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Forgiveness Troll Says Take a Survey

forgivenesstrollI was recently asked by a graduate student of psychology to post a survey about infidelity.

Here’s what she sent:

I am wondering if you would be willing to post my Master’s thesis survey on your website. This survey is intended for those who have been victims of emotional and/or sexual infidelity, and I need as many participants as I can get, so I am looking to find infidelity blogs on which to post my survey. Please let me know if you would be willing to share my survey (it only takes about 10 minutes to complete) so I may send you the link or post the link myself, whatever your preference. Thanks!
Notice that what the survey is about is pretty vague. Just intended for “victims” of infidelity.
I said sure, send me the link, and then I took the survey, which is a series of questions about how willing you are to forgive a cheater and how much animosity do you still harbor toward the cheater? I thought the premise of the questions felt rather off, but there was an option that said you neither agreed nor disagreed, so there was that out.
Then when I finished the survey, I saw this.


“The topic of this research is the effect of the specific aspects and characteristics of an affair on an individual’s forgiveness of his or her unfaithful partner. Forgiveness is an important process for the reconciliation of an intimate relationship. Previous studies have found that forgiveness of one’s partner is dependent upon a variety of factors, including empathy, commitment, and relationship satisfaction with his or her partner. The present study is exploring if forgiveness is also impacted by the specific characteristics of an affair, such as the length of the affair, how one discovered the affair, the type of affair, and why they think their partner had the affair. There may be differences between men and women in forgiveness. These findings may be helpful for counselors working with couples struggling with the aftermath of an affair.”

I wrote back to the researcher and told her I did not agree with the premise of her research, and moreover I found it offensive.

I realize this person is going into a helping profession and probably thinks she is doing some good healing broken relationships with “forgiveness,” but I honestly don’t think she’s thought this out and is going with the general Reconcile or Die school of marital therapy.

I replied. (And Divorce Minister — I gave you a plug. I’d rather let someone with a M.Div point out the theological tenets of cheap forgiveness.)

I do not believe that forgiveness is an essential part of moving on after infidelity. I think you can have an absolutely stellar life without forgiving the person who cheated on you.

There are people whose religion requires the sinner to acknowledge the sin before forgiving it, and for the person who gave offense to be contrite and make recompense  — most people who have been cheated on never get this. And they stay stuck in a sort of forgiveness limbo. Check out the blog on this issue (the blogger has an M.Div from Yale).

I counsel people to get to “meh” — indifference. Acceptance. Not wishing the person dead. IMO, that is a form of forgiveness. You no longer have the power to hurt me. It is a VERY personal journey and I would NEVER presume to tell people that they must forgive. In fact, I think this kind of advice is incredibly harmful.

You must understand the abusive nature of infidelity — people have to paternity test their children, they have their finances decimated, their children’s lives torn apart, they catch STDs, cervical cancer, lose pregnancies, are abandoned during pregnancy — I do not advise people to reconcile with cheaters — or “reconcile that intimate relationship” — I tell people to SEVER that relationship as they would any abusive relationship.

Would you counsel people that they must forgive their rapists? The person who mugged them? The guy who embezzled their pension fund?

That’s my audience. People who were harmed grievously by infidelity.

They do not lack empathy and commitment (the requirements for forgiving as you state). On the contrary, THEY are the empathetic, committed people. The cheaters were not empathic or committed. And there is not much relationship satisfaction after being cheated on, unless you consider puking, PTSD and general twitchiness “satisfaction.”

Please rethink your survey questions and the premise of your research.

As this person is looking into research on infidelity, I though you bitter, unforgiving, compassionless people might also want to share your thoughts. Survey says?


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  • Well, I DO see the value of the survey, because some couples DO reconcile, or at least make the attempt, and lots of them go through therapy. My guess is that a high percentage of marriages DON’T end after infidelity, so it’s worth looking into how those couples stick together. I think this really only applies to one-time cheaters, though, certainly not to serial cheaters or the disordered types so rampant among chumps here.

    Having said that, I agree that there is no reason at all the chump should automatically be expected to forgive, especially in situations where the cheater is completely unrepentant and has wiped out the chump financially, or otherwise engaged in abuse even beyond the cheating.

