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“But He’s Really A Nice Guy”

I’d probably make a terrible lawyer. It’s not that I don’t like to argue (clearly, I do… at least on the page.) It’s that I tend to bludgeon in cases where subtle diplomacy might be a more effective tactic. Frankly, I’d probably make a lousy diplomat too. (“Hey PUTIN! Keep your shirt on, you narcissistic SOCIOPATH. No one wants to see your flaccid pectorals.”)

Contrast me with my husband, an awesome lawyer and a consummate persuader. (I’m exhibit A. He sweet talked me all the way to Texas. Someone who despises hot weather, jalapeños, and threats to her reproductive freedoms. Really an amazing accomplishment when you think of it.) A middle child, he’s a natural diplomat. He’ll pretend to eat the shit sandwich if he thinks that will get you to do what he wants you to do. “Oh, you’re just kicking my ass” he’ll tell opposing counsel as he pockets their settlement money.

Our contrasting persuasion styles were on display last week, as I mentioned, we were counseling someone dear to me about her chump situation. We’d outline a practical plan of a escape, and after listing a litany of horrors, she’d say “I still just can’t believe he’s Not A Nice Guy.”

For me, that’s like waving a red flag to a bull. I immediate launch into HE’S NOT A NICE GUY! Nice people don’t fuck around with people they meet on Craigslist for years! (And then try to convince you that those people are Nice People.) Nice people don’t imperil your finances, put liens on your house, and fuck with the IRS! Nice people don’t blame you for this shit and expect you to clean up their messes! HE’S NOT NICE!

I can’t leave it there, of course.

As far as I’m concerned this guy is 77 flavors of personality disordered, a manipulative turd, lightly battered, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried in Satan’s own kettle. I’m not allowing “nice.” I don’t care if he sings in church choirs, gives vegetables to orphans, and sends his chump flowers on her birthday. He’s a fucking creep and he’s on my Bad List. I proposed a summer vacation to the town where he lives just so we could go kick his ass. Once I know this crap, I cannot UNknow it. Hell to the NO will I pretend that he is NICE.

(sputter) “But He’s Really A Nice Guy.”

So how does the lawyer/diplomat handle it? “You don’t have to hate him. Work out who he is later. What’s evident is that his self-destructiveness is hurting you, you have zero control over him, and you need to save yourself. Get out now.”

Ooh. Much better.

Meanwhile over the weekend, I received about a dozen letters asking about Trust That They Suck. Help! I’m paralyzed! I can’t trust that he/she sucks!

See, I always go down the rabbit hole of trying to convince you how much they suck. I realize now that my approach was wrong. If you’re reading this, and you’re on the fence — ACT NOW and UNDERSTAND LATER.

You don’t have to trust that they suck! You just need to recognize the chaos and pain you’re living in. Love that idiot all you want to — just get the hell away. It’s a burning house — run OUT and save yourself. You know it’s on fire, and really, you know what you need to do.

I’m making the argument that your cheater is the arsonist who lit the damn thing on fire, and aren’t you pissed off? But really, you can figure that out later. What’s important right now is that you SAVE YOURSELF. Don’t sit there as the flames engulf you wondering, huh… is that a burning smell? Could it be an electrical fire? Did I leave the toaster on? DOESN’T MATTER — RUN OUT OF THE BURNING HOUSE.

Does your cheater smell like gasoline and dried pine cones? Or do they smell “nice”? No. They smell like all manner of combustibles. They aren’t nice. They’re fucking arsonists.

The important thing to realize is that the relationship is dead. It burnt down. You didn’t burn it down, you don’t want to believe (right now) that your cheater was capable of burning it down, but there it is — a charred ruin all the same. You can’t go back and live there. You need to rebuild — alone. You can’t go back to your cheater because for really coincidental reasons, they tend to live in places you’ll never feel safe in. (Uh, that’s because they keep burning down houses… because they SUCK!) You don’t need to connect the dots right now. Just get OUT.

(sputter) “But maybe I’ll regret it later?”

As you live in a nice, solid house? As you breathe fresh air that’s not contaminated by burning toxins? As you relax into a newfound feeling of security?

Trust me on this. You won’t regret it.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • CL, I like the way you “bludgeon” with words. It’s great to hear things so clearly and unapologetic-ly. Keep it up!

    Your husband’s angle works, too…just focusing on the facts. Like your example of a burning building. Or the sinking Titanic. Chump: “It’s the best ship in the world…It can’t be sinking?! This can’t be possible?” Logic: “The reason it’s sinking doesn’t matter, just get off it before you drown. Figure out the reason later, if you must.”

    Logic and brutual, bludgeon-ing truth. Both are valuable ways to hear the same thing.

    • Yes, but I think the danger is people think they have to trust that they suck and THEN they can act.

      I really think action is required first and THEN the emotions will fall into place. But of course chumps have to give themselves permission to save themselves. Crazy but true. We put so much more value on the cheater. Why? Because we’ve been living with their centrality for a long time. That crazy is normal.

      • True, that’s a key point. Chumps must leave based on actions, not emotions, otherwise many of us would be stuck in RIC purgatory.

        There’s a lot to be said about getting out of a situation in order to see more clearly. I read something about how narcs in particular create a FOG to around you – Fear, Obligation and Guilt. Getting out of the fog is important.

        That being said, I get a similar “logical” point from your “trust that they suck” motto. It’s not “Believe that they suck” or “understand that they suck” or “know that they suck”. It’s “trust that they suck”, as in “Have faith that they suck.” Because us chumps want to believe that they’re nice people. We got into relationships with them, we chose them, we gave ourselves to them. We do see their good qualities (if ever so small), and it’s hard to believe that the “nice” person we married could betray us. But we don’t have to “believe” that they suck. We can just look at their past pattern of bad behavior and “trust” that they suck. That’s what I get from it, anyhow.

        • Good point LUD, we have to “trust” even if we do not know it or if a part of our heart won’t believe it. Great insight.

        • Guys..I acted first, and now I am unsure. On Dday the H left me for the other woman. Within the 1st month I hired a lawyer and filed for divorce. I’m waffling a bit because I see that he is a completely different person with the OW, and I wonder if down the road he might change his mind, come back to our children and I, and be the person he is with the OW. Their 3 year affair is in full bloom now that everything is out in the open, and I’ve learned a lot about how he treats the OW. I get stuck in the thought of “if he can treat her so wonderfully, why didn’t he treat me that way?” And then “Maybe he’ll change his mind and come back, and things will be different because he has completely changed 100 %.” Meaning that the person he is now with the OW is someone I hoped he could be with our family. I get confused at the whole personality change with him, because I can’t comprehend why he is so wonderful to her, and they are so in love and have a wonderful relationship. Why didn’t he show me this great side of himself during the 26 years we were together? And is there a possibility that he will realize he made a mistake, and will come back? The divorce papers have been filed however, and it will be final in 3 months. I wonder if I acted to hastily, which is why this is a great post, because I try to tell myself that I DID do the right thing.

          • Sandy, you’re on the right track. Regardless of how he treats OW, what matters is that he did not treat you right and lied to you, felt entitled to cheat. So you don’t need someone like that in your life. Just be patient and with time you will feel better about your decision. Good job, by the way! (I did the same)

          • Sandy, if he’s capable of treating someone (you) he committed himself to so horribly nothing he does can be that genuine. Someone doesn’t change into a good person or a loving partner overnight. It’s easy with the OW because he doesn’t have children and any real responsibilities with her. Those damn responsibilities really ruin things for narcs. The very things you wanted with him, children, shared responsibilities, etc., are the things that drive him away. It’s not your fault that he’s superficial and wants a superficial life with little effort. Maybe he can carry on with the OW for years, maybe not. Point is, he didn’t want your little family and everything it represented. Worse, he pretended to want it and wasted part of your life. Talk about irreconcilable differences.

            I know it’s hard because it feels like you only get one shot to do it “right” when it comes to kids and marriage. Frankly, he doesn’t care about doing anything right or working on his relationship with you. You are not less than because you decided to build a normal life with him, but he’s choosing to paint you as such. Love yourself enough to give yourself a chance at something better. You can’t make him love you or want a life together.

            I think a few years out things will look a bit better than when you’re so close to things.

            • So true: “Those damn responsibilities really ruin things for narcs. The very things you wanted with him, children, shared responsibilities, etc., are the things that drive him away. It’s not your fault that he’s superficial and wants a superficial life with little effort.”

          • Hold the course, Sandy! This is the exact moment for “No contact” and “Trust they suck.” There was a good discussion in the comments a few posts back about how even when it looks like they rode off happily into the sunset with OW, that is basically never true. It’s temporary and/or a facade. Trust that you are not missing out on anything.

            You did the right thing, and you will build a beautiful, strong, authentic new life. He’s irrelevant now.

            • I try to hang on to this even though it looks like they are deliriously happy. Doesn’t it HAVE to be so if after 3 years they are getting married? Is that temporary? This young woman, who knowingly had an affair with a married man, is now my children’s step mom. Yes, he’s irrelevant. I get that. I just hope it is a facade.

              • journey..I myself am stuck on the whole “they are so happily in love” boat. The affair has been going on for 3 years, and now that it’s out in the open they are so happy happy happy. I figure that if they’re still this in love after 3 years, and it’s not new anymore, that my H will go on to live his wonderful life with his spectacular woman! Everyone here reminds me that we don’t know what’s really going on, but it’s hard to think of anything else when you see them so dang perfect together, while we are back here picking up the pieces, taking care of our kids, and forging on. Makes me want to push them both over the side of a very high cliff!

              • journey and Sandy, don’t count those ‘three years’ unless that’s been SINCE your relationship with the ex was completely over. Their ‘relationship’ while your ex was still with you was complete fantasy land. And don’t forget too that your ex was probably great in the beginning with you, plus if things are not good between them, they are NEVER going to let it show until they can’t hide it anymore, because how else than with their ‘purfuct lurv’ can they justify their horrible, dishonest behaviour?

              • Of course they HAVE to appear to be deliriously happy. If they’re not, then why did they mess up their children’s lives? Why did they create all that chaos? It MUST be twu luv!

                Whether the new relationship lasts 15 minutes or 15 years, they know they cannot trust the other person. They WILL be miserable even if it doesn’t look like it to the outside world.

          • Sandy,
            You didn’t act hasty. All you need to remember is “On Dday the H left me for the other woman.” You reacted accordingly.

            Don’t believe for a minute he’s a completely different person. He’s not. He’s the same guy he’s always been. And think of it this way, how in the world would it be salvageable? When I’d get stuck, I’d think to myself is there any possibility I’d take someone back who broke my heart like this? Hell no. Don’t get stuck in wishing things were different. Things are the way they are and the best you can do is move forward. You don’t have to have it figured out, you just keep going.

            I noticed the times I felt the worst were when I was thinking of him, and what he did to me, and not myself. You need to worry about you, and fuck him.

            • I was just thinking this on my walk home tonight: “…is there any possibility I’d take someone back who broke my heart like this? Hell no.”

            • I noticed the times I felt the worst were when I was thinking of him, and what he did to me, and not myself.
              Rumblekitty..that is SO true. He pervades my thoughts constantly, and I hate it! And then I feel like total shit, of course, because I think of what he did to me. I wish I could manufacture a magic pill that would get them the hell out of our thoughts forever!

          • Sandy, remember how he treated you when you first met? Probably really well and with respect. You now know that it was all just a facade. It’s the same mask he’s putting on for her. In time, and after he’s sure he has his hooks in her, it’s going to slip. Thankfully, you know this and have made the smart choice to get the heck away from this psycho. She’ll learn soon enough but that’s no longer your concern. Stay strong!!

            • RNE, you’re quite correct, I do believe. When ex and I first met he treated me very well, like I was the greatest, sexiest, most wonderful person to ever walk this green earth. Then, you know, reality came trotting along and little by little I was less fabulous. I had my fabulous moments, I suppose, but overall he didn’t see me as the shiny new object anymore.

