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How Do You Trust Again?

After our epic thread on Friday about how we all found out we were chumps, several folks asked for a post on trusting again.

To just say, oh you have to trust again! may come across as flippant, or minimizing the trauma of betrayal. That’s what’s so insidious about infidelity — the total investment of it. I suppose infidelity doesn’t hurt if you aren’t that invested, if your connections are shallow and superficial. Sure, then you get over it. Swapping out a spouse is like switching out an air filter or something.

But if you’re rooted, if you love with your whole heart, and your family means the world to you — the theft of that life is devastating. Because it’s not just that the earth opened up and swallowed up everything you hold dear, like some natural disaster, no — some idiot did this to you. Because you didn’t matter to them. Because they weren’t invested. Because it was easier to lie to you and extract value from you, and let you go on believing your world was safe when it wasn’t.

Betrayal is shattering. Coming back from it is just a series of small acts of bravery, one after the next, as you piece your world back together again. How far you go rebuilding is really up to you.

Some folks might get stuck at the trauma stage of “I’ll never trust again” — and to me, that’s terribly sad and incredibly impractical. And I don’t believe you. Of course you’ll trust again! You trust every day, if you didn’t  you’d be huddled in a bunker, agoraphobic, refusing to engage with the world. Trust is the social glue that holds us all together. You trust that the money you bought your latte with wasn’t counterfeit. You trust your barista will not poison you. You trust a pilot every time you get on an airplane. You trust in democracy every time you elect an official and the world doesn’t dissolve into anarchy and executions.

Every day we trust people and institutions, and don’t think twice about it. We know intellectually that planes crash on occasion, and people get robbed, and institutions fail in far off lands and result in civil wars. But that doesn’t stop us from traveling, or carrying money, or assuming democracy is safe. We’d like to think if some calamity is about to befall us, we’d get a warning. To the best of our ability, we manage risk. We don’t walk in shady neighborhoods with $100 bills stuffed in our pockets. If peaceful democracy failed, we’d like to think we’d immigrate to Canada in time. We do the best we can. We trust in the overall solidness of our world.

And yet, intellectually we know that sometimes we don’t get warnings. Innocent people get trapped in civil wars, people are mugged in broad daylight, mechanical failures cause planes to crash. We accept that the world has risks and that life can be cruel and unfair.

But we still live in the world, don’t we? We still go on and engage with the world, don’t we?

Learning to trust again after infidelity is a process of risk management and mostly just trusting yourself. Not trusting that you’ll sniff out fraudsters with fool-proof accuracy, but trusting that you’re resilient and know how to face adversity.

I have to say, of all the infidelity fall out that I don’t get, it’s not trusting again. 

Look, maybe I’m an epic chump, and a band of gypsies could carry me off in a sack, or offer to pave my driveway and take the money and never show up. Maybe it’s pretty easy to roll me, but I don’t want to live without trust.

Like you, I have every reason not to trust again when it comes to relationships. In my first marriage I was horrifically chumpy. I divorced that crazy person, paid him a shitload of money to retain custody of my son, and then he sued me for the next decade, mostly pro se. If that doesn’t put you off love and marriage, I don’t know what will —  go live in the bowels of family court in Fairfax, Virginia. I estimate I lost about $100,000 in legal expenses. Does my head want to explode when I think about that? Yes, so I try not to think about it. Instead I focus on the fact that I survived it and my kid is great. What continues to piss me off is what a shit he is to my kid, but oh well. That’s on him. No one misses him. His loss.

Anywho, I went through THAT freak show, was a single mom in my 30s, noodling around quite happy otherwise, when my path crossed with the serial cheater. I’d like to think now that I’d have a better picker and enforce my boundaries better, and I’d like to think that now I know what cheating looks like, what’s a red flag. But I didn’t when I was 37. I had no idea. I was a trusting chump — and when I invested in that relationship — I was ALL in. I totally committed, not halfway, but all the way. I moved with him to another state, bought a house with him, had a custody trial to move my son. Gave up 16 years of friends and work in D.C. I loved with my big, huge chumpy heart.

And you all know how that ended — I got played. Totally sucker punched. Six months in the mistress called. Then it was a series of incredibly stupid and heart-breaking false reconciliations. (Chumpy heart still in! Chumpy heart gets PLAYED!)

Yeah, so anyway, my point is — I know what it is to lose. Hell, I know what it is to lose, try again and LOSE MORE.

But you know, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. If you’re going to love — COMMIT. Jump in with both feet. The whole thing was a horror show, but even the worst thing I ever did — marry that cheating idiot — led to some incredible blessings — living in beautiful Lancaster, Pa., wonderful friendships, a job I loved. Putting myself in that place was ultimately good for me.

The cheater was NOT good for me. And so I extracted myself — and it was painful as hell, and everything I learned about being betrayed I share with you here on this blog. I grew. I’m not the chump I used to be. I lost a fundamental innocence.

But I did not lose my ability to trust. Because, goddamn if I didn’t love again! If you’d talked to me after my last divorce and told me I would move AGAIN for a man — oh, and he’d be another lawyer — oh, and it would be full of risk, oh, and it would be to the state of Texas? I would’ve told you to put the crack pipe down.

I love my husband. I always felt safe with him. But more than that, I learned a shitload from my two horrible marriages that preceded. Mostly, I learned to draw boundaries and enforce boundaries. I learned that I don’t control most things, but I do get to control myself. And the pain and loneliness from those divorces made me appreciate opportunity. I was hungry to live to the fullest. I was sick of drama and unhappiness.

Pain and loneliness can make you go either way — close up in on yourself and tune the world out. Or it can make you a bold risk taker. There is a FREEDOM in losing everything and knowing that you survived. A  whatthefuckever that is liberating. And when you feel that — and an opportunity presents itself to love and be loved? You say YES.

That isn’t to say I was being impetuous or foolish. No, I judged my husband’s character to the best of my ability. I knew what red flags were, and I looked hard for them. I trusted my gut. We both have pre-nups. But it was still a risk. A big life risk. And you don’t get the rewards of life without the taking risks.

So far, my risk has paid off — he’s wonderful. But who knows — maybe he’ll change. Maybe he’ll broadside me. Or maybe life will sucker punch me some other way. Maybe one of us will get ill, have some horrible financial set back. Maybe all three kids will move into our basement at once.

Here’s what’s different — I speak up now. I draw boundaries. I enforce boundaries. Shit sandwiches are not a basic part of my diet any longer. In other words, I trust myself to handle what is thrown at me. I trust my resiliency. Why? Because it was forged in a goddamn blast furnace of psychodrama. I know I can rebuild and reinvent because I’ve had to do it over and over and over again. I accepted the painful growth that came from my mistakes, and from the shit that was inflicted on me unjustly.

I trust myself and I still trust others. Only one idiot betrayed me. He’s an outlier. For one of him, there were dozens others who held me up, who helped me regain my life. I trust those people and I know they’re good. There were hundreds of people on online forums, fellow chumps, who paid it forward for ME — who took minutes out of their life to send me messages of support, to advise, to commiserate, just like this site does for you all. Those people, those total strangers cared about me.

Don’t they outweigh one cheating fucktard?

Oh, but he’s not the only one, you say! The world is FULL of cheating fucktards!

Yes it is. It’s also full of good people, and it’s full of chumps overcoming the damage cheating fucktards do, one brave act at a time.

So start small, folks. You can’t trust anyone? That tells me you made your world too small. Specifically, you made your cheater your whole world. It’s time to broaden your horizons and fill your life with good people who deserve you. How do you spot them? Well, some of them have always been there and others you’ll have to cultivate. You do that by opening yourself to them, and being BRAVE.

You do that every day here — and do people reject you? Or do they open up their hearts back at you?

Let me ask you something — How would you feel if no one trusted you? Are you a good person? Are you trustworthy? How would you feel if I said you were a figment. You don’t exist! Should I believe in YOU? How would you feel if I never knew your gifts? I never let myself trust you? We could never be friends because I assume the worst in you.

I’d be seriously missing out. Because you exist — THOUSANDS of you exist if my blog numbers are anything to go by.

So don’t assume the worst in everyone or you’re going to miss out on life’s gifts. You don’t have to partner up again if you don’t want to. Maybe that’s more risk than you care to assume. Maybe you’re a cyclops and you’re right, no one will ever love you. (Unless you date at But for the love of God, let SOMEONE into your heart, okay? Be a friend, make a friend. When people demonstrate they aren’t worthy, in the words of Muriel — fire them. Just because you know how to draw boundaries doesn’t mean you have to fire everyone. Be discerning of course, but be OPEN TO LIFE.

Cheaters rob so much from us. They try to take our children, our wedding china, our retirement accounts, our dignity — don’t let them have your soul. YOU own that. Don’t let them take your best self from you, that person who connects and feels intimate with others. They were fucktards, they didn’t have that ability to love with their whole hearts and commit to anything. You DO have that ability — so why waste it? I’m not saying you have to lavish your love on another spouse — but maybe you will, don’t rule it out. You don’t know the future. Maybe you’re going to lavish it on AIDs orphans or historical preservation societies or growing peonies. I have no fucking clue what your happiness looks like.

But I know this — your happiness isn’t with your cheater. That person is OUT of your life. Do not give them one more piece of your soul. Don’t let them win. They’d like nothing better for you to wither up and die from their rejection. How central that would make them? Imagine if they are the last person you ever loved! How powerful they’d be! How you couldn’t move on! Do you want THAT to be your legacy?

How about you trust yourself to rise above one fucktard’s opinion of your worth? How about you’re awesome without them? How about you go love, love, love a million things that aren’t them?

I trust you’ll figure it out, chumps.

Ask Chump Lady

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    • CL, nice going taking on that EI bitch over at TAM. Ever read her bullshit?
      Check her out, if not.
      She flirts with the male posters and has a photo up designed to try and make her look somewhat hot.
      That woman is a manipulative a-hole. Just look at how she ingratiated herself to posters, especially some of the less perceptive men on the site.
      She is the definition of NPD.

  • I think what I struggle with the most is that I still sometimes do give ‘fucktard’s opinion of my worth’ too much credence. I still hear his criticism in the back of my head. I still see friends and family’s believing his narrative about me, and while I know it isn’t true, a part of me internalizes it.
    It’s rough, because he is right about some things. I did get fat, I am an introvert and a nerd, socially awkward and all that. I don’t sparkle like he does.
    I do trust that he sucks. I know he’s as full of shit as they come, but still that voice sneaks up on me sometimes…..

    • He does suck. I don’t even know him but just from his saying those stupid things to you, I know he sucks.

      • I just cannot trust again . It is not a conscious choice. I just do not have it in me. I recovered somewhat after the first one , second one killed any hope of my trusting fully again.
        Just simply beyond my ability now.

        • Arnold

          Please don’t take this the wrong way but that comment reminded me of a hard night of tequila shots. “OH God, never again, puke, fucking tequila, puke, I’ll never drink again, EVER!!!!!!” (that is something we all say at that moment)

          I too have had my share of cheating fucktards and I am in the middle of an ass ugly divorce after 21 years of being together and fucked over. I am nowhere near ready to trust just yet. However, I know that I will be one day–don’t know how or when–I just know it. I am like CL, I am cautious but when I love, I love hard. It’s like a rollercoaster, there are ups and downs. Some days I get my ass handed to me and I want off the crazy ride and I sit on the sidewalk for a bit. But I cannot live on the sidewalk–it’s not me. I may never have a husband/boyfriend again, but then again, I may. I don’t know. I’m not looking but I’m not hunkering down in a bunker with a forged-in-steel “closed” sign. Again, I know I can’t live on the sidewalk, I hope you can’t either. You do not need to pick the biggest rollercoaster in the park but start off with a kiddie coaster and just enjoy the ride!!! I wish you the best

          • Thanks. I have a beautiful, nice, kind GF. It is just that I know now that these things seldom work out.
            I love my kids, animals, and have many friends.
            I have prostate cancer, now. So my romantic life is over.
            I went years when I was you get and sexually capable celibate, as my Xws would reject me. Meanwhile, they were having all kinds of sexual escapades, apparently.
            I was pretty good looking back then and had opportunities up the yin yang, too.
            What a fucking joke, relying on a vow. I should have been banging away while I could.

            • Sorry Arnold but I’m going to have to call you on something. You have a truth and a gentleness about you “I love my kids, animals and have many friends” then you say you “should have been banging away while I could.” You didn’t go “banging away” because it is NOT YOU. Then, you would be no better than your ex-nightmare. You chose to honor your vows PERIOD. We all could be out banging–it is very easy nowadays–but we chose to still be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say ‘we did right’! There are only 2 people we have to truly face in this world: our face and our God (whomever that is for you). I can still look both in the eyes and it sounds as if you can too. And that is what matters.

              Sorry to hear about your prostate cancer. I have a friend (just a friend) battling that now but he is still very romantic without sex. Romance, intimacy, and passion can come in many forms. Find your form and embrace it. I also have friends who do not have cancer, a sickness, nor a life. They chose to “live” life not doing anything and they are miserable. Live your life, find your Meh, and Party on Wayne!

    • ^^^this is me too!!!

      Those sneaky little voices that get you when there’s a quiet moment, or whenever I’m in doubt about anything. Those pissy little voices of cheater, the OW, cheater’s Mother etc. like to creep in and remind me of how unworthy, unlovable and inferior I am. And how I’ve stuffed everything up.

      And those stupid voices get reinforced because I’m socially awkward, introverted and shy too (is this something sparklers look for? so us chumps don’t outshine them? A good person who is happy to stand in the background while they glitter up a storm. Just a thought)

      Anyway, I’ve rambled, but I’m with you Roxie. Just wanted to let you know I know where you’re coming from and how you’re feeling. if you figure out how to squish the voices let me know.

      • Jode,

        As someone who is the same personality type as you, I get those voices and thoughts too. Thankfully one year out they’re not as often anymore, but I now know they are generally the hallmarks of a bad day. The most annoying thoughts are the “you need to be coupled” thoughts, the ones where I feel like “do I need to try to impress people” since “I may run into someone” even though I’m getting a bottle of milk at the grocery store. I don’t want to impress anyone, I just want my milk.

