Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, I discovered my boyfriend was a cheater after he died

Dear Chump Lady,

My story is a bit different than others I’ve seen on your site. I didn’t find out about my boyfriend’s cheating until after he died. I have been from rage to grief and back to rage in the blink of an eye.

The bare facts are that my BF died in an accident about 4 weeks ago. I didn’t witness the accident, but was on the scene within minutes and I tried to surround him with love as he departed this existence. We knew each other for more than 20 years, first as friends and then lovers. We never lived together and in fact rarely lived in the same town. But he was my only sexual partner for the past 15 years.

The nightmare began four days after he died, while I was planning his funeral with his parents. A woman called his phone and left a voicemail that she was waiting for him at a bar. Very seductive message. I thought WTH? What did you do BF? In the couple of weeks after the funeral, I dug into his cell phone records, then his journals, then photos. I found that in addition to the woman waiting at the bar, he was in regular contact with at least two other women, intimately. As in hours-long phone calls, and photos of one of them sitting on an unmade bed (!) This went back a couple of years. Many of the phone calls coincided with weekends we spent apart on one excuse or another or times I was out of town. I discovered photos of a secret camping trip with an ex-girlfriend, which took place 14 years ago. The journals were even more shocking. He was having sex with strangers he met on the internet, women he met at sandwich shops and coffee shops, and prostitutes. Two men were mentioned, but that isn’t the most shocking thing I found — the phone number for a pre-op transgender prostitute. I never knew this man. His entire life was built on a quest for risky sex, secrets, and lies. I was the best thing that happened in his life, and he crapped all over me.

I suppose what I’m finding the hardest to deal with is that my anger is unresolvable. I imagine the confrontation I would have if he were here. I imagine my yelling and calling him a liar, cheater, fraud, sleazebag, and potentially diseased penis-man. I imagine yelling at him, is this how he wants to be known by his friends? professional colleagues? parents? I imagine his face contorting in sorrow and pain.

At the same time, I am glad that he isn’t here causing any more harm, deceit, and pain to me nor to anyone else. And — at the same time, I am grieving this man that I thought was my partner, and missing the happy times we had. And, at the same time, realizing that the happy times were an illusion.

Perhaps I should count my blessings, that I have my own house, separate finances, independent life, etc. I made an appointment to be checked for STDs next week. Assuming I have a clean bill of health, I should be able to go forward without a backward glance, right?

Thanks in advance for your help,


Dear Grieving,

Well, unfortunately it takes more than an STD test to move on from this sort of crap. On the bright side, nothing makes “no contact” easier than death. So in a weird way, consider yourself lucky. You could’ve had that confrontation with him, and then you could have had months or years of false reconciliation and mindfuckery.

Look, the anger feels unresolvable with the living or the dead. It’s not as if he could’ve explained himself. His misdeeds speak for themselves. He’s 77 flavors of fucked up. His “explanations” would be self serving, blame shifting, gaslighting, or feigned apologies. He’s a guy who lived a double life as a sex addict (if you believe in those… horny motherfucker works too). He is a person who never committed to you in 20 years.

If you want to move on from this, ask yourself the hard questions about who you were in that relationship. Was it acceptable to you? Did you want to be his sometime, long-distance girlfriend for 15 years? You clearly gave a lot of yourself to this man, to the point you were there when he died and you helped sort out his effects. What did he do to earn that devotion? Be your part-time hiking buddy?

Yes, he did not deserve you. So in the future, set the bar higher for those you love. Demand reciprocity in your relationships. Value yourself. Maybe the whole long-distance lover thing worked for you, you preferred it. But those sorts of arrangements don’t lend themselves to deeper intimacies. It stays at a shallower level when you aren’t there to sort out who pays the mortgage, walks the dog, visits the elderly parents, rakes the leaves, nurses the other through the stomach flu. It’s perpetual dating. And hey, you had every right to expect the exclusivity that I assumed he assured you of. I’m just saying, IMO it’s a red flag that he never took the intimacy with you further. The guy wanted his freedom for some reason — and apparently that was to leave his calendar open for transvestite prostitutes. In that sense, at least he was a somewhat honorable cheater — he didn’t marry you, have children with you, ruin you financially, and then make you his chump. Small comfort, I know.

Go be the “best thing” in YOUR life. You won’t crap all over you. Go be awesome to yourself. Forget this guy. We all have lost investments here, Grieving. Every chump grieves who they thought their cheater was. You have the gift of irrefutable evidence as to who he was. And he’s not there to mindfuck you and convince you otherwise. He’s not there to hurt you anymore. If you learn from this experience, and value yourself more in your next relationship, those 15 years with him were not a waste. He’s dead. You get a new life.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Dear Grieving,

    Wow, what a mindfuck.

    You’re not just grieving the loss of a life, but a loss of a person, of happy memories that you now know are false, of even your own sanity.

    You are smart–you see how you do have things listed in the plus column (no contact, separate finances, and so on).

    But grief is not going away overnight despite them. You not only have the right, you have the need to work through all that anger, the broken trust and learn to see the red flags you missed to fix your picker for the future that you have waiting for you.