              The funny thing is that there were red flags along the way and I know for a fact there have been some big ones in his relationship with final OW (fucking other people besides her while still married to clueless me? Big red flag, I would think) but he’s convinced her, through his bountiful charm, that it’s her that is the special snowflake in his life.

              Until she’s not. And then she’ll have wasted who knows how many years on my idiot ex and quite frankly, I feel sorry for her more and more. Because I know how it’s going to end

              • but he’s convinced her, through his bountiful charm, that it’s her that is the special snowflake in his life.
                Special snowflake..that made me laugh! I call the OW his little Oklahoma flower, lol..someone on this website called her that when I first came here, and it’s stuck with me ever since!

              • don’t feel bad for her Nord, she knew he was married and she still went for it, a real woman wouldn’t/couldn’t do that to another woman, what goes around comes around, so she deserves what she gets,

                AND remember what they say “every new broom sweeps better until it gets old.” 😉

              • Sandy, it was me who named your OW his Oklahoma Flower … glad you like it! I say give them all ‘special’ names, so that the humour can be amped up. 🙂

            • Nicolette, I actually do feel sorry for her because I see me all those years ago. She was living with a guy when she met my ex and I know how powerful his charm can be, particularly for a young woman. Bake in the fact that she’s pretty much seen universally as ‘plain’ and ‘not much to look at’ and he’s telling her she’s the prettiest girl in the world and that he thinks she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and yeah, it’s a recipe for disaster. I was a great looking young lady when I met him but while I was free and single and I was at a point in my life where I was searching a bit for something. He, being an excellent sociopath, twigged on to what I was looking for and appeared to represent that. Final OW is not attractive, hence he tells her she’s the most gorgeous piece of ass in town. I wanted something in my life and he presented himself and his life as the answer to it. These people follow a playbook and although final OW ( and all the other OW) got involved with a married guy I feel sorry for final OW because at least the other OW had the good sense to blow him and walk away. They weren’t looking for love, just dirty, sexy times (which are fun, in the right context). She needed to have it mean something, thus is had to be love. And now he’s doing everything in his power to hold on to his last ties to me. And I’m taking a legal route to cut those ties. Funnily enough, he still deletes all his texts. My kid asked me about this because he literally deletes everything from his phone. Sounds like an open, loving, honest relationship to me. (insert an eye roll here).

              • Nord, you just described my ex to me, they seem so similar, my ex isn’t/wasn’t much to look at, but boy he can charm the daylights out of any one and create the exact man you are looking for. These people like our ex’s are dishonest people, this is who they are and will continue to be dishonest with everyone. Well I guess you are right, in a way, and I do understand what you are saying, especially if she is young and with an old wolf like that, she is the sacrificial lamb. Heck look what they did to us? But its still so hard for me to feel sorry for the OW, young or not.

              • Nord..thanks a million for the “Oklahoma Flower”, LOL! I use that now when I speak about her to family thinks it’s hilarious! I was using the term “little” Oklahoma Flower..however, I say now that she’s his big fat ugly white trash whore of an Oklahoma Flower, lol!

          • Sandy, you totally did the right thing. People don’t get character transplants after 26 years.

            • Plus, whatever you think you see, you’re not living it.

              And frankly, I don’t think going back to one’s ex is ever a good idea–kids or no.

            • Sandy, my ex’s affair is now 3 years on…. I also hired a lawyer within the first week of D Day. Did I have doubts? Absolutely! Did I do the right thing? Yes!
              Keep Going!!

          • Sandy- It doesn’t sound like he has even offered to come back and treat you and the family differently, so wrapped up he is with the OW. He has no incentive to change because he thinks he has everything he needs. He could come back but he’ll always have memories of his fantasy, and it is rare that these cheaters have true remorse or treat you differently in the long run. You seem on the verge of a pick-me dance. I know that feeling well. Those two are in their own world. They are probably love-bombing and supporting each against the common enemy: the realities of the real world (you and family.) What kind of man does that to his children and the mother of his children? What kind of woman insinuates herself in another’s marriage and screws around with a married father? If they were normal, they would be tortured by the hurt and disruption they caused. They are deluded, cruel and self-absorbed children.
            It is unbelievably hurtful but you deserve better AND you made the right decision.

          • Thank you all for the support! You are the ones who make me realize that I can get out of bed each day, much as I don’t want to..and face issues head on. I hate the thought of the “pick me” dance, and I don’t have a clue in my thick head as to why I would even want to have him back. It seems so hard to move through life without him, after spending more than half of my life with him. But he screwed me over..literally and more ways than one. Tell me again why I want to stay with this man?

            • Because you’re a loving person, and you invested in that marriage. Those are both good things, so don’t beat yourself up. Just move forward anyway… and save all your love and devotion for a more worthy recipient (for now, yourself and your kids!).

            • Sandy, think back on how it was at the beginning of your relationship with your ex and you will see that he was the same with you then as he is with her now. They don’t start out being asswipes with us in the beginning, they work you into that over the years. He will show her his true colors very soon. Don’t even worry yourself on that. Trust CL when she says “Trust that they suck” cause in the end they truly do suck. It’s in their being and they can’t help themselves. I also filed for divorce about 3 weeks after Dday#2. It was hard but it was what I needed to do for my own sanity. I have second guessed myself a lot but thank God that He has kept me from going back to this shit storm that was my life for way too long. You just keep on hanging in there cause “they truly do suck”!!!!!!!

          • Sandy, just keep repeating to yourself, “This man is not good for me. He hurts me.” Whether he’s nice to someone else isn’t the issue, he’s not good to YOU. Protect yourself and love yourself enough to stop the pain. This is what worked for me.

            • Wow, Lyn. This is dead-on – thank you, I needed that excellent advice too.

          • Hon..He’s NOT Different with Her…He IS an ASSHOLE. HE’s a LIE, with EVERYONE. Please try and Remember That. It’s ALL a Front.
            And you Know What, even if I’m Wrong, which I Doubt, Sincerely..He’s Not good for YOU. Let Yourself Have what YOU Deserve..Someone who wants You just as Much as You want Them. <3

          • You talk about how he is with the OW. I think you should instead talk about how he seems with the OW. Remember, it’s all about image control with these people.

            I say treat them like a celebrity you read about in a magazine. No matter how wonderful he or she looks, the comments have been approved by PR people, an editor has gone through the final produce, and the pictures are airbrushed.

            • Sandy-

              I did the pick me dance. For. Three. Long. Years. I was the “lucky” one because he picked me over the OW…ha. What I didn’t know is that should’ve been enough for me. It should’ve been enough for me that he stopped screwing her, that he stopped working with her and he stopped contacting her (she didn’t stop contacting him but that wasn’t his fault) That was all the work he had to do.

              Going to marriage counseling? Only when I threw a tantrum and threatened to leave and paid for it myself. Individual counseling for him? “Shrinks don’t do anything, it’s a waste of time to go to one”. Reading a book-I read all the books. Him? “I don’t even like reading about things I enjoy”

              That’s what you missed Sandy. You did the right thing. I just wasted three more precious years of my life until I found chumplady. In the end I wasted 27 years of my life but I could have stopped it just shy of 24. I wish I had the guts to do what you did a lot sooner. It was my first instinct but I was afraid. You are fearless, you are awesome!! You left a cheater and gained a life!! You are my hero!

            • You know what you guys? It really gnaws at me that I think that the way he is with her, is the way he will ALWAYS be with her..treating her like the frickin’ biggest diamond out of the mine. I know I need to stop dwelling on that, but it’s a big fear of mine that the way they are now, and have been for 3 years, is the way it will be forever. Like SHE’S the one who brings out the best in him and always will. CL says that they don’t have character changes after 26 years! But it seems like he’s a completely different person with her! In truth, I think I am jealous!!

              • Sandy-
                I know Sandy…Someone earlier posted that we shouldn’t count three years if they were together while we were married. My ex has been with the 20 years younger woman for 3 years post divorce decree, 4 years counting a year of separation. So, it does appear to be roses and sunshine as they are planning their wedding, getting my kids into their fancy wedding clothes, parties and all the trimmings. A BIG to-do. I don’t know you guys…she was single and they are crazy happy by all reports. Hard to watch it all go down. Looks quite sparkly from here…I am jealous too.

              • Journey..In my case, the OW was/is single, too, and is deliriously happy to continue her relationship with my H, even though she knows now that he is still married to me, and even though he lied to her too, for the duration of their 3-year affair. (Told her we were divorced) I hope that sometime during their unicorn love story, she starts to have nagging thoughts in the back of her mind..”Wow, maybe if he did that to his wife and kids, he could do it to me, too.” It would serve her right, too. I have absolutely no compassion towards the OW. She knows 100 percent now that she is with a cheater, a liar, and an asshole that dumped his wife and kids for her. Part of me wonders if she’s GLAD that he “picked” her over me. Maybe it’s a big victory to her. So I would laugh my ass off if he cheats on her as they flounce down their yellow brick road. He’s already shown that he wants to cheat on HER with ME, because he hasn’t stopped asking for sex with since Dday!

          • Dear Sandy,

            Sorry but here’s my take… The list of horrific things he WAS doing for years (that I didn’t know) then what he did in my face, and what I’ve endured since then when CL and Co. Gave me me balls to get out have on his part – got him back with his Xwife…….(didn’t know she existed) yes that one….5 kids on welfare in public housing (1 of them his) just thrilled to death that he FINALLY realized how much he missed her. It hasn’t been easy, but after a year and a half he ran out of options and finally got that Couch CL told me to send him to….Thank YOU CL!!!!!!

      • Chumplady, I have been absolutely loving your “trust that they suck” mantra and it has been SO helpful. I found you maybe eighteen months from dday so it is an interesting point that you are bringing up. After finding out what my cheater did it took a LONG while to realize he was not the person I thought. I just kept thinking “this is how love dies”. Chump feelings are strong and in the shock and denial phase so it will be gradual dealing that he sucks.

        • Just want to clarify, dday and getoutday were nine days apart. I agree! Run out of the building and get away from the person who won’t be saving you!

      • Chump Lady, I agree. Act now, understand later. Helpful clarification to those stuck. Personally, I think your style and your husband’s style are complementary. Both have great value.

      • “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking….than to think your way into a new way of acting”!

        • Jeff! I am framing that and putting it on my wall. I’m stuck in the thinking about how I want to act. I need to start doing! Thank you.

  • ChumpLady, you’re right on target, as usual! When I found out about OW #2 (6 or 7 years after #1), confronted the narc, and saw his pathological reaction (fucking around is normal, and it’s all your (that being ME) fault anyway), I knew I had to get OUT.

    I still loved the guy, I still believed somewhere in my heart of hearts that if he would just UNDERSTAND how little effort on his part it would have taken to make our relationship work really well, if he would just SEE that he owed it to his kids to make that effort, if he would just WAKE UP and realize how good our life together really was, how many good things it brought him, it could all be fixed!

    But I also knew, in my head, that he didn’t get that stuff, never had, never would. And if somehow he did get it at some point, so very much damage had been done over the years (of course not only by the affairs; selfish, entitled, negative, critical, blame-shifting people are not easy to live with!) that things were likely beyond repair, or even if they could be repaired, we were looking at years of work that would have to start with him ELSEWHERE.

    During and after his first affair, I couldn’t eat in my own house, for months. I’d eat something at lunch near work, and that would be it for the day, because breakfast and supper at home, w/the kids … couldn’t get anything down, and if I did, felt horribly nauseous all day. I knew that meant I didn’t feel safe here. And let’s not even go into the sleep! Every chump knows that sleep is out the window, for a very long time.

    My body was telling me, NOT SAFE, NOT SAFE! And that was the most important; my well-being and that of my kids was seriously threatened by this person, and I had to either leave or get him out. It feels SO weird to know this about someone you’ve loved and cared for so much, but that knowledge has to get us to ACT, before we even start trying to figure out what truck just hit us, why, how, who was this person, really ….

