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Dear Chump Lady, What’s an exit affair?

Hi Chump Lady,

What is an “exit affair?” I think I might be on the receiving end of this but I’m not sure. He left during a trial separation where he swore there was nobody. There was…the whole time. He returned home saying I was his “soulmate” and then when things got difficult again he sex texted her. Again, he denied anything physical had occurred. It had…most of the time. He finally admitted it all. I asked him to leave and am filing for divorce.

It really hurt me and I’m having difficulty moving on. He seems quite well and fine. In fact, he’s not with his affair partner but has a new girlfriend. (The ink had barely dried on our separation papers and they are taking a vacation together.) I haven’t even been able to catch my breath. Do most women really want to date a cheater? What’s up with that? Can you shed any light on that?

What do you make of this? I know it’s not good but he said that he felt unappreciated and unloved. I had NO idea. Why didn’t he say something??

Confused Chump

Dear Confused Chump,

Hmm. You filed for divorce? You asked him to leave? While he was calling you his “soul mate,” he was cheating on you?  I don’t think that’s an exit affair. That’s your standard cake eater.

Exit affairs, IMO, happen when someone wants out, but is too colossally immature to just own it. So they blow up their lives in some dramatic fashion and the “drama” ends the relationship. But here’s the difference between an exit affair and cake eating — someone in an exit affair actually ENDS it. They leave. It’s definitive. They don’t waffle. They don’t come back. They don’t engage in goading the “pick me” dance.

Is it shitty? Yes. But to me, cake eating is shittier, because cake eaters inflict a whole other level of mindfuckery. They steal your time. They encourage you to make terrible investments in them. They plead for more time to decide, or they pretend they’re all in when they’re not. They’re the cats that don’t kill the mouse right away, they torture the mouse. Which, if you’re a cat, is the most enjoyable part.

Cake eaters want both. And when they’re discovered they want more of your attention, your best behavior to court them back, and all of your patience.

I’m glad you threw him out. That forced his hand into an “exit” affair. Here’s the other thing about exit affairs — they often turn out not to be exit affairs. You find out later that there were others, and you were with a practiced cake eater all along. I do think exit affairs exist, someone is in until one day they’re not. And if they never said boo about their “unhappiness” — that’s on THEM, not you. But — not that I have any numbers on this, just observing from time on boards and letters here — exit affairs are the rarer breed. Cheaters prefer cake. Leaving comes with consequences, so the cheater has to be pretty high on sparkles to take the plunge and lose shit. Much better if you just accept less, and they can eat cake indefinitely.

As for do most women want a date a cheater? No, of course not. But do women want to date a lost puppy dog who was so mistreated by his ex-wife? Sure. Lots of women date that guy… and live to regret it.

 

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  • -Confused Chump – I did like you-I kicked my ex out and pushed the divorce forward any way I could. He made some noises about time and thinking and who knows what else but it really looked like an exit affair. He was into this young woman. Then I discovered a bunch of other affairs, including at least two that were going on while he was seeing his ‘soulmate’. He was telling the main soulmate he loved her while messaging and making plans with another sidepiece. He was busy.

    So now he’s with the main soulmate and on his best behaviour because I, in my distress, thought she deserved to know about the others. This made her do the pick me dance harder and faster because I had exposed the affair pretty widely. So she is all ‘I’ll prove my love’ and he’s all ‘I will prove I’m not a serial cheating scumboy’.

    Why am I telling you this? Because none of it matters. How it played out, how you ended up in this place really doesn’t amount to a hill of a beans. You’re getting divorced and yep, it sucks that it happened because your husband couldn’t keep his dick under control but you know what? At some point in the not terribly too distant future you will be happy and you will not be with someone who was sure to crush you over and over again.

    So my advice is to try not to dwell on him and his sidepieces too much or how he could do this or what kind of affair it was or any of that other stuff. Easier said than done, I know. Focus on yourself, your kids if you have them, on altering your life to suit you – not you and him as a couple – but how you want your life to be. You may not even know yet what you want it to look like (I’m still in the midst of figuring it out and screwing up often enough, thank you very much 🙂 ) but you will figure it out as you try things, make decisions that you aren’t even sure are the correct ones and as you slowly open up to new people in your life.

    I promise you, it really will be better and you really will laugh with abandon again one day.

    Good luck and sorry it’s happening.

  • I agree with Nord– I learned “enough” for me to realize that I no longer wanted to be with my XWH. He may very well have cheated on me with multiple partners throughout our marriage; I trusted him and never checked up on him in all the years that we were together. He may very well have been with the AP-now-Owife for five years instead of the three months he admitted to when I found out. Part of me wanted to do all sorts of digging, but once I knew for sure that I wanted to divorce, I had to ask myself: “Why do you need to know more? You know ENOUGH.” What I had found out already gutted me to the core, and I thought he was a horrible person that I no longer wished to be with. There was no reason to probe his motivations, his past activity, etc. We were done, so I also hung up my trench coat and fedora and ended my brief career as a PI. It’s easier said than done– I was tempted to look into things more than once– but the faster you stop asking questions, the faster you will move on with your life and find happiness.

  • I really want to thank Confused Chump for this question and CL for this response. It has helped me.

  • I’m not sure at all if “Exit Affairs” exist. The more I read and research, the more I think that’s part of the NPDs sick mind–the dramatic blowing up of one’s life, because NEGATIVE attention is much better than NO attention. Also, it’s a “saving face” strategy when he’s boxed in so tightly–and yet can’t just admit he’s a douchebag. The OW he got caught with is watching, after all…and bad, stale cake is better than no cake, right? So better watch how that plays out, he says to himself, I still need cake.

    My STBXH tried that whole “I’m going to EARN you back! Show you that you can trust me! I made a such a mistake, but you have to know I would NEVER jeopardize my life with you and our daughter!” This….after being confronted with partial evidence the first time.

    I wanted to believe what he was saying–he was very convincing and I didn’t want things to change. My relationship with my STBXH is complicated—and now that I realize that relationships should NEVER be described as “complicated”—I can see exactly what he is and what he’s been doing at my expense.

    Tracy is right…douchebag doesn’t have any cojones and is “colossally immature”. I think my STBXH’s Mommy has his shrunken, shriveled balls in a golden box on her mantlepiece at home. I saw his mommy’s boy and entitlement behavior early on, where he believed he should be allowed to have the best of everything, without doing an ounce of the work to get those wonderful things…Mommy told him so!

    This long, drawn out torture session they do….thinking about things, wanting you to woo them back (whatever! ICK!), promising not to fuck other women (they just will hide it better this time), saying all the right words to get that cake back….that’s no “exit strategy”. That’s sick.

    This is just like that Pittman guy who claims in his article that men can get into affairs “accidentally” because they didn’t want to be rude or that lurv made them insane.

    Then leave. If you realize that you are not in love with me, and that your physical attraction to this woman is so strong and so real and so true and so wonderful….here’s your bus ticket, I’ll pay for it if you can’t scrape together the cash—and go. Have a happy life!

    He felt unappreciated and unloved? Mine too. I’m wondering if that’s page 38 in the cheater’s handbook. Lame and easily countered….”Honey, you ARE an adult, right? I mean, I’ve been with you in restaurants where your order didn’t come the way you wanted it and you said something to the waiter. I’ve seen you send things back that you purchased and they weren’t what you wanted. I’ve watched you debate politics and religion with family and friends….standing your ground on what you believe. So what you are telling me is that our marriage isn’t as important as your chicken cacciatore?”

    No. Your STBXH (already ex?) didn’t do that, nor did mine….nor do most. THEY NEVER PLANNED ON GETTING CAUGHT.

    It’s like when someone falls flat on their face when doing some “Jack Ass” stunt and they get up real fast saying…”I MEANT TO DO THAT!”

    Exit Affair? Nope. I for one don’t believe it. They’re like unicorns. Something conjured up to make cheaters and their supporters feel better about what they did to you.

    He’s not with the OW that he got caught with, but yet ANOTHER woman? Cake eater. And no–I don’t believe that most women “want” to date a serial cheater….how much would you wager “NEW OW” doesn’t have one inkling about what REALLY went down with you two (and OLD OW?) Nooooooo……he’s rewriting history and controlling the narrative for New OW, so she thinks that he was either already separated when they met, or he’s rewritten it so completely, she has no idea what’s about to happen to her.

    • bingo, bingo, bingo!

      They are master con artists. They will be whatever and whoever they need to be to get what they want. Only what they want is never enough because there aren’t enough women in the world to “validate” him. He feels “unloved” and “unappreciated” because has not the capacity to love himself. Its one massive projection. And besides, he knows that this will hurt you to your core. This man loathes women with every fiber of his being; yes, a misogynist and a sadist. His joy is in grabbing you by the tail and then toying with your every emotion until he goes in for the kill…

      and yes, they truly believe that they will never be caught. When they are, if you refuse to just “get over it” (after he’s reassured you over and over that you are “soulmates”– eyes rolling) you will be dismissed and then he will figure out what went “wrong” (with his con) and next time, won’t make that mistake.

      Honey its not you. I am positive. He is sick and as he dumped his AP, he will dump the next one and the next, until he happens to find someone who will submit to whatever filet of shit he serves her.

