day you will be there with a hottie who genuinely wants to be there to support you and your kids and she will notice…trust me…..let her burn

  • Gee not sure what therapist would blame a victim of infidelity but I believe you that some somewhere have done so. Infidelity is always a choice a person makes regardless of the reasons or excuses the offender makes. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Candace — you need to read over at HuffPo Divorce. There’s a lot of blame the chump and a lot books written to help chumps improve their “pick me” dance. That shit sells.

      As for shrinks? I hear a LOT of stories about therapists who ask the chump what they failed to do to meet the cheater’s “needs.” This happened to my husband in his first marriage. Speaking for myself, the first marriage counselor I went to with my ex, when I insisted he get an STD test and he said angrily “you’re punishing me!” with that request — sat there impassively, and later said blandly that we “need to dialogue.”

      After which I got an amazing shrink who called my ass on the carpet for being a codependent chump, and his on the carpet for being a narcissist, cheater freak. Good ones exist, but a lot of quacks are waddling around out there too. Blame the victim is rampant.

      • I think most marriage counselors are of the “save the marriage” camp, the one we saw used the “time sunk” all the time – as in; you’ve been together 17 years, there must be some way you can repair this. And she had a lot of empathy for the pain my husband was going through because he had to cut off the OW. It’s really crap.

        Here’s the thing, all the experts agree that you should not attend marriage counseling with an abuser. Cheating is abuse, so it’s pretty clear marriage counseling is not a good fit. It is only meant to help a couple with issues to which they are both contributing. BTW, I did learn some good communication skills from those sessions and the workshop. All my ex learned was another way to manipulate me and therapists/others.

      • At the joint counseling session the therapist said “he is sending you butterflies of love, what do you want to send back?”. . . I could only think “raid?”

        • Oh hahaha Skatergirl, that’s hilarious. Butterflies of love? Seriously?? I spit out the water I was drinking when I saw your “Raid” answer.

        • Is this for real? Did a paid professional really use the term butterflies of love???? I have heard of a lot of crap that couples counselors say, but honest to God, butterflies of love takes the brownie. What the fuck? Besides being just an embarrassing thing to say, it really was a manipulative thing to express to someone who was betrayed. I mean, after someone has cheated on you, and really hurt you, you are supposed to reciprocate their lame attempts to garner your forgiveness by sending butterflies of love?

          I think couples counselors prey on chumps and their willingness to fix all manner of bullshit situations from which they ought to flee!!!

  • Again, a huge breath of fresh, sane air. Thank you, CL, and all in this community … INTEGRITY STILL MATTERS!

    Betrayal is a horrific existential injury — the entire person is scalded.


      It not only matters; I think it’s one of the most important things about being a decent human being. You can’t even begin to think about being compassionate and kind or tolerant and patient until you’ve tackled “integrity”.

    • Integrity still matters. A lot. To me, and my family and friends.

      But it certainly doesn’t matter to my narc STBXH. It didn’t matter before the affair (lots of bad behavoir), during the affair, or after when he had no remorse. And it probably never will.

      Accepting this reality is freeing to me, because it means I can stop trying to convince him that what he did was wrong. He has no integrity, and therefore, doesn’t see eye to eye on this. (But I bet his married-AP’s husband sees it my way!!!)

  • It makes me want to cry when I read this because it so validates what I have been feeling for so long. Everyone tells you to own your part in the demise of your marriage, but you’ve been blindsided. It is the hardest thing in the world to be told that the worst pain you’ve ever felt is all your fault, which is what my ex said when he walked out the door after 36 years. He pointed out things I had done over 10-15 years ago and said it lead to his cheating. My answer to him was that I had a long list of things he had done to upset me over the years, but it didn’t make me fall out of love with him. The longer I am away from the crazy making last months of my marriage the more clearly I see the manipulation, lying and abuse that made me doubt my own sanity. It was brutal, he was sobbing and crying for months and felt so sorry for himself for wanting to leave me. I begged him to go to counseling and he did, but wouldn’t let me come. His bizarre behavior caused so many conflicting emotions inside me that I wanted to jump out a window to end the pain. Infidelity is abuse. There is no question about it.