    • Glad, I thought my ex was a one time cheater – I really did. But now, I believe that if someone cheats ‘once’, they’ll do it again and it will be easier for them the second time. And besides could you ever REALLY TRULY trust someone who cheated once? Trust is key to a good relationship. If you don’t have trust, it’s not worth trying.

      • Oh, I totally agree. I think cheaters are cheaters and it is best to walk away. But in reality, lots of people stay. I’ve seen statistics that the majority of people stay married after infidelity. I don’t think that’s a good thing, necessarily, but since it happens, it’s not a bad idea to figure out how/why these people stick it out.

        I don’t see anything in the quoted section of the survey to argue with…. people DO reconcile after affairs, whether that’s a good idea or not, and if that reconciliation is going to work, forgiveness IS going to be necessary. I don’t think cheaters often deserve forgiveness, personally, but for those who make a decision to stick it out, and have that rare, elusive unicorn, reconciliation will require forgiveness.

        Believe me, I’m in favor of walking away from a cheater ASAP. But then again, my own situation was kind of extreme, and that’s true for most of the chumps here.

        • GIO, there are many who stay for financial reasons or for the kids. This is not reconciliation. There is a huge difference. So the way I see “staying in a marriage after infidelity”—that is a catch all and has nothing to do with the reality of why the marriage did not end in divorce.

        • I just remember being in that place where I forgave my husband because I thought what we had was too important to walk away from. I genuinely believed that he would not reoffend – I got all the ‘I love you and our family too much to ever risk losing you again’ and other platitudes. I know now he was a pathological liar too – it seems to go hand in hand with cheating.

          Of those who reconcile, I do really wonder if the big fracture will always be there or if people compromise themselves for what seems like the greater good. For me, I know I did compromise myself, I just wasn’t aware at the time because I did not value myself enough.

          I sound a bit harsh I know I do, I am just feeling really hurt today for some reason – some days I still get like that, other days I am strong and can conquer the world. I guess it’s single mother fatigue or something.

          • Tonya,

            Your post resonated with me. I forgave my cheater for two affairs over 20 years (there could have been more but I didn’t know about them) and finally left after the third OW. I, too, felt very strongly that our family was worth fighting for and cheater ex went through all the “I’m sorry” crap and even went to IC and MC. In the end, I found out my ex wasn’t as complicated as I made him out to be – pretty simple, he’s a serial cheater so I filed for divorce. And yes, like you, I stayed because I forgot my value. Glad I got it back since he attempted to win me back after a year and still in touch every now and then while still living with the final OW. His behavior is so repulsive.

        • The survey seemed to assume that reconciliation = forgiveness and that one automatically implied the other. I do analysis by trade….I’m not sure what accurate assumptions you can make given the set of questions they asked.

          I forgive my cheater…at least in as much as I don’t care what he does. Have I forgotten one minute of it, or how much my life sucked for 3 years? No….that would actually require a lobotomy.

            • Had to laugh because I was asked by the MC what it would take to even begin to allow myself to be vulnerable with my cheater. I said LOBOTOMY.

              Seriously, you can’t forget those who have committed crimes against you and your kids. You can’t erase decades of abuse just because the abuser is now “getting it”. By getting IT, I mean loyalty, empathy, honesty. All those things they manipulated us into beleiving while they were using us.

              Surgically damaging or removing that part of the brain is the ONLY way to move forward in a relationship with a person who is harmful to your emotional and physical self.

        • GIO, read the survey questions and then tell me what you think of the survey.

          • Not a good research methodology in terms of survey construction (unless they polling for something else).

            Who states such ill-informed assumptions as part of a survey. I can see it in a write up on a study, “We had assumed X was highly correlated with Y, but a double blind survey of people who A and people who had never A demonstrated there is no correlation between X and Y; therefore we must postulate new W, Z, and Ts and do more studies”.

            I think somebody is blowing some kind of troll smoke up your butt because that is the least rigorous example of how to construct a survey I have seen since my 6th grade classmates decided to do do a “What’s cool?” survey.