    All that came later, time and No Contact (and after a while, Chump Nation and Dr. Simon!) were miraculous in helping me see and understand more clearly, and in my emotions settling down. We feel like our heart is being ripped out of our chest, to begin with, but in the end, it’s really OK.

    Weirdly, after that second DDay, I slept fine, ate OK; it took a while to actually get him out of the house, physically (usual distance between what he said and what he did), but I knew that part of my life was over, and I could keep my kids and I safe from this train-wreck of a person.

      • Strong only the second time, unfortunately, and because I didn`t want my kids growing up with this example of disrespect. The first affair, I TOTALLY bought into the RIC, danced the pick me dance, Made the Marriage a Good Place to Be, ALL that crap.

        I could have been out and safe 7 years earlier, but at least I know I did everything I could possibly do to make that relationship, and my kids`family, work.

        • I too could have been out 7 years prior to this but I guess we just have to live the life we were meant to live to learn something about ourselves. What is it that we have to learn???? To leave that sparkly turd and start our own authentic lives sans the bulls*#t!!!!

  • Chump Lady, can you hear the applause? I have yet another day in court tomorrow and I will carry your words with me. “What’s evident is that his self-destructiveness is hurting you, you have zero control over him, and you need to save yourself. Get out now.”

    Thank you, and thank your husband.

  • Thank you CL! This topic is so necessary.

    “If you’re reading this, and you’re on the fence — ACT NOW and UNDERSTAND LATER.”

    I wish someone had slapped me in the face with this message early on. Instead I wallowed in Reconciliation Land with the books and forums trying to understand why he was doing those things and how I could make him stop.

    I wasted years of my life trying to control a situation that was not controllable. After DDay #1, which was before my first wedding anniversary, I wish this site would have been here and I had read that, would have saved me over 6 years, tons of money and countless hair follicles.

    • ThatGirl,

      I understand the first year of marriage is traditionally ‘The Honeymoon’.

      My D’Day didn’t happen until 3 years after we were married, when I accidentally came across phone records detailing all his contact with the OW from 5 months into our marriage (less than a month after we’d got back from our honeymoon vacation). This absolutely slew me – and still does, to be honest.

      My ex was just shy of his 50th birthday, I was 42. We’d ‘courted’ for 2 years and then lived together for another 4 – so we weren’t dizzy kids and he’d had 6 years to figure out if he actually wanted to be married to me! Roughly a year before the wedding he started pushing me to ‘set the date!. set the date!’ (we were having extension work done on the house and I wanted to get that project finished before we started another one)! Yet pretty much,as fast as he could after he’d got what ostensibly he was pushing for, i.e. us married, he deliberately set out to seduce another woman (as he told me, he chased her – she didn’t appear to even like him, at first)! What further confounds me is we’d had long, deep conversations in the 6 years to marriage, where we discussed things like the fragility of romantic love, how he’d never believed in love but really wanted to be married to me, how sometimes ‘love’ isn’t enough, how cheating was a dealbreaker – for both of us. I still don’t get it. I loved him, but more, I TRUSTED him and I honestly think I was as careful and circumspect as could be possible, trying to make sure we were making the right decision by commiting to each other. I haven’t heard a single thing from Tosspotopath that made any sense of it either!

      • ….’how he’d never believed in love but really wanted to be married to me’,

        Ooooh – I think I got Freudian there! Meant to say … ‘how he’d never believed in marriage but really wanted to be married to me’.

        Well, history told he didn’t believe in love either! 🙂

      • Jayne, that is such a horrible story. These sociopaths only want you when they’re tracking you down. They get the endorphins from the chase, and then it’s done. Stuff you in the ‘yesterday’s thrill’ category, and move on to find more prey.
        Glad you’re rid of that mess, and hope you have a great life now.

  • “I wasted years of my life trying to control a situation that was not controllable.”

    Girl, me too . . . but at least that shit is over and I’ve promised myself I will never, ever make the same mistakes again. My divorce is brand new, but there’s something awesome about waking up in the morning knowing that he can’t hurt me ever again. I’m actually FREE. I still don’t know how to act. lol

    • . . . “but at least that shit is over and I’ve promised myself I will never, ever make same mistakes again. My divorce is brand new, but there’s something awesome about waking up in the morning knowing that he can’t hurt me ever again. I’m actually FREE.”

      Rumblekitty….you expressed beautifully the ‘awesomeness’ I feel waking up each day knowing my STBEX husband cannot hurt me again!.. Knowing I don’t have to worry about who he is having sex with currently
      . It’s great I never have to feel like part of his ‘harem’; that I don’t have to live with his blame shifting, gas lighting, put downs & downright spiteful , mean & disrespectful behavior all in a means to make himself feel better about his serial cheating. I’M GLAD
      I’M FREE!!!

  • I spackled for YEARS after Dday, even after I’d gathered all the evidence that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was NOT a nice guy. But I didn’t want to believe it. Even though every fiber of my being told me to RUN, I didn’t. I wanted the whole situation to just go away so we could get back to the life we’d been leading.

    But you can only pretend the house ISN’T on fire for so long. And the longer you sit there, the more damage you incur physically, emotionally, and financially.

    CL’s right – RUN first, ask questions later. Get to safe ground and THEN figure out what to do. Don’t dally in a smoldering house – get out and get to safety!

  • you don’t stand in the path of the fire and ask it whyyyyyyyy? You don’t explain to the fire that it should really stop before it burns the bedroom. Fire is not rational, it doesn’t listen to reason or care what it burns. Nope, you run out of the burning house.

  • Thank CL!

    I was given very similar advice by my mom; aka my personal kiss-ass drill sergeant.

    It went something likes this: “Elizabeth, I love you. So right now you need to trust me completely. This is not a brie & wine picnic, this is bloody war. Lick your wounds later. Cry over your coffee next year. Right now you need to hire an attorney, freeze your accounts, and change the locks. There will be time for therapy later. This nightmare you call a “husband” is throwing you under the bus, and he keeps reversing back and forth crushing your bones–the bones of MY DAUGHTER—-a person who I raised to be a proud, independent and kind woman. Enough of this crap. You need to go out there and kill that son-of-a bitch. So put on your best suit, get your hair cut, go gussy yourself up & look radiant. Start to play the part of the warrior queen. And before you know it, you won’t be playing a part any more. She will be you, Elizabeth.”

    And of course my mom was right. There’s no longer a distinction between the queen and me. I’ve even introduced our Royal Highness to my daughter who’s got chumpness in her genes. My greatest wish for her–my six yr old Sadie Marie–is that she’ll never be blind-sided as an adult into foolishly thinking a bloody battle is a brie & wine picnic 🙂

    So my best wishes to all of you WARRIOR QUEENS!! Carry on, carry on!!!

      • Thank you LiningUpDucks & Kelly ~ I really hope together we can pass on our kiss-assness to our daughters–and sons. I think my mom has struggled with this as a drill sergeant: What the freak happened?! How could my daughter marry such a fuckturd who I loved too!? Gerrrrsh these sociopaths are such slick son of a bitches—that is, until you yank off their sheep’s clothing & run like hell from the stench. But it’s tough. This forum is so awesome for that reason. Knowledge is power. You can see lots of really great, really smart people in this forum learning a lot, and in turn, making incredibly brave choices they may not have made otherwise. It’s extraordinary to witness & be a part of something like this in action–thanks everyone who contributes & helps out ~ ((hugs))

        • They are good at masquerading. My dad had a bead on my first XW, however. She is slick, as you say, Serene. Many folks are really impressed with her. But, my dad ( who held his tongue for many year), was a street smart lawyer.
          As he was dying, he told me ” Arnold, your wife is the most insincere person I have ever met.” He was right and i just could not see it.
          Now, many years after our divorce, I can watch her operate from afar. It is amazing that I did not perceive then what is now readily apparent about her.
          BTW, CL, who said we were not interested in Putin’s flaccid pecks ( and don’t use the word flaccid around old guys, like me)?

    • I love your mother! How wonderful that you have this incredible woman’s wisdom as you face one of the most difficult crises in life. And what a gift of clarity you are able to provide for your daughter. Awe-inspiring!

    • jeeze Seren, I’m jealous. My mom got in an argument with me because I wanted to take the camping gear that my parents had given both of us when I left. You know, because my cheating ex’s feelings were more important than the reality that he’d screwed me financially and that I’d be lucky to buy diapers let alone pay for a new tent in the next five years.

      • Thank you Jamberry –My mom really does rock–but she too–like a lot of us on this forum was initially fooled by my lying sack of shit husband & she’s got a fabulous picker. I guess what I’ve learned from her is that we ALL need to keep each other alert and educated . . .

        By damn it, Kat!! What the heck! Your mom needs a swift kick in the pants. I’m real sorry to hear she did this to you–basically cut you off at the knees–when you needed her support the most. Well you know what? This is all the more reason you should give yourself a HUGE pat on the back for your own self-righteous bad-assness!! Despite your mom’s deficiencies as a mother YOU heeded the battle call and fought the good fight. In fact, I think that’s more ballzy than anything, girl! ((hugs))

        • Thanks Seren. That and what Chump Lady said are EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. You gals are so amazing. I did always want to be Wonder Woman when I was a little kid. I wonder if she had FOO issues with her mom.

        • They’d have to bury her in it is my guess. Setting up boundaries and sticking up for oneself is selfish you know….

    • Standing ovation for your mom’s words. Perfection.

      • Thanks Elizabeth Lee, CL, and RNE. . . Awe, Arnold, thanks for asking. My mom’s got wide-shoulders, mustache, and big balls. Ya know, the typical drill sergeant. Hahaha. She’s exquisite, Arnold! She’s 76 yrs old with golden gray hair, silk painted scarves, cashmere twin sets & pearls–but she can easily switch over into her faded overalls, straw hat, and dirty boots (she’s an avid gardner). And she knows all about you guys & loves CL’s forum.

    • Elizabeth- You are blessed in your mother. I wish my mother had hung me from the rafters and whacked me with a broom instead of telling me that “as long as you have more good days then bad, you have a good marriage.” Unfortunately as a spackling Chump, you lose track of the good and bad. My mother felt she was rewarded by staying because “The first 14 or 15 years were pretty rocky, but then things leveled off….” She was married to my philandering narc father, so my cheater was just following the normal course. My salty, realistic Aunt upon hearing my mother’s marital opinions said “FUCK that SHIT!” I love my mother BUT I wished I listened to my Aunt.

      • Hi SeeTheLight,

        Yeah, it sounds like your mother was voicing the martial assumptions/expectations of earlier generations (for both men and woman)–and that your ass-kickin aunt wasn’t havin’ it hahahaha . . . BTW I love your image of your mom hanging you from the rafters whacking you with a broom–Gerrrssh, we’ve all needed that on occasion. 🙂

        • oops a typo: I meant “marital” not “martial” unless of course that was a freudian slip of sorts . . .

      • I had no energy right after my ex left to start the divorce process. The whole thing was completely overwhelming to me. All I could do was cry. Before every legal meeting I could call my Mom and she would rant and rave about what an ass my ex was and how I needed to march in there and do this or that. I borrowed her anger and used it until my own rage kicked in. One of the best things my mom ever told me was, “Why do you think this one person’s opinion defines your worth? Look at all the people who love you, who are cheering for you! He is just one lousy person.”

        • Lyn: “Why do you think this one person’s opinion defines your worth? Look at all the people who love you, who are cheering for you! He is just one lousy person.”

          Wow – this one really resonated with me too. Love your mom! Wish I still had mine. Hugs to her.

    • Wow. In my daydreams my mother is like this. In reality, she seems to admire my cheating ex. Maybe that’s because she is a 3x cheater herself. Your mom kicks ASS, Seren3838. Is she available for rent?