  • Thank you CL, Thank you for the most sensible, succinct statement of this issue. I have sent it to my beloved chumped family members too, in the hopes that it gives them some sense of relief, even years ofter “settlement.”

    I too am going along, thinking I begin to see ‘meh’, when I stop dead in my tracks, struck dumb by the sheer overwhelming force of the pain of the abuse. How could this person who promised to love –who once did love me–and continued to tell me so, long after he had decided that fantasies were more fun–how could he be so very, very cruel? Like a lot of long-term couples, we’ve gone through our share of shit, miscarriages, lost babies, failed adoptions, crappy jobs, crazy relatives,you name its. Me, I thought since we weathered all that together, we were bonded permanently. I just didn’t know there was a parallel world, like the Sims or something, where my husband’s heart–and eventually, penis, actually lived. I gather the magic doorway is either on CraigsList, or on Facebook. (For his older brother is was Adult Friend Finder–he married a hobag, er, wifetress, who had 4 hubbies before–kinda like Herman’s Hermits come to think of it, and he loves to refer to her “great good sense. I do not think those words mean what you think they mean, former b-i-l…)

    Keep up the great and worthy work CL,and CL-community. You are a lifeline.

    • Parallel world or universe- very descriptive! Yes Vera, it is absolutely bizarre when you discover that your spouse had a parallel universe. That’s when the real mind *uckery sets in. When I look at an old Christmas photo of myself, husband, and toddler I see my happy face and my child’s. I see the absolute glow of me as a new mom enjoying the fun as our son experiences the joys and annual preparations of Christmas. Unfortunately, I dislike the picture now because after discovery of the affair( which occurred during our son’s first years ) I REALLY see my husband and understand his expression in the photo. He has what I call a guilty shit-eating grin on his face. Seriously. I can then dwell on the reality that my husband was probably posing with me and his son for the Christmas photo and then hurrying to get back to the office where his AP worked for sex later that day.

      Yes, totally mind *uckery as a recovering BS. Not great and it makes you feel ‘dead’ inside. The worst part for me? The affair occurred 17 years ago.

      • I’m with you – it is so hard to look at old pictures and not see them in a whole different light. I see vacation pics and all I see and think about is that he was bonking hookers then. I see family photos and think, “oh, he had been hooker humping for five years by that picture”. Ruins them all. I’ve taken all the pictures and put them in a box. Not sure what to do with them. Did you guys trash your wedding pictures? I have those tucked away too.

        • Weeeelllllll. There was one smiling wedding picture that I tore to bits and threw at ‘character’. But, oddly enough, my daughter wants them. So I figure, she can have them. (If only to remind her what kind of creature not to attach to.) They are irrevocably tainted for me. It’s very sad.

          We were, in fact, happily married for the first few years, until about when child hit middle school. You know, when parenting often goes from routine custodial work, to *hard* thoughtful struggle. We never fought over parenting. He just slowly withdrew, from both of our lives. Until by her sophomore/jr year of HS, he was in full-blown pussy-hunting/affair having cheater mode, and, even better–tell your whore-stress all about your teenaged daughter’s issues. Nice confidentiality, there, dad! (All the issues, you know, were MY fault–but why do I tell you folks that–you all know it, amirite?)

          Around that time we went–to Texas-heh–to a family wedding. I was looking back at the pictures. There is not one single shot he took that includes me. Not one. Not one single shot. You would not know I had gone to the wedding. That will tell you something.

  • This is the best piece of writing I have ever read. Ever. Thank you for saving us one article at a time.

  • Bravo.
    Thank you CL, for putting into words what we feel and think but can’t always verbalized.

    Thank you for leading us out of the crazy place we’ve been because of being a chump.

    Thank you for knowing what we’ve been through and not telling us that it took two to tango.

    Thank you for standing up for us against all the bullies who think they know what happened in our lives so well that they can blame it on us.

    Thank you.

  • Woohoo! Standing Ovation! Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about, and that’s why I love you so, Chump Lady!

    I’m so fed up with the “Reconciliation Industrial Complex” and all of it’s minions. Those who will suck the last few dollars from the pocket of someone who has already suffered at the hands of an abuser and then laugh all the way to the bank are despicable abusers themselves, in my opinion.

