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Dear Chump Lady, Do you believe in romantic love?

Dear Chump Lady,

At the outset I would like to thank you for your wonderful words. They have helped me make a very important decision in my life, for which my gratitude increases every passing day.

Me and my ex were together for over 5 years, since college. From what I have read online lately, it seems like he is a textbook narcissist (trust me I am not using the term lightly). We fell in love, it seemed like a once in a lifetime type of love, our parents approved, both of us got great jobs, had a brilliant social life, moved to a big city away from parents together. The last couple of years we entered what I realized was the devaluation phase. He suddenly started seeing everything wrong with me, started emphasizing on my weaknesses.

This was my first serious relationship and in India dating is still not as okay as it is elsewhere so I am sure I made a million mistakes too. But I was always ready to learn from them and grow, together.

Meanwhile, our parents spoke, arranged our wedding. That was a rough period where he was dead against everything me and my family proposed. My parents were understanding, went along with everything for my happiness.

So all in all, through good times and bad, we found ways to work it out.

The moment the wedding got fixed, he became excited about it like a little kid, planning everything from the holiday (greece and Spain just like I wanted), clothes and jewellery , everything I had ever dreamed of. All through this I kept feeling like something is off. Spoke to him about him, said we should postpone if he unsure, but he kept telling me it’s just pre-wedding jitters and I am the love of his life.

I took a long leave from work, to go home for some time before the wedding and right before I left, I find out (phone bills) that he and my close friend, roommate, office colleague had been having a full blown affair for a year. That is, they slept together for about 3 – 4 months, then stopped because they realized it was wrong !?! then in a bit started again talking and hanging out etc.

When I found out and confronted him, he broke down, cried, fell on his knees in front of his parents and begged me to give him another chance. But as you always point out, I paid more attention to his actions and not his words. That’s how I know my decision to walk away, call everything off and go no contact was correct.

I am otherwise a happy person and my ‘psycho’ phase for the last 1 or 2 years is all him! Gas lighting , blame shifting and the works.

Am doing okay considering it’s been a couple of months. My supposed wedding day is in 5 days.

It’s just that I have lost faith in people. I have always been surrounded by good, decent people with strong moral values and that is how the ex presented himself to be. To be betrayed by not one, but two people I was close to, so brutally, has just spent my inherent belief system into a tailspin and I don’t know how to recover from that.

I don’t want to become jaded and cynical. That’s why I wanted to ask you, whether romantic love is a real thing. I have nothing against the initial honeymoon phase dying down, but is it possible to fall in love again, stay in love and make it work with someone who may not be perfect, but is just willing to make it work.

Of all the things I have lost, I miss my faith and belief in the goodness of people the most. I have been taught if you do the right thing, Stand morally upright, that is how your life will be. I did everything right, but was introduced to such a creepy and trashy side of people that it breaks my heart.

I just want your take in romantic love. And please tell me the truth, even if it means tough love.

p.s. I realize that there are a lot of brave chumps here, and they inspire me with their words always.

Newly Enlightened

Dear NE,

Do I believe in romantic love? Yes. What you experienced was not romantic love, it was fraud. It’s like asking me if I believe in fine dining when you’ve only ever eaten salmonella-tainted chicken.

Sweetheart, let me give you hope. I am much older than you are, and (metaphorically), I ate a LOT of salmonella-tainted chicken. And today, I am very happily married. You’re much smarter than I was in my early 20s. Unlike you, I married the disordered person — and it was awful, and I divorced him (and became a young single mother). And then I failed again — at 38 I remarried the man who inspired this blog — a guy who turned out to be an abusive, serial cheating, con artist.

If anyone deserves to be cynical about love and human nature, it’s me. (Or I should be cynical about my picker.) I learned a lot of painful lessons from those failures, and I’m not ashamed of them. I was for a long time — because there are people who will sniff at you and second guess you, or imagine you’re somehow damaged goods because this happened. There must be many people like this in India, who value marriage regardless of what sort of marriage it is, whatever the personal cost. Who might think you brought this on yourself, or that you should’ve taken him back because he was “sorry.”

NE — fuck ’em. Forgive the vulgarity — but I cannot say it strongly enough — FUCK ‘EM. What you did — calling off that wedding, bailing on a terrible mistake (him) that would only bring you more sorrow — in the face of such family pressure and your own hopes and dreams — was INCREDIBLY BRAVE. You are an inspiration to everyone on this blog. I’m sure there are a hundred chumps reading this right now who wish they had done what you did — bailed at DDay, not gone through with the marriage, not wasted years of their youth with a person who did not cherish them, not had children with someone so profoundly unfit.

Can you avoid such heartache again? I certainly think you can improve your odds, improve your picker, learn to value good character over sparkles, and demand respectful treatment in all your relationships because you know your self worth. Is that a guarantee that if you order your life in such a way, that you will be immune from calamity? No. We just do the best we can do, NE.

Because what is the alternative? To put your heart on a shelf and never love again? To assume that everyone is a liar and a fraud and never trust? To deny yourself the joys of intimacy? I am not only referring to romantic love, I’m referring to everyone whose life path crosses yours.

Do not shut your heart to the world. The gift that comes after this sort of betrayal is that you SURVIVE it. And then you realize that you’re a tough motherfucker, and have strength you never knew possible. If you channel this anger right — the anger and grief of betrayal — it will fuel you toward many successes. What can the world throw at you now that you haven’t already survived worse? Smaller set backs pale in comparison.

So many people order their lives to avoid pain. They fear it, fear humiliation, fear rejection. NE — you’ve stared that beast in the face and conquered it. You triumphed. You said I will not submit to this injustice. You’re doing the hard work of grieving, without the comforts of doing the Expected Thing — accepting his “apology” and marrying him.

This skill of yours, this bravery, will serve you well. A tale that probably not often told in India, is the story of Abraham Lincoln, the U.S.’s greatest president. He endured 30 years of failure before he became president in 1860. He lost jobs, he ran for state legislature and failed, his sweetheart died, he lost more runs at political office, he could not attend law school and had to teach himself, he was defeated in a run for Senate — and then at last he was elected president.

So here’s the greatest success of his life and what happens? The country is plunged into Civil War. Do you think a narcissistic man, someone who felt entitled to his successes, some golden child could’ve lead a country in such a dark time? I don’t think so. His strength was forged from the humility of his failures — he had tenacity, and he had empathy. And he wasn’t afraid to do the hard things that might not make him popular (like freeing the slaves). These qualities are gifts.

Good grief, you’re thinking. I only wanted to know about romantic love, not Abraham Lincoln. My point is — you’ve got this. I don’t think you’re going to endure 30 years of NPD fiancés and duplicitous friends. But you are going to have challenges — and NE, you aren’t going to crumble. You’re going to dust yourself off and know your worth and forge ahead.

This is a different path than naivety and smugness. I’m a good person and everyone around me is good because they Do the Right Things and Get the Right Outcomes. I’m glad you lost that. It’s much better to go through life with an open heart and hard-earned wisdom. Yeah disordered people exist, and yeah, they might mug you. So, you’re going to watch what people say and what they do, and not be fooled by sparkles. You’re going to learn discernment, because you’re a lovely person and not just anyone deserves to be your friend. You’re going to be optimistic because you trust yourself — not just your ability to discern character better — but your ability to bounce back and reinvent.

If you want romantic love, you only need to find ONE person in a sea of millions. ONE. You’re not asking for the moon, you just want someone who “may not be perfect, but is just willing to make it work.” Such people exist. This site is full of them. The world is full of them. You might get rejected a few times trying to find one, but don’t crumble. Know your worth and keep going. It took me two failed marriages, before I found true love at age 43. You’re not the slow learner I was. Be hopeful.

It’s early days, NE. You need to take time to grieve. Be kind to yourself now. No one expects you to bounce back from such a betrayal quickly — find a good therapist, spend some time here, and read what you can on narcissists and disordered people. Knowing what the heck hit you helps a lot.

But don’t sit out on life for too long. The world is full of good people — potential friends and mates. Go introduce yourself.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I don’t know the proper source, but something that hit me full force since I read it, and repeat to myself regularly : “What you fear most has already happened”

    That phrase was simultaneously poignant (I think I cried for about an hour straight the first time I heard it) and liberating. Because if I’ve been through the worst and survived… and I’m working on the thriving part…. then nothing can hold you back or keep you down. Your best days are *automatically* ahead.

    And may I second CL – what you did in breaking off that wedding was PHENOMENALLY BRAVE. I was sitting there in awe and admiration reading your letter. You really DO got this. (((hugs)))

    http://youtu.be/sLE_emfAd74

  • Hi NE,

    I admire what you did. And I can relate that it’s not easy. If there is any “silver lining” in any of this crap is that you are young and didn’t marry the idiot. But having said that the real “silver lining” is that you will find better.

    Like everyone here I was shattered by cheating. I could not believe it until, well, I believed it. The flip side of that is believing that good, healthy love doesn’t happen. I think it does and for me healthy love would look so much different now than it did before infidelity. I look at relationships so differently. I have better boundaries and I’m more aware of my own needs and yes, faults. We all have them. But I know without a doubt that the marriage I left was unhealthy and I learn from that. It helps me to know what NOT to look for in the next relationship and what NOT to put up with.

    I 100% think that there are very good people out there with warts and all, but they aren’t cheaters. They really do have a moral code and integrity. People like that are out there and it’s easy to think they aren’t after the crap you’ve been dealt. They are out there and once we learn to step outside of the f*ckedupness that was our former relationship we start to be in contact with those people more and more. It’s happening to me and I’m amazed at the kind, decent people in my life now. I’m not ready for a romantic relationship at this point, but it sure is nice to be have these folks in my life who show me every day that there is a good life out there. You’ll find it. Believe in yourself.