    • My boyfriend (soon to be fiancé) passed away in his sleep 2 months ago. He had just moved and I was moving there next summer. We had purchased a home together (my name was not on it yet). He flew me out twice a month. We talked n texted all day everyday for the
      18 mo this we were together. We had the perfect relationship. It was filled with love affirmation everyday. I had never been so happy in my life. I am still devastated by his sudden death. A few weeks ago a friend of mine found recent pictures of him on line with another woman. I located her. They had been together for 2 years! She also lived in another city. I was the other woman and didn’t know it!!!!! I am so angry although I have forgiven him already. He had such a beautiful heart and told me I was the love of his life!! I can’t wrap my head around him being anythingess than good but he was a liar and my counselor said a sociopath! Now that I think about it , he was very proud and confident in himself. I am broken. I can’t eat, I cry constantly. I miss our relationship terribly. I am embarrassed so no one knows. It’s a double whammy. I’m stuck. I just want to be with him again. I don’t know how he would have ever resolved this! I wonder if there were more women?! How did he have time when we were in constant contact?! How did he NEVER call me the wrong name or confuse stories?! I devoted my life to him and gave completely of myself. It is so very sad,,,

      • reading this helped me out.My so called bf for 4 years has died this past week in a drowning accident.I was not included to the campfire- party.went to help clean his house and I found strange bra.A girl knocked on his door asking for him,found out he liked her and was sleeping with her.she didn’t know who I was.been hearing all kinds of things.Been left out of the planning of the funeral. I just decided I’m done.I won’t even participate in the memorial.I almost felt like dying like my whole life is a joke.I thought we were a item.Now I missed work cause I was so devastated, struggling with rent mourning for him when he didn’t care.Now I have to pick up the pieces.

        • Jenny. Keep your head up girl! You did nothing wrong! What a horrible way to find out. More heartbreak over cheating, it never ends!
          Try to take a little time for yourself. Maybe you will understand this later when I say I am glad he did not take more years from you.
          He did not deserve you.

          • thank you Regina I appreciate you saying that.I feel shocked. Angry. you are right it could have kept going.

            • Double whammy, death & deception all in one. Makes me feel sick inside.
              Know we have your back here!

        • Same thing happened to me. I found my boyfriend dead of an apparent heart attack. Found out he was sleeping with someone who lived few minutes away plus he was on dating sites meeting other girls too. There were red flags and I chose to ignore them now I am kicking myself for not confronting him. I cry all the time. I found out where the girl lives bf she gave him her address so he was going over there to screw her. The day he died she kept calling his phone. Now I want to tell her he is dead and find out what there relationship was and what he was telling her. I need closure and it’s not her fault he lied to her too. I don’t know if it will make me feel worse but it’s haunting me. I drive by her house so I can see what he saw in her and not me.should I meet her it’s driving me crazy.

    • almost the same happened to me. I met a wonderful person who lived in the same country as me for a period, after we had known each other for about four months, he returned to his homeland. We kept in touch, he used to come to visit me for several months and I came to him. we let the final plan to move in together in his country. we had many dreams together, about how to earn money, move to a vineyard and get 1,000 children. I quit my job, said up the apartment, put the car up for sale, I planned this for almost 8 months. I had everything ready.

      3 weeks before I was going to move to him, he died in a motorcycle accident (this is now two months ago). I had get to know his family (aunts, cousins, uncles, etc.), and I met many of his friends the times I had been with him and used to talk to them over the phone sometimes.

      During the open coffin ceremony I came a little late, as the brother he had driven me there. I come into the room and see that it sits another girl crying and holding his hand as he lay dead. i asked his most honest friend if he was cheating on me, and he sad yes.

      it is the biggest shock I’ve had in my life. we talked every day, I can not understand how he was willing to ask me to leave everything I had (a good payed job) to share our common dream together, so to keep me for a fool, and lie to me abouth what he was doing. Much of the hurt was that he had taken this girl with several places also to meet friends and his father and sister. and brother. no one had said anything to me, yet they knew I had resigned from the job to get to him. I went home the next day.

      He was my great love, but I can not manage think of the good times, I’ve just an eerie feeling inside me, a lot of the day. much is difficult also because of that I have no one to talk to about this. our relationship was just bubble he and I shared, I feel. They say time heals all wounds, but I feel like my heart has been abused. I would also just be with him, hold him, smell him and not lose sleep until he.

      i want to find out who this girl was but se don’t got facebook. i want to find out how mush i have been fooled, and for how long. the other girl probably dont know about me. but i feel the urge to contact her. i know i shouldn’t.

  • In many ways I think it would have been better if x had died. As it is, I have had no closure, no explanation, no apology, no confrontation (well not the one he deserves) CL is right, you have instant no contact. You may not have gotten what you needed anyway.

    • Me, too. I do not honk it would have made a difference if my xws died. Neither has come clean, apologized or anything like that.
      And,I was not about to give either the satisfaction of going off on either of them.
      I think guys,in particular , have to be careful about confronting and expressing anger at a cheating wife or girlfriend. There are just too many people ( manginas, white knights and some women) that readily assume an angry betrayed make was abusive or was “emotionally unavailable “.
      A with a still livi g cheater, one is often faced with combatting their smear campaign, designed to make you look like the cause.

    • I don’t wish death on the ex because it would circumvent the karma train. BUT, it would have been better if he had found the courage to off himself like he threatened to. He could have left an intact legacy for the kids that way and their memories of him wouldn’t have tarnished.

      • Chumpalicious, Maybe in this case, that WAS the Karma train!!! 😉
        Just sayin’…..

        However, for you dear Grieving, there is indeed grieving to be done. Do not try to circumvent or shorten the grieving, but let it runs its course and then get on to the healing stage!! The only way is to go through it. So sad for what you are going through….Really….l am so very sad…..

