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A Better Class of Cheater?

So the other day, I got a big spike in traffic around here because someone (whoever you are, thank you) posted a link to my site in the comments section of the Washington Post. The article they linked to was “The Humiliating Dance of “Pick Me!”

The link was followed immediately by this comment:

That article is based on the idea that there is one kind of cheating, done for one kind of reason, and there is one kind of response to it. I can see the point — if you are married to a manipulative jerk who is having a long term affair outside the marriage and you need the anger to give you the ooomph to kick him to the curb, this is a very useful way to get it.

But infidelity, like love, doesn’t just come in one flavour.

I see this quite a bit. I call it The Better Class of Cheater argument. It goes “I’m not a chump like you. Oh no, my spouse just had a midlife crisis.” Or  “My husband isn’t a cheater, it was just an emotional affair.”

See, you can dismiss what you read here, because Tracy had a Bad Cheater. You know, the disordered kind of serial-cheating jerk, who drank and made threats. Unlike the Other Sort of Cheaters, the church deacons, the  drunken one night fuck conventioneers, or the soulfully confused. The cheaters who really didn’t mean to hurt you. It just kinda happened.

To me, there are really only two different classes of cheaters. Those who are truly remorseful and demonstrate remorse — and those who eat cake, manipulate, and minimize their offenses. How they stumbled on to another person’s dick or fell into their vagina doesn’t really interest me. What they all have in common is they gave themselves permission to go outside the relationship. They felt entitled to do it. They’re either sorry about that, or they aren’t. In my experience, the majority of them are not sorry one bit. They might be sorry they got caught. They might be sorry for the shit storm and people’s impressions of them. They might be sorry for the expense. But they are not sorry for the pain they caused others.

Early on, I did a post called a Spectrum of Cheaters, where I catalog the different sorts. I don’t think every person who cheats is a sociopath. Mine probably was, but I know there are a legion of cheaters out there who are just your average, run of the mill immature jerks. I would say an affair is “out of character” for someone, except that to have an exit affair, you’d have to be so gutless as to abandon… which, alas, is a mark on your character.

You know, I think this kind of “I’m not a chump” minimization is just human rationalization. Years ago, I was a writer at the Defense Department and I had to work on a military study on sexual assault. The military studied the issue in the past and asked service men and women if they’d ever been sexually assaulted. They asked two ways — the first — have you ever been sexually assaulted? And in another questionnaire they were NOT asked that question outright —  instead they were asked a series of questions with specific incidents. Has anyone forced you to perform oral sex? Had sex with you without consent when you were drunk? Etc.

Here’s what they learned — when they asked the general question — they got way more NO answers. Nope, I’m not a victim of sexual assault. When they described the phenomenon and didn’t ascribe a label to it — they got way, way more YES answers. Take away? People don’t want to think of themselves as victims (especially in the military), but they will acknowledge that certain terrible acts happened to them.

I think there is a similar phenomenon in infidelity. No one wants to be a chump. Some people will own it, and some people won’t — even though they experienced the same sorts of things. Everyone wants to feel agency and control. No one wants to think of themselves as having been abused. Even if that means taking the blame. Well, I got drunk and I wore that short skirt, and shit happened, which was unfortunate and painful. But I’m not a victim of assault, no sir!

You see that kind of thinking on infidelity forums. It’s not the “pick me” dance, it’s “saving your marriage.”

You don’t control whether or not you save your marriage. Nope. Your cheater can walk out and leave you — save away! Or really “stand for your marriage” and wait for them to come back, as the midlife crisis forums recommend. Or your cheater may stay, and eat cake, or stop eating cake but resent you and blame you for the affair. And you can have your marriage if you’re willing to eat that big shit sandwich. Or maybe you don’t care that much about fidelity and honesty in your relationship. Some people don’t.

What “flavor” of infidelity do you prefer?

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  • Reading the replies you get makes me wonder if most of the cheaters are sociopaths. After all Scott Peterson was a wonderful son and a devoted husband until, that is, he killed his wife and unborn baby. When all these MCs are trying to help the Chump and save the marriage do they not pick up on some clues? I just saw a book on Amazon titled Runaway Husbands which is about long term marriage where the wife thinks things are fine….flowers and other signs of devotion only to be left with no explanation. How can that behavior not be sociopathic? Imagine having no inner voice letting you know you are doing something wrong. Imagine having to fake a real person for years. Must be exhausting.

    • The “faking a real person” thing is dead on for many serial cheaters. Which is why so many of them steal, I mean, *appropriate* material for their social media pages (favorite bands, books, TV shows, places, etc.). I remember looking at my cheating (now ex) wife’s FB page shortly after D-day and thinking, “You don’t like ‘Flight of the Conchords,’ NPR, or ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou.” I do! And when I sing their praises you run them down in front of me. WTF?” Turns out she really doesn’t know how to cultivate what’s inside, personality, conviction, character. All she has where those things ought to be is a huge sucking void. She positions borrowed “likes” and “pins” over that hole to draw people in, the way a hunter might cover a pit with palm fronds to trap unsuspecting prey.

      • Mine “like”s Ryan’s Roses, which is a program on a local radio show in which Ryan seacrest tricks cheaters into blowing their cover while the spouse listens. Weird.

        • Mine used to watch that “Cheaters” show on TV….it’s that ghetto show where they bust cheaters on camera, and each episode usually ends up with women pulling each other’s hair, or guys busting each other’s cars up……. My STBX said he hated cheaters and how cheating was so wrong.

          Looking back, maybe he was watching the show so he could get pointers on how not to get caught?!

          • STBX and I used to watch that too! And he could never believe that people would do that to each other.

            Now that I think about it, he started watching the show AFTER he had started cheating…

      • nomar, that’s really sick. Really sick. I can’t imagine seeing that on a cheating spouse’s FB page.

    • Well, they (all cheaters) are most certainly not sociopaths: Sociopaths tend to be more efficient in getting what they want than your average cheater. Sociopaths do get married, and they can and do cheat.

      The trait cheaters share is lack of deep or genuine empathy for their partners. Unfortunately, that’s typical for a range of disordered, immature, and dysfunctional behavior that involves abusing intimate partners.

      It would be easier to screen out possible cheaters if all we had to do was be on the lookout for sociopaths (not that you shouldn’t be wary of sociopaths).

      Think about the “revenge affair”, for example. Why do people who do that usually say they did it? A person nursing an “injury” (in this case they were cheated on) usually claims to be fostering deep resentment toward the person who cheated on them (hence no or low empathy), and they claim to be insecure about themselves (focused on their own ego), so they rationalize getting involved in an affair to boost their own ego and possibly to deliberately inflict pain on the person who betrayed them. This is also abusive behavior.

    • “Imagine having to fake a real person for years. Must be exhausting.”

      It’s hard for me to imagine the amount of psychological energy my ex must have expended over a 20 year marriage where he was constantly screwing other guys and eventually women as well, while pretending to be a normal man who took family responsibilities seriously.

      I’m not sure what finally snapped in his brain to make him quit pretending, but I do think his total craziness these days is the real him. Unbridled NPD, delusional thinking and skill as a con artist. Yuck.