    • I also agree that this survey is valuable although it may not appear so to some here.

      As a psychologist, who did a research project in grad school, I can tell you that when she runs the stats on this, there are going to be (or should be) ALL kinds of ipsative comparisons made on the data from that Likert Scale.

      A couple of simple examples (from a potentially large number of combinations) would the length of the relationship vs. the degree of lack of forgiveness or the elapsed time between the affair and the present, etc.

      I’d LOVE to see her study design, but even more I’d love to have been her research advisor. I can think of a variety of other factors that she probably could have included.

      I’m glad you put the survey up, Tracy. And don’t sell her short. I expect she put it here on purpose after reading your blog philosophy. Anybody worth a shit who is in psyc grad school wants as diverse, large and stratified a sample as they can get in order to minimize skewedness.

      This will give posters here a chance to be included in the results. If it had only gone up on sites that are very reconciliation friendly, her results wouldn’t be very realistic now would they?

      • Notyou–I find your posts to be extremely insightful and amazing–but I have to ask you a couple of questions about this particular post.

        First, when you said that there can be important comparisons between length of marriage vs. degree of forgiveness, etc. Where in these statistics do they account for physical abuse and Stockholm Syndrome and shared psychosis with the cheater (abuser)? Perhaps the reason behind remaining in the marriage despite serial cheating isn’t forgiveness, it’s fear of physical violence? How can there be accurate measurements between length of marriage (prior to discovery) and degree of forgiveness when each situation has it’s own unique set of circumstances? Like a lawyer would say….”This goes to state of mind, your honor.”

        It would follow as well that forgiveness should be “easier” for someone married “only” 6 months prior to D-Day, i.e. Tracy. Likewise, that someone married for multiple decades would have a more difficult time of it.

        That’s nonsense.

        About these questions of “intentional vs. unintentional” and “selfish vs. unselfish”—this smacks strongly of blameshifting to the aggrieved spouse. I’m struggling to understand these two questions—cheating is an inherently selfish and abusive act, whether it was long term or a one night drunken quickie—and it’s intentional, unless someone can explain to me how an affair is “unintentional”?

        I’ve taken surveys before–on these types of hot button issues as well as others—and very rarely have I ever felt such a visceral response in myself. I’m not a few days out of D-Day, either–so I’m seeing an emotionally charged and provocative set of questions—seemingly directed at subtly blaming the betrayed spouse for their anger issues (lack of forgiveness).

        The survey was subtly offensive. There are too many variables involved. Although I have a lot of respect for the mental health profession, I simply do not believe that there is a way to quantify a subject like this.

        Sometimes, a cigar really is a cigar, no deeper meaning needs to be assigned. JMHO

        • “Sometimes, a cigar really is a cigar, no deeper meaning needs to be assigned. JMHO”

          Yes. Over intellectualising and measuring something like this is a bit like untangling the skien of fuckupness again. It seems like a complete waste of time and just causes more heart ache to the someone who’s been cheated on. I refuse to be experimented with.

        • I completely agree. All cheating is INTENTIONAL. As I’ve written before, it’s about as intentional as a NATO airstrike. It takes a lot of planning and deception to cheat. To pose the question this way buys into the narrative that cheating “just happens.” Mistakes were made, etc.

          • I think the surveyor is referring to those times when married guy accidentally screws somebody he isn’t married to. You know, we all run into those situations where we very nearly, accidentally fuck somebody we don’t know. Happens all the time….hard to see how we can possibly avoid it?

            • Oh, yah. When he/she unintentionally stayed up all night texting and arranging a rendezvous, unintentionally drove their car and rented motel rooms (etc), and accidentally had wardrobe malfunctions and all their clothes fell off.

              Seems to be a lot of that going around 🙂

          • Maybe we could get a blog post like “Oops, I did it again!” on “unintentional affairs”. lol.

            There’s comedy gold in that thar hill.

      • “As a psychologist, who did a research project in grad school, I can tell you that when she runs the stats on this, there are going to be (or should be) ALL kinds of ipsative comparisons made on the data from that Likert Scale.”

        notyou, with respect, what you have said all sounds terribly scientific but in practical terms how can the survey be helpful. I am a little blinded by science here. How can matters of the human heart be quantified and measured?

