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Dear Chump Lady, How do I ever trust again?

Dear Chump Lady,

My tragicomedy of chumpdom is well-known here, so I won’t waste space rehashing it. I’m pretty far out at this point: my divorce was final two years ago, and it’s been more than four years since the D-day and separation (not counting a foolish eight months in bogus reconciliation.)

Like most chumps here, my ex did a real number on my head and heart. Total mindfuckery.

Well, I’ve been dating a good guy for five months. That’s obviously not long enough to know everything about him, but it’s a decent chunk of time. I have not seen any red flags so far. He has some baggage, of course, as do I. We are both well into middle age, so it would be strange if we DIDN’T have baggage.

He treats me very well. He was very respectful of my need to wait a couple months before we had any physical intimacy beyond holding hands. He does what he says he is going to do when he says he’s going to do it. He was married 25 years, has held a good job at the same company for 20 years, has three adult children he sees frequently. He isn’t at all flashy or sparkly, but he has a sense of humor and a variety of interests. We have fun together, we talk for hours, I feel very at ease and comfortable with him. As far as I know, there was no infidelity in his marriage. My friends and family all like him, and say he seems very nice, stable and normal (as you can imagine, NORMAL is very important to me now.)

Here’s the thing: I find it so hard to trust. I feel like I’m just waiting to find out what he must be hiding — that he’s a liar, or an addict, or a cheater, or a rage-a-holic or some other fatal flaw (not that I’ve seen any sign of those things). I feel like he couldn’t possibly really love me, that he’ll grow tired of me and toss me away cruelly. I read so many stories here of cheaters who seemed like great guys right up until the truth came out, and it’s hard to believe that ALL guys aren’t like that.

I’m not looking for a man to save me or sweep me off my feet. I have a pretty good life on my own, and feel better about myself than I have in years. But I would like to be with a nice, honest, smart and funny man. I really like this guy, and he seems to really like me too. But I’m wondering: how does one leave behind the damage done by a sociopath cheating freak? How did you learn to trust your current husband after what you went through after what you went through with the first?

I’m sure I’m not the only chump in this situation, or wondering how to ever trust again once in a new relationship. Any words of wisdom for me?



Dear Glad,

You wrote: “I read so many stories here of cheaters who seemed like great guys right up until the truth came out.”

In the earlier days, I might’ve agreed with you. With distance, and being in a healthy relationship now, I can tell you that my cheater was NOT a great guy until the truth came out. I had a bunch of red flags, and if I’d had a better picker, if I’d had any context to put some of the weirdness and love bombing in, and I hadn’t been so chumpy (unable to believe people could behave a certain way) — I would’ve dumped my ex sooner.

Your years of being a chump were NOT wasted — not if you learn from it. NOW you have that context to assess weirdness,  NOW you know how dreadful it is to be in a relationship that is chaotic and disrespectful so you won’t settle, NOW you know your worth. And most important of all — you’ve come back from disaster. You know how to rebuild a life.

Let this self knowledge give you some hard-earned confidence.

No relationship is without risk. All you can do is your due diligence — judge their character, make sure their words align with their actions, and listen to your gut. Know your worth. If the worst were to happen, and he’s not the man you thought — you will draw boundaries and enforce them. The Glad who knows her worth is able to walk away.

I know I’m a broken record, but all we control is ourselves. There is a lot of comfort in that!

The chump tendency is to try and control others — a dynamic doomed to failure. If I just try harder, if I dance faster, if I eat the shit sandwiches — then This Person Will Stop Doing Bad Things. We waste all our energy trying to control outcomes, instead of controlling ourselves. How about — If This Person Does Bad Things? I’m outta here!

Do you think that’s heartbreaking? Your fragile self could never recover a second time? Yes, of course it would hurt. But not NEARLY as much as what you’ve been through! You’re forged steel, Glad. What could happen that you haven’t already wrestled that motherfucker to the ground and survived? Betrayal? Abandonment? Humiliation? Raising a kid on your own? Supporting yourself? Compared with — a guy I’ve know 5 months might turn out to be a schmuck?

You asked: How did you learn to trust your current husband after what you went through with the first?

Glad, for the record — I am a TWO-time chump. My husband is my third husband. (I wear the chump crown. Do not challenge me for the title.) I know, it’s an unseemly number — three husbands. To muddle Oscar Wilde: “To lose one husband may look like misfortune. To lose two husbands looks like carelessness.”

I married young and my first marriage was a largely unhappy one. No infidelity (that I know of), but he had a mental illness that grew worse over time and he refused to treat it. I was married nearly a decade — most of it spent in counseling trying to “cure” a man who didn’t think there was anything wrong with him. (He had OCD/hoarding.)

I fault myself. He was sending me a very clear message (“I’m not going to change”) — I adamantly refused to listen to it.

I finally left when my son was 4 years old. I’ve told the story here before — my ex spent the next decade suing me for custody, being found unfit, representing himself in court, and costing me untold heartache and shit loads of money. (He has dead beat issues as well.) The whole mess was sad, costly, and pointless. The guy is disordered. How much of that I attribute to mental illness and how much of that I attribute to him being a monstrous asshole is a skein I no longer untangle. My son is a great kid and has turned out wonderfully despite it all.

So that’s the context in which I met my second husband — a serial cheater. I was a single mother and as much as I’d like to tell you I fixed my picker and did therapy, I did not know my worth. I internalized the judgment that I was “less than” as a single mother. That I had failed at marriage. I was surrounded by Stepford stay-at-home mommies. (Best thing I did was move into the city.) My family treated my marriage as a mortifying mistake that gave them a grandkid. Less said, the better.

No one said, “That must’ve been very hard. You were very brave to leave.” No one painted a rosy picture of my future. My uncle told me I was a “loser” who had fallen from grace as the Good Kid. My grandmother said, “You’ll never remarry. You can’t expect another man to love your child.”

They showed their support by arranging my inheritance in such away that I could afford my legal bills. My mother said “Do you KNOW HOW MUCH THIS IS COSTING YOU?” And I responded: “I’m being sued for custody. Do I have an alternative?”

I did not know about character disorder, and didn’t have any way to view my ex’s legal harassment. I felt as if I had to take it, because he “couldn’t help it,” he was ill.

I did my best. I raised my kid  and had a happy single life in many, many respects. Good friends, good work, some enjoyable forays into dating. I thought I was healed up when the love-bombing narcissist turned up on the scene. I see now that I wasn’t. He waved red flags — subtle ones at first, but they built — and I spackled. I wanted that validation. This Successful Guy Wanted Me! It was a lopsided trade from the start. In exchange for love bombing, I got a guy who wooed me, and made me feel off balance. Who dazzled me, and then canceled dates. Who earned a patent attorney’s salary but was quite happy to let a single mom earning half his income pay 50%. Hell, I even lent him money. After we were engaged, he moved in and paid zero expenses. We married (I paid for it), I financed his career move and our new home (my cash down payment, his credit limit), and I told myself — based on MOUNDS OF EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY — that he would’ve done the same for me.

Really Tracy? Dude wouldn’t even pick up the dinner check.

Glad — there were SIGNS. The biggest was my gut. Every time he left I got an uneasy feeling. I’d be strangely angry at him, even though we never fought. And when I saw him, he’d charm me and I’d feel like I was being unreasonable. And the money? There were all these excuses I thought believable — his ex-wife took his money, his house was still for sale, I had liquidity, he just had credit, and wouldn’t it be better for OUR financial future if we paid down (his) debt and used (my) cash.

Married 6 months, the long-term mistress called. D-Days… This is already too long. My point is — I got defrauded. I was a chump.

How did I ever trust again after that?

I stopped being a chump. I painfully, torturously learned the hard lessons. I started PAYING ATTENTION in ways I didn’t pay attention before. I started believing in MYSELF for a change. I began to believe in my worth. When I dumped my cheater, I knew the divorce ropes. I knew I could rebuild. Of course, I hated that I had to do it and was exceptionally miserable about it for a time. (It’s part of why I had so many D-Days — Failure Is Not An Option. I was trying very hard to control an outcome that I could not control.) But fucking hey, I did it. I left.