        And the trust issues, there are people who I trust, but the problem in essentially trusting that if I meet someone new that they won’t screw me over. Skepticism is a very powerful feeling. I have noticed that I will say less around people I don’t really know and I am more averse to physical contact, even avoid looking at people.

        I’m a long, long way away from fixing that picker.

      • I will. The thing is that most of the time, I’m fine, but then comes a night or 2 of insomnia, and my outlook is colored with a negative brush, and there his phantom is, judging me harshly.
        The only thing I find that helps is to stay busy. I’ve made up a lot of home improvement projects just to get my mind off of things.

    • Okay these idiots sparkle for a reason. It’s a lure. You on the other hand are genuine. Fake vs real. Cubic Zirconia or Diamond? I’d take real any day!

      • I’m not introverted or socially awkward and you know what? THOSE are the things that ex threw at me! That I am too sociable, that he no longer liked our social circle, that I always want to talk to people. it’s a very long list of things wrong with me but those were on there, so really, you simply can’t win.

        Be who you are and love who you are. I am quite social but I also have a part of me that needs quiet time, alone time, time to be a nerdy bookwork who likes to talk about weird stuff online with other weird people. Ex didn’t like that either, in the end.

        You cannot win with these people! No matter who you are or what your personality they will find something they don’t like to excuse their own fucked up ways.

        • I am not socially awkward either. I enjoy people’s company but I think I was totally devalued and made to feel worthless by his actions more than anything. He just never wanted to spend time with me or our kids. Always some activity, some other female taking up his time. When I did speak up and ask to do something, he spent the whole time complaining about why should he do things he doesn’t like. I just gave up asking. It is only now 3 years out from him running away that I am getting the full on verbal abuse (it was always emotional). Every time I have to text/email him, I get a barrage of abusive ones back. Even if is just required a simple answer. One minute he is saying that I am stopping from seeing the kids and not involving him in the kids lives and the next instance I get told not to contact him regarding anything and that he will contact me if and when he thinks it is appropriate.

          Nord that is so true you cannot win these people!

          • Amazing how they remain angry, isn’t it? Ex still is pissed off, 2 and a half years later. I’m not pissed anymore. Maybe mildly annoyed here and there but I can’t be bothered to be angry at this point. Yet he will try to pick a fight with me over the littlest things and gets full on rage when I don’t bite. It’s bizarre.

            • I am being assaulted by a Flaming Turd bout of narcissistic rage even as I type this. Even after a year of being separated and in the middle of a divorce, it still makes me go WTF! However, now I don’t often respond the way in which he expects – conciliatory even though he’s the one who’s an ass. Seeking him out and trying to convince him that I’m a good person and please, won’t you talk to me. Nope. Now? IGNORE! Immediately go completely no contact, even if I actually NEED to speak to him about something. Oh, You Mad? Scratch your ass, get glad.

              And why this narcissistic rage you ask? Because I called him out on his bald-faced lies and his cruelty and manipulation and his continued financial abuse. Trust him? I’d trust a two-headed snake wearing a burglar mask before I would trust that Flaming Turd. I trust anyone who doesn’t trust him.

              • I’ve got a question in regards to NC. Is this suppose to work on a narcissist to make him realize something, get the message across, show him you’re not afraid or what? I get the distance thing, and how it benefits us to get a better perspective, but it seems as my narcissist just gets into bigger rages when I ignore him. Then again, killing with kidness hasn’t been exactly working out in my favor either. And unfortunately, we have a young child together, so I’ll be accused of parental alienation. Thoughts?

              • Monika. NC means no contact. If he gets angry ignore it. Only deal in writing re kids. That’s it
                Narcs want you to react. If you do then you’re not doing the NC thing right.
                Groceries walked past me on Sunday and I swear if she had a gun she would have shot me. I haven’t spoken to her for many months. Everything is text or email and only about the boys.
                Narcs love kibbles. Give them nothing. You can’t save them or change them. It takes a huge paradigm shift but you will get there. You have to draw every ounce of mental strength to manage them.
                Ignore them until they doubt their own exsistence.
                Focus on being the best parent. They can’t acuse you of parent alienation if you are being the best parent.
                Groceries virtually abandoned the boys. She puts chainsaw man before them and therefore that’s something she has to work out with the boys going forward. I want to sit her down and try and show her the damage she is doing with her boys but the therapist and local doctor tell me I would be wasting ,y time. Narcs by nature have no empathy.
                As CL puts it we have to get to meh

              • I get that too Monika. The if you go no contact, I am being a total bitch and turning his kids against him and the newest thing is the OW is telling everybody who will listen that I am brainwashing my kids and that is the reason they don’t see their dad mum. She even sent my 18 year old son a message via facebook (he isn’t friends with her on FB) saying how ashamed and disappointed in him that he isn’t responsible enough to rise above and be there for his dad… WTF???? His dad never was or is there for him. Even when he was really sick in hospital, did his dad bother with him, I text him multiple times a day to let him know what was going on. Got told he couldn’t possibly come as he was away working… he wasn’t he was 5 minutes away with her. Now she wants him to rise above it!!

                On the other hand whenever I have tried to include him in the kids lives and text him when things happen, awards nights, things they have achieved, all I get is silence and get told he will contact me if and when he feels it is necessary…. You just can’t win.

              • “Trust him? I’d trust a two-headed snake wearing a burglar mask before I would trust that Flaming Turd. I trust anyone who doesn’t trust him.”

                OMW!! that’s exactly how I feel about my cheater! Thanks for the chuckle and I am stealing this from you lol! :)))) I love it!!

              • CP- I can only counsel what has been working for us to date, having a young child he likes to play for kibbles, is – send a conciliatory email once in a while, letting him think he has won. Our papers are not yet signed which is why I feel the need to do this, otherwise his rage and using our child as a pawn knows know bounds. That, and iPhone record every interaction you have to have with the SOB. Mine changes his tune quite quickly as soon as the camera is on, (even if it is not really). No Contact only enrages him as in hand-off when he screams at me over the phone in front of our child, accusing me of wanting everything my way and refusing to talk to me. I can only assume based on past behavior that he will use my attempts at NC to try and take away from me the one thing I love (our child) and thank god he has the OW to keep him occupied and ‘calm him down’ at night. It was worse when he didn’t have an OW. Good luck- and IMO whatever you have to do to be conciliatory without losing sense of yourself, at least until the papers are done, may be in your best interest. I myself see myself eating that shit sandwich for may years to come.. placating, placating, to prevent more abuse.

              • CP, follow-up here, I just sent a conciliatory email after having him yell at me tonight to have it thrown back in my face, he wrote, “You are finger pointing and blame-shifting…” when I said I was sorry that he thought I wanted things my way, because my way would have been an intact family with no OW on the side and him leaving for her. Probably NC is the best option after all. His email also included this description of our false reconciliation “I tried to work through the pain I may have caused in the past…That effort was unsuccessful.” Notice there is no mention of how him having affair with new coworker was why we are no longer in false reconciliation..or the ‘pain in the past’ was from previous affairs and abuse (notice the “may” – no actual admittance. Sorry for my previous advice. Back to NC except where kiddos are concerned…

              • I am seeing the same stories over and over in the responses. I am told I brainwash my daughter… whatever, I am nice only because I want her to help her daughter get to softball or her son to basketball, then I am very helpful, directions, details of the league… whatever. She does not go to games but I became OK with that when I realized my kids were OK with that. They really are Ok with it, no concerns at all. I guess that is the best you can hope for.

                My two cents.

        • So so true, my STBX said I was too independent for him. After 15 years now it’s an issue? Crazy!

        • Thank you for that, Nord! That is exactly what I’ve decided. You just can’t do right by them.

          I wrote down a list of all the reasons why I “needed” to be cheated on. I had the opportunity to go to Africa and went. I walk dogs at the shelter. I transport dogs to rescue or a new home. I didn’t take him food to work when he forgot his lunch one time 15 years ago (there are a million food places right nearby, order out, like I do when I forget my lunch and never even have a thought of telling you to drive in and get me something), I don’t belong to the right political party, I don’t believe in his religion (HA! Thou shalt cheat – it’s ok!), I didn’t want to go to a neighbor’s funeral (instead, I stayed and watched their house while the entire neighborhood was not at home), etc. I don’t work enough, I work too much, I ride my horses, I never help him on his farm (we have a pre-nup and it’s his all his, so why should I help, when he never helps me in his house), I never write out the checks for the mortgage, I write out the checks for the mortgage, I never run errands in town to help him, I run errands in town to help him, etc. No matter what I do or don’t do, it’s always the wrong thing. I’m a piece of worthless shit. He deserves someone better because life is too short. Well, he got someone better. A woman who is cheating on her own husband, breaking up her own family, and willing to sleep with another woman’s husband and break up that family. And she tries to play mommy to my son, whose family she did this to. So much better.

          Yes, I’m starting to see that all the fault he finds in me is just an attempt to make his own evils look less wrong.

      • Yes, my husband is a Huge Sparkler. He’s opinionated, will talk to anyone, and dresses like a dandy. But all that is to hide that he feels inadequate. I feel sorry for him and yet he feels far superior to me.

        • THIS! My stbx is all about ‘the show’ as his brother puts it……….Sparkly ball of sparkles! Look at me, look what I have, Look at my car, my Rolex, etc. He is all about his image to the outside world when in all reality, he is a black hole of emptiness & insecurity that will never be filled. But he thinks he is better than everyone and entitled to do as he pleases. (Good, now please leave)

          Now that I am able to look at it from a distance & new perspective, it really is sad and pathetic.

          • yep, just like my POS cheater ex and his family. They are all about image, but buried in debt to their eye brows so they can “show” off. Its pitiful and pathetic.

    • Roxie, the world is full of people who want or need to lose weight. It’s full of introverts. And thank God, it’s full of nerds who are “socially awkward” but can do things like invent the internet and build bridges that don’t fall down. And those people are all worthy of love, of honesty and commitment. He says those things because he is using your deep fears against you, like weapons. He is willing to take advantage of what he knows because you thought he was your intimate partner and to use what he knows against you. That makes him far, far, far worse than someone who wants to lose a few pounds. Keep pushing that voice out of your head!

    • Roxie:

      The best lies all have some truth in them, and our cheaters use that truth to play us. Your X knew you were sensitive about your weight, your shyness, your nerdiness. He used that knowledge as a weapon, not only to justify his actions, but also to make you feel as if you were lucky that he deigned to stay with you. That is total mindfuckery.

      The real truth is that no one has a perfect weight. I was 50lbs overweight, but that’s not what made STBX cheat. Heck, OW outweighed me at my heaviest by over 10 lbs AND she’s 4-5 inches shorter than I am! I lost weight, and you know what? STBX told me I was getting too thin. See? No matter what the weight, the cheater can throw it back at you!

      The truth is that a lot of really smart people are nerds. Thankfully, I work in a culture where just about everyone is smart, and being a nerd is a very good thing (the joys of university employment). Celebrate your nerdiness (I recommend the t-shirts from And it’s okay to be socially awkward. Social skills are learned, and it’s possible to be socially awkward AND be extraverted–here I speak from experience.

      Cheaters attack our emotional vulnerabilities because they rarely stand up and admit that they’re liars and thieves. Instead, they use our weaknesses to justify their behavior, and to make us feel that we should be grateful that they bother to stick around, despite our failings.

      • Kb, well said, really well said. We share so much and in the end, for me at least, I’m horrified, because I know that he is spilling my most intimate secrets to people with whom I would never share them with.

      • KB, your post is so true. Roxie, my STBX also complained I was overweight. I was sensitive about it because I had always been thin and athletic. Coincidentally, when his cheating started is when I
        started gaining weight ( I now
        know). He actually told
        me I had become so overweight ( about 50 lbs) that I was a joke now. He brought home a South Beach diet book for a birthday present shortly after his last affair started. My guess is that is the diet his anorexic young OW does. I foolishly tried it
        and within 2
        days he told me he couldn’t eat like that. When he left he told
        me I should have made separate meals for myself at dinner so he could get the food he wanted – fattening meat and potatoes- and diet food for myself. Since he left 10 months ago I lost 53 pounds and I am back to the old
        me and back to doing my sports that made me happy.

        Your dog turd sucks and trust that. All that matters is how YOU feel about your weight. Being happy with yourself is definitely the best revenge 🙂

        • Mine did shit like that with food too. He’d want to dole out portions, keeping the good stuff for himself. And he’d buy me presents (with my money) of clothes that were for ‘when I lost the weight’

      • Yes, he did play like he was doing me a favor by being with me. And you’re right, and most of the time, I know my worth. I think the hardest thing is that I have to be strong for my kids and my aging parents and all the pressures that pile up so every once in a while he creeps back into my head. He was good at playing at my insecurities and the replay in my head is just as harsh.
        Honestly though, when I write down what I’ve accomplished without him, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come and how much better things are now.
        And, I love thinkgeek, and have far too many geek Tees, if there is such a thing 😉

    • You can’t win with these people, and the stress of dealing with their issues affects each of us in different ways. My stbx complained about my weight, but I was always healthier and in better shape than he was….ever! I lost weight and both OW were at least 50lbs bigger one older and and one younger. He told me I was stubborn and too independent and I would always be alone, no one would want me. Who gives a sh*! about his opinion!

      Truth is it doesn’t matter what OW look like, their education, their profession or choose one. His OW are all about him. They must be willing to put up with whatever bull he dishes out and not demand his respect, commitment in return.

      I am learning to trust again. Right now I’m reinvesting in myself and deciding when the time is right, what exactly I need in a mate. I’m not sure at this point in my life if I want the responsibility that comes with marriage. My life is changing and his spot is being filled with other things. It is lonely sometimes, I am still legally married, but my freedom is so important. When and if I’m ready is there someone to like the new me? I don’t know, but I sho’ as hell ain’t goin’ to let some jackass’ opinion of me influence my life!

      • I lost a whole person of weight from the stress of D-Day and the events that followed. Reverend I’mAWhore? She’s two and half of me. Flaming Turd? Always quietly ridiculed women who were overweight. Size does not matter except as a weapon to be used by these disordered jackanapes.