  • NE, you are my hero, you are my role-model, you did what I wished I had done so many years ago, dumped that MF BEFORE the marriage. I was married 25 years before D-Day, 3 children. I look back at the signs I refused to see, did not want to see, and think: if only I ran and never looked back, if only I realized then what I know now. But you NE, you did it! You trusted your gut, and you respected yourself enough not to allow yourself to be fooled. YOU ROCK.

    And yes, even though I was divorced at 52 after such a long marriage, I have found someone real and warm and true. You are young, your best years are still ahead of you. You will find people you can trust, true friends, and a good man when the time is right. The differences between the fake adoration and manipulation you endured and the real thing will be obvious to you when you get there. As CL says, they are out there when you are ready.

    (((HUGS)))

  • NE, you were very brave and from the sounds of it a woman any man should be overjoyed to have as his wife. Sadly, many of the men who make excellent husbands, won’t cheat, will change diapers and wear the thickest of Husband Goggles just don’t sparkle very much and get passed over. There is real love out there, but quite often it’s in a plain brown wrapper.

  • I’ve had this same fear, especially since my ‘picker’ is really really bad; first husband was a smart, sexy, charming man who loved me a lot – and a total alcoholic since he was 15 ys old. Second was a smart, sexy, good-looking guy who wanted a family as much as I did – who is completely self-centered, and stupid about it to boot.

    I’m keeping two things in mind, when I think about loving again, falling in love again, investing in another relationship. First one is; give it TIME! Both my previous serious relationships went so fast, there was huge committment within months. What I’ve read recently about infatuation (the ‘madly in love’ phase) is that it lasts usually between 6 months and a year (up to two years if there’s some kind of barrier; long-distance relationship, affair partners …). So I want to give myself time to enjoy that amazing feeling, but to be OVER those feelings that are so intense you can’t think straight, before making ANY kind of committment.

    And the second is to KEEP MY EYES OPEN. So when they show me who they are, I WILL see it, and I WILL believe it. I will watch what they DO, not just what they say. I will give the guy a chance – but note that ‘a’, it’s one single chance. Everybody can be momentarily stupid or inconsiderate or unthinking, but if it’s a pattern, I WILL see it.

    The book ‘How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk’ by Van Epp gave me great food for thought about this stuff, and made me feel more confident in my abilities to choose better, next time.

    • Oh, and the other thing I’m going to do is ASK my friends and family what they think of any guy I’m getting seriously involved in. People who care about us often have doubts and concerns, but they stay out of it, they don’t want to interfere. Well, my picker isn’t great, so I want that info from them! If several people around me are concerned about something about the guy or the relationship, this will be a big wake-up call for me, to stop and pay attention to those concerns, see how real or big the problem is.

      I was going to also say I was going to avoid sparkles like the plague, but #2 wasn’t really sparkly, he was a covert narcissist (the poor sausage type) instead. So I guess that doesn’t guarantee much, although it’s a good general policy!

      • Me too!!! I’ve prewarned all my friends that I’m going to drag any guy I’m thinking of getting serious with around them.. and that they have to give me their honest warts and all opinion.

        I think my picker is better now… but it doesn’t hurt to have some additional objective insight 🙂

      • The night my husband proposed, he attended a dinner party hosted by one of my dearest friends. She called it The Vetting Committee. And — they vetted. One friend is a DC journalist and her boyfriend, also a journalist, came with hard-hitting questions. My husband (then boyfriend) stood up to the onslaught and fielded even the most mortifying questions (the host was appalled). All to say — he passed! Drove home and later that night he proposed (I had no idea the two events would happen on the same night.)

        But I was very touched that my friends vetted him first. 🙂

        • Bring him around your friends and let them evaluate his character but getting the 3rd degree like you describe would have made ME run. But I guess that would have been good if he did, if you mean your 1st husband.

          • My friends…did not care so much for the ex. It’s one of the meanest things I told him after BD, when I’d discovered that he was still sleeping with the twat and was making plans to bail.

            His friends seemed to like him ok, but then, a lot of his friends are/were creeps.

            LISTEN to what your GOOD friends say. They see what you will not.

  • (((Newly Enlightened))))

    Yes, you *are* brave. Equal parts Wonder Woman, Durga, and the little girl who said out loud that the Emperor was wearing no clothes. However low you feel today, nothing can stand in the way of *that* girl for very long.

    Sending you thoughts of hope and peace to help you see that, indeed, every little thing will be all right.

  • As I was driving into work today, there was a lovely segment on StoryCorps about a couple who truly loved each other. They had apparently been interviewed several times, the last just before he died 6 years ago. Today they had a followup interview with his wife. I loved this quote from the husband:

    “When a guy is happily married, no matter what happens at work, no matter what happens in the rest of the day,” Danny said, “there’s a shelter when you get home, there’s a knowledge, knowing that you can hug somebody without them throwing you down the stairs and saying, ‘Get your hands off me.’ Being married is like having a color television set; you never want to go back to black and white.”

    Here is a link to the article online, with pictures of the two of them, and links to the interviews:

    http://www.npr.org/2013/10/25/240291885/never-say-goodbye-a-love-and-life-kept-vivid

    It will restore your faith in true love!

  • If only we all were as brave as you, NE! Romantic love is possible… Do not allow his actions to invalidate your genuine feelings of care, love and respect. Your experience and reaction shows that such a love exists…if it didn’t, you wouldn’t be so hurt at his lack of reciprocation. CHUMPNATION STRONG!

  • NE, you are my hero. You LISTENED to the little voice inside warning you that something was wrong, and you ACTED on that voice. I only wish I had done the same thing before marrying my ex narc, then staying married to him for the next 20 years.

    You will find true, romantic love with a good man. Yes, they are out there, but there are also a lot of bad men. You’ve already shown you know how to pay attention to the signs of disorder, so my bet is on you finding true love.

  • NE, you are very brave. I applaud you! You are young, you will find your romantic love again!

    I too was betrayed by my husband and a “friend”, and I agree that in the beginning – you tend to think that you’ll never trust friends around you. But that feeling will slowly go away. Your real friends – you will now who they are.

    This site is so inspirational, all the good people that come forward and give us hope, we will find that Romantic Love.

  • Dear CL,

    You had me at ‘salmonella-tainted chicken’. It’s just that there were just so many sparkles and what I felt was so strong that everything seems especially dull and gloomy right now …..

    But U strengthen my believe that I can survive this ! My life has suddenly taken an unexpected turn and I plan to make the most of it. I am changing cities, my office people have been super supportive thankfully and thus, am looking forward to starting from scratch to make a better life for myself 🙂

    I do understand it’s a process, and this is the only way I can ‘fix my Picker’.

    You and everyone’s words here give me tremendous courage, and even though I have amazingly supportive parents and siblings and friends, there are times when chump nation is what I turn to, because of that one emotion that makes us all chumps ie ’empathy’ !

    Everyone here makes it a point to let evey single chump know that there is someone out there who understands how betrayal feels and empathises with it. The pain is acknowledged by people who have felt it, who know it’s cutting and biting and yet they have survived it ! That in itself makes this blog different from a lot it other depressing stuff out there…… Every single post makes me realize that there is some chump sitting in some corner of the world feeling the same kind of hurt that I am feeling right now, and they are fighting it – for themselves, for their loved ones, and winning ! Becoming , better and stronger and more empathetic to other chumps !

    I just want to share one poem my dad quotes to me every single day, and it inspires me every single time….. This is my thanks to all of you for your kind words..

    If—
    BY RUDYARD KIPLING

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    • What a wonderful, supportive father you have, with the heart of a poet! I’m so glad he recognizes your bravery — and I’m thrilled to learn you’ve moved to a new city to make a new start.

      Be more careful about character, but it’s okay to be a chump. Those nice qualities of yours — compromise, the ability to self reflect, to work through things — will be appreciated by the right partner — and reciprocated! It’s the color TV analogy in the story above (do listen, it’s just wonderful, and so moving!)

  • NE, how BRAVE and principled you were to walk away from certain abuse.

    Well done. You put the shame where it belonged: spoiled Mr Prince.

    Good luck, NE. You are a jewel.

  • NE,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I wish I had left my Ex a long time before I did. The devaluing and cheating are so hard to become aware of, and it’s too late that we finally see the truth. I still hope to find love again, real love and not the imposter love. I feel love is there; I have faith that I will find it. Lead the way, NE!!

  • My STBXH lovebombed the crap out of me. It’s funny too because I expected that if I found someone to settle down with it wouldn’t be all sparks and butterflies like it was in my youth. But that’s exactly what I ended up with. I thought I got lucky. Now even though my STBX was the one who destroyed our relationship by hooking up with strangers on Craigslist and other adult sites while I was pregnant with a child that he wanted from the beginning, somehow the biggest mistake HE made was getting into a relationship with me. And he’s currently lovebombing the crap out of someone new. I’m still pregnant. The idiot is 41. We met when he was 37. After everything went down I really wanted to reenact that scene from Moulin Rouge and yell “THANKYOU FOR CURING ME OF MY RIDICULOUS OBSESSION WITH LOVE!” Because the truth is I don’t think I believe in that magic love. I’m 35 (in about a week) and I’d take reliable, slow burning no sparks love any day. I’m glad that CL found a good marriage. But I understand where NE is coming from. I thought I hit the jackpot with my guy. He was a good father (two wonderful kids from a previous marriage), had a career, hard working, affectionate, funny, fun to hang out with. My family loved him. I’m just not sure I see that better option out there.

    • God, what a POS he is. Look, my ex love bombed me too. Take time to get to know the next one. And be tenacious. If it doesn’t work out, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Listen to the Story Corps story posted above. THAT kind of love is worth a million fuck ups to get to. I had the proverbial million fuck ups — and let me tell you, they HURT — but I got there.

      Be wary of “magic love.” Fuck the sparkles.

      I wonder what happened in your STBXH’s first marriage. I’m guessing there’s a pattern there.

      • Well the first marriage was 15 years. I actually took that as a good sign. The problem is that his ex is Batshit BPD. I was unfortunately subjected to many uncomfortable situations with her. Boundary issues galore. If he had cheated on her and she knew about it she would’ve happily told me. In fact her behavior is part of what masked any red flags about my STBX from the beginning. I know better now ;). The funny thing is that my STBX is now comparing me to his ex when he’s not pretending I literally never existed. Either I’m a psycho or he only has a first wife and kids and he’s divorced. We’re still married and I’m due in March. I kind of wished he stayed married to his first wife. I don’t think I’ve met two more morally corrupt people. STBX unfortunately just did such a good job of hiding that.

      • I was love bombed as well and I see how ex did it with all his affairs, particularly the final one after I threw him out and he needed a steady supply of kibbles. Sadly, final OW is a needy little cow so he’s got to keep the show going 24/7 and it seems to be exhuasting him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

        Now when I date I see if they’re really interested in getting to know me or if they want to jump into insta-relationship. Lots want the insta thing but I’m not going there. I want to take it slow and if they’re not willing then I’ll wait for someone who is.

    • I think that your ability to see that you were “lovebombed” is a step in the right direction. You’ll recognize it if you ever see it again, and from what I’ve read/experienced myself, it’s typically not a good sign. Not that there’s anything wrong with romantic gestures, of course, but when they work incredibly hard at it and try to make the relationship seem like the romantic montages you see in films, it’s a huge red flag.

      Better options are out there. It’s just like Mike posted above– they might be in a plain brown wrapper and not a flashy gift bag full of confetti. Sending hugs to you– I hope that you have a support network around you; your ex is the lowest of the low for pulling this crap while his wife is pregnant.

      • Thanks Moving On. I used to actually consider myself a good judge of character. I feel like I avoided all the obvious messed up guys and married their secret king. Like I said above, the drama from his ex-wife also made it harder to see any red flags. Anyone looks normal in comparison.

        What CL has taught me and what I never got before is that character isn’t conditional. That baggage is not an excuse for bullshit and that we don’t look at the potential for someone. I was way too understanding of his issues. But yeah, I’ll run the other direction if someone tries to love bomb me.

        I know there’s good people out there but in the crux where I’m at I find it a lot less likely to move that direction. I had a wonderful relationship with my stepkids and I loved them very very much and now I’m never going to get to see them again. And their dad has also told me that he’s basically rewritten history with them. So I was a bad wife and it’s my fault for abandoning them. You can be darn sure I’m going to be hesitant to get into another situation with kids. I couldn’t bear the idea of causing any other children pain. And who in my age range doesn’t have kids? Or isn’t a perpetual bachelor. If you guys say there’s a chance out there I’ll believe you. But for now I’m going to go back to school to make sure that as a single parent I can always support myself and my child.

        • Kat, I know you are in a terrible and tough spot, your shit sandwich is one of the worst (and that says a lot on this site)! But YOU ARE STILL YOUNG, and have so much of your life ahead of you. Don’t give up.

          Take care of yourself and your baby now. But there will be a time when you will be ready, and there are good men out there. Since my divorce, I met someone who I never could have imagined preD-Day could bring me so much love and happiness. He is sweet, real and true (and non sparkly, a real plus for me), and the differences between him and my ex are astonishing to me. How did I miss the shallowness of my ex? Why did I settle for so little authentic connection (it’s tough when being love bombed but you will see the difference). Are there moments of fear? Of course, but as CL’s sister in law (?) said, you gotta look fear in the face and throw it down the steps, something like that. 🙂

          I was 52 when I kicked my dead-ass ex out of the house. I am now engaged to be remarried to a wonderful man, and I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. You got this Kat!

          • Ha!…I was just thinking the other day about how shallow Ex is and how I pretty much gave him depth. No more shallow men or women in my life. That’s it. I’m done with anyone who is not a genuine person.

        • “That baggage is not an excuse for bullshit and that we don’t look at the potential for someone.”

          Well said. My XW has quite a bit of baggage (serious stuff that I won’t get into here), and while I know I have my share of baggage as well, I know I was never tempted. Thankfully I have only lost most of my 30’s, and my kids are wonderful and they are my focus right now. I hope to figure out dating at some point (maybe before I turn 40?), but thinking about it now isn’t really worth my time since I only get angry and confused.

          Have hope and best of luck.

          • Kat I loved how you put into words what I have bee. Feeling all this while ‘character is not conditional and we don’t have to look for potential in someone’. The ex used his FOO issues to justify his crap to me !

            You are amazingly strong and will make such a morally upright mom for your kid ! Lots of hugs to you…..

        • That’s pretty much exactly why I went back to school… And I’d also sacrificed my career like a dumbass to follow my ex and then stopped working altogether once we had kids. Anyway, I wasn’t just going to settle for whatever random job would take me. I need a real career now. I’m taking my career seriously for the first time in my life now, actually.

          That sucks about your step kids, but hopefully you’ll see them sometimes (since you are having their half-sibling) and they will hopefully figure out their dad is lying to them. I feel bad that it sounds like they have two fucked up parents.

          Good luck w your little one. My youngest was 8 months old on dday. And just over 1 when the ex finally moved out. Do you have family nearby to help you?

          • Wow, thanks Mephista, Kelly, CW, Nord, AE and NE!

            NE~ “It’s just that there were just so many sparkles and what I felt was so strong that everything seems especially dull and gloomy right now …..” I very much understand this feeling. Some of the best times of my life were in the last three years. And I loved my H more than I’ve ever loved anyone. Sometimes it’s really hard to reconcile what was lost with what was really there. They’re kind of like cursed gems….great sparkly face value but ultimately a source of ruin and demise.

            AE~I actually moved 16 hours away to be with family. It means the likelihood of me seeing my stepkids is low. But it also means I have more support available and less influence from my STBX on my child.

            • Great analogy~sparkly but cursed gems, all of them. I’d add that when you look closely at these gems they have deep flaws and cracks we didn’t notice at first (or tried to pretend were not there in my case). Anyhow, Kat, we’ve all been there (you probably have noticed by now that these cheaters, and hence our experiences) are all spookily similar. The heartache is that they did sparkle, and that WE (the chumps) truly loved whoever they pretended they were. It’s mind blowing, but it will get better with time and distance, I am glad you have moved away from him and closer to your support system. Big (((hugs)).

  • NE,

    I really feel for you. It takes quite a lot to cancel something that is so important.

    It will get better for you. I’m 5 months after being dumped by my XW for her AP, and I have about 2 days of “eh” (not “meh”, I’m not close to that yet) for every one day where I’m either really sad or want to put my fist through the wall.

  • In my case, I hypothetically know that love is out there… good men are out there… but I’m worried I just won’t find it for myself. Ever.

    It’s over 2 years since Dday, a year and a half since he moved out, and about 8 months since the divorce was finalized. I feel like I’ve got things going for me… might even be considered a “catch”. Or at least a “catch” to a certain demographic that I’m starting to think doesn’t exist. Because in all this time I’ve been on exactly one date and had one very brief friends with benefits thing with a old co-worker.

    So now I’m starting to think I’m just never even going to have sex again, let alone a date (it’s probably funny/messed up? that I consider sex easier to get than a date), or find “true love”! I have a bunch of excuses why I haven’t met anyone… I live in a small town, I have two super young kids, I spend my days in program where the majority of my classmates are literally 10 or more years younger than me. I just wonder what my next excuses will be when I move and start a job… that I’m too busy? All the good ones are taken? All the guys near my age/circumstance (ie. have kids) want younger women who don’t have any “baggage”? (actually, I also already use those excuses now!)

    So, I think the real answer is that I’m still scared. And because I’m scared I don’t put myself out there when I’m out and about and I am too picky on the dating websites (yes, I’ve done that too… that’s how i got my single date!). I don’t think I’m scared of love per se… that doesn’t seem in the realm of possibilities for me to even worry about right now. I think I’m scared just to date. I thought I was over that… at the beginning I was insanely freaked out to go anywhere without my man repellent (ie. my kids and my wedding ring). Of being a single woman out in the world where there were single men. My FWB cured some of that… but not the dating fear I guess.

    I was with my ex since I was 19 years old. I don’t even know how to date at all, let alone date with kids. I can’t just “put myself back out there” because I was barely out there to begin with. And now I have so much “stuff”. I don’t want to be vulnerable to someone. To have to tell some guy why I’m divorced and have him think whats wrong with me that my husband cheated. I don’t want to have to share stupid intimate stories. Actually, I don’t want to even have to describe my hobbies. Because I don’t think he wants to hear about how I like to visit and post to chumplady.com. And I guess I need more hobbies 🙂 I don’t want him to wonder about my alimony situation and judge me for living off my ex’s money. And judge me for having stayed home with the kids.

    Ugh. So, pretty negative post. But here I am on a kid-free Friday night with no plans. Hell, I can’t even find single women my age to hang out with, let alone men!

    So, I guess I’m feeling negative about romantic love… or at least the process of discovering romantic love. So, just negative about being single in general? I feel like people are move on much faster than me and I wonder what’s wrong with me. And the longer it takes, the weirder it starts to seem and the more people are going to start bugging me. Even my parents, who held off for a good amt of time, have started asking.

    • Awww, AE. I can relate. I’m also in a small town with a soon to be newborn. And I will be going to school in the same situation. If we were anywhere near each other I would totally hang out :).

      • Damn, that woulda been perfect! We’re even almost the exact same age… I just turned 35 last week! 🙂

        • I have a similar story. I have no idea how I’d ever find a date. There are just too many variables. I have three kids– and I don’t want any more. I don’t have a lot of time as their primary custodian, and I like spending free time with friends and family. I’m fairly introverted and not a party girl. I have no idea how I’d meet someone. I don’t think that I have much to offer, honestly. You’re not alone. There are plenty of us in the same pickle.

          • Thanks Moving.

            When I’m at home thinking about dating in general, I feel like I have things to offer – and I know you do too! – but then, when guys actually start asking questions and I find myself having to describe/”sell” myself or explain my situation, I do doubt myself and feel self-conscious. Probably because it feels like a very personal job interview or something. Or maybe a performance review where I’m trying to explain why I didn’t meet prior expectations. Because people that haven’t been cheated on don’t get it. Or, even worse, how do I know they haven’t been on the cheating side?

            The little experience I have of this, of course.

            I just want to meet someone naturally, where it doesn’t get so personal so fast. It also seems that asking all the stars to align to meet a guy that is anything like me is asking for too much. I really don’t want to settle for just anyone. Actually, I think I’m incapable of settling. And I don’t want to date just to date. Ugh. Awkward. (dating fear again maybe) Which is why I think I will be alone for a good long while. Most the time I’m fine with that I guess. But I don’t know, I was hoping some good guys would have popped up by now.

            • AE, I want to send hugs too. I think I have a clue how you feel. I have kids and I was married for 20 years when I found out about my husband’s cheating; was married 24 years when the divorce finally went through (just this summer). Most of the “mutual friends” went to ex’s side. I feel lucky to have a few friends from pre-divorce days and a few new ones, but I am in school and can’t think of dating. Besides, the only men who have shown interest are creepy (porno addicted) or too poor (and I don’t want anyone living on unemployment and on my couch). I thought I would sell my diamonds but now wonder if I should wear a wedding ring again to keep men away.

              I admire NE’s courage at walking away from a situation that undoubtedly would have ended badly for her. But so sorry to say I have lost faith in romantic love. I don’t think I ever had it and it’s probably too late for me.

  • You are to be congratulated at figuring all this out so quickly and NOT internalizing his issues and making them your own. I spent 25 years, more than half of my entire life, just knowing that this was all my fault. . .if I were only smarter or thinner or a better cook or had bigger boobs…if only I could “get it” (a favorite Ex saying). . ..some how I just couldn’t until he had the affair and then I got it, fast!

    Don’t be hard on yourself. You’re mature and savvy and have great self preservation. The right person will come along, without a doubt. Tuesday, I think, right after meh. Good luck. You’ve already won the battle.

  • Newly enlightened,

    You just avoided a terrible, terrible fate. Right now you feel the loss of this sparkling creature and all his sparkly stuff, but dig down, and in this present moment realize, you avoided a terrible fate. Stay grounded in the wonderful reality of having avoided a living hell. I was the maid of honor at my dear friend’s wedding years ago when we were very young. She had such a sparkly, amazing boyfriend/husband. I was clueless about his NPD, sexual addiction, etc., but my dear friend had some warning about the kind of man he truly was before the wedding.

    After my friend married Sparkles, all the sordid stuff talked about on this site happened to her to the power of 2. She is an amazing woman, she divorced him, many years have passed. Her deep understanding of human nature, her ability to give so deeply to others in need, so much of all her depth came from those 10 years with that sparkly nut. What a hell though. You spent over five years, but you didn’t marry the sparkly creature. I know it’s impossible at this juncture to rejoice. One day you will realize deeply the fate you avoided, you will look at your full, rich life, with or without a partner, and rejoice with every bone in your body.

  • Newly Enlightened,

    Welcome to light. I am also from India and I faced somewhat similar fate as yours. You are smarter than I in the sense that you didn’t marry a cheater. I did, thinking that people can change. But a leopard never changes the spots. So, now, on top of wasting 7 years of my youth, part of my career, and quite a good chunk of money, I have the attached ‘stigma’ of being a divorced guy (in India it carries a stigma, though I live in the US now).

    I would like to show you a post of mine from another website here. It is hard earned wisdom, but better late than never.

    1. Cheaters stay in a relationship/marriage only if there are not enough suitable outside options.

    2. To be honest in a relationship you need empathy. Cheaters don’t have it. Empathy is not something that suddenly grows inside of you when a divine light shines upon you.

    3. Happiness is a cheating spouse on the rearview mirror. A cheater is not a decent person’s time and effort. Why do you want to stay with the WS? Why is the WS such a catch? Why is your worth so low?

    4. File for divorce. Start IC ASAP with a therapist experienced in infidelity related matters.

    5. Protect yourself financially.

    6. You have enough self-esteem not to tolerate cheating. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

    7. You deserve better and you can get better. You deserve to live free, free from the fear of being cheated on and free from a life of constant fear.

    8. Your children need a role model, someone who will teach them acceptable behavior and boundaries. If you forgive and accept your WS’s behavior, you will set up very bad examples for your children, and this will lead to further heartaches.

    9. You are responsible for your happiness. Never in future tie your own happiness with someone or something. It will lead to pain and sufferings. Happiness has to come from within.

    10. Embrace the light, knowledge, and freedom. It will get better if you want to get it better.

    Wish you all the best. You will survive and thrive. And you will fall in love again. One day you will thank your lucky stars that you didn’t waste any more time with this guy and all this hurt will become a fading memory (not even a nightmare as it will eventually lose all its power to hurt you anymore).