        But, as Winston Churchhill said: “When going through Hell, KEEP GOING!” Go through it to get to the other side……The other side is filled with joy!

        Forge on……

    • I think of this from a similar stand point, death at least means everything is finished. One night a couple of months before my X left my heart rate went wonky, racing, slowing, kathumping etc and I had to go to the ER. I spent all night hooked up to machines while they tested me for everything. Had I died that night I would have gone to my maker thinking my marriage was solid and I was the luckiest of men, never knowing what was about to happen…I found out later she spent most of the night in the waiting room texting the OM…

      • Oh Mike, I’m so sorry that happened to you. How heartless.

        There have been many times I think it would’ve been easier if my ex had died. The grief from betrayal and abandonment is like a never ending funeral where you keep having to view the body. Still, I feel really bad for Grieving, because she’s been hit with a double-whammy.

  • Grieving- Karma came and went and you didn’t have to soil yourself and feel guilty on some level for wishing it. I know it is a blessing and a curse. Just appreciate whatever it was you got out of the relationship that kept you there for 20 years. In the end, these cheaters never deserved us, or our loyalty and love, but you finished this relationship as the better person as you lovingly eased his way out of this life, and that is your legacy. He lost his chance for a do-over, but you still have glorious life.

    • I can’t add anything to SeeTheLight’s beautiful, wise and true words, other than kindest thoughts for you Grieving x

    • This is so beautiful and true. Oftentimes, our kindest moments are clouded by what the cheater did. Grieving, don’t allow him to take that away from you.

  • Grieving,

    It would almost have been better if you had never found out. The gift of knowing is that you also know to check for future gifts (STD’s). You loved the person you thought he was. For me, feeling anger is easier than grief. You must also be in shock even though you are already able to count your blessings.

    My fantasy was always that my x would get in his truck, drive really fast, hit a brick wall, and die. . . before the divorce was final. I would have played the part of the grieving widow and I would have been able to say, “Yes, he WAS a good man.” I always thought that I would feel more “closure” if he died.

    Grieve what you did have. He lost much more than his life.

    • I suspect this is a normal fantasy. It would definitely be easier and cheaper if STBX died sometime during the divorce process. On the other hand, I’d feel guilty for having thought that this would be easier, so I guess I’ll just have to go through the shit storm and work my way to the state of “meh.”

      Grieving–I do feel for you. What a terrible thing–to find out that you’ve lost the person you love, and then find out that you never had that person to begin with! What you’re feeling is the cocktail of anger, grief, and probably even a bit of guilt. But you did the right thing. You were there with him at the end, and you tried to ease his passing as best you could.

      You were definitely more than he deserved.

      All I can do is echo CL’s excellent advice: go be your best awesome. Also, go see a therapist. You need someone to help you through the mindfuck, someone who can help you with both the anger and the grief–someone who can help you fix your picker.

      You had 20 years invested in this person. We all have sunk costs. I can’t believe that mine threw away 17 years of marriage and nearly 30 years of knowing each other, but others here have had cheaters that have pissed away over 30 years of marriage and children. All of us can go on to healthier relationships.

      It doesn’t feel like that now, but there will be a day when you feel “meh.” It will be on a Tuesday. 🙂

      Hugs to you.

      • Knowing what he did, even post-humously, allows you to do the work of seeing the red flags for what they were. Without that knowledge and power, you could end up in a sad cycle of a do-over.

        And btw, in case someone tries this on you–don’t accept the shit of you having to keep his memory or reputation clean as respect to the dead. The dead dig their own holes.

  • I read the letter twice. It is horrible that you find out that the person you loved was not who they seem to be ( not even close) but you and he both chose a long distance love affair. Did he demand fidelity from you or did you just give it freely?

    • Hmmm

      this was my thought. I mean, it is revolting to find out someone you loved and thought you knew and THOUGHT you were in a faithful loving relationship with has been behaving like this guy (yikes!), but over the many years they were involved, they never lived together, often lived in different towns and there was no evidence that the relationship was going anywhere in particular. Was mutual fidelity something that was clear, or was it something you wanted and chose and assumed to be the case?

      Look. By keeping these things secret and lying about where he was, he denied you the dignity of knowing the full facts about your own life, but maybe he just figured you guys were in a ”don’t ask, don’t tell” semi-relationship.

      I’m so sorry for your loss, I really hope the next person you love, treats you with huge respect, is your one and only and that there is no cheating going on!

  • My X got a horrible cancer when we were married and almost died from the treatment. One night he coded in the hospital and they told me he probably wouldn’t survive the night. It was a terrifying two years taking care of a gravely ill man. He had a miraculous recovery and afterwards he insisted we renew our wedding vows on our 10th anniversary. He called me his ‘Nurse Angel.’ Five months after we renewed our vows I caught him at the Econo Lodge fucking Skank Woman. Then he left me for her. I honestly wish he would have died when he had the chance. I would have much preferred to be a grieving widow then a chumped dumped middle aged humiliated woman.

    • The karmic blowback awaiting your ex is freakin’ awesome.

      Both the ex and I had life threatening episodes — me before him. I came out of mine feeling eternally grateful for the extra days and determined to walk gently through life and appreciate the small things more. So I projected that on the ex and expected the same of him when he had his close call. Nope. He decided life was just too short not to grab every last bit of gusto and brass ring offered. No temptation was too small. It was just like night and day, the difference in responses.

