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Dear Chump Lady, What do I say to my cheater?

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?

Bud

Dear Bud,

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.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • If all it took was words, none of us would be here.

    Letters don’t work. Read every word of CL’s reply carefully. She is SO correct, as usual.

    I wrote a long letter–it was therapeutic. I never sent it. I edited it for a while, but now I can’t bear to look at it. It’s saved as a draft in my e-mail.

    DO NOT send a letter. She doesn’t care. It will be literally or figuratively crumpled up in your face and tossed on the ground in disgust. There might be fake tears, for herself.

    Move on. Heal yourself.

    • I actually wrote a letter and left it on my first DDay. Wanna know what happened?

      He told me he got half way through it and threw it away.

      The letter will have three outcomes:
      a) give her the kibbles that she loves and make her feel like the center
      b) piss her off by pointing out what YOU feel are her faults (because she doesnt see it that way)
      c) both

      You want to be heard, but unfortunately Bud, these people dont want to hear it.

      • I wrote a letter too. My dickhead read it and then yelled and said I was trying to make him feel bad. LMAO. Uh, yeah, that was the point. Then he got mad in marriage counseling and brought up the letter and basically said how unfair it was that I wrote it and how I said that I was physically ill thinking of him having sex with another woman. I guess he was looking for sympathy from the counselor and wanted him to jump on the bandwagon that I was a horrible person for putting my hurt-filled pen to paper. WTF. My husband is an asshole. End of story.

        • My ex got mad in therapy. We had gone a few times and he was trying to keep the discussion about his final affair. I finally said that this was not the problem, the problem was the series of affairs I had discovered. He FLIPPED. Therapist was all ‘well, that’s a whole different ball of wax’. Ex accused me of ‘trying to turn the therapist against him and ruining everything’. Basically ‘ruining everything’ was said to me quite a bit. Me discovering all the affairs, me exposing them, me telling final OW’s partner about the affair, me telling several other APs that their secret was no longer safe…yep, I ‘ruined everything’. Thank God I did.

  • Yeah, dude, don’t waste your energy. It won’t work.

    You can write a therapeutic letter to her for yourself, but DO NOT SEND IT. She’s not going to listen. All sending it will do is inflate her ego, because she will read it and think “I’m still the center of his universe!”

    And that’s all she cares about. Is being the center of everything. That’s what cake is. She has her fuck-buddy on one side, and then she has you pining over her on the other. That’s what cheaters LOVE. Being the center of attention at all times. She doesn’t care that you’re hurt. To her, you being hurt is all the better because it means that she has power over you and the way you think and how you act. Your actions and decisions are still hinging on her words. Sending her a letter just gives her MORE opportunity to bend you to her will.

    She will see what you write, and she will go to all your most vulnerable emotions to manipulate you. She will dangle promises in front of you “If you do this, then I will do this…” she will blameshift “If you would have just done this, then I wouldn’t have needed to cheat” and she will say anything she can to get you to shoulder HER blame.

    Part of quitting the Pick Me Dance is going no contact. Including letters like these. Sending a letter like this just starts the music all over again.

    If you want to write out everything you’d love to say to her, how you feel, what you think of her and what she did, write it out in an e-mail, but DO NOT HIT SEND. Fill as many pages of paper as you want with it, but DO NOT PUT IT IN THE MAILBOX.
    Often it helps to write it all out and see it in front of you, but don’t ever try to send it. It’s not worth it.

    • Agreed, it will not give you any satisfaction whatsoever, just more hurt as you will NEVER receive a satisfactory reply. What you will receive is another bite of the shit sandwich. Eat a steak instead with vegetables and a potato, at least that will nourish you! If emails or texts are received from them, just hit DELETE, they are SPAM! If a call is made to you don’t answer it, not ever!!!!

      TRUST THAT THEY SUCK AS THEY DO AND WE ALL KNOW THAT!

  • Not only is every word CL wrote correct, as usual, but I will add that cheaters like to blame and project onto others. Your letter, stating how the cheater hurt you, is likely to be twisted by the cheater into YOU abusing or harassing THEM. I think almost everyone here experienced how cheaters rewrite history so that the betrayed spouse was really the guilty one in the marriage, and the poor, poor cheater was just so unloved, unappreciated and alone, forcing them into an affair. Writing them a letter after dday just gives them ammunition for this bullshit reframing of reality.

    • Manipulation. Don’t forget that you’ll be accused of being manipulative for actually stating your feelings and your pain.

    • I did start one , never finished it because I knew then she was way beyond broken and I was waisting my time. But you said it “cheater’s rewrite history” , it’s amazing the stories they put out and even MORE amazing is that people, who know you, believe that shit ! I do think now 5 years later with the affair fizzled out and not too many dudes lining up to fill the vacant….errr parking space, I wonder if they ever …ever…waaaaaay back in their deformed, selfish minds do they ever say to themselves “BOY DID I FUCK UP” ?…I just wish I was fly on the wall of her mind sometimes.

      • Re-writing history is standard practice. My ex did it about so many things and continues to do so. I don’t pay any attention. I know what happened and I know how things went down and the bottom line is that he’s a serial cheater and that pretty much means that problems were never really going to be addressed along the way when his solution was to bang another woman in order to make himself feel better.

  • I say write the letter. Pour out your heart. Say everything you need to say. Don’t leave it bottled up. Then save it in a password protect document or delete it or seal it in an envelope and put it in a safe deposit box or burn it. Don’t keep it inside where she might still be able to access it, but never let her lay eyes upon it.

  • Brava, Tracy, once again! Oh, I wrote letter upon letter upon letter. While it felt good at the time to get it out, the answer that I sought was never forthcoming. never. never. never. (you know the definition of insanity… yep. that was me. definitely insane!)

    I made the mistake that most of us make and even though I’ve said it a thousand times, (to other people) it felt as if somehow it didn’t apply to me— that my situation was “different.”

    It’s not.

    Its a simple premise. ***The playing field is NOT even.*** (not even close) Despite our pre-existing conception that it was, its not and it never was and the sooner we understand and accept this, the better off we will be. IF it were even, to begin with, our spouses could never have engaged in this type of behavior in the first place. beginning. middle. end. A person who engages in lying, betrayal, deception, and all the rest that goes with cheater behavior no matter what the individual situation is… has some substantive issues, at best, and a full-blown personality disorder at worst.

    As CL said… if a cheater truly wants to change, he/she is going to move heaven and earth to do so— OF HIS OWN ACCORD. Not to save the marriage. Not to keep us hooked into his shit… but because he/she does not want to BE THAT PERSON ANY LONGER, whether we stay married to them or not.

    Any other situation is fake, folly and foolish on our part to believe that they will change because of our pleading. As their actions speak louder than words, so do ours. The sudden absence of their steady supply of cake will be painful– to him, but its not because of the lack of love, its because of the crushing of their immensely fragile egos. Most likely, though, not painful enough to change. This is because they too, think the playing field is even. They think that we are as much at fault for their cheating as they are. That’s right. They believe this with all their heartless and soulless. And besides, there’s always plenty of cake around…plenty of desperate people willing to believe the con or even just accept the crumbs that he’s able to offer and next time, he’ll get better at hiding it.

    So, I heartily concur. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t write. Don’t talk. Its the most difficult thing there is. I would say that I’m taking steps to leave, because this kind of behavior is unacceptable to me. and that is all that needs to be said— to them, that is.

    Yes, write here. Or create your own anonymous blog and write those letters there.

    The Dear Fucktard letters. If you find other people in the same situation, (with blogs and comment on them) you will amass a following. I guarantee it and it is there, (and here) that you will find your vindication; but never with your cheater. xo

    • I just want to add… We want so desperately to believe that they loved us. Isn’t that what’s at the bottom of all of this?

      HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO SOMEONE THEY LOVED?

      My husband was carrying on with other women that started in at least 2002 (maybe earlier, but I don’t have proof of that). They lie to themselves. They make up REASONS.

      but… didn’t they love us? And if they didn’t love us, why didn’t they simply seek a divorce.

      Cheaters do not understand what love is. Oh, they think that they do, because its all that they know. They don’t really and truly feel it. Not with someone they are married to, at least and maybe not with anyone.

      So, how did they dupe us? Well, its a con that they’ve been perfecting since childhood. They saw other people— friends, family in public, in a movie or read in a book how its SUPPOSED to be, but they don’t truly feel it. So, they learned to put on a good show, like when someone tells a joke that we don’t get but everyone else gets it and is laughing uproariously and we start laughing too.

      I think that its a lot like that.

      Its part of the playing field that’s not even. Their playing field has not the capacity to love as it should. From a distance the field looks green and verdant, but then, on closer inspection, we discover that is nothing but astro turf from Home Depot.

          • Laurel, I find your posts so insightful, wise and helpful. Thank you for them. Your last one above beautifully explains something that I felt was missing in my now-ex-husband for most of our 19-year marriage. Something about him has just seemed…off. I couldn’t pin down what it was. But now I think it’s an inability in him to be real.

            He puts on a show. He can do that for small bursts of time. When you need something more substantial — something with integrity to it, something that demonstrates you could rely on him through thick and thin, something that shows his all-out commitment to putting you, your shared marriage and family first — it’s like an apparition. A vapor. A trick of sunlight, making you think you see something that isn’t really there.

            It’s a main reason I don’t feel like I know who he is. The most pathetic thing, though, is that I no longer believe HE knows who he really is, either. He just makes it up as he goes along, and hopes his audience (in whatever form that audience might take) buys it.

            Late in our marriage, after the second and last D-day, I suggested multiple times that he see an individual counselor to help him sort himself out. Or even so he had someone to talk to. He could not blurt out the word “NO” fast enough. He later admitted that he is too scared. I think he’s terrified of what therapy would reveal to him about himself.

            Jeebus, how’d you like to go through life like that?

            • Rally, that’s all pretty much my ex, particularly the bit about him not even knowing who he is and not wanting to go to therapy due to fear. We did a few sessions together right after dday and whenever anything got too much about him and his issues he literally squirmed like a kid being given the 3rd degree and afterwards flipped out about ‘people being mean’ to him. It’s crazy to see and just makes me feel like he’s kind of pathetic.