        I really could not be bothered to a guinea pig for such a study.

        • ” ALL kinds of ipsative comparisons made on the data from that Likert Scale.”

          Translation (it’s not that complex), comparing results based on a forced answer test (you have to answer), that uses a scale. All kinds of ways to structure it, in this case agree/disagree scale, could be a 1-5 scale.

      • notyou, so you know I did answer the survey to the best of my ability, but given the choices I had it’s not clear to me that the data will be useful as many of the choices could only be best fit.

        I have no issue with people in the helping professions gathering data to learn more about a particular topic. I think it was great that the student did search out sites with different points of view on infidelity. However, the learning experience should go far beyond just gathering survey results, and I hope she does read Tracy’s eloquent post, and our comments here. Might help her with the design of her next project.

      • Would have been nice if there had been the option for a long period of time of marriage/relationship. Really 10+ years is as high as it goes? Ex and I were married 28 and lived together for 5 before that – and he wasn’t a serial cheater, chose cheating as an exit strategy. I think that would make a huge difference in the research, but WTF do I know, I’m just a f’n chump.

        • And, it never asks if the cheater wanted to reconcile, or go to counseling. No, on both accounts by my cheater, even though I was willing and made the offer. Other things that I think would make a huge difference on the research.

          • I think most people on this board wanted desperately to forgive the cheater, but instead of giving us reasons to forgive, they gave us reasons to believe in the damn devil.

            The survey assumed one perspective. All cheaters want to be forgiven and that forgiveness alone is the key to reconciliation success. That what happens to the relationship is a matter of our capacity for forgiveness and empathy. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. She’s just got it ALL wrong.

            • “Instead of giving us reasons to forgive, they gave us reasons to believe in the damn devil.”

              Yes — I was willing to forgive (and by “forgive” I mean reconcile) but my cheater made that impossible. I think what I need to do is forgive but with a different understanding of what forgiveness is — I think it’s just an absence of the wish to inflict extraordinary punishment (as opposed to natural consequences) on those who have hurt us. I wish good things for my cheater — but those good things will only come to her if she changes, which I tend to doubt she will. But that doesn’t mean I can erase the past and continue to stay married to her in the absence of remorse on her part.

              • It took SO much longer to “forgive” and move on than it had to because of what he did after he was caught cheating. No apology, no empathy, no care, consideration or concern, just more lies because he liked having his cake and eating it to. At the end of the day, the biggest hurt was his complete lack of regard for my emotional well-being. He didn’t even value me as a person.

                And I have to sit here and listen to some marriage-counselor-want-to-be, considering my capacity for empathy. Wow. That’s just insulting (and misguided) as hell.

              • Einstein,

                The insult to injury really led to despair. Thank God for kids.

            • Yep, my exh didn’t think he had done anything morally wrong, didn’t ask for forgiveness and left with zero desire to reconcile. I probably would have, but thankfully I was not given that option. After hearing stories on here of multople ddays, my ex probably saved me a lot of additional pain by his complete and sudden abadonment.

          • Excellent point Bogie.
            The most offensive thing about this survey is that it assumes agency on the part of the chump.
            We HAD no say, and we HAVE no say!

      • I wish someone had advised her better, the purpose “The present study is exploring if forgiveness is also impacted by the specific characteristics of an affair, such as the length of the affair, how one discovered the affair, the type of affair, and why they think their partner had the affair. ” I took the survey and there were very few questions that have any bearing on that goal. My overall impression was that the student wants to prove a lack of forgiveness is the reason marriages fail after cheating. I don’t know if that is true because I have not read her paper delineating the scope and specifics of the study. In fact I normally won’t bother to participate unless I see a level of detail in that regard. I only took this one to see what everyone was discussing.

        Just to be clear, I could put a survey up on surveymonkey and represent as a student or whomever I desire, so I’m not assuming anything about the person. Legit or not I don’t see how the survey is going to result in a useful data set.