When my (now) husband came on the scene, I paid attention to his actions (consistent). I paid attention to my gut. (I felt safe with him.) I gave it time to see his character over time. (1.5 years of long-distant courtship.) I knew myself. I knew I could end it with him and be okay if it tanked. I accepted who I was — and fuck off to anyone who thinks I’m less than as a single mother. I told MYSELF I was brave and strong for leaving. I had infidelity support groups tell me that. And I write this blog every day to tell YOU that.

Dating my husband I didn’t feel flinchy. I didn’t wonder if he had a secret life as a gambler, or cheater, or circus sideshow freak. I felt (and he hasn’t disappointed me yet) that he is wonderful.

Not sparkly wonderful (although he has his quirky charms), but solid wonderful. Like your best friend that you want to hang out with and you never run out of things to say to one other.

And when I compared THAT to the highs and lows of courtship with my cheater? It wasn’t remotely similar. No drama. No love bombing. No 23 messages on my voice mail. No moving too fast. No razzle dazzle, bad gut feelings, charm onslaught.

If you want to compare the courtship with my first husband — the difference is I had actual things in COMMON with my now husband. When I met my first husband I was in my early 20s. I hadn’t a clue. I’d try anything. Live in Africa? Okay! Work a job I know nothing about? Okay! Get married? Okay! Why the hell not? I haven’t tried that before! I didn’t have a single practical thought in my head, except marriage felt Grown Up and I liked his ’67 Ford Fairlane.

Oh, but how did I TRUST again? Well, I would’ve preferred a risk-free investment. Instead God sent me the EXACT SITUATION I vowed to avoid! Another lawyer! Another out of state move! God’s got a sick sense of humor.

My point is, Glad — love doesn’t come without risk. You may be required to give your whole heart to someone and move to Texas, a state the color of dead grass. You may think you’re playing it safe, and fall very messily and inconveniently in love. (Oh no! I haven’t mourned a month for every year I was married!) Things may not go according to plan.

But what’s the alternative? Curl up in a hermitically sealed bunker and die? Never give of yourself again? Refuse the joys of intimacy?

You met a nice man, Glad. ENJOY THE NICE! If you don’t go forward into life, you’re giving your cheating ex the power to alter your future. Hasn’t he stolen enough from you? Don’t you deserve some nice after years with the crazy Sasquatch man? Doesn’t every minute with the Nice Man feel fundamentally different than time spent with the dancing Yeti? Do you think the majority of the world’s population are sociopaths? No! They’re a freaky minority, and with proper Narc-dar we can learn to avoid them.

So trust yourself, Glad. You’ve got this. You deserve some happiness. Enjoy!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
    • Since he is a man, you are probably okay. But one must keep one’s guard up in dealing with women. They cheat more frequently, apparently.

      • They do?
        Most women cheaters I know in(my social circles at least) did just that to retaliate against their husband or boyfriends.Not that I condoned it nor I expect you would believe it…
        Even though statistics shows the number of male cheaters are still higher despite the rising number of female cheaters,you would still believe most of the women are not telling the truth,wouldn’t you?

      • Arnold, I know you push this statistic, but although female cheating is definitely on the rise and getting towards 50/50, this simply isn’t true.

        But your suspicion that women are manipulative and will be who you want them to be because you are a paycheque/security, until you are caught?

        Is absolutely true. So look out for the red flags, just as we have to. Look at all signs, that she stands on her own two feet and is her own person making her own choices [I was not]. Ask her about her relationships, and what insight she shows into why they broke up. Look out for manipulative behaviour all based around ‘YOU look after ME’.

        Good luck Arnold.

        • That is excellent advice, Patsy. The key seems to be to look for someone, like my GF now, who supports herself. Once you get involved with a man or woman who want to be “taken care of” you are in a precarious position.
          BTW, I was just in a bad mood when I said this about women cheating. The stuff I read says that the above age 65 group is less likely to cheat than men , so ovearall, due to this group keeping the stats down for women, men still cheat slightly more.
          In the 25-45 demographic, however, I think women cheat more often. They have higher sex drives and the hypergamy deal is really working on them.

          • I visited an abuse forum once,most of the victims are females and although there are a few males as well,what I find interesting those men who like to claim that women abuse men more often than the other way around has never actually been abused themselves.Heck I remember a trollish guy named Walter coming here saying all men cheats,the ones who actually take offense at the statement are women,but the response from male chumps is silence even though this guy is just insulting their gender….

  • Glad- I don’t think CL is going to like my answer, but IF possible, I would use his X-wife as a resource if she is willing. I married my cheater, 5+ years after his divorce. When problems started surfacing and suspicions were brewing, how I wished I could have gotten the low-down before hand. Of course she didn’t owe me, a stranger, anything, but I bet she may have shed some tidbits about X. All his childhood friends or those left-over from his first marriage were always very vague when discussing his first marriage or first wife.
    My cheater told me initially, they divorced because he was immature and couldn’t keep a job. When I met him, he was very focused, ambitious, and doing well. Later on, when I suspected him of cheating and I asked him about his first marriage again, now his explanation was, “she thought I was cheating, but I wasn’t…” Hmm.
    I know this strategy isn’t foolproof. She is likely to bad mouth him or not, but I think you would be able to glean something from the encounter, especially if your BF has a deer in headlights look when you ask him for contact information.

    • And how do you think Glad’s delusional Sasquatch would reply to inquiries about her and their marriage? Think he has nice things to say?

      I don’t agree with this advice. And I’m even on the fence about it after you have REASON — like a D-Day. As I mentioned in the last post, I reached out after D-Day to my ex’s second wife, who was very gracious. But frankly, I knew enough at that point to run screaming. She just gave me mountains more of Trust That He Sucks.

      Of course, if I’d talked to her before, I would’ve heard that she was batshit crazy and bitter. And as I have a batshit crazy ex, I may have believed it.

      I think it’s okay to meet their friends, see how they interact in mixed social situations. But my feeling about disordered people is — they cannot hide the crazy forever. It comes out, and if we put down the spackle, we’ll see it and can judge it for ourselves.

      Calling the ex is like snooping through his wallet or his phone. He’s given Glad no reason to distrust him — and I would not advise her to behave in a way that presumes he is untrustworthy.

      Google him, online background check. Fine. Although that said, absolutely nothing would’ve come up on my ex with a background check.

      • All this^^^. Which Chump Lady brings me to my question (which I don’t know how to ask other than by replying) How does the “high road” co-exist, co-habitate, cooperate with the truth? Especially when adult children are involved over a long (36 year marriage) when the cheater adulterer WILL NOT keep the “kids” out of it – updates, progress reports, victim whining on our long messy divorce – and I say NOTHING. I know, poison is as poison does but because I’m attempting to model Sandra Bullock’s class and do not open my mouth – I’ve been portrayed as bat sh.t, irrational and money grubbing.

        • Don’t confuse the high road with the truth. By all means, tell the truth without editorializing. We’re divorcing because your father cheated on me. Good grief, you have adult kids! They can take it. That’s different than your father is a sack of shit.

          You do NOT have to protect his image and let him drive the narrative. Not. Your. Job. There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth. YOUR truth. It happened. He did it. As someone once said here — if it’s not so bad to do — it’s not so bad to speak of it.

    • Oh. No! Sounds like a surefire way to lose the guy. Subtitle: “Call The Ex, Say Goodbye to This Next”.

      Sorry, SeeTheLight, but the list of reasons of Why Not To Do This is long. There’s a very high likelihood that she wouldn’t get honest answers, either based on the ex’s irrational perspective or just a flat-out need to hurt him or the new woman. Some women would be really put off by some stranger calling them about their ex. And some would be very upset. If nothing else, have a little empathy for the ex wife. I don’t see any just cause for collaboration with her.

      • moda- I understand what you are saying, but if I had the opportunity, I would take the risk. At this stage, are we really so fearful about offending or holding onto an insecure man or one with “secrets” when our future is at stake? Likewise, I would welcome any respectful inquiry about my cheater and I would be very rational about my response. He may or may not be truthful about me to a prospective boyfriend, if the shoe were on the other foot, but I wouldn’t feel the least offended. He is who he is…. And that boyfriend would have to weigh what he knew about me and decide. It would be a pay-forward or golden rule (do unto others) moment for me. My cheater’s Ex was apparently a very nice woman. All she would have had to do is say “no” or not respond. If Glad’s boy friend is sensitive to her needs and what she has been through, and they are at a point in their relationship where she needs that reassurance, what a bonus. Even not getting honest answers or a lot of vitriol from an Ex would be revealing. Is infidelity the number one reason for divorce and are reformed cheaters a good risk? In my world, divorced folks with a back story seem to predominate the landscape.