              • One of my conditions for bogus reconciliation was that now-ex husband go to individual therapy, as well as marital. He went maybe three times to individual therapy, with many cancelled sessions in between each one he went to. When the therapist suggested he might have some issues going on, the ex immediately quit therapy, saying the therapist “wasn’t on his same spiritual level.”

                Therapy is a waste of time and money with the truly disordered. They have no ability for introspection and cannot ever admit they are less than perfect or are to blame for anything they do. They do not change or get better.

      • “…a joke that we don’t get but everyone else gets it and is laughing uproariously and we start laughing too.” Actually, it occurs to me, my Narc wife has two traits here.

        1) She gets annoyed when other women laugh loudly. She thinks they are trying to draw attention to themselves. It’s 100% of the time – she will always make a snide comment.

        2) But, she laughs loudly, and its totally fake. It’s a bizarre, “ah HA HA Haa!” laugh. In actuality, she has no sense of humor. She simply responds to anyone she is trying to Sparkle for when she has some clue they must have said something funny, or at her own attempts at a joke.

        For years, I was never able to reconcile 1) and 2), until I learned what a NPD person is really like.

        • Glad….my ex went once on his own and reported back that the therapist had given him a ‘clean bill of health’ and thus no need for him to go anymore. I asked her about this and she said ‘no, I told him I wouldn’t treat him until he started accepting he had serious issues he needed to deal with and tht was that’.

        • Same here, you are so right Laurel, RallySquirrel, Nord– we search for some sign that they loved us even a little bit, and are perpetually disappointed. And oh yes, my ex won’t even go to counseling, not even when it’s his only option if he wants to see our children (who he has not seen since D-Day 15 months ago).

      • Oh my…going through a very rough patch right now…. HE bought himself an extra 3 or 4 years by kissing me and telling me he loved me every single morning and night…right before we went to sleep. And every single morning before we parted for the day. He SHOULD have just been saying “here Chump!…come here my little Chumpy/Wumpy”…

      • Spot on, Laurel.

        I tortured myself for almost two years with: “if she could only understand how much anguish this is causing me, she would stop”; I just need her to understand this….”; “if she only read X….”.

        It’s all bullshit. She knew exactly how much anguish her cheating caused me and that was simply acceptable to her to get what she wanted. *period full stop*

        A simple concept but so, so, so hard to actually accept when you love that person. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to accept in my life.

  • Bud, can I share my real life letter from a cheater I received? See, I filed. He doesn’t want a divorce.

    So this is what he wrote:

    I don’t want this to happen, I really don’t. I know that we can’t continue in the limbo that we are in currently but I don’t want our marriage to end. We have overcome so much together and both of us have worked so hard on so many things. You often say that we don’t act as a team but looking back I think that we have actually complemented each other very well in many ways. Lots of room for improvement though I know.

    You have been searching for what changed my attitude last year [he got back in touch with OW]. What changed my attitude was a giving up of hope. I just couldn’t see any likelihood of anything changing and felt that whatever I did or said made no difference. You’ve said to me that my IC is no friend of our marriage. That is your opinion, with which I disagree (I don’t feel that your IC has been a friend either). I have spent many hours with my IC trying to make sense of our conversations and she consistently talks about your pain and anguish and has also shown considerable empathy, whilst also consistently telling me that she doesn’t know you. She has never judged you, blamed you or made diagnoses about you, something I feel your IC is guilty of and which I don’t think has been in the least bit helpful.

    I have lived for much of my life being resented, judged harshly and for quite a significant period of our marriage, being actively despised, and that was before my affair. What I have always wanted from you is warmth, closeness and acceptance but what I have experienced is coldness and punishment on a level and for periods that even my mother couldn’t sustain. I understand that what I did has hurt you terribly and I am deeply sorry for it but I needed just a glimmer of hope that things could change.This is the context in which I felt that marital counselling wouldn’t work. I regret that decision now and, if it not too late, I would like to try.

    With love

    Bud: this is someone who has had FOUR YEARS to get it. See how the letter goes? I will leave other Chumps to translate it for us (still gobsmacked).

      • I read his letter again. Its enraging. The blame shifting going on:

        Its hopeless. Nothing will ever change. You were cold, unfeeling… blah, blah, blah…

        IT IS YOU THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE.

        Dicklogic. He’s the one who’s lying and cheating, but it is YOU that needs to change.

        How disgustingly hurtful and just plain disgusting. Are you taking steps to leave this moron?

        I think what happens is… we begin to doubt ourselves. Hey, maybe we were a bit distant… oh wait, so and so had just died and I was depressed, or I had lost my job, or our son was diagnosed with… but we still begin to doubt ourselves.

        Poor dear husband. I made him so miserable that he couldn’t LEAVE… no, he just had to PUNISH me… for causing him so much misery.

        That’s mindfuck. classic. (like I said in the beginning) 🙂

        • Yep, it always comes back to ‘you could have just left’. My ex still tries to say ‘whoops, I just happened to meet someone young enough to be your daughter and we magically fell for each other in less than 6 weeks’. He always neglects that tiny little detail of the myriad other affairs.

          • Meaning he acts like he was faithfully married to me until this happened and that he wasn’t actualy dating for an unknown number of years.

      • Talk about a mind fuck. This is SW letter to herself after cheating on me at least twice. I’m going to catch her 2 more times in seven days after this. No remorse towards me at all. She has created crisis “countless” times. Her life legacy to her kids? That their mom is a liar and a cheater. She created the landscape but takes no responsibility for it and look at her solution. Someone comes in and cleans up her shit. If you are beautiful and immoral you can always find another victim to eat cake from. She is a classic borderline waif. I think she actually felt entitled to cheat when I stopped her narcissistic kibble supply. We “reconcile” after this but it was to just use me for Xmas gifts (letter was written Dec.20th)

        “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

        I know you don’t believe this about yourself; but it is true. Granted, life hasn’t been easy, but who’s has? Crisis have come and gone countless times in your life and guess what; you are still standing. My challenge to you would be, who are you allowing to write your life story? Are you passing along the pen to other mere mortals, or you entrusting it into the one who created you? Do you believe you have a purpose? Something to give? Something to offer this dim world? You do. Never forget that. You have three precious little souls who rely on you, who need you, and who put their trust into you. By no means is this a small task, it is your greatest life calling. They will be the ones to pass along a message; your life legacy.

        When different challenges have arisen, you get quiet, you take some time away to regain yourself…and find your voice again; one that can be gentle, or confront with a lions roar. Where is that voice? For it begins with one small step at a time. Although others may look down upon your “life resume”, you look up…to the one who chooses to hire you despite it all; and to top it off, He has the best retirement plan. So please Stephanie, do not give up. Arise, for this too shall pass. You have inner strength and compassion. God has chosen you. Yes, you. Hard to believe, let alone comprehend; yet the best is yet to come.

        Imagine this…a land that has been inherited that has boulders, rocks, and withered and dead grass. There are no smooth patches. The landscape looks distressing and irreparable. It certainly cannot be used to plant anything fruitful! Then…something changes…someone comes in and lovingly tends to this bleak area…one boulder at a time is removed. One weed at a time. It does not happen overnight, it takes time. It is a process that cannot be rushed, because there is a lesson to be learned in each step. However, the landscape begins to change…it begins to look smoother, greener, and well…ready. The time to plant has begun. The area has been primed…and the fruit will be bountiful. Trust in Him…and his time…and allow Him to lovingly change your landscape.

        • There is a certain type of person for whom this type of languaghe/writing is a huge tell re the person being disordered. CL has a good article on “word salad”. These folks like to hear themselves talk/write and, IMO, generally, think they are very sepcial. extra sensitive, evolved types.
          In reality, if you look at their lives and their actions, they are hollow, dishonest idiots who try to cover this up with thetype of writng Eddie’s wife displays.
          Reading their crap is mind numbing. It is without substance.
          In summary, it is bullshit bad writing from an infantile asshole.

      • it took me a while to figure it out to. Infidelity Counselor.

        Actually, IMO, an oxymoron if there ever was one!

        • All I could think of was “in character”.

          So wait, let me see this again.

          “I have spent many hours with my IC trying to make sense of our conversations and she consistently talks about your pain and anguish and has also shown considerable empathy, whilst also consistently telling me that she doesn’t know you. She has never judged you, blamed you or made diagnoses about you, something I feel your IC is guilty of and which I don’t think has been in the least bit helpful.”

          His counselor tells him you’re in pain, your counselor says he’s to blame. So they both agree that the sympathy should lie with you. No wonder he doesn’t find this helpful, he wants pity not to be told the truth.

          How is is two (presumably) trained counselors have said, “she needs understanding while you’re in the wrong” and he somehow heard, “your wife is too blame you poor man” ?

    • WOW! That is so classic narc twisting, projecting, blaming and serving up word salad. There sure is a lot of blame spun into pretty words there. I don’t see much remorse though, or taking responsibility for anything. A lot of self pity though, that’s for sure. The pity play is a classic mark of the disordered.

    • Patsy,

      Classic letter.

      You “complimented each other”, so your assertions that he wasn’t working with you as if he were on a team (read as partner) are wrong. But you openly despised him, judged him harshly and are a cold fish much of the time. LOL

      Alrighty then. Let me fire up the trust old cheater translation unit (CTU): “Hang on while I have this affair, and be really nice to me”.

      • Oh yes, the ‘be nice to me bullshit’. My ex told my kids that final OW woman was ‘really nice to him’ and I was a big old meanie. Guess what his father said about his affairs on his first wife? YOu get one shot at answering.

      • “Alrighty then. Let me fire up the trust old cheater translation unit (CTU): “Hang on while I have this affair, and be really nice to me”. ”

        Time Heals, that’s hilarious!

    • Dude is looking for fallback girl to be there for him again. And somehow it’s not quite his fault but yours for not being what he wanted. Or something. I don’t know, once I saw the blame-shifting my eyes glazed over.