    Yes! Cheating is most definitely abuse of the most insidious and covert type.

    • And Moda, I will add to the sucking of the last few dollars. . .delaying what is inevitable. . . .the ending of the marriage, ending walking on egg shells and letting the chump heal and live again.

      I have said a thousand times if my ex had just had the balls to be honest and separate so he could “explore his feelings” rather than lie, gaslight and destroy every shred of trust, most likely we’d still be divorced but at least I would have an ounce of respect for the man.

      • This is an important comment.

        Skater Girl is asking for one thing: transparency. OK, so you’re unhappy. Well, then move out and ask for space. Tell me that you are going to date. Sure, that would be painful, but if that’s your reality, then just share it with me, and then I can make my own informed decisions. Don’t blame me, cook up excuses, be secretive and lie, etc.

        Of course, as CL points out, the reason for the lying is that…the narcs want it that way. That way, there is the cake-eating, the ego kibbles, etc. etc. So, Skater Girl hits the nail right on the head. Why not just be honest? Why not? Because the narcs have no character…….. Why reconcile with folks with damaged character?

    • Moda, that is absolutely great – Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Hell, my ol’ economics professor would readily use this to explain supply and demand!

      • Wish I could take the credit, but I was quoting CL from the article! She has truly coined a phrase with that one, right? 🙂

  • Infidelity is way too expected now. It’s such bullcrap. At first I was so sad when I found out. Now I’m furious that I had to be checked out for STDs because of the horrible choices my POShusband made!

  • After I realized the rabbit hole of the books I read and forums filled with people applying those “theories” to their cheaters for literally years I named all of that the “Cheaters Industrial Complex” myself. I think CL’s name for it is more concise “Reconciliation Industrial Complex”. It’s a horrible industry that sucks the shreds out of you when you are at your lowest and their customers are self renewing. If you believe their shit, if you stay a Chump, then you will stay for more cheating, you will keep populating their forums, clicking their blog posts and buying their books

  • Lyn,
    I am struck by what my dirt ball husband told me after 30 years.
    He cheated because he was bored, wanted something different, oh come on, neither one of us got what we wanted from the marriage, etc. Oh yes, it is my fault. At the same time he cries and says he is sorry. At first, I fell for the BS. Should we try R?
    He did a Gov Sanford by running to France to shack up with a woman we met on vacation, while our daughter was with us. He even had a throwaway phone to call Miss France-like a drug dealer.
    It took me 4 mos. To get him out. He still calls Miss France every day and has gone back to see her 2x.
    I met with an Atty. and think I will try mediation. When I meet with my husband, I am sure he will cry, ask whether I really want a D and say it takes 2 to make a marriage work. Can hardly wait.

    • Careful of mediation. Make sure you get everything you are entitled to–do not yield a thing. Get full spousal and child support due to you–find out what the laws are that go into the calculation of what you’re entitled to, and take it.
      Make sure you find all his secret bank accounts; agree to pay none of the debts he hid from you.

      Woof. Just be careful out there.

      • Just my 2 cents as an attorney. Mediation is great when you have two spouses who are attempting to end the marriage with dignity. Now I’m not a family law specialist BUT I distinctly remember the warnings from the family law professors about when mediation is NOT going to work. It won’t work when there is a power imbalance. With NPD cheater types who have LIED forever and a day they will want to manipulate, lie and likely not reveal accurate financial details. For this reason you need to BEWARE and BE CAREFUL!!!

        • Thanks . My husband and I are both attorneys.
          Before the mediation, I am going to try to reach a settlement. I will be represented by an attorney. I am telling him this weekend that this is what I want. Since he cares a lot that people think good things about him(except for me and his daughter), I believe that he will go along. But once he finds out that I do not think that 50/50 is fair, he will revert back to super jerk. MA judges basically do not care if adultery is involved.
          If he tries to sh- – all over me,we will go to court.
          He is a NPD and so good at it he now has all kinds of people commiserating with him.
          I do want to end the marriage with dignity, but as you know he has acted in the most undignified manner as a cheater.
          Thank god, I have given up trying to understand him. It was so tiring.