    • This part made me get all teary: “Start to play the part of the warrior queen. And before you know it, you won’t be playing a part any more. She will be you, Elizabeth.” What a great response from a parent…

    • I love your mom S3838! My mom told me- “he’s a good dad, he comes home at night, he’s “Responsible”( meaning he’s a Physician & earns good money).. This from a woman who paid for ME her daughter to go to & graduate from Medical school!!!), most men cheat( after numerous D days plus a kid born from one of the affairs. ) ;Be patient( after 13 years of affair after affair!))
      To her credit, the day I told her I filed for divorce.. She said” you have my full support & I know he pushed you to breaking point”
      Kudos to your ROYAL HIGHNESS SERENA3838!… I pray one day I too will see “NO Distinction” between the “QUEEN” I aspire to be And the old Chump I was.

    • What a woman! That’s exactly the kind of mother I will be if anyone hurts my kids (god forbid) like I have been hurt.

      I still haven’t told my mother what is going on and won’t until STBXH finally moves out and divorce is final. My mom is a narc and I know it will all be about her and how shameful divorce is etc etc. I don’t need to hear that crap right now so it’s best she’s out of the picture until I have no choice but to tell her.

      My mom loves STBXH & has always showered him with gifts and praise while I am virtually ignored. My first thought about her after DDay was that she would likely tell me he never would have cheated if I hadn’t “let myself go”.

      The realisation that I have been surrounded by narcs (family & so called friends) for most of my life has been a very difficult thing to deal with. The temptation to believe there is something wrong with me and not them is often hard not to buy into. As a child my mother frequently told me there was something wrong with me so that doesn’t help my state of mind. Thank god for CL & chump nation.

  • THis post is very helpful…I am filing my divorce papers this week or next, two months after DDay#2 or seven years after DDay#1 (and I had a DDay #3 a month ago) …
    but he keeps blaming me about “making him into a monster” and reminding me of what a nice guy he really is and what a great father…I have fallen for it several times but I have still been firm with continuing the divorce process as a consequence (thanks to Chumplady)…What I also do is remind myself that even without the OWs there was sufficient behaviour to not want to continue in this marriage: like KarenE writes “selfish, entitled, negative, critical, blame-shifting people are not easy to live with!” This has been a process of self awareness that was led by my path to getting out of the burning house first. I am now relaxing a bit to prove to myself he sucks, he really really sucks!

    • I am right there with you SA, I am sending the paperwork to the lawyer this week, along with a letter to the OW husband. It has been almost 6 months since Dday and what am I waiting for? I have struggled with the whole “nice guy” thing, because everyone views him as this and to be honest, so do I at times ( delivers meals to the elderly, coaches kids sports, teams, shovels the neighbor’s driveway…) except, I have finally come to terms that he wasn’t a nice guy to me.

      • What is it about the whole “nice guy” thing? They can be absolutely wonderful, friendly, and helpful to everyone else but us, the ones who loved them the most!

      • HELP!! I finally get the courage and strength to contact the OW husband, but I am now wondering if it is in the best interest for me to do it?! A lawyer (not mine, but a friend, but also a current chump) told me that I shouldn’t do anything to risk the divorce outcome (Could bring out the ugly in my STBX) and effect my kids and self. I was going to send a certified letter to the OW husband being very factual about his wife having a 4 year relationship with my husband, list my name/cell to contact me and that’s it. There is no emotion and if I don’t hear from him, that is fine, BUT I feel the need to do it…please fellow chumps, what should I do? Do I go for it or sit on awhile longer??

        • Email your own lawyer and ask his/her opinion. Morally, I see nothing wrong with it, but I’m not in a position to give legal advice.

        • Piper – is there any way you could call him instead? That way there is no record of it and what you say is between the 2 of you. I definitely think he needs to know for his sake and his family’s. 4 yrs is a long time of deception. If you can call him, I know it would be tough not to be emotional, but think of it as all business if you can. No, don’t mail the letter. Yes, it might be used against you.

  • As with everything in life, balance is required.

    “ACT NOW and UNDERSTAND LATER” is a very valuable tool in getting one’s self out of the situation. “TRUST THAT THEY SUCK” is the shield that keeps one from going back to the situation s/he just escaped from, especially in the love-bombing part of the war. Both attitudes are extremely valuable.

    I wish everyone was as lucky as I. My STBX actually showed to an appointment with the lawyers wearing a t-shirt with the logo “Trust me – I’m a Pirate” on the front. If there was ever a sign that said “TRUST THAT HE SUCKS”, it was that.

    • I wanted to show up at our lawyers meeting wearing a T- shirt by Amy Winehouse saying ” what kind of Fuckery is this?”

      • Ha Ha Atomic – My H had a sign outside his home-office that said ‘Nobody Gets in to see the Wizard. Not Nobody. No How’. Even our home wi-fi was set up with Asshole-The-Wizard (a guy who knows nothing about computers) He IS the man behind the curtain!!

      • Ok, “fuckery” is new to me to.

        You need to know that when I couldn’t sleep last night, instead of counting sheep, I counted how many different sentences/ phrases I could use the term “fuckery”. I only got to twelve…

  • Someone on here once said- there are lots of things we have to do in life that hurt– like going to the dentist, getting an operation, eating vegetables (I hate most veggies), and exercising (hate that too). For some people it’s working every day at a job that is not fun. But you know what, we do it because it’s the best thing for us, we need to protect and support ourselves and our families, and we need to survive and to thrive.

    Well, we may believe we love our respective cheaters, we may not be able to process what makes them so sick, and we may want to believe that deep down they must love us in return. But like all the other painful things we have to do in life, leaving our cheaters is just one more thing we have to do.

    • This, Kelly! Every time during the separation and its aftermath that I found myself focusing on all those things I wanted to believe, and on how much pain this all caused, I would remind myself `you have to deal with the REALITY`. One more thing we have to do, because we know in the medium and long term, it will by far be best for us, and our kids.

  • Thank you, CL! Your posts always cheer me up when I feel down!

    The “but he used to be really nice and romantic” thought kept me with my cheater for far too long. I realize now after leaving him that I wasn’t going to miss him, I was going to miss the sparkly person he showed me during the first few years we were together and the potential I saw in him to become a better person. (I’ll quit smoking, I swear! I’ll finish college so we can have a stable future, I promise! I’ll replace your ring with a much better one, blah blah blah) I really should’ve stopped listening to his empty words and looked at his ACTIONS!

    It’s really funny how much clearer our vision becomes after the rose-tinted glasses and the fog is removed!

  • Self-preservation or anger–IMHO it doesn’t matter what fuels you, just don’t stay with what fools you.

    (Yeah, I couldn’t resist that one either…sigh…I wonder if I have punished you guys enough).

    • LOL Chump in the Sand 😀

      I’m a big sucker for puns – bring it on girl – we’ll see which of us cracks first! 😉

      • Jayne, you ever want a place to stay in Canada, I’ve got a nice guest bedroom! (Just at my place, not in the entirety of the country)

        • Day late though it is Chump in the Sand – would love to! Spent a week of our honeymoon (grrr – but hey, what was I to know 🙂 ) in Ontario and a really memorable few nights at Lake Huron (so, so, so loved looking at the Milky Way from our hottub there – blissful!) Hey did you ever read the Many Coloured Land series by Julian May? Your compatriot and I have to say a majorly underrated wonderful piece of literary work. OK – she mangles the english language – but the concepts! Stayed with me for years!

          • No, I’m afraid I missed out on that one. I prefer fantasy/scifi reading–I’m less into actual “literatoor”.

            I’m in the nation’s capital…and I must warn you I have two shedding dogs…

            • The Many-Coloured Land series is deffo listed as Sci/fi fantasy – which is why I thought you might have heard of it. Probably about 30 years old by now! Loads of books in the series. Set in the past (prehistoric), present (French Canada / France) future – all at once – and a mega alien/human mating theory for why human babies are so darned big for giving birth to! Plus explanation for the Gibraltar Straits and theoretical galactic intervention to save us mad humans from self-destruction! Plus (yes! there’s even a plus!) Freudian archetypal characters agogo! Can’t recommend it highly enough – though you do have to allow that she’s obviously French speaking but writing in English so there’s some pretty awesome sentences to be found 😀

              • I’ll have to look ’em up. I’m on sick leave and I’ve watched all the telly that I can possibly swallow, and I’ve been learning all kinds of new swear words thanks to this forum….

  • Thanks for this post! I tend to be a bit like your husband in that I can see that STBX is bent on destroying everything and thankfully I was able to act immediately (got the lawyer, seeing therapists, prepared a coast-to-coast move away from this man). I decided to focus my energy into healing my kids and I from the terrible actions of STBX.

    I completely agree that it’s important to act with wisdom, but act! (got this quote from Guild Wars 2)

  • This is what I needed to hear after D-Day #1 – but instead I spent over 3 months trying to reconcile. While I was moving us away from OW#1 and packing and cleaning and also moving our office at work to a new location – he was starting up with OW#2.

    I should have just packed a couple of bags and drove to my parents house. How could I stay with someone who bragged to a friend about OW#1? A guy who lied to my face when I confronted him about the texts with OW#1 and then again with the emails with OW #2. I would spackle and come up with reasons for his horrible actions. You know what the reason was – HE IS NOT A NICE GUY !!

    Thanks CL. It’s been a couple of hard days as I just started filing for divorce. I am allowed to be sad, but I will celebrate the day I never have to talk to that jerk ever again.

    • I hear ya, Canadian! I filed the papers 2 weeks ago, and am second-guessing my actions. But I posted earlier here..and everyone has been so wonderful telling me I did the right thing, and I did NOT act too hastily, which I thought I did since I filed less than 2 months after Dday! I love that I can come here every day, to get advice from people who know the drill..they’ve been through it or are currently experiencing it. Thanks to these guys, I’m telling myself that what he did was wrong, what I did was right, and he doesn’t deserve me anymore.

  • OMG. So true CL
    I heard myself saying to a friend “I don’t believe he is a truly nasty person just does things without realising the awful consequences for other people”. I actually said that. 2 days ago.
    What a chump.
    He sucks. I don’t just trust that he sucks anymore. I know.
    It finally hit me when he emailed me saying he told his family not to send me a birthday card “under the circumstances” and he has presents for me “when I see him because he doesn’t want to post them in case they got lost in the post”
    What circumstances? I still like his family. I assume they still like me too. They don’t suck. He does! And by the way I’m never meeting up with him and I don’t respond to him but I’m a newbie chump so still navigating my new found chump status and unfortunately still drawn to reading the emails (have blocked his number). I’m working on this next now I know he sucks. But they can be rather amusing, even though I’m positive he has been on this site and stolen half his lines from other narkles that fellow chumps have posted.
    I was even thinking he’s not so bad when he was proclaiming undying love for me and wanting me back but at same time signing up to Tinder. But his profile was seen by a gossipy colleague of mine who is on same dating app. He sucks. He truly does.
    And I’m still a chump. But a proud one. I’m not going back. With a little help from all you guys. You are all amazing, lovely, nice people. Thank you for sharing your stories, your wit and your wisdom.
    Ps. Don’t believe their hype!

    • LD, I too used to think that the ex`s nasty behaviours were because of some incapacity, some neurological-FOO fucked-up-edness that just made him unable to understand certain things, unable to feel or do certain things.

      But with time I saw that he was perfectly capable of being responsible, thinking long-term, remembering obligations, etc, when HE was motivated (like for work), and he was perfectly capable of improving lacking interpersonal skills when HE was motivated (like for work). He just didn`t think he should have to do any of those things for me or, worst of all, for our kids. Then later the Bancroft and Dr. Simon books opened my eyes big time to who he is!

      But in the meantime I had decided that it really, really didn`t matter whether he was like this because he couldn`t be otherwise, or because he chose not to be otherwise. The reality was, he was like this, he wasn`t changing, and he would continue to be incredibly destructive in my life and my children`s lives. So I had to get out, that was all that mattered.