        • I think she would learn more about him from getting to know his friends and family than checking with the ex. She doesn’t mention it, but I assume she has met his friends…

  • CL, what if the fellow is a widower who appears to have had a very happy 35 year old marriage with nice kids as well? I have to say that at 62 years of age it is way too late for me. I married my 1st and only love which ended with him divorcing me for younger women, so therefore I cannot imagine any male finding me attractive but I am told that I still am. Personally I cannot see it. Suffice to say, I could not imagine having sex with another male I would be and am too terrified. I suppose I will go to my grave never knowing what it might have been like to possibly have found true love and be loved.

        • My ex left me after 28 years for a widow… his best friends wife.

          I’m mid 50’s now and I absolutely KNOW that I’m good enough. Maree believe what people are telling you! A new relationship in mid-life is a very daunting prospect but I refuse to hide myself away based on one persons opinion of me. Why should you?
          Don’t let your ex have any more control of your life. Don’t let his poor choice define you.

          • Joke. Don’t marry, but still have fun. Marriage is a capitalist trap that makes you financially vulnerable…..unless you are someone who doesn’t work (or who makes less income) and will reap the benefits of immediate spit-assets assuming a divorce. What a joke. Marriage is no longer a religious practice as it was supposed to be. It is a “financial” arrangement” Don’t marry, but find a companion who will go to movies with you. That’s all. So simple.

        • True Arnold. Maybe all we want/need is a back-scratcher and someone whom we can crack jokes with and see Oscar nominated movies with. No need to the tie the knot and become interdependent. Will NEVER make myself financially vulnerable to another person. I have a good job and will never split my pension with another person.

          • Good point. You can lose SS $ by marrying. Just live together and share life and expenses and get two checks from the government.

            • So true Arnold. Smart people (and my future smart partner) will realize what a joke marriage is. Is not even religious like it used to be . It is a legal farce that makes you financially weak. Marry and immediately lose half your fucking assets….smart move.

      • Marriage is a joke. At 76, why bother? We marry because we are culturally (and falsely religiously) programmed to do so. You can have a meaningful relationship (financially independent) with anyone. Take a look at the asinine Oscar nominated movie, “HER’ Hell, you can even have a relationship with a computer-who will still dump you. Learn from these lessons and remain single and independent.

  • This is a great question, Glad, as I’m also finding it hard to trust anyone. I’ve been hit on by so many married men since the divorce 3 years ago that I wonder if I have a sign on my back or something. It hasn’t renewed my faith in men.

    I’ve just about decided to wait until my youngest (now 11) is off to college and I’m an empty-nester before I even think about dating again. For now, I’m content with putting my kids and business first.

    • No Red, what you have now is radar for the cheaters. It’s what CL is saying, we notice, we LISTEN, we HEAR and most importantly we see if the actions line up. I noticed all the cheating assholes too since my divorce but I don’t think this JUST started happening, it’s always been happening but now I NOTICE it, hello!

      You don’t have to wait because sure there is a risk someone can fool you still, but it’s not nearly as likely because we know when something is off.

  • I would want to know his answer to why he is divorced. I’d think long and hard about whether his answer made any sense. Just because he sees his three adult children regularly, doesn’t mean there aren’t ugly skeletons in his marital closet.

    • Yes, we’ve talked about why he divorced. In a very small nutshell, his wife went into deep depression after death of one of their children (full–term infant that died at birth), and she refused to get counseling or treatment. He eventually went into IC for himself, to deal with marriage, death of infant and his FOO issues. Eventually decided he needed to leave his wife, who was still angry and depressed, still refused to get counseling.

      He is amicable with her now, and admits that he was also depressed and had a lot of anger back in those days.

  • Glad, you’re courageous to even be willing to date someone. I’m not interested at all. Most of my friends told me that will change with time. I don’t know nor do I care. I am having the time of my life doing what I want to do and don’t even think of dating. I really like being unencumbered, peaceful and joyful. I’m glad you asked the question, though, just in case I ever come to the point of becoming interested again.

    • I have the same attitude towards dating right now. I keep hearing that it will change over time too, but I don’t believe it right now. Sure, I miss knowing there’s someone to talk to, and I certainly miss the physical interaction, but none of that is happening any time soon, and trying for it will be a big mistake. I am overwhelmed by the thought of it and trying to think positive about it doesn’t help at all. Maybe when I turn 40 in a couple years (it will be three years post-breakup)?

      I do know this – I no longer care about trying to impress people or selling myself out to play any dating “game”. I need to know what I am and I need to own it, otherwise I’ll get chumped again.

  • Wow, Tracy aka CL, just absolutely soul-stirring!

    I have not been here long enough to hear you whole story nor have I finished reading all the past posts, so I knew I needed to know more about you and your experiences. This post today was so AMAZING! So glad to know more about you & your journey.

    I am going to keep this one on file. So much strength and love in your message to Glad.

    More later…..

    Forge on, you beautiful Chumps, forge on!…..

    PS: I think your hair is beautiful!!!

  • Great question! What a coincidence that I had this discussion with a close friend just the other day (though I have no one in my life right now)! I was a little worried because I hadn’t found anyone particularly attractive (even those celebrity heartthrobs), and the thought of dating makes me anxious most times.

    Long story short, her advice was that “When the right guy comes, you’ll know.” There is no need to force attraction just because you’re afraid of being alone (especially when you have other aspects of your life going so well!), but it’s also important not to push anyone away without any red flags. She also mentioned that “If you can’t date someone without punishing them for your ex’s transgressions, you’re not ready to date.” That one line really helps me feel better about concentrating on “me”

    • “If you can’t date someone without punishing them for your ex’s transgressions, you’re not ready to date.” – AMEN!!!!!!!

  • “Like your best friend that you want to hang out with and you never run out of things to say to one other.”

    That, to me, is the biggest problem, my ExH was effectively this (my BFF) and I was completely blindsided by this whole thing, nearly two decades of being with someone I would feel totally 100% comfortable with.

    I am under no illusion there were some red flags looking back and I know realise he morphed into a deceitful lying piece of sh@t.

    But, here’s the thing, the more I have rebuilt my life and rely on myself and learn about what I want to do to make me happier and lead an authentic life, the more I believe that I will never need to rely on another person to help me get there.

    Most of the genuine good guys around my age (43) are married, the other guys I see out dating are with girls half my age. The married guys who have hit on me make my stomach churn and the ones that aren’t have so many issues I need to run for the hills.

    In short, I am becoming totally reliant on myself and can actually see myself never trusting anyone again, maybe have a friendship eventually – but never give myself 100% Because I did that with my ExH and totally believed (cheesy- I know) we were the best of friends, we loved, laughed and spoke about the same things that I still like nowadays – turns out my best friend is me. I never had that sense of unease in my stomach with my Ex H until Dday and the whole thing kicked off, nowadays I get a sense of unease if I guy asks me for a coffee (maybe and maybe not unfairly) because I will suspect his motives.

    I am only 2.5 years out but already my sister is hinting I may need a ‘companion’ now and not all men are cheaters, “it’s not as straightforward as that” I argue and I enjoy doing what I want at the moment.

    That aside Glad, (sorry for the rant), I completely understand where you are coming from and perhaps in time this guy will eventually turn out to be someone you will eventually trust more than now, enjoy the fact you are dating!!!!!

    • Digbert, I don’t mean to be harsh, because it’s awful to lose your best friend — but he WASN’T your best friend. The BFF thing at some point was unrequited. It had to be for that man to cheat — to disconnect like that without any compassion for you.

      It’s horrible to lose a marriage, 20+ years, a best friend. But you wake up and realize this shithead is NOT your friend. He could not have been your friend to betray you. He was a person you shared history with, not a forever person. You deserved better.

      I think we chumps project our love on to people who, at the end of the day, just aren’t that deep. We see depth where there was really shallowness. We lost what we *thought* we had.