          • Haha I’m an attorney too (not family law either). My idiot ex was so afraid of exposure (he’s not an attorney), plus he thinks he’s just that smart, that he represented himself against me and MY attorney. Just keep with it, as I tell my clients, be patient and keep your eye on the ball, and though it’s hard try to keep your wits about you. I have to say that acting weak and needy with my NPD ex (I just need you to,…sob sob…help me get through this, it is so hard to lose you, you have always been the…gasp… love of my life, I need to have this settled so that I can try to move on with my life though it will be pitiful…sigh…and impossible really without your awesome self in it) really worked with him. I read articles on how to manipulate a narcissist, really dead on, frighteningly so. You may be too far along, but even if my ex got nasty, I’d revert to the sobbing, needy little girl desperate for his help (nauseating I know) and he’d turn right around. One of my partners had a series of cases against an NPD doctor and helped me with my approach. They so love to be both your savior and your destructor. It also worked best for me to negotiate and work out the terms directly with him to keep his ego calm and let him believe he was the smartest person in the room. If they feel your disgust they are sure to get nasty, so I had to tamp that down. Remember he is really playing to his biggest fan and the person he loves most, himself. Hugs and good luck!

            • Kelly,
              Wow, good job on the acting! When we had our “DDay” one of the things he said was that I didn’t love him, that I was only embarrassed, I ran into the bathroom, slammed the door, and pretended to sob my heart out till I heard him leave about a half hour later. I don’t know why I did it but I was just on like…”auto pilot” or something. Got the last of the rent though before I changed the locks. I felt (slightly) like he made me into a monster or something, glad to hear I’m not the only one….

            • Kelly,
              That’s really interesting that you used his weakness against him by playing weak yourself. It explains how my ex-NPD acted during the divorce.
              I wondered why he would go his nuclear self on me when I went to a lawyer instead of taking the settlement he created. Typical NPD, he knows as much as a lawyer so we would both be saving thousands of dollars. But when I would call him crying and sobbing for him to come home (sounds so gross now! ick!) he softened and lowered the settlement he was asking for. When I’d flip and call and email vile rants about how disgusting he was, he’d take the settlement offer back and said he’d drag it out and we’d end up spending tens of thousands of dollars to our lawyers.

              One day he went low enough that I took the offer. (I paid him $100,000 for the house we owned free and clear and worth about 700,000 and kept most of the furniture.)

              Sometimes I wonder if I should have paid an accountant to dig into his finances to see if he had hidden accounts. What I saw was thousands and thousands, money borrowed at high interest rates and very little coming in at all.

              Another example of his NPDness was that he hired a very young female lawyer he met in a bar, probably so he could try to make a move on her and so he could tell her what to do. Coincidentally, she had interned in my best friend’s office and friend said she was barely competent. Hee hee.

              Just to yank his chain, after it was over, I told him I wasn’t going to give him the check. He went ballistic and said his lawyer had told him not to trust me to hand over the check and to have it done formally but he had told her I could be trusted and now I was going to cheat him. No, he didn’t see the irony! Ha!

              Thanks, Kelly, for giving me some satisfaction that I played him without really knowing it!

            • Kelly,

              I noticed that when I do act like a competent negotiator with him, he wants to annihilate me. I think he does want me to melt into a puddle of tears, since I have done so in the past. But now that I am hip to his deceit and self centered ness, it is much easier for me to focus on myself and our daughter. So, I might have to practice being the little woman in need of him to begin the process of dividing the assets. Amicably? I hope so. Although the blinders are off, I am still in love with the guy. I guess I can pick them.

              • Oh Boston, I was still in love with him too. That was why it was easy to channel that part of me and do what I did. And I believe they picked us, and not vice versa– I think these NPDs are drawn to us as strong good women…but then they become frightened and repelled by those same traits. They are weak little boys and if we can use their need to feel superior to get out alive and financially able to provide for ourselves and our children, so be it.

            • Kelly,

              “They so love to be both your savior and your destructor.” Seriously – I think I’m going to get that embroidered on a pillow. That sums it up BEAUTIFULLY! You are one smart cookie!