  • This is something I have trouble dealing with a lot. I’ve always thought of XH as a good, caring, honest guy, who was completely devoted to me when we were in college, would sacrifice everything to make me happy, would put my needs first, would be a great father, and the last person whom I ever thought would have an affair. This is largely why I married him–because I thought he would be a good, honest husband and family man. When people meet him, they immediately like him and think he’s a “good guy.” My friends thought he was this great husband. XH doesn’t appear sleazy or slick, but comes off as a smart, straightforward, trustworthy guy with a lot of common sense. He’s a doctor and will frequently go out of his way to make sure his patients are well cared for. His patients adore him. It’s funny, when I discovered his affair, he did admit to me that what he did was wrong and said he would provide free medical services to the poor to somehow make it up and prove that he was a good guy.

    However, looking back, even before the affair, XH was prone to snapping at me when he felt “stressed,” yelling rages, blaming me for all the misery in his life–these are things that other people didn’t see–except his parents, who didn’t seem to try to stop him or care. In fact, XH told me that when he was young, his father would be prone to angry rages, even kicking his children. XH said he didn’t want to be like his father, but maybe he is and he can’t see it.

    At the same time, XH and his mom and sister would always tell me what a great husband he was, how he sacrificed everything for me (mainly that he moved to the city where we are now for my career), how I was lucky to have him, and how I wasn’t a good enough wife for him (e.g., didn’t cook for him, didn’t keep the apartment clean enough, didn’t pay enough attention to him). I think his mom and sister (and XH) thought that he deserved a “better” wife.

    He’s also the guy who had an affair with someone 20 years younger (started a week after a tumor was discovered in my thyroid (which turned out to be benign) and when my younger child was only 6 months old), rented another apartment in the same city without giving me the address, and changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy to his sister (I’ve posted my story here before). In fact, XH’s mom and sister helped XH find his apartment (without telling me), so that XH could be closer to work and focus on his career. I don’t think XH’s mom and sister knew about XH’s affair at this point, but all they seemed to care about was XH’s career and thought that the children and I were somehow a burden to him and hindering his career (though XH’s parents apparently want to see the children a lot, especially the baby).

    Also, looking back, when we first started dating when I was in college, he already had a long-term girlfriend who was long-distance, but he said he was never in love with her, she was the one who chased him and forced him to have a romantic relationship with her, she was “like a sister” to him, she was a “good person” but he wasn’t sexually attracted to her, etc. I guess these are the things he probably told his OW about me. I guess I was the OW when we first started dating (more than 20 years ago), so this was a big red flag I missed when I was a sophomore in college and is only becoming clearer to me now. I can’t believe I didn’t really see it then as a red flag; I just thought that he was so “in love” with me and he said he always intended to end the relationship with his other girlfriend but couldn’t do it because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings (she ended up breaking up with him, which he was upset about for awhile). Should I feel guilty about being sort of the OW then? Perhaps in some sense am I getting my karma now?

    • I think many of us have done dumb things in relationships when we were young, naive, and immature. And being cheated on yourself in a long marriage with children would be WAY disproportional as karma.

      I didn`t even have that excuse; I was 38 when I met my ex, and when he told me that his 10 year relationship, which had been long-distance for the previous 6 months, had been over for a couple of months, I just took his word for it. Now I wouldn`t be the least bit surprised if I found out that his at-the-time girlfriend didn`t actually know it was supposedly over by then!

      • Isn’t it strange how these guys all seem to play by the same book? My ex was going around work saying he and I broke up 6 months before we actually did, playing the part of the tragic, brokenhearted “hero” basically trying to see if he could get anyone to take the bait (well, he was “successful”).

        Even looking back, we met because he was hooking up with one of my friends (though I didn’t know it at the time). We live and we learn, chumps! We’ll see the red flags going forward! 🙂

    • “It’s funny, when I discovered his affair, he did admit to me that what he did was wrong and said he would provide free medical services to the poor to somehow make it up and prove that he was a good guy.”

      This is ‘impression management’ rather than remorse. “See here, blue chumpwife, I’m going to go out in the world and act like a freakin’ hero for all to see, to prove to everyone else that I’m not the flaming asshole you are pointing out that I am’.

      How the fuckity-fuck does providing services to others make anything whatsoever up to YOU? It DOESN’T. It’s designed to Make Him LOOK GOOD.

      Narcs! UGH!!!!

  • “As you live in a nice, solid house? As you breathe fresh air that’s not contaminated by burning toxins? As you relax into a newfound feeling of security?

    Trust me on this. You won’t regret it.”


  • Reading this post reminded me of a song that’s been on repeat since STBX left last year. When I think of him as being “such a nice guy,” now I think “he’s but a falling leaf.”

    Death by Chocolate, by Sia

    Death by chocolate is myth
    This I know because I lived
    I’ve been around for broken hearts and how
    Lay your head in my hands little girl
    This is only right now

    Death by crying doesn’t exist, though
    The headaches feel a bit like it
    You might explode
    But you reach the end of the road
    And you, little tree
    I’m certain you will grow

    Tears on your pillow will dry and you will learn
    Just how to love again
    Oh my weeping willow
    Let your leaves fall and return
    Oh darling the seasons are your friend

    Death by anger this is true
    Just let him go he can’t hurt you
    Oh little girl this is such a cruel cruel world
    This is the first, of a million broken hearts

    Tears on your pillow will dry and you will learn
    Just how to love again
    Oh my weeping willow
    Let your leaves fall and return
    Oh darling the seasons are your friend

    Oh it won’t be long you will grow strong
    Up up and away

    He’s but a falling leaf, he’s but a falling leaf, he’s but a falling leaf

  • Something I learned in my profession as a healthcare chaplain is that divorce is a grief process and part of healthy grief is seeing the full scope of the relationship both positive gifts and negative liabilities. It was helpful for me to be able to take the good stuff from my marriage with me even as I became divorced. And now I am VERY thankful to be off that crazy train.

    Another thing that helped me through my divorce was remembering the “ideal” situation my ex had in mind for the future. She proposed that I would never have to worry about her straying again if I loved her well enough. So, she apparently believed her fidelity was based on external circumstances and not her own choices. I am SO thankful I not in a relationship with someone who doesn’t take responsibility for her own choices and keeping her own commitments. Her “ideal” marriage situation is a recipe for relationship hell as I see it. Shudder.

    • What is that? When they say if only we loved them well enough or gave them enough attention or did whatever it is that they’ve pulled out of a hat ‘better’? They seem to think that it’s someone else’s responsibility to give them everything they need to complete themselves, but don’t seem to realise no one can ever truly do that. That is why I always figure the affair partner is doomed, even if it takes a long time. No one is able to keep up that kind of thing forever.

      • “You know my dear I wouldn’t have cavities if only you had brushed your teeth more”

      • I’m just shaking my head over here.

        I mean, part of me is strangely magnetised by the skein of fuckupedness of that–I mean, if an alien were to land in the middle of the street, naturally, one would want to stare, and say,”What the fuck is that? Is that an eyeball? Where do they poop out of? Is that skin? OMG I hope I’m not having weird alien sex with it by just looking at!”
        (same deal–how could a person actually say that? Do they really think that? Under what circumstances would that be acceptable? What would make a person say that?)

        But then I realize–if you just stand there and stare at it enough, the third mouth spits itself out and sucks you in and you’ve been consumed.

        Look AWAY!

      • Nord, you nailed my ex, again! But you forgot the part that says ‘give them everything they need to complete themselves, WITHOUT their giving anything in return!

  • I’m currently in the stage of learning he truly sucks. I found out in January my boyfriend had been cheating since August. We have a young child together and everyday I have to remind myself he’s shit and he sucks. He wanted to be friends because of his son but it’s just so exhausting. Now he’s trying to figure out his problems. It’s a little late. He just takes too much of my energy. He cheated on me with an old girlfriend who he has a business with. Still can’t even tell the truth. Like the other night he had to go to someone’s house to help with their roof! I’m not dumb roofing at 8 pm! Come on. He told me to not give up hope on him. I am so confused and sad. My confidence really hit a low. I had PP after the birth on my son and just when I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I find he cheated. I go to therapy and I’ve made positive changes in my life but I wish no contact was an option. He just knocks me down right as I’m gaining control of my life.

    • Rain, it can be very very hard with a small child involved, but you NEED to find a way to get the contact down to an absolute minimum, since he`s clearly using that contact to keep up the drama with you – which of course provides major ego kibbles for him!

      DO NOT BE FRIENDS OR TRY TO BE FRIENDS! This man is not your friend, he is someone who willingly and repeatedly betrayed you and hurt you! He is someone who lied to you and never bothered to try to figure out his problems until the consequences started hurting HIM.

      If he wants to see your child, you can do the kid-exchange at someone else`s house, somewhere public, or on your front steps – he doesn`t need to come in your house or say more than `hi`to you. If you need to give him info about the kid, have it written down and hand it over. He shouldn`t contact you while the child is with him unless it`s a life-and-death situation. If something minor comes up, let him figure it out like any other parent! Let all other contacts and arrangements be made by e-mail, and IGNORE anything in his e-mails that is not practical, concrete information.

      Don`t be bending over backward to try to make this all easy for him – if he actually has ANY interest in your child, HE will make the efforts. If he doesn`t, then you know even more clearly who you`re dealing with.

      You will not believe how much better you`ll feel once you can reduce contact with him. It`s like magic, it`s really amazing! Within a few days you start to feel lighter and less confused, and over time, your life and emotions change in such healthy ways!

      • The problem is he’s not a very good dad so someone needs to be there with him. He’s never tried to do anything for our son. He’s never fed him, bathed him, or changed his diaper. I stayed home and my job was our son. My sons 18 months now and his father is clueless other then playing with him and never disciplines him. Which now I have to find a job so I don’t depend on him for money. Everything is messed up. He calls me today to see if he can take us out for dinner!? Seriously- WTF- he then tells me he’s been thinking and told OW he’d pick his son over her? Not sure why he told me this. Then goes on to say he needs to be single for away to straighten this mess out. He’s got an appointment next Monday with a therapist, thinking it’ll really help him.

        • He told the OW that because he wants to goad her into the pick me dance with your son. He’s trying to goad YOU into the pick me dance with the OW with his “improvements” — i.e., see how much I love my son? (More than the OW!) and watch me make a therapy appointment!

          Stay the course. Don’t go to dinner with him. Get a temporary support order so you don’t need his fucking charity dinners.

          • CL- so true!!! Your a genius. Why didn’t I see that? Is it we’re to involved? Or I’m walking around in a cloud? I feel so out of my league with having to deal with this. I’m quite younger(17 yrs) then my ex. He uses the I have more experience with relationships bullshit. This site has truly been my saving grace. Thanks for that insight and everything else you have helped me accomplish.

            • Unless he is severely intellectually challenged, he can figure out how to feed a child, how to change a diaper etc. You did it, didn’t you? And I did – had hardly had anything to do with babies before I had my own (I couldn’t believe they’d let me take him home from the hospital, I was so clueless!). If it’s just visits, not entire days, he doesn’t need to discipline, just keep your child alive, safe, and fairly content until you get him back. He’s CLEARLY using your child to connect to you – and I wonder how long the interest in his son will last, if you’re no longer available?????

              • And if he’s actually a risk to your son’s health and safety, then visits need to be supervised – but NOT by you!!!!! Let the lawyers figure this out.

        • Ok, you really need a lawyer who understands how to do entrench NC in the separation agreement. A well-experienced family lawyer knows how to ensure that supervised visits happen without putting the other parent in there–like having a social worker, or a responsible family member. You don’t have to wipe his ass for him like that. Plus, a good family lawyer ensures that the timing and the handing-over of the child is not only in a way that is good and safe for the child, but also the mum. I used to drink regularly with a family lawyer…

    • Get a lawyer. Because you have a child together, your XBF may have visitation rights under law. This is especially true if there’s child support involved.

      Even if you think it’s okay for him to spend some time with his son, that still doesn’t mean you have to be friends with him. He does not have to come to your house to pick up his son. You do not have to go to his to drop your son off.

      Best of luck, and definitely lawyer up!

  • Blue, sometimes when we are young we make young choices. Nothing wrong with that. Quite a different decision when you are in a committed relationship (ie married or living together). Very clearly most of our exes make really poor choices ALL the time. There is no saving that.

  • Thanks CL and all. I literally say ‘hurrah’ when a new email comes in and today, well…I think a light bulb just went on. I am a Chump and a fence sitter extraordinaire to boot. I have been waiting to decide ‘he sucks’ before I act. I’ve been to see 2 solicitors, and spoken to my closest friends and they all say to just ‘do it’. I haven’t been able to press the ‘go’ button on filing the divorce petition partly out of fear and partly because I’m still questioning whether he truly does suck or not. Hard to believe really after what he’s put me through (I’ve had countless D-days in the past 15 months and years of horrendous narcissistic abuse). I finally told him to move out last October, I, too spent a year doing ‘pick me’, chasing Unicorns and all sorts of other pointless and humiliating activities to save my marriage. I am not no contact as yet as we are allegedly trying to ‘amicably’ agree on how to settle things. He’s trying to manipulate me into waiting the 2 year time limit (in the UK, you have to have grounds for applying for divorce if inside 2 yrs separated), but of course I have grounds as he is a cheater! He is trying to weasel out of me filing on the grounds of Adultery, as that will get him off the hook, so-to-speak, for taking responsibility for his cheating. I’m terrified, for at the moment he is being extremely amicable and I KNOW the minute I serve notice it will mean war for him and he can make life very difficult for me. I feel brave one day and then I chicken out. It is a slow and agonising journey to ‘YOU SUCK’ for me. But thanks in part to this blog and all your stories, I’m getting there.

    • Finding, make sure you have good lawyers who understand what they will be dealing with, and GO FOR IT. He`s going to make you suffer as much as he can anyway – don`t facilitate that for him, in the hope he`ll be `nicer`to you! He`s a bully, and you KNOW you can`t `nice`bullies into treating you better!!

      With good lawyers and No Contact, you`ll see he can`t cause as much damage as you fear! And whatever he does cause, you WILL get through it, and be so much happier on the other side!

  • Rain, Be Strong. Just think for twenty years I was married to a great actor. I always felt like a part of my life was missing. Then he showed me WHO HE WAS. CL ain’t kidding when she says, “Run!” You deserve a LIFE.

  • “But he’s really a nice guy.” This reminds me of my favorite Gavin DeBecker quote.

    “We must learn and then teach our children that niceness does not equal goodness.

    Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait. People seeking to control others almost always present the image of a nice person in the beginning.”

    • RobinLee … My now 31 year old son more or less said the exact same words to me in relation to his father about 2 years ago. My son and daughter know all the things their father has done and yet they refuse to talk to me. Funny and sad how it works out.

      • That was very wise of your son to say that. I’m sorry your son and daughter aren’t talking to you and hope they wake up soon. (If it’s any help…we were also under our ex’s spell for a long time and we woke up, so there’s still hope.)

      • My son is nearing 30 and he doesn’t talk to me at all either. My daughter is respectful and kind but I know she doesn’t like me. Their father and stepmother are golden. It’s amazing that I can take it in stride. It’s likely because I believe time is on my side. I think they see me as the weak one and him as the powerful one. Well, he has more money… their stepmother has been decent to them… it adds up. I consider myself lucky I’m not homeless and scrounging for my next meal and losing my children’s love is is part of in the fallout of being chu mped. I am surprisingly zen about it. I suppose I believe truth will prevail in the end.

        • MMargaret, we are in similar situations, it would appear. Yes, I am learning to be very patient and I hope that eventually my daughter (35) and my son (31) will eventually come around, although it is nearly 4 years now. My son has had some contact with me but I do believe he is influenced by his father and sister. My daughter hates me with a passion and has done so for the last 18 to 19 years. The only solace I take from all of this is that my son said to me about 12 months ago, “I can’t be responsible for the hurt that Dad has caused”. Even stranger still, my ex husband said to me almost at the same time, “I have hurt you and it has divided our family but I still love you to bits”. God he was/is a good actor!!!

          • Hi Maree, I wonder if is it about the children’s ages of 30-something? It seems like they can be starting to understand what we went through and it’s too ugly/they’d never do that/let it happen to them.

            It seems to be the bitterest irony that chumps will do anything for their children – and it cannot be enough when the ex establishes control via the courts. I was not allowed to leave town with the children without his permission. Since that town had only 2,000 people and few jobs, boy was I stuck but I stayed because that was the condition under which I had my children. Boy he sure know how to trap me through love for my children. Sometimes I wonder if it would have turned out better if I left them all behind. I ended up being nothing but a cheap babysitter for him and living mostly on welfare and the odd job here and there. In those days, I also scratched together the time and resources to get a university education in distance ed. The best benefit of the education were the tools it gave me to see a bigger picture. Still – I miss my children. I don’t know what, if anything, will bring them back to me.

            • I wish CL would cover this as one of her blog posts. This sounds more hurtful than anything.

        • Thanks, y’all:-) Gavin DeBecker is a very wise man with a lot of insight into certain types of people and his books are well worth reading (if you haven’t read them already!)

          • “Gift of Fear” helped me more than any other thing I’ve ever read. It should be required reading for everyone in freshman year of high school.

    • RobinLee, this is a really important distinction… I have always kind of equated the two ideas, but recognizing the differences makes a WORLD of difference… It’s like the “nice” is an external behavior, and the “good” is the internal state. Good people are nice, but not all “nice” people are good…..

      • Well, I guess it could be possible that not all good people operate in “nice” ways…gotta think about that one some more…

        • Setting boundaries or limits may not feel “nice” to others, but good people do them.

            • I think you’re right, too. Good is the internal state that is so often reflected on the outside. But, when setting boundaries or speaking the truth, other people can get uncomfortable and not see the good.

              The nice is the veneer which tries to mimic good quite well sometimes! I know that I certainly fell for it for many a year.

    • That is one deep statement put so simply!!!

      Over the years & in my profession as a Physician, I’ve imbibed the fact that a person that acts in a NASTY way is not ALWAYS a nasty person but I’m still learning that Niceness of actions does not always translate to ‘niceness of heart or soul’

      • Thanks, Mr. DeBecker’s book really spoke to me and this particular quote totally summed up my colossal mistake in marrying and staying with my ex. (He did get really nasty during the separation/divorce, but that was the *real* him coming out!)

  • Seems to me that getting married is a lot easier than getting divorced. I think a divorce should be a part of reconciling. You can always get re-married. My DDay was over 20 yrs ago……we have had a great marriage since then until just a few months ago……….I am in the detective mode right now and hope I am wrong……….but just can’t shake that “gut” feeling.

    • Good luck, 20Year, no matter how it goes! Unfortunately, 7 years later, my gut was 100% right …..

      • Kicker is…….our marriage is right back on track…….but there was a 4 month period when some red flags hit and the hollowness in my stomach started to ache…………sometimes I think I should let it go……..but a big part of me wants to know…….If CL was around 20 yrs ago……I think I would of ended then.

          • After stalking around this site for the last couple weeks…… is my take on reconciliation……

            If you’re gonna go this route……..then be prepared to make Unicorn hunting a fucking life long pursuit. We were married for 2 years when I found out she was having an affair………yes you actually can forgive and forget……….took me about 5 years to forgive and another 5 years to forget………he’ll I haven’t thought about her affair in over a decade.

            Problem about forgetting is that sometimes you start to remember……….

            A couple months ago, some red flags hit and “bam”, all the pain and anguish from twenty years ago came crashing back leaving me almost paralyzed.

            Just as I thought I saw a unicorn in a clearing……I pulled out the binoculars to make sure and smacked my fucking head into tree limb.

            My marriage is “AWESOME”…….no shit, not lying……..and I have no proof of another affair…………but having this feeling after TWENTY fuckin years.

            Was reconciliation really worth it…….I honestly don’t know.

            • I hear you. I have issues with unicorns…

              I’m sorry I assumed you were a woman.

          • Polygraphs are extremely unreliable, and sociopaths especially are quite good at passing them while lying.

            • Mine had a polygraph in January.

              One of the questions leading up to the primary test question was “In the past year, have you lied to your wife, your therapist, or your group?”

              His answer? “No.” In all sincerity! We have had CONSTANT DRAMA over the discoveries of dishonesty during the past year.

              The main question on the polygraph was something else, and when I got the polygrapher’s report, it said that HE PASSED.

              Seriously, you need to understand the limitations of that tool before putting any stock into the results. I believe it comes down to the experience and skill of the polygrapher vs. the lying ability (or compartmentalization, if you prefer) of the testee.

              • Holy shit! And yet the RIC highly recommends it as part of the ongoing trustbuilding/healing process (and I know some people who overspent on those in the first place!)

              • This is correct: polygraphs are highly unreliable (no longer allowed as evidence in court), and they completely fail in the case of psychopaths. No remorse = no stress when lying = clean polygraph.

            • You don’t have to be a sociopath to pass a polygraph test, if they don’t have any remorse and/or justify to themselves that wasn’t really cheating/lying they will pass it, also the seasoned/expert liars will have no problem with it either, there are other ways, however in some cases the voice analysis tests were more accurate versus polygraph, but they longer are available, not where I live anyway. Either way, if they lied before what makes us think they will be honest in the future?

              All I need to know is that cheaters are liars and liars are cheaters and they all suck!

  • God, I needed to hear this today. After learning some new tidbits from the home front, where two shitheads who continually crap on “nice” people’s worlds while getting rewarded with minor success and a comfortable lifestyle, I started to think, despite multiple mental health professionals explaining to me that he is a sociopath, S-O-C-I-O-P-A-T-H:

    “Maybe is just a normal guy and she really is special. I was the one with the mystery flaw that made me unsuitable for matrimony.”

    Then I tried to think of nice things he has done for others. Thoughtful, selfless acts of kindness with no strings attached. I was starting to lose hope when I thought, “Microlending!” He was really into microlending on an unnamed site for third-world countries. All of those women and children as the recipient of his goodwill to grow cows or sew handbags. I mean, you cannot be an asshole and microlend.

    But I had to ask why. And the answer is he could charge the loan on a credit card, get points for the “purchase”, and the money is paid back. So he just looks like a “nice” guy and gets more reward points from the credit card company. Because it is clear he does not give two shits about women or children. . . Anywhere. After I burst my own bubble, I could not come up with a single selfless act this man has done for anyone.

    • My guess is he probably tells people about his micro lending projects to look like a Nice Guy. Impression management. Double bonus with credit card points.

      • Very likely.

        But even IF he gave a shit about it, handing over money does not indicate a person’s ability to make a genuine commitment to another person in the real world.

        Plus, as I said before, the two of them can make it look nice for a while, but you don’t live there, and know what’s going on behind closed doors–or what may go on after a “honeymoon period” is over.

        Your ultimate revenge is to live well.

        • I try, even though it ain’t easy drinking wine on a grape juice budget. 🙂

          • Just call it “living a minimalist lifestyle” and suddenly, you’re all chic and with-it!

      • Yeah. I mean, this is a guy that used to take “depreciation money” from me to drive my own car which he would not title in my name, so there is really no genuine effort to help others unless it benefits him in some way.

        • OMG! What a dick.

          There is no way he will be able to keep the OW living to her lifestyle standards in the long term with that attitude.

        • This is particularly creepy and sick. Whatever happened to ‘what is mine is yours?’. Oh, I guess that only applies for Chumps. Sigh.

  • Ultimately, I think there are two reasons I had so much trouble giving up on the belief that “he/she was a nice guy/gal.” And I bet a lot of other chumps shared them.