    • Gio, I wish your ex had died too, for your sake. What a sack of shit! You’re better off without him.

    • You would think they would be grateful after a near death experience, but NO! My stbx was at deaths door due to anaphylaxis. It took more that 20 minutes to bring this guy around before they could transport him. Haha he thanked me by cheating, drunkenness, and all sorts of loyal behaviors. They really do suck!

    • Wow I think I know how that goes
      My ex ended up dying then me finding out he stole my things and gave them to the other woman who won’t even return my jewelry . But my ex did die so if he was alive and stayed w her maybe I wouldn’t have found out he was the thief but I also do miss him and wish he was alive so I could understand and her closure for me

  • An friend’s cousin died over the winter after a bout of cancer. As the end approached, his wife of 30 years faced an agonizing choice. As the cousin was close to death, his wife received a call that her mother in nursing home 50 miles away suffered a terminal stroke. Wife opted to stay with husband. Her mother died alone that afternoon and her husband died that evening with wife by his side.

    She found out going through his stuff after the funeral about his OW of 15 years.

    • l can not wrap my head around that one, Marcie!!! But thank you for sharing…….

      Please, oh, please, if you have contact with that woman, pass our collective hugs & love to her……That is so unbelievably painful to hear! That precious woman has all kinds of grief to bear……

      Love to all………

  • Grieving,

    I am sorry for your loss and for the added pain of discovering what a fraud he was. You were shot and then stabbed. You have my sympathy, support and hope for recovery. Please take comfort in your brave, last act of love for him. It will be a moment of grace that will sustain you through some tough days ahead.

    Heaven help me, but I wish my X had checked out like that. His kids and I would have been spared incredible ignominy and pain of divorce.

    My kids would remember their father as an honorable, good guy. Instead, they are disappointed and embarrassed by him, and wonder what they did so wrong that he would leave them high and dry for a complete stranger.

    Good men (who were in our lives prior to dd) don’t feel they can cross a line and be a good role model to my kids simply because their father is still in it, albeit sporadically and at his pleasure. My sons still only have X as a male role model. He is a selfish, lying fucktard, telling them to eat the delicious ice cream when sadly, they know it’s shit.

    There would be no bimbo trying to ingratiate herself into their lives, telling them she just wants to be their “friend” while their thought bubbles want to tell her to fuck off for helping to destroy the innocence of their childhood.

    I wouldn’t have to decide between groceries or an S.A.T. prep course for my son because I had to pull another $1500 out of thin air to file a contempt order on their father for non support.

    My kids wouldn’t be wearing hand me downs from the neighbors they’ve known all their lives, and have to suck it up when the former owner cracks “Hey, I remember that shirt!”

    My son’s fifth grade teacher and I wouldn’t have bumped into each other at the court-ordered, five-hour class about the impact of divorce on children. His sixth grade science teacher would never have yelled at him in the front of his class that, “I know your parents are getting a divorce, but that’s no excuse for not doing your homework.” Personally, having to adjust to the shuffle of visitation those first few months is a very GOOD excuse, Mrs. Mahoney (you asshole)!

    If he died, I wouldn’t have had to stand in my city’s PUBLIC court of law while intimate details about his affair were read to the judge like a laundry list. The man I work with who was also in court that day would never know my financial situation.

    Whether or not people admit it, many people judge me, quietly believing it must have been something about me that made him cheat. Even the most well-meaning of happily-married friends unconsciously judge me. “Well, next time around, I’m going to make sure you date a good guy instead of the losers you seem to pick.” “You settled, and now you’re paying for that.” All well-meaning, supposed-to-be-funny jabs to make me laugh at my incredibly poor picking skills keep me awake sobbing.

    But I think the worst difference between divorce and death of a spouse (no matter how nasty) is the short time a divorced person is socially allowed to grieve. Unlike grief over the death of a spouse, a chump’s hope is to get to “meh,” that feeling that you’re over him/her. Can you imagine getting to “meh” for a death?

    I’m a divorced chump now. And while I’m damned proud of my still-standing, still-trying-to-move-forward, kickass self, I’d give anything to have been a widow instead.

    • Chutesandladders – what a beautifully written piece of absolute heartbreak. Thank you for sharing, in the most honest and intimate way, your journey. I will hold you in my heart.

      • I have a friend whose husband died in a tragic accident. After hearing of my crap-ass situation w STBX said, “it’s easier if they die”. While I don’t need the karma of wishing him dead, seriously, if he keeps on the track he’s on now, it won’t be long. Unfortunately, it will probably be after the divorce…

      • My ‘friend’s’ husband died after a long cancer battle. I didn’t realise at the time how much I would come to envy her loss…. shortly after, my husband left me… for her.
        Her and her children got to grieve a good honest man, my children and I got left with an arrogant wall of silence. Her grief has closure, ours never will.

        • Dearest Verity297,

          I have no fancy words for you…..that is just so beyond sickening…….Sending love & hugs your way…..

          As notyou reminded me, your dreams for getting through this to a place of joy will be realized beyond what you can possibly imagine at the moment.

          However, when one remains a loyal, truthful authentic human, one who keeps their integrity, one who keeps their promises & honors their vows, well, personally I believe that in itself is a grand reward……that brings the best life one could ever live! And that is also the legacy YOU are giving your children……

          Forge on, Verity, Forge On!!

    • Chutesandladders,

      I cannot be with you and hug you tightly to absorb any of that pain, but I am sending you the longest and tightest (((HUGS, HUGS, HUGS))) I can send to you.