  • oh how do i love thee chump lady. id count the ways. but im too busy counting the ways i hate my dirty cheating scumbag clown of a partner. (instead of counting all the things i could have done and should be doing to make everything ok) and loving it!

    its been 16 months since he began cheating. 8 months since i finally managed to get the truth out of him. its been pure and malevolent hell!
    the first thing i did? i got on the internet. i googled ‘what do i do about husbands affair’.. and OH THE COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE!!! what a monstrous mistake. it corrupted my instincts entirely and made me question everything even more. including myself, what was wrong with me? what did i do wrong? what was really wrong with me? i did THAT! i looked for answers from someone else, i looked for someone else to tell me what to do. and i got a bunch of ridiculous fools who told me it was all my fault. but i bought it hook line and sinker, because my mind had been abducted by freaky aliens and taken to outer space! not really, my cheater had just ripped it out and stomped the fuck all over it!

    ive spent the past week or so reading your site. letting it sink in,. exactly what you write about is exactly what i know deep down that i thought from the very beginning. but i got stuck in the ohhh what will happen to me (im fully financially dependent on the prick and we have two kids) what will happen to the kids? oh crap im going to have to move to my mums (her town is not fun! but it wont be so bad for a year or so while i get my shit together again).

    i feel like i have myself back now though. i dont care what he does he can go jump off a cliff (which is where i like to think he threw his thoughts of us while he was getting his dick sucked!) i rang my mum today. she wasnt there but my stepdad answered. and as soon as he picked up the phone i yelled at him, I FOUND IT!!!!! i found my brain again! ill see you soon!

    my favourite thought at the moment, whenever i get down about it… is he just wanted his dick sucked! (it makes him look like a clown, and brings his hooker down to nothing more than a cock sucking whore – it feels awesome) i have a book cover in my head… titled ‘you should get your dick sucked, it will make you happy!’ THAT makes ME happy 😀 its just a cover at the moment, whether i do anything with it in the future i dont know. see this is one of the things he told me when i was desperately asking him why why why!? because… he thought it would make him happy! he was so unhappy. he just wants to be happy. (i was also letting myself take the blame for this grrr) anyone who thinks getting their dick wet while not giving a fuck about the family they supposedly have obligations to will make them happy is a retard. trying to make me feel sorry for his stupid ass. MEH! hes yucky, just yucky. im trying not to hang on to that because i dont want to see yucky every time i look at my kids. which i dont, but sometimes im scared i might. more and more now i refer to them as MINE.

    unfortunately… i still have to figure out how we are going to manage the kids. i really just want to get the hell away and cut him out of my life entirely. he doesnt get it, he wants us to be friends. he wants to keep his kids around. BLAH. his version of parenting is christmas trees, easter eggs and birthday presents. he just wants to play santa bunny tooth fairy. thats not a parent. thats a fairytale! his whole mind is lost in a fairytale.

    at least one of us is real. my psychologist said so, after about twenty minutes in his office. and unlike me when i first met the cheating bastard and thought he seemed real… my psychologist has a degree. so it MUST BE TRUE!

    i was at a point where every time i left the house i would hear adele or duffy or some other broken ass shit and run the hell home as fast as i could
    a fortnight ago this song would have done my head in. now its like hell yeah!

    *sigh* lots of logistics to work out. but i can work on them now. because i have my brain! thank you thank you chump lady. you have saved my life! a life with no scrubs, no silly hos and no chasing waterfalls! yep. im having a tlc binge at the moment hehe. <3s!

  • heres another good one.

    i left last november, i actually called my mum and said please come get me. i might end up in jail.
    i came home after two weeks, because my oldest was desperate to go back to school.
    cheating lying bastard moved out. then came home. things were strained, but not crazy. i believed that it was over at least, i didnt know what i was going to do still…
    but then i found out he went to see her again. the little bitch left her drivers license, hidden on the passenger side of his car! aww, for me? pffttt.
    and this time it was 1000x worse, i really thought i might seriously try to kill him. at one point i picked up a 20kg weight and hurled it at him… he dodged it, but thats not the point. im only 50kgs myself at the moment, and it scared me what my rage was making me capable of doing. i could see myself grabbing a knife. every time i looked at him i wanted to.
    so were separated now. at first it was hard ,is he seeing her? where is he? what is he doing?
    now i dont eeeven care! i think its been three or four weeks? im still answering his txts… but its like bleh. im certainly not hanging on waiting for a message.

    just wanted to share the song. youve made the line ‘he dont really love me’ so much more true for me than it was before. thanks again!