        • Three days after dday I figured out that he wasn’t done with final OW but had simply put her to the side for the moment. That’s when I kicked him out. They always have a backup.

    • Uh-oh. Never a good sign when he compares you unfavorably to his mother.

      “You’re just like my mother — only worse” That’ll make your head spin when you hear it. And there I had just been thinking how much he was becoming like his father……

    • Ugh…re-read his letter to you, Patsy. I swear I heard so much of that same crap. ‘I need some hope’, ‘I do everything for everyone and all I get is a pile of shit’ or similar. It’s crazy. They fuck other people and then cry boo hoo because people are seriously pissed off about this and poor them, they just need someone to be nice to them…enter AP, who will help heal all those horrible wounds that have been inflicted by the evil, angry spouse. What a bunch of big babies.

  • I sent letters, quite a few. One response in particular stays with me and stopped me from writing more. Ex said something along the lines of ‘I don’t have time to read about your feelings when I am drowning financially’. It pretty much told me where his priorities were, no matter how much he said he ‘needed time’.

    • perfect example. He cannot FEEL your feelings. He cannot empathize or even begin to understand and DOES NOT WANT TO HEAR THIS. He is severely handicapped. Its like trying to explain the different colors to someone who was born blind. He might be able to “see” the colors as “feelings”, but he can’t truly appreciate the value that they have for seeing people.

  • Oh, I know the words! “Abara Cadabara, Ali Kazam” followed my the magical incantation, “Pull My Finger!”.

    Yeah, talk is cheap. It won’t work. People trying to sell you magic words (and magic beans) are either delusional or frauds or both most likely.

    It’s as simple as what Colin Powell mistakingly identified as “The Pottery Barn Rule: You break it, you bought it”. In short, it’s not up to you to make right somebody else’s offense, and in the case of the cheating, you don’t own it, so don’t play the co-dependent dance game. That game sucks.

  • Thank you for your outrage, Laurel! This is what I read into that letter:

    – I had a terrible childhood. Therefore, I need unconditional love and regard no matter how I behave and how little of myself I give.
    – Protesting my behaviour constitutes a vicious personal attack and I will protect myself whatever the cost.
    – If I don’t get unconditional love and regard, I am entitled to get it via a third person.
    – Your hurt and traumatised reaction to my betrayal disregard and disrespect, is very deeply inconvenient and constitutes a vicious personal attack.
    – I am entitled to keep working with this person. I am entitled to keep my good opinion of my affair partner alive.
    – I am entitled to my affair and secrecy.
    – I am entitled to keep the perks of marriage that I want – you keeping my family going, maintaining my properties, generally shutting the fuck up and not inconveniencing me with hurt feelings and needs.
    – I do not have to maintain the parts of marriage that I do not want: humility, remorse, emotional connection, affection, sex, open and honest communication, respect and regard.
    – The fact that I am in an affair and have a secret emotional friendship with a third party is irrelevant and not to be mentioned.
    – IF you understand how much your punishing [read: reaction to the affair] has hurt me, and change, give me unconditional love and regard, have no needs of your own, shut the fuck up, ‘maybe’ we can work this out.

    Yeah, right.

    PS: IC means ‘individual counsellor (as they didn’t think MC would work for us). They gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, and then moved him further and further down the spectrum as his intrangisence never shifted. My IC eventually got fed up with my hopeless hope, told me he was a narcissist and would never change….

  • Another excellent post by CL once again. The “Joseph” letter at SI is yet again an example of how many infidelity forums are giving out poor advice. Loveshack.org is even worse, an example of that is the the recent main moderator who’s avatar is a photo of Ted Bundy as a young boy with his mother standing behind him. To have such a moderator on a site that promotes itself as a support forum is beyond disgusting.

    Here, with CL, is the place where there’s real and honest support and empowerment to those lucky enough to find this forum.

  • All great comments.

    Sadly, I think CL is right. A letter will do no good. At best, it will start an exchange of letters with lots of narc-language like that in the letter Patsy contributed above. There will be no real acceptance of responsibility, only a fog of allegedly shared sadness where the betrayer tries to rope in the chump once again. Letters are only more dancing with the disordered, and as Laurel says, talking emotionally with them is like “trying to explain colors to someone who is born blind.” They know the motions of emotions (from watching people/movies), but there’s no content. And they think that the little that they feel is what others feel. They assume that you are as empty and manipulative and simplistic as they are.

    So, let ’em go. They’ll either crash and burn (which, sadly, probably won’t bother them as much as it should) or they’ll find another manipulator: two vultures with a crush in the middle of the desert. Either way, leave, don’t look back and be better off.

    One thing that would be good to study is the use of language. The letter Patsy contributed is full of “tells,” mostly that language that obscures everything and tries to create a situation where, really, both Chump and traitor are equal victims. There are others. I sometimes wish younger folks would read this site. I wish that some 25 year old woman, for example, would read this and say, “Hey, waitaminnit, that sounds like my boyfriend! I’d better be careful…..” Sadly, Mr. or Mrs. Narc-sparkles is pretty good at the sparkly act, and Chumps are hopeful. Too often, Chumps fill in the emotional gaps in their partners with their own emotions/hopes. Not a good idea. Don’t write letters. Take actions. Your stbx partner certainly did!

    • “only a fog of allegedly shared sadness where the betrayer tries to rope in the chump once again”

      So true!!

  • If you do write a letter, write it to work out your anger, as some suggested, and then save it somewhere or burn it. But do it for YOURSELF. Don’t waste it on someone who won’t understand it or who will try to use the info to manipulate you.

  • Bud,
    Whatever it is that you feel a need to write, do it, but do it here.

    You cannot put into writing anything that you have not otherwise communicated to your wife during the course of your marriage. You know all those late night “discussions” whereby you “want to talk about it” and she does NOT “want to talk about it”? There’s your answer. She won’t read your letter anymore than she responds to any other form of pleading. It’s no different. You could pen some massive “It was all my fault” letter, and that might get some play, as it’s loaded with Kibbles, but really, that’s not what your seeking. Forget the concept of fairness as it applies to your marriage. She has cut your penis off and shut down even the ability to fake love or caring. You said “in most cases guilt is something she is not willing to feel”… Nope, sorry. In *ALL* cases, guilt is something she is not capable of feeling, and in most cases, she does not even care enough to FAKE like she has any guilt. Remember, these people are disordered. They are actors. She just cannot summon the energy to “play her part”. And when this realization hits them, it just further re-enforces their shit behavior. How easy was it to find out about her affair(s)? Were you shocked at little effort it took to uncover? As if, wow… she’s fucking another man, and does not even care enough to really try and hide it. Yeah, superficially, the thin veneer that’s basically their MO for everything applies here as well.

    And the more you express just how well she has hurt you, the more she will despise you. The “shared” respect you thought you once had? Mourn that loss, but it was Fool’s Gold in the first place. That realization sucks and it hurts like hell, but you got Chumped.

    Write as a pathway to get whatever you need out of your system, but do it here. Do it where people you have never met give more of a fuck about you then your “spouse” ever has. Help yourself, and help Chumps to come. The CL is a grizzled Vet, and there are others that have made it to “Meh’. I’m not at Meh… but you know, it’s sort of like anything else, you have to unlock levels along the way. Best of luck and love to you.

    • David, your comments are so helpful. It’s so true that they are actors playing a part, and once they think they’re not going to get easy kibbles anymore, they’re outta here. And it is stunningly to try to wrap the mind around the fact that the person we thought was our most trusted friend and confidant cares less than even strangers on this site!

        • Yep, astonishment. I focused so much on the final affair for quite awhile because I just could not get my head around the fact that he’d been cheating for years. Once I did face that I was released in a weird way. He’s just an asshole with a wandering dick.

          • I’ve pretty much accepted that I will probably go to my grave stunned by what my ex did. There are still mornings when I wake up and think, “no, that can’t be real….”

  • My mantra when dealing with my ex is “polite but distant”.

    I read somewhere that they crave attention and even negative attention is better to them than no attention.

    I realized that anything I said would be twisted and used against me, and that my ex enjoyed seeing my pain. (I still can’t wrap my head around this!)

    • Spot on. Just slap on a mask, if you need to, that shows no more than you would show the girl at the grocery store till. I have to see Ex this week for some business stuff and luckily the last few times i’ve seen him have brought nothing up in me emotionally so I just deal with him straightforwardly and will no emotion, because there isn’t any left. This makes him wildly uncomfortable and I can actually see various masks slide across his face as he tries to see which one will get me to engage. Then he realises none of the work so he backs away and starts texting his current side piece. It’s pretty funny, actually.

      • “I can actually see various masks slide across his face as he tries to see which one will get me to engage”

        Wow, I’ve seen that too Nord, but didn’t have such eloquent words to explain it.

        • It’s amusing yet disturbing, because I can’t imagine going through life wearing a series of masks, depending on who is in front of me. I am me and that’s that. The only time I ‘wear a mask’ of any sort is when I have to deal with people like him, but that’s more of a barrier to someone’s bullshit than anything else.

        • Kelly and Nord – I have also seen this and find it interesting. XH was SO nasty during the divorce that I couldn’t believe that I’d ever really known him. I certainly didn’t know him then.

          But in the last few months, I’ve noticed that he’s back trying to solicit kibbles. BIG time. He’ll say something that would always have gained him a “Yes, because you’re smarter than the average bear” comment from me while we were married. But these days? Crickets. He’s not sure how to handle it. Those masks change instantly from hopeful to hurt to stoic. Even on the phone I can hear the difference in his tone. The harder he tries, the less attention he gets from me.

          What’s that saying about NOT biting the hand that feeds you? Cheaters never learn…

          • Yes, I’ve been NC, Red, and ex simply does not know what to do with it. Even in emails (the few we must have as of yet) I can tell he is trying different “masks” on, because the lack of information leaves him very off-balance. It’s the teensiest bit of revenge I can get from a man who simply does not care. And yes Nord, he’d love me to continue to feed him kibbles, and if I did he would be extremely nice to me (even though we’re divorced, he claims he is going to marry one of his AP’s, and I’m engaged to be remarried now). Then he could show everyone what a great guy he still is. Feeding him kibbles early on after D-Day is how I got him to waive the immense alimony I would have owed him (I read an article or two on how to manipulate a narcissist or sociopath), but that’s another story…..

            • I see it in emails as well. One second he ‘screaming’ in his emails and the next it will be ‘I’m just trying to help you’. It’s pretty funny now, but it did unnerve me quite a bit when it first started.

              • Yes, it is unnerving to see the person you thought you could trust and loved most in the world is a sparkly facade with a cold, entitled and slightly bitter rage underneath.

  • Bud–there is nothing more I could add, because I am relying on this advice right now, too.

    You wrote, “guilt is not a feeling that she is willing to have right now”. Willing? I didn’t realize that guilt was something you should be able to have control over. Either you feel it or you don’t….there isn’t such a thing as willingness in it?

    I agree with everyone here–write it….all of it….here or elsewhere….but don’t let her see any of it. If she hasn’t seen your pain written all over your face and in your actions, why would words give her any enlightenment?

    I’m going to do the same thing, as if I haven’t been using CL as cheap therapy as it is (!!!)—I’m going to start my own running dialogue to make sure I’m not crazy, of things he says and does, things I wish I could say (but won’t make a difference anyway), things that I think to say after being blindsided by some further avalanche of cruel words he spews….and password lock it on my new secret tablet at work.

    Maybe, someday—when you are at “meh”, you can open your document or read your blog posts or open those “saved drafts” in your email and say….”Wow. I’ve come so far since then!”

    Keep your head held high, Bud, even when inside you are being crushed by the burden of this pain–you do not suffer in solitude. Reach out. Just not to her.

    • Abby beautiful words;
      “reach out, just not to her”

      I loved this article, as always straight to the point and so on time for me.

      My ex just sent me a 3 page email on parental alienation.
      He phones 2 times a day to speak with his daughters, when comes to the UK he has pretty much unlimited contact with them, but accuses me on blocking access to his children because;
      1. I do not always answer the phone WHEN he calls ( I am usually out so cannot pick up the phone, but apparently I am going out on purpose!!!!)
      2. I do not send him advance weekly schedule of what I am doing with kids, so that he has 100% control over our lives… The truth is I would not mind, but we have very busy social life and lots of events are last minute ideas.
      3. I refused to give him permission to take my kids to Spain to spend summer with him and the OW, because I honestly think it would have detrimental effect on my children ( they hate her, for a reason!!!) At the moment they have no contact with her as we live in different countries ( thank god!!!)

      and I totally agree with everything said before, there is absolutely NO POINT writing anything to your cheater. Whenever I got carried away and tried to explain the destruction he caused and is still causing, I got always unrelated reply on how I am a bad mother. And I am the one working my ass off and bringing up to kids on my own ( and actually doing a great job if I may say so!)

      • mag, my heart goes out to you! You’re in a very tough spot w/this guy! I hope you are documenting EVERYTHING, what you do to be cooperative w/him, and what he does and says. And for heaven’s sake, don’t send him any weekly schedules or make a big point of picking up when he calls. He doesn’t have the right to that – especially since, I’m assuming, he’s the one who moved out of the country!

        Sounds like your kids are still small; once they’re a bit bigger, get them their own phones and let them manage this ridiculousness.

        Your ex is showing what mine often has; they don’t change. The control, criticisms, entitlement and selfishness were there all along, and they’re in full force still!

      • I gave up …or quit I should say, pointing out the F’ed up bizarre behaviour that affected the kids …she either made an excuse, had an excuse or looked at me as if I was crazy and that it never happened…that outright “I didn’t do that ! what are you talking about?”…the kind of thing you just are dumfounded by, stunned to the point that you question yourself if it really did happen or not.

  • Hi Bud,

    I think that CL’s advise is golden and you should follow it to the letter. What you are trying to craft is a “grand exit” letter – something that will put your point across and devastate the cheater and leave them knowing and OWNING the pain caused because of her.

    Ain’t going to happen. Dickens, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald or Woolf couldn’t write one that would do the trick. It’s a Sisyphean quest and a fool’s errand.

    When I realized that the marriage was really over about three months after D-day and a separation (hard not to recognize the end when he moves into an apartment with the OW 2 miles up the road from the family home) I decided that – by God – I was going to have my say on my terms. I wrote a pretty well structured letter that spelled out his reasons given for the affair and leaving (I didn’t like his union work, I didn’t let him go out all the time on his own, He never felt that he was good enough, I didn’t like to shop for clothes anymore……), told him he was behaving like an arrested adolescent, spelled out what he was doing to what had been a great relationship between us, what he was doing to the children, and that he’d shown no respect or value toward our marriage in doing this. I told him I would always love him but would bury it and figure out how to go on because I didn’t recognize the man he’d become. All very pithy and cutting and full of self righteous indignation and moral truth. I was going to give him something that would haunt him all the rest of his days!

    You know what he said when he received it? He said “Well – there you go – rewriting the marriage as if this is all MY fault!” Yup – he’d taken my beautifully worded grand exit and basically dismissed it, the feelings within, the facts laid out…..and me. It didn’t even leave a dent.

    The instinct to have that last word is powerful – especially when you are in the right and are the one who’s been so terribly hurt. We all want to take back the respect, dignity and WORTH that the a-hole we are married to stole from us by cheating. Everyone wants that spotlight for the last big moment on stage and then the exit Stage right.

    Problem is, Bud – the show’s already closed. The other actor is out of the theater and out of town and onto the next stage and performance – and you are left on stage with no audience to play to except yourself. So don’t waste your time playing to an empty house- pack up and find your own new stage.

    Believe me – no words written or spoken make any difference to your STBX now. Like CL said – you are just irritating static she wishes would just die off.

    • Char – I understand completely.

      When XH filed for divorce 2.5 years after DDay, I told a friend, “I fought and fought for that marriage.”

      Her reply? “Yes, Red, but you were the only one in the ring.”

      It takes two to make a marriage, it takes one to walk away…

  • CL is dead on, as usual! Don’t give the cheater the satisfaction of seeing that you have any feelings or thoughts for them whatsoever. (Although of course you DO, ‘meh’ takes time!) EVERY emotion or thought you direct their way and they can see, hear or find out about is KIBBLES for them! This is another way they’re like toddlers; good attention is good, but bad attention is WAY better than no attention. And they can listen to everything you say, look like they ‘get it’, and then go on behaving the same as before. Because they don’t care.

    The difference is, when toddlers do these things, that’s a normal developmental stage that they’ll eventually grow out of. When narcs do it, that’s their permanent condition, because they are entitled to all those kibbles, and no consequences ever.

    I found it super helpful to write that letter, and all the ones that came before and after. Even one to the OW. And keep them in a nice file on my computer (w/password protection – I have teenagers!). There I can re-read them, fix them up so they’re even better, consult them when I’m feeling nostalgic, or forgetting just a bit to trust that the ex sucks. And there they will stay.

    The ex will never know how much turmoil he caused me. He knew all that after his first affair, 6 years before the second, final one. He didn’t care then, wouldn’t care now, it’s all kibbles to him.

    (And there is a certain satisfaction in seeing how much it bugs him that I treat him as if he were semi-invisible and not terribly interesting or important.)

    • I think a lot of these people, who can dump their families like a hot potato overnight, are actually still stuck in that toddler phase, emotionally. They only see what’s exciting in front of them and they want it now! There is not thought as to who might get hurt or what the consequences might be and that is, to me, a sign of arrested development.

  • Everyone’s been spot on.

    Here is the one thing that you need to know about cheaters feeling guilty. IF the cheater truly feels guilty and ashamed, they should tell you up front that they feel guilty and ashamed. They should not have to wait for you to discover the affair to do so.

    This is the one big reason why I’ve decided not to go down the Reconciliation Road. My STBX has been in a PA for a year, at the very least. He’s had an EA with the same woman for longer. When I confront him (i.e. tell him we’re getting divorced, you have been served, etc.), I am not 100% sure but I suspect he’ll go through the “we can work through this” sort of dance or “I’m so sorry, we can work through this, can’t we?”

    The answer is no. He should have felt guilty and ashamed with the first raunchy text he sent her. He should have felt guilty and ashamed the first time he fucked her. IF he truly loved me and wanted to make amends, he’d have come clean and begged my forgiveness.

    He didn’t, so there it is.

    Yours hasn’t, either, and the letter can’t change that.

    At this point, the best you can do is go on to a life without her, and prosper once you’re out of her reach.

    Best of luck!

    • KB, Mine did come clean, and still turned out to be a classic cheater like many of the STBX’s on this sight , so that isn’t always a hard and fast rule.

      • Good to know, but I think I’d have been tempted to go the Reconciliation Road if mine had told me a year ago that he’d had an affair/1-night stand, etc. Now? Not so much. He’s classic cheater, and it’s clear that he’s been gaslighting OW, too. If that affair goes poof! I’m sure he’ll want to “reconcile,” but too damn bad!

        • It’s a tough call, no doubt!! To those chumps out there, keep your eyes wide open, even if your spouse confesses. My spouses’ confession, was, “I’ve slept with someone, and I think I have aides. I’ve already been tested, and you need to get tested right away.” At the time, I was so shell shocked by his statement that I did not see that it was his sick way of trying to get sympathy for himself. It took 3-4 more months of bullshit before I started to realize that there was way more “below the iceberg.” Narcs operate by a different set of rules; the sooner that is realized, the better!!

    • This is the conundrum of dealing with the disordered and trying to understand their raections and feelings. See, we try to interpret things from our perspective, as if they have normal feelings and perceptions.
      I know , for a long time , before I researched these disorders, I kept trying to understand my XW using my perceptions as a guide. I kept imbuing her with normal values and perceptions and trying to ,ake sense of what she had done and how she acted. I could not.
      But, once I realized that the disordered approach life and reality from an entirely different philosophy and underlyng value system, my wife’s behaviors were logical, given her basic premise of life : ” I am better than others nad more entitiled to things than other people.” All her actions made sense in that context.
      See, I think some of us see what these folks do and we expect them to behave as we would if we did something so heinous. But, there is the critical point, a normal person could not do this stuff in the first place. By definition, someone who cheats and lies and stels as these folks do is not someone who has the capacith to feel guilt. In their from of reference, they have done ntohing wrong.
      I used to represent criminals. Sometimes, I would overhear their victims expressing the belief that after being convicted, the criminal would spend his or her daysi locked up remorsefull thinking about what they had done, how they had hurt others.
      In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. These folsk never gave a thought to their victims, ever. That is why they were capable of doing wht they did in the first place.
      Toughest thing for me to wrap my brain around was the fact that all my XW’s feelings about me were an act, designed to propel her upward monetarily and socially.

  • “Maybe, someday—when you are at “meh”, you can open your document or read your blog posts or open those “saved drafts” in your email and say….”Wow. I’ve come so far since then!”

    I’m not quite at “meh” yet but I’m getting closer. In addition to seeing how far I have come from when I tolerated feeling “less than,” I find that re-reading both what I wrote and sent and what I saved in drafts helps me get back to reality when I miss any of the “good” stuff. I gave him way too many chances and looking at the timeline helps me see how long I actually was questioning and miserable.

    I, too, think I was dealing with someone personality disordered with a sense of entitlement a mile wide. I have been NC over a year and recently found out he got married… I figured he was just out there being a player but, no, he just has to have cake at home even though I know for a fact that he is doing the same thing to her he has done to every other woman to whom he feigns commitment.

    I thought of submitting this as a CL question but I’ll put it out here… I know he overlapped this girlfriend/now wife for a long time – maybe, a year – with me before I went NC and that he kept trying to reconnect until days before when I now know they were married. I also know she didn’t know he was still involved with/pursuing me and seems like a lovely woman. I now know her name and have explicit emails and texts from him to me I could print and mail to her at her business that would even show he even overlapped us once ON THE SAME NIGHT. On the one hand, I don’t want to poke the bear (he stopped contacting me after I accidentally sent one last text I meant to delete after over 10 months NC telling him he was a Narcissist in a way that coincidentally sounded like I knew about OW.) On the other, I want to warn her because I know this leaopard didn’t just drop his spots and prance home all paisley. Guilt is not in his vocabulary either and I think he has her bamboozled because he is truly amazing during the idealization phase which we all know is followed by devaluation…. I admit my motivation isn’t entirely pure. It would be a bonus to mess up his new pretend life by creating friction and suspicion about his whereabouts and greater expectations of accountability which he would hate. Sorry to hijack but this made me think of what I wrote while I was miserable only to recently find out he was courting his new wife while toying with me and using me while I was in so much pain. Thoughts on whether I should contact her?

    • Was she one if the OW? If so, she should know what he is.

      I do not think she will believe you unless she has already seen things. You are his ex. So I do not think it would mess up his life. Revenge would probably not be good for you either.

      I am not sure what your responsibility is to her. The problem is that she is not your friend and you have mixed motives. I guess at least you should be honest if asked and not hide anything.

    • I want to do the same thing. I have every email he ever sent me. 5years of emails from deployment after deployment. You want to warn her because you wouldn’t wish what we went through on your worst enemy…and partially so she will see the light and dump him and the karma bus can come around. I doubt think it will work and this is why I haven’t done it yet. Just like we missed all of the red flags, she will too. She will spackle and spackle because she knows she isn’t a mean, heartless bitch like you (you aren’t btw, but I will assume that is his opinion of you and thus hers as well). She is different. Her love is better. She is a chump too…just with less morals and integrity….or she is a vulture who preyed on him…either way, you will be painted out to be the crazy one. Why hasn’t she let go yet? How sad my ex can’t move on with her life. I have the OW mom’s address and thought writing her would be better because she could convince her daughter but I chickened out. Either the karma bus will come on its own schedule or it won’t. I would like to believe they too will feel the pain I felt, but I know for people like them, it just isn’t possible.

    • I wrote the ow a long letter with text message proof how he was using us both. She emailed me back, right away,wanting to know if I had been intimate with him. I told her yes. It took about 24 hours for her to take him back. I think my ex told her some great lies, she wanted to believe them and there you have it. People with low self esteem will accept cheating. As it did with me, it takes awhile for the ow to say “enough.” I doubt your letter will sway her at this point, because she is someone with enough “blindspots’ to be with someone like your ex. I think people with personality disorders attract.

      • Giana, Ashley, KDL, Thank you for weighing in. The OW and I did not know about each other at the time. I am certain of this. She is still in the dark and I only put everything together when I found out he recently got married. I went all Columbo and pieced together the timeline which I am sure would send her spinning as it did me. I also have very incriminating graphic emails and texts if that effects your feedback. He and I were stupidly (on my part) no longer in a committed r/s – I now see he was stringing me along with crumbs (i.e., using me for sex and an ego boost/cake) saying we may be again and I wasn’t ready to let go of the carrot of hope yet. I had been clear that I would not continue if he started seeing someone else, though. The whole situation was so humiliating and I am not that woman anymore. However, his then gf/now wife knew none of this either then or now. I went NC for good when I rang the doorbell where I used to live to drop something off only hours after he had unprotected sex with me in my bed and learned he had a woman in his bed… I have not spoken to him since although he continued to try to get me to see him. He is the poster child for cake eaters!

        • Hey guys,

          I just wanted to put in my three cents here. From our side of the fence and in a world where the innocent are protected, she should know, but please don’t do it and some of the reasons have been touched on and I concur– completely. She almost definitely won’t believe you, will think that you’re a bitter ex and a STALKER (he will confirm this if she confronts him with the information you are giving her. He will besmirch your good name until the cows come home). At best, she will feel that you just weren’t right for him and only THEIR love is the magic combo. (puke). You didn’t understand him, were too critical, too cold, unsexy, unsupportive, emasculating and whatever load of crap she wants to believe and/or he’s been shoveling into her head like hog slop… She will deem you unstable, crazy, out to get HER and make their lives miserable. She will believe its because you want to break up their perfect love and get him back… she will tell herself ANYTHING to make you the villain here! She may even go so far as contacting the authorities to get it on record, in case you persist in this evil campaign.

          Unless she herself has already been through this, she absolutely will not get it and it it keeps you from moving forward with YOUR life. It keeps you stuck in the place that will never bring you any happiness. I did this once and that is how I know. Some people don’t want to be helped or saved, no matter what– and unfortunately, they will need to come to the realization on their own. The only times I think you should tell is if your spouse is having an affair with someone else’s spouse, then its the right thing to do to clue in the chump spouse. Or if its a close friend or family member that you know is cheating. That one is tricky, but at least you won’t have that conflict of interest (in her mind.)

          I will say, from my standpoint, I absolutely would LOVE to hear from the ex. I would love to hear their story to see if it jives with what I’ve been told. But, of course, I feel cursed that I am now filtering everything through the lens of mistrust.

          How are we ever to trust anyone ever again?

          • Yes, I agree. My daughter came to me the other day and told me she saw her dad on his Match.com account(what???). I knew I had moved on from this craziness because, while it would have been very easy for me to reveal it to this same gf, I was no longer interested in doing so….making my way to MEH 🙂

            • I had a similar experience recently. It seems Ex is back to some of his online tricks, getting ego kibbles from various female ‘friends’ online. There’s a lot to this story but let’s just say that his intentions will never be innocent in this area. When I was told this I laughed, mentioned it to a couple of friends and moved on. It never occurred to me to pass this on to final OW, whereas a year ago I would have thrown it in his face and probably told her as well. This time it just amused me and made me shake my head for a sec before I thought about what I was going to cook for dinner.

          • I am not sure that a mere letter, with no follow up, would keep one stuck and impede healing. I think there is some moral obligation to warn others and, really, who cares if it does not work and you look like a bitter ex to her.
            I agree with laurel, it is unlikely to really work. But, if you just write a letter with the explicit e-mails etc and leave it at that, you have fulfilled your moral obligation to warn a fellow victim. JMHO.

        • I will play the OW? Wtf ? Husband, you were trying to get back with your ex while we were dating? Husband responds, baby that was before we were married. I married you. Not her. I love you. Not her. Please believe it was in the past….cue crocodile tears….I wish you would trust me I would never hurt you, I can’t believe you would even think that(guilt trip)
          OW: oh honey, I am so sorry I doubted you…I know you married me. I am just scared. I’m sorry. Please forgive me….
          He mindfucked you, he will do it to her….
          The only reason to send the letter is to be able to say I told you so….but when it all blows up, you will be able to say even without the letter. Because you did tell her so….it is in all her doubts and fears she is feeling but think are irrational because he is just so sparkly.

    • dad,
      I too have been tempted to contact her, but for 1 thing, they have broken up / gotten back together about 10 times now….+ I just want him to stay away….But THEN I remembered a anon letter was a HUGE help for me in getting rid of him so I don’t know…maybe if I thought she was a good person. But I know she’s not. Plus it was late in the game for us so I sorta knew…. Judging by everyone elses experiences here I would probably say no for YOUR well being unless it comes up….

    • While we’re hijacking ;–) ….

      What about sending a letter to the OM’s wife giving her the tawdry details? I’m so tempted but also realize the road to MEH doesn’t go through there.

      Wouldn’t I just be prolonging my pain? Best to move on I assume but can’t get over the temptation to start shit storm in his world. He’s married with 2 young children…doesn’t his wife deserve to know

        • I never sent letters, but by pure coincidence, shortly after dday I was on line in the supermarket and the husband of one of my ex’s OW was right behind me. I knew him fairly well, and right then and there, I told him his wife was cheating with my (then) husband. Ex later told me I was very “malicious and vindictive” to have done so. I guess fucking the man’s wife was okay, though. I have no idea what happened with that couple’s marriage.

          A friend of mine called the husband of the other OW. He already knew about the affair, because he had seen an email sent by someone else (NOT ME!) to his wife warning her that my ex had sex with men. I know his wife continued to see my ex for months after that, which shows you how absolutely pointless it is to warn OW/OM about disorder in the AP. That poor man played the pick me game really hard, but I think they finally divorced.

  • I do not want to write a letter. I just wanted him to listen.
    But, even after 7 months living apart from the family and 1 year since I found out about his serial cheating, he can only focus on himself. At the same time as saying that he does not blame me(ha!!!), he says that I knew that 30 years ago he did not want to get married. That is head scratcher since he pursued me and followed me to DC.
    Yes, that is right. You see he does not know how to be married and how to deal with marriage because of , you guessed it, his childhood. After asking how his counseling was going ( I am still a little, ok, alot chumpish), he said that his therapist has convinced him that it is ok to put himself first. I said that I probably was not on the same page as his therapist on this one. I guess he was not thinking of himself when he was chasing these women and being ever so diffcult for me to live with. You cannot make this stuff up. But this is the weekend I decided I am done. I need to minimize contact and interview some attys. I thought I was alone, but thanks to CL, I know that there are others in the same situation.

    • Boston, you really are not alone and your husband is following the same script as every other cheater. I’m originally from your neck of the woods, by the way, and we New England girls don’t need to take this sort of shit from anyone. Get tough, stand strong, lean on those who care about you and find a way to get this toxic shit out of your life. It will be wicked….:)

  • Thank you for this post. It’s very timely.

    My STBX pleaded that the OW was “nothing” and that he loved me and “would do anything” to save the marriage. This was when I found texts and believed him when he said it wasn’t physical. Anyway, total bullshit. He confessed the physical nature in front of my therapist but not before he made sure that he looked like the victim. What a loser.

    His affair partner is a significantly younger woman with borderline personality disorder (I kid you not.) He liked her because she was “nice” and working on “getting better.” Translation: She was an easy mark, unstable and sexually impulsive – perfect for a side piece.

    He swore it was over, but since I’ve dumped his ass he’s gone to see her. I’ve gone no contact (except very briefly when necessary around our child) and it’s a real effort not to tell him what a pathetic piece of shit he is, but reading this today reaffirms my efforts. I know he’d LOVE it if we said we missed him and all that. So it’s with that in mind that I do not contact him in any way, shape or form outside of child/finances.

    Also it helps to know he’d run to her when he couldn’t get his “cake” from me. I don’t ask how he is, what he does – nothing. I care but I sure don’t let him see it. The only thing I care about is if he messes around (more) with our child. Then I make it clear and keep my lawyer on stand-by.

    I lawyered up very quickly in the process and that sat my loser down real fast. He behaved himself and gave me a decent settlement. My lawyer’s advice: if cheaters show some guilt and offer a generous/reasonable settlement, take it. The lawyer was very well experienced in divorce and was worth every penny. The lawyer said usually, as time goes on, people who have had affairs start to care less and less about the ones they have harmed and are less likely to be generous, so do your homework but settle if the deal is good. I took this advice. So far, every word my lawyer said about my cheating husband has turned out to be truth. So for what it’s worth I thought I’d pass along that piece of advice my lawyer gave me.

    I’m in the early stages. Despite all the pain and shit he put me through I miss him. But slowly, slowly with the help of this blog and going on CL’s advice about NO CONTACT, I’m healing.

    • Pretty sure my xH’s homewrecker sidepiece is also BPD (this is common, actually, and makes a lot of sense), as she apparently flipped out and got very drunk once when he tried to break it off with her (she is an alcoholic–on the BPD menu under “self-destructive behaviors.”) He also said, repeatedly, “She is nice to me.” These guys are SO after a mommy figure, it’s revolting. And they SERIOUSLY resent any amount of time and effort you spend nurturing ANYTHING (your job, their fucking laundry) or ANYONE (your children) other than them. The BPD woman ENVELOPES them and embeds herself into their every fiber, so they feel safe and loved and mothered. (DOH! Mistake!!)

      I second your advice about getting an early settlement. In the early days RIGHT after BD, these idiots are so high on infatuation, so full of themselves, that they think NOTHING will bring them down. My xH was crowing about how we would be FLUSH with money, that he was finally going to buy me a really nice house, blah blah blah. This once uptight cheapskate was tens of thousands in debt on his credit cards!! He didn’t give two shits about abandoning our adolescent kids to spend every waking moment with that piece of filth he was screwing that he didn’t even blink when I went for 90% custody (I actually have them 99% of the time, thank God.) But it is soon thereafter that they come up for air and freak out and withhold–if you are smart, you’ve got a binding settlement on file with your county.

      • The first lawyer also said to get what I could while he was guilted out. I didn’t listen and amnow paying for that. Oh, and final OW is ‘really, really nice’, meaning she’s cleaved herself to his side 24/7 and has no distractions like, oh, say, children, activities, hobbies, friends, etc. Her life is him and this is exactly how he likes it.

  • I wrote a heartfelt letter as well, explaining my feelings. He responded via text. “I disagree with what you said in your letter.” That was all. Disagreed with what part? The letter was three pages long!

    Of course this was the man who said, “How dare you say I don’t love you.” The man who was offended when he found out I decided to be tested for STDs. The man who was so upset that I was avoiding him that he was threatening suicide for weeks, leaving me a wreck. Until I found out that he was still with the OW and others.

    Btw, sometimes it isn’t the IC’s fault. They can only work with what they know, and their information is coming from a pathological liar. My husband went to a few therapy sessions when he thought that would work on me. She gave him lots of excuses for his so-called midlife crisis. She had no idea he was a serial cheater and emotionally abusive. Not that I’m excusing MLC, but he’s a whole different level of disordered. The IC was a pro, but he is an expert liar, with those big, sad brown eyes begging for absolution. Or kibbles. Whatever you want to call it. He even tried suicide threats with my lawyer. I don’t think he would have dared with a male lawyer. Ugh.

    The OW has supposedly been his fiancé for the last couple of years. I finally asked her how he was going to marry her when he was fighting me on the divorce? That shut her up quick.

    Don’t waste your ink on these people. Write in a journal, on your computer, etc., but don’t give them the knowledge that they have any of your attention. Hone your acting chops. If there was ever a time to fake it until you make it, this is it.
    Hang in there.

  • Bud: CL is correct. It’s no that she doesn’t know you’re hurting, it’s that she doesn’t especially care, and/or finds your feelings to be annoying. I’ve had to go on anti-depressants over all this — it was really obvious to me that of all the things I told my wife about the depression, the only thing that really bothered her was my being unable to concentrate on work.

    • Ouch! Her gravy train might slow down, now THAT’s a concern.

      Several people I know have gained clarity when ambivalent about their self-centered partners by asking themselves that question; do I really think, knowing what I know of this person, that they will stand by me if I have a serious illness, if I have a burn-out or depression, if I’m unemployed long-term, if I’m disabled. Will they be able to and want to support me emotionally, even over a long-ish period?

      If the answer to that one is no, this is totally someone who doesn’t deserve to be in a committed, loving relationship.

      • NO they won’t is the answer. It turns out my ex was cheating for years but he saw them as no threat to our marriage because I was still his sparkly wife feeding him kibbles regularly. Then came the last year or so of our marriage, where I fell into a depression due to a bunch of stuff that I won’t get into. THAT’S when his cheating went nuclear and he eventually ‘fell in love’ with final OW. You want to know what he said when my depression was pointed out? ‘Gosh, I didn’t notice but oh well, it’s too late now’. He simply did not notice that I was barely functioning…or rather, saw it as a reflection on him. It never occurred to him to ask me what was wrong, to offer me help or to even say ‘hey, are you ok?’ after months of seeing me not really doing much at all.

        So no, they will not be there for you when you really need them and it’s a tough pill to swallow.

        • I’ve heard countless stories where cheaters cheated as soon as the focus of their marriage shifted from them. Sick parent, sick child, becoming pregnant, spouse going back to school – the answer is NO. They will NOT stick by you if you don’t give them 200% of your attention 24/7. The reason doesn’t matter. You need them? That’s NOT how it’s supposed to work! They’re gone —

          • Very true. It looks like Ex’s cheating started most likely around when the kids came. It went nuclear when a hellish mix of kid issues, me falling into a depression and a bunch of other factors were thrown into the mix. While I was always there for him through all his struggles and problems when it came to me (or the kids) needing him to be there for us without putting himself first it was a non-starter. He wants to be number one, end of, and no one and nothing – not kids, not illness, not anyone else’s problems – should get in the way of that. Frightening, really, to live such an unbalanced life.

            • My ex drifted away after the birth of our second child who was very sick. I remember thinking that when I really needed him most he disappeared and found reasons to work more. He didn’t like all the crying and how depressed I was when he came home I guess. My son was so sick I couldn’t work, and it also added financial problems to the mix. It was awful. I wanted to run away so bad, but I knew I could never abandon my kids. It felt like an endurance event getting through that year. That’s when I started finding love notes from students in my husband’s pockets. I was so tired, depressed and exhausted I could hardly muster the strength to get upset. After confronting him and hearing his questionable explanation I just did my best to shove it to the background of my mind. I knew I couldn’t possibly make it by myself with my kids’ health problems. They needed a full time caregiver for several years until their asthma got better.

              • This is so classic, and you can read the comments over on HuffPo from men who started cheating on their wives after the children were born because their wives no longer had time for them, were always too tired, etc. You want to ask them where they were when the child needs feeding, diapers changed, etc. Did they volunteer to hire a sitter so that the two of them could go out? What about watching the baby for the afternoon so that the wife can sleep?

                Now, I know that women can cheat too, but the post-child no time crap clearly illustrates the me-Me-ME attitude so typical of any cheater.

              • My second had some issues as well and I was worried, tired, stressed and everything else you can think of for a couple of years while looking after my child. Ex worked more and rarely ‘helped’ – and that’s how he saw it…helping with the kid, not being a fully active parent. So I dealt with all the problems and he went and screwed around.

        • Wow Nord,
          My story?….Exact same thing, except he would criticize, or try to ‘push’ me to create (paint) like here’s a new lamp I got at the Salvation Army so you can see better on the 1/2 of the coffee table I’ve allowed you to use! Gotta make us that money! Ooops I mean Baby you are so good at what you can do and it makes you happy!!! ($$)

  • two years ago, my folks found a box of old packed away stuff I had from my college years. Inside was a bundle of “love” letters from my XH that he’d sent me just after we had started dating but were in separate parts of the country for a period of time (about 30 years ago – way before texting and cell phones!).

    I’d forgotten about them and starting reading them. They were written before the cake, drama, kibbles, and shit. When we were still young and new in love, and he still sparkled. Opening those letters I recalled how they made my 19 year old heart leap and go pitter pat when I read them over and over again.

    Re-reading them all these years later, I couldn’t finish and literally felt I needed to vomit. Not because things turned out absolutely horrible for the next 17 years of my life – but because I read them now as I didn’t read them at 19.

    Handwritten letters 3,4,5 pages long. They were all the same: Sentence #1 – stating he hoped I was doing well and that school/life/work were going good Never asked me about anything – just an introductory statement that he hoped I was doing well with whatever I’d referenced in a prior letter. Then followed by several pages just loaded self-pity. Pages and pages and pages of how he didn’t understand life, how he felt inferior, how he wanted, how he didn’t have, how he dreamed about me, how he couldn’t wait for me, how he knew I’d make him happy, how he, how he, how he. Nothing absolutely nothing but writing what I believe now was a reflection of his disturbed personality – everything in those stacks of letters was about HIM and how everything he encountered affected HIM. Nothing about his work, or social life, or being exposed to new things, or discussing anyone else, or anything. Just about HIM.

    Wish I knew then what I know now.

    • Ugh, Marcie. My ex lovebombed me in the same fashion when I was 19 as well! When we were away from each other over winter break, he sent me a letter almost EVERY DAY for an entire month! I was totally sucked in by what I saw as his sparkly, romantic nature. However, I don’t remember their exact content– I burned them in my firepit when I finally moved out and into my own place– but I’m pretty sure they contained a lot of the same blather. His Owife is getting that treatment right now; I’m sure that she thinks that’s she won quite the prize. She just doesn’t realize that it’s the booby prize!

    • Mine was the opposite. I found the family bible he’d given me as a wedding gift, inscribed, “To My Darling, Red.” On the inside, he wrote a beautiful, beautiful letter saying how happy I made him and how much he looked forward to sharing a life with me. He talked about our future children, our adventures, everything we had discussed for so long. Then he signed and dated it our wedding date.

      Every now and again I’ll pull it out and re-read it to remind me of how he USED to be, of why I married him.

      It’s said that you become the conglomeration of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time; he kept MUCH BETTER company in those days (me, his family and friends) than he did in the last years of our marriage (OW, his cheating friends). But in the end, it boils down to character: doing the right thing, even when no one’s looking.

      Sad to know I invested so many years with someone who was so weak and malleable…

      • Same here Red, some people have been surprised that I did not dump the old photos, many gifts, loving notes etc from ex. Ater D-Day this supposedly adoring husband and father, now exposed to be living a double life for decades, simply walked away….not just from me, but from our children too. I finally realized that I keep the notes and momentos as a sort of “proof”- that he pretended to love me, that he pretended to love our children, that I didn’t just dream the 25 year marriage up.

      • Red, he didnt’ become this person because of others but because he chose to be this person. It sucks to face that but at the end of the day no one can make you do something you really don’t want to do (barring them holding a gun to your head). These were his choices and his alone. It sucks.

  • I’ll give you the best reason in the world NEVER to write them a letter: They won’t keep it private.

    They’ll take that letter and show the AP for whatever juice that can get them. “You seeeeeeee what I have to put up with” etc etc.

    They’ll show family members that are on their side. They’ll show friends that they want to alienate from you. Anything to increase the drama and manipulate people’s points of view.

    There was not enough room in our relationship for two – one with a grandiose ego — let alone 3 on up.

    Every single appeal, whether based on nostalgia, the pain he was causing the kids, religion (I mean what part of ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’ don’t you get) or the pragmatic talk about how screwed he was going to be in the divorce — it was ALL wasted. ALL of it.

    • My ex NPD husband sent ME a lengthy letter shortly after dday. At that point, we were still living in the same house (but he had moved into the guest bedroom) and he was hot on his OW, trying to get her to leave her husband.

      His letter to me went on and on about what a terrible person I was, how he didn’t even trust me to raise our son, how he never should have married an awful person he didn’t even love. He completely rewrote history, some of it quite bizarre. He of course did not mention ONE WORD about his two current affairs, or all the hundreds of gay encounters over our marriage. It was three pages of vicious criticism of me.

      I managed to get a glimpse of his cell phone later that night, he neglected to take it into the bathroom like he usually did. I saw a text he had sent the OW telling her he had sent me the letter. I knew then that he had showed it to her before sending it to me, and she had probably even helped him write it.

      Never underestimate how low these cheaters will go. They really have no bottom.

      I wrote a lengthy letter in reply, and never sent it. I showed it to my family though, they loved it. Even then, although I had yet to discover any sort of helpful forum and didn’t really know yet what I was dealing with, I knew the best course of action was to avoid contact with him as much as possible.

      • Yeah, I forgot that part — the AP will know exactly what he replies with and may even write it for him. The OW had such control over my ex that I recognized several places in the divorce where she had done the dirty work for him (like getting quotes on insurance for the kids, and tabulating credit card charges etc. )

    • “I’ll give you the best reason in the world NEVER to write them a letter: They won’t keep it private.”

      Ooh, that’s chilling.

      That’s my biggest source of pain–everything that was once sacred and private was ripped open and shared with that skank troll. Therefore we have nothing, he and I. Nothing. Why would I want to communicate with him? He is nothing.

  • I’m wondering if anyone can help decipher this one for me, I’m really struggling and I need interpretation to make sure I dont respond. It’s been a month of NC and I miss him, and getting stuff like this makes it so confusing. Is this remorse?

    We had been in counselling for 13 months before this, and I have heard it all before. This is the second time he has cheated on me, and he cheated on his wife prior.

    I’ve been so good with NC, but I feel myself about to break any second. Help CL!

    ‘There are no words within me to describe the person that I have been and the choices I have made over the last 6 years. I have been weak within myself and selfish and I have caused an inconsiderable amount of hurt and pain to people that I do love, although I have not shown this love through my actions and choices. I have made some terrible choices in my life which I know I will be accountable for the rest of my life and there is no way I can outrun it or forget about it. I did truly love you and wanted to be with you but I let that all fall by the wayside as I let myself get distracted by internal and external demons that I never truly faced or addressed.

    The fact that I dont love her or want to be with her makes my choices even more stupid. I pray every day for the hurt I have caused you and I will continue to pray for you every day as this is the only thing I can do right now. I am truly sorry for the hurt and anguish I have caused you and there is nothing to describe how I feel that you are currently at your brothers wedding dealing with this right now.

    I have been a broken man for a very long time and I know the road to recovery is long and will be hard, but I will not give up this time. You are in my thoughts constantly. You could not have done any more for me, you were and are an amazing person, and the person I felt the closest to in my life, I’m so sorry for letting you down. You are the most beautiful person I know.

    I dont know what lies ahead, but I am determined to live my life in a different manner, and have respect for myself and the people that I love and vow never to cause any more hurt to the people around me.

    I will fight for me, and I will fight for you too. I am not giving up hope Mel. I love you and want my best friend in my life in the future. I want to give you the life you deserve.

    • That letter is so eerily similar to one my uncle wrote to my aunt apologizing for his alcoholism it’s creepy. After she refused to engage he wrote a letter to anyone on his or her email list including their children accusing her of a number of things including adultery. These types can grovel like you won’t believe, then snap and reveal who they truly are when you refuse to dance.

      • Yep…if you go along with their script, even if the marriage is over, then they’ll be ‘nice’ to you. If you challenge their bullshit they’ll go on the attack and do so viciously.

    • Let the words roll right over, watch his ACTIONS. That’s ALL that counts.

      Stay NC, and see whether he gets into therapy, sticks w/it, stops ALL actions that might be in any way hurtful or detrimental to you, sets things up in ways that are consistently advantageous for you, AND respects your desire for NC.

      And you keep building your own life. Because whatever happens with him in the long term, that’s what you need.

      With his history, I’d bet a LOT of money that this is sparkle. Highly unlikely he’ll follow through for very long. Entitlement does NOT die easy! And because they can’t give up that basic attitude, everything goes back to ‘their normal’ pretty fast!

      • Well, he cheated on the last wife as well so I think we can safely say that this dude is not going to change. He just wants to ensure kibbles.

    • Yeah, my ex had very brief moments of seeming remorse, but he would then say, “But I don’t see how I can give her up.”

      The OW is like a drug. They know it’s wrong, but KarenE is right–watch the actions. Be quiet and just watch their choices. Don’t give cake based on words of self-pity and self-flagellation.

    • melissa, do not listen to that bullshit from him. He’s spewing word salad, making it all about him, feeling sorry for himself, throwing in some stuff that makes it seem like he gets it…wht a load of bullshit. Some of that stuff is exactly what my ex wrote to me, word for word. Obviously they all communicate with the mothership before writing this crap. Do not buy it.

      • Thanks everyone, I was really struggling today but after reading your comments you’re right. I’ve heard this shit before, if he wants to fix anything there will be actions, not these long diatribes!

    • “I let myself be distracted by internal and external demons” is fancy word salad for “It felt good, so yeah, I went with the flow. You didn’t even enter into the equation.”

      • Oh, yeah, kb, I like your ‘translation from narc-speak’! That would also be the correct translation for my ex’s claim that he wasn’t making any choices when he got involved in his second affair! In his case, just complete with ‘you and the kids didn’t even enter into the equation’.