    • Chutesandladders – you sum up perfectly what I have felt for quite some time. I truly wish I was a widow. The man I thought was my husband IS dead – he died the day he walked out of mine and our children’s lives and into the arms of another woman. He died the day he sent a deputy sheriff to my home to serve me with divorce papers in front of our youngest son. He died the day I told him I was being tested for cervical cancer and he stated that he didn’t want to hear my “emotional slobber.” The man I loved and married IS dead for all intents and purposes…and yet he still walks the face of this earth and occasionally drops by to play Disney Dad to his boys. Oh, how I wish I could have the support and love that widows receive from family and friends. Oh, how I wish I did not feel pressured by everyone to “start dating” “forget about him” “move on with your life – he was an asshole.” No one would EVER say those things to a grieving widow, and yet we who were left as “widows” in every sense of the word hear them all the time. Sometimes it’s just too much to bear. Thank you for articulating what so many of us likely feel.

      • I once described the situation as having my husband brutally murdered, then having his killer walk around in his skin, trying to rob us, too.

    • Chutesandladders – that description of heartbreak abandonment and humiliation should be reproduced in a national newspaper. Send it to Huffpost.

      It is beautiful and speaks for so many of us, thank you.

  • ChutesandLadders, oh my…I am so sorry for what you have been through, my heart just went out to you and your children reading your story… I don’t know what to say to all of it…Big virtual hug from me to you…

  • I have heard a couple of these heartbreaking stories before….sometimes the wife finding out the OW has a home & car he bought for her & a life insurance policy in her name to make sure she is comfortable forever! Or OW shows up at the funeral & gets up & reads about their affair. UGH! I do believe what CL say though, if he had lived your confusion might have been even worse, it is so heartbreaking to hear all the lies, excuses, blame. It just serves to screw you up more I believe. So sorry for your pain & grief. I think a person who makes a commitment to be faithful, he/she has the obligation to inform the other about any changes, marriage or not. However, since they WANT you to be faithful, they don’t tell. Shear selfishness! YOU should be faithful! Them, not so much.

  • Grieving – I am proud of your strength and clarity as you sift through the emotional ash. And, the gift of comfort you gave him at the end was the most tender gesture.

    Please don’t feel like you were denied a meaningful confrontation. As many here will agree, the actual confrontation was a disappointing blend of arrogance and fury from the cheater. Once their cake is threatened they immediately morph into cruel strangers and the words that they spew are biting and ludicrous. Our chumplike expectation of declarations of remorse and promises of faithful undying love are never realized.

    So continue to put one foot in front of the other as you grieve the loss of so much. But everyday remember to whisper to yourself that a joyful life awaits.

  • Grieving – I’m so very sorry for your loss and for your two-fold grief. That anger you’re feeling would be expected some time after a death, and you have a double dose of it now that you’ve discovered the cheating.

    Even though you never got a chance to say those things to him here, go ahead and find a time and place to yell them at him now. Take a drive to the country and shout them to the wind. Get them off your chest. Scream and yell and shake your fist. And by all means – swear! It’s therapeutic!

    For all the times I have wished my ex had died instead of me being a chumped griever for whom this society has no particular method of offering condolences or allowing a bereavement period, very few of us have had to face being both a widow (or bereaved girlfriend) and a chump. I can only imagine the multitude of emotions and questions that must be swirling around inside you.

  • No, no, no, no, no….

    Everyone! Never say, “Consider yourself lucky.” Nor, “Oh, you think YOU have it bad? I wish my ex would have….”

    (Full disclosure, I just had a beer, so….)

    I read this letter and just felt overwhelming sympathy. You need a big hug, hon! You got seriously fucked over.

    I think this is going to take a lot of time and reflection and introspection to heal. I am so sorry that the person you loved was such a horribly selfish asshole. And I’m sorry that you feel so betrayed and afraid and all alone. Not only are you dealing with the loss of a loved one, but also with the huge mind fuck that he wasn’t even who you thought he was. How do you even begin to wrap your head around it??


    I think you’re going to just have to do a lot of thinking. You might get help from a counselor. I do like Tracy’s advice that you’re going to have to set the bar higher on your self worth–and as far as romance goes, that’s for later. But what about now? Are there other relationships you’re being chumped in? Maybe a counselor can help you with that.

    Sometimes we just don’t really know the people we think we know. Even if they live under the same roof. Sometimes we’re to blame for ignoring the red flags–for spackling, if you will–and we need help from a professional–or lots and lots of time and thought–to figure out why. Sometimes it takes being bashed over the head with the truth before we are compelled to even admit or to see that there is/was a problem in the first place.

    If you’d asked me 5 years ago if there was a problem in my relationship, or accused me of not having a good marriage, I’d have said you were crazy. It wasn’t until the cheating came out that I was forced to face the truth–I’d buried a lot. I’d grown immune to the taste of shit sandwiches–they were practically like comfort food for me. What flavors of shit sandwiches did you swallow?

    Take this opportunity to admit that there was a problem, and then sit and examine the whole thing. That doesn’t mean you take blame for your ex’s perversions and deceitfulness–it just means you begin to look at what it was within you that didn’t want to see it, or that figured that the way you were treated was ok. It wasn’t ok–now you know.

    I just want to say I am so sorry for you. This totally sucks. All you can do is grow from it–and if you do, that’s very good, indeed.

    Big hugs.