      As others have said… focus on you. Realize that with him, its all a ruse. There can be no other way, because he has neither the knowledge or capacity to love in the way that most people can.

      • Abbey and Laurel: thank you for putting such a fine point on this !! It’s so painful to be on the receiving end of these…monsters, but what you’ve written about them is the truth and the truth is what sets us free.

  • Dear Confused: it hurts because you were invested. To know he wasnt, and maybe never was, is devastating. You think you still love him. You dont. You love the person you were hoping and praying him to be. Let it go. Work on you. You will be better and this will get easier. We promise. Hugs, nmc

    • Thanks for your answer. My question wasn’t the one above but you said what I needed to hear for my issues tonight.

  • Confused – Bravo to you for your courage to say “Enough of this shit, I deserve better!”. Its painful and terrifying to end a marriage, but when the one who has promised to love and cherish you does anything but those things there isn’t much choice. Unless you enjoy a steady diet of shit sandwiches that is.

    As for why your poor, pitiful douchebag of a STBX felt unloved and unappreciated? Its just another way for him to justify why he “was forced” to get his needs met with someone else. Its lays the blame for his selfish and horrific behavior at your feet which is rather handy for him. That whole guilt stuff, its just too hard so he’ll blame it all on you so he doesn’t have to feel bad. You could have waited on him hand and foot, been the Victoria’s Secrets model, (with an insatiable sexual appetite of course) and asked “how high” when he said Jump! – but it wouldn’t have made one little tiny bit of difference. He was (and probably still is) convinced that he is just so damn awesome that he is entitled to endless and boundless love, adoration and worship. It will never be enough, from anyone, ever. Its like trying to fill the grand canyon with an eye dropper, its just not ever going to happen. That’s all on him.

    He is defective, and that’s got nothing to do with you or your marriage. Move on, look forward and start thinking about what you do want in your life. He might seem to be livin’ the dream right now but I can pretty much guarantee you that its all smoke and mirrors. And even if its not? YOU are way better off without him. So whatever his life is like, you will get to where you just really don’t give a shit anymore. Focus on you, now that’s an investment that always pays off.

    • “That whole guilt stuff, its just too hard so he’ll blame it all on you so he doesn’t have to feel bad. You could have waited on him hand and foot, been the Victoria’s Secrets model, (with an insatiable sexual appetite of course) and asked “how high” when he said Jump! – but it wouldn’t have made one little tiny bit of difference. He was (and probably still is) convinced that he is just so damn awesome that he is entitled to endless and boundless love, adoration and worship. It will never be enough, from anyone, ever. Its like trying to fill the grand canyon with an eye dropper, its just not ever going to happen.”

      Yep. They’re entitled to it all. And once they’ve got it all from you…HEY….more is always better, right?

      Confused–what helped me and I’m sure so many, many others—read Tracy’s stickies on “Untangling the Skein”, “What Not to Do”, “Ego Kibbles”—it was like she was talking to me personally.

      It’s sad and pathetic and horrible that these people exist, but they do. And don’t you EVER let anybody convince you that he “changed into this” because of you. He was like this all along. You just were the better person. The stable, strong one…the trusting one.

      There are so many really good people out there. Don’t let this guy have any control over what you do with your future…he’s already tainted your past….don’t give him another inch.

        • Exit affair= lazy, selfish coward
          That’s what my exH is, and he admits that mantra is in his head.
          I have tried to figure out where my exH fits on the exit affair/cheater/NPD scale, but it does not really matter in the grand scheme of thi snags.

          Selfish: he cheated more than once, only thought of himself

          Lazy: marriage takes effort, it is not always happiness and sunshine, and when it was time to speak up, he did not, and lied about being unhappy/did nothing to make things better

          Coward: did not ‘fess up when first caught, and I foolishly believed him, and then, lied for 3 months last year during false reconciliation, then STILL could not say there was another woman, nor even say the words “I want a divorce.” I filed, I found him a place to live since he has the kids 50% time.

          It breaks my heart that the father of my children has these characteristics.
          But it is what it is….

          • Oh my yes, that is my wasband (thanks for this word Laurel!) for sure. He is all three of those things–selfish (which he admitted), lazy (admitted that too), and a coward (telling me on the phone while at work that he’s in love with someone else? Yeah he doesn’t need to admit that, it’s the truth!).

            • Rachel, mine, too!
              First an email while I was at work that he had “feelings” for another woman, then called me there to clarify that he “was in love with her” during the email exchange that followed.
              Did I mention he was in another city at the time, following his dream, with my encouragementm while I stayed home alone with the kids? Then he refused to quit the job early to come back and divorce me? Doubly a coward!

  • I’ve heard it said that people who engage in “exit” affairs don’t try too hard to hide it and quickly throw in the towel once it comes to light. Cheaters continue to lie and gaslight as long as possible to eat cake.

    Both situations suck, but at least when they leave right away, you don’t get caught in the painful snare of faux reconciliation. Own it, end it, and move on.

    • “Both situations suck, but at least when they leave right away, you don’t get caught in the painful snare of faux reconciliation. Own it, end it, and move on.”

      This exactly!

  • Interesting post and comments. By CL’s definition, my wasband did the exit affair approach. He left me and our two dogs because we “drifted apart” and of course the classic, ILYBINILWY, because I didn’t give him enough intimacy. He moved out to a friend’s house, and admitted 2 weeks later he was in love with his emotional affair partner (probably his PA too, I’m sure).

    After DDay, it was mostly silence, other than business/finance/asset splitting stuff. I thought he was filing for divorce this whole time, until he called me last month asking for him to move back in for 6 months to see “if the spark will come back.” Uhh how about NO? He treated this as if we were on a break, and he said he never really wanted a divorce. Uhhh are ya kidding me? No remorse, not an ounce. So now again I have silence, which is fine because I’m going to a lawyer next week to get this party started.

    So Abby may be on to something, that it all ends up with wanting cake in the end.

    • He realized you were of ‘use’ to him. Very calculating, like he’s weighing the cost/benefits of women, and you were the winner!
      Good for you for seeing about a lawyer, good luck!

      • Thanks PattyToo–I guess the silver lining in this is that his attempt at reconciliation was so lame and there was mostly no contact since April, so at least there was no time wasted on faux reconciliation, it’s as clean of a break as it can get. 4 months post-DDay is not too shabby.

        His idiocy made my decision pretty damn easy.

    • “I thought he was filing for divorce this whole time, until he called me last month asking for him to move back in for 6 months to see “if the spark will come back.”

      WTF is this…the weekend pass version of marriage? Why didn’t I get a copy of THOSE marriage vows?! So, did he admit that he had been lying to you the whole time making you think we was filing for divorce? Or did he make that somehow into something “flattering”….that he really, really doesn’t want to divorce….aren’t you lucky?

      Good Lord. Is there a club or something for these people where they share all of their lame excuses…kinda like a 12 step for Stupid Shit Cheaters Say? “Well, first you try THIS ONE, and if THAT doesn’t work….try THIS, it worked like a charm for about 6 months for Jack…”

      I’m reading these excuses….and I’ve heard probably a version of each of them from my STBXH’s mouth…in a matter of 7 months.

      Do they have ANY original thoughts….AT ALL?

    • I’ve had the opposite problem. My STBX has never once asked to be taken back, or to give our marriage another chance. I found out about the affair in Sept and gave him and told him that he had to make a choice — if he stayed to do the work there could only be two of us in the relationship. He chose to stay and we started counseling, but he moved to his sister’s house in Oct to “have some space to think.” We basically started dating again, and he spent about 3 nights/week at home. In Nov I learned that he really moved to re-start the affair, and when questioned as to why he would do that he said, “I thought I should keep things going with the MOW so at least I’d have that if you and I didn’t work out.” She broke it off and he slunk home depressed and sullen. After a couple of weeks he seemed to be getting better, but then he literally ran away from home while I was at a one hour appointment. Since then, his mantra has been, “She [the MOW] doesn’t matter, and I’M NOT COMING BACK!” She apparently got back in touch with him a couple of weeks earlier, and has been screwing him since the day he moved out. He’s now hemorrhaging money on bar tabs and restaurant meals with her, and he finally did file for divorce last month.

      It actually confuses me that he’s not trying to keep both relationships going, because I was the primary earner in our relationship and there is absolutely no way he’s going to be able to sustain his wining and dining of MOW without my income. (BTW, I am pursuing restitution of the monies spent on MOW in the divorce.) Any thoughts as to why he doesn’t fall into the I-want-to-have-a-do-over pattern?

      • Because it knows it’s going to be hard work and he’s not up to it. That’s it, basically. He’s not a grown, evolved man – he wants the easiest option that will allow him to expend the least amount of energy for the most amount of kibbles. Being with you means being a grownup, taking a look at himself, figuring out just what his damage is and how to fix it. Being with MOW or someone else new means fresh slate – as in carrying on being the same jerk he was before but with new kibble supply and the possibility that the new supply won’t figure out that he’s a tosspot.

        Divorce him and go make your life fabulous.

  • That’s just crazy Rachel. I had to change locks, threaten with police, etc. etc. but I’m sure he would come back if he could. I wonder if I was supposed to “fight” for him. Well if that’s what he was expecting I sure surprised his ass…

    • Right after dday, while the now-ex was carrying on his two affairs with the married OW, he told several people that he couldn’t believe the main “soulmate” AP’s husband was fighting like crazy to keep her (poor man playing the pick me dance was all that was) but I wasn’t fighting hard enough to keep ex.

      They LOVE the drama of a spouse and AP “fighting” over them. Like they are such a prize. Who the hell wants a cheating, lying, sorry fuck of a person anyway?

      • Unbelievable!

        In STBX’s attempt to reconcile, he even mentioned the married OW in an email “She said ‘she knows you’re broken and depressed. She’s your wife, she’ll give you another chance'” and he said “She was WRONG!”

        What the hell is she, Mother Teresa, blessing our marriage?! And I’m the only one in therapy?! Oy!

      • Do you guys think that the OW loves the drama of continuing to fight for the spouse? I completely gave up and blocked spouse and OW drama from my life. And in last three days she has parked right behind my car at the supermarket (she was in the car texting when I cam out and I threw my groceries in the car and hightailed it out of there) and then parked right outside my gym (btw have been going to the gym at ten o’clock every morning for the last ten years so she had to have known i would be there). Anyways, I can’t really figure out what she’s up to except that she must love the drama and is trying to engage me in some imaginary triangle. Thoughts?

        • Sometimes the cheater lies and tells CP (cheating partner) that spouse is refusing to divorce etc. Cheater wants excuse of being married so they don’t have to treat side piece well.

          • Interesting. Please expound on this theory (explanation?)

            If The Cheater wants to “be able to continue to treat the AP poorly”, I would find it curious as to how they got together (or stay together) in the first place if he/she treats the AP poorly? Why not just break off the affair?

            It would follow, since cheaters are narcissistic black holes of humanity–that they would believe that everyone, especially the AP, finds them so wonderful. Sounds like Cheaterpants would have to be an all around abusive asshole, wouldn’t you say? Or a first class coward, as well as an abusive asshole.

            Or maybe Cheaterpants is a bored, spoiled child with Mommy issues , who has no regard for anyone but themselves and is now “sorry” they got involved with AP…because the consequences of their whoring around is taking all of their cake away ?

            Or….here’s something that may be a little more accurate….

            To Cheater, lying is like breathing—they can’t be trusted in ANY way, for ANY reason, by ANYONE (including the kids). He/She is going to deserve every ounce of misery that is going to be served up…by the BS and the AP….and anybody else who might want to pile on.

          • Yep, Diana, mine told final OW that we were going to therapy because I could not accept that it was over. What an utter lie and what a tosspot he is. When I saw it on his texts I handed him divorce papers. His response? ‘I’m not ready to take that step’. It took me six months to get him to sign the first papers and more than a year to finalise the divorce. We’re still battling out money and custody.

          • My guess is this is very, very common. Cheater has no interest whatsoever in a long term relationship with the side piece, but DOES want to continue to get sex, kibbles and the thrill of being naughty. Because the side piece DOES want to have the cheater all to herself, she presses him to dump his wife and ride off happily into the sunset with her. Cheater can’t admit he has no interest in that whatsoever without losing his kibble’s ‘n sex, so he blames the innocent spouse for holding up the divorce. There’s a lot of cake to be had in that situation.

            • I was stalked for 6 years by one of his slappers.I’d ruined her life by leaving him because I knew he’d never leave me? She eventually was convicted of GBH.
              But at the time she was very special :-),and he’d never cheat on her 🙂 Didn’t know about all of the others.
              🙂

          • I’ll bet this is exactly right. Stupid OW thinks you are banging your ex and is stalking you looking for proof. Be careful, because some of these people can be dangerous.

            • Pearl–six months ago, I would have said the same thing as Glad–that OW is/may be loony. I’m not so sure anymore, not with the lies that I’ve been finding out my STBXH has been shoveling OW’s way via emails and IMs. This may sound counterintuitive, but what if she is trying in her own weird way to communicate with you? Have you spoken to her? Maybe he’s mindfucking her as badly as he did you (not that you should have sympathy, but…)

              My STBXH lavished all kinds of love and affection and attention on his OW according to his emails. He could be telling her ANYTHING. Do you want to clue her in? Then talk to her. If she seems loony…it’s your opportunity to tell her that you will not hesitate to bring in the authorities if she continues.

              Diana–ICK! Sorry–but if Cheater is this promiscuous—then he deserves some crazy in his life. **NOT bring it to BS’s life** That’s the problem–they think they’ve got it all under control, all the plates are spinning, all the balls are in the air—until they’re not.

              Nord, Glad–It all leads back to The Coward Cheater, doesn’t it? If OW believes he’s cheating on her with BS—then that is probably what Cheaterpants is either implying or outright telling her. I have NO sympathy for OW, mind you, but why would anybody think that anything that comes out of Cheater’s mouth is the truth?

              I almost feel sorry for my STBXH’s OW–he can’t tell the truth to save his life, and I can’t for one minute understand why she would think he wouldn’t do this to HER eventually. It makes no sense. Maybe she isn’t that bright…but he’s a truly skillful liar I’ve been finding out…so who knows.

          • Pearl, Next time you see her, you might call the police. I would document this behavior. she could be a psycho nut case….

        • Pearl – it sounds like she’s stalking you. Stalking is considered harassment, which is a misdemeanor in many states because it makes the victim feel threatened/uncomfortable. If OW keeps it up and you document it with photos and/or calls to police, you can have her arrested. Just fyi –

  • I hate the way they all rewrite history, so now it’s all about how they never felt loved, or appreciated, or didn’t get enough intimacy or whatever. My ex claimed I didn’t tell him “I love you” often enough, and that was one of the reasons he had to cheat as much as he did. Give me a break. Maybe if he hadn’t been having gay sex a few times every month, endless emotional group affairs and physical affairs, ignoring me in favor of his little cult of groupies fawning on his every move…. maybe I would have felt more inspired to say “I love you.” Heck, for the majority of our marriage, I DID tell him that over and over every day. Yet he was still fucking other men left and right.

    These cheaters are all the same. They are soul rapers. Blaming the innocent spouse for their evil is just part of the game for them.

    • Exactly, how lame and cowardly of them! His reasoning was “I am resenting you because you’re touching me because I told you to…I wanted it to be natural.” Give me a break indeed! These people are insane.

      • Ah, yes, the rewritten history. I was told I did not love him because I did not demonstrate more physical caring when he was having some health issues… And that he once asked me to be more affectionate in a particular way; I only did what he asked once.
        Never mind that I upped the PDA the last 3 years of the marriage, including at work (where I disliked it since we were colleagues), plus I initiated the sex and always asked about things he wanted to do!

      • Hahaha….I got the ‘it should be natural and not work’ lines. I was like ‘dude, after all these years it’s natural but it’s not hot bunny sex like when we first met. Remember those years and years of hot bunny sex? And then kids, work, mortgages, your family, my family, an enormous amoutn of upheaval? And I was still there, by your side? Sorry we went past the hot bunny stage…and don’t forget we had not bunny sex still, just not as often as before…but then you were screwing other people on the down low so, yeah, I must have seemed pretty stale at some point’. Grrr….

        • Ahhh I get it, so that is why he decided to find someone else to “love”…because the hot bunny sex wore off after 14 years. /sarcasm LOL!!

    • Totally– mine told me that he thought about divorcing me when we were on our HONEYMOON. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it. I was so horrible to be with, you stayed with me another 13 years and had three children with me? Yeah. Right. Sounds like revisionist history to me.

      If he did think about divorcing me, frankly, I think he kept it to himself because he knew that he couldn’t do any better. He’s not handsome and charming. Women don’t flirt with him, look at him when he walks past, etc. It took the wonderful website Ashley Madison for him to find a woman who would actually consider him romantically, and as far as I’m concerned, she isn’t in love with him– he was her meal ticket out of her unhappy life.

      But, of course, he had to tell me on DDay and afterwards that he’d been unhappy for YEARS. Whatever, you wimp. A real man would’ve told me a long time ago, gone with me for counseling, and then called it quits if necessary without lining up a soft spot to land on before we were divorced.

      • Yes, my ex started fucking other men as a teen, by his own admission had hundreds (I’m guessing probably close to a thousand) of sexual encounters with strangers in gay bath houses, looks at gay porn, gay hookup sites and is very stereotypically gay sounding and appearing. Flaming, actually, these days. Yet INSISTS he is not gay, that he just “went through a sordid phase” and all that is now behind him. It’s not.

        He ended our marriage with simultaneous affairs with two married women, which included threesomes with other men and orgies. There’s really nothing too deviant for him. But he prefers men, no doubt about it.

  • My story is different than most of yours. My wife didn’t get caught — she told me, two years (she says) after the affair ended. I’m still not really sure why she did tell me — not to end the marriage I don’t think, because she says she doesn’t want to. Maybe out of anger — she told me during a fight. She says it was because she needed to get rid of the guilt, but since she’s doing little or nothing in the way of an honest attempt at reconciliation that doesn’t make much sense either. The whole thing just confuses me.

