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Stupid Shit I Thought About Infidelity Until It Happened to Me

Following up on the Stupid Shit Other People Say, I feel it’s only fair to acknowledge that I was once capable of saying stupid shit about infidelity myself. Maybe you were too. One lasting gift of infidelity is that you’re never so smug again. What did I learn about what an ignoramus I was? Well, I thought I’d make a list. Feel free to add your own.

1. Cheating is about a power imbalance. It’s about gaining advantage over someone to get your sexual jollies. It is an unjust situation with a user and a chump. I did not used to think this, insofar as I thought of it at all. I thought, oh things fall apart. It takes two. Who knows what goes on in a marriage? Blahblahfuckityblah. I knew one gay couple who broke up over infidelity and I tried to be “neutral.” The chump friend was very gracious, and didn’t tip his hand much about what had happened. And the cheater friend wanted me to think it was about money, and not that he went and had another boyfriend. So I didn’t try to parse it out at all, I just wanted the old Steve and Warren back. Which was about ME, wanting to relate to them in the old ways I enjoyed. I wish now that I had been a better friend and shown more compassion towards Steve, and cut off things with Warren soonest.

2. There is nothing romantic about cheating. Once your POV on infidelity changes, you can never enjoy crap like the Bridges of Madison County again. There was a time when I didn’t vomit when I read of cases where two people meet, there is an explosion of attraction, and their love is just too great and powerful. Because to make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs, you know? If people get hurt, hey, it’s because they didn’t recognize the inchoate genius of those star crossed lovers. Of course, I didn’t know anyone like this in real life, but I sure liked to read about edgy, Bohemian lives. That colatteral damage from the affair? It’s worth it for the Great Pairing, to be the June Carter to their Johnny Cash. Her love is going to Save Him, and he’s going to write songs to celebrate their union! Left out off this pretty picture is that she gets a drunk with a prison stint.

3. No one is “driven” to cheat. Before infidelity happened to me, I imagined that chumps knew they were chumps. How did they know this? By the drab sexlessness by which they led their lives. I imagined cheaters were not getting it at home (poor things), or they were obvious Lotharios, who could be identified by their cravats and the Playboy mudflaps on their truck. I didn’t think of women cheaters much at all, except perhaps as the Other Woman who is either pathetic, or astoundingly charismatic (see item 2) to lure some man from his wife. I thought in stereotypes. I thought there was causality in cheating — this happens, ergo this. People Had Reasons. It was hard for me to think cheating was just really about unbridled narcissism and cake eating. I always saw it in terms of a Great Contest. This person over that person. And when this person Realizes Where They Really Belong things sort themselves out. I know — (shudder). Cake was a foreign concept. If I thought of cheating, I thought of it as a gateway to Something Else, not as an end to itself.

4. Boundaries matter. I had super sloppy boundaries before infidelity happened to me. In my first marriage, I did most everything without my husband. A lot of that had to do with him not wanting to do anything in tandem with me, but if I’d understood boundaries, that should’ve been a red flag. He didn’t have any, and I didn’t have any. For example, he would just inform me that he was buggering off to Atlanta to see friends, or Kentucky to do genealogy, or to a junk yard to look at car parts. There was no consensus. And I followed suit. I went everywhere without him too. A guy from work wants to have lunch alone? Okay. Some acquaintance wants to tell me about his sad marriage? Okay. A friend invited me on a roadtrip without him? Okay.

In my next marriage, with the cheater, I tried too hard to be the Cool Wife. Not to appear needy, or coupled or anything. You gotta disappear for another weekend for business? Okay. You have this weird woman friend who keeps hanging around and offering to watch our dog? Uh… okay. She’s not an ex-girlfriend or anything? No? Okay. Folks, I was Chumpy McChumperson. I was trying so hard to be cool with everything, I didn’t know where I began and the other person ended. I was accommodating to the enth degree. The payoff with that, was I suppose, I got to do what I wanted too. Some independence is nice, but I got married to be coupled. I should’ve realized I married two unavailable men who didn’t want to behave married AT ALL. Someone should’ve hit me with the clue bat. (I probably would’ve said okay, and please sir may I have another?)

What did I learn from all this? To recognize if my boundaries are being violated and communicate my needs. It’s OKAY to expect things from other people. It’s essential! When you don’t have boundaries yourself, it’s hard to advocate for other people in your life and see when their boundaries are being violated. It can make you a lousy friend. People without boundaries don’t have their own backs, so how can they have yours?

Who were you before infidelity? Who are you now?

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  • It never ceases to amaze me how identical your writing is to my internal landscape. It gives me a hugh sigh of relief every time.

    One thing I’ve definitely learned from my experience, and the topic in general: I consider it a red flag now every time I hear from a guy about “my psycho ex.” When I used to hear that, I’d twist myself into knots trying to prove at every turn how extra cool and laid back I was about anything and everything. Now I know, chances are they are trying to cover their tracks – and that psycho ex? He *made* her that way!

    • Oh hey, except my exes really are psycho! 😉

      But yeah, I think this is why being “meh” is important before you date. It’s not that they aren’t in fact psycho (if they were ever psycho at all), it’s that it ceases to be a factor in my life any more.

      • You’re absolutely right.

        The first guy I dated was divorced 4 times and hit on the waitress all night. The second called me 20 times a day every day….

      • Nord, mine already has a new F-ing bitch! I asked if if he meant me!!?? Apparently “she lied” to him and he took back his key….and he sees NO IRONY in telling me this, what a f-ing idiot!!! You can believe hearing this and realizing how lucky I am to have gotten away has put a BIG smile on my face!!!

        • Yeah, SSTBX has said some real doozies over the months, sort of like I was never his wife and none of this bothered me and I would be happy to listen to him talk about his new life.

          I finally had to tell him to fuck off with that stuff.

      • Me too. I haven’t been with my ex for about 4 years and he’s still going around, telling complete strangers or people he knows I’m friends with that I’m a total liar. He once asked my co-worker if I ever talk about him and said that whatever I say is a lie.

        My co-worker told me and then said, “Why on earth would you come in here, with a ring on your finger, and talk about your ex all day? I mean, you’ve never mentioned this guy before. …Ever.”

  • Now see this is what I don’t understand. Before marriage husband use to attend church with me every Sunday, we always did things together. After wedding 1st church too tired working ,too busy church service too early etc… Then slowly he stopped doing things with me. For so long I thought “What am I doing wrong?” I really think he just fell out of love with me. At this point I knew he wasn’t fooling around. This week I am being dragged to a family funeral because he wants to put on a good face for them. Like my relatives and would love to tell my M in law that he is cheating on me. She would tear him a new a hole. I will someday when the time is right.

    • No time like the present. Don’t go if you don’t want to go. Why should you be the public face of anything? Refuse shit sandwiches you don’t want to eat. If anyone asks, say I’m not feeling very social since Husband cheated on me.

      Seriously. I mean it.

      • Yea, I am not at all in favor of helping somebody who is cheating pretend they’re not doing that. That just sounds like enabling the whole thing, and you give up your own integrity along the way.

        The truth can have an antiseptic effect. Conspiring to cover up the infidelity sounds too much like taking on his shame. Let him own his own behavior.

      • Wow I can”t imagine doing that. I really can’t. Wow it would be like WWW3. No balls I quess. And I know you are serious and I appreciate your advice.

        • They rely on you feeling that way. They engender it.

          No harm no foul Janet – we’ve all been there. All in your own time 🙂

          • Yep, they use the fact that you’ve always been there for them and done things to help and protect you to manipulate you. STBX could not believe I told people what was going on. This made me crazy in his eyes and someone who was ‘out to ruin him’. I wasn’t. I just refused to go along with his lies about our marriage and I refused to protect him any longer. He treated me horribly and I wasn’t going to pretend that ‘the marriage fell apart and whoops! his dick happened to fall into some girl’.