      • My ex mirrored me, that is why I thought he had depth. And I think in the beginning he wanted to be different than he was but over time he gave up and toward the end his mirroring of me became very obvious. It is that empty people will mirror what they want to be, it is why they go after strong people, they desperately want to be strong and they are not, they turn on us for the very traits they at first admired in us.

        • Thanks, Dat, for writing exactly the words I felt but never actually articulated. You have hit the nail on the head, and you have also described my lying, waffling, sneaky, resentful, etc., ex perfectly. He cheated his way out of our marriage and has now latched onto another crutch. As my daughter said, “Poor Dad. He’s so weak.” Yep.

          • Dear Dat & Cold,

            Ditto Ditto Ditto!

            Thanks for giving my (& other’s) thoughts, feelings & experiences a voice!

            Same thing for one of my older brothers! Amazing how ‘they’ can mirror!

            Me?! I would rather be strong!

            Forge on, Strong ones…Forge on!

      • yes! this is what I did. And it was accepting that my ex was really this empty/shallow human being that was one of the last things I could accept. It was so hard for me.

        How do we keep from projecting this again? How can we tell when someone is shallow and faking depth?

        Do we need to hold ourselves back so that our judgement doesn’t get clouded by emotions? I just don’t really know. I feel like I might be susceptible here again…

        • Another, I can tell you one way I see the difference between my ex and Nice Guy. I’ve been at a few gatherings with Nice Guy and watched him talk with other people. Some of these were people who went on and on about themselves. Nice Guy actually paid attention to what they were saying, and it was clear to me he really was listening because he asked plenty of appropriate questions and was obviously focused on the speaker. My ex, on the other hand, never really paid any attention to what someone else said, because he only cared about talking about himself.

          I would say that is one good test for separating the shallow faker from the genuine. Watch the person when they are talking to someone else. Pay attention to their facial expressions, their words and their actions. Are they really present in the conversation, or are they only waiting to talk about themselves?

        • aE, you cant’ know everything in advance. It’s hard to know someone is faking depth when they themselves believe their own lies. I am usually an excellent excellent judge of character. My ex fooled me completely. From what he said and what he did in the beginning there was no other conclusion than to believe what he spouted as a value system.

          But he did love bomb. And he did expect trust without earning it. And I made excuses for his baggage and that was some of my worst naivety because as my counselor once said, “yes, we all have baggage, but not all of us take it out on others”. That to me now is the biggest thing to watch for once a relationship gets a little further in. If they can’t do normal things like talk about finances or plans or conflict like a human but instead try to blame their inability on others…. run for the hills. They don’t heal up that stuff, they just carry it from the last relationship and dump it onto you.

          But then again….I think I’m going to ignore dating and get a dog.

          • Amen on the dog, Kat! After a weepy, shitty morning, I forced myself to make it to the animal shelter where I volunteer walking dogs. Watching a dog’s pure joy, unencumbered by the past, sniff this snow and this grass and this puddle did me a world of good.

      • Yes, this is it exactly. I would also have said that my ex was my best friend, and he always told me I was also his best friend…… right up until the end, when I suddenly became the person he “had nothing in common with and never should have married.” Now I look back and realize that it is exactly as CL says….. we had a shared history. We had lots of fun times together (and lots of NOT fun times as well.) But he was never truly my friend. He never cared about me at all. He was cheating on me and lying to me from the very beginning, even during our dating days.

        Now when I look back at the unbelievable grief and nightmare I went through at the end of that marriage, I realize the grief was for what I SHOULD have had, not what I really DID have.

        • “…the grief was for what I SHOULD have had, not what I really DID have.”

          Maybe THAT’s why I leaked tears nonstop for over a year. Makes me feel much better to realize that it was the dream/possibility that I mourned than to think that I wasted all that grief on someone who was so empty inside.

        • Yes! That is exactly IT! Many of us are mourning the marriage we wanted…not the marriage we actually had! I wanted marriage to a man who truly loved, respected and cherished me. A man who wanted to spend time with me and who thought being with me and our two wonderful children was the greatest blessing God could ever give him. Instead, I got a man who was never content or happy with being at home. He was always searching for ways to make himself happy. He did not value or care about my contributions to our family (working and doing almost 100% of all the care of our children). He was never content – never settled – always “searching” for something…I think he had no idea what it was either! I spackled, covered over, ignored, and just plain forced myself to live in a fantasy world in my head where we had “the perfect little marriage and family” when in reality I was living with an angry, irritable, unhappy asshole. When he left, he did me and our boys a favor. It didn’t feel that way at the time and still doesn’t sometimes when I fall into bed alone at night with the weight of being a single mom dragging down my shoulders – but at least I am living in the clear light of reality!!

          • Nicole, That’s it exactly!
            It took me some time to realise that I was grieving for the loss of the marriage I wanted but never had…. you know, looking back I lived out that fantasy in my head too, the perfect family. In truth he was never home, never happy, couldn’t be nice to anyone and I always had this vague feeling of disappointment. Although I was devastated when he left, a lot of my negative feelings left with him!

      • Yes CL, I get that he wasn’t my BFF now but I suppose what I probably tried to explain was that I doubt I will ever see myself that ‘comfortable’ again regardless of how ‘deep’ the tide is.

        I suppose it’s like when as a child you find out Santa Claus does not exist, Christmas is just never the same as you get older.

        I certainly do realise now that my Ex who betrayed me horrendously never really cared f@ck all about our ‘friendship’, never mind our marriage.

        That said, my ‘shallow’ history with him has left me unwilling to run the risk of ever trusting someone else 100% ever again (at the moment). Give it another year of ‘me work’ and I might be at a better stage of Meh. 🙂 still enroute but working on it.

        No harshness detected CL, and trust me I am fully aware now that he was never my BFF but I did like to think he was at the time and everyone else agreed- they are still in shock and can’t believe that I haven’t (happily now quite rarely) got a good word to say about him, if at all.

      • I agree with you CL, I thought that my ex was my best friend. I was so mistaken. He is just a mimic, there is no substance to him at all. It’s probably the worst betrayal when the world you knew, 22+ years, was all a lie and you lost the one person who you thought was your BFF. The waste of our time, love and energy to keep these POS people in our lives by spackling. Digbert, if you look back honestly, you will see that you were the only one truly there being a friend. The red flags were probably popping up at you daily but you learn to spackle and turn the blind eye until it becomes part of your “friendship” to go along with whatever shit sandwich the ex is handing out.

    • Digbert, I sooo get what you mean. I too got completely completely blindsided by the affair and subsequent behavior. I too thought we had a good and solid marriage. If someone I have children with (3 sons) and spent 18 years with, can just walk away without a care in the world, then who can I count on? That seems to be a remaining mindset after all was said and done. I have learned, I do well, I have built a good life, a better life even:). But I am also relying on myself and do not see myself ever giving myself again as I did when I was married. I may remain by myself, which I have accepted at this point. My ex doesn’t think he needs to pay child support or help financially in any other way. He even sued me for money 2 years after the divorce. And our children live with me. I can see how he must be really wired wrong, what sane person would do that? But how did I not see that? Who was I married to actually? I still don’t know, and it is really not important anymore. But another relationship? No, my x did a number on me as they say, and I am fine as I am.
      I did have a boyfriend. A kind and loving man who cared for me deeply. But I just couldn’t. I was not in love. It started to feel like an obligation and I started to feel like an imposter. I tried to figure out whether I had built walls so thick that I wouldn’t let him in or if it was simply a matter of not being in love. Then I figured it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t feel right, so I broke it off.

  • GIO, congrats on enjoying a relationship again, you rock! And you give me hope that I too might meet a good person to share life with.

    Maybe I’m projecting, but my take is that you are doing what I do “trust but verify” and looking for red flags even when things seem fine. Maybe you are also afraid you’ll over react, or worse, you will spackle without realizing it. Maybe it’s more about trusting ourselves, trusting that we will keep our eyes, minds and hearts open and hear our own intuition. Trusting that our intuition is not broken any more. Trusting that we won’t mistake our paranoid fears for real fear and conversely, we won’t ignore our true intuition by telling ourselves we are making a big deal out of nothing. We have to trust ourselves before we can trust anyone else.