    • Arnold, my ex never was caught either. Eight years into our marriage, during a fight, he admitted he had sex with other men (although he didn’t admit the extent of it). He told me in a very crude, cold, calculated way and it was definitely to hurt me. I threw him out and started divorce process. He came crawling back, promising to change and blah blah blah. I was so stupid, I took him back and we never really talked about it again.

      Flash forward a decade, and although I strongly suspected something was going on, I didn’t know he was cheating. We were sitting in Starbucks together when he suddenly told me he didn’t want to be married anymore and had been miserable our entire 20 years together (funny how right up until then, he had always told me he was happy). He swore there was no one else. I found out just a few days later that of course there was someone else, two women, in fact. Plus, he’d been fucking men the entire time, by his admission “hundreds of encounters”.

      So I never caught him, he admitted, both times. Sometimes they do that to fuck with your head. Often they want to make YOU be the one to file for divorce and leave, because then they can say YOU threw away the marriage. Even though they cheated and lied, they still see themselves as poor, poor victims and they love it when the betrayed spouse is the one to take action. Then they will tell everyone that YOU abandoned THEM. Could be your wife is playing that game. They never just leave the marriage honestly, that’s for sure.

      • Maybe that’s it — I don’t know. I kind of think she now regrets telling me — but I don’t know that either. I’m not Arnold, btw 🙂

        • That is possible, ANR. You had mentioned in a previous post that she told you in a fight. It’s very much the kind of thing that one person might blurt out to the other in the heat of the moment, when they want to cause hurt.

          I know in my case, when I get angry with STBXH–perhaps because he’s indulging in some passive-aggressive bullshit–I have a hard time telling him that I’m sure that his little fuckbuddy would treat him nicer. I don’t, because I don’t want to tell him that I know. At least not yet. I can see that a cheater might confess an affair in the heat of anger.

          She probably regrets telling you, since now you know and you are expecting that she show contrition, which she’s not interested in demonstrating.

          • That makes sense, KB. When she told me she didn’t say who the affair was with, which was of course my immediate question. She tried to sidestep it — “I don’t want to destroy you,” she said. But I insisted, and she did tell me. I don’t know if she was really concerned about me, or didn’t want to tell me because this is a guy she’s lent a really large sum of money to, which is basically a write-off.

            She may also have thought she had to tell me because her secret was on the verge of being spilled by the OM, but that’s just speculation, and kind of a long story. I suspect I’ll never know if that’s true or not.

      • “So I never caught him, he admitted, both times. Sometimes they do that to fuck with your head. Often they want to make YOU be the one to file for divorce and leave, because then they can say YOU threw away the marriage. Even though they cheated and lied, they still see themselves as poor, poor victims and they love it when the betrayed spouse is the one to take action. Then they will tell everyone that YOU abandoned THEM. Could be your wife is playing that game. They never just leave the marriage honestly, that’s for sure.”

        That’s exactly what happened to me.

        • They do like to blame it on the chump and make the chump file for divorce to offset their overwhelming guilt. My ex tried to get me to file but I refused. I was still doing the pick me dance.

    • Perhaps she wants to make herself feel better – not guilty – but not thinking how to make you feel better.

      • How can someone feel not guilty when the person they’ve hurt is hurting right in front of their eyes? I just don’t get it.

        • A disconnection in their brain?? I was told by stbx that I was too honest, that lying sometimes is an okay thing. PAH HA! She is a nut. I think her mom effed her in the head when she was a child.

              • It happens to piss me off. ALOT. I don’t know why it would because coming from her it shouldn’t mean anything. I can take pride in the fact that I don’t lie to get ahead in life.

              • ANR – It’s an inability to feel empathy. It’s a disorder in their brains. I used to wonder how my XH could stand there and see me in a puddle of tears on the floor, beging him to tell me what was going on with him. That I knew something was wrong in our marriage, or with him, and if he could not talk to me, please go find some help with a therapist. He would just say he had no idea what I was talking about. He let me lay in that mess for 2 years before I opened a credit card statement and found charge after charge to seedy massage parlors where he was getting serviced by prostitutes. He was leading a double life behind my back and I could sense it, I just didn’t know it. But -! I digress! You and I and all of us Chumps don’t underdtand it becasue we DO have the capacity for empathy and we assume other people function the way we function. These folks truly, seriously are not capable of it. And I honstly think they can’t even figure out what we’re talking about when we talk about it. I needed to come to terms with the fact my X was not the man I thought he was. That he had created masks to put on to get by in the world and that his true heart was truly devoid of any emotion except “Me, me, me, me, me! Looking out for ME!” It’s pathological. We don’t “get it” because we are not pathological.

        • Not only do they not feel guilty, but personality disordered often enjoy hurting others. They do not feel empathy, love or compassion, and they are endlessly bored inside. Hurting someone else gives them a thrill, power and entertainment.

          • FLBright, I think you hit the nail on the head. I also sensed that something was wrong in my marriage but never put my finger on it. It is gratifying to find out I wasn’t crazy, or overly sensitive all those years. Something really was going on that shouldn’t have been. I completely relate to your statement about finding out he wasn’t who you thought he was. As far as empathy — this is how weird my ex was. He told me he asked his counselor why seeing me cry or hearing about the pain I was going through made him upset. It was like he’d never experienced empathy before and didn’t know what it was. Bizarre! My son and I used to talk about how his dad’s emotional state seemed more like a middle-schooler at that time. Before that he’d NEVER express his emotions. My counselor told me she suspected he might be a high-functioning autistic, his lack of emotional understanding was so poor. He was very intelligent, scientific, and extremely successful at work.

          • GladIt’sOver , great description. It has taken me a few years to realize just how much of a “disordered” person my husband really is. All the gas lighting in all it’s various forms, and the most amazing mindfuck of all??? He used to ‘explain’ to me how most men thought of women and how and why they did things. He told me how a man will stay with a woman while constantly looking for a better situation. I asked him why anyone got married and he told me because it’s convenient and went on to explain about cake (of course he didn’t call it cake, but that’s what he described!) He used to travel a lot and he told me how some of the men he worked with would pay for one month’s membership to a sex hook up site because for that one payment they could meet 5 or 6 different women.

            Little did I know at the time he was telling me about himself! I can only imagine what sort of sick messed up thrill he got out of that. Now I know 2 things. I know when he is lying (basically when his mouth is moving) and when he starts to tell me some important tidbit of information about other men or a man he knows that he is working with that is up to something, I pay close attention because I know he is talking about himself.

            I think I am one of the biggest chumps. He sparkled so much and I couldn’t believe someone like him was interested in someone like me. If any of you have read any of Janet Evanovich’s books, he is Morelli and Ranger mixed together in personality and job experience. The saddest part is knowing that more than likely 100% of all the romance and love in the beginning was false and even if there are a few ‘real’ tidbits in there, eventually it’s like trying to find a few sequins you accidentally vacuumed up. After a few seconds of sifting through sand, dirt and cat fur you realize that those few tiny sparkles aren’t worth getting that dirty.

            Jane

            • Love the sequin analogy, Jane! It’s perfect. And so true for those of us who have been married to sparkly cheaters.

            • Glitter on a turd, that’s what they are. I made a sparkly turd to remind myself of what the ex really is, because sometimes I miss being married to him. I took a piece of brown craft clay, the plasticky kind. Shaped it like a turd, then covered it with gold glitter glue. It’s in my room where I can see it when I need a reminder.

        • Because it’s all about them, ANR. Perhaps that is what Diana L. means–she’s only thinking of her own guilt/shame—and so admitted the affair to absolve herself?

          Even so–the pain is caused by the Cheater—but they give up the right to try and absolve THEMSELVES—forgiveness is up to the BS, the families, the kids. And forgiveness doesn’t always include handing Cheaterpants a clean slate, like they want—it’s just all about them, no matter what…I want a clean slate, because I feel bad right now about this affair, so you just have to sit there, listen to me confess, be okay with it—and move on.

          • Abby — yeah that’s exactly what she wants — a clean slate with no responsibility for picking up the pieces, or doing anything to fix herself. I just don’t know how she can be so … unrealistic.

            • For those who are truly personality disordered, reality is what they WANT it to be, not what it necessarily IS. They tend to have a lot of delusion going on and a staggering amount of denial, blame-shifting and inability for introspection. What appears unrealistic to you and me is entirely realistic and reasonable to someone like your STBX. That’s because they are NUTS.

              • The thing that hurts me the most is that she moved on so quickly. The lack of empathy, guilt allows her to see it as a clean slate. It is about her happiness and only hers. The fact she can say “I don’t like seeing you hurt” Is also confusing. It was her get out of jail free card.

            • It’s simple, once you figure out their world is inverted in an extroverted way. I think a Narc looks at themselves in a mirror’s mirror. Try it. Hold a mirror next to another one, and look at yourself that way. The Fun House of Mirrors effect. It’s not reality, its a skewed, warped, utterly fucked up way to avoid reality.

  • Confused Chump: You will have difficulty moving on, no question. You’ll probably hear this from loved ones many times, including people on here–take it one day at a time, and take care of you and you only. You have what you need to leave his ass. You deserve better. In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!” This will be a tough road no doubt, but you will come out happier and more fulfilled on the other side. Stay the course, dump his ass, and take care of yourself!

  • Very interesting letter and topic!

    I have always wondered if my ex did the exit affair or whether he was eating cake.
    He left me 2 yrs before he left me for good, but came back after 2 wks and all seemed well. He certainly was going out more, and having more ‘business social’s’ and travelling more. Now, when I look back I think he used that to threaten me to be content with less from him, and that’s perhaps when his affair turned physical. I really had no idea he was fooling around but he was driving me crazy and acting not like his normal self. I thought he was just stressed and so stepped up to the plate taking over many of his jobs and responsibilities. I even had discussions with him that I was not happy with our life and lack of time together and I put divorce on the table. He never wanted that, or at least never admitted to it.
    Then he leaves me suddenly for good, and tells me 3 wks later that he’s dating. I tell him I’m going to see a lawyer and start the divorce. He wanted more time and said he didn’t want a divorce. I told him, ‘it’s not all about what you want.”
    I started the divorce and he has dragged his feet all along, and made it very difficult all the while putting on a happy face and making it look like he’s having the time of his life.
    It took me 2.5 yrs to get my separation agreement and looks like I may have the divorce in 2 mths which he also dragged his feet on.
    Now looking back, I don’t believe that it was an ‘exit affair’ but I just didn’t do the ‘pick me dance’ or any of the other crap he thought I would. I do believe he’s having to save face and OW is an alcoholic histrionic personality disorder, so not sure how long that will last, but she also is so desperate and needy, she will do whatever it takes to hang on.
    He certainly underestimated me! However, one thing is clear to me now…when you step away from the crazy, life really does become peaceful and happy!

  • It would be interesting to know how many cheaters leave without ever saying they were unhappy before D-day. Seems to happen a lot.

    • Not only did mine not admit to being unhappy, he DENIED it when I specifically asked in the 3 years before D-Day. He even noted that I upped the PDA, etc after that, but did nothing on his end to work on the marriage.

      Can you say f%*cked up coward??

      • Lyn, I am wondering if it’s so that they can be let off the hook. If you agree to keep it quiet…the problems and/or the affair….and then just can’t take it, can’t regain trust (he breaks it again or you just don’t recover)….you file….YOU are made to be The Bad Guy (or Girl).

        If you don’t keep trying, keep forgiving and forgetting, keep putting up with the bullshit–It’s All Your Fault.

        Zyx–Yep. How can they tell you what’s wrong—when the result of telling you the truth would get them thrown out on their a$$? It wasn’t “lack of PDA” or “spiciness” or “communication” or “you don’t make the bed with crisp clean sheets this morning”….

        They got what they wanted—sex, PDAs, spice (cloves? nutmeg? Cayenne??), perfectly crisp bedsheets, financial support (in my case, he’s unemployed, so that’s another insult altogether).

        Now they want something else, AS WELL AS what you are giving them….and they see no reason that they shouldn’t have all that they want.

        My STBXH tried to rope me into taking partial responsibility for his affairs…I mean…unhappiness….by saying “Well, you have to admit, you really weren’t happy either.”

        Are you trying to say you did me a FAVOR by fucking around? I should be GRATEFUL?

        But then, maybe he’s right. I should be grateful he’s such a douche—it’s going to rid me of his presence.

        • I got the, “This is a pertnership and you need to take responsibility for your faults that led to this as well. You didnt understand or listen to me and Ive been unhappy”.

          Ok, the day I stick YOUR dick into another woman is the day I will take responsibility. Until then? Sorry!

          Everyone is definitely right about them never being able to be filled up enough. I didnt listen or understand him enough and thats all he wants in a partner, but now? Now I do! The new girl is the one who has the problem now! They dont connect and she isnt affectionate enough and is the polar opposite of me. My x has told me that he wishes he could be with me if it werent for the fact that the new girl is pregnant and that he doesnt love her but he “feels so strongly that he has to make it work and he promised that he wouldnt let his child grow up in a divided home”.

          I hope them a short life together full of fights, cheating and misery!!

          • Kristina—

            “Ok, the day I stick YOUR dick into another woman is the day I will take responsibility. Until then? Sorry!”

            LOL!!! 🙂 That is the essence of it, isn’t it?

        • OMG, my ex told me I was unhappy too. Of course I was unhappy because he was traveled all the time and never communicated when he was around. But I thought it was just his extremely demanding job/stress causing him to act that way. Then he turns the table and tries to blame it on me. That’s the hardest thing for me to reconcile, how a person I was married to for 30+ years and had two children with could turn around and treat me like I was no more than a floor rug, like I wasn’t even human.

          • {{{Lyn}}} None of his behavior reflects on you as a person, remember that. He controlled what he did and did not do. That’s cold comfort, I know, but NOBODY has the right to make another person feel that way, particularly someone who has given 30 years and two children to them. That is on HIM. He is responsible if he was not happy.

        • I heard that I wasn’t happy and that I had to take responsibility for ‘my part’. I started to argue about this and then realised it wasn’t worth it. He has his view and he’s sticking with it. The difference between him and me is that when I was unhappy I would talk to him about it. When he was unhappy he would fuck other people.

    • Mine never told me, even when I asked if something was wrong. He said everything was great, we worked great together, we had a great relationship but he needed butterflies and a clean slate. Not kidding.

      • Mine never would talk to me about anything emotional. He would clam up. I begged him to talk to me and he would say “Men just don’t think about things like that.”

      • Yep, same here. I did not have a clue he was so “unhappy” in the marriage. The rug was torn out from under me.

        • I also got the “unhappy” speech… First it was he was unhappy for a few months, then in changed to 6 months, then it changed again to a year and then it went back to 5 years…. Never got the ILYBNILWY speech though… I did get the “I have developed feelings for someone else so I figured I must not love you as much as I should” What???? These idiots will say anything to justify their behavior.

          We just have to accept that they suck and are a bunch of spineless lying cowards. Anyone who behaves like that is not right in the head. Normal people don’t behave this way!!!! Can’t wait til my Tuesday….

  • Confused Chump,

    Exit affair from what I understand is the last affair they have because, they were so unhaaaapy and didn’t have the guts or money to leave. My STBXW rather than filing for divorce decided to humiliate me for over a year with her cake eating mundfucking BS and multiple affairs. She would reject me then blame me for not desiring her…WTF?

    I left her with the kids because unfortunately the courts are biased to women. Custody may be a fight on a later date. My attorney recommends divorce for now then custody is a moving target at anytime. She got involved in heavy drugs as well. Her “secret” life was bazaar.

    I do find it interesting how fast they fall in “love” with new people. Obviously they are lying to their new partners as well. They really only love themselves.

    You made the right move by moving on to divorce. These people will damage you if you decide to get on their rollercoaster. I was on it for 2 years before I left. It was killing me psychologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I wish I was as smart as you.

    Bravo!!!

    • My ex was telling final other woman he loved her while making plans for other hook ups at the same time. Literally. Within minutes of each other. Freaky, is all I can say, because he was doing this while socialising with me and our friends and family. And after it all came out one night? He was messaging with one of the extra sidepieces the next morning while texting final OW. She’s ‘special’, though. Or she thinks she is. Apparently he’s back to his online shenanigans. Hahahahaha. I am pretty meh but that still makes me laugh.

    • If shes involved in illegal drug use right now, fucking fire your dumb ass lawyer and find another one that will file an emergency protection order, granting you full custody of the kids and ordering her to have a hair tested for drugs and a full physical and mental evaluation. I wish mine was so stupid, but she’s a total control freak and is too stuck up to even enjoy an glass of wine.

  • I wish my STBX had had an exit affair!! I think there are some men who leave for someone else and then stay there and file for divorce and ta-dum! they made their exit!! Mine chose to come back and forth several times, saying he wanted to “work things out” which is really code for Eat Cake. Mine finally left after a few back-and-forth years and then fought the divorce. I tried to do collaborative law which means settling out of court in an amicable way and he would never turn over any of the financial records which only he had access to. I was busy changing jobs and caring for elderly parents and then the next thing I knew his soulmate wasn’t so perfect when he lived with her everyday. While I was at my dad’s funeral, he came back to “figure things out” while maintaining two simultaneous affairs, one on each coast! When I found out about hours a day of calling #1, monthly trips to #2, and discovered an STD, I filed for divorce for adultery. He continues to fight the divorce. He is unhappy. I have spoken to both OW’s and decided to let the two of them fight it out with the pick-me dancing. I wish I had kicked him out, and refused to attempt to reconcile with a man who NEVER gave up the extra helpings of cake. He had his cake and ate it too and GOT FAT!!

  • My stbxW has made it difficult in know what to trust. She was caring, she was affectionate, we were intimate, I was constant told “I love you”, but on the side she was having an EA with her “first love”. Sending him pictures, telling him shit. Ugh my gut was screaming at me. She didn’t become distant at all, but from the first time we split she was exactly the same way, wish I learned from the first time and never let her come back. She continues to stick to her story that the texts I found were from the first time we split up, I don’t know what she is going to say now that i know she is seeing said OM (my daughter told me she met mommy’s friend). She is a master manipulator, and it has fuuuuucked with my mind. My gut however screams at me.

    We have our initial status conference soon. I’m angry, but mostly sad. I try to take it a day at a time but my mind seems to want me to be a year in the future. I need to start writing goals down.

    • Mine said “I love you” all the time too, even up until D-day. The he said he loved me, but didn’t want to live with me any more.

      • Yup, mine still does. She says the ILYBNILWY bs all the time. Also uses the love is a choice and I’m choosing not to. Then why do you say you love me? She sees the pain she causes and it is easy for her to shut it out. I am constantly telling myself I cannot control her (nor do I want to) But why is it so easy for her? Why is she capable of this deception?

  • I think a lot of affairs that were not designed to be discovered turn into “exit affairs” once uncivered. Essentially, the cheater was content to keep on cheating and living the double life indefinitely. But, once discovered, she or he is unwilling to do the work(not that I think any amount of “work” is really going to revive the marriage after cheating) and they exit.
    I also think that many of us were pushed into divorce and were unaware of the existence of the affair until after divorce. So, was it an exit affair? No, the cheater definitely wanted out and did take steps to divorce. But, never in a million years was she or he going to renveal the cheating.
    This is a hybrid exit affair. The cheating was a huge factor in the cheater wanting out (to pursue her/his soulmate). But, the cheater used other complaints or alleged dissatisfactions as the claimed motivation for wanting the divorce.
    No doubt they had these dissatisfactions(they are, typically, bottomless pits of need, expecting others to be responsible for “making me happy”. But, the affair and all the stupid , childish romantic/soulmate euphoria they experience is also a huge factor.

    • I think you’re spot on, Arnold. I asked my ex, shortly after dday, what he had seen happening had I not found out. His response was that he had no plans. She was living with her partner and he was with me so I assume what he planned on doing (if he had actually thought it through) was to keep screwing around with main OW, chasing after other OW and having me and the kids at home. I do believe part of his anger towards me is the fact that I blew the whole thing up. Now he would have a very hard time chasing after his secondary side pieces with main OW up in his biz 24/7. Poor guy….his whole bakery got shut down overnight. 🙂

    • I also think my STBX wasn’t quite ready to commt to the OW but she forced the issue by contacting me. He continued to lie about the nature of their relationship though admitted it was “innappropriate.” Not yet knowing the extent of his deception, I insisted he arrange counseling & he dragged his feet on that. Finally went & STBX bailed out of the marriage during the third session. He moved out & immediately made plans for a long vacation to see the OW – they met on Facebook & she lives across the country. While he was gone I learned that this had been going on much longet than I knew & that OW had actually flown here to fuck him – a complete stranger except for sexting, chatting & skyping – a year before he left me. And he says she had nothing to do with our split. Really?

      He hasn’t settled on exactly when he became unhappy with me (he keeps revising his story) but I’m pretty sure it goes back to early days of chat rooms on the internet. I didn’t stand a chance when Facebook became the focus of his life & he started finding all kinds of skanky chicks to talk dirty with. Eventually he met the OW – the pround owner of a large amount amount of silicone who was willing to fly across the country to fuck him & he’s been madly in love ever since. When OW got tired of waiting for my STBX to leave me ( a month after her estranged husband OD’d & died), she took matters into her own hands & sent me a message.

      They are apparently still sparkling all over each other long-distance, but it’s not quite the same when you’re not dealing with kids, housework, bills, jobs, etc., is it? It’s been less than four months since DDay & STBX doesn’t get why I’m not interested in being friends. He invited me to breakfast & to his company picnic in the past two weeks – not in any attempt to reconcile, but to make himself feel better. If I’ll just be his friend, he can’t be that much of an asshole, right? Sorry, jerk. Not helping you with that. STBX has only tried to contact our young adult son once since he walked out & it was late on a Saturday evening he didn’t answer. STBX says our son “doesn’t seem interested” in him so why is this all his fault?

      Right. It’s my fault & my son’s that STBX can’t be a happy husband & father – nothing to do with his histrionic OW & the other gals he plays with online. I got a “Get Out of Jail Free” card the day that mad cow decided to break up my marriage. I detest this hororshow of a human, but she did me a huge favor.

  • I know I shouldn’t but just today my STBX said that he hadn’t introduced his new piece to our child. He had. Anyway I said, “I don’t know of a single woman who wants to be with a cheater. Did you look at her with those puppy dog eyes and tell her your story of woe?” Instantly he was NOT amused and said, “I only want to communicate if you can be respectful.” My response, “Yes, because what you did was SO respectful.”

    He gets so mean and fucked up when I call him on his shit that now and then, I just can’t help it. Anyway I’m going back to no contact. And I gave him the head’s up that I’m going no contact only because I need to not because it’s “emotional abuse” or any other crap about him. For once, it’s all me.

    My biggest regret? That I ever married him.

    Oh and great responses to this question. Cake eater indeed.

    • Yes isn’t it funny how their cheating and lying is not considered disrespectful but your calling them out on it is. The mind of a cheater.

  • In a sense, all affairs are about cake, but the exit affair is about the pick-me dance between AP and spouse. The spouse loses, and the cheater waltzes off into the sunset with AP.

    That sucks, of course, since as some of the people posting here have indicated, they didn’t know that anything was wrong–despite having asked their Xs about the marriage–until the X told them that the X had found someone else (soul mate, butterflies, unicorns). But at least the X comes clean to own the affair.

    Confused, what you are describing is NOT an exit affair, but a cake-eating affair. Your cheater doesn’t really own the cheating. It’s not as if he believes he’s in luuuurve with the AP and wants to dump you for her. No. What he does is lie about the extent of the cheating. That’s gaslighting. It’s trying to make you believe that there’s nothing going on.

    And yes, it’s wrong.

    As to why people put up with the cheating? I think that’s complicated. Some may believe they’re rescuing the poor cheater from an unsympathetic spouse. Others may be chumping your cheater. It’s hard to say. Ultimately, though, asking that question shifts the spotlight from the cheater to the AP, which in turn begs the question about what the AP has that the faithful spouse does not. But cheating isn’t about what YOU lack, it’s about what your cheater lacks: character, honesty, integrity.
    That’s all you need to remember.

    • Kb, I’m going to have this tattooed on the insides of my eyelids…lol I need to tell myself this over and over again.

  • My husband apparently had an exit affair with a subordinate who didn’t see things as my husband did. I think she became his fantasy – divorced mother of five who did not have custody – yet she was unaware of it at that time. Either way the day after Christmas 2009 I asked him about something suspicious & out came his twisting of our 26+ years together – including the fact that he didn’t like crab cakes for Thanksgiving even though he was the one to purchase the meat & make them. He was gone in three weeks – took him that long to find the perfect apartment – one over a dollar store in an armpit of a town in the next county.

    I was totally blindside, fell into a deep depression & was hospitalized twice. The day I came home the first time, the divorce papers had arrived (he & his family chose to ignore how my life was spiraling out of control & never spoke to me again). I never saw the papers coming either. The man I married morphed in to a horrible person.

    It has been 3 1/2 years since he walked out & over 1 year since the divorce & I am still heartbroken & crushed. Yes I have moved on – you have to but I still can’t find a job to support myself. I’m a newly-minted paralegal & part of the divorce settlement factored in the salary I could be getting. My attorney recommended that I get the house – mortgage free & 55% of his retirement funds. All well & good when I reach at least 59 but right now I am struggling financially. Because of that many, many times a day I am reminded of this situation & that in turn reminds me of him & what he did to my/our safe & secure life. I know that today is not how it is always going to be it just feels that way. He is such a cowardly rat bastard!!

    Thanks all for being there when we need to rant.

  • Andy’s “exit affair” lasted more than 6 months, and included a ten week period where Andy repeatedly told me he was horrified with his actions and wanted to cut all ties with the AP and re-build our marriage.

    Yeah, this is definitely a man who wanted to get divorced. Snort

    • “Ahole”. Not “Andy”. Andy is what he used to be known as before his true ass-hole colors came out to fly.

      • Thanks. I appreciate that.

        Andy actually isn’t his real name either.

        A friend coined it: Asshole Narcissistic Douchebag Yakface

        So it’s a little fuck you every time I use it.

        Andy now knows about my blog, so that makes it even sweeter….

  • Thank you to all who responded to this letter. I was so confused and I appreciate your responses.

    I’m only a few months out of Dday and my STBX is off romancing a new woman. It sure didn’t take him long. Before the trial separation it was ME who told him to “go find himself” and take the time he needed because he was obviously unhappy but did not want to discuss why. We both agreed NO partners/dating during this separation and he swore many times to my face and in marital therapy that there wasn’t anyone else. I really had no idea how unhappy he was until he told me his “therapist” had told him to separate. (And this therapist had not even met me. EVER.)

    On his own he came back to our home and again when I let him come home I only asked that he be honest about there NOT being anyone else. He promised that there wasn’t. He came home and called me his “soulmate.” Still when he was around he just seemed different. I was anxious, and knew something was off. I confronted him about trust and needing to rebuild it in our marriage as we moved forward. I told him I needed a different marriage to be happy and hoped we could work on that together. He didn’t take well to this and got very angry. It was really the same old.

    Finally I discovered sex texts under a fake name that he had began again when he returned home and things got difficult again. He denied anything physical and blamed me for just about everything from being unappreciative to disrespectful (that’s like the pot calling the kettle black right?) and how despite saying he would do anything to save the marriage, in reality, he was not into it.

    When I found out it was physical I asked him to leave. I filed for a legal separation and asked him for a divorce. That was that. It took him a week or so to move out. He didn’t look back but he sure wanted to be “friends” and for things to be “respectful.”

    I really did love him. I was with him many many years and watched him become very successful at what he did. He was rarely around to help with parenting and at the end of our marriage he called me a bad mother, threatening to take our son from me when I found out about the affair. I was terrified. It was awful.

    I know I’m better off without him but it’s been very painful and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to move on. It hurts to know that he has so quickly and there are times when I wonder if I made a huge mistake and if really he was what I had hoped he was. I suppose not.

    So thank you to all. I really appreciate your responses and CL.

    • Thensome,

      I’m sending you lots of hugs. Please don’t buy any of the shit that comes out of his mouth. He wasn’t unhappy, he just saw something new and wanted to go after it. She probably told him everything he wanted to hear and he ate it up. These cheaters are like a dog who sees a shiny object and run off after it. From everything I’ve read on here it’s pretty pathetic how they all follow the same script. They are all a walking cliché. It’s pretty embarrassing if you think about it. I know that if I ever behaved this way, eventually I would be pretty embarrassed by what I had done.

      You did the right thing by filing for divorce. He doesn’t deserve you. I know it’s hard right now (still raw sometimes for me) but it will get better. Trust and believe that you didn’t deserve any of this and he’s just an asshole who doesn’t appreciate was he has. The universe gives you back what you put out and he will get his back one day. I firmly believe that.

  • thensome..
    ((((((((HUGS)))))))))) keep reading, this site saved my sanity. Every one of us tried our best and they took that love and stabbed us with it. Some days are good, I can’t believe how much better my life is but when I feel down, shaky or uncertain I come here. Which is pretty much every day! :/

    I am so grateful CL shoots straight and doesn’t talk in pschyc lingo. All of the Chumps are wonderful no matter what stage they are at. I think the hardest part is trying to understand, and there is nothing there TO understand..it’s all a sick game to them

    • Toni,
      Yes and AMEN, this site has saved my sanity as well. CL’s “meh” is really the only place to get to. I realized the following things recently after seeing my ex boyfriend and being followed outside by his new girlfriend for 2 and 1/2 blocks until I turned down a street to escape her.

      My ex looked like shit, fat, dirty, I was mortified and embarrassed and ashamed that I was ever with that. A friend who saw him said he didn’t look like that when I was with him and he has clearly gone downhill. His girlfriend looked like Gene Wilder in a clown outfit (no joke).

      At first, I felt better seeing he didn’t look good and that his new girlfriend looks freakish and clearly is not stable.

      But then, later in the day, neither of those things really mattered and didn’t make the pain of what I went through any better. That’s when I really got the “meh” and the only way to stop the pain is to get to that point of really not giving a shit anymore one way or other. The point where he/she no longer holds any meaning in your life.

      I realized, nope, I am not there yet but slowly getting closer.

      The bottom line is that these faux people really don’t give a shit about ANYONE other themselves. Love doesn’t exist in their world at all. They plan, scheme, use, abuse and just tell you what they think you want to hear. They are chameleons who change to become who they feel they need to be to get what they want. The fantasy always changes for them depending upon who they are with and they adjust accordingly. As I told my ex, it’s all fake and pretend and very childish and selfish and cruel and that he will never face pain or reality and I don’t want someone like that in my life at all.

      We struggle so much because we don’t understand it and can’t understand it or believe it and it hurts like hell. I don’t know about you guys but I have issues with blaming myself for allowing it to happen to me. I wasn’t my own protector from this harm.

      It also doesn’t matter if you have 1 Day or a million D Days. The fact is up until that first D Day they have already had god knows how many affairs or been with god knows how many hookers, etc.. We just didn’t know until we found out. So you are no better off regardless of the number of D Days emotionally. The pain is no different in my opinion from what I read here. I only had one D Day but so what. I know now that there were alot of affairs but I only saw one. A Craiglist Casual encounter ad on his computer. Looking back on the behavior, I just know there were many more. He is 55 and has been doing this his whole sexual life. Having fewer D Days means less time lost but no less pain.

      I know I feel just as bad and as chumpy as other chumps here who were married and had more than 1 D Day. The upside for me is that I don’t have the expense and extra worry of dealing with a divorce or having to care and worry about my children. The pain of what happened to me is no different.

      I am struggling just like everyone else here with the emotional damage caused and getting beyond the total asshole so I can get to worrying only about me and getting what I want and need for me. It’s a struggle every day. When I am alone or on the train, my thoughts go to what happened. Sometimes when I am with other people my thoughts go there as well.

      CL, maybe you should do a post about how to re direct your thoughts from the trauma and how to really get moving and taking action on concentrating the rebuilding of ourselves so that the ball get’s rolling quicker to the “Meh” and the life we all want without the Assholes both Male and Female.

      What do you think?

      • That’s a good idea, I would like to see a post with advice on how to get to meh, I’m really struggling with this ( but am getting better), especially since I can’t go NC because we have kids.

          • Having kids makes it difficult. I’m fine until the kids spend time with him and then come home and tell me all about dad. I don’t want to hear it but I also know they need to talk about their lives so I just smile and nod and murmur ‘that’s nice’ and then, every so often, I get pissed or annoyed and feel like a shit parent.

            I can’t wait for the kids to grow up so I have to have very little to do with him.

        • Hi Julie,
          I understand that even though I am not myself going through it with kids. I know you must be slightly traumatized each time your children come back and speak with you about your ex. Then you need time to recover again from that.

          I know when I saw mine this week, it did traumatize me again. Not as badly as initially when I ended it but it’s like a death that keeps dying and resurfacing which no one else can really understand if they don’t experience it.

      • Deborah,

        Really powerful words. Hope you don’t mind but you got a little quote on the blog.

        Smart lady.

  • This:

    The bottom line is that these faux people really don’t give a shit about ANYONE other themselves. Love doesn’t exist in their world at all. They plan, scheme, use, abuse and just tell you what they think you want to hear. They are chameleons who change to become who they feel they need to be to get what they want. The fantasy always changes for them depending upon who they are with and they adjust accordingly.

    It is horrific how these people blend into your life to make you think they are perfect. I am assuming that your partner was a passive agressive narc.

    You think they are perfect and then boom! your life blows up and you are left picking up the pieces from a relationship you thought was perfect, because you never knew the real person at all.

    • They do actually do this: blend themselves into whatever life they want to be a part of. Right now my ex is busy taking part in all the activities and interests of final OW–activities and interests he not only showed no interest in for 20 years but ones he openly sneered at. Now these are things he’s wildly interested in. It’s….weird. And then it makes me wonder about all the things we did together – was he interested in any of it? Did he enjoy any of the stuff we did in our entire relationship? At the end of the day I think the only thing he likes to do is watch telly, eat and get laid.

      • Melissa,
        I knew nothing about who my ex was when I was with him.

        What I know now about my ex and what I see about everyone else’s ex here is they don’t care at all or love anyone at all and that includes, us, their children, their own families, their “Friends” etc….

        I know this 100%.

        They only care about what they can get whether it’s money, attention, love whatever.

        They plan and scheme and use and all of their time is spent doing this.

        My ex has two grown children a son who will not have anything to do him, the whole family including his own mother will not reveal his current living address to him. What does that tell you? He claimed constantly how much that killed him but it only killed him because he wasn’t getting attention or love from his son. So he just stopped trying to contact him after 5 years of attempting to. He didn’t pay taxes or child support for his children for years.
        What does that tell you? He still spun it that he was the victim. He doesn’t have health insurance for himself and owns his own business.What does that tell you? His business in debt with back taxes, what does that tell you? He has no personal credit whatsoever and can’t get a credit card. What does that tell you? He can only buy things with cash his customers pay him in his business from time to time. His relationship with money is so strange, even the way he dishes it out when paying for dinner.

        His Ex Wife hates him. They divorced 11 years ago and she remarried last year, no one told my Ex about the wedding. Including his daughter who still speaks with him. He found out online and was so upset about that. Why? Because he wasn’t given info. he wanted. More importantly, why is everyone so afraid to tell him anything?

        As far as his children, he was never a father. With his daughter he just gives her a little money from time to time and let’s her hang out and party with her friends at his apt. He just gives to her so she likes him. I am sure this is just so he can keep up “normal” appearances to the outside world that he is a good father. He does nothing that a really good father does and has no deep relationship with her.

        He used his daughter as a shield and for excuses when we were together, he did this with his Mom as well.

        If that’s passive aggressive then that’s what he is. To me he is just a PIG and real piece of turd, ugly inside and out.

        Now keep in mind, he is so good and subtle that he caught me up in his web after I first met him and decided I was not at all attracted to him and had no interest in him. Then he talked me into a second date and the next thing I knew I was with him for a year. On a shallow appearance level, I am far better looking than him, in good shape, intelligent and mentally balanced and strong. There were times I felt like beauty with the beast. I saw the effect MY being with him gave him entree into my circle of friends except for one who said he was an asshole on first meeting (that was because she was divorced from a narcissistic, drug addicted alcoholic, so she spotted my asshole immed.) and with my customers and supppliers, I did legitimize him. I am good, smart and cool so if I am with him he must be so.

        There ya go!

        Now I want to move one and work on me and want that for all of us.

        CL HELP! Write about the steps to getting to MEH for us single and divorced with kids Chumps who want better for ourselves!!!

    • Melissa,
      I knew nothing about who my ex was when I was with him.

      What I know now about my ex and what I see about everyone else’s ex here is they don’t care at all or love anyone at all and that includes, us, their children, their own families, their “Friends” etc….

      I know this 100%.

      They only care about what they can get whether it’s money, attention, love whatever.

      They plan and scheme and use and all of their time is spent doing this.

      My ex has two grown children a son who will not have anything to do him, the whole family including his own mother will not reveal his current living address to him. What does that tell you? He claimed constantly how much that killed him but it only killed him because he wasn’t getting attention or love from his son. So he just stopped trying to contact him after 5 years of attempting to. He didn’t pay taxes or child support for his children for years.
      What does that tell you? He still spun it that he was the victim. He doesn’t have health insurance for himself and owns his own business.What does that tell you? His business in debt with back taxes, what does that tell you? He has no personal credit whatsoever and can’t get a credit card. What does that tell you? He can only buy things with cash his customers pay him in his business from time to time. His relationship with money is so strange, even the way he dishes it out when paying for dinner.

      His Ex Wife hates him. They divorced 11 years ago and she remarried last year, no one told my Ex about the wedding. Including his daughter who still speaks with him. He found out online and was so upset about that. Why? Because he wasn’t given info. he wanted. More importantly, why is everyone so afraid to tell him anything?

      As far as his children, he was never a father. With his daughter he just gives her a little money from time to time and let’s her hang out and party with her friends at his apt. He just gives to her so she likes him. I am sure this is just so he can keep up “normal” appearances to the outside world that he is a good father. He does nothing that a really good father does and has no deep relationship with her.

      He used his daughter as a shield and for excuses when we were together, he did this with his Mom as well.

      If that’s passive aggressive then that’s what he is. To me he is just a PIG and real piece of turd, ugly inside and out.

      Now keep in mind, he is so good and subtle that he caught me up in his web after I first met him and decided I was not at all attracted to him and had no interest in him. Then he talked me into a second date and the next thing I knew I was with him for a year. On a shallow appearance level, I am far better looking than him, in good shape, intelligent and mentally balanced and strong. There were times I felt like beauty with the beast. I saw the effect MY being with him gave him entree into my circle of friends except for one who said he was an asshole on first meeting (that was because she was divorced from a narcissistic, drug addicted alcoholic, so she spotted my asshole immed.) and with my customers and supppliers, I did legitimize him. I am good, smart and cool so if I am with him he must be so.

      There ya go!

      Now I want to move one and work on me and want that for all of us.

      CL HELP! Write about the steps to getting to MEH for us single and divorced with kids Chumps who want better for ourselves!!!

  • You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
    Your dress strategically low for everyone to eye
    Your purse it was apricot
    You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself hot to trot
    And all the men dreamed that they’d be your partner
    They’d be your partner, and…

    You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
    You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
    Don’t you? Don’t You?

    You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
    Well you said that we made such a great team
    And that you would never leave
    But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
    I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
    Clouds in my coffee, and…

    You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
    You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
    Don’t you? Don’t You? Don’t You?

    I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
    Clouds in my coffee, and…

    You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
    You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
    Don’t you? Don’t You?

    Well I hear you went up to Las Vegas and your bets they naturally won
    Then you flew your boyfriend up from where he’s from
    To meet my little girl and my loving son
    Well you’re with who you should be with, all the time
    And when you’re not you’re with
    Some personal trainer or the husband of a friend
    Husband of a close friend, and…

    You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
    You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
    Don’t you? Don’t You? Don’t you?

    You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
    You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you

    • Ha, this is great! Love your take on the lyrics. I actually have this song on my iPod and I think of my ex every time it plays.

      • thanks. I swear, I have not heard this song in I would guess, 20 years? I never even knew the lyrical meanings.. I used to think it was “Clowns in my coffee..” LOL. Then reading about the Wiener’s weenie, for whatever reason, the song came to me. Of course I headed over to YouTube, and watched the original, and the Foo Fighters have a good version of it, too. But yeah, I had to change up the lyrics a bit to express a few things.

  • I’m pretty sure mine was a true exit affair. We had both been unhappy for several years (married for 20) – we talked about it a lot and could never seem to fix it. We both took turns taking blame and responsibility (“I need to be more open with my sexuality.” I need to step up my help at home.”), but things always settled back into the same pattern. We had talked about splitting up, and neither of us wanted to or could imagine what our lives would look like – especially for our kids. We’re both from divorced families and wanted to be the ones to break the cycle, but we both carried wounds that the other one wanted to fix and just didn’t have the tools for.

    He got involved with a sparkly co-worker (who was also unhappy in her marriage) and told me immediately. “We almost had an affair last night, but I couldn’t.” – I thought “I couldn’t” meant that he had chosen the light side and had made an honorable decision. It turned out “I couldn’t” meant that he lost his erection when he tried to fuck her. He presented his desire to stray not only as my fault, but as a challenge (“This is what I’m prepared to do if you don’t change your ways!”). When I refused to accept his actions as “a learning experience”, he moved out, suddenly in love with his “soulmate”. He lived with her for 2 months and then came back while we tried to recommit to each other. After a tiring pick-me dance, he left again to carry on with her – that “soulmate” turned out to be too selfish and he’s now on to another woman.

    At some level, I can appreciate the fact that he finally took real action – we were stuck and he got us out of our rut. It was a shitty, selfish, painful, narcissistic way out, but it showed me how dysfunctional he really is and shined a light on how I had lost myself, trying to pretzel myself to fit him and his needs.

    My path to “meh” is foggy – clouded with blame, anger and hurt. It’s too easy to bounce back a forth between “What did I do wrong?” and “How could he do this to me?”. For the last year my focus has been to find the middle path – our marriage was in deep trouble and neither of us knew how to navigate it – AND – he’s a selfish manchild who is no longer my responsibility.

    That is what I hang my gratitude on – now I only have to hold myself up and I’m pretty sure I can do that.

  • Mine was a true exit affair. There has been no attempt at recon nor will there ever be. I filed for divorce. My STBX and I could both see there were issues. But they were not elevated in my mind to the level they were in his. But because he was a coward and had no balls, instead of handling his business like a man, he drops on me he no longer wants to be married (married for 12, together for 22, since teenagers), makes absolutely no attempt at ending the marriage and engages in a 9 month long affair with his coworker. This affair was his way of getting me on the same page but also to fill whatever he felt he was missing. He couldn’t simply end the marriage, then take up with her. Had it happened that way I could be friendly with him now, we were really that fond of eachother as people. But he has always never had the ability to deal – I always knew that but I had never seen it applied with such disastrous results.

    I’m positive he’s gotten back together with her and even though someone who chooses to be an OW is all sorts of wrong, I dont have the luxury of her being ugly, dumpy, less than. She is his perfect type and I suspect they will be together for quite some time. I don’t miss the marriage. I simply deal wiht the betrayal and cruelty – but these are enough! And while I have started seeing someone who I think is great – I still get so hurt over the fact taht the person I entrusted completely totally obliterated me and can’t own it (even though he says he does). I honestly just wanted a heartfelt apology and true recognition that he understood that he delivered to me the punishment of a lifetime for crimes that do not fit. If I had that it would be soooooo much easier. But he can’t and that is what I work on all the time to get to meh.

    • Chrissybob I am in the same situation! I’ve been married 12 years and exactly what happened to you is happening to me!! We have a 7 year old child and OMG I am a ball of nerves!! How did you cope and what happened in the end?

  • When I first read about the exit affair, I thought it had some validity. Then I realized that any affair, be it the 1st or the 31st, where you say (or they say) that’s it, I’m outta here, is an exit affair. Our husbands, wives, SO’s, whatever, don’t just have issues. There is something in them that has actually been so damaged that lying, cheating, inflicting pain, gas lighting and all of the other foul behaviors in which they indulge, appear to them as reasonable solutions to a problem. No sane, compassionate person’s mind works like that. Being the partner of a narcissist is so difficult because your partner is a, I believe the term someone used, hologram. You were never really in the relationship you thought you were in with person who you believed yourself to be in it with. It’s like the old Dallas episode where they killed off Bobby, but then he wanted to come back to the show so they had to pretend the entire preceding season was a dream. To your NPD partner, you and your children have never been people, but commodities, like paper towels and toilet paper, and that’s all you’ll ever be. That is an incredible reality to try to wrap your mind around. Plus, a chemical reaction has taken place which alters your brain chemistry. It has been likened to being addicted to a strong opiate. That’s why if you can’t go completely no contact, it takes longer to get to “meh.” It is like going into rehab but then having to go back to the neighborhood and hang out with your old drug buddies. It is crazy making. That’s why I love CL, this site and the people who post here. It is a sea of calm and reality where we can be affirmed and escape the crazy.

    • Very well said. This is the cheapest, most effective, therapy ever. “Hi Everyone, My name is Chump Man, and I am a Chump. I got ass fucked by my wife and I am addicted to sparkles and I believe that Unicorns are real”.

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