      • I did the survey. I remember doing my research. Ugh! So I usually help anyone I can. We will probably give her plenty to think about! I wish there would have been a place for comments.

        • Another thing that makes me side eye that survey, no comment section for improving it, very unusual with a legitimate study

  • CL,
    THANK YOU!!! Think you said it well for all of us. I get closer to MEH all the time but do not see myself forgiving him for not only what he did to me, our marriage but to our children whose lives will ever to be changed. I feel that it is not up to me to forgive and I don’t need it in order to obtain MEH.

  • CL, as usual your reply was spot on! I believe forgiveness has to be earned. Not just “get over it and forgive me”. If the cheater is truly remorseful and willing “to do the hard work” at reconciliation then maybe forgiveness can be come after a long time. But I also believe, this is mostly fairy tale thinking. I like Meh better, I think it applies in almost all cases, especially the ones I’ve read here. Loved the book, btw.

  • It is always said that if a man hits you once, walk away, there’s a good chance he’ll do it again. This is advised and rightly so for one’s own self-protection and self-preservation. You never hear of domestic abuse survivors being asked to kiss and make up and forgive.

    Why should infidelity survivors be expected to subject themselves to further humiliation and the possibility of being maltreated again. I forgave my cheater the first time he cheated. I kissed and made up ate a big shit sandwich only to have him abuse me again. I wish I had left him the first time, I really do because the second time he did it a light inside me went out. I will never forgive my cheater and I’m okay with that. He does not deserve forgiveness because he is not one bit sorry for hurting me of our children. Forgiveness is overrated in my opinion.

    • This point is so well taken. I think the first hurdle in shifting views of infidelity is discrediting the idea that infidelity is all about sex (and the “true love” of affair partners) and demonstrating that infidelity is a form of abuse–no matter which spouse is the abuser.

      • Yes I totally believe that infidelity is abuse. And yes cheaters are let off the hook because of course they just could not help themselves – it was the ‘love’ that made them do it and that seems to be accepted. I had that poster on my wall growing up about Love. The first line was about love being a commitment, not an emotion. I think yesterdays post got me all riled up and angry about how fickle and weak cheaters are.

        • Let’s be real. Chumps are physically at risk. HIV and STDs are a serious threat. Infidelity is abuse. The worst part is that many affairs go undetected by the innocent party and years without treatment can be devastating.
          My sister in law finally left her cheater. When he got sick she went to visit him in the hospital. The Dr had very bad news. Her husband was probably terminal. He was only in his 30’s. She didn’t understand. Then she heard the diagnosis…full blown AIDS! He did recover thanks to good care. However, her tests were positive. She now lives with HIV.

    • I wish I had left the first time too. Or better yet, never fell into the trap in the first place. But I didn’t. I let it happen again and again and again. That’s regret for you. But I guess it was because I believed in him and because I didn’t realize people were capable of this, that there were people out there like this. Now I know better and so presumably I will be much more cautious before getting involved again. (silver lining?)

  • Many experiences can not be understood by simply finding correlations in data. They are too complex. Three time in my life I’ve found myself in situations that could not be understood by others unless they lived my life, or were willing to talk to me in the duration and depth required to actually attempt walking in my shoes. When I hear people being critical of others’ difficult decisions, or oversimplifying, I say to myself that they lack the imagination to understand. And we all do it. We take for granted that we thoroughly understand something about which we haven’t a nugget of personal experience. And then we hurt others by trying to assert the rightness of our views. Forgiveness after cheating is an extremely personal experience that might be better studied with interviews than with survey questions.

    • I agree with Done. When it comes to marriage counseling, cheating and forgiveness, I think they need to take the time to understand what a horrific experience being cheated on is. You don’t need a lot of personal experience — only to read blogs like this one, or interview at length people like us. THEN, and only then, can they associate the quality of forgiveness with the likelihood of a successful reconciliation. It isn’t about forgiveness, and it isn’t about us being less-than partners, and it isn’t about them being really great people that screwed up once. The survey needs to be about contrition….making this about our ability to forgive is just another slap in the face.