    I’ve had this issue on a new friendship level, no romance yet! I found it helped me to re-read Gift of Fear, or at least portions of it. There is a passage where he talks about the difference between suffering, worry, anxiety and fear that always helps me. The book reminds me that life is full of risk, we can only control certain aspects. Take the precautions one can, be alert, alive and aware of our intuition and let go of the anxiety.

    • sorry, forgot we have a “GIO”, I meant this for Glad It’s Over, we used to shorten it to GIO 🙂

    • “my take is that you are doing what I do “trust but verify” and looking for red flags even when things seem fine. Maybe you are also afraid you’ll over react, or worse, you will spackle without realizing it. ”

      Yes, Dat, this is it exactly. I’m constantly looking for red flags, worrying that I am spackling or settling or making some huge mistake again. My therapist tells me that I am hypervigilant and that I need to trust that I will see the signs and make the right decisions. It’s really hard, though, and I guess I find it hard to trust myself.

      • Glad, I just went through contractor hell because I let my good friend talk me into hiring him when I felt like something wasn’t right. I trusted friend instead of myself and it taught me the lesson all over again. So I’m not entirely healed enough, I should have trusted that my hesitation was based on intuition that the contractor wasn’t right. In our parlance I spackled over my doubts and I did it because I thought I was over reacting. Now, if I feel that again, I will step back a bit and examine it carefully. I am trusting myself more because this contractor crap happened. So I get the feeling. I think part of it is that I’m sick of being in my own head so much, this causes me to occasionally ignore signs. I won’t do that any longer. If something feels wrong, I’ll look closer at why, this is how I can trust myself again.

        • I should note, I verified the contractor sucked within three weeks but I’d already sunk money into the project and knew I would never get it back so I had to put up with his shit to get the work done. In a relationship we don’t have that problem, we are risking our emotions though and that is scary.

      • Ahhh. I used to hate Dr. Phil but now I kind of appreciate him.

        “Be mature enough to recognize that life is not always all about you and what feels good for you in the moment. If you are married and have children, you have an obligation and a commitment that far transcends what feels good.”

        “Want to know if something is cheating? If you wouldn’t do it with your spouse standing there, it’s cheating.”

        True and True.

  • For me, the most damaging and lasting damage done by my crazy exW were the lies/slander she told (plus her compatriots echoed) of me and somehow got me to believe (in part, at least). A profitable exercise for me in rebuilding my ability to trust has been identifying my relationship triggers and thereby disarming them through awareness. Remember: this new guy (gal, in my case) is not your ex-husband (ex-wife)! It is not fair to assume they are the same person or have the same character-deficit as the disturbed individual who messed around and messed with your head.

    To be in a relationship is always a risk. But I say it is a risk worth taking.

    C.S. Lewis talks about how the only way to keep our hearts safe is to lock it away and never give it to anyone/thing…not even a dog. But then our locked away hearts shrivel and become hard. I don’t want that. Yes, trusting someone again is a risk. But living a life of de facto cynicism and bitterness cut off from trusting anyone again is not a life I want nor would want for anyone I care about.

    • Pope John Paul II had a similar quote to Lewis: “The worst prison would be a closed heart”.

      I think he was right, but it’s awfully hard to believe it.

  • I have been single several years and have went out with several different guys and not one time have I even remotely felt a connection to any of them. I’m snake bit.
    My cheating X was my second husband and I used to joke that I ‘saved the best for last.’
    I find it really, really hard to trust men.
    And like Red, so many married men have hit on me I wonder if I have a bull’s eye on my back that only they can see.
    I would give anything to have a nice, kind, loving, good man in my life but it sure hasn’t happened yet. Not even close.
    I see red flags everywhere.
    Most of the men I meet don’t have good jobs and expect me to bring a second straw to share a glass of wine. Or their wives died two months ago and they’re already looking for a replacement. Or they’re in their 50’s with toddlers. Or they have horrible teeth or just filed for bankruptcy. Or gun toting Tea Partier’s.
    I know that there are men my age who are good guys but they’re home with their wives where they belong.
    Or the dating sites! Men aged 60 who are looking for only ‘athletically toned women.’ Give me a break. While I’m in decent shape you won’t see me running any marathons or hand gliding off Mt. Shasta.
    An older female friend of mine told me that men of a certain age are all looking for a purse or a nurse.
    I keep hoping…

    • 🙂 That made me laugh Gio

      Or the dating sites! Men aged 60 who are looking for only ‘athletically toned women.’

      Yeah, and they post pictures of their 4 x 4s (as if you would be suitably impressed) or I once had a guy state this:

      ” I am looking for the girl in the sundress who takes my breath away”

      🙂 🙂

      • ” I am looking for the girl in the sundress who takes my breath away”

        Save us all!! BUT…if he is a sleazy player the quick sucker punch to the stomach would do the trick.

    • I feel ya. I was at church and notice one of those too old for the club types on the prowl. He had a huge diamond earing, a burgandy nero collar suit, and a wide cheesy grin. I sat a few pews behind him and watched as he checked out every woman’s rear end that walked by.
      Ive also noticed the older types who want young wives to care for them in their later years of failing health. Who needs that?

      I don’t see a lot of men past mid forties out jogging or at the gym. My stbx wanted a “toned”….athletically fit mate but did everything to sabotage my eating habits and workout routine.

      I believe that’s why he purposely chose women who were morbidly obese. He didn’t have to explain his ED.

      • Oh Ed! I didn’t want to mention him. He’s Every Where!

        I’ve been single seven years and have tried to get intimate with approximately four men. Three who I knew in another life time before I was married.
        I can’t even tell you how disgusting it is when they can’t get it up and expect You to DO something about it. Feels like you should be charging money. Eeewwww.

        The last one was a man I knew in high school and he found me on Facebook. He told me he had prostrate cancer and had it removed. (I wasn’t sure what this meant so I googled it and got some information, and it sounded like there were different outcomes) After seeing him for a couple of months I asked him what it meant for him and he mumbled some stuff. I got very pointed and asked some direct questions. I told him that I had some bad experiences so far with men and their sexual difficulties and while I understood that these things happen I would like to know beforehand if there was anything I needed to know. And I didn’t want any more gross sex. He said he totally understood. (I guess no one ever thinks you’re talking to Them)
        I guess sometimes the penis completely disappears and gets sucked up into the bladder. Unfortunately this is what happened to him. One night we were cuddling on the couch watching a movie and he whispered in my ear ‘How would you like to make the LITTLE guy happy?’ And put my hand on it.
        OMFG!! It was FLAP!!
        I think I need counseling to get over this.

        Now …can you imagine for a minute that a woman who had a complete mastectomy would ask a new lover to play with her breasts?

        Yeah, sometimes I do miss my lying, cheating, no good, Piece of Shit husband.

        • If you are dating guys post 45 or so , this is reality, GIO.
          Men deal with the same thing with non lubrication.
          Getting older has its drawbacks in this area. But , Viagra etc makes a huge difference.
          I do not think our bodies were designed for a lot of sex past a certain age and we refuse to accept that.

  • I’m 54, married my high school sweetheart that I met at 16, we were married 31 years. I was terrified at the thought of dating anyone, but decided to go out to dinner with a friend I knew through work who was also divorced. We continuted to be “friends” for about 8 months, until I finally gave in and admitted we were “dating.” He was very patient and I feel like in many ways our relationship has been healing for me. But lately I’ve felt a bit smothered and like I just want to be independent. I like being able to focus on developing my interests and abilities, I’m getting stronger and less afraid of being alone. Getting married again would jeopardize my financial stability in my retirement years because I’d have to give up my maintenance payments. After my experience it’s hard to believe that someone wouldn’t just get tired and walk out again, leaving me in worse shape than I am now. Still, I think anything is possible and I want to remain open to the idea of finding love again.

    • ” But lately I’ve felt a bit smothered and like I just want to be independent.”

      You are being wise to have a bit of vigilance about the “being smothered” feeling. It means that somewhere you are getting the gut feeling that your boundaries might be experiencing subtle encroachment. Not to say you have to dump him, just be aware of any tendencies on his part to be a codependent “fixer.” Those suckers can ultimately be lethal to one’s identity and authenticity..and they are soooooo subtle with it.

    • I think its important as CL says to know your worth. I find myself a soon to be single empty nester and I am determined to do it right this time. If I choose to marry, the man has to have a genuine love for GOD plain and simple otherwise we don’t share the same basic value system. He has to be in good health, cause I’m not interested in being anyone’s nurse maid, and at my age he must be financially stable. I love to travel and feel comfortable riding in the back of a pick up truck in some exotic location or seeing the sights in a comfy tour bus. He has to love people, be willing to give to those outside of his circle and be comfortable from the boardroom to some dirt farmer in the Sudan.
      I plan to take my time, live life, and if he comes along I will know. Right now I’m working on being the best I can be.

    • Lyn,
      We are the same age so I loved hearing your interest and pursuit in your own interests and independence. That sound incredibly healthy and strong of you. Your post gave me a boost this morning. Thank you!

  • I think CL has hit this one out of the park! I especially like the mention that, while we can verify, and watch for red flags, and most importantly, give that new person time to show us who they are, in the end we do NOT have the control that we would like to have. We cannot be 100% sure of anything, even when being ‘only’ 98% sure is scary.

    We have to accept some risk, and it IS easier when we know we’ll survive even if the worst happens again.

    Lyn, I’m like you in not wanting to be married again any time soon, but I do want someone special in my life. This always cheers me; a friend of mine left her cheating narc, and within a year met a great guy. But she was gun-shy, and was super enjoying her new-found independence, and didn’t want to mess w/her young teen daughter’s head (especially because her father had, OF COURSE, remarried fast). So she dated this guy, mostly during the weeks her daughter was with the ex. After about a year, she introduced him to her daughter, and they’d very occasionally do something the three of them. The relationship was a really good one, and he was patient, but after almost 2 years, he wanted more. Can’t blame him! They went back and forth for a while, talking about what each wanted and what they each could give (honest communication, she was amazed!). But with time she felt so bad about not being able/willing to give him what he wanted, which was to marry, that she broke up with him. He accepted that, although it was clearly not what he wanted. They spent 6 months apart, and she missed him more and more with time, not less, and he missed her. So they met again, and talked again.

    Now they own a duplex together. She lives in the downstairs apartment, with her daughter, he lives upstairs. They share the backyard and the barbeque, and the cat. When her daughter is with her dad, they live much like a married couple. When her daughter is with her, he stays mostly upstairs. They all have dinner together once a week, and do a ‘family’ outing on most weekends (they’re very sporty). Her daughter likes him a lot, but doesn’t have to try to deal with him living there. And she still has her home, her stuff, her choices, her time.

    Just knowing that it’s possible to find someone who will not only love and be trustworthy, but also accept that not everybody is ready for the classic type of relationship is so cheering to me!

    • That is a very interesting arrangement and I think it’s great they worked out to the benefit of everyone. In my situation I find that I enjoy spending time with my friend, but I’m happy to see him go home so I can do my own thing. After a lifetime of taking care of everyone else, I’m enjoying taking care of myself. When I’m tired I can actually lay down and take a nap! I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been. In my 30’s I had cancer, endometriosis, and severe allergies. Throughout my marriage I was always sick. It was shocking to me how much better I felt once I moved out of our old house and got away from the stress of crazy town.

      My parents are elderly and I know that most likely I’ll end up caring for them one day. I just want to enjoy my health and freedom for awhile.

  • Kudos to you Glad, you deserve happiness! I hope he is everything he is purporting to be right now.

    I’ve been divorced since last September, and separated for an eternity. Red flags were waving in my face during the engagement 20 years ago, but I chose to ignore them. I was 32 and so lonely. I desperately wanted someone to love and to love me back. And I paid dearly for not listening to the warning bells in my head. He was and will always be a loser.

    Now, I can’t imagine a good man wanting to date me, and I’m not up for vetting anyone to actually “date.” At aged 53 and looking it, it takes everything in me to move forward from X’s betrayal and his ongoing campaign to financially and emotionally ruin me. I spend every day working two jobs to pay bills and build some security after having it stolen. I try my best to help my kids find some a little childhood happiness again. And I continue to look forward to the day I feel meh instead of hurt, anger, fear and sheer exhaustion. I now trust that he sucks, but now I also blame myself for ignoring the signals he gave me that he sucked all along.

    The idea of someone actually wanting to spend time with me is a fantasy I do not have any energy or strength left to indulge. That is not to say I’m not lonely for companionship or intimacy or sex. I am not dead, and I do remember those days when I felt loved and wanted (it was the early eighties and I was in college). But truthfully, I know better than to hope for that kind of innocent, genuine love ever again. I feel that part of my life was forced into an early retirement.

    “Are you there? Say a prayer for the pretender. Who started out so young and strong only to surrender.” -J. Browne

    • 1.Glad, I really liked this article that I’m pretty sure I originally obtained the link for from one of the chumps here.
      I don’t agree with everything he says but I do like his R.A.M model. That’s an area where I screwed up with my ex. And…I’m lighting a candle for you tonight, cause dammit! You deserve to be happy with someone.

      2. I just want to point out something a lot of us have said including CL. Red flag is when we made 1/2, 1/3 or even 1/4 of what our exes made and yet still had to foot the bill for half of the stuff. If we went out, if he needed new clothes, or car repairs, or the kids needed clothes, haircuts, stuff for school etc. I was the one who bought that stuff. The bastard never paid for anything of mine. Even though he had a great career. I think this should be added to the list of standard flags.

      3. You know, I spent my twenties getting to know who I was as a single person. I never understood those people who couldn’t dine or go to movies alone. I did a lot of that. I knew my worth too. I had a very healthy sense of boundaries. I knew what I was looking for in a mate. I wasn’t particularly codependent and I didn’t believe in trying to change your significant other. So I just want to say that I didn’t fall into the relationship I was in because I didn’t have my shit together. I got hit by a gall darned bus. Buses do not care if you have your shit together. What does this have to do with Glad? Nothing except I want to point out that even if we are doing everything right interpersonally, we can still end up with a shit situation. Does that mean we should be afraid of dating again? I don’t know, ask me in a couple of years. I think right now the only reason I do not hate men is because I’m gestating one.

      • Kat, #3 is so true – I did have my shit together and my ex treated me very well for a very long time. He was a master manipulator and his mindfuck took many years. Even the strongest of us can be fucked over given enough time and a person with no ethics going at it.

    • ChutesandLadders, I am your age and I look older. I am not going to let that stop me. If I find someone to love great, in the meantime I’ll keep my life together and keep gettin on. Young men have fantasies BTW, going out a few times to a club gave me a bit more self esteem – sure those men just wanted sex but hey, at least I know I’m still attractive to some degree. And I’m not so needy that I took any of them home. Just had a nice ego boost is all.

    • I agree. But you may find a companion someday…..God forbid, never marry him as that is a recipe for disaster. Marriage is a joke and it legally weakens you. Stay strong, but find a companion who will make you happy part-time.

  • Glad, so happy that you (CL, and others…) have found someone. It gives me hope.
    I realize it will take time to trust again, but I am looking forward to one day finding someome who truly cares about me.
    My issue at this point is finding someone to date. I keep asking friends to keep an eye out for me, but nothing yet.
    We live in the same region, tips for meeting folks welcome!

  • My therapist had warned me against this too by explaining that my whole reality has been shifted to a new level of “what the fuck is true anymore”, but it’s still a daily struggle to not forget that cheaters exist in their own category so therefore, it wouldn’t be fair to compare them to anyone else.

  • Here’s to hoping I know my worth!! I feel like I do… but I guess I won’t know for sure until something tests me. I know I will be tested again in some way in my life. Whether it is a romantic relationship or some other relationship. Hell, I’ve already ended an unhealthy friendship after my whole marriage fell apart.

    I know any future test can never hurt as bad as it did this time because no one can ever be my first love again, no one can be the father of my children again (alright, technically that’s still possible… but VERY unlikely), and basically, I lost a whole bunch of naivete when this happened. I just don’t think I could possibly be rocked to my core again like I was the first time. I don’t think I am cynical exactly, and definitely not bitter, but I’m just smarter and I’m not so stupid to think I’m “special” and immune from this shit. That it can and does happen to anyone. Also, I don’t plan to let so many years go by before I identify these unhealthy relationships which should save me a TON of future heartache.

    That being said, I can’t change who I am, and I may always compromise a bit too much and be too willing to sacrifice my own needs to keep others happy. I just have to remember to look for reciprocity and that I’m not the only one doing the sacrificing this time.

  • What a great thread. Glad, I really hope that you and the Nice Man find something good together. You really deserve it.

    I won’t be looking until I’m actually divorced but I think about what I want in a relationship once in a while, usually after I see a couple really enjoying each other’s company like I did last night at the symphony. I want the little things, loving gestures, quiet confirmations, smiles. Maybe I had that once, but I don’t remember it any more.

    I don’t want a relationship to be work. I am so tired of carrying the entire weight. I won’t sacrifice next time. I think I would start to cry if I met someone who offered to cook dinner and made something I actually liked, or who planned a day out without a hidden agenda, or who could disagree agreeably. I’m still too tender, I suppose, still too raw from the past few years.

    I don’t want to have to change substantially, to always be questioning who I am. I know who I am, I like who I am. I’m no looker, never have been, but I’m smart and interesting and like to get outside. I’m an old INTJ hippy chick who has never worn makeup, doesn’t worry about clothes too much aside from being decently and appropriately covered, who eats vegan and does yoga and likes to travel. I suspect that online dating isn’t for me. I want someone who likes a good percentage of those things too, and doesn’t mock them or me.

    I want to get into something where I can go slow, where there is no pressure, where there are no expectations of marriage or merging. Where we both understand that space is necessary and not an insult.

    And I want someone who respects people, particularly the people I respect and love. No snarky comments, suggestive silences, innuendo.

    Re-reading this post I’m not sure I’ll ever find someone who understands, but hell, you never know. At least I know I’m fine on my own now if I don’t.

    Now back to listening to The Last Waltz and washing floors……..

  • I would currently rather stick needles in my eyes than allow anyone close to me, but I think what I would be looking for if there was no infidelity, was his explanation of why his marriage broke up.

    Insight, acknowledgement of what he did to contribute. Where he went wrong, what he could have done different.

    Because, the only one you can control is yourself. So ‘she was a bitch’ etc would get my guard up. In my explanation for my own marriage, sadly it comes down to chumpdom. I tolerated what I should not have tolerated, because I failed to accept the reality of who he was, and stayed pathetically dependent on his validation instead of developing my own life/support system. Now, I HAVE to do the things I avoided. But ultimately his cheating was the thing ripped through my denial of how little he cared about me or saw me as a person. Bottom line, end of.

  • Glad, you are too valuable to allow the Dancing Yeti to win. Fuck him,. Last year someone who had been newly chumped asked me if it would be okay, if he would ever learn to trust again, and how I did it, and this is what I told him:

    “I decided shortly after D-Day that the last story in my romantic life was not going to be the sickening tale of what my ex did to me. I have to admit though that it was initially hard in my new relationship. I was so sure that one day my boyfriend would see whatever it is that I was lacking that allowed my ex to lie to me, betray me, and not love me, and he’d leave too. I’ve always thought I was confident and independent, so that was a tough feeling, but I just gritted my teeth and waited it out. It’s like you intellectually know you’re worthy, but your gut (or your broken heart) is telling you that you’re not. Eventually it passed. But my boyfriend was a chump himself (he was divorced 6 years ago) and so he understands a lot, and he was very attentive and so easy to talk to.

    Some people have questioned how I could ever trust again, but I do. I know now that if someone chooses to look me in the eye and lie to me every day, there is not much I can do about it. But that is not looming over me, it’s just something I know.

    Also, shortly after we started dating, I could see subtle but obvious differences between my boyfriend and my ex that made me realize that this was real and my ex was just playing at having emotions. That was probably most stunning. Since my ex and I were married fairly young and so long, I never realized how shallow and stunted his emotions were, how little he really shared and how little he even really felt.”

    Don’t let the sociopath control the rest of your life. You CAN do this Glad!

    • It was the same situation with me as far as getting married really young. It’s so amazing to interact with someone who has emotional intelligence! I really feel like my ex had an emotional defect and saw me mostly as kibble supply.

  • Here is a different thought…..
    I would, and have, offered anyone to read both depositions.
    Those two documents show exactly who he was and who I am.
    I don’t have to say a word and no one has to wonder about my marriage or my truth.

  • CL,
    Once again you keep perspective and make it simple and clear as it should be. After experiencing life in my late 40’s for 1 year with a disordered serial cheater, I have learned the following and know these points to be true as you state above.
    1. Trust your gut, the signs are there from the beginning. Listen.
    2. If the guy/girl makes you feel uncomfortable or anxious for any reason, it’s not right.
    3. You must know your own worth and know that a man/woman isn’t what will make you happy, you have the power to be happy and feel safe and secure on your own. It takes time to get there but you will know once you are there.

    I have been dating a lot in the past few months and recently realized that I could take or leave any of these guys and what was most important to me was what could they add to my life? I have found with my newfound confidence that I can easily sum up for myself if a man is right for me or not. Reason being, I don’t have my own insecurities clouding up my vision. I no longer feel vulnerable in that I need or must have a man in my life. My thoughts are now, I will only allow a good man into my life. I don’t want to be alone but I certainly don’t want to be with another loser. I look at each date to see if they are thinking only about themselves or watching out for me? Are they only talking about themselves or are they really interested in getting to know me as well?

    It’s amazing how easy it is when you turn the focus on yourself and away from them. Knowing what you are worth and if you are not being treated with worth, see ya! Really knowing that nothing was lost after a date with the wrong guy becomes easy and non emotional once you know your worth.

    Trusting your judgement is key and taking things slow in order to see different sides of someone over time and in different situations and really observing and seeing how you feel in reaction to their actions or words.

    I recently had a situation and very easily and clearly came to the conclusion that my date is not right for me and it didn’t make me sad.

    Right now for me my first concern is starting my own business and once I start becoming more financially stable and more confident in that respect, I know the rest of my life will fall into place. I am not in a rush as I know what needs to come first for myself right now and having a more stable financial life is first.

    I already know what having a toxic fucked up man in my life is like and I have no desire to go down that road again. So all is good and clear for now.

    Keeping it simple really does help and removing yourself sometimes from the equation helps alot as well to keep perspective.

    The most important thing I learned is taking good care of yourself comes first then you can be sure your picker will be strong and good for another good person to enter your life, because you know how it feels to be treated well by yourself and cared for and feeling safe.

    I wish you luck and happiness Glad!

    • Great advice! I agree that I’m less afraid of being alone than getting stuck in an unhealthy relationship again.

  • So many brave, wise posts here – they are all echoes of the thoughts and feelings I’ve had. I’m so proud of all the brave chumps who have resolved that the hurt inflicted on us will NOT be our defining experience with love.

    I met regularly with a counselor after Dday – and his advice was to (and I’ve mentioned this before) identify all the “Lies I Tell Myself”. One of those lies is/was that “All Men Such” and “All Men Will Cheat”…you get the point. The next step of the game is to, in great big bold black letters, identify the TRUTH. NOT all men cheat and hit and lie. There ARE good ones…and list examples. My father, my grandpa, my brother… Then remind yourself of the truth every time you find yourself falling back into the lie. Yes, we have all been hurt – but not everybody is like our exes.

    I’m willing to wait and take the time to find a good one – and will not be suffering alone until or if I do. I am happy, at peace, and content…most days. And that is a good place to be. Hugs to all chumps everywhere.

  • Glad, it’s good to hear that you’ve been seeing a good guy. Must be a breath of fresh air after how your narc-ex acted.

    I have the same question about how to trust, moving forward. In my case, my ex did give lots of signs, but as I was young and didn’t know that those signs meant. Now, I know better. But what about other types of disorders? Other types of signs? I know how to spot a narc, but I don’t know about other stuff. I am concerned about that.

    Mostly, though, I know that single moms can be a target……and former chumps can be a target…….I’ve got two for two. My heart and self-esteem would be hungry for validation and I don’t see how any of this could end well. Which is why I’m not remotely close to dating yet.

    • Dear Ducks,

      Yes, that is an important goal—-learning how to spot other types of serious dysfunction. Dr. Simon’s books and William ‘Bill’ Eddy’s books are excellent resources. Another resource for you could be the books by Richard Skerritt. Perhaps check out Natalie Lu’s blog, Baggage Reclaim.

      As for the need for validation—–such a strong drive, yes! Hungry is an apt description!! Word of caution—Do Not seek to fill that need with a romantic relationship! Please! You are very wise to not be dating yet, as this weak area would most certainly lead you to a world of (more) hurt!

      The type of validation that has done the most for me is to see what my Creator requires of me, how he feels about me, learning to be the best servant of God that I can be and living according to Biblical & spiritual guidelines. It is the main way I am ‘living well’. My cheater is not. It is when he gave up pursuing spiritual things, pursuing a relationship with his Creator first and foremost, that he nose-dived into ‘stupid land’.

      As for therapy, I have just completed a 6-session series of biofeedback. Amazing, totally amazing! I will now be going once a month. As I have been working on myself, focusing on loving me and being good to me for the last several years, (even while I was still in the same house with the cheater, I had begun focusing on self-care) I did not think the sessions would reveal as much as they did and help as much as they did. I would highly recommend that any of the chumps here consider this type of therapy. Neurofeedback is similar—I really do not know the exact difference, but just wanted to mention the help and improvement I have received.

      All the comments here are just awe-inspiring!!!

      Forge on, awesome ones! Forge on…..

      • Thanks, ForgeOn, I will check out those books. I want to be solid within myself before I even think about dating. So it will be awhile! I, too, am focusing on my faith to help guide me through this.

        • You are very welcome, Ducks! If I remember or come across additional resources that I feel could be useful to you, I will post them here with these comments.

          After all, your children need at least one sane, stable (and spiritual!) parent!

          Take care as you Forge On!

          • Ducks, I just remembered another resource. It is Mike Bundrant’s iNLP web-site. I receive his newsletter by e-mail & just finished reading today’s article. Excellent stuff!

            Even though this next suggestion may not sound like it will help with what we are going through, it really does—I receive natural health newsletters from NaturalNews (Mike Adams), Mercola and NaturalHealth365. I also receive the newsletter from Early to Rise. (A recent article of theirs is one of my all-time favs. It is “You Can’t Soar Like an Eagle, When You Hang Out With Crabs” by Bedros Keuilian)
            All of these have been very beneficial to me.

            Just remembered another—-Lynne Namka. Her main web-site is She also has a web-site specifically on narcissism. It is a fairly recent addition to her work. I receive her newsletter once a week. Also excellent!

            Take care as you Forge On!…..

  • You guys all rock! Chump Lady, I hope your story is in your book. Thank you for wise words I needed to hear. It’s very hard learning to trust myself after my experience. It’s also tough not to stay locked in my shell as a form of protection against possible hurt. I know any relationship involves risk. That scares me, so I tend to look for any flaw that could serve as an excuse to dump Nice Guy, thus proactively removing the risk of him hurting me in the future. I’m working on overcoming that fear.

  • Such a timely post. Many people say “oh you’re so young still!” but at 33, I have zero desire to involve myself with anyone ever again. This has all been so traumatizing that I can’t imagine trusting another person. I realize that my STBX does not represent all men and I don’t want him to take away my chances at romance, but at the end of the day my walls are very much up, and I don’t know if they’ll ever come down. Every single man in my life has let me down, and since I don’t want children, there’s really no point in getting married. I know marriage means different things to different people, I’m just saying there’s no point for me to get married again.

    Only time will tell I suppose.

  • Glad,
    I’ve been divorced 15 years from my nutjob EH and it still has residual effects on me (or I probably wouldn’t be on this site).

    I have also been remarried to a rock of a husband for almost 9 now. I did what CL did. I looked inward and told myself that I had so sold myself short with XH. I tried to figure out why I allowed myself to take what I took and made some resolutions about boundries and expectations – before dating.

    The bottom line characteristic on a good guy (and I had one long-term before my husby that we amicably parted) is this. It isn’t all a whirlwind, of glowing chemistry and love bombing (sparkly sparkly) – but you feel nice to be with them. But you don’t feel you have to be with them and are afraid to lose them. You can envision life on your own two feet without them, although you’d rather have them in it. And you never have to cover for them or make excuses (even to yourself) or rationalize anything. Ever.

  • Will look for companionship. Will seek someone whom I can enjoy and have fun with….but I will never remarry and make myself financially vulnerable to anyone. I have an awesome career and will not risk what I have achieved to anyone who is a “possible risk”. I was a chump, and I lost half my assets (including pension) to a cheater. In my country, there is no morality in divorce.

      • Glad’s question is one I think about a lot. My soon to be ex had an emotional and physical affair with a president of a birth education organization we used before our child was born. They became involved during the year he sat on their board. She was married with 2 kids and entered my home and life as his “colleague.” Many leaders in the organization whose mission is to support new mothers and families knew of the affair and did not tell me even though they were my “friends.” They gave me multiple excuses made for an idiot: “I thought you knew and forgave him”; “We didnt want to get invloved” after they gossiped about me and believed my ex’s version of our marriage despite the fact that he was a deceiver. The betrayal is so layered and profound. These are motherfuckers I trusted because they were leaders in a birth community. Yuck.
        I have since pruned my friendships into a handful of trusted people. I have become a hermit- work – therapy- take care of my child. Groups of couples terrify me. I did have a lot of red flags but at the time I just took my reservations about this new group of “friends” in stride. I was busy raising my child, working, studying and obsessing about how to become more intimate with my brooding and distainful husband (gross). I did not have time to analyze why so and so gave me a contemptuous look at a dinner, or why this pres seemed oddly competitive and critical of me. I have since took on a study of women on women violence. I, as CL says, am trying to fine tune my picker- of anyone I allow into my intimate space. I did not listen to my instincts, was gas lighted and frankly could never believe such corruption existed. I am distrustful now (9 months since D-day) and that makes me sad but realize I am now able to become my own friend and finally enjoy my own company. It helps to get to know myself. Many strong voices inside that I am now relying on. CL and all of you have been a Godsend.

        Thank you. I love chump nation but wish people who made me an exponential chump were not so deeply unempathic and hurtful. I wonder if my depression and sadness about this will ever lift. I have not had a good laugh in so long.


        • Chumperstein, I’m sending you Jedi hugs!! I promise that your sadness will ease with time. I’m double as far ‘out’ as you are, the difference from how I felt after 9 months is amazing!

          I think some organizations, communities and groups of people do establish a ‘norm’ that is self-centered and uncaring. (Just been reading ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’, that talks about how our whole culture is becoming more narcissistic and more accepting of narcissism. Depressing!) You’ve done the best thing by surrounding yourself with the people who truly do care, who are honest and trustworthy and reliable. Try to add ‘seeing friends and caring family’ onto your list of hermit activities – it’s hard to include, I know, but will do you a world of good. Even just Skyping with a friend once the kids are in bed is great! Brunch, lunch on a work day …

          And when I’m down and need a laugh, I go read the ‘Stupid Shit Cheaters Say’. What morons!

  • ChumpLady,
    I’ve been following your site for nearly a year now following my D-day after barely 7 months of marriage, and i finally signed up today to comment on this 4year old post.
    Thank you for your question Glad, and for your response ChumpLady. Ive been searching for the very answer to this question for so long…. but no one (including the therapist I’ve been seeing to try to help resolve my own issues with picking these selfish people and establishing boundaries) has been able to really tell me *how* to fix things, *how* to heal and trust and move on, they just tell me to work on my boundaries, pay more attention, time heals everything, you’ll learn to trust a good person again. But, when you’re used to accepting abuse, when you were raised with disordered individuals and therefore unconsciously seek out abuse and chaos, those answers (though well meant) are useless. Your answers helped tonight in giving me more specifics than the frustratingly vague “it’ll come with time” rhetoric. Im too forgiving, too willing to dive in and overlook gigantic red flags i mostly didnt realize were there, to have those answers work for me. I keep telling people my radar was (obviously) bad before, but it doesnt even function now. So much paranoia and distrust of not only others, but my own judgment as well.
    So long rant short, thank you both. It has helped me in my long journey of healing from my nightmare.

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