  • How true! It can be a very passive aggressive way to undo someone. God forbid they should have a fantasy that is not acted out, or actually say NO to someone!!

  • I have never been as vulnerable nor as completely wacked out of my ever loving mind as I was the 1st three months or so after DDay. Seriously… I contemplated checking myself into Urgent Care and letting the little men in white coats cart me off… The only thing, and I do mean ONLY thing, that kept me grounded in the here and now were my babies. Although I couldn’t keep food down and couldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time, I got the kids to school, got them to basketball and volleyball practice, got to work, fed the dog, paid the bills and managed to get laundry done. But that is pretty much it…. oh, and I found my true calling… Private Detective. During this time, when I couldn’t eat or sleep, I read. I read everything I could get my hands onto about my situation.
    I became aware, very early in my process, that I was searching for any tidbit of hope. Yes, I bought into “Hopium”. I truly thought I could “fix” this. All those hours spent online and at Barnes and Noble were a part of the process. Sidenote: ever notice that the Divorce self help books at Barnes and Noble are directly next to the Erotic Sex Help books? That irony was not wasted on me. I brought books home for Stbx to read…this was the height of my Chumpdom. I was encouraged by my therapist to continue doing what I was doing as I was a “strong person” and was looking really good (I was sort of rapidly losing weight, final count now is 70lbs in about 14 months) and I would get through all of this. Well, that is fine and dandy, BUT I DIDN’T FEEL STRONG. I actually felt like shit…all the fecking time… and I wanted to NOT feel like shit. This desire to not feel that way lead me down the Chump path. I am guilty of pretty much every chump characteristic…. the pick me dance and ego kibbles to name two. As Dr. Phil would ask “How’d that work for you?”…. umm, still felt like shit and my marriage was pretty much on vacation with the Tidy Bowl Man.
    The point I am trying to illustrate is that places like Huff Po and books that promise things can be fixed are exactly what I wanted. And if I were to be completely honest, if anyone at that time had tried to tell me that my situation was anything other than fixable, I would have sternly told them to go pound sand. Marriage breakups are a money making business… money on books, money on counselors and therapists, money on attorneys, money on accountants, money on private detectives…. makes my head swim. There is no money to be made on the truth… because we chumps often do not want the truth as the truth is the only thing more painful (in theory) than what we are going through. Honestly, you can’t be told that things will get better until you’ve actually tasted “better”. My only saving grace was that I knew I was going through a process… and that no step could get skipped. I have not repeated my Chump mistakes but I have pretty much committed them all. I do not buy into Hopium any longer. But waking up and smelling the coffee didn’t come from a therapist, online blogging or some no nonsense book… my reality shifted when I finally got to the point that being with Stbx was toxic and quite literally killing me. And me dying was so NOT an option because I still had my babies to raise (a euphemism, my daughter is now 17 and my son is 15). I laugh now at articles like this one at Huff Po… I don’t wander down the marriage self help aisle any longer… I put into practice for myself what I have always done with my kids… I tell myself the truth. I am a chump, but now a much wiser chump.

  • One phenomenon that I have rarely, if ever, seen described by relationship experts is the case when the STB BS is attempting to meet that needs of the STB WS. Not all Betrayed Spouses are disengaged, letting things drift apart, or withholding sex or affection. Prior to waywardness, many of us betrayed spouses were fully engaged and committed to the relationship and really trying to meet the needs of the WW. I believe the issue is that this particular type of STB WS refuses to let you me their needs. Usually, they have lost respect or attraction for you, so no matter what you do, they don’t see you as a powerful, vibrant person with meaning in their lives, so you are rendered unable to meet their needs – your gifts don’t count.

    I realize this doesn’t apply to many instances, but it applied to mine. Now, the alpha/beta man theorists do clearly describe this phenomenon, and many man-threads over at TAM cover this, but the experts never seem to ask the WS, “your BS did try to meet those needs you just described, but why did you ignore, deflect and dismiss those efforts?”

    • BuddyF, I believe that was my situation. I thought I had a good marriage, and he said he was happy and that he loved me too.