      • “Truth is it doesn’t matter what OW look like, their education, their profession or choose one. His OW are all about him. They must be willing to put up with whatever bull he dishes out and not demand his respect, commitment in return. ”
        This is where I question myself. I trusted that our 26 years together was real; and that we loved each other for who we are. Instead, he chose to cheat with someone completely opposite of me, and just plain disgusting, in my opinion anyway. And he LOVE the pig. So now, I don’t even trust myself, let alone trying to trust others. I am taking CL’s and everyone’s advice here, and trying not to be the kind that rolls up into a ball and dies, because I am too afraid to trust anyone. I don’t want to be that person. But when they smash your heart into a million sure is hard to open it up again. Like most of us chumps..I love with my whole heart, body and soul. And the fact that these cheaters take advantage of that? It’s just nearly impossible to wrap your head around it.

        • “And the fact that these cheaters take advantage of that? It’s just nearly impossible to wrap your head around it.”

          Start right there, don’t try and understand it/him or wrap your head around it. I was married a long time as well, put my heart into it like you. Your ex doesn’t know how to love or care for another human being. She is just the next shiny new toy or plaything. Trust me any woman that will cheat with a married man has a few secrets and skeletons hiding in their closet. It’s not about you, it’s all about how the new OW make them feel.

      • My STBX also told
        my daughter I would never loose weight, I could never get a full
        time job, and No one would ever want me. Well, within 6 months I lost all the weight and found an excellent full time job. I am
        sure when the time comes I will meet someone :). I am a hopeless romantic and can’t help but be too trusting. I think it is one of my good qualities and I wouldn’t ever
        let that jerk take that from me!

    • Thank God for introverted chubby nerds. There would be no Game of Thrones, no, no Star Trek!

      It doesn’t matter the he was right about some things. Stomp on that destructive little voice and know your worth. I don’t even know you, and I know you’re worthy. Fuck that guy.

    • Roxie,

      You need a new narrative to go around in your head. He said you were fat? Define “fat.” One man’s “fat” is another man’s Bountiful Beauty. My grandmother always told me that no one wants a bone but a dog, and the dog will get rid of the bone for a piece of meat. You are someone’s still water, running deep, voluptuous dream woman who will only shine for someone of integrity and worth.

      If you ex was too blind and stupid to appreciate your special beauty, more the pity for him and his loser family, I say. 🙂

    • Roxie,

      Define “fat.” One man’s fat is another man’s voluptuous hunk of burning love. Your ex is sparkly – that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s discerning or truthful – you know he’s not truthful. Why value the opinon of a lying crazy person or anyone, including his family, who would be so short on discernment that they believe what he says?

      New narrative for you Roxie: You are a voluptuous, bountiful and discerning beauty, who is only willing to shine her special light on those whom she deems of high value. 🙂

    • Roxie, same things were said to me. But give a good, honest look to your stupid ex, Is He Truly That Wonderful to be able to make you feel bad about yourself. I keep on asking myself that almost daily. What the fuck were we supposed to do, keep our 20 year old bodies forever, if you are an introvert and a nerd, he didn’t notice that about you until the end (what a blind, self centered idiot), are you really “socially awkward” or after years of manipulation did you “become” that way (were you ever loved and supported enough to feel comfortable in your own skin) because that’s what love does for you!!!! Squash that damn “voice of a fucktard” like the damn, sorry assed, insignificant whining of a bug under your shoe!!!!! Cause you know what that’s what I’m gonna do. Because as CL says TRUST THAT THE SUCK”!!!!!!!!

      • DeeL, this is the thing that still irritates me: I’m not 20 anymore. I had a great body back then because, well, I was 20, I danced all night, worked all day and ate here and there. It’s easy to keep thin when you’re that age.

        I gained some weight over the years but more along the lines of being a bit more rounded and soft. Ex’s thing was that my stomach was no longer flat and perfectly firm. Well, after two kids that happens to an extent. I wonder what his excuse was for not being perfectly slim after all those years?

        We all know you can’t win so fuck ’em. My body is pretty ok but perfect like it used to be? Never again, unless I start working out 5 or 6 hours a day. And that’s not going to happen.

        • All you guys are so awesome! I love the support here!

          Sometimes I really wonder how we let them get to us. I have to remember that the perfection he wanted out of me wasn’t about me, but about him.
          And it’s only sometimes that I forget it.

          Hugs to you all!

    • Ditto that Roxie! HE SUCKS! You don’t tell someone you love that they are fat!.. You cook healthy meals, you get joint gym memberships and go to the gym with them, you tell them ” let’s BOTH get healthy & fit”, you take long walks with them and do exercise videos together! Being an “introvert or socially awkward” is not a reason for any man to treat you badly! Hugs to u.

  • Many things I have lost– commencement was this weekend, and the crowds, especially the crowds of happy families were hard to be around. But I hope in the fulness of time that changes for me. I had joy and companionship with my daughter to mark her achievement.

    On the other hand, my Ex tried to give a card to the daughter, and in front of the 16 people at our cookout party and all, she rejected him and the card and told him to go away.

    What ails me, I can cure with persistence a, good therapy, and reaching out. What ails him (a) who cares (b) nothing. Until his daughter decides she wants him back in her life,which she may never do.

    Some kind of lesson there.

    • Hey nfv,

      My daughter graduated from college this weekend. I was there along with her brother, to celebrate this magnificent achievement.

      X didn’t show–went to some obscure cousin’s wedding (a person he’d seen like 4 times in his life). Hasn’t spoken to daughter in almost a year, because she’s angry at him about the cheating. (How dare her!) She sent him an email (the only way he communicates with her) asking, Are you coming to my graduation? And his reply was, I’m not going where I’m not invited.

      Meanwhile, she is the most wonderful person in the world. How do you justify missing this one hugely important moment in her life? How do you not celebrate your only daughter as she graduates from college? She sobbed after getting her diploma.

      I struggle with this, because there is nothing I can do for her, except walk with her through this hard time. He’s an idiot. Each of these moments is one more nail in the coffin of their relationship.

      • I so relate to this! I have three children. Two are graduating this year. My first is graduating from Columbia’s nursing program. My ex attended her earlier graduation from UM with OW, joy! And walked out in the middle of it. No one else noticed but his daughter. She shared that after all these years she never expected to feel the way she did when she graduated. Perhaps that’s why he’s making a big shit deal out of attending this. I am disappointed not to attend (lack of resources) but hope my youngest daughters graduation in June won’t be marred by Mr. Sparkles. Same guy who annihilated us all financially. Who stole money from those college accounts. Who vandalized our home when it had been foreclosed upon (and that you know his family was still living in)…. I know my meh will arrive when I am no longer pissed off after seeing his smug ugly face. Once a year is enough.

      • Everytime my daughter mentions yet another cruel, passive aggressive text or email from her Dad, I make sure to dissect it for what it really is. It is usually one of the following; emotional blackmail, passive aggressive, a bullshit sandwich, delusional thoughts, etc., you get the picture. After 2.75 yrs of his crap, my 18 yr old is done with him. the final straw was him calling the campus police when she wouldnt respond to his cruelty. She can only control her, not him. thank you all and CL too for helping me see the light and the fact that this manchild is not worth another second of my time. my kids are awesome. we love each other and show it. as they become more independent it is great to meet their girlfriends, friends, visit them at college, celebrate holidays, oh yeah, be a family! dad does all that with a whore, her 3 youngins (been there done that) plus her X lives there too! we have peace and love; he has drama and chaos and a divorce that he filed but will not cooperate with! so yeah, life is finally going my way. have a great new job, losing weight, exercising, out with friends and family. he lives a lie. a sad and angry, and now overweight little coward. just pathetic. a real joke. just yucky!

    • DO NOT look at those families and think that they are happy just because they look like it!!!
      That is something that chumps do all the time.
      At one point, we all looked like on of those ‘happy families’ to someone else.
      Look at you and your daughter! You two ARE a happy family.
      Don’t go one thought past that.

      • “DO NOT look at those families and think that they are happy just because they look like it!!!
        That is something that chumps do all the time.”
        I am the poster child for doing that Rebecca! My 12 year old is heavily involved in sports and other activities, which means I am exposed to families constantly. I sit there, alone in my bag chair, and look around and see all of the happy families, watching their kids play. And there’s me..the lone figure on the field, with no husband to share the fun with. And it makes me feel really really sorry for myself! And jealous of those families! I want what they have!

        • Believe me, there is no such thing as a perfectly happy family. One thing I have learned is to enjoy my time with the kids, even when I’m the lone wolf mom. The time you have with your daughter passes so quickly. Do not let your asshole X rob you of the irreplacable memories you are now making.

        • I’m on the same page Sandy. My daughter’s dance competitively so when we’re at a competition and I see all the dad’s there, or intact families it tears me up. I am beyond jealous. We had a night last year at one of the competitions where the dad’s watched all the kids in 1 hotel room so the mom’s could go out for a drink. My daughter looked at me and said “but we don’t have a dad”. I felt terrible for her. I knew she didn’t mean that literally (asshole was there with Owife in another hotel) but in that moment she felt left out. I stayed in the hotel that night with her and we ordered pizza. It’s hard enough that I feel left out…harder when your child does too.

      • THIS!
        So true-what you see of a family in public is not always how it is in private. My stbx always but on a great show when we were in public-it was sickening. We looked like a happy family too.
        Now that the truth has been coming out, people are shocked how our life really is and has been for all this time.

        As for the present and future, I’m only interested in my own happy family with me & my little boy.

  • CL, You are so RIGHT. “Your happiness isn’t with your cheater.” My marriage always felt like there was something I realize now I could have never been happy with someone who was that disordered. All that love bombing and then a steady diet of lies. Hard to work on a marriage when your partner is busy destroying it. Five years out and I am just beginning to entertain the thought of dating. My family and wild wacky heart on their sleeves friends and relatives have been supportive and respectful of my journey. I have always recognized that life is a gift, that it is too short, and that we are meant to share our gifts with others. My world is bigger without my cheating ex in my life.

  • So needed this, CL. Two and a half years out from STBX leaving and just in the past few months have I really started to reach out to the world…

    It took a long, long time. So much loss for me in the two years following his leaving that I did not trust that the plane would stay up in the air, wouldn’t have been surprised to be killed by a flaming meteor streaking down from the sky, expected the worst, the very worst, every day, because it always seemed that there was worse. I gritted my teeth, got through it for my mum, my kids, my sister, but never expected anything better.

    I am seeing the light coming through the clouds. I am so empty that small things now delight me – going with a new friend to yoga class, walking with her and her dog, knowing that she will happily look after my cat when I travel. Having dinner with youngest son, going to a concert with him. Having a colleague at work buy me a cup of tea – imagine that! – and asking me to sit with him and his friends at the table to talk. Having a woman compliment me on a scarf I am wearing. I am starting at the basics, filling up the empty space with good things. Things that I never got from STBX. Things I am learning to accept, still working on believing that most people really are telling the truth.

    You are right that I cannot give any more of myself to that man-child I was so fortunate to lose. Now I just need to build on all the good new things I am welcoming into my life and fill up again, this time with carefully considered experiences and people. I hope that there will be love and companionship one day. Like you say, I know how strong I am now, have learned so much through this crash-and-burn experience that I know I will be fine whatever happens, so why the hell not?

    • “I am so empty that small things now delight me”

      Thank you. That is beautiful and shows me the way.

    • “I am so empty that small things now delight me…” Love this! It puts into words a feeling I have had lately. I am basically just starting to figure out who I am after 20+ years with a man who devalued me – made me feel worthless – gave out 100 criticisms to every 1 compliment (but kept me like a dog sitting on command waiting for that ONE compliment). It’s hard to figure out what you enjoy…what fills your soul…what makes YOU happy…when you lived with someone your entire adult life who made it so clear with their words and actions that you were NOT worthy. It’s like starting at emotional ground zero in my 40’s.

      • This is it, isn’t it? I remember a few months after STBX left one of my sons saying kindly, “Mum, you need to move on. Do things you want to do! Think of yourself and what makes you happy!” And I realized that after all those years married to him, and devalued by him, and always serving everyone else, I had no idea any more what made me happy. I had no idea how I wanted to live, or what I wanted to bring into my life, or what I needed to lose.

        At the time it was like being pushed off a cliff and mid-descent someone hovering nearby and screaming at me as I plummeted past, “You are free now! What do you want to do? You should be over this by now!” And there was no way that anyone I knew could understand that first I had to hit ground zero, make sure I was still alive and in one piece, before I could even think of something luxurious like how I might possibly choose to live my life.

        It’s why I value this place so much. All of us at different places in our journeys, but everyone knowing the terror of the fall. And the stories that help me keep climbing back up to my new, full, loving life, one handhold at a time.

        • Wow, Ex! Yes, it’s hard to process anything but the fall during the fall. Beautifully described.

        • So well said–“All of us at different places in our journeys, but everyone knowing the terror of the fall. And the stories that help me keep climbing back up to my new, full, loving life, one handhold at a time.”

        • Ex, you write so very beautifully. THANK YOU…

          This resource may help you…I am reading one of the books recommended here on this site, “Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist…” by Margalis Fjelstad. I am finding my life in every line. It talks a lot of how the dynamic of living with the disordered person shatters our sense of our own selves, and how great the damage is to be involved with these kinds of people. But I love how it focuses on US, and there is hope for us as we are able to disentangle from truly sick, mentally ill people, who have been writing the narrative on who we are for years…

          We just have to remember that their definitions of us are lies. If they were cheaters – obviously. Liars. That fucked up filter that is their ‘reality’… it’s like all of our truths go through that filter, and it comes out the other side, all twisted and wrong and incorrect. And because we are hoping, or trying to find a way to make it better all the time, etc., over time we start believing it…and that is still part of the lie.

          Don’t believe the lies anymore.

          I found what CL wrote to be so true. The doors have opened for me to have more authentic, true, loving, genuine, kind relationships since my marriage ended. I am not talking about dating. I am talking about every person you meet through your day. Every day, our paths cross with nice, truly kind and wonderful people. I have found that taking a chance on a smile, a conversation, pleasantries exchanged, just like you talked about, makes a difference in our day, and ultimately, in our life. For every creep that hurt us, there are a hundred more with something to give, something to share, joys to be experienced, a laugh, a project, a time to touch lives. We gave our good stuff to a sick person. We have the chance to give and to receive, and to go forth now.

          Trust that they suck. Trust that we don’t.