  • 1. Poor boundaries – check – had those. Had them with work, friends, and my marriage.

    2. Tolerant of others’ cheating – check – have done that. I now consider that enabling bad behavior.

    3. Chick flicks about star-crossed lovers. Never liked those much, but they didn’t make my stomach turn before experiencing infidelity.

    4 People could be driven to cheat? – Hmm… never really thought about it. I really never did. So, no, but I was worse because I figured… “well, it’s not like anybody was beating anybody”. Sigh. I guess I figured “these things happen, and either people get past them or don’t”, and I didn’t even think of the harm involved, and I had been cheated on when dating when I was younger, but… that wasn’t quite the same, I guess, because I don’t think I was that seriously committed to the relationship. It guess I didn’t understand how important integrity really is and how it affects every aspect of our lives and how much deception and lack of integrity is required to conduct an affair.

    • Funny, because I was cheated on once by a boyfriend when I was in my late teens. It hurt and I was a slight mess for a few months but it wasn’t a long relationship and, like you, I don’t think I was all that committed to it longterm so I had no idea how horrible this was.

  • I don’t really recall having any concrete thoughts on the topic before it happened ~ except that it seemed like a cowardly way to get out of a relationship. I do agree with CL about what it really is about, after all.

    Its always easier to believe that someone we like is having a rough time, than to think he/she is a shitty person and we never should have liked them in the first place.

    • Yup. I realise that I allowed people in my life who were not great people. STBX, obviously, since he’s a serial cheater who is now really angry at me. But also one of my close friends, who I knew had had affairs and who eventually messed around with STBX. And got very insulted when I told her to piss off out of my life. The nerve of me! So I’m rethinking all the people in my life and have done of a bit of a cull.

  • Hoo boy, CL. You absolutely have my number. While I never really did anything alone with other men who weren’t related to me, I was all about being “The Cool Wife.” STBX pretty much had carte blanche to do whatever. He didn’t ditch me a lot (at first), but once he started the A, my attitude worked very well for him. He managed to get away more and more often and to work his trysts right into his schedule without me sensing even a flicker of suspicion. Yet, STBX was not very giving when it came to me doing something– I got a lot of “When will you be home?” and “How many more of these [classes, meetings, get-togethers] do you have?” He was allowed to do whatever he wanted, but when I wanted to do something, not only did I have to make sure that there was at least a frozen meal or leftovers for his dinner, but I was also expected to be right home when said activity was over: “You’re going to get coffee with the girls after the movie? When will you be hoooooooooooooooome?”

    Isn’t it ironic that the gal on a short leash never cheated, but the guy who was given his freedom did? :S

    p.s.– I also held ALL of those misconceptions about cheating until it happened to me. To think that I EVER thought that it was romantic (ala Bridges of Madison County)… yuck!

  • Yup, I was totally the “The Cool Wife”. ‘Go do your own thing, make yourself happy. Hang out with your friends.’ Little did I know doing his own thing was actually doing someone else and he only had one friend – the OW. In the meantime, I was the one always at home running the house and taking care of the kids. What a chump I was.

  • in theory, I agree with all and did tell his family about his internet predator habit, but then I got from h:

    “that was between you and me.”

    or… the classic:

    “you never know what’s going inside a marriage.” (or as I say… right. I had no idea what was going on.)

    or the really painful and from a relative of his that I adored. (she’s on her FOURTH marriage and this one’s an alcoholic)

    “you drove him away so of COURSE, he was just looking for “love.”

    (Now, I know why she’s on her 4th marriage, because in fact she’s a sadistic bitch who used to gush all over me.)

    (husband said that he had no idea what she was talking about and wasn’t looking for love. thank heaven for that much!, but he couldn’t manage to defend me either!)

    He’s not psycho. Maybe a personality disorder, or a combo pack and definitely horrifically depressed and self-medicated through other women. no justification, here. I gave him chance after chance, but he refuses to seek help or take meds. so be it. Right now, I feel more and more removed every day, and that’s a good thing!

    I’ve come to realize something and its something that I think we all need to be mindful of. And that is, no matter what we think before, after or during that its not all black and white. There may have been problems. no wait. there were problems, because there are ALWAYS problems and conflict. Its how people handle them that matter. For me, the bottom line always comes to deceit. the problem is… cheaters very often lie to themselves too. But that’s just it, when we find ourselves in the midst of a highly dysfunctional situation, it all just devolves into one big clusterfuck of issues and therein lies, CLs term “untangling the skein of fuckedupness.” can’t be done. Still, our minds want to keep on trying. I guess this is human nature.

    I’ve debated saying anything, but since we are examining stupid shit people say, and for me, black and white thinking, I want to say that I was chastised (by a chump) for even talking to my h and letting him help me from time to time. If it works for me, then it works. period.

    What I think can happen and we all need to be careful of this, is that we are vulnerable to projecting our own situations and hurts onto other people in similar situations as a means to heal ourselves. I don’t think that woman meant to hurt me further, but she did because the last thing any of us need here, is to be made to feel even more like a dumbshit. Haven’t we all been through enough pain?

    I left because I was being constantly triggered and wondering what the hell he was up to. and that has now ceased almost entirely.

    However, I am forever changed and I don’t know if its always for the better. (in some ways yes, but in some ways, no) I’m working on that one. I have lost all trust now in just about everyone of the opposite sex and that is really sad. I loved my husband and I loved being married to him for many, many years… until D-day number one nearly did me in. And even after that, we shared the most morbid, sick, funny, funny, sense of humor. We laughed and laughed, but even that got killed for the most part.

    • Laurel,
      I just recently began speaking to my X again because of a financial situation that I am entitled to. There are pros and cons but I need the money, it’s not much but it IS mine…and it would be very stupid of me to not accept it. Opinions on this are varying from my ‘support group’, but I think everyone is different and I should let him help me as long as I’m vigilant. I’m still black hole lonely alot, but feel pretty much Meh about him so like you, I think we have to do what is right for us. Works for me too.

  • 1. Said the very same thing-You never know what really goes on in a marriage, very smugly as if I was a sage. Gawd!

    2. Watched Bridges of Madison County and remember feeling torn-should she stay? Should she go? Now all I think is BARF!

    3. Boundaries were wishy-washy. My ex-NPD began extending his business trips. I didn’t want to be controlling because, after all, it was his money and I was working so couldn’t go at those times. I brought it up a couple of times but in the most wishy-washy way and was semi-convinced when he’d say that he was going all that way for business, wouldn’t it be nice if he did some sight-seeing there too? Well, I guess. It never felt exactly right but I spackled over it. Funny, he never seemed to do much sight-seeing.

    I should be working right now but instead I am reading and posting. Having a really hard day. It’s been a year plus and I feel stuck and angry and feel like taking it out on myself. I won’t but I feel surges of anxiety and rage and want to stab myself with a pen or something. Good thing I have counseling tomorrow. I just don’t feel normal. I feel like I am permanently damaged. I am working hard at moving on. Weekends are super hard because I have so much more time to be with myself. I HATE him and HATE what he did to me. My best buddy through this started dating and has found someone super kind. I guess that’s a reminder to me of what I’ve gone through and that I’m not ready to date because I still have shit to work through–like am I even an interesting person, I can’t even look at myself in the mirror because I think I am hideous looking, etc.. I’d write this on the forum but I can’t even figure out how to get to it on my work computer. I think I’ll go take a nibble of a Xanax.