      Although, I don’t think he dismissed my efforts. He took advantage of them and appreciated them. So, I guess my situation isn’t what you described. LOL.

      At any rate, I do feel my husband loved me. But when I realized he was cheating on me again (there was an earlier affair, in the late 80s), he knew the hell that was coming around the corner and he just wasn’t strong enough to take it. Additionally, he thinks very highly of himself in a Zen sort of way…he thought he was someone of impeccable character, incapable of hurting anything (vegetarian, didn’t wear leather,etc.). If he stuck around, he knew that reputation was doomed. I wasn’t going to rug sweep or accept his blame shifting. His gig was up. If he ran off like a chicken shit coward, losing everything and everyone who knew what he really dd, he could at least lie about what happened to the rest of the world, and just build a new life. So, he made a mad dash. Threw the kids (and grand kids) out with the bath water. Lied like his life depended on it. I probably would have ended the marriage anyway, but he didn’t give me the option. I was dangerous to his self-perception.

      I really truly loved him. He was my world. And it showed.

      • Shirley Glass explains this in her book. It’s called the overbenefitted spouse, that mechanism. The partner giving less to the marriage, and the betrayed spouse is fully engaged and loving.

      • Carol, my wife would “accept” my efforts for providing money for the family, parenting the kids, maintaining and fixing things, and that sort. She dismissed my efforts at establishing and experiencing connection, intimacy and passion.

        Such sad stories. I think my wife both loves me and feels contempt for me at the same time. Funny how some kinds display such caring and kindness in some arenas, yet severely hurt their closest, most loving spouse. I’ll never fully understand it – how someone can bring so much devastation and destruction to their spouse and family.

    • Also, you may have a WW whose needs are so extreme, so self centered, and not even communicated, that it would be impossibble to meet them. I’ve seen this, the cheater thinking that the betrayed’s sole purpose in life is to serve them.
      Listen to that idiot Bruno Mars and how he flagellates himself in many of his songs for not sacrificing evrything, including his entire life, to “meet needs”.

      This guy talks about falling on gernades or jumping in front of trains to appease and satisfy his love interests.
      My daughters liste to him and think it is romantic, this notion that he has no value other thanto serve his GF’s interests at all costs.

  • It has been a year since I found out about the last one. I am doing the best I can to forgive him so I can move on with my life and make it better. What is much harder than this is forgiving myself because I knew he was fucked up. He asked me to marry him and cheated on me when I was pregnant. Oh, he didn’t tell me he cheated! He left me with a little “something” that revealed what he had done. When this happened, in my head I heard a toilet flush and my hopes and dreams swirl the bowl and go down. Still, I didn’t leave. I should have. This was abuse of the worst kind. His explanation, “I always wanted to have sex with her.” You had to wait until I was pregnant and married to you to do it? OK!

    I am sure there were many more he hasn’t copped to. Work for him is a “Single’s Bar.” He trolls the staff, befriends the weakest and sleaziest of them and then, voila! He beds them. Pigs are cleaner! What is funny is that when I filed for divorce he begged and pleaded with me not to. I don’t understand this – yes, I have read about kibbles and cake. I wholeheartedly agree he was addicted but now he can do whatever he likes. Oh, wait! HE WAS ALWAYS DOING WHATEVER HE LIKED! His life has not changed except for the thrill of fucking and sucking women behind my back is gone. Maybe this is not quite so exciting when you’re not deceiving someone.

    I wish I could say I am doing great but the truth of it is I am trying to maintaing my sanity and fighting and clawing my way out of the dark whole that is depression. I have a job I hate (grateful to be employed but honestly, this is no longer enough) working for a backstabbing, unprofessional bitch I despise. However, I have much to appreciate. My life will be what I make it. Whether it thrives of falters is on me. I am rid of an emotional, twisted, immoral abuser now and this is something to be OK with. Meh will come! Unfortunately, not soon enough!

  • CL, God bless you for your strong, truthful, encouraging words. It’s amazing how “friends” think it’s ok that your ex not only cheated in an open and humiliating way, but that you had to go to court to get a Protective Order during the divorce, so he couldn’t hit you anymore. And, they tell you to, get over it…more betrayal to deal with.

  • CL,
    Love this site, I have been lurking for a few months. I think you have the right attitude, and give strong support to us chumps. I was a chump 10 years ago, and could not believe my good Catholic wife would cheat. She did with 3 other married men, that I know of. I caught her with the last one, and we ended the marriage that night. Took a year to officail end it, but never did the pick me dance.

    10 years later, life is great. I have a wonderful wife you appreciates me (even if I am fat), and a beautiful daughter. So to all those in pain, it gets better.

    In paragraph 3, you mention gaslighting. The Huffington Post readers may not know CL terms.

  • “Gaslighting” isn’t a CL exclusive term. It’s a general term for driving someone crazy on purpose by turning responsibility onto them. It comes from an old film called “Gaslight” about a man who is after his wife’s inheritance. So he slowly drives her insane by flashing the lights in the house and moving the furniture. When she starts asking about it, he just tells her she’s seeing things. Eventually, he’s driven her so mad that he convinces the authorities that she’s unable to care for herself and has her taken away, leaving him the next of kin for the inheritance.

    Anyway, I think that it should be noted that abusers are often also cheaters. So abuse and cheating definitely go hand and hand.

  • I’ve got to quit reading and posting at Huffington Post. That place is triggering me.

    The articles are just unbelievable.

    Now I’ve got a bully woman posting to me. I made a post about how I would feel if, during post-discovery therapy, my husband presented me with the idea that we open up our marriage. Which is, I believe, something that Dr. Tammy talks about in her book.
    Well, based on what I said about MY FEELINGS about that sort of situation (sucker punching a chump, by asking to cheat with permission, at the worst possible time), this bully woman comes out of the woodwork and says that I sound angry and that I should go to therapy for that.

    First off, why wouldn’t I be angry? Second, I hate those idiots that read something you wrote on the internet and suddenly they think they know all about you, enough to suggest that you need to see a shrink. There wasn’t anything odd at all about my post. For the most part, it was tongue in cheek, but it basically said that there’s no way I could tolerate having my cheating partner ask me to approve of his philandering, at therapy, when I had hoped for a safe, supportive environment.

    But, this lady won’t let up. I finally just told her she’s a bully. UGH

    I hate that place.

    • Carol, I’m sorry that happened to you! Don’t be afraid to speak your truth. It’s so important that chumps speak up and tell jerks like that woman off.

      Every time I post a blog on HuffPo a bunch of people tell me what an idiot I am. That I’m obsessed and bitter and angry. I just take ’em on, or ignore them. But lately, the worst idiots, I reply to them.

      It’s hard for recent chumps to do this. That bully is hitting you in your most painful, personal place — which is despicable.

      I’d guess that troll bully is probably an OW and your words are rattling her.

      • Thanks Tracy. I was going to completely ignore her, but I wanted to let her know that I know what she is. I looked at some of her other posts, and she is bullying people all over HuffPo. And she also writes about how spiritual she is…she was Christian, and now she’s Hindu. She goes on and on and on about how great it is to be a Hindu, how it has helped her be centered, etc. bla bla bla. She’s a whackadoodle, no doubt. And she has the nerve to suggest *I* see a shrink. She needs a whole team of shrinks.

        Thank you for your support. And for this little spot on the internet where we are truly safe. 🙂

      • My last response to her was, “You are a bully.” It appears that they didn’t print it. But she can bully me. Go figure.

            • LOL! I just read the blog and saw the post to you. These people are predictable. They don’t argue the issues, they get personal. Idiots.

              Vicki Larson has a new book coming out. Looks like it’s going to be a lot like Dr. Tammy’s new book. Her blog reminded me of a big pet peeve of mine. I hate it when people say that folks in open marriages are more honest, or be sues they don’t insist on monogamy, they are somehow more emotionally healthy than those who do value monogamy. What a crock. People can be dishonest in any relationship. And I don’t believe emotional maturity can be measured by the degree to which you value monogamy. I’m sure there are tons of swingers and people who are in open marriages who lie about relational issues and who are suffer from emotional dysfunctions. But, for some odd reason, our society makes this knee jerk assessment of these folks as the epitome of emotional health, honesty, and for generally having a Zen-like existence. Phooey. I don’t buy it.

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