    • You are absolutely right, Miss Sunshine! Brene Brown said (TED conference, speaking on vulnerability and empathy) “A truly empathetic response almost never begins with ‘at least.'”

      But I do get it. I want to “At least…” all over this thing! I think it is human nature to want to make things better, or to at least make things seem better. Silver lining and all that.

      But the truth is this: Some things just suck really hard, and words can’t fix it in any way. The only things that can help a situation like this are compassion, love (including love of self), empathy, support, connection, kindness, and time.

      Grieving, I am so sorry for your many losses. Please know we are all virtually gathering you up in our arms, and actually gathering you up in our hearts.

      Many hugs to you.

  • I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I have often said I wish my husband had died rather than finding out he was not the person I thought he was. It would be easier to bury him believing he was the man I loved. Your tale is cautionary to us all, even from the grave we would find out the truth. The spackle would fall off and the pain would still be there. My only advice is like everyone else; if you’d found out while he was alive, it is likely he would have spun out your pain far longer. I am so so sorry you are going through this, no matter what we say it is likely you will go through the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” and the anger of never being able to confront him that becomes something worse for a while. If it’s any comfort, it is true that if he were alive the difference would be that you were not lied to some more and didn’t have to struggle to reach No Contact.

    Massive Jedi Hugs!

  • I’m so sorry Grieving, that is so messed up! When I found out what my husband was it felt like he died. Then came all of the anger and betrayal. I haven’t been in your shoes so maybe it’s not the same at all. But so many of us never get resolution of any kind. Even if we get to yell. I had to go through this period where it felt like things were unresolved because of that. In the end I think the only resolution that comes with a cheater is the one we make ourselves. Closure is simply when you’re no longer attached to the outcome. Or as CL calls it…MEH.

    Hugs to you.

    • “In the end I think the only resolution that comes with a cheater is the one we make ourselves. Closure is simply when you’re no longer attached to the outcome.”

      This is excellent Kat. You are so right. For many months I ACHED for some kind of resolution, I just couldn’t believe the person who’d been central to my life for 36 years could leave without explanations that made sense. I suppose the explanations he gave satisfied him, but they left me terribly wanting. It took another year and discovery of more information to explain what was really going on at the end of my marriage. Anyway, you are right that by the time I found I’d already made good headway on creating my own kind of closure…

  • Grieving, we have all been there. I can remember the day I discovered my husband of 20 years was someone I barely knew. Signs were there. A new cell phone so he could communicate with others privately, disparaging remarks, He happily ran off with his racquetball partner and left me and our three kids to a life without him (and about $92k/year! Lol). As hard as that was my entire marriage was spent supporting him, both personally and professionally. A tell tale sign though was that as the years progressed he traveled more, worked more, played more, spent more-all decisions he made-and started to blatantly treat me unkindly. He seemed to be compartmentalizing his life. His friends, his work, his life. He resisted spending time together. The journey you are on now requires you to be kind to yourself. Embrace your anger, it will fuel you towards a better future. Give yourself time to grieve because it allows you time with yourself. Surround yourself with kindred spirits. Know you will never know why some people behave the way they do. That maybe there is never going to be a “good” answer. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. While I believe things happen for a reason, I never forget that sometimes shit just happens. So be kind to yourself. And know you have our support.

  • Grieving, just know that you aren’t alone. In my earlier post (jinxxy posted depending on the device) many of of us here have had near brushes with our spouses’ possible demise. I literally watched his lips turn blue and his body go limp. After that incident he cheated with gusto and as some one said pissed away a 30 year marriage, seven plus years of highschool/college romance, and 2 years as friends. About 40 years of my life! I will never know the full extent of his cheating, however my story doesn’t end there.

    I’m healthier and have a clear mind and will soon be legally free of this fake toxic relationship. I can hold my head up high because it was stbx behaviors that he has to carry around in his brain and someday face his maker. Now that his wife/mommy/me is no longer there to take care of him he will have to find a good honest woman to wed, but guess what? years of picking disreputable women have also left him with a broken picker. Every woman is not wife material. So his biggest fear is finding someone like him…

    So no, his death did not afford you the confrontation, but as others have said, I doubt very seriously you would have gotten the truth. After the anger has subsided, maybe you can take this jerk’s journal and use it as research for a book to warn others of this type of individual.

    Put one foot in front of the other until you find yourself running. You will be happy and joyful again!


    Thanks CL for this post, I had almost forgotten.

    • You know, I really don’t care about what he does with whom anymore. The only thing I want is for me to get whatever GOD has determined financially and freedom legally from him.

  • Grieving, I can’t imagine how awful it would be to discover these things after his death, I’m so sorry. While I have often wished that my husband would have some tragic accident since i discovered his other life, and wished that he would die of something, anything.. so I don’t have to divorce him ….I would never under any circumstances have wished that I could be in your shoes, to discover this and try to figure this out after they are already dead.

  • Grieving,
    Big hug to you. Let me share a story with you from a solid friend of mine. She’s been of great support to me and her situation, sadly, is too similar to yours:

    My friend married her high school sweetheart at a young age. They had a baby together. She thought she was married to the greatest guy ever. She had known him years before the marriage. She thought she had married her soulmate. Friends and family alike were happy, happy, happy for them and their life together.

    About 10 yrs into their marriage, her husband was in a horrible car accident which left him paralyzed. My friend, being assertive and quite no-nonsense, was unhappy with the care he was receiving in the hospital. With a young child, she took it upon her self to obtain the necessary education, degrees and certifications to become his FT caregiver.

