Dear Chump Lady,
I consider myself to be in the early stages of Chumpdom with a long way to go to be free. I have quit the Pick Me Dance and dishing out the cake. I am looking forward to that Tuesday. I realize that I am luckier than many that visit your site with knowing that I wasn’t abused as much and for as long as some.
I thought it might make for an interesting post if you were to put something together expressing what a chump should say to their cheater. Us chumps bring so many finger-pointing issues that the cheater would never read it.
So many times I’ve wanted to write something to my cheating wife trying to express my hurt and disappointment, but it usually comes out trying to make her feel guilty when in most cases guilt is not what she is willing to feel.
What do you think?
Good impulse. Bad idea.
Writing to your cheater, trying to express your hurt and disappointment is a rookie mistake. BTDT, and I have the hundreds of mortifying emails to prove it. Sharing your tender, vulnerable, little underbelly with your cheater is a huge miscalculation. It doesn’t make them feel guilty or empathetic. It makes them feel central.
At best, to the cheater, it’s kibbles — you still care! You’re in it for the long haul! Hurrah! Cake!
At worst, it’s annoying static. Would you shut UP already? Yeah, yeah you’re hurt. If I dwell on that (assuming I’m not disordered and can dwell on that), it just makes me feel like shit. Why would I want to feel like shit when there is cake to be had?
And in both cases they lose respect for you. Your vulnerability is not attractive. It doesn’t draw you closer to them (like it would a normal person, who can respond empathetically), it makes you an easy mark. You’re signaling that you desire dialogue, you’re desperate for an answer from them, which they will correctly take as an indication that you can be manipulated.
Beg for an apology? You might get one…. while they take their affair underground.
Demand some introspection into how they could do this to you? They’ll chew on that for months in therapy — be patient! — while they sit on the fence and eat cake.
Essentially, Bud, writing such a letter is giving power to your cheater when what you need to do is take your power BACK.
As Dr. Simon says — it’s not that they don’t see (she knows you’re hurt), it’s that they disagree (she doesn’t think she needs to conform her behavior to your expectations). You being hurt is the price of admission to get what she wants.
You, like so many other chumps, put a lot of stock in words. You’re a man of your word. You do what you say you’re going to do. You’re seeing the world from your moral view point. Words have meaning.
Cheaters, on the other hand, are liars. They use words to manipulate you with. They may take your letter as a feeble attempt to manipulate THEM, and they’re not going to fall for that shit!
You need to get away from communicating with your words and start communicating with your actions. You know what says “this is completely unacceptable and you’ve grievously hurt me”? SILENCE. That’s right — no contact.
You know what says “I’m not taking this anymore!”? — Actually not taking it anymore. Go lawyer up.
If you read over at reconciliation sites, this is a big suggestion. Find the perfect moment and share your soppy letter with your “wayward” spouse. SI suggests Joseph’s Letter, which is a heartfelt explanation of what it feels like to be lied to, and why total transparency is so important.
The whole premise is flawed. It’s assuming that what your cheater really needs is insight into their behavior, as if your wife didn’t know what she was doing was hurtful. OF COURSE SHE KNEW. And she did it anyway! It assumes that she wants to repair the damage but she resists because she doesn’t know how important things like transparency are to you. Again, bullshit.
Remorseful cheaters do not need you to plead with them for respect (please tell me the truth!) Just pay attention to a cheater’s actions. If she were keen on repairing the relationship, she would not need a letter from you (or Joseph). She’d be ASKING you. What can I do to help? What do you need from me? How can I rebuild trust? You wouldn’t have to shame or cajole it out of her with a letter.
In short, Bud — the time for talking is over. If she’s not asking what she can do and demonstrating her remorse with concrete actions, there is no point in telling her how you feel. She doesn’t give a flying flip. If you need to express yourself, tell a friend, tell a shrink, tell this forum. But do not tell her.