    • Nwrain, believe me I feel your pain and so do many others here. My mom always said that misery loves company, and I think it helps to know that others have been in the place you are now and have climbed up and out of that hellhole to have a good life. Don’t worry so much about feeling normal, point in case-when we are at a wedding my kids always sit next to me because they are afraid I’ll jump up and shout “Don’t do it!!!!” Most likely I would never do that…almost positively not..I’m pretty sure.

    • nwrain,

      Sorry for your bad day…but remember, cheating is all on them, it’s not on you one bit. They suck, we don’t. It’s that simple. Just keep repeating it over and over. For the chump part, distinguish between pain and suffering. The pain of chump status is unavoidable…believing lies when you felt or knew the truth, and so on and so on. But suffering is a chump’s choice not an unavoidable consequence of chump status. My best relief for suffering is just to do something, anything when suffering strikes. There’s an old saying that “success begets success.” So start small and don’t think about anything, just keep on doing something productive. Good luck.

      • Thanks, Annie. It really does help to hear that other people have been in the blackest places and have made their way to the light again. Taking the time to respond to me made me feel better. 🙂

      • Thanks, Matt. Since I wrote that I have put a rubber band on my wrist to snap every time I tell myself (Insert irrational, not completely based on reality comment to myself) and am replacing it with something nice.
        I am going to ponder your comment about suffering being a chump’s choice. I can see that is true through the fog, but I need to roll that around in my mind for a bit first. I am going to try your “just do something, anything” suggestion. I have to work my hardest on the weekend to get myself out of the house, but this weekend I gave in to the suffering. It’s soo hard and I’m even the kind of person that believes hard work is the solution to most problems.
        Thanks for taking the time to respond. This site and the people here are keeping me going.

        • nwrain,

          (((hugs))) I think that through your pain, you’re very very funny! I too should be working. Having ones own biz and working from home—ALONE, is not always easy. I love what I do (90% of the time), so it often doesn’t feel like work. But these posts are always so thought provoking and interesting to me!

          I also have some really black days and yes, quite often they strike on a weekend, (although my son is often here and/or I’m still working which helps). I got sick a few weeks ago, and if my son hadn’t been here, I think I would’ve died.

          I also tend to isolate and that is a recipe for even more depression. So, I try to do something new at least twice a month if not more. If it doesn’t work out, then I try something else. I am just thinking of ideas.

          Have you thought of doing some volunteer work on the weekends, or taking an adult ed course, or joining some meetup groups, a book club or whatever you’re interested in? Since you’ve pinpointed your tough time to Saturday and Sunday, then try to fill up that time with things you enjoy.

          I know. I know. you already know this and undoubtedly have heard all this before and feel like choking me right now and that you can’t even get it together to LOOK. I know. Depression sucks. Are you taking any meds? I find it doesn’t help so much with the depression as it does with the MOTIVATION.

          well… back to work.

          oh, yeah… and this one… but it does help. make a gratitude list. I know, now you really wanna choke me…lol.

          I find that when I do that the things that are so wonderful actually far outweigh the the shit. Its just that the shit takes up too much head space because its hard to remember how wonderful other things are when one is being ripped in half.

          here’s another ((hug)). You’re not alone.

          • ps: I think its also alright from time to time, to just have a day of giving into whatever it is… that one is feeling even if its down. On those days, I eat all the candy I want… salty, buttery, popcorn. coffee. ice cream for dinner. (washed down with a vitamin and some lipitor–lol) Then, I watch Chopped, Cupcake Wars, House Hunters, (but that one can be triggering when I see a man who’s so “in love” with his wife), or a movie.

            I find if I just give into it on occasion, that the next day, I feel much better. Refreshed even. its okay to allow ourselves these kinds of days as long as its not every day!

  • Totally the ‘cool wife”. Beers with the boys? Check. Holiday work parties, no spouses allowed? Check. Two week motorcycle trip to Sturgis? Check. In fact I was so cool I was practically frozen with resentment. If I questioned why we never did anything together his general nastiness made it easier if he just got his way.
    Before the infidelity I was a MYOB type of person, now I am a ‘if I see something, damn straight I’m gonna say something” person. It’s a whole new perspective.

    • Frozen with resentment…sounds like the final year of my marriage. I was positively rigid with resentment–we had been living his dreams for so long and I had gotten so lost in it all that I literally froze up and could barely function beyond the regular stuff I had to do, like laundry and cooking. Otherwise I was on the sofa, stuck.

      Not on the sofa anymore but still scared shitless of the future.

  • Here’s how naive I was: My ex seemed to adore our children and tended to brag about them and mention his marital status, as well, to whoever he should be talking to. He carried pictures of me and the kids in his wallet, showed them to anyone who would let him. I actually said to someone, maybe one week before DDay #1 (completely oblivious), that no woman would mess with a guy so proud of his wife and kids, so obviously invested in his life.

    Turns out that there are plenty of women out there who get a feeling of power from disrupting a family and getting a “man” to turn his back on his own children. I survived four affairs before finally wising up and getting the divorce. Feeling so relieved these days 🙂

    • I survived one and was clueless that it was simply the only one I knew about. STBX had pictures in his wallet, his FB status was married, I posted on his page, teasing him as a wife teased a husband…and he did much of his grooming of other women on FB, via private messages. They weren’t unaware. They simply didn’t care.

  • Same here. I had no appreciation of the destruction and did subscribe to the idea that the BS, somehow, contributed. I never examined this with a critical eye, questioning why one had to cheat if divorce was readily available.
    I also failed, completely, to take into account that a cheater, by definition, is a person who lacks integrity, empathy, and communication skills. So, I would accept the justifications and characterizations of the Bs without question.
    I see people doing this all the time. When i point out that the cheater had other options or that we should question the cheater’s version of the marriage and characterization of the Bs, people are incredulous.
    I think the media/films/books have just programmed us to believe that every cheater was driven to it by horrid BS/marriage.
    As CL points out in other threads, people that have not been through this have no concept of what it is like. Nor do they want to even entertain the notion that a Bs could be a fine person who tried to make the marriage work etc only to have been cheated on. This would make the world too scary of a place and accepting that the Bs was good etc would mean that others are at risk and cannot have control over this happening to them.
    I saw this when my first son was born with disabilities, too. Some people just needed to believe that we had doe something to bring this upon ourselves. If we had done nothing wrong, and this still happened, it rocked their world.

    • I just wrote something similar… I think that is the way it works. Tough, but human nature. There are some people though that try to really look beyond this, but it goes against your first natural instinct I guess.

    • My children also have health issues, and some people did ask me if perhaps it was something I might have done (or did not do) while pregnant. Astounding, ignorant, and just plain rude.

      I am guilty of that assumption (not with health issues/disabilities, but with infidelity). I definitely used to say things like, “Well no wonder he cheated! His wife is horrid!”

      Well, now I’m the “horrid wife,” so I’ve certainly learned my lesson. 🙁

  • I’ve never been able to really get a handle on this aspect of dealing with this: how does one explain to other folks the extent of the trauma, without looking like a self pitying drama king? And, what techniques are out there to combat the smear campaign of the cheater and to combat the characterization of the marriage/bS?
    How does one do this without the old “me thinks he doth protest too much” risk?
    The best technique I have employed is to simply ignore the allegations and be my normal self. But, it is really hard to resist picking up the gauntlet and fighting back.
    It is a double bind. if I say nothing, am I conveying my acceptance of the characterizations? If I defend myself with hard evidence, am I over zealous, thus casting doubt on my assertions?
    I guess the best way to look at it is that the peole who matter to me know the truth.

    • Exactly what troubles me: how do I explain that I cannot act “normal” around him, let bygones be bygones (there are no bygones yet!) and be happy that they are neutral and rooting for both of us to get on with our separate lives…

      Of course I can’t tell them what to do, who to believe… but I don’t think I can keep quiet and expect people to understand what happened to me. I am in the same bind and it hurts that people don’t get it, even thought I never got it before either!