    This is what you DO, you know, in a committed relationship: in sickness and in health, for better for poorer, etc.. She spent the next five years caring for her husband, raising her son and being happy. They were still a team.

    Her husband eventually died of natural causes related to years of being paralyzed from the neck down. When he was dead and buried, the worms came out of the woodwork. During their time together where they were both fit and healthy, he had had multiple affairs! The friends and family who cheered them on as a good couple, well, LOTS of them knew about his cheating ass.

    Not only was she clumped throughout her marriage by this asshole, she was cheated out of her right to kick his ass to the curb. Not only THAT, she was his caregiver during his whole period of paralysis! He KNEW she was dedicating her life to wipe his ass while his body no longer functioned to fuck around on her.

    Yea. She was enraged and bitter about this huge part of her life. How she got to ” meh” is beyond me. But she DID. She went through a self-assessment process and weeded out the creeps from her inner circle who enabled her lying, cheating ass husband to fuck whatever walked. She chose to be happy. You can’t erase the years of being clumped. You MUST work on forgiving yourself and getting to “meh”. That’s what I am trying to do.

    I know I at least have the opportunity to tell my asshat he is a fucking lowlife. But I also wish he were permantly GONE, DEAD, ROTTING IN HELL. I guess, in the end, the Karma Bus will truly make a stop for those who deserve to reap what they’ve sown.

  • It sounds like his risk-taking killed him in the end.

    It must be awful to find out after someone dies that they were a jerk. You’re torn between grief and rage and you can’t express the rage to anyone else because you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead.

    Perhaps you can write angry letters to him or yell at a pillow with a therapist.

    It’s a terrible situation and no one should be in it.

  • Sometimes, you don’t even get to confront them when they are alive and well. That is, you don’t always get closure, so you find it the best way you know how. At least that is what I had to do.

  • Dear Grieving, I feel for you going through such a doubly difficult grieving process. Not only are you grieving the actual loss of youBF but the loss of who you thought he was. As I read your story it reminds me that we never really know who another person is, even those closest to us. I’m not sure that living with your BF would have made any difference. He hid who he was because he wanted to, and he would have done it whether he was married or not. There are plenty of people on this site who were married and discovered similar things about their exes.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. Just remember that the problem was his, and has nothing to do with you. Please know that you’re not alone, we are here for you any time you need to vent.

  • Grieving,

    that is the worst thing, that you never knew this man and that what you ‘had’ was an illusion.

    Don’t imagine his face contorting with grief and pain. If he is like a lot of men here, you would get indifference disdain and defiance – a whole new mindfuck of it’s own. They hurt you – and they DON’T CARE.

  • I found out, suddenly and accidentally, that my husband had been cheating on me for several years and hiding/lying about it, and then, 10 months later, he suddenly and accidentally died.

    There are so many clouds, and so many silver linings. Quick thoughts:

    -dealing with the full impact of the betrayal. What a rug-pulled-out-from-underneath-you experience. It takes ~time~ to find some way to understand, accept, and learn from what happened.
    -dealing with the full impact of the death. It takes ~time~ to absorb and grieve a death. Death shakes us to the core, exposes our mortality, makes us re-think our lives.
    -I don’t have to deal with him anymore. I’m not tempted to try to find a way to reconcile (because I’d invested 18 years and we have two kids at home). I don’t have to co-parent with someone who I don’t trust and I’m always waiting for that next awful surprise.
    -it’s hard for me to feel authentic. Outside of my closest friends and family, most people think I’m simply widowed and feel bad that I’ve lost my wonderful husband. They don’t know and wouldn’t understand the anger and mixed feelings, and I don’t particularly want to share “the whole story” with every person I’m acquainted with. I go to a grief support group and, with them, I am dissatisfied because they are all so sad about their losses and I am mad. With the people who do know about the betrayal, it’s hard to show the side of me that feels the grief of the loss because, like some of the comments here show, on the surface it seems like a pretty good outcome for a selfish jerk and the poor chump who loved him. They understand my anger, but don’t understand why I’m so broken up about the death of a guy who was willing to put me and the kids in such a terrible position. I tend to show the anger with the friends who know, and the grief with everyone else, and both seem incomplete and dishonest.

    So, Grieving, give yourself time and permission to feel all the feelings <3 It sucks, but it's not the end for you; it is a transition into a new beginning.

  • I just re-read your letter, and wanted to comment on this, “I suppose what I’m finding the hardest to deal with is that my anger is unresolvable. I imagine the confrontation I would have if he were here. I imagine my yelling and calling him a liar, cheater, fraud, sleazebag, and potentially diseased penis-man. I imagine yelling at him, is this how he wants to be known by his friends? professional colleagues? parents? I imagine his face contorting in sorrow and pain.”

    The anger is resolvable, but it will take time. Have that confrontation. Yell at him. Call him names. Write him lots and lots of letters telling him everything you’re thinking and feeling. Write letters to yourself as if they were written by him, telling you all the things he is thinking and feeling. It’s been just weeks since he died, and you are probably still in shock. Take care of yourself. Sleep, eat, drink water, let yourself feel all the feelings, and eventually you will start to feel like you are closer to the end of it than still at the beginning or in the middle of it.