    • Thanks life ! And I agree, 9 is the most important and I plan to work on it. I had my happiness tied up with his for a while so I feel like quite the drifter right now. Will just try my best to ensure that the drifting happens towards the right direction from here on…

  • I was on okcupid dating website and they ask many questions. One question is “Is a relationship more passion or dedication?” I see it as dedication. When I see someone who answers passion in this option I become leary. This just seems like someone who wouldn’t have the endurance for long term.

    • yeah, passion might be an okay response if you are immature 20 year old, but not a grown up. Though I’ve seen someone select passion but wrote in the comments that dedication grows out of passion, which I do agree with. So sometimes the comments help 🙂

      I do like all those questions okcupid has…

      • One question I pay a lot of attention to on OKCupid is the one on how high is your self esteem. If I see a guy picked “Very, very high,” forget him. Huge narc red flag. Normal people answer “average” or “above average.”

        • Hahaha. I’ve never been on Ok cupid but I’m pretty sure I’d like to avoid dating sites in general. Before D day I wouldn’t have had a problem with them. But now I’ve heard waaaaaay too many stories about Betrayed Spouses or Partners finding out their S.O. had a Match.com profile. And I think anyone who does anything on the personals on Craigslist might as well have their head examined.

      • My mother would say that passion is important, that you need that spark. She and my father had a passionate marriage til the day he died. At the same time, marriage is more than merely sex. For love to exist, there must be trust.

        That said, I think that dedication is important. Dedication can help keep the passion burning, since it involves never taking the other person for granted, and it involves the willingness to work things out.

  • And by the way, fuck your friend. Kick that bitch out of your life just like you did with him. She’s just as awful as he is, in my opinion. One of my ex’s affair partners was a good friend of mine who was absolutely shocked I to her to fuck right off out of my life. Seriously cannot believe what people get up to sometimes.

    • Oh definitely ! Her parents thought of me as a daughter and were most excited for my wedding ! I told them……went no contact with her before I did with the ex. She got recently fired from our firm coz she was busy whoring around the last year instead of working.

      She already got it back good coz even the ex has repeatedly told his parents that she is a whore who ‘threw himself on him’ and has written numerous mails to her telling her she is the biggest mistake of his life etc etc. even if they get back together, his parents her parents all our friends are disgusted by what he has done and they will never be respected as people. Because everyone knew he was excitedly planning the wedding, it is obvious that he wasn’t NOT STUCK in the relationship so he can’t claim that.

      In this entire situation she lost the most, and she damn well deserved it ! We used to live in the same house like family, like sisters, and the fact that she did something so disgusting shows the sort of character she has.

      • After my former friend had her fling with my ex she spent the next six months being all over me, spending loads of time with me, visiting with my family, spending the night at my home several times. When I look back I cannot believe how she behaved. The one time I spoke with her after I found out she was very apologetic and was pretty much ‘I feel so bad but we have so much history as friends’. Yes, we did. And she pissed it away by fucking my husband. What a dumb bitch. I have no idea what’s happened to her as I removed myself entirely from her sphere but she has tried to contact me several times via email. When I see her name I simply hit delete. I have no interest in ever speaking with her again.

      • NE–Your OW there sounds like a real prize of a woman, but you’re smart to have dumped your ex. Even if OW was busy fucking everything with XY chromosomes at work, your ex’s excuse that she threw herself on him rings very hollow. The fact of the matter is that all of us have to deal with co-workers who may be attracted to us in some way. We deal with it by setting boundaries, both with respect to conversation as well as situations. We don’t respond in kind. If the co-worker escalates their advances without taking the no for an answer, then we can go to HR to lodge a formal complaint.

        In the case of your ex, she may have thrown herself on him, but his pants were down while he was waiting and ready.

        He’s not owning his own culpability, and until he does, he’s just blameshifting.

  • NE’s bravery and CL’s beautiful response and the comments on this post make me feel encouraged, so thank you all. I never wanted to go through any of this, and I would never wish any of this on anyone else, but…since I was forced into this place, I am determined to survive. And I realize that having been through this means I have been through about the worst thing that can happen in one’s life. And that…that means I have nothing left to fear. And having the worst behind me….well, that is unbelievably freeing.

    CL is right. Discovering surviving is a gift. Discovering the strength within is a gift. I would also say that discovering who your true friends are that will be there for you no matter what, when you are at your weakest…well, that is also a gift. It is freeing to have friends that have seen you at your most raw, most vulnerable and who have reached out and walked through hell with you. I had only lived in my husband’s town for about a couple of years, and this experience has deepened my friendships and shown me what wonderful friends I actually have in this town (along with my long term friendships in other places.)

    And NE…I wish you the best as you heal and rebuild. You have already shown you are on the right path….

  • I tried many times to cancel wedding plans. but he always seemed to sparkle and ingratiate himself to me. I wish I would have gone with my initial “gut” feelings. They were right. You did the right thing. Move on and find the love of your life who would die for you. You will know next time…..

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