      • Stick to talking to fellow betrayeds, I guess. Even my friends and family, who know that I am a decent person, grew tired of the whole subject within several months.
        It is hard to accept, but , this is just no big deal to others. They look at ii as if it is an episode on “Friends” or something.
        When it is still bothering you and still on your mind when it is time for the next episode, they are tired of it.
        To those who have not been through it, infidelity seems to be perceived as a minor bump in the road and they are confused as hell when you are not acting like Erica Kane , fully recovered and moved on, in next week’s chapter.
        This sort of , to me, mirrors where we as a society have put the importance of sex. It is amazing to me how casual folks are these days about sex and how it is viewed as a mere bodily function, like eating or taking a crap.
        Is it really so surprising that people who think you should be having sex by the second or third date are unable to grasp why your spouse banging someone is a big deal to you? I mean, after all, all your spouse was doing was the equivalent of eating a steak or taking a dump.

        • Wow, Arnold, you give me hope. I was married to the ex NPD monster for 20 years, which he spent having hundreds of sexual encounters with other men, multiple affairs with married women at the same time, threesomes, orgies, blackmail… you name it, my ex did it and probably still does.

          I’m in my late 40s, never even been with another man. Entering this brave new dating world, I’m stunned by the expectation that I should be in bed with a man on our third date. Heck, I probably wouldn’t even know his middle name at that point, or really anything about him. I’m not opening up my body and my heart to someone I barely know, someone who quite possibly plans on hitting it and quitting it.

          You are absolutely right. For most people these days, sex is nothing more than taking a crap or having a snack. Infidelity is nothing, marriage means nothing. If I don’t want to fuck a man on the third date, I’m hopelessly “old fashioned” or have “hang ups.”

          I admit to sort of giving up on ever finding a decent man, or even believing that such men exist in the single world. Thanks, Arnold, for giving me some hope.

          • I plan never to date again! I am too traumatized to ever trust anyone again I trusted my husband so much, and I loved and cared about him yet he felt entitlled to cheat on me and is in the processd of trying to drive me out of my own house. What did I do? I feel awful that I have to be the one to file for divorce. This is not my idea.

          • GladItsOver, more hope: No need to worry about having sex too soon……Actually, holding off on having sex is quite an attractive trait, these days. This was my MO (when I was single and dating) and it made me stand out as a girl who was worth waiting for – the guys I dated *loved* that I would give them something to work towards. Seriously, they ate it up. Most girls have sex on the first or second date easily, so any girl who waits longer than that stands apart from the crowd.

            Definitely wait to have sex until you are ready again. “When someone enters my body, they enter my heart….and I need to guard my heart.”

        • I will probably never date again. I am also sickened by that perspective– in my silly little backwards world, you kiss on the third date because you finally know enough about each other to know that you want to move forward romantically. Have sex right away? Wow. I guess a Victorian gal like I am won’t be able to keep a boyfriend!

          Yeah. I guess I’ll have plenty of time for all of those hobbies I’ve wanted to pursue after all…

    • yes, that is it. They do not understand it is literally traumatic. I had no clue it would be traumatic like that before it happened to me. I had never suffered anything like that before.

      I do have a story I can tell of how I felt in those moments after I read the text where I discovered the affair, what I did. I can talk about how I literally couldn’t eat or sleep. But yes, I don’t tell that to most people.

      Mostly I try to be matter of fact about it and act like the cool chick I am. And then they probably assume that I seem pretty cool but I probably wasn’t giving it up enough or something… oh well…

      I actually told a chick today for the first time why I was divorced. The thing I remember she seemed to find the hardest to believe was that he wasn’t the one that wanted to get divorced. I literally led her to say “he wanted to have his cake and eat it too”?

      • yeah,no kidding. and I get remarks, like from my boss, “well, you can’t keep going on after him for one little mistake.” [Let’s play spot the bullshit shall we?: (a) I sure as shit can; (b) who says it was once; (c) mistake my left foot; (d) little…? wtf? (e) ad nauseaum, you all know….]

        Now — all of 7 months past D-day, she’s taken so saying “well, since your marital troubles are settled…”. No Lady, I just never told you anything about it, you dolt. Since I could tell you would never, in a thousand glacial epochs, ever get it. Grrrr.

        All of which: subtopic: anybody else struggling with work performance that is sub-par b/c you have deal, in one way or another with the Cheater Dee-luxe?.

        Kind of a Royale wit’cheese of shit sandwiches, since you get shit at work, and shit at home!

  • I always thought cheating was wrong, but thought that people could be in vulnerable positions where moral boundaries became blurred. Case in point, former co-workers of my STBX got married about 20 years or so ago. At first, they seemed to have an idea marriage, did a lot of stuff together, etc. Then their daughter was born. Within 5 years, they’d divorced due to her infidelity. Now, the Betrayed Husband is a whack job. I get that. He’s a misogynist with extremely conservative Christian views that buy into his misogyny. I’m sure that co-parenting with him was a nightmare, plus the child was a girl. His ex had an affair with one of the vice-presidents of her firm, so I saw the OM as a bit of a predator taking advantage of the vulnerability of the wayward wife. What she did was wrong–and really she should have divorced her husband–but she was weak and her AP was in an authority position. I’d not give her such a pass. I’d sympathize about her marriage, but that’s a reason for a divorce, not an excuse for an affair.

    Otherwise, I’ve known women who seem to be attracted only to married men. I always thought there was something wrong with these women, as they were always chasing the unattainable, even if they thought they’d snared their man. Now I know these women are NPDs or BPDs, and they have male counterparts.

    I didn’t set a lot of boundaries. I’ve always been a trust and loyalty chump, plus I grew up around people (musicians, academics) who tend to work independent hours, but whose work can be all-engrossing. I always believed in setting aside some time each week for a date, and I suppose that I should have seen the red flag of when he stopped being interested in going out on our dinner dates. He was always too tired for that, but he wasn’t too tired to stop by Starbucks on Saturday to buy coffee and pastries to take to work for when his team had Saturday meetings. The boundaries on how far to extend trust and loyalty will be a big part of my healing process.

    • Oh, and I always thought that people needed to have time to balance their affairs and their marriages. No. They don’t. Their 5-minute quickie is as much as they can get, but it’s omg mind-blowing. For the rest of it, they just steal the time from what they should be putting into the marriage, and instead put it into the affair while lying about how busy they are.

      • yep, my ex accomplished his affair by just leaving for work about 15 minutes earlier a couple times a week. He’d talk to her on his drive home (which is what did cause me to be suspicious when I would call him and always hear the beep that he was on the other line) and texted her throughout the day while they worked together. I didn’t see records of those texts until after Dday. Because I wasn’t looking. Because I trusted him.

        So, yeah, they don’t need a lot of time.

        • So my story. I found where he keeps the secret cell phone in his car and I see they talk everyday on his ride home from work.

          • My ex was supplied a secret phone from her married AP. One day, she butt dials me on HER phone, and I get to hear her (it went to voicemail ) gushing all over talking to the AP (smoopie moopie crap). Nice….. This was after trying the big R…. Slap in the face I needed, but still a slap….

            Of course, she was a SAHM (kids were much older, full time in school and one was driving) so she had all the time in the world.

      • yes– this. or they spend hours on the phone and or texting the AP instead of working or having any kind of life with partner & family.

        • yeah… whenever I hear a woman say that her fucktard, serial cheating, (aka: sex addict) husband is now “recovering” and isn’t “acting out” any longer, I think… REALLY??? How on earth can you possibly know that? Cause he says so???