  • To Chump Lady and all commenters: Thank you for reading and responding to my situation. I feel your support, and it helps. In particular I realize that many of you are right that the anger is unresolvable in many cheater stories, and that even if I had the chance for a confrontation, he would likely respond with some hurtful b.s. To those who asked about the nature of our relationship, we told each other that we were monogamous and presented ourselves to the world that way. We were family and were in each others’ families. He lied.
    “I thought it was a bird”: it is so true, your comments about not feeling authentic. I to to individual grief counseling because I don’t want to sit with a group who are sad about losing good people. I’ve told very few people about the secret sex life. To everyone else, he was a wonderful man who died way before his time. I can’t bear to raise a glass to toast him again.
    A huge life lesson has been given to me: you really do reap what you sow.

  • Hi Grieving; I am so sorry for your double loss, and most of all for the confusion-I am grieving, but what am I grieving because now I am not sure what I had? I need to resolve anger but not only is the person I am angry with gone, but how do I come to terms with something I will never get the truth about or hear his side of the story about? And how do I make headway for the future with my own trust towards others? How do I make peace with the inappropriateness in “society’s” eyes of being livid with a dead person? Most of all, I think I would be totally pissed off that someone I loved and gave MY whole heart to left me in this no-win detestable scenario!! It is a lot more to deal with than anyone would care to wake up to. My heart goes out to you.
    Selfishness and entitlement are the 2 qualities that Chumps pretty much universally did not see in their Cheaters, or did not realize they rose to these levels. I feel this way & CL & many Chumps would agree. Your husband was more important to himself than anyone. (As are all Cheaters)
    I wanted to tell you Grieving, that I hung around with my Cheater for years hoping to get the “whole story” so I could decide if it was forgivable. This was my first & biggest mistake, as 4 years later I still do not have that story to my satisfaction & had to move on without it. I thought I deserved to know what I was up against (was already over, but would it happen again?) and to be put in the “inside” again instead of being the one on the outside. I had 25 years invested, and had a hard time with the realization that I had made a poor choice that ate up the major portion of my adult life. I think this is why they call it Cheating, because it cheats the Chump out of what was theirs in many ways. What I wanted to point out to you is chances are very good you would have never gotten the truth anyway, and probably would have gone through hell trying to “figure it out.” (See Skeins of Fuckupness in CL’s library) Because he is gone, I hope you can stop your mind from this exercise in futility. It is excruciatingly painful and horribly confusing. I have been through tons of crap in my life, but this takes the “cake: (no pun intended) by a long shot.
    Cheaters when they tell the story to you usually downgrade the experience to meaning nothing or being less than it was to make it better for you (but truth is, better for them, because now they want forgiveness) just as they ran you & your relationship down to the OW/OM to get what they wanted out of that without looking like a perfect shit in the new person’s eyes. After all, your relationship is on the rocks, you haven’t had sex for years, you are married on paper only, staying for the kids, martyring that they are taking care of you financially, you are frigid, bitchy, mean, etc, etc. etc. So this is the kind of character flaw they have. Mine refused to admit that he gave the idea to the OW that she had a chance to “get him,” but by hearing other parts of the story, this is just not true. They lie to make the other experience as juicy as possible, and to keep the other person on the “hook.” Big character flaw!
    Anyhow, above all, the character flaw was not yours, you did not deserve this in any way. No “real” relationship has the intoxication of an affair, and no person on earth could put on that charade for long in a real relationship. And who would want to? An affair just seems like a bucketload of bullshit to most of us.
    No one can convince anyone else of their worth if they don’t believe it! Cheaters need the reinforcement of others to validate them. They are messed up, not you!!
    Your husband left you in the position of wanting to deliver flowers to the grave and bring a dog to piss on it at the same time. (Maybe even plastic flowers so you don’t have to go back much?)

  • 5 weeks ago my bf of 10 years died of a massive heart attack on his way home from a lovely weekend with me. We used to live in the same city bit I moved 3 years ago when I got a new job.

    He told me he was divorced but due to his ex wife having cancer he had to stay close to her and his kids. We were in touch everyday. Calls, texts, messages. He has proposed to me three times and we had holidays together.

    With the news of his death came the news that he was still married and she never had cancer.

    I feel a fool. Angry and heartbroke. Wrestling with questions about what was truth and what was lies? Was it all lies? 10 years of lies?

    I want to grieve but i also want to shout at him and ask why? What a mess.

  • These kind of stories make me sick but I do feel your pain I had a similar experience except my dead ex had stolen some
    My jewelry and given it to the girl
    He was cheating with . Denied taking the items and blamed my bros friend . I didn’t think he was a thief but she contacted me herself after he died . She didn’t mention the jewelry I just found a pic of her wearing it but she said she returned everything weeks before and that they got in. A fight
    Complete bs
    Not sure why this happened to me
    I mean he’s the dead one but I feel like shit and can’t confront him
    Zero closure

  • So, high school sweetie for year and a half, always fighting cause I wasn’t giving everything, but he demanded sex like everything revolved around it. Broke up for a couple of months, comes back, we try it one more time but didn’t work. I get pregnant and give him the news but my parents do not allow him to visit me anymore but he says he will take care of the kid once I give birth. 5 months into pregnancy and he dies. I cried a lot, and sometimes I still do. But then, in the funeral I find out that there was someone else, he had someone else all this time. I thought he was cheating on me but it turned out I was the other one, I was a slip. 2 years later, and I’m still angry at him, still miss him some times. And now I have a new partner and I’m scared that I won’t be able to let my pain go away and ruin my relationship. Don’t know what to do…

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: