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Dear Chump Lady, I don’t want to be a bitter misogynist, but…

Dear Chump Lady,

Today was the 30th day since my 2.5 year long divorce nightmare ended. And, tonight I’m feeling certain that I know a fundamental truth about women that I DO NOT want to believe. Tonight I am convinced that almost all women see men as a means to a shallow ends. Will he provide me enough, will he praise me enough, will he stay good looking enough, will he raise my social status enough, etc… and when he no longer does, will I still be young enough to find a replacement, when this man has served all the purposes I have for him now.

I know the fellow chump ladies would say, that is what their NPD would say of them. I know it is not just a female issue, there are sucky men out there. (Although, I don’t know them, while almost all my male friends have been put through hell by women like that).

I don’t want to be a bitter old man (I’m 50 now). I don’t want to be a misogynist. But, tonight, that feels like the real truth. That women see men not as mates, but as stepping stones, that mean no more than the dirt they wipe on them from their expensive high heeled shoes, as they walk all over the subservient, codependent men, on their way to their selfish version of happiness.

Please, CL, and the ladies of your blog, put me in my place, and tell me I am wrong. Before I become the bitter old misogynist I don’t want to be.

Steve

Dear Steve,

Excuse me, before I can answer your letter, I need to remove my Manolo Blahniks and stab some sniveling man with my heel. (I find that’s the best way to remove the dirt.) Ah, happiness! Next, I shall peruse the glossy holiday catalog that just arrived “Gold Digger — Upgrading Stylishly!” where I will page through pages of handsome profiles, (Biff Biffson, internet entrepreneur! Nils Hunkgren ski instructor! Walter Greedsnort, commodities trader!) and look at my husband askance to see if he measures up. Hmm. Lawyer. This is good. Hmmm. Wardrobe. Not so good. Maybe I could trade him in for a man who wears French cuff shirts.

But let’s get real, Steve, is a man with gold cufflinks, a guy who will buy me all the Manolo Blahniks I deserve — is he going to be interested in squigdy, middle-aged me? Maybe, if he’s 70 or something, and not that discerning. But to get the quality chump — you know, the sort of guy who will let me bleed him dry — I need to up my game. So before I chuck my clueless husband, first I’ll soak him for a gym membership and some liposuction. Straighten my hair, botox my inner thighs, shellac my eyebrows, pluck my ears, and exfoliate my elbows. Once made over, I’m the kind of flaky sexpot Walter Greedsnort could never resist.

Oh so what if there are 1,700 facsimiles of me profiled in the glossy catalog men get “Bimbos Better Than Your Wife” (Mindy Muffet, shop girl! ZseZse Planck, masseuse! Bitsy Drake, artful accessory! Inoffensive and nice to look at! And she doubles as a houseplant!) That’s what you men want, isn’t it? A pretty face, big boobs, and willing orifices?

No? You’re not like that? You want more? You want a friend too? A spiritual connection? A person who will sit through a Cubs game with you and like it? Someone to grow old with? The kind of gal who makes an effort but doesn’t spend $120 each week on elbow exfoliation?

Yes we exist, Steve. Of course we exist. And nice men exist too. Men who are more than the sum of their wallets.

You’re just having a fit that’s common to chumps at times — the I Hate the Entire Gender, They’re All Like My Crappy Ex.

You know why you’re feeling that way? Because it’s easier than feeling like a chump.

Hey, if the game is rigged, if they’re ALL like that, well you were never vulnerable, you never have to examine your picker, this is just How It Is. It’s inevitable that you were going to get played, because true love and commitment don’t exist. It’s just a shell game. HA! Now you’re on to them — and you won’t get conned again. Everyone who “loves” is going to get suckered, but not you!

Sorry Steve. Love is risk. You know when people are most prone to superstition? When they feel like they have no control. They create little rituals, or belief systems to give them a sense of control, to predict their futures. Don’t step on cracks on the sidewalk and Bad Things Won’t Happen. Avoid Green People, they’re all crooks and muggers. Touch the light switch 7 times, and your mother won’t die.

All Women Suck is just your stupid superstition. It’s not true. Some women suck, absolutely. Some women are gems. It’s up to you to fix your picker and learn to discern better. Judge people on their character, look for signs of entitlement. Value reciprocity in your relationships over the perfectly shellacked eyebrow and botoxed thigh. Don’t be shallow, and don’t attract shallow.

Is this a perfect solution? It’s the best I’ve got for you. Because life isn’t risk free. All you can control in this world is yourself. If someone mistreats you, you deal with that. You protect yourself. You don’t go all chumpy. You had the misfortune of being cheated on, you learn from it.

But don’t wall off your heart, Steve. Don’t close it to the millions of people out there who are not duplicitous and shallow. Who love with their whole hearts. Whose squigdy middle agedness might rock your world. You don’t know.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite artists Alice Neel:

You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is… unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.

Keep painting, Steve.

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 think it also helps to look for real-life examples of people who are decent and in decent relationships. I’m lucky enough to have grown up with parents who have loved each other through thick and thin, no matter what. They just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. My mom is awesome, but in terms of the opposite gender, my dad has shown me that there are decent men out there who honor their commitments, still love their wives decades later, and aren’t looking to “trade up” (when we all know that really means trade down) for a younger/more exciting/more exotic model.

    Steve, my marriage wasn’t perfect, but I was willing to stick with it. My XWH was selfish, self-centered, needy, and sometimes anti-social, but I knew that I wasn’t perfect, and getting divorced and breaking up our family wasn’t an option for me, even after 17 years when my XWH was still making the same immature jokes he made as a teenager (including passing gas and thinking it was funny), his hairline was receding, and his job seemed to hit a dead end with no raises in sight. He was my husband, for better or for worse, and even if I had been able to afford a nice pair of Louboutins, I would never have used them, figuratively or otherwise, to walk all over him.

    Obviously, this is just one perspective from one chumped woman. There are many more of us than you think, and we haven’t all given up on men, resigned to the fact that you all want 20-year olds with perky breasts and very little mental acuity. Don’t give up!

  • Steve, I was in a long term marriage with serial cheater. We had wonderful times and unfortunately, he took me for granted. I kept on doing everything to earn his love but in the end, it was futile because he is character disordered. Am I perfect? Not by a long shot but it goes against every fiber in my being to use another person. It’s just plain wrong in my book. I took care of myself emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. I was not a burden to anyone and hope never will be.

    I felt the same about men initially. Thank heavens for a wonderful father and brothers who modeled otherwise. I have lots of male friends that told me, “Not all men are assholes, you know.” I was still not convinced until I started working on my picker. What was it about me that allowed me to tolerate the emotional abuse? It’s a tough journey to take but I needed to do it. Admitting I was co-dependent stunk but self-awareness, no matter how painful, was my key to finding strength, clarity, peace and joy. Nowadays, when I look back to what I put up with, I shake my head and wonder who that person was.

    As Tracy suggested, work on your picker. You will get to know yourself better in the process and the best part? You will love who you will become and you will not be a misogynist because the bitterness will fade and you will realize that your ex owned her disorders and was not borne out of being a woman.

  • Steve, There are all different types of women out there. It sounds like maybe your ex wasn’t interested in accomplishing things for herself, so she attached herself to someone (you) who was. Funny (sad, really) that males (my exH, for example) can actually be the same. Narcissists in general, I think, like nice stuff (incl cake), but don’t want to have to work too hard for it (incl honoring marriage commitments).

    It has taken me awhile, but I’ve finally realized that if I don’t want someone to use me, then I need to find someone who doesn’t need me. Much better to find someone who just wants me. In other words, find a woman who already has all the good stuff on her own — a well-paying job that she loves, self-confidence, a good social network, etc. Who knows, maybe she’s even great-looking to boot. Fortunately, this is not the 50s, so accomplished women do exist lol 😉

    One other thing I’ve learned, through observing the mid-life dating pool (no, I haven’t jumped in yet), is that dating now is very different from high school dating. It’s no longer the case that the “pretty, most popular girls” only date the “successful, most popular guys.” Many people have been through some shit by this point and aren’t just looking for someone of the same “success” caliber (and also, thank goodness, the definition of success has evolved). Steve, if you are a good guy with strong moral character, you’re already way ahead of the rest of the pack. Just be your awesome self, show people your integrity (without being a show-off), and you may be surprised how easy it is to find a woman who appreciates that.

  • Steve…
    I’m 50. Three years ago my BPD ex-wife blew up my world. Basically took 25 years of what I thought was a good marriage, and kicked me and all of it to the curb.
    This, after years and thousands of $ spent “trying to make her happy.”
    She took half of a house that *I* had fully paid for and left me with much debt for her gym expenses, dieting schemes and multiple cosmetic surgeries.
    She badmouthed me to everyone she could, and in the midst of my agony she continually reminded me of all my “shortcomings” and the reasons that she was “forced” to cheat and seek out her true happiness.
    Today, she is admittedly miserable and still behaving the same way…with another chump.
    It hurt like Hell to accept that I was a co-dependant chump for so long. But I never gave up on people and especially never gave up seeking a real, loving, trustworthy woman as a partner.
    This past spring, I met a fellow chump who, herself was out there with her vulnerable heart open to the universe.
    Now we are celebrating our first Christmas together…exchanging gifts of love, trust, mutual respect and commitment.
    Is she perfect? No more or less than I am.
    She is pretty, lovely, human, warm, thoughtful…BALANCED…and she’s got my back!
    Neither of us is very sparkley…and we like it that way!
    She has told me that she finds me to be the “whole package” and I believe her, because she is also that to me. I thank God every day for having had the chance to experience a genuine recipriocal relationship.
    Listen to CL Steve…don’t wall off your heart because of someone else’s bad behaviour…or you will lose your chance at finding the fantastic woman out there looking for just what you are.

    • “She is pretty, lovely, human, warm, thoughtful…BALANCED…and she’s got my back!”

      Beautiful! I am so happy for you, Don!!

  • Ha, my male counterpart! I know it’s not true, but until I fix my picker, I am staying away from the whole gender (well, romantically and sexually speaking, would be quite difficult otherwise). The males that I thought were not shallow, only in it for the sex and showed some sort of integrity (including my own (now ex) husband of 20 years…) almost all disappointed me. So much so, that I started to believe that the only ones that seem to be in a good relationship are the ones that have not been found out yet or didn’t have an opportunity to cheat.

    Sorry, men out there. I know that there exists a twisted mirror image that puts us females in the same bleak light. The one you’re looking at. And I know for sure that that’s not my mirror image. I hope you and I will find someone who shows us there’s more than clichés… I know in my heart there has to be. But for now I’m afraid to take my chances. Heal first, fix my picker then, and then, maybe.

    • Dutch-chump, I’m with you. I have miles to go before I can even consider dating. I also need to take care of my children and finish grad school. In the meantime, I spend time thinking about my standards for a man should I decide to date. For example, I’ve decided that he will have to make at least the same amount of money as I do (which sadly isn’t very much). I think I have a good reason for this–I don’t want some unemployed leech camping out on my couch and enjoying free food and wifi. If that’s gold digging, so be it. I don’t condemn all men, I just really want to avoid becoming entangled with one who will mess our lives up even more.

      • I have a really nice girlfriend. It just happened and neither of us were looking for it.
        Both of us agree we were very happy and content on our own.
        There are many folks who live happy,fulfilled lives without a partner.
        For the men out there who have been through this stuff with an abusive woman, you might want to check out some of the info on the MGTOW movement. Lots of good videos on youtube on this.

  • Dear Steve,

    I am a woman. As I write this, I am wearing rubber wader boots purchased by myself from Goodwill. I developed the habit of wearing these boots after I bought my own home at age 30, and found them to be really practical for gardening and yard work. The house that I purchased was lovingly restored by me, and then gifted to my marriage. It sold for a decent profit, with that check going directly into my XH’s bank account. XH gifted my marriage with a huge burden of unpaid back taxes for his business. Because of his financial situation, for the first four years of our marriage, I paid for the mortgage, taxes, health insurance, and utilities, while he paid the phone bill (likely so that I couldn’t see it). My XH was never around. He claimed to be working hard to give me good things (what, like some really nice rubber boots?). I would tell him that all I wanted was him, his companionship. If he had been the companion I wanted, I would have lived in a trailer with him and had a very happy life. As it turned out, on d-day he stood over me as I cried in a heap on the floor, shouting at me that I never contributed anything to the marriage!

    Now I am a nurse, able to purchase yet another little fixer-upper home. My boyfriend makes a decent living and wants us to live together, but I prefer the peace of mind that comes with completely supporting myself.

    FYI

    • River, I am like you. I never want to be dependent on another person again. I enjoy having a relationship with a man, but I don’t know if I could ever trust someone enough to put myself in such a vulnerable position again. If I’ve learned anything from what I’ve been through it’s to protect myself. I feel like a fool for investing so many years in someone else that I could have invested in myself.

    • I love living alone. I love my GF, too. But, this living alone deal is just great( I have two cats and my kids are over a lot).

      • I’m finding that I really like living along. It’s just so, so, so Peaceful! I can do whatever I want and eat grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. I’d love to have a cool boyfriend but I don’t think I can live with someone again and make that kind of investment again. It was a terrifying ride thinking that I might lose my home when I was going through untold grief and anxiety. I put ALL my eggs in ONE basket and that got me absolutely nowhere. I make enough money to cover bills. I need a new car but maybe I’ll just drive this one another year or two.

        My XH did the mindfuck of all mindfucks. He INSISTED we renew our vows on our anniversary and three months later I caught him sneaking off to fuck skank OW. I found all their sickening emails gushing and goopy gooing all over each other. I’ve never been so blind sided in all my life. We didn’t fight and all seemed well. I mostly lived the life he wanted. We made good money. We had a nice house. It was my second marriage and I thought it was his too. That’s what he told me when we met. It was his FIFTH!! And he cheated on all of them. But this new OW….she thinks she’s a very Special Person and he will never do that to her. How could anyone be so CHUMP?

        But, right after D Day I did the ultra humiliating Pick Me dance. He was so charming. He did so many kind things for me. It took me years to see it was a Set Up.
        I’ve dated but I haven’t even come close to finding love. If they like me I usually don’t like them and vice versa. I’ve had LOTS of married men hit on me though! Gawd, they’re so stupid. Just what a chump needs. Is someone else’s POS cheating ass husband.

  • “You know why you’re feeling that way? Because it’s easier than feeling like a chump.”

    Like the cold glass of water in the face I needed, that struck home. You are right, that was written in a fit of dispair. And, you are also right, it was an over generalization, designed by an upset mind, to use Aesop’s “sour grapes” to ease my internal discomfort and lack of perceived control.

    Like MovingOn, I don’t have to look far to find a relationship that stood time. My parents are still together. They have their issues, but have been together 51 years. And, several friends have parents who also have made that achievement.

    I think part of what fueled these thoughts was online dating profiles, coupled with my failed marriage and memories of women who I dated but didn’t marry. Online dating is rife with both genders making lists of shallow attributes, or shallow desires. I never thought about it this way, but it is quite possible a large percentage of online date seekers are predators looking for fresh game, because their hunting grounds are becoming wise to them, or over hunted. And, it is also possible, over 40, that many (not all) of the “good ones” really are taken, or too tired of bs from the bad apples of either gender to try anymore.

    It is weird. I keep bouncing from being one of the ones too tired of the bs, to not wanting to spend another 40 years alone (my family is long lived).

    • Good lord! I hope that the good ones aren’t taken! While I would want to take some time out to fix my picker (okay, so I picked only once, but yeeesh! I stayed with him and spackled mightily!), that makes me closer to my 6th decade than my 5th decade.

      Regardless, I plan on getting more plugged into my community, doing things that I like doing. If there is going to be another man in my life, I want that man to like doing things that I like doing. My current STBX always made noises about liking X or Y, but I was too stupid to notice that he never did any of those thing on his own initiative. See? Fix my picker!

      Probably the same goes for you. Do things for you. If another woman is to come into your life, she needs to like doing things that you like to do. Wooing her won’t mean going out of your way to do things you don’t like to do, but more getting more of a chance to doing things that you like to do with someone who happens to complement your approach.

      That’s being a partner, and that is what I want next time–if there is to be one.

      Here’s hoping for the best!

    • Having never dated in the real world ( I’ve been with the future ex for 23 years, siince I was 17 – divorce is actually supposed to be final today) I did an experiement and signed up with Match for 3 months to see if I could get myself to meet guys and hold my own. I actually had a lot of fun doing it and surprisingly I found a person who I’m enjoying seeing. His profile was different. He was not what I called the Extreme Snow Kayakers…..living in the Pacific NW, holy cow every single profile was I love the outdoors, I’m outdoors every chance I get, I do 20 different sports when i’m not working out and i’m looking for my best friend. Oh good lord it was all the same. The one I ended up with, his profile was like mine – we simply wanted someone to go have a beer with and if anything happened, then great. IF nothing happened, then great! It’s all about attitude but OMG it’s so easy to get to a place where you think is everyone like this. But they aren’t – so don’t give up!

    • Just stay away from any signs of entitlement or a woman wanting the old “princess” treatment. Run from someone wanting a knight in shining armour.
      There are subtle signs on these profiles, things like “want someone who makes me laugh” type of reqirements(Yeah, go get your own entertainer. Hire Bill Burr).

      • I look for a man with a good sense of humor, but I don’t think that makes me some kind of entitled bitch. 😉

        • Nothing wrong with that , Glad. It’ s the phraseology , the expectation of being entertained ” I want a monkey who will make me laugh” deal.
          I just see it as a person expecting someone else to perform for him or her.

  • I think the advice that it’s easier to feel like this than to feel like a chump is spot on. Doing the work to un-chump is a PITA. It’s still really the single question I can’t satisfactorily answer for myself, why I put up with it so long. I am pretty intelligent and so on – but I let my ex ignore and belittle me for years and years, because I thought he was “just” depressed. All of the rest of my relationships are quite healthy, yet I let this fester and fester. WHY?? That’s a lot of work to answer. The answer lies somewhere in the fact that he was a flaming narcissist dressed up in a pretty uniform, and screwing other women while I provided the legit family front his career demanded – and I was cheap, highly competent domestic labor. I chumpily tried harder and harder and harder, until I unexpectedly uncovered the truth about a year ago.

    If you are curious what the gold digger stereotype flip side is, I once (bitterly, lol) calculated that he “saved” (way) over 1.5 million in Services Provided over our long marriage, by keeping me in the dark about his philandering. (I cost him very little, believe me.) I don’t really cling to that idea, but I get what you mean about the gold digging. I feel (on bad days) that I was domestic-services “dug.” My divorce settlement does not even close 1 percent of that (though shared retirement payments will eventually help some.)

    I’ve just started dating a bit myself, and I’ve been really really picky (and I’m proud of that.) After a lot of work on what I think the point to dating is, and what good men are like . . . I’ve decided that I rather like this dating in middle age thing. The big difference compared to doing it younger, is that I do not NEED anything from these guys (nor they, from me.) I am self supporting, I have a life full of great friends and hobbies and continued learning and all that great, energizing stuff. The point to dating at this age is just about more happiness, companionship – the frosting. But I have to be my own cupcake. I don’t expect a man to “complete” me. I think there is a fair amount of seeking that when younger people date – and, okay, they do need each other economically, they need each other to make a family. There’s a little more at stake. I feel like that is completely out of the equation now.

    In other words, I’m not evaluating men on their economic worth. It’s just about how they treat me (in terms of manners, affection, companionship), getting out and about some, expanding my social circle more. I’m starting to realize my new boyfriend is, uh, a bit more affluent than I’d realized and it’s actually making me profoundly uncomfortable!. (I’ll deal. But I promise I won’t dig ;-)!!)

    I secretly kinda hope I’ll fall deeply in love again, because that was missing for so long in my life. But it’s not the focus of my dating efforts. I was just re-reading a list of quotes I keep, and one jumped out at me this morning (it was all over the ‘net recently): “If you think love is what you want, you will go searching for it all over the place. If you think love is what you are, you will go sharing it all over the place. The second approach will cause you to find what the searching will never reveal.” That is why I date, because I AM love, and have to give it.

    I really hope you too can find someone who matches your own dating ideas eventually, too. The year of discovery I’ve just been through, and the promising year to come – so much better than what was before. It will get better for you, too.

    • Karma, those are really nice thoughts. Thanks for sharing them. I also have felt like he kept me around to deal with the kids, the house, etc. what blew me away was in the end he said I didn’t do enough for him. I remember thinking, well, I couldn’t have done any more. I truly don’t believe my ex was selfish, he was self-centered. Still, I loved my kids so much that i wanted to keep our family intact. So basically I stuffed my anger and sacrificed myself to keep our family together.

    • Problem with falling in love is that, for me, it may impact my golf. I need to practice my ass off and play as much as possible. My GF understands this and is okay with it. But, some folks will not tolerate it.
      My philosphy is ” Golf has never betrayed me”, so I am loyal as hell to it.

  • “Tonight I am convinced that almost all women see men as a means to a shallow ends.”

    How many women who have been made to feel like sex objects or (even worse) been discarded as they aged and looked less like the ideal sex object (that so many men seem to worship) have said the same thing–only with gender reverse?

    My contribution to today’s “Food For Thought” table, Steve. It’s offered with empathy. Take it or leave it.

  • Steve,
    It’s been 15 years since split with my XH and there are some residual side effects (which is why after all this time I’m still landing here). Remarried happily 8 years ago and some observations for what it’s worth.

    1) Between marriages, I dated a really nice guy for a while and there was long term possibilities for the relationship – however, it didn’t bode well for much of a future when he told me that if he remarried he would insist on a wife moving into his home because he would never again be willing to lose his house and he’d insist on having separate finances because he couldn’t go through the pain of losing everything he worked so hard for again. I understood his emotional point but ah. No. He hadn’t moved past his fear of being chumped/taken and as a result, an otherwise really great relationship never fully blossomed.

    2) I tease my current husby (also a chump) – that he sure dodged a bullet in ending up with fabulous me instead of some crazy, beautiful golddigger :). I tease but kind of mean it. His picker was all off when we started dating. He was more attuned to physical chemistry/attraction as his primary screener and neglected (in my mind anyway) investigating behavior and character. Which led to some apparently nutty dates/GFs prior to his meeting me. My approach in dating post divorce was to flesh out the character/ behavioral as a screen first – then assess if there was physical attraction/chemistry. It worked for me.

    It gets better and easier but be cautious that your pain doesn’t prompt you to poison your well.

    • Steve,

      I was married to a big narc for 23 yrs . We met at university and we both had nothing in the beginning and that did not matter to me . We built a business together that was very successful and I had everything money could buy but was not happy cause he didn’t give me the real meat and potatoes of a relationship only stuff and more stuff. I didn’t know he was cheating on me but only knew I felt empty and lonely and felt unfulfilled with a life filled with keeping up connections, the facade of a perfect, successful life. After he left me for his alcoholic histrionic pdisordered secretary, a year later I found just an ordinary man ( although he’s extraordinary to me) who has a regular job, pays his bills and is responsible for himself , is comfortable in his own skin and has no need to prove anything to anybody. He’s interested in me and my life and goals too and it’s reciprocal! What a difference. I feel full now, real and solid and peaceful and content! Money cannot buy that! It’s out there Steve, and it’s better than anything!i was never that type just after stuff although there are a lot out there both male and female. Just fix your picker and choose wisely but don’t give up!!!

      • OMG, you are giving me hope for the new year!
        Can someone tell me where the ‘Just an ordinary man’ store is? I’d like one of those please!

    • Marcie, I’m going through #1 right now. Been with my boyfriend 2.5 years. We’ve talked about moving in together, but have taken it very slow (we both have 2 little girls). I’m ok with slow, but his comment about “not losing everything ever again” really bothers me. How long did you wait before moving on? I really love this guy and he loves me. I’m afraid to hurt all over again. Wondering if I should be patient a bit longer…or if I’m just wasting my time. Nobody wants to be hurt, but at what point do you believe that he will never move forward?

  • Thanks CL and Steve – this was the slap upside the head with a dead fish that I needed this morning. Take what you wrote, Steve, swap the genders, and it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking the past year. At dinner the other night I told my kids that it wasn’t worth getting involved with anyone again, that I was better off alone. They don’t believe it, many of the people I have come across this year don’t believe it, but I am still suffering that dull, painful ache of betrayal that colours how I see men.

    I’m an old hippy chick, not young, not blonde, not perky. I have middle aged bumps and sags, three lovely kids, and a history. I support myself, have never wanted that much materially, and was fooled for too many years by a man who only took from me and tried to crush me in the end. On my bad days I can’t even imagine letting anyone into my life again, ever, because I can’t be certain that my picker will work now. And worse is that I can’t imagine that anyone would ever want me. So easier to avoid the whole thing, build the shell around my heart, and stay safely alone.

    I hope that if I keep reading here, keep working on myself and my picker, that maybe one day I’ll believe differently. I hope you do too Steve. Life really is too short not to love all the ways we can.

  • We men and women are such strange creatures. I always thought I was a unique catch as a woman because I’m not into shiny new cars, shoes, purses, jewelry, expensive clothes. My ex used to talk like it was an attractive quality…while he cheated with the gold-digger types. As he was leaving, and still every once in a while, he made comments about my never taking care of myself (I.e. not having expensive taste) making me unattractive to him. Apparently being low-maintenance makes me nothing special.

    My dating profile basically describes me (truthfully) as a woman who doesn’t need support, but would appreciate companionship. I get tons of views, but not many takers. At one point I considered posing as the stereotypical woman, but it just isn’t me to lie. I decided that I wouldn’t go out there trying to force a relationship into existence, but would rather let it come about naturally if it is even possible at the point. I look at dating sites as full of people who “need” other people. This is scary to me. Scarier than being alone forever because there are no singl, good people in my vicinity. Sounds depressin, but to me it’s not.

    • JBaby,

      I think when you’re with a narcissist, you need to magically somehow be both low or NO maintenance but LOOK high maintenance… which is impossible. I don’t really have it in me to actually really be high maintenance, but I would have liked to feel like I could have spent some time or money on myself without feeling guilty and like I had to justify every expense to him. That’s the nice thing about being alone!

  • You want the terrible truth? You’re PARTLY right. There are A LOT of women who care about your wallet more than your heart, especially if you’re not that good looking. And it works the same way with us women- there are A LOT of men who only care about how we look and could give a damn about whats inside.

    The sad truth is women in our society have a big expiration mark on our foreheads, and we know it. The wrinkles appear and our boobs start to sag and pretty soon a lot of us will end up here reading Chump Lady, while our jerk ex-husbands tell us that we just “grew apart. So some jaded ladies go for the gold. Diamonds won’t leave you. You guys have a similar problem, only with your stock portfolio’s, not bra size. Although believe me there are PLENTY of men who get married hoping for a free ride too.

    What i’ve learned from my experience? Looks should NEVER be the most important thing. Learn when someone is blowing smoke up your ass. And get a prenup.

    • This is an important point ChumpLawyer – I’m on a couple of dating sites and there are plenty of guys my age bracket but most of my hits are from young men wanting the older woman for sex, or really old men who want a younger woman but don’t have the money to get someone really young (suger babies). If Steve dates women his own age and doesn’t expect them to look 35/40 yrs old, I think he’ll find plenty of decent women out there. I gotta add, I’m a bit sick of the upside down way of dating wherein the men always date younger women. It makes no sense after a certain age, statistics show that women live longer, are healthier as they age – so if that dynamic must be in play then women should date younger men after 40. good luck with that, amiright? hah

      • Well, it’s a good weeder standard. It’s one I’m preparing to use. I will NOT date a man who is looking for a much younger woman exclusively, even if I am in that age category. It is a huge red flag to me.

      • I agree. An aging man cannot keep up sexually with the ravenous libidos of the cougars out there.
        It actually makes sense biologically for the older women to bang younger guys who can go multiple times a night like she can.
        And, some of the young guys are so horned up, that e en though the visuals may not be what they once were, they still get aroused.
        So, you go cougars!

  • Steve, I don’t have much to add to what CL said. I do think learning how to recognize your own needs and take care of yourself, be happy with yourself is first! and learn how to set healthy boundaries is key to fixing your picker. I’m leaving this Captain Awkward post here: http://captainawkward.com/2013/08/26/508-509-friendship-attachment-styles-boundaries/

    It may seem totally off base to you and my fellow chumps but I assure you, it was really important to my self knowledge and healing. The commenters on her site are also really good (like the folks here).

    Reciprocity, yeah it’s key – setting your boundaries are a huge part of that. I have learned much from Captain Awkward’s site. Much about taking care of myself and recognized how my ex had trampled all my boundaries little by little and inch by inch over the years. I have healthy boundaries now, I recognize when they are being disrespected/respected. Now I am so much better about meeting people, connecting/or not and recognizing how I feel around a person without spackling over things that bother me and/or tweak my intuition. I no longer have much insecurity about whether a new person will like me, I’m paying much more attention to whether I like the new person, about how I feel around them. I like me, and I can just be me, if the person likes me, they will show me they do. Now days it is so clear to me when someone does or does not bring happiness to me in our interactions. I’ve also learned to SAY MY WORDS, an assertiveness that many of us lost in our intimate relationships because we are almost programmed to please the people we care about. Reciprocity indeed.

  • Steve honey if you only knew how wrong you are.
    I know there are those women out there however there are so many of we 50 something’s that are just like you,
    wanting to love and be loved, to hold and be held,
    to lie awake all night just engrossed in conversation while lieing in one another’s arms.
    That just want to have a companion to laugh and play and share with. You must take heart, we ae here. ❤️

    • Typically, my arms fall asleep and go numb trying that cuddling/arm wrapping deal. Just cannot tolerate it too long.

  • I don’t even own a pair of high heels. I’m definitely not a gold digger. I married my ex freak husband because I loved him, I wanted to make a home and a life with him, I wanted to raise a family with him. (Yeah, I know, what was I thinking. In my own defense, he was not so blatantly batshit crazy back then.)

    Steve, there are definitely a lot of women out there like you describe. There are also a lot of decent, kind, loving, down-to-earth women who would love nothing more than a good life with a good man. And I can tell you for sure that there are a LOT of men out there who only care about the size of a woman’s boobs, who are just looking to get laid, who only care about arm candy and see a woman as nothing more than a body to use then discard for a younger version. For quite some time, I was like you from the opposite side — I felt like all men were assholes who only wanted to get laid, all men were cheaters and liars, all men were pigs.

    You know what helped me a lot? This site. reading the experiences of the male chumps here. Seeing how there really were decent, good men who took marriage vows seriously, who really loved their wives, who wanted to make a good life. That helped restore my faith in men, plus I looked at the good men I know IRL,, and there are plenty of them.

    I understand how you feel, Steve, but it is not true. Not all women are bitches out to take you for all they can. But if you look at women that way, you are only going to spot those gold diggers. You are going to miss out on the loving, kind, genuine women out there who would love to meet a good man. And those women might not be as shiny, as new, as silicone-injected, as fancily coiffed, as buffed and polished as the gold diggers. The shiny, high-maintenance women are often predators.

    I hope you meet a wonderful woman, and you get past the bitterness. It’s not easy, I know, but it can be done.

  • I KNOW I am a gem, and I was discarded, exposed to STDs and lied to for years BY A MAN. I am in the same gender disliking phase as you: I think all men are jerks and not to be trusted. I feel used and thrown away, and that all men are evil. OF COURSE, this is NOT accurate. What Chump Lady says is true: I would rather accept my belief that “all men are jerks” than accept being a chump.

  • Steve,

    I think the most difficult thing to wrap your brain around is the fact that HUMANS can be horrible. Look at all the awful things we put each other through. Both genders, male and female, engage in socially reprehensible behaviors. These behaviors tend to look a little bit different depending upon the gender in question, but they’re still horrible when you’re on the receiving end. Fact is, some people are just users. They use other people and leave them reeling while they move on to their next shiny adventure. Women aren’t the only ones who do this. There are plenty of men who feel entitled to us their wives as wallets, child minders, and sources of sex while cheating on the side.

    The hardest thing to accept is that trusting people and engaging in relationships is inherently risky. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I find it helps to not judge things based on the outcome, but on the intent. You, like many chumps, went into this relationship with good intentions. You kept up your end. She didn’t. That’s on her. Not on womankind, her. On a bad day, I get angry and think that all men view women as less than human. All men are liars. All men want a younger woman and can never be happy with one person. That women have essentially been bred to be loyal and to spackle over men’s shortcomings. This, however, is an overgeneralization born of anger. I allow myself to be angry, but I try to keep the truth in the back of my mind. Otherwise the anger will consume me and I’ll only be hurting myself.
    Good luck!

  • “You know what helped me a lot? This site. reading the experiences of the male chumps here. Seeing how there really were decent, good men who took marriage vows seriously, who really loved their wives, who wanted to make a good life. That helped restore my faith in men, plus I looked at the good men I know IRL,, and there are plenty of them.”

    Same, here! Well-said.

    You know, Steve, in my opinion, there’s an element of truth in your fear, that all women wonder, “Will he provide me enough, will he praise me enough, will he stay good looking enough, will he raise my social status enough, etc… ”

    I don’t think you’re going to find a woman who is attractive to you who doesn’t want some form of reciprocity (key word) in a relationship, where she is careful with her expenses, and loves praise from you (and dishes it right back), keeps up her appearance reasonably well, and is gainfully employed. You want that, right? And a good woman will want the same from you, as well. There IS a difference between admiring you for being smart and successful, as opposed to wanting to step all over you and use you. Do you know the difference? Trying, because you really like a woman (showering, grooming, dressing in flattering clothing–but not being a metro in the most expensive brands) is good, and it doesn’t mean you’re in danger of being objectified. Do you know the difference? Some of us like jeans and well-fitting tee-shirts, or even camo! And a smile. Oh, I love a smile. You do, too. I like fine dining and the McDonald’s drive-through on a road trip, or making dinner together at home. I can cook. My friend’s boyfriend washed her car for her. That’s HOT!

    There are good women and bad out there–trolls under every rock. Believe me! All us chump ladies know; our partners found one or more! Our job is to fine-tune our pickers so that we can see past any sparkles. You will need some sparkles to attract a good woman worthy of your partnership, to show that you do have SELF-esteem. That means working on yourself, to figure out your values and your corresponding BOUNDARIES. It means you live according to your values–that you look for good character in a beautiful woman–but you DO look past the boobs and the hair and don’t let yourself get suckered by words. All these trolls, men and women alike, know what words and appearances to use to put up a facade of worthiness. What’s past that? Are you guilty of falling over and over for superficiality?

    Google “dating red flags.” There is a lot of good information out there. What is your weakness? How does it make you vulnerable? A good book for you might be from Dr. Laura (Don’t crucify me, here, ladies, I have a balanced view of her!) Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives.

    Work on that. Work on setting firm values and boundaries, and then learn to trust yourself to discern the good from the bad. Clean yourself up–your finances, your health, maybe your appearance, even. DO THIS FOR YOURSELF. Learn to like YOURSELF again. The bitterness will fade after that. It will take work. If you don’t want to do the work, you will be disappointed and angry as an alternative.

    Believe it or not, there are a lot of us out here who ARE the whole package. We are smart, accomplished on our own right, attractive, and interested in reciprocity from a good man such as yourself. We require no rescuing, and yet aren’t hostile nor castrating about it–are you ok with that? If not, why not? I myself am happy. Not perfect, but attractive nonetheless, not needy. Like you, I’m working on my residual bitterness. I’m giving myself the same advice I’m giving you.

    I have to say, I am grateful to this group for showing me that there are good men like you out there. I was beginning to worry. I’m like you in that way.

    Hang in there, friend. You can do this.

  • Hm, I was thinking about this during a break:

    “Will he provide me enough, will he praise me enough, will he stay good looking enough, will he raise my social status enough, etc… ” These are your words, obviously.

    What about this? “Will She provide me enough, will She praise me enough, will She stay good looking enough, will She raise my social status enough, etc… ”

    Sometimes when people protest in anger, they don’t realize they are projecting!

    Is it possible that you are doing this, and it’s making you more and more angry? Is it that you subconsciously value a woman who does all of the above? The hotter, the better? Is how she makes you look a big standard for you? Maybe that’s a big problem.

    Think about it. And then think about your REAL, enduring values, and then you will have a clearer sense of direction. Act on your beliefs, not your feelings. Set some rational standards for your future.

    Acting on feelings is what got my ex in trouble. I acted on my values when I got together with him, but I ignored a lot of red flags. I thought he shared the same values as I had. I ignored a lot of BAD feelings, and warnings from friends. That’s on me. Did you ignore warnings from your friends?

    • Stephanie.

      Nope, I stayed with mine while she was large, small, alcoholic, etc. And, other than if I find my mate attractive, I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. So, I don’t think it b is b projection. My counselor has never called me out on projection. She says I take a very careful look at myself and others constantly. If anything, she tells me to lighten up a bit.

      But, thank you for asking. It is a question that needed to be addressed.

  • Okay girls, men stuff/ tough love…Well Steve, I’ve been where you are, and in a lot of ways I have to agree with you, every one of the marriage splits in my circle it was the wife who initiated divorce and not because their husbands were abusive, unfaithful,BPD,drunken/drug addicted pedophiles either. Most appeared to have hit 40-45, were unhappy with their choices, and all of them had affairs. Not nice to think about, but the many of the women you will meet @ 50 are going to be women who have already pulled this on another man, or had a husband that’s done it to them, so you’ll have to learn to look for red flags, excessive baggage and various midlife craziness.

    All that said, the best thing you can do is forget about women entirely for at least a year. Before even thinking about dating again, work on becoming the best “You” that you can be, Hit the gym, redo your wardrobe, reconnect with old friends, make new ones, make a bucket list and do it. Doing all this will build your confidence, your picker will develop razor sharp radar, you’ll be comfortable being on your own and less likely to rush into another relationship. It will also make you realize you are a Prize, men with their crap together @45+ are a rarity, the world can be your oyster.

    • Thank you everyone.
      And thank you Mike.

      One aching concern I have is that the more I let me be me, the less likely I am to find anyone near my age range. I still have school age kids. My personal taste in wardrobe is black… All black (except socks). And, my house may look like a theme park if I do all the things I imagine with it. The dining room is about to become Minecraft themed and be a board game room, for example. The kids and I are stoked. I can’t see many 45 to 55 year old ladies wanting to dine and entertain in that environment.

      Then I tell myself, “well, if that’s who you are, don’t change for a person you haven’t met.” Yet, each change I want to make seems to ensure I stay single.

      • Oh, and, to Mike…
        Yes, I have met a few of those and steer clear. If they could dump a family just because they “weren’t happy”, and not realize happiness comes from within… I don’t want to be their next victim.

      • If you think it’d be hard to find a fun-loving, light-hearted woman in your age range, one who will be perfectly happy giving dinner parties in the MineCraft-themed dining room, you’ve been looking in the wrong places!

        But I agree with other posters; make yourself what YOU want to be, make your life what you want it to be. THEN, look for a woman who has done the same. Someone who is already happy, already financially stable on her own, loves her work, has a great circle of friends and/or family. Really listen when she talks, so you hear her values, and make sure they rhyme with yours. This great woman will not need you, but she will WANT you! (And not just for companionship, if ya know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink!)

      • Oh please, a Minecraft themed dining room sounds pretty awesome to me. And if you are wearing coloured socks with the all-black clothes, that works. There is absolutely no need to be bland or boring or beige like everyone else – if you and your kids think it is rad, then it is!

        Believe it or not, some of us 45 to 55 year old ladies would be more than happy to be wined and dined at your place. And play a board game after with the kids, too.

      • Steve, if that’s how you want to live your life, go for it. You need to be authentic to yourself first and foremost. Living a lie to please someone doesn’t work as most of us eventually find out.

        • I agree. It’s better to live authentically than to put on a mask to impress someone else. Eventually they will see through the mask and feel like they were duped. So it’s better to be up front about who you are.

      • I gotta say, I can’t speak for all women in their 40-50s, but I decorated my home in sci-fi themes after I finally got my own place. Doing that was so awesome after years of my ex pissing on all the things I liked (gaming and sci-fi and such) that I felt I had to be able to express myself, in my home, in my way.
        I’m sure any woman worth a shit, will understand that you love what you love, and won’t mind a bit if you have your eccentricities.
        Have no shame for what you love, it makes you who you are!

      • Hi, gothattny,

        Five years ago, my wife left me for one of her bad boys. (Didn’t work out, don’t you know.) She also left a gaping wound in my chest. My kids are in high school now, and because of their love and dependence, I had no choice but to try and heal. But I am still scarred like most of us here. And I have a hard earned wariness of narcissists and the misandry that mirrors misogyny.

        About a year after things fell apart, I went out on a just a couple of dates before finding (online) a woman in my home town. The dating algorithm suggested a 96% common response to various prompts, and in this case it seemed accurate. She’s a good woman who appreciates me, not what I can do for her. She’s funny and pretty in a middle-aged way, which is nice but not special. But, again, she is a really good woman who gets me which, after my marriage experience, is what is essential to me.

        What is amusing is that I, too, prefer East Village black. She goes for Vineyard Vines and Vera Bradley. (But it’s not like she’s a Sox fan.) And I am a foot taller.

        Like you, we don’t care much for what others think. Depending on where we go, one or the other of us usually sticks out. Four years in, the stylistic difference is actually amusing and keeps me seeing her afresh. It makes me appreciate the less obvious, more essential bonds that grow.

      • gotnattny/Steve,

        Oh hell to the NO on that statement “the more I let me be me, the less likely I am to find anyone near my age”. If you don’t mind my purple living room and you are ready for a Star Wars light saber battle when you stop in? I won’t mind your Minecraft themed dining room and I’ll play too. There are lots of us geek women out there, trust me! Being you will bring someone to your life who likes YOU. That’s the whole point 🙂 jedi hugs!

      • WTF is wrong with remaining single? It is the most peaceful existence I have had in 30 years.
        My marriages were fucking battlefields.

  • Steve, what does your therapist say about spending so much time playing video games? Did your wife complain about the video games?

    My ex played a lot of video games, and I hated it. To me, it was a form of escapism, of avoidant behavior. There may be women who are attracted to that, but not too many. I would at least be very up-front about it.

    It’s one thing to be “you,” but some hobbies are pretty isolating and even addicting. Do you have a social life, too? Can you get some help with your wardrobe? Or at least an opinion from a female friend? There are lots of options out there that might appeal to you. Sometimes we choose clothing and decor in order to be more socially inviting. If what you are doing isn’t working, you might want to open up to other ideas–perhaps see what other people are doing that does work.

    Just trying to be helpful.

    • To be clear, a spouse’s video game-playing is no excuse to have affairs. I didn’t have affairs. My loser coward ex did.

      • Thank you ladies for correcting me on a preconceived and erroneous thought. And, I probably have been looking in the wrong placed. I should join a board game meet up group.

        Stephanie, I only play (played) when the kids want to play, she wasn’t home, or was asleep. If she was awake, I was trying to spend time with her. If she was doing chores, I pitched in so we could have more time after. That, or we would play a game she liked.

        There are guys who ignore their lady for tv, sports, games, or time with the boy’s. I was never one of those. If she had free time, I was ready to spend time with her. I just never took the hint, that she didn’t really want to spend the time with me. Which was a part of why she was out of the house 4 nights a week, and asleep all the rest. That, and having those many affairs has to be tiring, I’d imagine. Chuckle.

        • Ugh, STEVE! I am so sorry! You really do sound like a catch!! You are going to find a really nice lady who will appreciate you.

          We chumps are pretty cool folks, you know? We didn’t deserve this.

          I always say that I didn’t deserve it, bar the fact that I picked wrong. I’m going to pick better next time–or have fun trying. 🙂

          Hang in there, Steve. Did you try e-Harmony?

        • Definitely find a gaming meetup group! I belong to one and it’s fun, must admit that I find the Cards Against Humanity game nights the most enjoyable!

        • Same experience I had. Always hanging around waiting to see if he’d have time for me. Thought maybe after he retired and didn’t have to work so much we’d be able to spend more time together and I’d finally get the intimate relationship I’d been waiting so long for. My counselor said my task isn’t to figure out why he did what he did, but why I stayed for so long.

          • Lyn, that’s exactly what I’m doing – trying to figure out why I stayed as long as I did. My ex was actually making plans to retire ahead of me (he is older by a few years) and travel ALONE. Now, he has spent so much money on the OW that he’ll retire when he’s 70 if he’s lucky. I, too, was given scraps of his time. But the beauty of being out of the relationship is I now have Spiderman intuition when anyone is not good for me in any relationship – friends, acquaintances, etc. No more spackling. The other side of this is that I can clearly see the ones who are really good to me and I appreciate them a lot more.

        • Steve – IMO, here’s what’s sexy: a man who loves his kids, whose actions show how much he loves his kids, a man who will turn a gal down for a date on Wednesday, because that’s the day he and his kids do _________. You know what else is incredibly attractive? A man who knows what he likes and isn’t afraid to revel in it, share it and enjoy it, no matter how geeky it might be. Now, it’s perfect that you have a sense of “hmmm, is this too much?” Good! Don’t cross over into coo-coo. Keep your eye on it. but, have fun. A man engaged in something that thrills him and brings him joy is incredibly appealing. Again, that’s my opinion.

          And, ps – The amazing man I’m dating wears all black every Tuesday and Friday. Literally, every single Tuesday and Friday, even on vacation. …Every once in awhile I’ll do it to and it always makes him laugh and smile, and we share a little secret.

          Be you. Then become stringer at being you. The be a vulnerable you. I’m working on this, too.

    • To me, it was a form of escapism, of avoidant behavior.

      You think? And saying, “All women suck, so don’t get involved with them” is not avoidant?

  • Hi Steve:
    No need to lump all us women in one boat with a bad apple from a bad orchard. It’s funny, although I was chumped and chumped well, I never ever hated the male sex after my experience. I knew I happened to find one really really bad one. So bad he was unlike any other man I had ever met. I certainly didn’t swear off men or hate the sex for one defective leftover that happened to chump me. I realized that yes I played a part in being chumped. I ignored what first appeared to be small red flags that kept growing in time and type until they were at a crescendo that I could no longer disregard as not being very harmful to me. It took time after I left to piece it all together and recover from what happened and to get beyond my anger of being chumped by the one specific sociopath that I had no interest in to begin with (again I was chumped well).

    I now understand why and how it happened to me but my heart is still open and I am a much stronger and happier person now without the loser and know where my weaknesses lie and how to better protect myself from being harmed by another in the future. I also know that there isn’t a 100% foolproof way to never be hurt again in a relationship but I know clearly what red flags cross my boundaries and if something doesn’t feel right to me then it means it isn’t right for me. Now that I really know who I am and what I am made of I have a confidence that I didn’t have before from this experience in knowing I know better than anyone else what is best for myself and I never have to question myself in how I feel about a situation or another person.

    This has made me more open to meeting new people, dating and has brought me closer to the people who were already in my life as I am no longer fearful of being vulnerable or feeling like I have to be strong and perfect all of the time. It’s actually brought more love into my life and has made me a much braver person now as it’s knocked down alot of fears I have had that I didn’t even realize I had until I had been chumped.

    It can be what you choose, for me it opened me up to myself as never before and a lot of love and desire for what I now want my life to be has come from this. I was always very independent but in an unhealthy closed off way now I am independent in a way that includes others and their support and experiences it has been such a supportive and give and take with those in my life over the past year since my break up.

    So choose what you want for yourself and clearly you don’t want to become old and bitter or you wouldn’t have posted here asking us to disprove your statement. Only you can do that for yourself but there are many others here, both women and men who are nothing like your ex and we have all experienced what you have and I don’t see any bitter people here. I see strong, wise and wonderful caring people here including the lady whose site this belongs to.

    Welcome to the club and you will come out better if you so choose!

    I think the recovery rate of Chumps is a lot higher and far more successful and interesting than that of the Characters of Disorder that brought us all here! I would choose being a Chump over a Character of Disorder any day!!!

    • I know I, for one, am bitter as hell. Nothing wrong with that. I am having a blast being bitter.
      I am judgmental as hell, too. It is the best way to go through life, IMO, bitter and judgmental .
      Seriously, I am happy as hell like this.

  • Steve,

    I have to tell you, I have had the exact same feelings as you. My XW left me for someone who is younger, artsier, more outgoing, turns even the most everyday comment into a Shakespearean sonnet, and quite a bit wealthier than me. Of course, I got him beat in looks and integrity, but how could I possibly find a good woman when there are guys like the OM, right? I have asked myself “Who would want me if she dumped for THAT?”, “Am I even worth it?”, and “Am I just the guy they go through on their way to the perfect man?” way too many times. And I lump every female into those questions even though I KNOW IT ISN’T TRUE!

    I think it is (at least for me) a product of this whole situation basically turning your self-esteem into Swiss cheese. As CL always says, it’s about taking care of yourself and fixing your picker, two things that I am working on right now on my way to Meh.

    Hang in there.

    • Ugh, HE is sparkly, isn’t he. Wanna bet he dumps her or cheats on her? He is a cheater, after all. He sounds almost insufferable.

    • Well, my X’s OM is younger than me and makes far more money than me. For a while my self esteem was shredded, I felt like a total loser, but I followed the plan I listed up earlier and joined a group of guys who had been through the same thing. As I looked at a cross section of the group ( average to borderline millionaires ) I began to realize that the problem was not me, if I was so bad why was I the one with the kids? Another thing that made me actually laugh about it was one of the guys is a salesman and said to me,

      “Mike, look at it this way, if your wife was a car, you got all of the best mileage out of her, repairs all covered under warranty. The OM is now stuck with dealing with a high mileage rapidly depreciating asset, costly bodywork repairs and liable to break down at anytime”.

      So, I plan on doing quite a bit of road testing and kicking of tires.

      • Sorry Mike but the salesman’s comments strikes me as odd. I don’t think I could ever consider my cheating wife as an object like a high milage car.

    • CW, you’ll have the last laugh when your ex wife’s sparkly, cheating, Mr Shakespeare sonnet dumps her ass for some younger, fresher meat.

      It amazes me when I read here about all these dumb bitches that dumped good men for some fantasy thrill with a known cheater. But then again, it is just as amazing to read about all the male pigs that walked away from good women to take up with a skank OW. The problem, as I see it, has nothing to do with gender. The problem is that there is a fairly large percentage of the population that is disordered. Male or female, the disordered cannot truly commit or connect to another person, and will endlessly seek out new thrills. They lie, cheat and manipulate because they are dead inside, and need constant excitement and stimulation from outside just to feel alive. They have no empathy or conscience, and simply use other people for their own benefit.

      Unfortunately, most of us here were married to a disordered person. Though we are all better off without that person in our lives, the amputation is extremely painful, disruptive and damaging to our self esteem. Healing comes eventually, however, so just keep on keepin’ on.

      • I agree. If you were married to a cheater, it is almost certain you had a disordered spouse.
        Look at most of the asshole cheating spouses on the ” wayward”( give me a fucking break- “wayward” , really? Why not fucking ” misguideds” or “lost souls” or some such bullshit(( but, I digress

    • CW – the OM’s qualities you pointed out are all on the outside. The fact that it was okay to him to take up with a married woman speaks volumes of who he is on the outside. When I first heard of the final OW (and my self-esteem was on an all time low at that point), I thought like you did. My friends kept telling me that all those externals, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, were nothing compared to having an affair with a married man. A year later? She’s pretty due to regular Botox and whatever else expensive beauty treatments my ex now pays for, the supposed wealth was apparently not completely true (surprise! A cheater lied) and her career is in the skids (remains unemployed).

      Comparison kills joy (paraphrasing Theodore Roosevelt here) and if you can, focus on your wonderful qualities that the OM doesn’t have – integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness and being whole-hearted. After all, if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.

  • LOL.

    This post cracks me up 🙂 In a good way. Hey, if you’re going to tackle avoidance, I’m pretty sure there are bonus points to be had if you can work humor in there somehow.

    I say that, but truth be told… I have a hard time getting out of my comfort zone sometimes, so I can understand… even if I think painting an entire gender with a disrespectful broad brush is kind of silly.

    Now, hiding out all day with your two dogs and pretending that you are perfectly content with that for months on end seems perfectly reasonable to me, on the other hand. Spending time with new adult humans is obviously rife with possibilities of disappointment, after all. LOL (I laugh at myself too. I know I am silly.).

  • YEP, my dad cheated on my mom and my brother cheated on his wife…and I trust no one. NO ONE! People can be selfish. Men and women,although I have to admit after seeing so many men cheating and being cheated on,even seeing the seemingly nice guys have difficulties to keep it in their pants,I do not have a positive view on men in general….

    Look, you will be just like me. You will be bitter, you may develop tendencies to fall for people quickly, but be so untrusting of them and yourself and fear of getting rejected/hurt you will pull away or push them away. People like this can hurt others and themselves, at the expense of ruining perfectly fine relationships.

    What your ex-wife is doing is awful, but you should look at it as a learning experience. At least I am…well except for the fact that I no longer want to date. I have a lots of aunts who are single old ladies,most of these women have trust issues with men after being betrayed by their ex.Yeah their lonely,but they seems happy and vibrant than they were married but it may just be in my bloodline to end up alone, and have a cat or two.LOL

    Think in the positive, and not the negative. Good luck.

  • Take it slow as Chump Lady says and fix your picker. My ex purposely choose AP who were unattractive. My ex also hated when I exercised and preferred me fat and unattractive. This experience has taught me alot and that is not to ever lose me. If you have a faith cling to it, study what it says about love, marriage, and dating. Be true to you. Be happy with you.

    I don’t know what the future holds. My ex has hidden his assets. I was a home maker for most of our marriage moving from city to city, uprooting my family while promoting his career. After all is done, I could end up living under a bridge. It’s hard but through all of this GOD has shown me there are still happy marriages and good men. I just choose wrong.

    If I become bitter he wins. If I label all men as cheaters, he wins. I know this may not be popular but I had to forgive him and his APs in order to move on. I realize they were only doing what was natural for them. They are lost broken people.

    Sometimes I do feel angry but those episodes are becoming fewer and fewer. I don’t want to be stuck. Painting all women or men as cheaters means I’m stuck. So I look to more positive role models, and I dream about where I’d like to be and it is wonderful….. Because I had stopped dreaming.
    Be You, take your time, and fix your picker.

    • Steve,
      You are still healing but when you’re ready and have done the mental work you’ll be more confident to take a risk on love again. There is always a risk but know if you end up with narc again you will get out and you will survive. That is something I learned from this whole experience… I will face my fears, pick up and keep on moving forward with my life. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!

      • As a chump kid, I had (have) a lot of resentments. What has helped me in life is to focus on what I want, as opposed to what I don’t want. If you want to see kind, generous, thoughtful, caring, fun and funny women, you will! I became a better judge of character when I took the time to notice peoples behavior and made sure what they did matched what they said.

        This will help with the NC and “travels to MEH”, which includes not having room in your head for NPD types. Not thinking about them, or talking about them. So, let’s hear about what you want! It’s your turn!

  • What a great topic – and as usual, so many wonderful, thoughtful responses.

    Steve – I also am about your age (46) with two younger children. I truly enjoy spending time with them, so I have been very slow to re-enter the dating idea – I also wanted to be sure my “picker was fixed” – that advice is sound. Take time for you, and you will be better for it. If I’d dated early after the divorce, I would have just been looking for men who were the opposite of my husband, without much to offer back. Now I’m back on my feet financally and emotionally, and have a much better attitude about life. Not ALL men are lousy – that was a lie my ex (and I) told myself to keep me trapped. Good men are out there – and I need to be sure I am a good woman who is prepared to offer a healthy, loving relationship.

    Enjoy life and your new decor theme 🙂 Do the things you love to do with your children (I was “forbidden” to play music at home during my marriage – now the kids and I enjoy playing piano and other instruments…he hated scifi and fantasy movies, and the kids LOVE Star Ware, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings); and laugh a lot. You will find that once you’ve found your “new normal”, you will find other people who are healthy and decent. Start with friends – and take your time. There are good people out there – they will find you in time.

    • Forbidden to play music at home??? That would be horrible. I wish my kids would pick up one of the instruments lying around the house more often. I don’t even mind it when they start banging on the drum kit.

      • Bud,

        It was horrible… but thank heavens, it’s over. We have a big piano, a kid sized piano, a viola, recorders, and even a trombone…lol. One big happy, noisy, fun family! Oh, and my daughter is taking up the trumpet, and son wants to play drums. The poor neighbors’ dogs…

  • What I want to know is how you are going to decorate your dining room with Minecraft? I’m envisioning some of those faux old-timey oil paintings…but with Minecraft scenes….this can’t be right!

    So, what are you going to do? I have enough trouble figuring out how to decorate, period.

    • RobinLee. I found a company that will print custom wallpaper. They are my fallback. Right now I am designing an acrylic pendant lamp that will be painted in translucent colors to look like glowstone. That will be hung in a chain basket from the ceiling. One wall will be painted to look like a stone interior, the opposite wall with a wide open windows looking out into a typical Minecraft vista. Then, I’ll hang some of the self supporting shelves to put mini’s and board games on. Target has some great square table settings in earth brown. And I may try to find some wood bowls and square utensils.

      • This sounds very cool…I can hear the dogs, cows and relaxing spa music already! Good luck and I know y’all will love it!

  • Steve,
    my guess is you like women who take care of themselves, a pretty package is nothing to frown on or be ashamed of enjoying. I am considered high maintenance by most of my friends based on looks. I can whip up a totally hot outfit from the clearance rack though, I make my own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent so I can afford a few extras. I love being a girl w hair, makeup and nice clothes. Not afraid to say it out loud.
    There is a difference between expecting the finest things in life to be handed to you and wanting to look good on a budget. There is a difference between a woman who deserves all that you can give her by how she treats you and respects you and a woman who feels entitled to them just because she showed up to share the oxygen in your space.
    You have a choice. You can blame all women for the piece of crap your x was, you can never date/marry again and you can be bitter. OR you can focus on the inside, the character of a woman and then figure out if you are attracted to that part. Just like some women are not as attractive as a super model and ugly inside, there are women who are high maintenance on the outside but still worthy of your time on the inside. It isn’t a matter of a woman using you, it’s about the right woman appreciating you.
    Personally I just want an orgasm and chocolate at this point. I haven’t written off eventually finding a man who can be part of my life. I just am in no great rush for him to show up. Right now, even if he were perfect for me, I would not trust him and I would probably throw him away. You may be far away from the divorce physically, mentally, your x is still controlling you though. JUST MY OPPINION. 😉

  • You’re wrong. I said it. You decide if you want to bitter or a misogynist.

    Early on, I decided I would be damned if I let my ex-husband represent an entire gender. That would not speak highly of my intelligence, emotional and otherwise.

    As a feminist scholar, I would conversely argue that women are constantly aware of their waning currency because as they age, they too wonder if they are will just be “stepping stones” until someone younger, more fun, and visually appealing replaces them. Social customs reinforce this anxiety.

    You are looking for a partnership, not a patronage. You may want to read Robin Smith’s “Lies at the Alter.”

  • Not all women suck and abuse like this. I think the shock for mnay of the guys who deal with infidelity and then start researching the personality disorders and abusive women etc is that the reality of this world is nothing like many of us were led to believe.
    I know for me, it was a shock to begin finding that women cheat as much as men, that they are well represented in the personality disorders, that they abuse as frequently as men.
    This was compeltely contrary to what i had been taught and to what I believed about women.
    I’d never heard of concepts like “hypergamy” and “misandry” and had no awareness of the degree to which women make false allegations of violence to gain an advantage.
    Once became aware of these things, I started noticing them. I know of many situations, now, where the wife haslied about abuse, or tried to trade up and find a more affluent or handsome man, while her husband , unknowingly, subsidizes it.
    I think it is a shock to guys to find out that there a women out there that are every bit as evil as evil men.
    Once you know this stuff, you cannot “unknow” it. You start to see it all over the place, the hypergamy, the selfishness etc.
    I had to jettison all the preconceived notions I had about “the fairer sex”, the “gentler sex” after seeing so many guys disemboweled by their wives. I just see things so much more clearly now, including observing all the foolish men who still subscribe to chivalry and white knight crap. These poor fools are in for a rude awakening.
    The world is a safer place for me, now, with this knowledge.

    • I started researching personality disorders right after I sent an email to CL to be posted on this site. I could not figure out why no matter how hard I tried with my marriage nothing ever seemed to get better. I have researched NPD to an extreme because the symptoms of this disorder were right on par with what I was dealing with. Even now after a six year marriage (which I realize is nothing compared to what some of you have endured) she is happy as can be with divorce on the front. I get to see my two children through a computer screen as she stands in the background cutting up like nothing was ever amiss.

      I was that “White knight”, her mother being divorced by her stepfather and they were all about to be living in her brothers house with no jobs, no money, and no education. It terrified me that a girl as sweet and loving would have to endure these living conditions. I was under that notion of the “gentler sex”, Love bombed, lead with self pity and definitely a rescue.

      I was over-evaluated, devalued, and now I am in the discard phase. Even after a six year marriage there is not a drop of sympathy recognizable. It’s ok.. because she makes time for me to see the kids every few days on the computer since I live so far away.. and she still wants to be my friend while shes found her someone else after financially and mentally wrecking what I considered to be a family. I get to be her friend now .. OH boy!!….I feel so fucking special right now..

      I had to look up hypergamy since that is the first I have seen of this term. I believe that is probably how my relationship with her started. Your right about once you know it you can’t “unknow” it… I turned 30 this year and it sucks knowing that people like that are out there, and how many years could be wasted on the next one. Working on fixing my picker!

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