      • I find it quite bizarre to think about all those years of faking the relationship as well. I mean, this ex of mine was screwing around for years, yet playing the loving father/husband at home. It’s mind boggling, really. All that energy and for what? Why? Can’t imagine it and don’t bother to wonder why anymore. He’ snow taken on a completely new role with final OW – he’s a totally new person with new interests, etc. The kids pointed it out early on that he was not like their old dad and apparently he still isn’t. The only constant is that he lies – the difference there is that now we’re aware of it.

        • Nord, I’m interested to know, was he really the loving father and husband? When I look back all I see was a person who was so disengaged in our lives. I told him once that if he had put half as much effort into our marriage as he did into this “other” thing, we could have had a good marriage and he swore at me telling me it was always toomuch effort to him. But let’s look at it. He sat in a corner on his computer for atleast the last 12 years. He never offered ideas about things for us to do as a family, but he came along for the ride. He didn’t think about presents or surprises. He didn’t talk to any of us. We look back on some of the things we have done and my children can’t remember if he was even there! Being a loving father and husband isn’t the same as being present is it?

          • Yes, I’ve had those same walks down memory lane, where I realise it was me putting in a lot of effort and him coming along when it suited him. But on the surface he played the role well and showed up when it counted. Weirdly, my kids only remember the 3 of us doing things together 90% of the time. When I first kicked ex out he tried to be super dad for a bit, showing up at the odd game or going to a school meeting but that didn’t last very long. Now he has fun times but no real parenting. He hasn’t asked about their schooling in more than a year, has no idea when teacher meetings are, how to log onto the school website for homework or other things…just generally like an uncle who comes around for burgers and maybe a movie. So pretty much like it always was, except I’m a lot poorer and have no one to even bounce thoughts about how to handle the kids off of.

            • Yep! Except, mine doesn’t have the fun times, has nothing to do with them, but knows everything because he stalks them on the school website and the sport pages. I guess then he can tell people about his kids as though he was having a relationship, without actually having a relationship. Mmmm!

      • I wonder that, too….how much energy it must have taken to lie *that* much. But actually, I think it didn’t take much energy at all. For us who have a conscience and who are accustomed to living an authentic, truthful life, it would be hard. But not for them. It was easy for them, and I think my STBX enjoyed it. He enjoyed playing the *game* and also enjoyed having a secret life that only he knew about, and only he controlled. And he enjoyed having one up on me (in his mind, at least).

        • Ducks, I think you are probably right. It is totally alien to me, but I think my ex DID get off on the lying and cheating. For sure he liked knowing he was fooling me over and over. It made him feel smart and powerful to trick me so easily. Plus, the disordered love feeling contempt for those they use and abuse.

          • Yes, Glad, my ex truly enjoyed all the lying and subterfuge. And of course that secret contempt must have been particularly gratifying for his ego. He lost interest in his long-term AP’s once he was free to have them. And he seems oddly muted the few times I have to deal with him.

        • I wonder this as well. How do they get the energy?

          I think that the ability to compartmentalize and lie is astonishing and frightening in cheaters. There has to be a pay off or they wouldn’t do it. IMO, I think they enjoy the *game* and the control. They like the idea of getting away with it, the sneaky sex and then coming home and pretending family man. It’s a seriously disordered way of behaving, sociopath or not.

          I hope that when people read these posts and are on the “fence” about leaving a cheater that they consider how their own mental and physical health can be at stake. I cannot say how strongly enough how important it is to protect YOURSELF.

    • I read that book early on after D-Day, Watcher, and it is one I recommend. It was both fascinating and comforting to me because I had never heard of anyone who had what appeared to be an adoring husband who then just up and left, like my ex had, without a backward glance. The book suggested that most had an extra marital affair going on when this occurred. The book as I recall very briefly addressed the possibility that this type of abandoner may be sociopath or narcissist.

    • I stumbled upon the website of Runaway Husbands during some late-night post-dday googling. I bought it and it was really helpful for me because my stbxh left completely out of the blue, and the stories of the author, Vikki Stark, and the people she interviewed echoed my own. I found that book before I found this site. Now I also hear the echoes here, and I find encouragement as I keep walking to try to get to the other side of all this. So thank you, everyone, for sharing your stories and journies here.

  • The “different class” of cheater perspective then feeds the “they’re not so bad; they made a MISTAKE” logic, which then comes with the “no consequence” solutions, followed by the wronged spouse being labeled a bitch or a pouter for daring to be upset by the betrayal of their home and family. Typical anymore in our society…

    It all goes back to the basic premise that cheaters cheat because they CAN. Just like a kid who sneaks a cookie, and doesn’t get caught will likely do it again. And if nobody thinks he’s BAD for stealing, but that his mom is a bitch for not letting him have cookies…he’s even MORE likely to do it again. Our society doesn’t want this to be a big deal – be labeled as abusive – so Johnny or Joanne just keeps stealing the cookies. Because it’s not a big deal you know…

    unless you ask my kids. They have a different opinion.

    • Yep, I hate when infidelity is portrayed as “just a mistake.” My ex used that line, “I made a lot of mistakes.” Choosing to have sex with other people and lie to one’s spouse for year after year is NOT a mistake. It is a lifestyle, a choice and a character defect.

      • That’s true. Surely if it is something that could be just a mistake, we’d all be having sex with other people by accident and it wouldn’t be a problem. And yet it doesn’t happen that way. I woyld feel so much better if these people paid a little more dearly for their mistakes…..otherwise how do they learn?

      • GladItsOver, you’re absolutely right. Cheating isn’t a mistake, it is a lifestyle choice.

        My XW used the phrase “I’m sorry things turned out the way they did” to describe what she did. Nope, the only thing she was sorry about was that she couldn’t wait to dump me first before starting the affair. She ultimately associated me with childish things (“I was young when I married you”) and the AP was the real “adult”. Sorry, just because the AP takes you out for cocktails and parties (and I don’t drink and prefer a quiet night at home) doesn’t mean he’s an adult and I’m a kid.

      • GladItsOver

        “Choosing to have sex with other people and lie to one’s spouse for year after year is NOT a mistake. It is a lifestyle, a choice and a character defect.” Exactly on point. I am going to use that quote. My husband says ….. because of my mistake . . . blah blah blah. I asked him at a counseling session: “Is it a mistake or do you just have bad character? You did it over and over again.” He says, “Well, I think you can look at my history and know that I don’t have bad character.” Actually, looking back he does have bad character.
        Anyway, we are in the process of divorce and each time I feel I’m being manipulated by him and his tactics, I get on Chump Lady forum to set me straight.

    • My cheater classes himself in the ‘I’m not a bad person, I made a mistake’ category. He ‘never meant to hurt anyone’ despite lying through his teeth about there being anyone else and promising he would never leave me while promising the OW that he was going to leave me for her.
      He is seriously entitled & very passive aggressive. I was ‘too angry’ for him to ‘put things right’ (how dare I be angry?), he blames me for his losing friends because I told people the truth about why we split & it’s ok for him to be angry and nasty because he’s no longer in control & is facing financial consequences of his actions.
      I am a bitter, money grabbing, evil bitch because I have applied to the court for him to pay the divorce fees.
      It has been a really shitty week for me. I am only just seeing how cold hearted he really is. The OW has got a fucking nerve too. You’d think that now they have each other they’d be happy. Obviously their relationship is not worth the divorce fees to either of them.

        • Thanks Lynn, I am working my way through it with the help of some fantastic friends. It’s just horrible when you actually realise how little you matter.

          • In the real world of healthy, respectful adults who are worthy of you, you matter, Alice! Hang in there.

  • I agree with you that there is some kind of narcissistic mechanism at play with those who rationalize that their cheater is, “special”….the midlife crisis (or whatever) caused the cheater to behave that way. Ah..NO…the cheat made a choice to behave that way.

    But YOU don’t have to.

    To avoid at all costs saying to self, “I made a huge mistake in judgement of someone’s character and got burned.” is an ego thing on the part of the Chump that must be defeated in order to accept reality, learn from mistakes, and go forward to a better life wiser and better armed.

    The reality is that we are ALL “Chumped” sooner or later in a variety of situations by people who refuse to play by the fair and square rules. It happens. There is no shame in temporary Chumpdom.

    There is shame only if we refuse to see that “victimization” is a temporary situation over which we have much more control than we realize…as opposed to those who choose to wallow perpetually in victim status and whine in perpetuity about it to all who will listen.

    It is NOT the falling down (or getting pushed down) that is the measure of the individual; it is his or her ability to pick self up, dust self off, and resume living a life of purpose and constructive goals.


    The Man in the Arena
    (Teddy Roosevelt)
    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “

    • The midlife crisis as a class of phenomena is a myth contradicted by every empirical study into the subject so far.

      People are less prone to crisis in mid-life than they are when they are younger or near the end of their lives.

      People who do experience a crisis in their mid-life tend to fall into two categories:

      1. People who have experienced a number traumatic events (job loss, death of a child or spouse, and so on). and have become overwhelmed by those events. In these cases, it’s the events and dealing with those events driving the crisis.

      2. People with low ego-integrity with a long history of crises.

      The popular conception of a mid-life crisis is not backed by evidence. It’s just a negative stereotype that relies on confirmation bias to maintain its meme status.

  • CL, I love your wording. The other day I was walking to the bank and dammit I tripped over the curb and fell onto a man’s dick. I hate it when that happens. But you know, that was not an affair because the construction crew that put that curb there caused me to have another man’s junk in my junk. My narcissistic STBXH blames his mom because she created him as the “golden child” therefore, she set his affairs in motion. (of course I was blamed as well). I like this non-victimization and finger-pointing. I also agree that there is more than one flavor–construction crew (obvious curb issues) and city/county design crew (for deciding the curb should go there).

    • redless, I can’t agree. If there is no such thing as “Mid life Crisis”, then there is something else going on at midlife, particularly with women. In my area we have almost an epidemic of wifes hitting 40 and walking away from low conflict marriages with no evidence of prior infidelity or BDP type behavoir. I find it impossible to believe anyone can hide a personality disorder for 20+ years.

      • Mike,
        I am sorry to hear that is going on in your area and I am sorry that you had to meet wonderful people via this website. There are a bazillion people on this site with a bazillion different situations but the one thing we have in common is that we are chumps. I agree with you. My STBXH’s “hiding npd” from comes from a variety of things including, but not limited to, gaslighting, blinded by sparkles, blame-shifting, spackle, “not seeing” what was going on and generally being very good at being a narc. Of these things, I am partially responsible for allowing these things to happen for so long–I was going thru life with horse blinders on and a big ass bucket of spackle. However, I am not responsible for his affairs via a strategically placed dick near tall curbs. Affairs happen everyday by both men AND women. Some affairs are because of a midlife crisis or NPD, boredom, brighter sparkles, whatever. The whole point is that no matter what excuse you give, (midlife, npd, etc) it’s still wrong. Whether couples agree to monogamous relationship, swinging lifestyle, or open-marriage that’s their choice–but you have to follow what you signed up for. If you are in a monogamous marriage and want something other than that, be a man/woman and leave the relationship. DON’T GO HAVE AN AFFAIR

        • I would never have guessed that my ex had NPD, because I always thought of it as the sparkly, charming type of person. I had met some of those, knew to run away!

          But the ‘covert narcissist’ stuff fit him PERFECTLY (and his mother as well, while his father is more of a ‘classic’ narc). I think a covert narc can function pretty well for a long time, as long as they’re w/someone who provides lots of ego kibble and takes on most of the ‘adult’ functions in the relationship.

          Check it out!

      • My ex went so astoundingly nutty once he dumped me, that I find it easiest to tell people, “He had some sort of very severe midlife crisis” when trying to explain what happened to my marriage. It’s easier to just sum it up that way than go through all the craziness, and takes less time.

        • When I just give the facts when asked, 9 out of 10 people first response is “he had a midlife crisis”. I think it just shows that alot of people believe in MLC and no matter the variety, they all fall under the general term.

      • Mike,
        A friend of mine, a female divorce mediator, used the same word, “epidemic,” to describe the same phenomena, walk aways at midlife.

      • maybe there IS something to that Chemtrail theory ….hmmmm? becuz its happening around here too . Of course in my case “Desperate Housewives” played some part as well as those miserable dull friends of hers that wanted company in their misery and yes a dose of NPD and lack of morals and a strong whiff of entitlement…sounds like a whole recipe of things

  • Tracy,

    I can’t imagine how, but I somehow missed the original Spectrum of Cheaters post. I love your shark in people clothing illustration and love, love, love the post.

    To answer your final question in today’s blog: I prefer the Freddy Krueger kind of cheating where they both get ripped apart by a psycho while they’re in the throes of passion! (insert evil laugh here). Alas, he’s still my son’s beloved sperm donor so that’s not entirely true, but a cathartic thought nonetheless.

  • I posted on that thread at WAPO and you get a lot of people who talk about the part both people played in the demise of the marriage. However, the overwhelming majority were DTMFA in that comment section. There are a few people in the Hax comments that are there all the time, they do the “I’m not victim blaming but there obviously were issues in the relationship” thing. No matter how you try to make clear that those two issues are distinctly different – they just don’t get it.

    “But infidelity, like love, doesn’t just come in one flavour.” There is only one distinction between those who cheat. There is someone who fucked up once and someone who knowingly continued beyond a single “mistake”. As far as I am concerned the only time you can save a relationship after cheating is if: The cheater comes to you and confesses and asks for forgiveness, shows true remorse and can deal with your needs in learning to trust them again AND it was a single encounter, whether sex or a kiss. Last one is the emotional affair, that still requires the person doing it to realize it is happening, end it and confess to you they were wrong.

    • You know, I was surprised Hax took the dump the motherfucker tack on that column. Usually I find her very much of the “chump drove them to it” school of thought. Thanks for the link! I saw another poster had linked to me, more generally, as well.

      I agree with the one time thing, except that in so many cases cheaters minimize or only confess to what you can prove. I’m also not impressed by cheaters who confess. I think that’s often because they want to get to the narrative first before they’re outed by the partner of their affair partner, or someone else. I think the only distinction that matters are the cheaters who can do the work and be consistently remorseful. Sadly, IMO, they’re a tiny minority.

      • Actually I was the one that gave your main link, someone else gave the specific link to a post. Any time I read a cheater column I generally work your site in there somewhere because you rock.

        Anyhow, even if they act truly remorseful and it’s one time, the confession has to be made – if you catch them and they do all those things I don’t trust it a bit.

    • “I’m not victim blaming but there obviously were issues in the relationship”

      Tell me about it! I was married to the sort of guy who would cheat, and then walk out on his family without looking back! It was tough to be married to that sort of character, but I really did the best I could to make it work. But you know what they say, “It takes two,” and when one person isn’t all in–you can give and give, but in the end, you realize that making it work with someone that damaged is really nearly impossible. I was naive for thinking that love would overcome his inner demons. Sometimes that’s what happens when you marry young. Eh! I forgive myself. My heart and my head were in the right place.

      (Fight cliche with cliche, that’s what I say–some people think and understand only in slogans, it seems.)

    • Can’t remember which Chump Lady went after the “highly evolved” that have mastered the art of forgiving yet must suffer the less evolved chumps who just can’t let go of everything. It was note perfect and suited one or two of them to a T……

  • I’ll say something about mid-life crises. My xW went off the rails right around the time she turned 40, and her mother died of cancer. “Mid-life crisis”?

    Not so much IMO. More like, for someone whose self-regard is dominated by her ability to attract men, reaching that benchmark age freaked her out some. And then, her mother’s demise removed the one person from her world whose approval was absolutely essential to her. Off to the races!

    I would bet that a lot of “mid-life crises” fall into that category. People who have a lot of selfishness and not so much empathy can go along for a while with a marriage, because they like the stability and they’re getting enough kibbles: they get a better lifestyle, they get to look like a solid citizen, their spouse reflects well on them, their kids think they’re cool.

    But the routine gets old, they get older which is scary, the spouse gets older and no longer seems like such a great possession, the kids get more independent and less impressed with their parents. So they go looking for newer/better kibble supplies (or one presents itself) and it’s on!

    Something I’ve seen on the mid-life forums that I can relate to is the whole notion of “Aliens stole the person I loved, and replaced (him or her) with this simulacrum that’s a real asshole. Where do I go to get my spouse back?”

    That’s what it seemed like to me too for a while. I finally clued in though: her present selfish asshole persona is the more real one; the one from before, where she put up a front of having ethics and some empathy, with a generous helping of spackle, was the false one.

    • That’s what it seemed like to me too for a while. I finally clued in though: her present selfish asshole persona is the more real one; the one from before, where she put up a front of having ethics and some empathy, with a generous helping of spackle, was the false one.

      Yep, most of us don’t grow up to be astronauts, firemen, and rock stars (or in my case amusement park creators) who date cheerleaders who are always perfect and telling us how great we are 🙂 Most of us can look at how egotistical and two-dimensional those imaginings were.

      Most of us adapt and develop a more mature, resilient and integrated sense of self along with more empathy and compassion toward others. It’s not just a front.

      Look at it this way: you woke up one day to discover your wife was not who you thought she was, your life was not what you thought it was, and this–no doubt–created a sense of anomy (things you valued like your marriage, your family, etc are called into question) and precipitated a crisis.

      This happened in your mid-life. It was a crisis, it was in your mid-life, but it doesn’t conform to the stereotype of a mid-life crisis.

      Now, as you weathered this storm, adapted, and integrated all of this into your sense of self you may have taken time to get into better shape. After you got divorced, you might have even got that new red sporty car you had always wanted. Hey, this is more in line with the stereotype, so should we say you are having a mid-life crisis? LOL. Did you just throw your core values out? No, I bet you didn’t. If anything, chances are you thought long and hard about them and now know them better than before.

      That’s how people with higher ego-integrity bounce back. When you were down, the times you went around trying not to broadcast the fact that your were feeling like you might not be able to cope are probably as close as you will get to having poor ego-integrity if you are like most adults in their mid-life.

      It’s a bunch of nonsense, IMIO.

      • “Now, as you weathered this storm, adapted, and integrated all of this into your sense of self you may have taken time to get into better shape. … Did you just throw your core values out? No, I bet you didn’t. If anything, chances are you thought long and hard about them and now know them better than before.”

        LOVE THIS! And, it’s true–that’s exactly what I did. I read a philosophy book about values and self-esteem, and it all came together. Brought me enormous relief, too. I knew I would be ok, because I DID haves strong values, and I knew what those values were (still do.)

        GOD, I love the people at this site. You all are so smart and compassionate and really top-notch. It’s just crazy to think we all managed to hook up with such broken, weak people.

    • VRE, I experienced some of the same things with my ex as you did. He was never a very empathetic person. He knew how to act empathetic, but I believe he didn’t really feel the emotion. My first clue about this was when he came home from work one day and said “I found out how I can get people to do just about anything I want.” I answered, “Oh yeah, how?” and he answered, “I just have to act like I care.”

      The second thing that rings true for me is that my ex was really worried about getting older (he’s 54 now). He was always athletic but really went overboard towards the last few years working out, losing tons of weight, etc. In the end when I hugged him he didn’t even feel like himself, he was so thin wiry. He’d lost much of the muscle he’d always had over the 31 years we were married. My ex had always gotten a lot of attention from women, and enjoyed it. However, going bald and getting older bothered him a lot. He seemed terrified of losing his power.

      • Lyn, yes.

        Do you know what sparked all this off in my life?

        His hair started falling out.

    • vre, a lot of what you said rang true with me too. My EXH imploded around his 40th birthday and I know he was scared of getting old. All of a sudden he was buying “trendy” jeans and going to the gym. His driving scared me and it never did before (he lost his license for a while as he was speeding everywhere and driving like an idiot – thrills?). He suddenly wanted to stay out partying till the wee hours turning into some attention seeking party animal that I hadn’t seen before. He just seemed to be reverting to his teenage years. I remember thinking (before I’d even heard anyone else say it), wow, its really like my quiet, loving husband and family man has been invaded by an alien! And its funny to now hear it said by other chumps.

      I’m not that happy about being 40 something either but that doesn’t mean that I’ve somehow overnight lost my morals and values. Hard to understand these cheaters and what they give up for cake.

    • You know Vre, you got me thinking. My x is 50, ran out with a 22 year old nothing after getting her pregnant. Our children were 10, 14 and 16. I figured mid life crisis. He was bored. He has been bored since he was 40. I caught him chatting as bored lonely 40 guy just after giving birth to our youngest. He was raised by his grandmother, his mother is an arsehole. She died shortly after my eldest was born. She chose me for him. I was the first girl she liked, educated, good job, nice family, neat and tidy. Not his usual “type”. Maybe after she died, he decided to resort back to his “type”. This has been going on for a long time. Maybe? Or am I just trying to unavel the skein?

      • I think there’s something to that Nat, and it’s not just a temporal coincidence. My ex cared a lot about having the respect of my father, and to a lesser degree his. When both died and his mother got put away with dementia, there was nobody around to pull back on the reins and he just went off wild. I do think that there’s a fear of age, of death, of not mattering that’s involved and that hits harder when the generation above you goes and you’re next in line.

  • One of the things CL has taught me is that there may be a spectrum from narcissistic to sociopathic behavior, but it is ALL over the line. My rights, my needs, my boundaries have all been violated. And there is no excuse whatsoever for any of it! Midlife crisis, FOO issues, drunk, alone, lost a job, out-of-town? Cheating is cheating! Just like being “a little bit pregnant” it doesn’t matter if it was “just one night” or a twenty year affair, the cheater’s behavior is something he/she alone is accountable and responsible for. When they decide that they are entitled to cheat, what’s next???

  • Thank you, my diet does not include infidelity, any flavor of it. I am terminally allergic to it. My body reacts to is as to any poison…

    diarrhoea (diarrhea)
    stomach pain
    drowsiness, dizziness or weakness
    fever and chills (shivering)
    loss of appetite
    headache or irritability
    difficulty swallowing
    producing more saliva than normal
    skin rash
    double or blurred vision
    seizures (fits)
    coma and death (in severe cases)

  • You go girl… CL pls continue to say it like it is.. call a sh^%$ sandwich by no other name… Call the Cheater’s game off… Enuf already! And the entire Chumpdom’s with u

  • Thank you for pointing out those who are actually sorry they cheated. I don’t speak for my husband. He is actually a sociopathic asshole with no remorse. He does because he can.

    Around the time I was divorcing, I found out a couple of my friends had an affair or participated in an affair. I appreciated their frankness and candor, particularly in light of my situation. They were remorseful, apologetic, and in each instance, accepted the consequences of their actions. They made no excuses.

    However, I wholeheartedly agree that most people do not fall into this category. Wholeheartedly.

  • We all know there is “cheatin” and then there’s “CheaTING” !
    or perhaps you should consider including the “Cheater Meter” in your book.
    It could serve as an aid to determine the severity of the cheating, what is “forgivable”, what is not.One night stand vs. a 3 year affair.
    Much like the Rancho Scale for brain injuries …
    or perhaps look a doing a board game , “Wheel- O- Cheating” !
    Chumps could spin the wheel , and do various things like “eat the shit sandwich”, dance the “Pick Me Polka”, collect Unicorns, go 10 steps back to “Limbo”, or spin your way out of the “Affair Fog”.
    “Fun for everyone “

    • It’s not up to me to say what is forgivable. I don’t think you should reconcile with anyone who doesn’t lead the charge and do the very hard work for a very long time. It really comes down to us. What our deal breakers are. What our boundaries are. Once is too much for some, others can try and forgive multiple infidelities. Some can’t abide an EA.

      I think the odds are very, very long for any cheater who has cheated more than once, and conducted a double life. It’s too engrained. It would be too hard to know “sincere” cheater from duplicitous cheater. And being the marriage police would drive you nuts.

      • I think we need different words for guilt like Eskimos have for snow. There’s the slinky, grimacing, guilt guilt you see from your poodle when it peed on the rug. That’s really not guilt — that’s apprehension of the consequences from you finding the puddle. And it knows you’re eventually going to step right in it. Then there’s the non-guilt guilt of the dog that pees and doesn’t care about the consequences. Finally, true guilt would be the dog that dumps a load and does whatever it takes to make it right with you. He cleans it up and flushes it down the toilet. He rents a Rug Doctor and shampoos the carpet. If that isn’t enough to make it all better, he replaces the rug. Those dogs are pretty rare IMHO.

  • I think that there are two people who want to believe there is more than “one kind of cheating, done for one kind of reason:” cheaters and their chumps. Both want to be better in their class.

    CL nails it with the chumps. No one likes finding out that their spouse is banging their co-worker on those nights where work goes late. It’s easy to blame it on mid-life crisis. Oh the humanity! I have to eat shit sandwiches because my husband is going through mid-life crisis/my wife is going through menopause!

    See, your spouse didn’t really cheat. It was an accident. They really didn’t mean to do it. Sure, the affair lasted for over a year, and they copped to it only after you confront them, but the point is that they’re over it, so why aren’t you?

    The same goes for the cheater. No one likes looking in the mirror and seeing a morally bankrupt adulterer who lied to his/her family, used marital assets to fund the affair, skipped little Jimmy’s first trumpet solo to meet up with his mistress, said she was ill for Suzy’s science fair so she could play cougar with the soccer coach. The cheaters can’t be those people. They’re the people who have the mid-life crisis, their needs aren’t being met, their spouses let themselves “go,” etc.

    It’s not their fault they’re cheating. They have good reasons.

    I call bullshit on both.

    You see, anyone who writes that they can see the point if the chump is married to a “manipulative jerk who is having a long term affair outside the marriage” is not thinking.

    1. All affairs are manipulative. No one says to their spouse, “hey honey, I’ll be home late because I’m having a quick screw with the new person in Marketing.” Oh no. They’re home late because they have to work. So. Hard. For the family, doncha know.
    2. All cheaters are jerks. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which someone who lies to their partner to be with the AP, misses family events in order to be with their AP, absconds with family money to have fun with the AP. and exposes their spouse to STDs picked up from the AP can be anything other than a jerk.
    3. Short term affairs are as bad as long-term ones. I don’t see anyone saying, “Honey, you don’t mind if I have this one-night stand, do you? It’s not a 20-year affair, after all.”
    4. Married people aren’t the only ones cheated on. Okay, I know that the wedding vows make marriage a bit different, but there is a wide range of committed relationships. If your relationship is predicated on mutual monogamy, then when your partner breaks that monogamy, then your partner is a cheater. And that makes your partner a bad person and you a chump.

    Own the fact that you’ve been Chumped, and that your cheater is a Cheater.

    That is the first step on the Road to Meh.

    • Thanks for the link, Lyn. I especially appreciated the “Reasons Men Cheat” section. I think this could have been titled “Reasons Men and Women Cheat”. I agree with ChumpLady, people cheat because they feel entitled, but this article points out the underlying reasons one would cheat. All sad and pathetic.

    • My ex is still trying to convince me there were ‘legit’ or at least ‘understandable’ reasons he cheated, and to convince the family therapist he’s seeing w/the kids that it was an exit affair, rather than cake. Like a good narc, he can’t STAND that people might see him for what he is.

      I have to admit, to me a clear exit affair isn’t QUITE as bad – actually and openly unhappy in marriage, made some effort at least to fix it, but too cowardly and immature to leave without a ‘soft landing’. Find said soft landing, tell spouse immediately (including the existence of the AP), leave w/o any of the BS the narcs give – no gaslighting, no blaming, no encouraging the “pick me dance”, no unicorn sightings, do the separation and/or divorce respectfully …. Does seem LESS disgusting than what the narcs and sociopaths do. Horrible, but without that almost sadistic edge ….

      Feel free to rip me to shreds for this one – I may need more info/a different perspective!

      But for my ex it was cake, all cake all the time, and 100% cake, both affairs. During the first one he even ‘reassured’ his mom that he had NO intentions of leaving me and the kids. She was the one who had to inform him that if he didn’t end it tout de suite I was the one who would leave!

      • No need to compare which type of affair is less hideous.

        While I am grateful that I didn’t have to go through a false reconciliation, or the humiliation of serial or continuous affairs (though I do have nagging doubts that this affair was his first betrayal), I can say without a doubt that the exit affair left me shattered and very alone–very vulnerable. It was bad enough.

        You are right–he is a coward, just like the cheater who stays and continues to cheat. If he was so unhappy in the marriage, I can vouch that his eagerness to find satisfaction outside the family, instead of from being our patriarch (with all its privilege and responsibility), was largely responsible for the demise of our marriage and his own misery. Did he find happiness? No. He doesn’t know himself. He has no values. He does not live the sort of life that leads one to happiness. He chases whims and feelings, and any thrill he feels from time to time, is fleeting. He looks into the mirror and sees himself. When he lays down at night, though it is next to the biggest living mistake of his life, he is very much alone. He knows he has made a mess of his life. He knows he is a coward. And he has to live with himself, wherever he goes.

        You’re right, he’s not sadistic, just pathetic, and a big, huge disappointment.

        Jesus, there are times I actually feel sorry for him. He’s not narcissistic, not in my case, anyway–at least not by my understanding. He’s just a victim of his own making, and his family is collateral damage.

        • ” Did he find happiness? No. He doesn’t know himself. He has no values. He does not live the sort of life that leads one to happiness. He chases whims and feelings, and any thrill he feels from time to time, is fleeting. He looks into the mirror and sees himself. When he lays down at night, though it is next to the biggest living mistake of his life, he is very much alone. He knows he has made a mess of his life. He knows he is a coward. And he has to live with himself, wherever he goes.”

          –Stephanie, you have an incredible ability to put your finger on the issue and verbalized it. I have saved copies of many of your posts. Some ring in my head over and over, so authentically and eloquently do you address our issues. Thank you.

          • Ah, you are too kind. Believe me that it is easy to say, and sometimes hard to believe, in a weak moment. But fundamentally, I do believe that cheaters are UNhappy, unsettled people right to the core.

        • Well said, I am in the same boat. “Nagging doubts” are also know as instincts. Trust these as I’m sure you did when he was having the affair. Mine also believed he was finding happiness with OW (I’m sure all the ego stroking she was doing was helping that along.) Unbeknown to him, happiness lies within, he may work this out one day, to not rely on external and material things to prop you up. And yes, me too, I feel sorry for my ex at times, its called empathy, something he did not have while he was having the affair.

      • “I have to admit, to me a clear exit affair isn’t QUITE as bad – actually and openly unhappy in marriage, made some effort at least to fix it, but too cowardly and immature to leave without a ‘soft landing’. Find said soft landing, tell spouse immediately (including the existence of the AP), leave w/o any of the BS the narcs give – no gaslighting, no blaming, no encouraging the “pick me dance”, no unicorn sightings, do the separation and/or divorce respectfully …. Does seem LESS disgusting than what the narcs and sociopaths do. Horrible, but without that almost sadistic edge ….”

        I may have misunderstood the term a ‘clear exit affair’ here, no affair is ever acceptable, and I have not heard of many ‘clear’ exit affairs. My XH obviously had an ‘exit affair’ (he did it because he knew it would have finished us) on his path to self affirmation and his quest for the holy Fucking Grail, but he also did the gaslighting, blaming and everything else mentioned above, the worst part was that he was, to everyone around him, Mr Wonderful. I had no idea because up until 5 hrs before he walked out he never mentioned anything was wrong, because he was MR FUCKING WONDERFUL. And his idea of an exit affair was not because I would not forgive him, I did (stupidly, lovingly- I had a lot invested:-)) He could not forgive himself…………how noble an excuse to end a marriage, that’s what Narcs do, twist it around so it is always about them, not you, they are more of a victim than you, they hurt too, boo hoo, even more than you!!!!!!!

        We are all Chumps, and the worst part is that the further we come out of the fog we realise just how much of a chump we became, I don’t recognise myself when I look back at all that shit I put up with.

        One of the hardest things was that everyone who knew my XH as ‘Mr Wonderful’ and they could not believe he would do anything to hurt me, like I somehow must have deserved or known he was so unhappy etc. The Narcs that tell their partner they love them every day, smother them with caring (actually controlling) comments etc. are, in my opinion the deadliest. My picker must be totally fucked because prior to my
        XH I had been in a relationship with a right nut job and so for a few years afterwards I set my boundaries very high, then along came Mr Too Good to be True and I thought I was happy for 16 + years. I should have seen the red flags that are so obvious now, but I had, or so I thought, a fantastic loving 16 years………right up until the day he told me he was leaving beacause he was soooooooooo unhappy and Miss Sparkly Knickers was his new best friend…………

        My XH once turned to me at the very beginning after having been very verbally cruel and abusive and smirked,then he said
        ” This can’t be wrong ………..because it feels so right”- I did not understand it at the time, because I was on another forum and I was convinced he was having a midlife crisis. Now, I just believe that this is who he was really was all along.

        5 mths after divorce was final I am nearly at the stage of meh but I am increasingly disgusted and shocked at the amount of infidelity out there……society has a big part to play here and peoples morals seem to deteriorating, a bit like the ‘me me’ generation of kids that are around nowadays, they, too, have scarily become very self entitled. My 13 yr old niece never ceases to leave me flabbergasted with what ‘she believes she should have’. When I point this out to her mother, funnily enough she dismisses it as “that’s what what all kids do nowadays”.

        • At 13, it’s pretty normal (and at 3 ys old too!) to be somewhat self-centered and entitled; too scary to grow up, otherwise! But it has to be a PHASE that they grow out of, not a spot they get stuck in forever. Your niece, w/her mother acting like that’s normal, that’s not going to help. Most 2 year olds hit or bite sometimes, and that’s normal, but we still stop them and teach them that this is not acceptable, we help them grow out of it!

          • I think I must of married and divorced one of those that never grew out of it……….:-)

            • My ex is EXACTLY like a 3 year old. Completely self-centered (to the point of not understanding that other people might really be hungry when he’s not hungry yet), ZERO patience – must have what he wants NOW, no understanding of other people or how any kind of human relationship works, no moral sense at all, completely overwhelmed by whatever emotion he’s experiencing at the moment and unable to comprehend or remember that he might feel differently at another time, unable to calm or soothe himself, completely bewildered that anyone would still be upset about something he doesn’t consider important or figures is over, throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way, very inconsistent in what he thinks and believes, unable to create or sustain friendships …

              The most pathetic part isn’t even that he’s like this, but that I had such a HUGE bucket of spackle and so much willingness to apply it that it took me years to figure it out. Part of it is ignorance; who knew toddlers came in such big, smart, handsome packages? But part was pure chumpdom. (Chumphood? Chumpishness? Chumpiness?)

  • What I have learned after 10 months out from my one D Day with the ex boyfriend and reaching meh two months ago, is that he is without question a Sociopath. I have also learned looking back that all the signs of trouble were there from almost day one and he told me who he was (admitted to being a sex addict but of course manipulated me into thinking he did the therapy and was on anti depressants so all was ok) but I chose not to really see that truth or dig in and learn at that time what that actually meant. I learned that he does the same thing over and over again and still hasn’t stopped. He also compares women he has been with to each other regularly. I have learned that he is lazy, sloppy, entiteled and always a victim and will never change. I have accepted the fact that I was most definitely chumped and that I did play a role in it as far as letting the relationship go on when I saw red flags all over the place but just hadn’t fully understood them.

    I now know that he was and remains a really really bad guy and I clearly see the reasons why he is a bad guy and if I had to do it all over again, I would never have gone a second date with him, which is what my initial gut told me after our first date. I wasn’t even interested or attracted to him. That all changed on the 2nd date and led me down the path of chumpdone.

    The realization of all that happened has made me very wise and has given me strong boundaries. I feel well protected by myself which allows me to remain open and willing to take the risk in meeting someone new and open to falling in love with someone who is worthy of that love. I reached meh firmly two months ago, I really don’t care what he is doing with the new victim as I know nothing good can come from him or being with him as there is absolutely nothing good there at all and never was (20/20 in hindsight of course).

    I realize now that my life is mine to live how I choose and I also get to choose the man I want in my life and not the other way around as well as all of the people in my life. If a feel a red flag, I listen to it and examine it and take action based upon it.

    Although I would love to meet a wonderful guy, that is not 1st on my list of priorities. My life and well being are 1st. I now have faced my fears and my weaknesses and I work on what is important to me and I move forward every day on both a spiritual, intellectual and motivational level. Next is moving forward on a physical level for me.

    I have finally reached a point where this very very bad and traumatizing event that occurred in my life has become a wonderful event in my life that has opened me up in so many ways and I truly know the best is yet to come.

    Never have I felt I was a better chump than another and always I have felt that this place is a great place to be, Chumplady that is. Chumplady and the other chumps on this site have given this particular chump her two very strong legs back and for that I am forever grateful.

  • Hmm, interesting. I’ve come from the school of thought that all cheaters are textbook narcissists (with very very few exceptions, such as it was a drug induced “accident), and most fall somewhere on the sociopathic spectrum.

  • I suspect that if we chumps knew all or searched carefully, most of us would find that the “exit affair” was simply the affair in which the cheater finally got caught in his web of lies. As CL says, they only cop to what you already know. It’s like cockroaches, if you see one…..

    • Kelly, I think you are dead on. My XH admitted to just the one, albeit long term, affair. Looking back, however, I’ve recognized patterns in his behavior toward me that probably coincided with cheating with others. 15 years later, I still wonder where the comment “why don’t you wear sexy sleepwear, like a silk camisole and tap pants, like all the young women do”? How the hell did he know what tap pants were?

    • I tend to think “exit affair” really means either:

      A. You finally caught them cheating.
      B. They finally cheated with someone willing to take them on full-time.

  • My first long term relationship started at 18 and we grew apart. My SO met a woman he really liked and she was coming to his gigs – after 6 weeks of no sex I flat asked him what was going on, he told me he’d met someone he was very attracted to, he realized he wanted kids and so did she. I said I still don’t want children and he should decide if that’s what he really wanted within 30 days. He decided to leave, there was no drama, no bullshit. We split our belongings, he married the woman and had kids. I forgave him because what he did was out of character, he respected me enough not to get in bed with me after he met her and he didn’t fuck with my head. We are still friends 20 years later.

    My current ex put me through hell, a whole different kind person.

  • As I’m reading all of your comments, I am growing slightly confused as to where I really stand on this. I mean, my DD was late this summer, so I’m relatively new to this. 14 yrs invested with a child. I’ve been a SAHM for a few years so I’m in this classic situation of “can’t leave just yet, financially dependent on my cheater.”
    I feel like I’m still very much processing what happened to me and my wounds are very raw. I’m depressed, anxious, trying to keep it together for my child but it seems as the “fog” many of you describe on here, is not lifting yet. Anyway, I’m confused about one thing in regard to this post and that is, I really don’t know which category my cheater belongs in. He had 2 affairs back to back, both lasting a few weeks each. One with a married woman, another with a floozy he picked up at a bar. They happened shortly after I made a comment to him one day, amidst months of fighting and disconnect btw us, that “I think we should break up.” So literally the following week after I’ve made that comment, he goes out and finds himself a fuck buddy. But keeps it a secret, nevertheless. She actually wasn’t;t even a complete stranger but a wife of one of his work clients. Claims they bonded over their own dissatisfaction in their relationships (barf.)

    Fast forward to shortly after DD and he’s doing everything that’s considered textbook behavior of a remorseful man. The whole shabang, actually. The flowers, the massages, the sorry notes… even stuff he hasn’t done in years, like do the dishes, vacuum. It’s perplexing to me for a couple of reasons, one being that immediately after my discovery (thank you, smart phones, you really are smart), he promptly ended the last relationship. It just seems odd to me why bother with cheating in a first place if the affair wasn’t that significant to him. To this day, he calls OW “an idiot, intellectually inferior” to me, nowhere near sexually satisfying than me, etc. The other thing is, whether I should even consider reconciliation. I would lie if I didn’t admit that his “I’m sorry” behavior isn’t flattering. He is constantly sulking and repeating that he was “depressed” when he started fucking around but now “he’s back” and will never ever do it again, yada yada yada.
    I just don’t know how to feel. Really. I have these truly conflicting feelings that range from pure pain and obsessions over what’s he’s done (I’m obsessed with one of the OW, I will post about this separately), to having days when I feel almost indifferent towards him and are looking toward the day when I find my true love. Again, back to my original dilemma, how do I know my cheater is really remorseful or is it just an act?

    • You will only know if he continues to be remorseful, not resentful, and moves hell on earth to work on your marriage, unfortunately having been where you are I can honestly say chances are that he will implode at some point in the future. Sadly, he ain’t back, he was probably never ever ‘there’.

      Sorry to be harsh, but that is why I am a Chump and on this website, I wasted months reconciling, I may be divorced and financially stuffed at the moment but I am no longer experiencing and processing all those emotions and turmoil that you are presently experiencing.

      You never get that 100% trust back, ever. And, btw they always diss the AP, she/he was stupid, annoying, it was just for sex, yeah – it was so bad they went back for seconds………………. until they get caught.

      • I’m not sure how you tell if he means it but if he’s constantly sulking and blaming his actions on situational depression that’s a clue. Is he expecting you to just let it go and let’s not talk about it? is he getting upset because you want to know where he was when he was late? How sure are you he cut off the affair? The whole issue with taking back your spouse after an affair is trust, I bought my ex’s “doing everything right” in 2000 and when I got depressed after my Mom died and subsequently came out into daylight he was having an affair. He said I wasn’t there for him, he was depressed…so it’s all variable except what most of us know is that down deep it’s usually; sorry I got caught, I’ll do whatever to stay married and then I’ll do whatever I want when you trust me again.

  • Not sure about the Washington Post, but you were mentioned in the comments section of an article in the Boston Globe early this week.

  • My “exit affair wife” left me and married her soulmate AP. She has a business illustrating children’s books and children’s reading material. In her advertising for her business, she denies she ever had a previous marriage or a divorce. She pretends this is her only marriage. They lie to you and they lie after they leave you to preserve their image. I don’t know if that is on the sociopath spectrum, but it helped me understand that deceit was a pattern that continues to work for her in her life. I hope they are both happy together now, and are honest with each other, if not the rest of the real world.

  • CL, I think there’s a connection between what “kind” of cheater someone is and how sorry they are. For example, if someone cheats once and then confesses on their own, I’m more willing to believe that they are sorry than if they have had multiple affair partners and slept with them in your home, etc.

    Also, I don’t think chumps believe that there are different kinds of cheaters just because they don’t want to be victims. I would guess they love their partner and want to have things work out.

    Personally, I think some cheating is worse than other cheating. However, I don’t think a cheater should ever say that about their own cheating!

  • I just wish people would stop putting cheating in some special category. I have a good friend and when I told him that cheating requires seriously deceiving your spouse on so many levels and that it the ultimate betrayal because this is the person you trust above all others. He said to me that cheating is different, that he could see where someone might screw up and then be afraid to lose their spouse so they’d maybe dig in deeper. This just made me nuts. So I said to him, what if your best friend promised to take care of your kids one day and then they just walked out and left the babies without telling you? So you come home and your kids are missing or maybe they are hurt or what ever. He sez, that would be a deal breaker, I could never trust them again. Bingo.

  • Disordered people think differently than we do. My STBX still says “i never stopped loving you” and “the affairs meant nothing”, He never figured out the correlation between making these inane comments and having to duck household artifacts. I am 2.5 years out from D-Day, 30 days away from freedom and still choke up if I let myself wonder why. Only now my sorrow is tempered by the reality that he’s a basket case. Would I cross the road to avoid him. You bet.

  • BTW, HP has a blog about men calling women sluts, crazy and generally gaslighting. The men on CL’s blog appear to be labelled as well. It is all about power and keeping the chump in a one down position. In a new relationship the honeymoon stage is over more quickly for one. This puts the other in the position of having to do the “pick me” dance even if they don’t realize it for years. It alters the personality of the relationship and gives way too much power to one person. If that person is disordered then the chump spends years trying to make sense of a senseless situation. My brother tried for years to fix a marriage without ever seeing what was very obvious to everyone else. The fact that he genuinely loved her made it impossible for him to see the real her.

    • Thewatcher, I’m betting that for your brother, it was the fact that he genuinely loved her, AND he was assuming (like so many here!) that his wife was inherently similar to himself. Perhaps a bit more difficult, or a bit immature, but essentially a decent person, with some empathy for others, some respect for the truth, some concern about her relationships, and some desire to GIVE as well as receive.

      I think it’s that assumption that does WAY more damage and drags things out way longer than the actual ‘love’ part.

      First because it’s easier to reduce the love felt, when we can see the cold-eyed selfishness that’s actually inside most cheaters. And also because we can sometimes then realize that despite loving the person, we must get away from them, for our own, and often our children’s, health and happiness.

      • This was exactly why I stayed for over two decades after the first affair. I just cannot comprehend the behavior.

        • Even now I find myself trying to explain things to my ex, like exactly why it’s a problem to lie to people, or how his taking his kids for granted damaged his relationship with them. Then I realize I am SOOOOOO wasting my breath. I spent 14 married years trying to explain this stuff and more, thinking that SOMEHOW I could get through to him, and that would shift his attitudes and behaviour.

          I don’t know how much of the ex’s emotional idiocy is genetic and familial (low capacity for empathy, completely dysfunctional FOO), and how much is just that he really, really doesn’t want to be bothered with thinking about how other people feel. He’s not like you and me, and that’s all that matters, and at least I’m getting faster at reminding myself of that.

  • Sorry to go off topic but someone posted a link to a narcissism site a few CL posts ago and now I can’t find it. Anyone want to repost it or point me in the right direction?

    • Do you remember the focus of the site, Nord? There are so many, and of such varying quality ….

      • It was two or three posts ago I think and the link went to a page that was about narcissistic female partners, but the site itself was about narcissism in general. If anyone remembers what it was I’d be grateful. 🙂

  • I wonder if I’m in a minority here but for me, as I’m slowly realizing, it almost doesn’t matter WHICH brand of cheater mine is, because it is the constant images in my head of him fucking other women that won’t let me rest. It’s like this revolving thought that regardless of the fact that he claims “it meant nothing”, or that he was “lost” or depressed or whatever, he still stuck his dirty dick into someone else’s vagina. And I’m sorry to be vulgar here.

    • I understand what you’re saying. I had a hard time facing that stuff until one day someone told me something they had seen years ago that they never told me about. It was so gross that whenever I start to mourn ex or miss him I remind myself of that story and then I just go ‘ewwww’. It was so disrespectful and so gross that I cannot ever get past it and think of ex as anything other than a rutting pig with no morals at all.

  • Excellent post as usual CL. So true! and also so true to the mark regarding the Spectrum of Cheaters. The image of the ruthless, cold-eyed shark fits my xh perfectly.
    I also have to admit to feelings of some discomfort with this post too. On reflection, I realize that my discomfort stems from your point of the very human trait of rationalizing one’s chumpiness. It’s an AHA moment for me.
    I do believe that my extended road to healing and getting to meh revolve around my unwillingness/inability to admit that I had indeed made a serious misjudgement of my xh’s character. I realized early on after DD that I had no control of his actions throughout our marriage or the future. I was also not prepared to eat the shit sandwich he was offering – saying he was sorry ( sorry he was caught actually) and his inability to actually act remorseful. I left him and within a week he had met someone else and it was as if our 31 years together never happened. It was all unbelievable – the amount of cheating over SO many years as well as the dispassionate swiftness of on with his new life.
    My disbelief knew no bounds. I was so sucker-punched I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha.
    However, I am only realizing now, years down the line, how much my unwillingness/inability to admit that I had indeed made a HUGE misjudgement of the love of my life and father of my children’s character slowed my healing big time. I cut off all interaction with people who had known us. I still don’t know the full extent of his cheating and so avoided any contact with most people we knew because I didn’t know who of my friends he approached and who knew about his cheating. My ego was dented big time of course, but the easiest way for me was to avoid any contact and therefore avoided admitting that yes, I had been chumped for all those years.
    A really good post Tracy! Feeling this discomfort, asking myself why this pained me
    and then realizing that I owe it to myself to slay that particular dragon breathing fire down my neck – not sure how I am going to do this but IT IS TIME! I have reached Meh for the most part and this is just another step in the right direction.
    Thank you.

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