    First, it meant owning my mistakes. Trusting him originally wasn’t a mistake, but turning a blind eye or being patient with the first 7000 times he treated me poorly was an error. I should have stood up for myself (and my kids) sooner. Admitting that the situation was bad and that I couldn’t salvage it was hard. Second, I was desperately afraid of being a mean person. Of course, this was because I had been called so many names, told so many lies, and gaslighted in so many ways that I had lost sight of reality. So even when I was ready to own my mistakes, I couldn’t tell what they were. Was he really a not-so-nice guy or was I being mean? I honestly couldn’t tell.

    It is of great help to have Chump Lady yelling, “Get out of the house!” and to have her husband calmly pointing out that we can discuss the definition of “nice” from the vantage point of the lawn. Left to my own devices, it was all too easy to decide not only to go further in to pull him out, but to feel obligated to look for some graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows while I was near the kitchen because he said I’d be a pretty selfish person if I didn’t at least make him a s’more. And the smoke was bothering his eyes, so I’d have to do it for him, and since I’m the one who was always wanting the thermostat turned up, wasn’t I a bitch for complaining about the heat now . . .

    Two years out, my own behavior looks insane. I wouldn’t dream of telling a friend to stick it out with someone that was being treated the way I was!

    • Eilonwy, you slay me. Yes! They get their twisted hooks in THAT DEEP. I made a lot of metaphorical s’mores too. Great big gooey ones.

    • Eilonwy, this is perfect! My God, the s’mores and the thermostat – I just love it. And I also totally love this, another perfect extension of the metaphor:

      “It is of great help to have Chump Lady yelling, “Get out of the house!” and to have her husband calmly pointing out that we can discuss the definition of “nice” from the vantage point of the lawn.”

    • Eilonwy! Perfect imagery! THANK YOU!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

      All that needs to be added to that perfect metaphor to describe my situation is my therapist reminding me on the way back in to beware the dangers of my black-and-white thinking, and remember to take my own thorough inventory in between graham crackers and marshmallows, and if I get anxious mindfulness practice works wonders, and oh – remember to make myself a nice s’more too – it’s important to take care of oneself!

      It’s all GREAT advice. From the safety of the LAWN.

      CL would you do a post on how to vet your therapist, what to look for vs. warning signs, etc. ?

      • A therapist-picker column would be great. From previous comments, I believe we have multiple mental-health professionals in the community here, as well as many chumps experienced with both good and bad therapists.

  • This article is a perfect example of how the wisdom offered here all fits together – specifically “trust that they suck” combined with “no contact”…

    You see, I was a Chump who would have had a much tougher time if my exH hadn’t just walked out and left the continent…with no way to contact HIM. Looking back, he’d had a foot out the door of our 10 year marriage for about 10 years :), but I was so busy being a “good wife” and spackling for him that I found all sorts of other explanations for his crazy behavior. Problem was, he was (and probably still is) SUPER NICE and very talented in his career, where he works with children. I still have kids contacting me 15 years later, telling me how he was their “only father figure” and how he changed their lives. And he did. But he hasn’t seen his own kids in almost 6 years, and definitely WASN’T that guy with us – with the family he promised to honor and love.

    So, I probably never would have left him – he had to leave us. And then he threatened us, so I did go no contact, and that was AMAZING – I finally saw how unhealthy, dangerous, and completely crazy he was; and was recovered enough to be prepared for the lovebombing a few years later when the primary OW dumped him, and he tried to come crawling back. The best I can figure is that he’s CAPABLE of being a great guy, but he did not choose to be that man with us. And I gave him 10 years of chances. Our kids deserve better than a dad who’s CAPABLE of being a great dad once or twice in six years, and then lying to them, not taking their calls, and (never) paying child support – that’s way too confusing. Go no contact, and that “he’s a great guy” ideas fades away…along with some or most of the anger. Peace is good.

  • On March 30th, it will be 1 year since my now ex husband moved out after 21 years together.

    June 27th, will mark 1 year since the divorce was final.

    Ive learned alot about myself and about life and love since then, but Im so very far from learning all I need to know. I dont think that kind of learning ever ends. I still have moments or days where I cry and wonder if the hurt will ever end completely. But the bad days are lessing, and the good days are growing. In any event, here is the somewhat abbreviated version of what I think is the best of what Ive come to believe.

    #1) Loving someone else doesn’t make them love you in return, certianly not with same level of passion, commitment or value. Loving someone doesn’t make them a good or emotionally healthy person to have in your life.

    #2) One of the things that kept me stuck for so long (5 years, 3 D Days, and at least 4 OW) was that I could not let go of my dream of what my future would be. When we married, had children, built our lives together I saw us growing old (together) and welcoming the kids and future grandkids home for the holidays and sunday dinners. When you divorce, that dream, that future vanishes like smoke and what seems to be an empty void looms before you. Dreams are hard to let go of, I kept wanting to go back to where we were happy and he was faithful. Or at least I thought he was. But, we can’t go back, bells can be unrung and well, those ho-workers cant be un-fucked. Once I let go of that old tattered dream, I realized how in the sunshine of a new day – I could make a brand new future for myself and the kids. And that we were going to be just fine.

    #3) You can not cheat on, lie to and betray in every way possible someone that you love and respect. My ex did all of those things to me, and then blamed me for forcing him to do it. If that is how he treats someone he “loves” – then the OW can have him.

    #4) I gave this advice to my kids just the other day. We were discussing friendships, as my son (who is a chump like his mother *sigh*) was struggling with trying to decide if he should end a friendship with a boy that was a total jerk to him over and over. This, above all else that I’ve learned, is now my rule to live by. I think it could apply to any relationship, from friends to spouses, etc.

    If someone in your life is treating you badly, if they are hurting you (physically or emotionally), if they keep doing things that hurt you even though you have told them how much it hurts, there comes a time when “Why” they are doing it doesn’t matter. People that hurt you, disrespect your feelings and/or needs, and do so deliberately do NOT deserve a place in your life. PERIOD.

    • Oh Angie..your post just made me cry! I see so many of the things that you mentioned in myself right now. I feel like I can force him to love me again, when deep down I know I can’t. I, too, see the whole future now flushed down the toilet. Our oldest is getting married this fall, and I just assumed that we’d be a happy family, welcoming grandchildren into the world together, sharing holidays, growing old together. I’m in such a bad place right now that when I recently read the obituary of someone I knew, and I came to the whole “were united in marriage, and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary” I just bawled, knowing that I will not have that in my future. My obit will just be me, and the kids, with no mention of a husband. Isn’t that dumb to think of?

      • If it is, them Im dumb too. I thought those very things, that I’ll never celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary (married 17 years, together 21 years total), I wont have someone to grow old with, I’ll be alone….

        But you know what I’ve also learned? Being on your own doesnt equal being lonely. Im finding myself again, my confidence, and that I can survive just fine without him. In fact, its alot more peaceful now. Oh it still hurts, I have a feeling that will fade slowly until only the scar is left behind. I couldn’t change him, I couldn’t control what he was doing. My choices were to be married to a cheater who made me feel worthless, or I could find my new future and see what else life has to offer. It DOES get better, you will survive this, and one day the future wont seem so scary anymore. Because you finally realize that you can build a life on your own. And who knows. when my heart is ready to be open again – maybe there will be a man in my life again. Or yours. For now, Im content. And thats just fine with me.

        • Our 25th wedding anniversary would have been this November 8th. I still can’t believe it isn’t going to happen..I was looking forward to it..what a milestone!

        • Put me on the dumb list; I got teary-eyed walking through damned IKEA this afternoon! All those cute house things, and those adorable perfect rooms set up. Half because I used to think my life was like that; the way it was SUPPOSED to be, and I was so grateful for all the good stuff. Now my family is configured else-wise, my life will not be what I thought it would be. I KNOW it will be good and satisfying in many other ways, perhaps one day even a new partner, to see each other through to the end, reciprocally!

          Of course, the other half of the teary-eyed-ness was because now, post-divorce, I can’t fucking AFFORD to get my nice stuff at IKEA! What a waste of MONEY, on top of all the other wastes!

          • I got teary in IKEA last October… Kept thinking about all the times we went and happily bought stuff for our home and life together….especially as we were setting up our home after the wedding. It was painful to go through it again, but with the goal of getting a couple of things to set myself up for my new single life. But at least I got an amazing new duvet cover that I love. Totally worth it to not be using the same duvet cover we got with wedding gift money… I considered it an investment in my mental health. And it has for real done my soul some major good. I actually put the old one back on the other week because my new one wasn’t dry completely before I wanted to go to bed. And when I re-put the new white one on, it was AMAZING the emotional improvement it made. I think I should permanently avoid the other one…

            • Burn it in the backyard, and dance around it singing while it burns! That’s gotta do some good! (Or will convince the neighbours you’re nuts, but that’s OK too!)

      • I get to add more..last night, I sat on the couch bawling like a big old baby, thinking about the fact that HIS family has been MY family for 26 years! His grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins..they are all mine, too. But not anymore..after all, they are HIS family, no matter how I look at it. His Grandpa turned 90 a few years ago, and of course it was a huge family celebration. They are planning his upcoming 95th birthday party..and I guess I won’t be at that one, now. I’m guessing that the OW will replace me at all of the family functions now.

    • “You can not cheat on, lie to and betray in every way possible someone that you love and respect. My ex did all of those things to me, and then blamed me for forcing him to do it. If that is how he treats someone he “loves” – then the OW can have him.”

      Amen to this. Exactly my sentiments too!

    • I totally agree with: “If someone in your life is treating you badly, if they are hurting you (physically or emotionally), if they keep doing things that hurt you even though you have told them how much it hurts, there comes a time when “Why” they are doing it doesn’t matter. People that hurt you, disrespect your feelings and/or needs, and do so deliberately do NOT deserve a place in your life. PERIOD.”

      and I’d add a simple axiom; You know when people care about you because they ACT like they care about you.

  • I had the classic “no way, not him” response with regard to my now ex (divorced for 2 months now!) because he is such a good guy blah blah blah. What’s funny when talking about a friend, he said to me “I can tell you with absolute certainty there is no way (Friend) is doing that” – context being having an affair. I looked right at him and said “but that’s what everyone said about you, including YOU”…….that shut him down straight away.

    I can still get sucked into the niceness, not in the getting back together sense, but in forgetting how awful he can truly be sense, how mean he can be – the blame shifting (how can you act blindsided, there were fundamental problems in our relationship, I told you I didn’t want to be married anymore). Yeah, he didn’t want to be married anymore, so instead of doing the right thing and NOT making a sad, hard situation harder, he CHOSE to stick the knife in and twist slowly – and sometimes he recognizes that but oh, gets tired of having to hear about it. He’s moving on, why can’t I? Geez. Well thankfully I’m finally moved out. We do have to communicate because of our son but I finally can go as no contact as possible and I’m telling you it feels fantastic. I swear to those who aren’t here yet – you WILL get there.

  • Thank you for the post. My nice guy continues to lie AND is still in contact with his fuckbuddy!

    What my intuition has been screaming at me these past months is that: ” The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! We don’ t need no water! Let the motherfucker BURN! Burn motherfucker! Burn! “.

    Couldn’t help it. All the imagery of living in a house on fire caused me to remember that song.

  • ” What’s Love Got to Do with It ” ?
    When They don’t know what the hell it Really is.When Their “LOVE” is Poison. Seriously, Who gives a Shit. This is what I had to tell Myself to Finally get it through my head, that No Matter What, I HAD to leave for Me and my Unborn Child’s ** at the time * sake.
    It Doesn’t Matter if you love them…They’ll Never Love You…Not in the Way you Need and Deserve. Your Healthy Love CAN’T CURE Their Fuckedupness..but they CAN make YOU Sick..
    Seriously, in THAT Situation..FUCK LOVE.
    ” If Love be Rough with You, Be Rough with Love.”<——THIS All the way Out and back to Sanity.

    • THIS, BloomingRose! “Your Healthy Love CAN’T CURE Their Fuckedupness..but they CAN make YOU Sick.” Brilliant!

  • No one believed me when I told them my husband was having an affair. Everyone kept waiting for the punch line.
    He was totally devoted to me as far as I or anyone else could see. I never saw it coming in a million years. I thought we were happy. We had just renewed our wedding vows on our anniversary at his insistence. We were looking at buying a newer house, we had all kinds of plans and dreams on the burner. We just had our 4th grandchild. Life was perfect. Then out of nowhere my ‘nice’ husband sucker punched and cold cocked me harder than I’ve ever been hit in my life. It took me years to recover.
    He really wasn’t a nice man. Not at all. In fact he wasn’t a man at all. He sure wasn’t the man I thought he was.

  • CL,
    Wow, I wish I had found you years ago instead of the traditional reconciliation sites. You hit the nail on the head for me: “Yes, but I think the danger is people think they have to trust that they suck and THEN they can act.” Despite the house burning down around me, I couldn’t act because I didn’t trust that he sucked. I was still trying to “win.” Now it’s 3.5 years since dday, and although he seems to have his act together, I realize now that the problem is we have just really pitched a tent over the remains of our burned down home. No solid walls, no real roof over our heads. A very tenuous relationship. I should have run when it was on fire. I only confided in a few people, and spent a lot of time on the reconciliation websites which offered the advice of waiting – wait 6 months or a year before you do anything, but at that point the crazy became the normal. The couple of my friends who did know, responded with things like, “but he loves you so much!” – All they saw was the “nice” as someone aptly put it and not the lack of “goodness.” I saved some emails from during the crazy false reconciliation and when I re-read them now, it is so hard to believe that I couldn’t see. I did think I had to hate him before I could act. At least next time, I have only a tent to worry about and my escape will be quick.

  • Do you ever feel that a lot of our grown-up lives would be easier if we all followed the advice we learned when we were young children?

    Tell the truth.
    Say sorry when you hurt someone and don’t do it again.

    And, relevant to this conversation, Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

  • I just told my husband that I filed for divorce. I caught him cheating about 4 times over the last few years. I have truly been a chump in every sense of the word. Anyway, he cries and then it becomes a huge pity party. He wanted joint custody because I think he thought he wouldn’t have to pay child support. We’ll he found out tonight that he does have to pay and then the pity party began. Is there a post on here about that?

    • diane, I’m not sure which posts would be most helpful to you, but the ‘Unending Punishment of Breeding with a Fucktard’ would certainly apply!

      The pity parties were a big part of opening my eyes to who my ex really was. Completely focussed on what was happening for HIM and how unhappy HE was – zero interest in or concern for our kids, never mind me. Complete denial of any responsibility for the mess he’s gotten himself into – ALWAYS somebody else’s fault, and he never thought about any of the choices he made, so that absolves him, doesn’t it? Pathetic, selfish, entitled coward. Disgusting really.

      • Thank you! I have been so paralyzed . I have been worried about everyone but me. I finally file and then get this pity party crap. He is feeling sorry for himself and never once was concerned for me. He would rather us live in this sick relationship and avoid divorce because of our son. He sent me a text tonight that he wanted me to know for whatever it’s worth that he loved never loved anyone like he loved me? I didn’t take that as a compliment! I will check out that post! Thanks!!!!

        • If he was really that concerned about what was best for your son, he wouldn’t have fucked around to begin with, would he? I think my ex thought that I would always take him back (like after the first affair) because I wanted my kids to have their intact family. But it reaches a point where you know you’re doing FAR more damage to your kids by staying than by leaving. No way I wanted my kids growing up thinking that cheating and being a chump were normal! No way I wanted them growing up thinking it’s OK to let people disrespect and disregard you so much.

        • KarenE is right. When you say, “He would rather us live in this sick relationship and avoid divorce because of our son,” you’re parroting what he says without thinking it through.

          Divorce is hellishly expensive, as your STBX just found out. Oh, intellectually he may have known it, but in true Cheater fashion, he thought it would never happen. Why? Because you’re a Chump. While the marriage continues, he gets the facade of being a great family man, but he also gets the spice of a girlfriend. So, kibble and cake. He looks at his son like most of us would look at a stage prop.

          While he’s married, he can trust that you’ll manage the stage props so everything looks great when he walks on stage. This includes handling the situation when he overspends on OW. You’re there to help out.

          With the divorce, he’ll be accountable for child support. It has to be paid or he’ll be in big trouble. He has to budget for OW. Maybe he won’t like it when he tells her that they can’t go out to the expensive restaurant because he’ll be short the mortgage or the child support.

          All of his current behavior is trying to gaslight you. Resist and get out!

  • so, this is my first post. chump lady, you have been a god-send to me over this past year. i’m another chump; husband cheated with a co-worker (i caught him), became a heavy cocaine user, always been an alcoholic but intensified over his mid-life crisis, spent money like we had it, bought the sports car, etc… 25 year relationship, 18 year marriage. no children – he didn’t want them.
    your words today could not have come at a better time, honestly. our divorce was final last december, and we’re in the final weeks of sorting through our collective belongings in the home that we shared, as we are both moving on, moving out.
    he came by last night to pack things and i lost it emotionally. tears, a think a bit of nostalgic comments flew out my mouth, manic moodiness, pure madness. we’ve been no contact for over 8 months. didn’t even see each other on the day that we finalized the settlement agreement – both in separate rooms, separate counsel. no contact does make you stronger, no doubt in my mind, as being in his presence made me ‘think’ that he’s not such a bad guy. i actually felt like i had missed him for the first time since he left me, and was experiencing tremendous pain while looking in to his eyes. but this is what i know. the feelings that i am experiencing are about a person (me) who has loved and cared for a deeply flawed human. just as you may see many beautiful qualities in your departing partner, and whilst living your relationship in denial choose to overlook the ugly, the ugly is still there. and it’s deep. he will always have that/those character flaws, no matter how much i can pretty him up. his ‘ugly’ is money and competitiveness with his father. never felt good enough, a self-saboteur, constantly comparing himself to me intellectually and spiritually, always the victim. i could go on. he wanted to hurt someone in the way that he hurts every single day of his life. he hurt me.
    so, even if your shell shocked mind is trying to convince you that the good outweighs the bad, it’s all smoke and mirrors, because when you’re ending a relationship with an abusive person, it’s very, very bad.
    i often think of partner’s who finally walked after living with addicts – drugs, alcohol, porn, MONEY… there are many more, of course. if your person wouldn’t put themselves or you first before their destructive wants, what good is their goodness???
    peace and love to all, and thank you from deep in my heart, chump lady. i could not have made it this far without you and all of the rest of the chumps.

    • Welcome, kat girl! Unfortunate place to be, in your life, but you have great company here!

      Love that ‘what good is their goodness’ part! My ex kept insisting that not EVERYTHING he did was bad, there was good stuff too, didn’t that count? I just told him that there wasn’t enough of the good, too much of the bad, but your explanation is way better!

  • I agree with CL’s advice to act first and trust that they suck later. My D-Day was July 29, 2013 when he at first denied it when I asked had he been out on a date, and he rolled his eyes and laughed, “Noooo!” But something inside me kicked into gear and I just said, if you were seeing someone else I would want to know the truth. Silence. Deer in the headlights. Then he admitted it. He refused to do any counseling (I’ve posted the cruel narcissistic things he said on Dumb Shit Cheaters Say), so I told him he had to leave. He protested and said where was he supposed to go? To OW’s house, I guess, I told him.

    The last 8 months I started out doing pick me, then started seeing a therapist and reading this blog and everything I could to understand… I’ve learned about narcissistic abuse, and had accountants tell me that he took me to the cleaners financially; therapist told me that I was abused emotionally and sexually, and yet at times I have found I still was “missing” him or who I thought he was.

    I’ve decided that what I miss is my own SELF that was working hard, earning money, paying the mortgage, raising my kids, cooking, baking, gardening, soothing, listening, entertaining, paying for vacations, etc…. for someone who was just a SPONGE. And for whom none of that was enough, no, he needed CAKE on the side, and then lied to me and essentially told me through his actions (then later, words) that he did NOT love me or care about me.

    Through therapy and my own soul searching I have taken a giant step backwards and examined who he Really Is, and I see him for the messed up, selfish, snakelike user that he is. Oh yes, he also does nice things, takes senior citizens to their doctor appointments (though I found out he was charging them!), pets baby bunnies and cute children (though he had narcissistic rages at mine when they lived here), and gullible friends have said he was “just having a midlife crisis,” as I gag on the word “just” because of how it minimizes the betrayal.

    Yet 8 months later I am super proud of myself for kicking him out that very same night that I discovered OW. I have found out horrible things about him since then that reinforce that quick action was the right thing to do. We weren’t married so there’s no divorce to do, but there will be a legal case over the equity in the house, the house that I still live in, that he brought OW to while I was at work to show to her to see if she’d like to live here (!), and that accountants say I paid for 90% of the investment in… I am finding ways to make it still my home. I will still live here, garden, bake, cook, have parties, I just won’t have the fake dream person I thought was living with me here… but I also won’t have my abuser here anymore either.

  • CL,
    Hands Down, best advise ever! Leave now and figure it all out later. That’s exactly what I did after D Day. I saw things earlier (red flags) but D Day was the defining moment for me. I was out, no questions asked and I knew without one gram of doubt that this was Abuse and Wrong. I had no choice but to leave in my mind, body and soul, so I did. Not one regret after.

    It was hell immed. after but I knew the hell I would experience by staying would be far worse, I thank goodness I finally listened to my gut and ran and spent months picking up the pieces after but better than staying without question. The toxins came out in my thyroid when my body starting attacking it and I found out I had Hashimoto’s and had to have my thyroid removed about 5 months after I left the asshole. But hey, no more thyroid, no more toxins and no more Asshole. So I WIN!!! : )

    You just gave the very best advise as usual but this one is so important. You can only figure it out away and NC, that is the most important thing to do if you want to save yourself from the Devil (male or female).

    As far as I am concerned they can all rot in hell and I thank goodness I am me not one of them nor will I ever allow my experience to make me bitter, only better!

    Love you CL for you big mouth shouting out Hot, Angry Wisdom with Laugher, you are the best of the best!!! Thanks for being you.

  • Hi all chumps. I was one of the chumps who asked Tracy to write more on ‘Suckitude’. I feel I have been betrayed and hoodwinked by a master. Brief summary: Only together for 3 years, 2 years since Dday, he has never divorced from wife of 25 years, an affair finished their marriage over 10 years ago; he had affair with close friend’s wife (perhaps still ongoing); several relationships later he met me. I didn’t know about the others…..but thought he was the man I had been looking for all my life. He idolised me yet after many special times, he brutally discarded me saying he wanted to be on his own. This announcement came after a very romantic holiday. He told me that everything was perfect except that he felt there wasn’t enough ‘all-consuming passion’. (He is 61 and I am 59) What a tosser! I have learned since that he is in a relationship with his first cousin (47). Their mothers who are both in their late 80’s are sisters. We probably overlapped! She worships him and they seem to be happy together. I find it so galling that he has done this but every day I am becoming stronger. Nobody seems to be ‘off limits’ to him and this, I’m sure you would agree, is particularly yucky. My head knows I have had a lucky escape but not yet my heart. I do feel privileged to be reading all your experiences and I thank you for your inspiration. You are not aware how you have helped me to come to terms with my situation.

  • Being nice scores the disordered person a lot of kibbles. My ex is the master of “nice.” Believe me, he is fed a steady diet of sweet, sweet kibbles by his many fans who are too gullible to see through his mask. They really think his shit don’t stink. He might have mastered acting nice on the outside, but on the inside, where it counts, he is entirely putrid and bad. “Nice” for a disordered person is truly just glitter on a turd.

  • I know this to be true now. When I uncovered the affair with his friend’s wife he asked me not to judge him but in the same breath told me he was not a good person. He gave up a lovely life with me because of his emotional unavailability and lack of true intimacy. I must keep trusting that he sucks not just knowing or believing it. It’s a beautiful dawn here in Scotland. Love to all!

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