        • Exactly! I feel the same. very descriptive. Hey if surviving adultery, abandonment, breast cancer, three jobs since he left, year long ongoing divorce doesnt Make one appreciate every day I dont know what will. Very little bothers me now. When he was here I now realize I was on edge and echoed his negativity. I compliment people more, help others more, am kinder and more patient. truly better off than being with the angry fat man i saw in court a few weeks ago. Time really does help as well as No Contact. really works well.

      • Yes, so well put. Thank you for every word. I’m 45 now, Dday was 2 years ago. Relationship/marriage was 23 years. I have no dreams. I had so many. None are possible now. I am often paralyzed, I feel mugged and pistol whipped and barely conscious.

    • exrepeatedmeme, the beauty of it all is that because you start on “empty,” you have room for all the wonderful things life has to offer. I was so invested in my life with the cheater, there was no room for great things in my life. Now that I have swept the cobwebs out of my mind, I’ve created a space to receive life’s blessings.

  • I could actually hear you speaking as I read. That is the gift of a good writer.

    Thank you for these words, Tracy. I so needed them this weekend. God bless.

  • When I first arrived at CL many said the the future will be so much better. How could you make that prediction. At the time I didn’t trust what you said because I was in a dark drum with no torch let along a light switch. But in time a I now trust that what you said makes sense.
    This life altering experience we are travelling through does change you.
    For me I trusted my family. I stupidly thought this wonderful love of family would never extinguish and how it has changed. My god ,how it has changed.
    I don’t trust my in laws. I have cut out anyone in Groceries life, apart from the boys.
    Every relationship is analysed for what purpose it serves the boys and I and how will it effect us. Didn’t think of it before.
    I guess we just become very aware of our surrounds and the people in our lives. This experienced HAS enriched my life. I now wouldn’t go back to the old life ( but I’m sure the boys would love their enact family). The boys have learnt THERE ARE people like chainsaw man out there. The affair taught them many life lessons. I hope they have learnt much about their relationship woth their mother and father. They have had to filter out the noise amd they have realised whose there for them and who isn’t.

    I’m being very careful about commiment. I’m ok to be alone. My main purpose is to ensure the boys grow to be independent resourceful loving men. Men with morals, integrity and very importantly empathy. To me this is a stage of life. I just work on the basis the mother has changed her priorities but is still their mother.

    I don’t trust like I used to but maybe the trust I had before was unconditional and I now realise that’s been foolish. There are conditions in life. We have to take risks but I think from bouncing off each other here learn to better calculate them.

    Thanks for the trust. You guys are amazing

    • I’m with you, BAci. I just want my kids to grow up with good character, values, integrity, etc. And I want to get out of financial fear. The rest will come when it comes. I feel sort of ready to do more than go on casual dates but it’s not my focus right now. It’ll happen when and if it’s supposed to happen, I think.

    • “I don’t trust like I used to but maybe the trust I had before was unconditional and I now realise that’s been foolish. There are conditions in life.”

      THIS!!!!!!! A thousand times, this! I had sloppy, sloppy boundaries before. Didn’t know or care where I began and my partner ended. I have learned so much from this experience, from CL, and from the Chump Nation. Thanks Baci for this insight.

  • Lord this is the best! I too was grappling with how I could ever trust again. Told my STBX That he and his paramour took a lot from me, but they could not take my destiny from me! I was always a happy person and I miss the real trusting me, but I will not allow them to mold my future!

  • We married right out of college. With the hell did I know about narcissism….zip..zilch…nada..

    So here I am, just over three years after the divorce. The first year sucked huge. I didn’t trust anyone, especially myself. I was smart, educated, owned my own business, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how I ended up being chumped.

    She fucked with my past, but I won’t allow her to fuck with my future.

    I give her the grin fuck….she hates seeing me happy. These vampires hate you finding joy and being happy without them.

    Shout out to all of you….get up…one step at a time. Trust yourselves and love yourselves.
    Take pleasure in the small things, let that grow, plant the seeds of tomorrow and don’t let these fucktards fuck with your future.

    • Tara, I am right there with you. I had this thought many times. What a great column! Since leaving my ex, I have gone dancing in several countries, been cross country skiing, taken sailing lessons… My friends think I have changed in terms of openness, more vibrant… Some even said I looked better or good, commented on it… The stress was gone from my face. One day, I just made a conscious decision to try. Fail a lot, o.k., but in middle age and alone, I would try to be open, damn it. That’s what life is about… I tried my best to be open to everyone, chatting with people in strange places, and I met someone great who is currently my boyfriend. Don’t know if it will last, but it has been more than 2 years and I am quite happy. Life is a series of stages, and this one is definitely much more of a life than the one I left, with a narcissist who spent much of his time devoted to making me feel “less than.” I had to understand and accept the fact that I allowed this. No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your consent, in the (mostly, perhaps a bit mangled) words of Eleanor Roosevelt. And I did, for a long time, in my chumpy way, and one day I stopped. I forgave myself for accepting this. And then I decided to try new things and to trust people as a huge leap of faith. This column is wonderful in its sentiments, and I agree totally. Thank you, CL and all!

    • I could not ask for a better phrase to keep in my head. Thank you for that one, simple sentence.

    • I’ll borrow that if you don’t mind. Since he was my first love, I could make that ‘only’ – fortunately I have wonderful children, friends and family to make sure I have plenty of love to give away. But no way he’ll be the first and last person I trusted with my heart!

    • You know what is so ironic? When I was with the Flaming Turd, there were times I used to say to him that I felt that I was going to die without ever knowing what it felt like to be truly loved and valued like some of the women I knew. I absolutely KNEW something was missing in the marriage, but was totally in love and committed to him and determined to make things better.

      Better to be alone with the hope of possibly finding the type of love I gave to him, than living with him and having no hope of ever finding it.

    • I used to call the x “the love of my life”. Talk about kibble. He never called me that. First clue. I now consider my sons truly worthy of that label and when (or if) they have children, they will also be deserving.

      If I ever do have another relationship, that person is going to want to write the x a thank you note.

  • It has been a journey….that’s for sure. My biggest challenge has been learning to trust myself. To trust that I can protect myself. To do it I have had to examine and change a lot of FOO bullsh** that I was indoctrinated with as a child…..I was raised by 2 narcissists. I am a work in progress.

    One thing is for sure…..I have much better boundaries these days, and I am a whole lot choosier who I allow in my life today.

    The “fucktard” 2nd husband cheater and his family exacted a huge price….one that almost broke me, but I’m happy to say I’m still here, still learning and growing, and a bunch more onery than I ever used to be. I have a lot of love left in me to give.

    I have learned to take care of myself. I have learned “NO” is a complete sentence. I have learned I matter too. I have learned that I never have to put up with the crap I used to ever again. I have learned to pay attention when someone shows me who they are. The “fucktards of the world have taken all from me they are going to get. Not one thing more….I’m saving all the good stuff for the good people who are worthy of it and me, and I am marching on into my bright future.

    • Your post is awesome! And I know exactly what you mean. I feel like I’m bulletproof now, and when/if I do date again, I will take zero bullshit. I will SEE them when they show me what they are.

      • I sometimes worry that my experience with a cheater will make me “bitter” (God forbid). I’m better off thinking I’m “bulletproof” instead. It suits me more.

        • I know what you’re saying. I’m not bitter either, just a lot smarter. I feel like after what I’ve learned, the next man really better have his shit together. Otherwise, I ain’t got time for that!!

  • One of the last things I said to my exH when it was clear we were divorcing was “how can I trust anyone again after what you have done?” He response was simply something like “I know.”

    Yet I remain a trusting person. I know there are good people out there. I see it with my good colleagues and friends. I saw it 4 months post divroce decision, when a complete stranger bought a xmas tree for my kids and I. I saw it today when good friends distracted my son so we could throw him a surprise party (he was surprised, and the look on his face was priceless!)

    That said, I have yet to go out with someone more than 3x. I think it will come.
    I look forward to finally having someone to care about, and who cares about me. It might take a few more years (hard to meet someone as a 90% time parent), but I am enjoying my kids in their preteens years… They still hug me, and want to spend time with me.

    I do trust that I will find someone in the future. The difficult part is not feeling impatient about it.

    • “One of the last things I said to my exH when it was clear we were divorcing was “how can I trust anyone again after what you have done?” He response was simply something like ‘I know.'”–And yet he did all those things that betrayed you and broke your trust anyway. Doesn’t that just say it all? He knew and he did it anyway.

  • What an awesome post. I struggle with trust quite a bit. I’m not sure I will ever 100% trust again, but I am damn sure not going to give up and give it all away because I was married to a frickin’ demon for 20 years, then screwed over royally. I’m moving slowly forward in my relationship with Nice Guy, and while I still have a hard time shaking the old thought patterns and mistrust from my head, I’m getting there in little tiny baby steps.

    Chump Lady is right. Don’t let a fucking cheater be the last person you trusted in this life. That’s giving a disordered freak way too much power.

    • Exactly, Glad…. What I heard CL say is that maybe we won’t trust the same way again, because…we have new information now. We have been hurt. We have had to learn stuff the hard way. I think trusting again is worth it, but it won’t be blind and it won’t be without a lifetime of hard won experience to inform the future as we go forward. And I’ll be damned if I’ll let what happened to me and my family rob us of the joys waiting for us – the joys we have deserved all along. Our cheaters stole enough, don’t you think? so I hear ya!

      One of my favorite, favorite songs is Alanis Morrisette “You Learn.”

      What do we do with what we learned? go and get a great life, that’s what!

  • Well, I’ve got a way to go, I guess.

    I have never had a relationship with a man who didn’t cheat. That says something about me more than about the decent guys in the world.

    All my boyfriends cheated. The guy I moved to the west coast with right out of college cheated during the five years I lived with him in a “committed” relationship. And the man I was married to for 35 years and had eight kids with cheated.

    I get being all in. Obviously I do get myself all in but I sure don’t pick ’em very well.

    I want to tell y’all about the Tarot card reader. I went to see him because he was a friend of a friend and it sounded cool. This Tarot card reader always told people that he didn’t tell folks really bad stuff he saw in the cards (bear with me on the “Tarot is hogwash” factor, okay, because there’s a moral to this story 🙂 ) because he didn’t want people to go off and “make” bad stuff happen. At the time, the ex and I only had one kid, I was pregnant with the second, and even then things were not rosy. This was not an easy man to live with even before my string of d-days. So I cheerfully asked nice Tarot guy how my marriage looked and what I might do to make things better. This was a long time ago, maybe 32 years or so. I’m hazy on some details but I will never forget the reader just staring at me. Looked at the cards, looked at me. And again. “Do you have many kids?” he asked. “No, just a three year old and one on the way.” He boggled. He said (I’m not making this up, I couldn’t!), “You’re going to have quite a houseful and your kids will be the greatest blessing in your life.” Chumpy me: “Cool, I know, I know. But what about my marriage?” Can you believe it? Some part of me knew my marriage was in trouble, even then, or why would I be sitting across the table from a Tarot guy asking repeatedly about the marriage?! Anyway, Tarot guy repeated,”Your kids are going to be an incredible blessing.” I could not get anything else out of him. He didn’t charge me. It’s pretty funny to think back on this now. I have no idea what the guy saw, but he sure perceived something. Maybe he knew all about the ex because it was a small town we lived in. And chumpy me, I only saw the stars in my eyes. Ha! All the marital crap aside, Tarot guy at least got the thing about my kids right. My kids (and a few good friends!) got me through the horror of ex walking out when I was dealing with heart failure from a virus and trying to finish my PhD simultaneously. My kids were there when my ex got very mean about recovery from medical procedures. They were there for me, a week before he walked out, when I was hospitalized and the ex photo-texted a horrible photo of me trying to breathe in a hospital bed (after I said “please don’t”) to some of the older kids and who knows who else.

    I can’t explain why I let the ex humiliate me repeatedly. Bad boundary-setting. Bad boundary-setting is probably the reason my poor ole love life has been what it has. Each partner was worse than the last.

    Ex has been gone almost 3 years. I’ve been divorced about a year and a half. I don’t really date. It’s not that I’m refusing to date. I’ve been out for coffee with a guy one (1) time in the last three years. So I had a coffee date. I’m not even sure how I feel about seeing anyone except trusted people in my family and trusted friends. I haven’t closed off the trusting part of me, but I sure am taking it slowly. I think in the past I trusted too readily and ignored all kinds of warning beacons. I’m just going to take it slowly. Some of my friends (and a kid or two) think that I need to “get out more.” Maybe I do. When I think about it, 3 years is not that long compared to 35 years. When I think about it, I’m probably doing fine. I know I’m better off in so many ways…

    • Wow Kath, you are MIGHTY, as CL would say! 8 kids and a Ph.D and overcoming a lifethreatening disease while married to a cheater? That is amazing! Congratulations!

      My own process has been to think of the cheating experience as a life lesson and to try to change the way I think and certain ways of acting so I don´t fall into the same patterns as before. I looked back at my past relationships and remembered that there were a few cheating boyfriends as well as some that didn´t treat me well (usually it was 2 in 1). The ones who were really nice and didn´t cheat I wasn´t so excited about. This means that I went for the passion and drama and thought that I didn´t deserve the best: an honest, loving relationship with a brilliant, funny guy. Now after ending 20 years with a cheater five months ago, I am doing a Ph.D. on living (though I also have a Ph.D. in history). I have totally changed my outlook and see my past relationships as evolutionary, as each one getting better and better. The last one with the cheater also left me a lot of excellent gifts (my children, my profession, a great home, friends). But now I am learning the lesson of loving myself. I am feeling better and better everyday, though I am not ready (or interested) in another relationship yet, but I am preparing for it, for my own sake. I know he is already out there, and if he arrives, he will find the best of me, but if I don´t meet him during this life, that is fine too. I will also be the best of me and enjoy every minute of it, for me and for my children. I recommend that you start studying on your own, everything that is out there on the web, on youtube, in classes where you live. Do a Tarot class, or anything that will teach you to improve your intuition so next time you will follow it. Don´t be embarrassed about some of it sounding too “new agey”…you will soon be able to discern what is commercial trash and who are the people who are authentically committed to contribute to change the world one person at a time.

      It is easy to say “trust again” but I think it actually takes a lot of work and time, like doing a Ph.D. I listen to videos, I read, I take notes, and then I start applying!

      It would be wonderful if other chumps would tell us what was the active part that they have done to regain trust, not so much in others, but in themselves so that we learn from them and improve our chances for living happily ever after.

      • I think one of the gifts of betrayal is the opportunity to look at what got us there. One thing I learned is that my picker has always been set on “imbalanced.” Either I was wildly in love and knew the guy was less so, or I was not fully “all in” emotionally myself and really didn’t care all that much if he was or wasn’t. The Karma bus that rolled over me when the cheater took up with my friend actually rolled over me at the very moment I thought I finally had the balance–that we were both “all in.” That’s not even ironic; it’s just the last lesson (I hope) that I needed. Be all in. And don’t assume that because you have “known” someone for a long time , you can trust him when he says he is all in. I think I have done a good bit of damage to others in my life because I allowed myself to get involved with people and situations that weren’t sustainable because I didn’t choose well. That’s not to excuse what the Jackass did, but to see the gift in “the box full of darkness” that he gave me. It’s never too late for those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents to change our own ways of seeing and doing things. But before I attempt another “romantic” relationship, I am working on loving what is right in front of me. And myself, first. And I am also working on speaking up about situations that are not good for me. On saying “no, thanks,” On setting boundaries at work. On internalizing that I am enough.

        • sorry…it was the cheater’s friend, not “my friend.” Ha, for once that story was the least important thing of my post.

        • Please explain the correlation btw this and narcissistic parents. I know my mother is on the narc spectrum (or full blown but I refuse to believe it), but I had no idea how it effected my picker. I guess I’ve always felt not good enough?

          • This explanation comes from several therapists, years of work, and Chump Lady terminology: narcissistic parents raise children who understand that their role in life is to feed the parent ego kibbles. And whatever “love” they offer, it is conditional on keeping the kibbles coming and being willing to spackle all the craziness they stir up. In my own case, my mother taught my brother and I a version of the “pick-me” dance that kept sibling rivalry brewing for years. Speaking for myself, I had 20+ years of learning to take care of a narcissist. And for many complex reasons, when I went to choose boyfriends, husbands, and sometimes even friends, I gravitated to people who were on that narcissistic scale or to people with other issues who needed my “help.” One word for that is co-dependency. What I was saying above was that until the cheater blew up my life, I didn’t fully see the pattern. I thought he was different! My best friend looked at me one day and said, “He’s just like your mother!!” We nearly died laughing at that, even though it was only funny in a painful, painful way. But what that tells me is that it may take a long time and require close attention for me to know if a person has those tendencies, since that set of behaviors looks “normal” to me. So the only way for things to change in my life is for me to change–to find a new idea of what “normal” is and internalize that.

            I hope that explanation helps. I’m not sure why you “refuse to believe” your mother is a full-blown narcissist. It might be helpful to find an expert to give you an opinion. My insurance provider sent me to a psychiatrist to evaluate me so they could justify denying more mental health benefits. I answered her questions about my childhood and adult life. Her verdict was, “You will probably always need therapy.” The first therapist I saw, a truly great man, told me “you might as well have been raised by wolves.” While I am sure that sounds horrible to others, for me that simply confirms how far I’ve come and how hard i’ve worked to get healthy and happy. It’s still hard, but it would be impossible if I didn’t know what I was up against. And none of this is to say that I didn’t love my mother. She did the best she could and was ten times the parent her mother was. I love her and wish her life had been happier, but it wasn’t my job to fix it. It was her job. Hope this helps.

            • Fabulous posts, LaJ, with so much that resonated for me. You articulated just what I was trying to explain to my BFF the other day–that my X was just a different version of my mom. Like you, I’m creating my “new normal” now. The ‘pick me’ dance is nothing new for me, I’m sad to say; I probably emerged from the womb doing it, just like all my sibs did. But it’s boring, man. I need some new choreography!

          • I’ve just been going over this in IC. Basically I use to think what attracted me to my husband was that he was nice to old ladies and puppies, handsome, funny, sparkly as can be, etc. But noooooo. What really attracted me to him is that he is wholly selfish – even with our small kids, controlling, a liar, spends all our money on himself, cheats, and thinks he is something super-duper wonderful in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

            In other words, I married my narc mother. Creepy.

            • OMG, I also think I married my narc mother: controlling, never to offer a compliment, keeps tabs on everyone and how they treat people, dominates my doormat father ..thinks in terms of me, myself and I, though she is charming socially and can be perceived as generous (though in reality she is very stingy, like my cheating husband). Thanks for the insight!

              • We did what we learned to do as kids. And now we are smarter and wiser and can make better choices. That’s why I think so many of the parents here are awesome and mighty. They are trying to show their kids how to recognize and deal with disordered people, including the cheating parent. How to be honest and authentic, even if it hurts.

    • Wow! I can’t believe the Tarot card reader predicted that so accurately. There’s no way he could have known you’d have that many kids or that they’d take care of you. I guess your marriage issues were so bad he didn’t tell you.I might want to go to one (tarot card reader)now.
      I think most of us wonder why we put up with all the crap, but we’re all chumps here so we just support each other. Thank you CL for creating this sight and all your hard work.
      I’m not near where you are in being out of it,but think about something you like to do like paint,photography,foreign language,dogs,dance,computers,guitar,etc.then just do it and meet some nice people w/ no thought of dating.(just a thought since your kids say you should get out more). As for me I think I’ll take a Tarot reading class. Good luck to you!

  • THESE-
    1) you have made your world too small-yes, my whole world revolved around fucktard & family with hardly any time for friends
    2) do not make the cheater the last person you love-I will not let this happen! Of course the love for my son outweighs anything
    3) do not either up & die from cheaters rejection-some days I still feel like this. I know it will take time but it will pass after 17 years wasted on that fucktard
    4) I won’t have to join, fucktard tries to convince me at every turn how I’m a hideous bitch that no one would want yet I still get offers from other attractive men

    Maybe I should just change my name to Fiona and find and ogre to love & be happy…….that would really chap fucktards hide! Ha ha!

    Seriously Tracey you are right the biggest fear is learning to trust myself again…….although I am scared of what my cheater free life will be like, I’m also excited about the new possibilities

  • “No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.”
    ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

    So we loved those cheaters. If we hadn’t we wouldn’t have become aware of their true natures.

    For me, the trust thing is definitely something I need to work on. I think my real struggle is to trust myself to love again, to trust that I will be able to survive no matter what.

    • Likewise, they didn’t love us, so these negative things they say that stick in our heads are baseless – they don’t have any idea what we have to offer. Only a normal, loving person can see the real good in others.

    • Tonya, this is brilliant; “So we loved those cheaters. If we hadn’t we wouldn’t have become aware of their true natures.”

  • Do you know Chump Lady, nobody comments on this statistic, which is pretty much consistent from Kinsey and Masters & Johnson to today:

    The majority of men do not cheat.
    the majority of women do not cheat.

    A SMALL MINORITY of people cheat, 2 or 3 in every 10. Sadly, we got the fucktards. The immature, character disordered pricks who ruin lives without thinking any of it through, and feeling sorry for themselves at the result. I have got to have hope that I might run into a member of the silent majority.

    • ” I have got to have hope that I might run into a member of the silent majority.”

      THIS. Don’t let the bad behavior of one or some, cause you to lose faith in humanity in general.

    • Sad part of those stats are that the 3 out of 10 cheaters are married, committed to or stringing along a Chump leaving four trustworthy souls to each others consideration. Infidelity sucks ass!

  • Loved this post. Martha Beck says you can trust everyone. However, you trust them based on how they’ve shown you to trust them. Like if you have a friend who always shows up late, you can trust that friend will show up late. And Dr. Phil said something about trusting yourself in relationships, that no matter what happens – you will be okay.

  • I think part of it for me is that with all the lying,my reality has been fucked over and I have a hard time trusting myself. That makes me distrust my picker and everything else.

    • FWIW, you are not alone. Watch out – when your picker “wakes up” you may take a look around you and find many of your current relationships in need of mass weeding. That’s what happened to me and is forcing me to try and trust my picker again. It’s hard. I am second guessing myself, but forging ahead with the weeding process in good faith. When somebody tells me “I have slippery morals” in a joking manner, if I have observed that to be true in any way, I believe them now. Even people I’ve known and loved longest. Accept what I know, quit looking the other way and making excuses and being surprised. Detach as best I can and turn the page. It’s not my job to fix anyone or explain myself to anyone. I’m just not investing myself into those relationships any longer. See ya around. Or not :).

      • This. When you finally figure out how to enforce your boundaries, what is and what isn’t acceptable to you, it’s amazing how many of your relationships suddenly are all the same relationship.

  • I suspect what happens to us most of the time is that we cannot trust
    100% ever again. Sad but true.

  • Sad story: everyone that I now that has ever been a chump, and it happens to be a few people, has never recovered to the point where they trusted again. I’m sorry to say, but as with almost any case of PTSD, it’s a thing that is always there in the background, lurking to come out with any potential trigger.

    • Heartbroken, I happen to know a few people like that too but we can be the ones who learn to trust again. I’m not saying it’s easy and I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m just concentrating on moving myself forward out of the abyss I’ve been in. I have read some comments on here by people who have managed to trust again.

      I hope that the PTSD diminishes in time. Maybe it’s something that needs working through and maybe it will always be there though it doesn’t have to define you. That’s too much power to give away to someone who has treated you badly.

      • Or maybe full trust is overrated and this is going to be our lesson in life, albeit too painful. Mother has always said that someone in our lives will betray us at some point, it’s a fact of life. What I’m determined not to do is become so cynical and suspicious that it will be difficult to live with me as a partner. To trust again with 100%? Nope, will never happen. As CL said in one of her earlier posts, you’ve been conditioned to look for the smallest red flags, you learn to rely on your intuition- that’s about all the good that has come out of this horrible experience.
        Btw, PTSD is treatable but never with 100% success rate. Driving by OW’s old apartment and not hyperventilating- that’s progress to me.

        • Yeah know what you mean about the PTSD and OW thing.

          Pulled up outside my house yesterday and my extard husband was parked behind me dropping my kids off. Beside him was OW. I have only seen her twice in ten years and I could see her in my rear view mirror. Honestly her face looked like a fat moon from where I was sitting. She has no chin and her foundation was some awful cheap orange shit that was badly applied.

          After the shock of seeing her – I go out of my way to avoid them, I sort of laughed at the idea that he has to wake up every morning and see that fat moonface. Just desserts really. (Sorry people this is mega bitchy I know and normally I can see beauty in most things but I cannot get that face out of my head!)

            • Yeah, a friend of mine used to say ‘you earn your face’ and she has definitely earned that face.

          • Eh, Tonya, I always laugh when I think about how unattractive final OW is. Actually, none of them were terribly attractive, bar one and even she was not fabulous.

            I’m not the oil painting I was in my youth but I’m holding up nicely and look pretty ok. Actually, I look better now that I shifted him, to be honest.

            • I’m not usually that bitchy about women really (sense of sisterhood and all that) but feel I have a special licence when it comes to women who cheat. The OW in my case is fifteen years younger than me and honestly you’d never think it.

  • It’s going to take me a little longer to trust anyone, and I doubt that I’ll ever marry again. Right now I’m not even interested in dating – I’m too focused on my kids and my business. Maybe one day that will change.

    But that 2nd to last paragraph really bothers me:

    “But I know this — your happiness isn’t with your cheater. That person is OUT of your life. Do not give them one more piece of your soul. Don’t let them win. They’d like nothing better for you to wither up and die from their rejection. How central that would make them? Imagine if they are the last person you ever loved! How powerful they’d be! How you couldn’t move on! Do you want THAT to be your legacy?”

    …because I think XH may actually be thinking this. He’s perfectly content that I’m not dating, and this is probably the reason why. Argh!

  • I guess this is why I am not worried at all about the possibility of being alone or together with someone else. I don’t fear the trusting or investing in someone else. I know I can do that.

    I first need to extract myself from the moron that has proven to me many times that he cannot be trusted deeply. I can trust he will pick the kids up from sports practice, but I cannot trust he’s emotionally trustworthy to not put his penis and emotional energy into 3rd parties.

    This is the wound licking phase and emotional keloid development. I see it all. I see it now. Just getting wiser, not hiding afraid under a rock.

    • I wanted to add….I tell myself every day he and his fuckbuddies messed with the wrong person. I tell myself every day that I love myself (sounds weird, but it feels good). I tell myself every day that this shit is real, it happened but it is not who I am. I tell myself every day that the best “revenge” I can have over these fuckwads is the my reward of living through this, being strong again and having a freaking awesome life..without them!

      My nightly prayer 🙂

  • I dont know if I will ever trust her again I just dont know I mean I try to . I have not said the words ” I forgive you” yet & there are days I still blame myself but I know its not me shes a Narc and a liar. I don’t know maybe one day I hope. I cant be the FBI for the rest of my life.
    I have been taught to let it go & turn it over,, but man its hard to turn this over. I live one day at a time so today I will try to turn it over again & try to trust just today.

    And thanks to you guys I always get a smile & a chuckle when I am at work its makes the day a little brighter 🙂

    • MichaelD you and I stayed with CS for the exact same reason. I am 30+ years out from her first OM. I raised two independent children who are raising families with great success and you will too.
      The trust never came back. I can never forget. PTSD gets worse. I remember every discovery, every conversation, every face.
      As a young man I was constantly focused forward toward the future, a great distraction from the past. As an old grey haired man I spend more time looking back with reflection. I have no regrets for the way I lived my life. My CW ‘s actions seem to have overshadow all that was remarkable in our past.
      I truly hope you reach your goals and I hope that my late life experience is a mark of my own deficiencies and not some natural course others will be destined to follow.
      Good luck !

      • I give you a lot of credit for staying. I couldn’t do it. I left for her protection and I’m not a violent guy. Her last AP spends time with my kids and that burns me.

        Trust will come again. Its passion that I’m more worried about.

          • Tina, some states allow the insertion of a “morality clause” in the custody order, stating that no overnight visits from unmarried persons of the opposite sex are allowed when your ex has the children. It’s impractical, since it won’t keep her away any other time of day, and moreover, it won’t help you to feel any better about the situation. As CL says, you have no control over it, so it’s best to just focus on yourself and your time with the kids (I know, it sucks). On the upside, she probably won’t be around forever. As we all know, those kind of relationships rarely work out in the long term. Hugs to you.

    • I wish the best for you MichaelD. This post and other recent events in my life has helped me to see that my trust in others is one of my best traits. It is crucial to my well-being and happiness and I’m not letting my narc ex take it from me. I have found many friends that deserve my trust. Without it, these friendships would not be possible.

      I also know what you mean about forgiveness. I always thought it was something you gave someone because he or she asked for it, promised not to hurt you again, and owned responsibility for what he or she did. I also thought it meant that what they did was now OK.

      Since then, I’ve changed what forgiveness means to me. It is something I give to myself so that the person I’m forgiving doesn’t continue to drain my life energy. Also, it does NOT mean that what he or she did is OK. It just means I am no longer going to devote my thoughts and energy to it.

      Maybe forgiveness is a topic for another post?

      • I agree on your take on forgiveness. I cannot forgive him or the holes he’s fucked. Never. It was so calculated, so intricate, so deceitful, so WILLFUL. Nope. I cannot go there. Maybe it’s my Italian upbringing…you really fucked me over so now fuck off!!

        I choose and will forgive myself.

        • Exactly ANC! I wont forgive nor forget! How can you forgive anyone who callously can fuck you over in so many ways? I know I cant and wont, so you are right, they can fuck off!

      • Thanks, TwinsDad. I, too, have a different take on forgiveness than I used to, including how it is (or isn’t) received by others. It’s like that quote about how holding a grudge is like letting somebody live rent-free in your head. So, in that sense, forgiveness is less about the other person than it is simply freeing up your own mental real estate.

        But yeah. I agree that this would be a great topic for another post. It would be really interesting to see what other people have to say about it and where they’re at along the forgiveness continuum. For me, even knowing that being bitter and resentful is just a drain on my own precious energy, that’s pretty much how I feel right now. Bitter and resentful. Not.even.close to forgiving him.

        But you know what? The person I really need to forgive is myself. I just feel so fucking stupid and lame for A) not seeing sooner and B) not acting sooner once I did see. On a rational level, I can see I did the best I could, but this is all on the knee-jerk level. Maybe it’s just a matter of more time?

    • Michael,
      With regard to turning it over, sometimes the most I can do is “be willing”. Sometimes the best I can do is “be willing to be willing” to turn it over. Even then, all I’m turning over is that which is not my own responsibility.

      Let it go? Let WHAT go? If it’s in the past and it’s hurting me now, sure it makes sense to let it go. If it’s a present danger, then I believe it’s important to understand the ‘gifts’ of fear and anger. The key is to respond appropriately to emotions (use them), and don’t “get stuck”.

      Forgiveness? That is for me and my own self, and I owe it to no-one else. I will get there when I get there. If I am still in the harmful situation, then it may be too soon to forgive myself for that 😉

      • I have to let go of the anger, resentment, self pity. It’s not who I am not where I want to be. It’s dangerous for me to hold on to those feelings. Some people live for that anger I can’t for lack of a better word it can turn me into a monster on the inside and how does that serve my kids if I am always walking around like a monster? I pray like a mother fucker over the anger & resentment it’s just what I have to do to keep sane and calm 🙂
        Thank you Twins and Med Chump I hear you loud & clear 🙂

  • AND I have a some nice new words for my vocab,,like whorehole & fucktard and today ” fat moon face” Funny funny stuff !!!!

  • Finding people you can trust?
    (This advice does not apply just to commerce dealings…. think about it carefully….)


    ” Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them.

    Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of his life you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many aspects of his life.

    You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex business contracts?


      • As Ronald Regan was famous for saying, “Trust but verify.”

        I like to use the word DISCERNING to describe that particular lesson which we have learned.

        We don’t need to be paranoid or hyper-vigilant to the point where it distresses us. We do need to be discerning and observant about people’s integrity with respect to the “little things,” because in retrospect we have learned that those “little things” were red flags for the submerged 95% of that iceberg.

        Take your time, go slow, watch, and learn people. They may have some quirks and minor flaws not related to lack of integrity (as everyone does). Learn to distinguish between the two.

        The biggest lesson I learned from this is that I used to automatically grant trust to people. Now I watch them and award it slowly as it is earned. Not by contrived “shit tests” but simply by observing how they interact with and demonstrate honesty and respect toward everyone–not just me.

        The best analogy that I can think of at the moment is driving . 99% of drivers will exercise proper caution and not be a threat; but all it takes is one reckless or drunk fool to cause a fatal accident. This IS reality. And we automatically drive defensively without believing there is anything wrong with ourselves for doing so!

        All of life should be lived that way. Do NOT fear life or fear love, but do use prudence and good judgment to “drive defensively,” (metaphorically speaking) and stack the odds in favor of your justifiable right to your own well being.

        • “Discerning” is a great term. And I agree that especially when we are young, we tend to grant trust to everyone, especially those who fit in our circle of familiarity. We went to school with someone, or served on a committee, or attended the same church and we think we “know” the person.

        • Yes “Trust but verify.” Very well put notyou, which I do this now.

          “We do need to be discerning and observant about people’s integrity with respect to the “little things,” because in retrospect we have learned that those “little things” were red flags for the submerged 95% of that iceberg.”

          How true! Not doing this was my biggest mistake. I believed the good in people, I gave them the benefit of doubt, gave second, third, fourth and more chances to people and that was my down fall. Looking back now, there were many red flags, but either I ignored it, spackled it or believed/wanted to believe the explanations. Then the next %95 percent of that iceberg came to light, but after causing so much distress, pain, second guessing and much more. I no longer do that, I no longer give my trust to people freely, blindly. I watch, I learn now, just like you do but still its hard to trust.

          Unfortunately I learned the hard way, blindly trusting anyone is never in our best interest, but in theirs.

          I guess better late than never right, the lesson learned.

  • I don’t know any of you and I don’t know if anyone will read this – but – I belive it’s innate to trust, we trust without knowing we trust. Me, I thought I didn’t trust and when something happened (uncheater related with someone else) – I was mad at myself because I fooled myself into thinking I wasn’t trusting anyone and damned if I wasn’t lying to myself.

    Trust is human. Don’t trust blindly is my motto – and as my Boss always tells me “trust but verify”.

  • But what if we never again have a chance to trust again? I’m in my 40s with two young children. Part of what kept me stuck for awhile is, who would want to date me? I would love to have the chance of another romance, with a great, kind, sweet guy, but I have single, childless, attractive female friends in my city who are having trouble dating.

    • Please don’t worry about stuff like this. I have single, childless, attractive female friends who have trouble dating too. I also have friends who are newly single with kids and are having no problem.

      For me, I’m not worried about dating right now. I’m enjoying being single and the freedom that comes with that. (I have no young children.) Don’t automatically assume that you won’t find anyone. Who knows what will happen, but the important thing is to be happy with your life as it is right now. Sometimes we have to dig for happiness, I know I did. Figure out what makes you happy and find joy in those things. I know when I look back, the happiest I’ve always been was when I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. When I’m content and happy with just me, good things and good people come around.

      Figures that when I met my now X husband, I wasn’t in a happy place. I wish I could have a do-over there. 🙂

    • Blue-You are thinking no one would want to date you because that what your cheating asshat wants you to think. Don’t let that poison you & the wonderful person you are. Yes, trust is hard but it will come in time. I’m in my 40’s with 1 small child and even though my fucktard tears me down every chance he gets because he doesn’t want me & he doesn’t think I have worth-that is only the fucktards opinion & you know what, it doesn’t matter what he thinks. I have recently encountered some seemingly nice attractive gentlemen who are interested in me and do not seem to be bothered that I have a young child. Although, I’m no where in the ballpark of even considering anyone else for a long while, it is nice to know that the fucktard is wrong about me-I’m not a hideous bitch cyclops like he says-I am still a lovely (albeit older) woman, who is honest, kind & caring.

    • “I’m in my 40s with two young children. Part of what kept me stuck for awhile is, who would want to date me? ”
      There was a discussion here awhile back about this. I am so in the same place! I really feel as though no one will want me. After all, HE didn’t..he wanted someone else. I’m 45, overweight, and in a rural area, so of course prospects are looking pretty dang bleak. Again, here’s where “trust” issues come in. I don’t trust that anyone will like me, because if I was likeable, STBX wouldn’t have left me for someone else. And I am the type of person who really likes being in a relationship, love that feeling of security knowing I have someone to share my life with. So I don’t trust that I’ll ever find anyone to love me again, especially one who believes in being faithful like I do. It’s just another slap in the face in the myriad of crap dealt to us by the assfart long as THEY are happy, that’s all that matters.

      • Sandy – I feel exactly the same way – but I’ve got 13 yrs on you. How could anybody want to be with me if the man who showed me wonderful love for 33 yrs rejected me in the end for somebody else. I live in a small town and now I’m getting paranoid that every time I go out, I feel like I have a scarlet letter on my forehead – or ketchup – because everybody knows my husband left me after 35 yrs for a younger woman. Surely, there must be something wrong with me. I keep going over and over in my head what I did wrong. But then, that’s why I’m in therapy but not getting much better about that. I’m worried I’m turning into a hermit.
        So sorry you’re feeling the same way. 🙁

      • Every one of you is worthy of the kind of love you want and need. It is not asking too much to strive for that kind of love. You just didn’t find it with the one person you thought you could. We cannot change the past and we cannot change them. You can only be wise enough not to fall victim and hold out for the kind of love you all deserve. Meanwhile, living with just learning to love yourself is good enough. We all have been down a rough road and have a long way to go, but, now we need to stop depending on someone else to make us feel loved, whole, and attractive. I have learned that if the kind of love you want in your life is too much to ask, then you are asking the wrong person. I personally will never get married again or even move in with anyone, I am happy, content and peaceful than I have ever been in my whole life and I am not willing to risk that for anyone ever again. Life is short so I will enjoy the rest of my life the way I want.

        Shechump(Shewiz) and Sandy, in time you both will feel better than what you are feeling now. The thing is when people leave their marriages and marry their affair partner, they soon become disappointed. Within months, years or less, the same unhappiness in their former marriage pops up in the new marriage. The common denominator in both marriages is the cheater! It’s easy to feel in love when you’re having an affair. A person who is dishonest in their marriage does not become honest in their affair. They tell the truth when it suits them, and they lie when it suits them. Once the affair becomes a marriage, the same traits the man brought with him to his first marriage, he brings with him to the second. He is and will be a significant part of the problem in his marriage. You both just think about that ok. Big hugs to both of you.

  • I’ve taken your advice I decided to start writing a blog about my experience but to keep it fairly anonymous with no names mentioned. I’ve found writing up a few posts and planning out future ones to be very therapeutic. It’s helped me organize my thoughts and look at everything in a new perspective. It’s still very hard trying to work out how to piece my life back together and I’m still only getting 4-5 hours sleep a night, but I’m not tearful and upset anymore when I think about everything and reading what others on this site have been through I have been very lucky indeed! Reading your posts and others comments have really helped over the last week and I thank you for all the effort that you put into the blog and everyone’s comments and support that makes it a success!

    If you are interested at all my blog is:


    • Good job! I tried to leave a comment but couldn’t remember my wordpress ID. . I am sure that once others find you, they will benefit from your work. And of course, you will too.

      • Thanks LovedaJackass. This last week has certainly seen a change and I hope it continues. There will be ups and downs I’m sure, but the road to recovery is at least under my feet now! 🙂

  • The men who post here are a big part of helping me trust again.

    Normal, happily married men who are married to imperfect women–they’re helping me trust again, too.

    Tracy–obviously–has helped enormously, to see that I’m NOT crazy. I’m not perfect, but I was a really good companion for a happy guy. That I picked Mr. Sulky Pants Loner to be my husband is no reflection on what sort of wife I was–except it’s a testament to my ability to spackle with one hand, while eating a shit sandwich with the other.

    Speaking of graduation, xH was at our first child’s graduation with his mother, while I attended with my parents. NC means NC, and I steered well away of him. When he finished paying respects to the graduate, I kept away and mostly out of sight. When he left, I had time with my son and my parents and my son’s friends. It should have been a time for two parents to congratulate each other, but one parent chose a different path for the both of us. And we’re doing ok–I don’t really dwell on what could have been, but I do well with what is now.

    • “The men who post here are a big part of helping me trust again.

      Normal, happily married men who are married to imperfect women–they’re helping me trust again, too.”

      Here, here! Thanks, guys!

  • Hello all,

    This is an important post for us all to meditate on, and to acknowledge that we do trust. We trust each other on this site, sometimes with information and experiences we can share with no one else. We trust that we will be accepted here, and that it is a safe place for us. We trust that we will get support when we need it, and thoughtful push back when we need it too.

    Since I missed out on the song thread (traveling for work), I offer up Mavis Staples’ amazing song “You’re Not Alone” for you all. It got me through many many dark moments.

  • So glad you have not yet been abducted by a band of gypsies CL!
    The intelligent, funny writing and spot on advice here makes me smile and appreciate the life lessons and the promotion of healing.
    The compassion after so much cruelty.
    I could only begin to trust again after serious examination of my expectations and assumptions.
    I will always be an all in-er but have learned not to expect more than has been proven by previous actions and assume (or take for granted) nothing at face value.

  • Brene Brown talks about how “you share with people who’ve earned the right to hear your story” (quoting from an Oprah interview). She is talking about how we choose the people to hear our “shame” stories, those times when we have done things that leave us feeling worthless, full of shame. In the interview, she talks about how few friends we have that can bear the weight of such stories and be there for us in empathy, how we are lucky to have one, two, or three of that kind of friend. Now, think about what that says about an intimate partner, who is hearing all of our “stuff,” seeing us at our best, our worst, and our ordinary. Who has earned the right to hear about our past? our hopes? our fears? our struggles? our shame? our triumphs? Who has EARNED the right, through empathy and then accountability when empathy fails, as it surely will from time tit itme? Once we answer that question, we have found someone we can trust.

      • When I told my story to male friends who were married but I hadn´t seen in fifteen years. I had two types of reaction: those who were empathetic and listened and were on my side, and those ( a minority) who made a pass at me. I could not believe that these friends would do that when I was at my most vulnerable. It taught me exactly what Brené Brown is saying: not everyone deserves to hear my story.

        • Luna – this truly makes me barf. I lived a thousand miles away from my family but they all came out at various times shortly after kicking cheater to the curb. I was emotionally devastated (still am). One was my sister and her husband. Her H does ‘investing in retirement shit’ – a shyster. I love my sister and she was here for support. One night when BIL and I were having a last drink before bed and after his impressive resume of how he is so good at his job that I needed to think of him when I got my settlement. Then the fucker fucking hit on me! With my sister here in the next bed. Guess who I just cut out of my life forever, and I’ve known the guy for 40 yrs. Asshole to the max. (I was so vulnerable! God)

            • Tina – I told all my others sisters about it….just waiting for the right moment to come up to tell that sister. I intend to get my slice of meat out of him, and not in the way he expects. This man needs to be destroyed so I sort of have to watch myself. Don’t worry, I’ll get it done, no matter what it costs me. This was a guy who (mildly – is there such a term?) molested me from 12-15 yrs and I want him to eventually wind up in jail. OH GOD. I didn’t just say that about the man my sister loves dearly…..strike me down Leviticus.

              • And umm…no, he’s not getting one dime out of MY settlement, thank you asshole. Only thing he’s getting from me is a really bad integrity score card for all my nieces to hear.

                (Sorry for name change – I’m logged in as Shewiz and when I log out I’m back to Shechump. Figured that out.)

        • “Listening to Shame” ~Brene Brown:

          One of her best ever…on shame, the difference between guilt and shame, vulnerability…and how males and females experience shame differently.

          The exchange between a man and her at one of her book signings ( close to the end of the tape), was very illuminating for her and gave her cause to revisit some of her conclusions…

        • Tina – I intend to tell my sister about the molestation and the 30 yrs later hitting on me while she was in bed, when the time comes. I think she’s in total denial and she’s a well-educated person – I just don’t like denial on any level. If she doesn’t do something about it, well – I am just going to expose him with personal jabs, which I’ve been doing over email, and which I’ve already done to all the young girls in the family. I’m not sure if there is a stature of limitations on this. I was in a different country when it happened when I was young. When he did it on my front porch while I was being a nice hostess is something I will make him pay for on a lot of scales. hmmm..figure out I’m probably going to be his Karma someday. But the risk I take is alienating myself to my sister (if she doesn’t believe me) and all my wonderful nieces/nephews on that side. Thankfully I’m a pretty good chess player 😉 He’s got over 30 yrs of my wrath coming at him. Idiot.jerk.

          • Wow, this will totally devastate your sister, but if he is already thinking about YOUR settlement, imagine what he can do to her! I think you are going to have to plan this out very carefully with all your other siblings and do an intervention on her, but in a way that helps her get out without him ruining her financially and emotionally. Fortunately, it is obvious that she has support….Has he abused any other girls in your family? My guess is that he probably has….so you need to protect each other legally as well….What an asshole of the most evil kind! But please study this situation carefully and get psychological and legal support for all of you! I am so sorry that this happened to you but you are also amazingly MIGHTY and I admire you! Praying for the best outcome for you all…

  • That was an awesome halftime speech coach! Now, let’s all go kick ass in the second half (of life). The score is 0 to 0, tabla rasa.

  • Great halftime speech coach! Now, let go kick ass in the second half (of life). The score is 0-0, Table Rasa.

  • I am struggling with trust also. Trusting myself to make a good decision. Trusting myself to not let people step on my boundaries. Trusting that it will be worth opening my heart up to new people.

    I’ve definitely learned from this experience, and my picker is better, if not a bit hair-trigger over-steering, but so be it. It’s just hard to hear so many stories. Cheaters and the disordered come in 39 flavors. The only thing that helps is to remember that if someone’s actions/words don’t match up or make you go “Huh?!” then something’s off. And to trust my intuition. But overall, trust is still a huge struggle for me. But I’m working on it.

  • This is one if the best articles I have read about learning to trust again. I thought about it all night because trusting another person is the one thing I have been unable to do since my marriage imploded. I have cut myself off from love, I have made my circle smaller, I am always aware of motive. The best way to describe it is that I am living my life in black and white.

    There are many reasons for the way I live my life, none of them probably good ones. I am older, I sacrificed alot of myself to be a good wife and mother, and I am still helping my almost grown children make their way in the world. My work also takes up alot of my time and has always given me meaning and a reason to get up in the morning. So it’s not like I do not live a full life with people I love.

    But I know there is a hole in my life that I have no intention of filling. My marriage was one of those that others pointed to as an example of the kind of marriage they wanted. I thought our marriage was rock solid, but it was built on sand. While I don’t think my entire marriage was a lie, I spent my entire adult life (over 30 years) in a supporting role.

    I guess what I’m saying is I want to be alone. I have spent so much time taking care of others, I want to spend some time with myself. But I am aware I am missing out on some of the color of life and, if I were younger, I am sure I would have a different point of view. And I don’t hold myself out as any example of what to do, because I do believe in love, just not for me.

    • Louise – I see quite a bit of myself in your post. There is nothing wrong with investing time and energy into making your life joyful again. There can be vibrant color in that life as well – you can find joy and peace again without a dating relationship – I’m sure of it 🙂

      I was only married 10 years, but had over 15 years invested with exH. I am an older mother, so in my late 40’s, I am raising two younger childen alone – but I am loving every minute of that very colorful journey. Just last week, I went zip-lining with my daughter, and was there to watch both children earn new karate belts – this weekend was a dance recital. Beautiful – all of it. I waited and struggled so much to become a mother – I feel like that is my chosen path right now.

      Perhaps that’s because I haven’t met a man who would tempt me to spend precious time away from my children. I work over 50 hours a week (exH doesn’t pay child support – never has) – so my tme with them is very special. Is that wrong? I don’t believe so – and my prayer for the last several years – when the idea of dating or meeting someone became intriguing – has been that God would send the right man, at the right time – and that I would know that he was special.

      My exH will NOT be the last man I ever love. And it may be much harder to meet someone in a few years, when my kids don’t LOVE being with their mom. But I willing to wait; willing to trust that love will show itself again. I’ve always believed that happiness is a choice I get to make – every day. I think trust is the same way. I’m wiser now, but when trust is deserved, I will choose it again.

  • PTSD it’s real and doesn’t go away with will power. I like this post a lot but some of us are diagnosed and it’s real bad and real serious. Treatment is expensive and hard to find. I’m on med # 4 and it’s not working. I’ll keep trying but I’m exhausted and often feel like giving up.

    • Also, it’s often the case in PTSD thatnit wasn’t just your cheating spouse, it was an entire lifetime of friends and family that dumped you. My life of 23 years ended entirely in 48 hours. It’s like living in an alternate universe. How does a cheater and homewrexker get family and friends to rally round him and trash me? Then comes the questions. They must have never liked me, no one changes in 48 hours. every person I loved hated me all along and I missed it. What’s wrong with me? How could I have missed it? Do I have a mental deficiency. And on it goes. If only it was an individual who betrayed me. It’s not, my entire life betrayed me.

      • I’ve been there too Whatawaste, and yes on the verge of giving up. The whole experience is exhausting. It sounds like you need to build up your strength first before you contemplate trusting anyone again.

        Also blood is thicker than water as far as family are concerned – maybe they just cannot deal with the shame – also, you don’t know what your ex is telling people. I felt so let down by lots of people after discovery day and to be honest if your friends were true friends to begin with they’d care for you.

        Be kind to yourself and let yourself heal. It sounds like you are still coming to terms with the ordeal. You’ll get there – do not give up, life’s too precious!

      • whatawaste..such a perfect post! My life of 26 years ended in 1 minute. The minute I found out about the affair. And I lost my family of 26 years, too. His family became my family, and now they are back to his family. He took away my holidays, my family dinners, family barbecues, family reunions. Of course I have my parents and sisters, but they all live far away. And his family is not mean to me, I’m not saying that. But “he’s our son, what he did was wrong, but we still love him.” So in other words, he gets to go on with his family as always, while I’m the one sitting home alone now, for something I didn’t do.

        • Amen Sandy! This is really hard. I had a good solid, close relationship with H’s family for 36 yrs. All the kids, grandkids, Mom’s still alive. My family lives in another country so we spent most of our family holidays at his place.
          I know they love me. They were good relationships.
          However, I think as well as they mean to be, divorce changes everything. The spouse loses out. My H was also very close to my large family and we visited often. He’s lost all of them as I have lost his family.
          I think we have to try and understand the pain they are also going through. They hurt, they’re disappointed, but at the end of the universe, they have to support that blood relative, no matter how much he’s done wrong.
          HE’s lost a lot too (I’m not sure how many would accept him and his harlot in their homes) and I accepted early on that I’d probably never see his family again. I don’t blame them. It’s what cheaters make people do to decide these horrible decision to exclude the spouse from the family. Please don’t take it personally. (that sounds shallow, knowing how you’re feeling – sorry) But, I think it’s just how the ball rolls. They are in a very tough spot. And so are you and me missing all of them too. I’m sorry. HUGS

          • I don’t agree. They’re not in a rough spot, they chose to be in that spot. Blood thicker than water thing is bullshit, if you’re dealing with normal people. They should be able to see for who their piece of shit cheater relative is and treat him accordingly. If I’ve found out my brother is a cheater, he would be treated like one.

            • Tina – thankfully for me, I’m close with his brother who knows MY entire narrative and believes it. I know he’s told their mother. I have a feeling he’s not going to be welcome in their homes. But, hey – they’ll probably still talk to him on the phone once in awhile. Meanwhile, I do feel lucky that I decided to contact MIL on Easter and Mothers’ Day and she phoned me with a nice convo (w/o mentioning the big Elephant) I think I’ll always be welcome there, so no – blood is not always thicker. I was the one that kept HIS family together by making the most of showing up every holiday, and they know that. I think that people recognize truth and that great word, integrity. He’s going to have to figure out how to deal with his own family. He has none of mine left.

  • The most helpful definition I know: ‘TRUST is not about someone else doing everything perfectly to keep you safe; it’s about knowing that you will be OK > No Matter What.’ Once you authentically believe that then taking risks is manageable.

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose….” (Janis Joplin)

  • I know that I can trust again. I don’t believe ALL people are this deceptive to the one’s they love. My bigger issue is believing in LOVE itself! And this really scares me. I THOUGHT my spouse really loved me and I him. Now I question it. I truly think he didn’t love me. Not the way you should love someone. With totality. He could live without me. I made him central in my life because I deeply LOVED him. I did not think I could live without him. Naturally, I am doing that. Mainly because he made me not love him anymore.

    The hurdle for me is love. How do you know you have it for someone and they have it for you????

    • I think it is how we express that love; if another person becomes the center of my life, then I have lost myself. The poet Kahlil Gibran talks about people needing “space in their togetherness.” I have no idea how to do love without making the other person the center, but I take that as part of this new journey–to learn how to love and still remain a whole person.

  • I like this post a lot, but I gravitate towards the happy, inspirational stuff the most. 🙂

    I said after my divorce I wouldn’t trust again, but I find myself doing it unconsciously anyway. I haven’t done it in a dating situation yet, but just towards the people I meet everyday. I look at strangers differently now, and there’s a lot of good people in the world I didn’t really notice before. I’ll date if I feel like it. Right now, meh.

    I’ve said this a hundred times but I’ll say it again; There are over 9 billion people on this fucking planet, I refuse to let this ONE motherfucker put me in the ground. He’s not special enough, or wonderful enough to be the catalyst of me walking in front of a freight train. So he fucked me over, big deal. My cheater isn’t any more special and different than any other cheater out there. He took enough of my life, he’s not getting the rest of it.

    Every day I have something to be thankful for. Every day I know I could have it a lot worse than I do. It sucks and it’s horrible that he broke my heart and it was all I could do to peek my head out of the covers and come back out in the world again. But I fucking did it and continue to do it. Sometimes you have to fight for your life. That’s what this divorce made me do. I had to fight to get back out and find out what I wanted and how to be happy again. You trust that they suck, you trust that you will make it out of the nightmare, and you trust that things will get better. They will.

    Chumps, it’s a big world out there. Go enjoy it. Nobody’s happiness is dependent on pairing up. You need to learn to be happy solo first, and then trust comes a lot easier.

  • When my colleagues and I found out a manager was stealing, they were shattered. How could he? Such a nice, social guy. I know something in me has changed: if your husband of 20 years can happily blindside you, why not someone at work?

    But… I trust the new guy. Have to, how else can you work together? Though some boundaries have been placed, “trust but verify”… there is no way you can work together and not trust someone.

    Same goes for any romantic future I imagine – I have to trust. No way I could be the marriage police, didn’t even work for me with cheating husband. But yes, there will be boundaries, I have so much more at stake.

    Sometimes people say: everyone (no, sorry, they say: every man) will cheat if they know there’s a zero percent chance of dicovery. But I know I wouldn’t. And I’m not that unique… so there’s bound to be a male counterpart somewhere.

  • I don’t believe that every man will cheat, given a zero percent chance of discovery. But I do believe that cheaters will avoid people who are likely to discover what they are up to before things go very far. If there is a 100% chance of discovery, the cheater will look elsewhere. That’s just how predators work. That’s why a girl or woman on a cell phone or with ear buds in is a better target for an attacker than one who is alert to her surroundings.

  • Looking back, my X betrayed my private confidences many times to clients in public and private settings and abandoned me whenever I became inconvenient to his work or sleep schedule. Later, while going through the divorce, my family of origin that I thought I could count on for love and support apparently felt I was vulnerable and set up a legal situation that has been ongoing for over 2 years now. My greatest lesson in all of the past several years is that family are the people in your life who love you and have your best interests at heart – certainly not the person I was married to, some “friends”, or even my siblings. Trust but verify has helped me discover who my “family” really is and that there is love to give and receive from many people in this world.

  • Thank you CL for this post. It’s exactly what I needed.

    Almost from the moment I found out about his cheating I decided that he would not be the end of me. I can assure you there were many days when I wondered if he would be, I was that sad. Some days it has taken so much energy and courage to get out of bed and get going but I can honestly say that I REFUSED to let one asshole get the best of me and decide my fate.

    I’m a year out and I still have difficult days but yes, I’ve found out I am strong and yes, I do trust. I choose to trust people. I am careful but to live behind walls is not who I am and I just don’t want to live like that. I like people, I like life, I like adventure, I like travel, I like animals, I like living and nobody is going to take that away from me.

    I’m not out to prove anything to anyone. Every day I remind myself how lucky I am that I didn’t have to live the last half of my life with a cheater. I’ve been amazed at the kindness of people and yes, I’ve lost some people and “family” in the fall out. I’ve learned to let them go too. I don’t hold on to people who don’t want to be with me anymore. I’ve danced that dance.

    I’m finding my way on my own time and I consider myself lucky. It’s true that the small acts of kindness mean so much. I smile more at people now and I’m more grateful. I think I’m kinder now because I’m not so smug. I know what it’s like to be heartbroken and blindsided. It’s made me softer and I don’t want to be broken. Life really is too short to suffer from the abuse of a cheater.

    • Great post, thensome. I resemble your remarks 🙂 Thanks for the extra encouragement during a tough few weeks here. I know I can continue to do that. It’s my personality. This will not kill me anymore.

  • I was just re-reading the main post again, and realized that the stuff I can control, I do. I do what I need to do…even though it really feels like my brain is broken (anybody else have that? memory loss–even post-asshole memory loss?)

    Like, I simply cannot hold as much information in my mind. I’m startled by things, like crowds of people, or too much traffic–now, I’m someone who grew up in Washington DC, New York, and learned to drive in Boston, so….cars? come on! startled ?!? How weird is that.

    So, it’s not that I *want* to live like this kind of person. My body and brain simply ARE this kind of person. I’m going about my business (like, “OK, maybe I can face the grocery store tomorrow. I have dog food, and I can get by.”) I do force myself to do other things, but the kicker is that my brain and body don’t cooperate. I malfunction. It’s like a goofy robot, from a bad movie. I knock things over. Get lost. Panic. Fearful and panicked and overwhelmed in crowds. Huh???

    I know I had a PTSD Dx from early on in the process, but I would have figured that shit was long gone. I guess it really take a long time. This is a kind of scared I’ve never been before.

    Anyone else in this pickle?

    • Namedforvera, PTSD rarely just goes away on its own, even after years – it requires treatment! There are good psychotherapies (with a SPECIALIZED therapist), and useful medications. Some people do well on one or the other, some need both, and some symptoms may remain, but they should be much more manageable and less unpleasant than what you are experiencing.

      You don’t need to feel so crummy or be limited in your day-to-day choices by your anxiety. You deserve better!

      • Interesting, but the complex PTSD does not seem to map onto my experience. Perhaps the link will be helpful for others. I tend to find mental health advice and/or expertise coming from individuals works better for me, personally, than web sites. Perhaps it’s the interaction. I’m especially averse to claiming a Dx based on a website, although the pointers may be illustrative.

    • I have diagnosed PTSD from childhood trauma. I am over 60 now and I still have exaggerated startle reflex; I have always had a hard time with sudden loud noises, thunder, car backfires. In addition to the cheater “event,” I have had two other highly stressful life events that led to symptoms reappearing, especially the inability to hold information in my brain and emotional flashbacks. I don’t think it ever fully goes away. Sort of like psychological herpes.

    • Yes. I can especially relate to the memory problems, off-the-charts startle reflex, and problems with traffic. The traffic thing is weird – like I’ve lost my spacial relations capabilities – can’t quite get myself to pull across multiple lanes for a left-hand turn because I can’t calculate/judge speed of multiple vehicles at one time?

    • NFV – I experienced this kind of reaction as well. Here was my assessment for myself: I was in shock at the way someone I loved had mistreated me. Then, I was depressed at the loss of that love and familiarity. Shock and depression, in my opinion, are both very protective reactions, like a down comforter. Once the shock and depression began to abate, the world felt a little sharper…my Barbara Walters gauzy filter lens was wearing off and “the world is too much with us” in it’s harshness. For me, when I experience(d) what you seem to be describing, I tried to remember that I was reintegrating into life. Those responses ebbed and flowed. I’ve followed your posts lately re your daughter’s graduation – that’s a big moment in your life, and yet another very significant transition. In my experience, it felt like anxiety and I benefitted from a bit of better living through chemistry.

      • Thank you Doop–that sounds very insightful. It was a lot–a rite of passage for her–and I could see her raw pain, and joy at the same time. The two of us negotiating our new relationship. (Who am I, now?) Her roommate with the enormous family swallowing up the few of us who could come. All of that. In addition to the anonymous crowds, and the swell of hundreds of other folks’ emotions. Phew. I was lucky to be able to sleep the next day.

        But re-entry sure is a challenge.

    • namedforvera, the book How to Survive the Loss of a Love (which was a gift that a good friend gave me the week after dday and which got me through the first months) talks about how when you are greiving that you should take everything more slowly because your body is using all its resources to grieve and heal, so you actually do become more clumsy and prone to accidents. I know I felt distracted, unsteady and not myself for a while after dday, but that it eventually went away. Thankfully I rarely drive, so I didn’t have to worry about driving much. I did consciously avoid any sort driving more than a very short drive for a good while. That book also talks about our bodies working to heal us while we sleep through our dreams. I know my dreams were super vivide and weird for a long time after dday, and even know I sometimes dream related things. It reassures me to think that my body is working to heal me, even while I am sleeping. namedforvera, I hope you start to feel more like yourself in the near future. Hang in there…

  • Thank you CL, that was a great post. I’ve reread it 4 times today and wanted to really say thank you from my heart. I feel a lightbulb/aha moment coming on and I don’t want to scare it off, so I’m going to go and sit quietly now and try to sort through some stuff.

  • I don’t know how we learn to trust again…..but I have.
    I may be wrong… but I’m prepared to take a chance.
    I’m holding nothing back… because I need to give 100%
    It’s a risk I’m willing to take. My ex took many things from me but not my capacity to love again.

  • For Post Infidelity Stress Disorder…. PISD [YES, it does really have a name..dont’cha love the acronym?] there are various combinations of medications and therapies. What works for some will not necessarily work for others.

    A trauma specialist who is familiar with a variety of multi-modal treatment options (as opposed to a one-trick shrink-show) is who you want to find. Get references. Working with highly traumatized people is not for the faint hearted or narrow minded.

    Plus, and this is a **** BIGGIE****, the mental health practitioner needs to be exhaustive in the social history work up and also conduct personality testing in order to rule-out OR rule-in any CO-MORBID CONDITIONS. A truly excellent trauma specialist will already know this, and will know to do so in cases where s/he believes enough time has lapsed in which there should be some indications of remission… but none seem to be occurring.

    More in-depth info at this link:

    PTSD in NOT a mental illness; it is a psychiatric injury; and as such, will eventually (BUT this may take more time than suffers would like) respond to treatment in people who otherwise have no debilitating mental illness or pervasive personality disorder.

    You want progress not perfection. As you recover, the process will pick up speed, set backs will be less intense, and most people will eventually reach either remission or a comfortable and functioning level of accommodation.. even if they never totally recover.

    We cannot un-ring the bell; we will retain the memories. But we sure as hell can desensitize those memories to the greatest extent possible!

  • CL,

    You are truly brilliant and this post was so on time.

    I think trust would be a more of a dilemma for me if my really close friends were not such truly good people with integrity, compassion and strong moral compasses. I come here and there is so much honesty, dignity and compassion it is impossible not to believe in the good in people. My Flaming Turd is just a fucked up, personality-disordered INDIVIDUAL. I’m too much of an optimist to not be open to trusting. However, as CL has admonished us from time to time, it is important to watch for consistency or lack thereof. Alignment in words and deeds. The only thing that is consistent with the Flaming Turd is his dishonesty and total lack of character. However, he has a sister who is loyal and loving would not lie to or deceive anyone for any reason. I trust her completely. I don’t trust him as far as I can see wearing a blindfold.

    I honestly believe that there are a lot more good people than there are bad and/or dishonest people. If nothing else informs you of that, being in this space with all of these people who come together to support each other is a reflection of that truth. We are all different from different places and from different backgrounds, who share a common experience that brings us together. We share some of our deepest secrets, beliefs and vulnerabilities with one another. For some of us, that is our first brick in building a road to trust. Some of us will build longer and wider roads than others and that’s okay.

    Getting away from the Flaming Turd actually allowed me to regain the ability to trust that I had lost living with him because the people with whom I surround myself are not liars and cheats. Amazing thing that.

    • I agree . . . It is wonderful here. Part of the reason I left another board is because this one isn’t all doom and gloom. I’m allowed to be happy and optimist. And I’m with fellow Chumps who really get it.

      And your last paragraph is me too. I didn’t trust as much before either, because his friends, and especially his family, were all like him, and that’s who I was surrounded by. Cheaters, liars . . . Like a pack of hyenas. When we divorced, they turned their backs on me like I never existed; this after years of telling me they loved me. Only one reached out to me, but in true narc fashion, it was only for image control.

      But none of it really matters. I control me. I control my little corner of the universe. I feel safe now, and I’m welcoming my fresh start into the world, without that sorrow that hangs on you like a barnacle when you are married to a person you can’t trust.

    • Standing ovation to you, Chump Princess….and as somebody said earlier, a long slow clap all evening long. Thank you.

  • Thank you for the hopeful message. New cheaters pop up every day, getting more clever at their game, so it often feels safer not to trust again. It doesn’t help that on Amazon, they sell a book on how to cheat on your spouse and not get caught. Seriously, is there any book they won’t sell? How about how to beat your wife and not get arrested? Anyway, like you said, it’s best to remember that with every new cheater that pops up, a new faithful person pops up, too, who can offer real love.

  • I trust, just not myself yet. I’m sick of always feeling either scared, disgusted, pissed off and/or hurt. But don’t want to rush things by faking feeling better just because everyone else feels I should just get over it. One thing I don’t feel is sorry that he is gone.

    I’m three years in from DDay and almost one year divorced. I trust he sucks. It is exhausting to always need to “buck up” when he continues to do all he can to emotionally and financially manipulate me and our kids. Talk about breeding with a fucktard.

    Bastard is unemployed and crying poverty, but still enjoyed a seven-day resort spring break vacation with two (of our three) kids and his bimbo. He strung our 17-year old on for three weeks before finally agreeing to let him borrow one (of his two) cars to go to prom last Friday night. Then he gave the kid the keys to a car with an empty gas tank. When our son had to return to his father’s house because he didn’t have any money for gas to get to his prom in our city, dear old dad called him an ingrate. How’s that for a memorable prom night send off from your father?!

    Oh, and I was sucker punched again last night by yet ANOTHER 8×10 framed photo of X and the “new family” in Orlando that is displayed in my youngest son’s room. He loves giving big photos of himself as evidence of their “fabulous dad time” to display in our son’s bedroom in my home. If I object, I’m being a vindictive mother who hates dad.

    Yeah, shit like that sets me back big time. I spackled and ate shit for years. Right now, I’m trying very hard to let these feelings run their course. It’s the most honest I’ve ever been with myself. New ground, for sure.

    I want to experience intimacy, and dare I say it — great sex — at least one more time before I die. But I also know I’m not ready to put any effort into starting that dance. I’ve always hated dating and wouldn’t even know how to begin. That’s not a trust thing. For me, I was rarely asked out. I know now that I married a loser because I became impatient. That won’t happen again. Mostly, I miss feeling that a man cares about, loves and desires me.

    To find out I was cheated of that all along makes me so sad. Seems he hated me for years. And now that we’re divorced, he still hates me. Only now, it’s fun for him.

    • “If I object, I’m being a vindictive mother who hates dad.” – same here, every boundary I try to enforce that involves the children makes me the bad one (“No, your dad cannot come to your birthday party in my house”).

      And as for the dating: seriously not looking forward to it. Hope to look back in a decade and laugh at this… but I miss being loved and a life partner, someone who has your back. Uh, yeah, well at least I thought I had that.

      • I have just started dating. And omigod, is it fun! 😀 Maybe you need a community of just divorced girlfriends to walk this path with; people to laugh and cry with, who get what you are going through. Sometimes, I feel like I belong to a special club of women. It is one of the silver linings.

  • I don’t trust…. or I don’t trust as much as I used to. I don’t even trust my own mother these days and I am happier for it. ie I’ve learned to stop sharing info about my life that she can use elsewhere. I have also stopped to befriending people that she introduces me to since she tries to use relationships to keep tabs on me.

    And what do I get for not trusting her anymore? A much happier life with far less intrigue and aggro.

    I am in a LT relationship now that got off to a bumpy start….. I snooped and got to the bottom of his so called friendship with another woman. He dropped the charade and his “friendship” immediately.

    These days, if I were aware of anything just a little bit off, I would investigate and that’s that….. third party style. People who want to be around me have a duty to show me that they are trustworthy. and if they can’t, that’s a relationship that I don’t know.

    I just don’t understand this need people have to want to trust other people.

  • Yes! I can’t count the times I have been asked about trust. My answer is always yes. Because I trust myself to handle whatever is thrown my way. My LCB X taught me in a very sure way, the value of trusting my gut. I didn’t with him and it was literally screaming at me. When the seismic shift of D day happened to my world, I knew that my gut had been right. Talk about a forehead slap moment! But, knowing that, I realized I could trust myself both to handle the aftermath as well as to suss out the cheater.

    If I had lost the ability to trust, that would have really been a shame. Trusting others is key to building a heartfelt community. How sad would my life be without that!

  • I can’t believe that this is a real letter.

    Can a woman worthy of being a well paid manager really be that stupid in her personal life?

  • There’s something kind of wonderful here…right about the part where you say, “Jump in with both feet! COMMIT! The whole thing was a horror show…[!]” Whee!

    I kind of like that. A lot. I’ve been terrified of trusting again, cycling and nailbiting and worried I’d get played, or that the old wounds and insecurities (PTSD) would make me so fragile I’d be no use to anybody and end up committing suicide in a ditch somewhere. On the other hand, how bad can it really be? Maybe it will suck. Maybe it won’t. Committing with both feet, even to a horror show, sounds like more fun and adventure than not committing at all, or even halfway. Halfway commitment screws up even positive relationships, right? So jump in. Then the hot oil, if it exists, will be easier to recognize…and maybe less excruciating for being 100% my choice.

    I hope this post gets a lot of press. Blessings, –DC

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