          Ever hear of a lunch hour, doctor’s appointment, traffic, work “emergency”, “men just need to spend a long time on the crapper” (yes, cause he’s full of shit!), shopping, going for a drink and/or game with the guys, going to the gym, going for a run, walk, bike ride, tennis, golf (that takes all day), fishing (same thing).

          In other words. Its impossible to know because once the trust is broken, like Humpty Dumpty, its impossible to put it back together again. I don’t care what the shmexperts say; its not possible. After all, how can there not be at least some grain of doubt that someone who is capable of such heinous deceit and in my case for at least nine years, could ever stop? If he could’ve done that, he would’ve come clean on his own and he would’ve realized that something was horribly wrong– with HIMSELF and pulled out the stops to not be that person any longer; the person who is capable of decimating the one person they purportedly love and cherish more than any other person on the face of the earth.

          • “yeah… whenever I hear a woman say that her fucktard, serial cheating, (aka: sex addict) husband is now “recovering” and isn’t “acting out” any longer, I think… REALLY??? How on earth can you possibly know that? Cause he says so???”

            I am ashamed to admit that during the bogus “reconciliation,” my now-ex NPD demon told me he would no longer have sex with men because he had a mantra that prevented him from doing so. His mantra was: “I will not be someone else’s demon.” That, along with the Holy Spirit, was supposedly going to keep him from engaging in the staggering levels of infidelity that he had been carrying out for over two decades.

            • Glad,
              please don’t beat yourself up. Hey, I stayed with my predatory husband for 6.5 years before I figured out how to leave.

              There’s no shame in loving another person, and definitely not in TRYING to make it work, even with a bi-sexual and/or gay man (or whatever he is) who’s using a woman to have a “normal” life. The shame is on HIM for duping you and then duping you again and again and again.

              Lots of dudes hide behind so-called “religion;” just another repugnant layer of abuse. I’m sure there must be a special place in hell for such cretins.

              There are also guys who will tell their partners over and over how amazing, sexy, beautiful they are and how lucky they are…

              (to have a patsy who for whatever her own reasons are, refuses to see the truth.)

              and then go on his merry way with lunchtime trysts… etc… socios are the most dangerous creatures. They truly have no soul, but the scariest part is that until one is on the receiving end of this, its impossible to see. They are generally, really, really nice, “easy-going” guys. Until they’re not.

              I’m not sure that I can trust myself to tell the difference between a healthy man and one who is that sick.

              • Yeah, I was the most amazing, gorgeous supportive wife who ever lived. Right up until I kicked him out after finding out about his double life. Now I’m the bitch from hell and his new victim in the greatest thing that ever lived. I’m not sure he calls her gorgeous because it would be a stretch but who knows, he probably does, and that plain little girl probably feels like the most beautiful girl in the world, having this handsome older successful guy feeding her compliments.

        • Heh. The texting and messaging. I have friends and family all over the world so instead of getting on the phone at night to talk to people I tend to get online and have a chat with siblings or whomever. He was sometimes like this but I look back now and realise that there were times when he was manic about it and I would ask without suspicion (I was a trusting chump) who he was messaging with and he would say this or that relative or whatever. It never occurred to me that he was lying because his lies just fell of his tongue so easily. It’s kind of scary, although a bit fun now because when he tries to lie in front of others the few times we have to deal with something together I call him out right on the spot and my god does he get PISSED..
          🙂

    • “Vulnerable positions where boundaries became bluured”?(translation: “horny as hell and wanting to fuck”). KB, you better watch it. You may be nominated for a word salad award.

  • Since a good friend of mine left a congratulation for my soon-to-be-X on *my* Facebook timeline, a friend that knows what I’m going through (or I thought she understood), someone I told about many of the the horrible things he did and still does to my and the children… I am terribly hurt. And this topic gets me back to the point: would I have known not to do that? Would I have known that trying to stay neutral is not the way to help your friend heal and get on with her life?

    I guess not. I did not know how deeply betrayal by your spouse, co-parent, your confidante, your best friend of many, many years, hurts. How hurtful it is that other people still give him the benefit of the doubt (is there any doubt, really?!). I understand his mother, siblings, not wanting to give him up and lose him. Blood is thicker… but my best friend since highschool?!

    I did think myself there had to be something wrong, just a subconscious way to make my world and marriage safe of the threat of betrayal. This could not happen to me, I had a thrustworthy guy, I did put out, we had fun together… this happening without your control or a fault of your own is maybe just too threatening? I never believed it could happen to me. So there must have been something wrong with marriages it happened in. Right?

    No idea how to respond to my friend now. Keep a distance, accept that she wants to keep us both close, explain my POV? I think there is no way to make someone understand, I would only come off as a bitter and spiteful woman… which I’m trying not to be, even though I have every right to! I am angry, but try to turn that into building a new life for me and the kids. Now only to decide what friends are really worth investing in… those who understand, or also those who just don’t get it, but (probably) mean well?

        • I think so… especially since she’s been your good friend throughout this horrible time. It would be another thing if she were just an acquaintance and had no idea why you were getting divorced, etc.

          Like I don’t expect my friends to run up to my ex and cause a major scene. But they definitely better not be going out of their way to be nice to him.

          I do kinda wish my friends would unfriend my ex. I think they might keep him as a friend to spy on him… but all it means is that my ex can kinda see what I’m doing and what my friends are doing and that bugs me. I technically haven’t unfriended my ex… but I have hidden him or whatever so I can’t see his updates and vice versa. I think. This is also why I don’t post much 🙂

          • fakebook sucks. I agree with you Erica, Dutch would’ve behaved differently. You see… a true friend does not judge. They discuss the situation and offer support.

            If you stick to the facts without getting into how you feel about what he did, then you won’t come off as sounding bitter. You are just reporting what happened.

            OH… but there’s HIS side of the story?

            I’ve said this before, but there are no sides. There’s only the truth and if your friend doesn’t believe that you’re speaking the truth, then she was never a friend to begin with. Its so sad that it takes something like this to make one realize who’s full of shit and who’s a true friend. Sometimes the answer is quite surprising!

            I think what all this points to is that our cheaters have not only decimated our relationships, but the peripheral damage only adds to our devastation.

            I think most people are on auto-pilot. They aren’t concerned with how this is affecting you. They are concerned with their own shit and lives and their wanting to stay “neutral” is simply a way of shielding themselves from your pain. They don’t want any part of it because denial is soooo much easier. But that isn’t a very good friend. A friend in need, is a friend indeed. (I can’t believe I just said that. lol)

          • I’m not sure about the FB thing as quite a few friends are still his friend on there, although they have little interaction with him. I think it’s a lot about keeping an eye on things but I’ve made it clear I don’t want to know what he’s up to so they dont’ tell me…although one did recently mention STBX has joined Pintrest…which made them laugh and ask if he was gay. 🙂

            As for me I defriended everyone who supported him right after dday, with the exception of his family. I waited about six months before I chucked them off and I did it because they were keeping an eye on me, so to speak. I think there might be one or two people I missed but they’re minor friends of his so I*m not worrying about it. It’s been much more peaceful since I did that, by the way. I don’t hear or see anything and that’s the way I like it.

            • I explained her it hurt, that it wasn’t really something she did on purpose, but a lesson for me, as this will happen so many more times in the future (people not understanding the depth of betrayal and how hurtful it is). She did understand, had something similar happen to her (she has an “invisible”chronic disease and is misunderstood all of the time). I’m happy I told her and hope she does understand…

    • I kicked one friend to the curb because her responses to me indicated I could not trust her and she had doubts about what I was telling her. In my case the abuse was severe so it was pretty easy to decide I wanted nothing more to do with her when I got the “two sides to every story” line from her. I am an objective person and it is true perspective matters. However, if someone hurt me severely and I don’t feel comfortable because my “friend” wants to continue a relationship with the person who hurt me, that is my right. And that “friend” is no real friend if, after explaining how you feel, they tell you to get over it because they can be “neutral” and they won’t ever repeat anything you say to the other person. If that makes me feel unsafe with them I’m not going to hang with them. If they don’t understand that, fuck them.

  • Well, one thing that is a little bit comforting in all this: cheating is so incredibly prevalent these days that it is not too hard to find others who have been through this?
    I discovered my first XW’s serial cheating back in 1994, pre-internet. I was so alone, and just never told anyone about it.
    Now, with support sites like this, i realize how many other people have been through it and I find people all the time that are going through the same thing.
    I think it is just about as hard and fast a rule as i have ever seen: If the other person has not been through it, you are wasting your time trying to explain what it is like. Thye either are incapable of getting it or they are really too afraid to look at it.

    • I agree Arnold. When I separated from my STBX two years ago, I had no friends who had been through a divorce. However I am lucky enough to have three wonderful friends from childhood, who were more than willing to listen to me cry, scream, babble and stomp like a child. They listened to my fears about divorcing and then lifted me up when I made the decision to do it.
      But coming to a forum where everyone on it has been through “it” is the best thing in the world because everyone here “gets it”. And all any of us wants is to be heard and understood.

  • I grew up with a Father that was a quite notorious cheater. Big Time. From a very young age I was stuck in the middle of these relationships with all of the fighting, crying, police visits, and general drama. As I got older I was often the one his women clung to for comfort. Really bad, so I have always known the truth of how horrible it really is.

    My X knew this too, so it was an extra added measure of pain for me that he would do to me what I feared the most. And it’s not the first time, but this time I didn’t think I could survive the pain and all the other shit I was feeling. I know one thing, I’m going, for the first time in my life to work on me because as close as I was to my Dad, and as much as I loved him I know that it has got to be issues from growing up that way that have made me so needy.

    Thank you CL, even if I am never in another relationship, at least I know I’m not alone…you all are the line I cling to! XO

  • You know what I remember feeling the most about affairs I heard about before experiencing it myself? I remember not being able to comprehend why a chump would stay and try to save the marriage. I didn’t understand what they were suffering and I am completely ashamed to say I thought it was pathetic when they would try to “hang on”.

    If you had asked me to predict how I would have respond to finding out my husband was cheating on me I would have said. “Leave him!” And then it happens to you.

    So, while I know we here are pretty anti-reconciliation, I know that most of us do understand the impulse and in fact most have tried it to varying degrees. When you trust someone so completely and have your lives so intertwined with theirs it’s pretty freaking hard to just immediately take a hard stance and walk away. Things are not that black and white. You think it must be some big misunderstanding and they will prove they are who you think they are. They aren’t actually this selfish cheating a-hole that doesn’t care about you.

    So, apparently, pre-infidelity me would have thought I was pathetic for giving my cheater a chance to redeem himself. Post-infidelity me knows that reaction is natural and in fact probably just shows what inherently good, loyal, trusting people we are that we are hoping it is all just a big mistake that can be fixed.

    • Yeah, that was me. Cheaters were scum. I “kinda” understood why someone with kids would try to stay. But, if you would have told me my sitch I would have said “RUN!!!” the moment he said it. I would have totally judged the woman for not kicking him in the balls and running a billboard ad. So when my first instinct was to try, I really beat the crap out of myself. I know, even now when I get wobbly, I was/am just realing from finding out the person who I thought was my best friend and partner in life had been lying to me for years. You can’t just go from “I love my husband, la la la. We have great sex & kids, la la la. Expecting #3, la, la la. Oh, he’s banging some side piece from his ala-non meeting and has been banging OW since our first year of marriage.” 5 months later and my brain STILL has trouble connecting the dots.

      I will try to tell myself that this simply means I’m a good person. Not some weak woman who can’t live without a man. Honestly, I’m pretty great without him. The kids and I are doing fine.

      • I mean, fear (not weakness) also plays a role in the immediate attempt at reconciliation. But who can blame a chump for being scared? Your whole world has been turned upside down so you (weirdly) turn to your betrayer to help you and make it right. And then they (almost always) fail at doing that for you.

        I’m doing great without my ex now too. Maybe that’s another difference between pre- and post- infidelity me. Before, I couldn’t even conceive of a world where I wasn’t with my ex. Now I am living that life and am so much happier!

        I think I gotta go do a journal entry on who I was before and after… there is just too much to put here. Both changes in how I view infidelity as well as changes in how I view myself overall.

        • Another Erica,
          Your post is the positive I need to hear today–that post cheater you can be happier. Congrats! You deserve it.

  • before i was cheated on i usto think jerry springer was entertaining or even funny. now i hate that shit. wouldent bother me a bit if cheating were made into a criminal offense punishable by fines and jailtime

    • I have never been able to watch even a part of a JS episode…if you see my earlier comment you will know why. To me these shows are just as bad and part and parcel of the whole big money reconciliation industry. Making money off of peoples pain….if enough of us keep participating..maybe it WILL become illegal to cheat in certain circumstances. I mean after all, the more states that legalize marijuana the more new crimes will have to come forward to support the big biz that is our “legal” system! 🙂

  • I used to think marriage was difficult and relationships complicated and mysterious. Like brain surgery or quantum mechanics. Guess what? They are–when you’re married to a sociopath who gaslights you year after year. It’s hard and unknowable and impossible to get right because someone works ***hard*** to make it that way.

    Chumpdom and making a new life taught me that marriage is not difficult, and relationships aren’t nearly as complicated, when two people want the same things, deal openly and honestly, and give their best effort. Effort is involved, but its a joyful effort. Less like physics class; more like singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of your lungs at Fenway Park.

    • exactly!!

      how many times did I ask myself “Is EVERYONE’S marriage THIS HARD??”
      As I found out the answer is : No, just mine (and my fellow chumps).

      Now with a terrific guy, I’m with you, singing Sweet Caroline. No egg shells.
      No worries if the dog barks more than once. No worries if the house isn’t perfect.
      The opposite of hate–indifference.. . and for you, my ex, I’m too busy and happy to expend any energy hating you any longer. Indifference is how I feel. My energy is appropriately given to the wonderful people in my life.

      • Yay to you, Skatergirl and Nomar!
        I know the eggshell routine. I used to say to him, “Why does every disagreement end up being like WWII?” Any little disagreement became monumental so that I would just keep quiet about stuff to avoid it blowing up in my face and eventually having to give in that, yes, I guess, it was my fault, and yes, I shouldn’t have said monumental-I should have said momentous instead. (One of his favorite sleight of hand tricks was to redirect the focus of the argument to a discussion of my vocabulary and suggest better synonyms that he would have preferred I used when describing my pov. Crazy making!!)
        Glad you two are finding good things in life. 🙂

    • So true, Nomar. Relationships aren’t all that difficult when both people are playing the same side. Btu when you’re with someone who lies for years about what they’re really up to it’s like repeatedly banging your head against a wall, trying to figure out what in hell is going on, but unable to do so.

      No more bloddy heads for me. If I ever feel again in a relationship that I am frustrated beyond words and going nuts I’m out of there.

    • Nomar (and skatergirl),

      That does make me so happy to hear that marriage to the right person isn’t so difficult. I guess that assumption that all marriages “take work” and me equating “work” with how hard everything was with my ex is a large factor that has made me very leary of getting married again. Like right now I’m happy because I don’t have to TRY to please anyone else. But maybe I could be happy again and actually WANT to please someone else. And just as importantly they should WANT to please me. My ex neither tried nor wanted to try. Nor was he ever pleased.

  • My ex kept on “redefining” my boundaries and because I really was in love “committed to the relationship”, I thought that maybe I was being too controlling (because he told me so) and I was TOO needy was his favorite (even though I would catch hell from him if I hung out with a girlfriend for pizza…go figure!!!). He had plenty of leeway as to his “independent” activities including dinner without me, he said I couldn’t go, with old female friends and his trips to Vegas with single male friends. Now that I am older, wiser and free from such tyranny, I can almost instantly see a red flag when someone wants to date me and their words become very controlling, telling me things about myself that I never said, twisting my words, or telling me because I decline their invitation that I am afraid….really, yes that is a sign that I should be afraid of you, someone who is trying to coerce me into dating them. Once I even had someone tell me that I should try to get someone, him of course, before I was older…implying you still look good so now is the time to get someone….the nerve. My boundaries are now where they should have been when I was 20 years old, but better late than never and a good example to our children. BTW, me being young and dumb, my ex “played his cards right and did NOT show even a little of his bad side until very close to the wedding date. I should have cancelled the wedding and experience has taught me to spend a great deal of time to know him and the family, more than 6 months before getting married to a FAKE!!!

  • There is nothing romantic about cheating.

    I don’t even know if I can watch my favorite show any longer – Mad Men.

    Does art imitate life or life imitate art? Or do cheaters use art to justify life? Infidelity is merely an acceptable, natural phase in any relationship – just ask Woody Allen, Anais Nin, Leo Tolstoy, or Sofia Coppola.

    Seriously, I believe the above artists do produce great art, but that doesn’t mean that their readers should somehow think that they are suddenly entitled to the glamour and adventure of the adulterous affair. I do think that some cheaters use art as an inspiration towards manifesting a more enlightened, bohemian, counter-culture life of multiple love affairs – something that us prudish simple-minded chumps can not understand. The cheater is more worldly and sophisticated than those of us that find admiration and respect in such menial tasks as raising children, budgeting and bill paying, and actively improving the lives of our spouses.

    I do confess: I still watch Mad Men.

    • I stopped watching Mad Men because of the cheating, but I absolutely love your comment! I think that my STBX fancied himself to be some sort of Don Draper type (minus the good looks, high-paying job, and women falling all over him… he had to find a bottom feeder on a nasty website in order to cheat), and he certainly views himself as an artistic member of the intelligentsia who is far above the sad little small-town girl he married. I was probably supposed to weep with happiness and take him back when he asked me if we could “work things out”; I’m sure for him that meant that he would keep his little work horse while he still enjoyed his unconventional and deep lifestyle on the side.

      Gosh, he must not have been paying close attention to the series– IIRC, Betty kicked Don to the curb and moved on with her life!

      • funny! – “minus the good looks, high-paying job, and women falling all over him…”

        Somewhere in all of this, there must be a possible balance between giving and receiving. I guess us chumps who don’t receive bump up the giving in hopes of triggering some reception, but the giving-less receiver is too busy longing for more important things. I know CL recommends against over-analyzing the cheating mind, but in the thick of it all, it’s easy pickings.

        I’m predicting some requests to “work it out” too, but based on the history of observed behaviors, I’ll have no choice other than to interpret that as a request to chumpingly serve her with no true remorse or authentic attempts at earning my trust on her part.

        This work horse has better things to do.

    • Actually, I still watch Mad Men and weirdly I was very happy to see Don Draper start cheating again. Why? Because it’s true to life, true to type. Serial cheaters never stop cheating and it’s nice to see that instead of portraying the character as this misunderstood guy who just needed to find the ‘right’ woman (somethign I’ve actually heard about serial cheating STBX) as if the ‘right’ woman could ‘fix’ him, we all know that isn’t going to happen. So Mad Men validates my feelings that serial cheaters do not change. And thus I enjoy it.

      The show also shows how Megan getting her own thing going makes Don feel threatened and instead of talking to her about it he pulls the passive aggressive shit: on the surface supportive but undermining her happiness by cheating…with the neighbour….who is her friend…and the wife of his friend. He could be my ex. I am not even kidding you.

  • I am so glad I can observe the nervous and anxious smug-marrieds from my new chump free zone. It’s a wonderful place to be. I recommend it to all chumps! You know that anxious feeling you have ever time they walk into the room? Guess what. . it goes away!!

    But thinking back, I was a nervous and anxious (and superior?) smug married at one time too. Although it is truly infinitely more freeing to be post D day, post Ex, free from a life of egg shells, at the time I felt sorry for those unfortunate enough to have their husbands cheat on them. Like it was their choice! Oh have my eyes been opened.

    Just the other day I remembered reading Bridges of Madison County (pre this post) and was incredulous that I got sucked up into the story. If I ever venture to Madison county you can be sure this girl won’t be chumping around with a photographer while her decent husband is at the county fair.

  • Strangely, my lying, cheating piece of shit husband was the one who always refused to watch movies with an adultery theme because he found the idea so repulsive. I guess it’s much better and makes much more sense in real life to cheat on your wife and 3 beautiful children.

  • I haven’t left yet. Married 8 years with a 5 year old child. We are in therapy, but I feel hopeless about it. It’s the last ditch effort. It’s just heartbreaking to see my dream go down the drain and knowing my son will not have an intact family. It’s what I wanted most in life and I know that I did that to myself, so now I have to get over it. I hate who I’ve become from this. I am just so sad and scared of the work ahead. I’m afraid of fighting and I’m afraid therapy won’t work. I used to feel such confidence each day before this relationship. I don’t know what’s happened to me. Thank you for this blog. I’m looking for inspiration.

    • Honey, your son already does not have an intact family. And what exactly did you do to yourself? You dared to love this idiot?

      Its my fervent belief that “therapy” with a cheater IS hopeless and huge waste of time and money. Did you ever realize that therapist is “the rapist?” Although, single therapy for you, is highly recommended. I see that you are suffering from fearaholism. But honey… you have two choices. The dickberg has struck your marriage… now, you can go down with the ship, or get tossed into the frozen waters, where you will surely die. OR you can get yourself to a lifeboat, where the chances of death are greatly decreased. But its scary, going from your nice warm bed into the little rickety life boat. Will help arrive? Will I still freeze to death? I think I’ll just stay here with what I know and start pumping water out of this marriage that’s drowning in dysfunction. The problem is… you will never be able to pump it out fast enough.

      That’s what’s happened to you. Its impossible to be one’s best self when every day is simply a struggle to survive. The fear should be staying where you are, not in leaving. You were fine BEFORE this relationship. Do you hear what you said? Dump the idiot and go back to that place where you thrived and take your precious son with you. Godspeed!

      • Thanks for all your ‘life stories’. In my opinion, this blog should be required daily reading from the minute a couple announces their engagement to their wedding day. In fact, there should be encounter groups of soon to be married couples talking through every facet of the items you all bring up…correcting a spouses use of the proper verbiage? not allowing a spouse to have coffee with her best girlfriend after a movie…while he goes to Vegas with ‘guy’ trips? cancelling regular date nights because of work or fatigue? The list of patterns of relationship abuse is endless and provides invaluable clues to starry-eyed soon to be married couples a vast amount of ‘wake-up’ resource. As survivors of the free love 60’s, my wife and I have made it to 40 years of faithfulness- amazingly so—-especially with my traits of being a serial gadfly going around hugging everyone (guys and gals) as a sign of friendship and warmth! I should have discovered high fives decades ago…which I do exclusively now!

        My God shine on all of us in a most authentic and profound way that allows Joy to invade every part of our beings.
        JM

    • Michelle, you have a wealth of support here, and amazing resources in this blog. Please read the posts on here, as I’m sure you will find so much common ground, verrrry similar stories and common themes among these cheaters.

      For your sake and your son’s sake, surround yourself with support. Take care of YOU. More individual counseling sessions could be good for you to vent and process this shit and find the strength to protect yourself and your son from further harm.

      Be kind to yourself – you didn’t deserve this treatment from someone you thought you could trust, and you didn’t cause this. I agree with Laurel – “intact family” has got to mean more than just one’s legal status; your husband knowingly and willingly took steps and made an effort to selfishly undermine that all by himself. That’s not on you.

      Please stick around here. I am grateful to CL and this blog, because it says what you really REALLY need to hear and you know it in your gut. Sometimes it’s scary as hell to admit it, but life IS BETTER when you can step away from the crazy.

    • Michelle, I became a single mother when my son was 4 years old. My second brief marriage was to a serial cheater (thus this blog). So I had two heartbreaking divorces I put my kid through (I ended both marriages, ended the first one because his father has a mental illness he refuses to treat). I did a lot of years in the single mom trenches and am now happily remarried for going on three years.

      Single parenthood is FINE. Your son will be FINE. All you need is one sane parent (you) and to work out the best custody arrangement you can manage. Leaving a bad marriage models self respect, and it stops the modeling of dysfunction to kids. My son is almost 16 now — although his teenage ways drive me nuts — he is an awesome kid. Honor roll, cross country, great work ethic, has plenty of friends, he’s kind and empathetic, walks our widowed neighbor’s dog for her. I could go on. He’s GREAT. If he’s a poster child of a kid raised by a dreaded Single Mother, you could do a lot worse. Single parents ROCK. I raised him myself and got less than baseline CS from his dad for years (who has deadbeat issues).

      And now here’s a gift he wouldn’t have gotten if I was married to those other losers — he’s got an awesome step dad who is an active part of his life, who he loves, and who treats his mother with love and respect. There is a man in his life who models what it is to be a good man. I could’ve raised him on my own, but this is icing on the cake of his life. You don’t get this without the shit storm and the loneliness that comes with the risk of ending a bad marriage. Have faith in yourself — and build that new better life for you and your son.

  • Thanks for another great column, CL. I used to think all those things, too. Re: boundaries, frankly, I’m used to being on my own, because xH really didn’t spend a lot of time with me, anyway, even though I thought we were best friends. I’m realizing that was a mistake–a big, flappy, proud, red flag.

    It’s wisdom that is the silver lining in all this. Wisdom is like gold. Before you’re a parent, you think a lot of stupid shit about parenting, too. Before you experience anything transformative–the death of a loved one, fighting through an illness–you think you know a lot of things, but you don’t really know, do you? Wisdom, from experience, gives you a certain peace, especially after you’ve put away all of the shattered pieces–or most of them, anyway. I wouldn’t wish this loss of blissful innocence on anyone, but I like it about myself that I know certain things, now. I can help someone else through it–I DO that, actually–even only if by inspiration.

    I love this: “I just wanted the old Steve and Warren back. Which was about ME, wanting to relate to them in the old ways I enjoyed.” Isn’t that the truth. Or, as I’d posted in another column–a lot of the BS that people try to feed us is about “That Could Never Happen To Me.” What a naive person says about betrayal is about the person saying it, not about the person experiencing it. Period.

  • Regarding #4 “Boundaries Matter”, you talk about how early in life you tried to be The Cool Wife, and that you now know that it is actually good to have and expect boundaries in a marriage. I agree completely.

    It’s interesting that the opposite was one of my judgments about cheating, before I was cheated on – was that boundaries *do* matter, and they were probably too strict. I thought that the BS must have been too demanding, i.e, must have kept her man on too short of a leash, and that’s why he cheated. He was suffocated, and although cheating wasn’t the best option, it was a cause. Of course I was HORRIBLY WRONG about this judgment, but at the time I knew quite a few unmarried women my age who thought the same thing – that married woman often kept their men on short leashes and didn’t let them do the fun things they wanted to do, and so that’s why their men cheated.

    So, really, I’ve heard this mis-judgment thrown around both ways: If you are too strict, they’ll cheat. If you’re too easy-going, they’ll cheat.

    In reality, it doesn’t really matter. If they want to cheat, they’ll CHEAT, period.

    • In retrospect, I’d be more vocal about when he started to cross boundaries with which I wasn’t comfortable. I’ve always believed that married people need to do things together, but also that they needn’t be joined at the hip. I probably sacrificed more in the way of my social life in order to be home when he was home, as he truly does work hellacious hours. I felt that we needed that time in order to do basic things like talking. True, his talking was often yelling about work, and I often suspected–and still do–that he probably can’t name my co-workers, though I can name everyone he’s worked with over the past 16 years.

      Still, there were occasions when he’d say that OW bought “them” lunch. I always thought that the “they” was the entire office, as her family has a restaurant business. Now I think that “they” were the two of them. There were a couple of other times when I felt things were not right, but trusted him.

      Only when OW called about some manufactured crisis at her home (gutters leaking) did I put my foot down and say that it was inappropriate for her to call him like that, and he needed to tell her to get someone out there. He overruled my objections, telling me that it was a quick trip out and back, and since she was at that point unemployed (she didn’t make it through the trial period of the new job she took after leaving STBX’s workplace), this was the charitable thing. I still trusted him, but told him I didn’t like it.

      So I think that in retrospect, setting boundaries for me means speaking out immediately when you think that some kind of interaction seems weird or out of place. That’s your intuition talking. Listen.

  • Who am I now? I’m someone who knows that monogamy is a CHOICE. I’m someone who’s impoverished, ill, and alone. I’m someone still sorting through the rubble after more than three years. I’m in my mid-50s and likely to be alone for the rest of my life. My sense of trust was destroyed by the one who cheated on me; I know that such betrayal is the nth degree of injury. I’m someone who has no more illusions about human relations. I’m so grateful for this website.

    • SOH, I know a woman, now 57 (my age, too) and a minister. After 30 years of marriage in her mid-50s she found out that her husband had pretty much bedded the entire town, including friends and employees. And yes, she gave it the ol’ college try which we now understand in almost all cases, is not advisable as did she after a time.

      I remember hearing her bemoan how she was 55— over the hill, no man would ever be interested, and she was done… I think it was because she was sooooooo emphatic that it made me wonder… and sure enough a few months later, someone introduced her to a dashing widower who was everything her husband wasn’t and she fell madly in love with him and he with her. Even a woman of faith had given up, and it didn’t matter. Love found her. Was it real? Was he just another fake? I don’t know. I’ve lost touch, but I’m going with that he’s one of the good ones.

      I don’t have a problem with being alone. Its loneliness that’s my undoing, but being alone and lonely, are two very different things. I was never more lonely than I was during the endless nights of a half-dead untouchable husband in the same bed as me.

      I am so, so glad to be out of that hell hole bed.

      • Thanks, Laurel. I haven’t given up … far from it. Yesterday was one of the worst days I’ve had in a while … Like a storm, it passed. Agreed with you re: the differences between alone and lonely … and especially about the “half-dead untouchable husband”. Today is a new day. Sweet relief!!

  • I hate like hell to admit this, but my ex was deteriorating anyway. I was beginning to question whether or not I even wanted to stay with him. When a suspicion would cross my mind, I would think to myself, “Really? Look, he’s letting himself go. Who would want him?” So, that’s the wrongful myth I had in my head. And yeah, he cheated down. OMG, what a dog she is.

  • When I told a close friend about XH cheating, she asked “and what did you do”, as in what part did I play in his cheating. The problem is that normal people not living with narcissists assume that all marital problems are a 50-50 thing.

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