      • Amazing, so this is like the same as ‘I never meant to intentionally hurt you’ which is the same rubbish he spewed on DDay2. Thank God for CL, I nearly caved yesterday but didn’t because of all of you x

  • I once heard a Dr. Laura show where this woman called in with this most incredibly poetic letter written by her estranged boyfriend. It would just make your heart melt. Immediately her switchboard lit up with people calling in saying “Whoa whoa whoa — That’s the Sullivan Ballou letter from Ken Burn’s Civil War series edited to fit the situation. Here it is:

    http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/war/ballou_letter.html

    You just can’t tell from a letter. If it were me (and I’m glad it’s not) I think I would suggest that he get himself a mentor/monitor like the AA people have so that he has someone that he has to be ACOUNTABLE to for his actions, like getting to the therapist on time. Getting permission to consult with his therapist about progress and sincerity would be a plus.

    Any hint of insincerity and that’s all folks.

    Re-read CL post on remorse and read the Lundy book.

  • Bud,

    My STBXW had me spinning with lies. I drafted a no-contact letter for her and her last male “friend” which she never saw. The best thing I did was to write a timeline. You do need to get all the bullshit out of your head. Also it’ll be easier later when you write the book and sell it for millions. Of course don’t forget to change the names to protect the innocent. Namely you.

    I’m going on 3 years. It does get better. Run Forrest Run!

  • I wish I’d been smart enough to get a post nup! Although, I did demand a hand written letter of apology during reconciliation attempt #2. Basically I got a letter written by my ex admitting his adultery which came in handy for my divorce and saved a lot of time and money.

  • I tried transparency MULTIPLE times and for sure it does NOT help cheaters “see the error of their ways”. I know that my “no contact” action speaks volumes. It only took 24 years for me to get it…finally. This is why we need this website to encourage chumps instead of the “other” philosophy” that is preached out there. IMO, this website helps us chumps see the reality of our relationship with the cheater, rather than what we had hoped and wished for to be a reality with someone who lied to us and had no intention of being honorable and trustworthy.

    • “This website helps us chumps see the reality of our relationship with the cheater, rather than what we had hoped and wished for to be a reality with someone who lied to us and had no intention of being honorable and trustworthy.”

      Anne – I totally agree! I tried the reconciliation route as well, and NOTHING worked. Letters, crying, heart-to-heart – NOTHING. He wanted to do what he wanted to do, and the more I tried to show him the “error of his ways,” the more belligerent and entitled he became.

      You know what HAS kind of freaked him out?

      Not caring. Going for “meh.” Following the advice on this site.

      I don’t have much interaction with him anymore, but when I do, I just basically ignore him – and he HATES it. He thought divorcing me would put him firmly in control – and for a while, it did. These days? Not so much. He can’t manipulate me anymore, so his power’s gone. He went from being in charge to being on the outside, looking in.,.and he HATES it. Kibbles all gone…

        • When you find yourself to be the most interesting man in the world and the source of your own utter fascination, it’s stunning to think that the chump is, well, no longer a chump. My ex stumbles away as fast as he can mentally and physically, not only from me now but even from his old friends. He avoids seeing or dealing with me or anyone who may have contact with me, because he simply doesn’t know the rules to this new “game”. He tries to establish his own kittle new social group of misfits and wanna be’s, who can still fall under his sparky spell. I would find it all vaguely amusing, but I’m pretty much arriving at “meh” at this point……

  • A couple of points — I was in church yesterday and they played a movie showing a marriage that had been “healed.” The couple talked about the way they’d drifted apart. The woman elaborated on how she became involved in an affair while looking for what was missing from her marriage. The man talked about discovering the affair. The woman was confronted by a church member who got her to admit to the affair, the error of her ways, she felt terrible, apologized. He husband ended up realizing “he had a part” in why she wanted to cheat. They worked it out and are now happier than ever. That’s the hopium I was raised on and which has caused me so much pain. I guess it works sometimes but only when both people are truly committed to marriage, and one isn’t mostly committed to themselves.

    Anyway, in regards to letter writing, I didn’t do it myself although I thought about it. I had a long history of trying to reach my ex through writing, talking, etc. and knew it wouldn’t work. Nothing could break through that wall he had built around himself so I didn’t even try. However, I have a very good friend who wrote letters and emails for YEARS to her ex, trying to get him to understand her pain. It did no good. My friend drove herself crazy trying to get him to acknowledge what he’d done. Finally, after about 5 years he came to her house, sat in her living room, and talked to her. He told her he’d just been unhappy and wanted out. He acknowledged that basically he ran away and that my friend didn’t deserve to be treated like that. Do you think this admission made my friend happy? It did for a little while, but then all her insecurity came back. Her ex was a politician so she started to doubt his sincerity, started wondering if it was just an admission to get her off his back, etc. She realized that his admission couldn’t undo all the pain she felt, and her life was still just as lonely as before they had the talk. She didn’t heal until she found a counselor who helped her focus on her own life and leave her quest for resolution/revenge behind. When she finally gave that up she met someone who is now showing her the time of her life.

    • Great story Lyn. It’s like we have to let go of the rage (get to Meh), because these bastards will never give us what we want or need….even if they do apologize with what appears to be sincerity, it’s words from a pathological liar, so what’s the use? As someone said a while back, “if his lips are moving he’s lying; if he’s being nice, he wants something from you”

  • After numerous emails, texts from me to the ex reiterating his shitty lying and cheating behavior I found that my pleading for understanding from him fell on deaf ears, fell on ENTITLED deaf ears. It did not take me long to figure out that I needed a mouth piece that resonated with him. From the time my papers were filed I let my attorney do the talking. It was the best decision I have made in the past 2 years.

  • “Cheaters are liars.” YUP. So considering what you’re dealing with, it’s pointless to waste your time and energy. Hard to believe but true. Follow her actions. Sadly, your words make no difference…

  • Early on after D-Day I wrote her expressing my hurt and my attempt at fixing. I realize that it was my immediate reaction that we probably all had. Since then I have done what many of you have suggested. I have written letters and not sent them. Many times using phrases and quotes from this site that I found very interesting and enlightening. I tried putting them together to formulate a letter but I know deep down that it won’t make a difference. So I don’t send them. It is therapeutic to write them down but it’s disheartening and frustrating to wonder why they can’t see what we see. They are so dumb, yet they consider us the dumb ones for not seeing it their way. I’ve never in all the 23 years that we’ve been together considered her to be a narcissist. Quite the opposite actually. But looking back over the last 3 yrs I now recognize selfish statements and actions that show her to feel very entitled. I am convinced without a doubt that she is BPD and I do hope that she sees it herself someday and gets the help she needs. All because I still care. I can’t turn the switch off, yet.

    I am not an expert at this plague of infidelity but because of all of you fellow chumps I have become very informed on what is really going on. At times I thought to myself “How did they know that, Are these people wizards?”. Turns out by comparing our notes we find out that cheaters are pathetically all the same. They go by the same playbook. They blameshift, we dance, they ask for more time & cake, we dance, they gaslight, we dance. After all the BS all you get is tired and more heartache.

    We have three kids to raise so NC will be very difficult.

    You have all shown me the sad reality that the woman I love and promised everything to for the rest of my life, is gone and doesn’t care about me being in her life anymore.

    Thank you all.

    • Bud, as you get farther out, I think you may start to recall even more instances where she demonstrated her disorder.
      It seems that we acclimate to their wierdness over time and begin accepting things we never would have accepted but for the gradual dissapatio of ourselves, brought on by their insidious and relentless abuse.
      When I look back at many of the things I tolerated, I cringe.

  • Bud, my heart goes out to you. It’s a shitty reality when our spouses become “gone.” Although I was married for almost 5 years I have been with my STBX for 14 years, since I was 17 years old.

    I hope you find comfort in this forum and know that you are not alone, although it may not feel like it.

    We are all here for you.

  • here’s my letter for the day. i want to send it sooooo bad. it’s hell keeping me from doing it!

    I absolutely hate how things have ended up. I really really do. All I wanted was full honesty but my gut was telling me that’s not what I was getting. I know he was still in the picture, and you confirmed that when you wouldn’t agree to a conversation with him where we lay it all out and put an end to the nonsense. Even if I had learned there was still contact going on I would have been willing to forgive it so long as every single action in the world would’ve been taken to show me repeatedly that you were ready to focus on me and us, and finally end all contact with him.

    I know I did things that should not have been done. I regret everyday the things I did, and the things I didn’t do. I am sorry for that, and I will forever be sorry. Hopefully one day you can forgive me too.

    My end game for us was always a happy, blissful life together. All I wanted was for us to come back together so we could start a family and be the couple that beat the odds. Imagine looking back in 50 years and being able to see “wow, we did it”!

    I just hope that one day you are happy. I hope you can find your own happiness and I hope he can give you happiness too. That is my gift of love to you – to be happy. I just want you to be happy. If you choose to be happy with him, or even alone, I will not be an obstacle in your way.

    I love you, and I wish we were still each others person.

    • DON’T DO IT WTF!

      Your giving her all the cryptonite. SHE cheated on YOU. SHE should be consoling YOU.

      No offense, because I’m right there with you on the pain meter, but your letter makes you sound vulnerable and perfect fodder for more exploitation.

      DON’T DO IT WTF!

    • WTF, I agree. Never send her something like this. She is already blaming you, I am sure . You are accepting that balme. It is not your fault.

  • I have shown him too much of my pain and emotion already. I won’t (hopefully – sometimes I snap) do that again. What about a letter to the piece of trash he cheated with and is still involved with. I often wonder if she knows the truth of the situation. I would love some thoughts on whether this is a good idea or if anyone has done this.

  • Just my two cents. I don’t think the OW will react to a letter laying out the truth. But everyone else will. I have no qualms about telling people I’m divorced and why. “Yeah, she had an affair with my daughter’s coach, a whole year, I found some I-love-you emails and now we’re divorced.” I’m not responsible for keeping her bad bahavior a secret. So don’t write her a letter. But don’t make much of an effort to cover up the mess they created. As it is now, my XW’s name is mud at the rink. She’s a cast off when she dares to show up at games. So is her AP. Everyone hates him.

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