        • Well there was the one question tah asked if the cheater Sid he was sorry….hahahahahaha, great data point, damn those chumps for not forgiving, zie said SORRY!

      • I think that when it comes to marriage counselling, the MC’s assumption that success means saving the marriage is the real culprit. What that has to do with the economics of the situation I’ll try not to assume. But by way of contrast, my IC (who I’m seeing primarily to try to heal from sexual assault trauma — not by my cheater, but who I discuss many other things with) works from the assumption that I need to heal from trauma as an individual. She doesn’t encourage anger, and I bet she would be pleased to hear that my ability to feel compassion for those who have hurt me is growing, but she would never, ever counsel forgiveness. That’s one of the reasons I trust her.

  • I don’t see the value of the survey, not at all. My reasons being, surveys are skewed right out of the gate—first of all, they skew to people who will answer surveys.

    Second, I took the survey and had to stop at one point because of the ridiculousness of some of the questions. “Did your spouse have the affair intentionally or unintentionally?”

    What? Excuse me? That’s the DUMBEST question I’ve ever heard. “Honey, I unintentionally fucked those women in our bed and lied to you every single day.” How does that one work again?

    “My partner’s unfaithful behavior was motivated by selfish rather than unselfish concerns.” Are there any unselfish motivations behind fucking someone you’re not married to and lying about it? Please, ChumpNation, can someone give me an example of your cheater’s altruism in fucking your best friend in your bed while you’re out of town?

    “My partner deserves/d to be blamed for his/her unfaithful behavior” As opposed to….whom? ME? My KIDS? His JOB (or lack thereof)?

    These questions are loaded. They contain clear implications for whatever you answer–that if you think your spouse “deserves” to be blamed, then you are just an unforgiving sonofabitch, now aren’t you! Your misery and pain is there because you just CAN’T LET IT GO.

    And fuck yeah, my XH deserves to be blamed for HIS OWN BEHAVIOR. It’s what we call….um….BEING AN ADULT and taking responsibility for your shitty choices!

    Gah. This researcher needs to get her intentional head out of her unintentional ass.


    • Buttercup – you are dead on. I couldn’t help but wonder how it could be anything but the cheater’s fault? Your unhappy? You don’t get enough sex? He doesn’t appreciate You? She Nags all the time? Met someone you think you would rather be with? Just lost that loving feeling?

      If you don’t like it get out, get a divorce, then go find someone new (or start a relationship with who you think is suddenly the love of your life). Unless the non-cheater is holding a gun to your head and saying to f*ck someone or die, there is no one else responsible but the cheater.

    • Second, I took the survey and had to stop at one point because of the ridiculousness of some of the questions. “Did your spouse have the affair intentionally or unintentionally?”

      LOL. Yeah, just try to deconstruct that. I can’t even take my pants off unintentionally.

      • Well, in the profound words of Eminem, “Wait, what if there’s an explanation for this shit? What, she tripped, fell, landed on his dick?”

        LOL, I suppose such a scenario might count as “unintentional cheating”, but that’s about the only “unintentional” way I guess anyone could cheat.

  • CL, you pretty much covered all the bases.

    The one-sidedness emphasis of most of the infidelity writing and research I’ve seen is interesting. I note that the researcher doesn’t define “forgiveness”; if I were the thesis advisor, I would see that as a significant flaw. Is “forgiveness” simply the willingness to tolerate the cheater’s presence in the same house? to have sex again? to trust a cheater with one’s deepest, most intimate thoughts and feelings? to be open to a process of difficult marriage counseling? And of course, the research description makes no mention of infidelity as a form of abuse, or of the collateral abusive behaviors common in infidelity that we discuss here every day–gaslighting, lying, blameshifting, etc. What is it that I am supposed to forgive? Just the cheating? Or the emotional battering I took while he was disengaging? Or the lies he told? The way he kept me hanging when I asked him if he was done with me, the relationship, while he was spending my money? The researcher would be better off finding out about the distorted thinking processes of the people who do this stuff.

    • The researcher would be better off finding out about the distorted thinking processes of the people who do this stuff.


  • Perfect response as always! I think there is a point where I have to “let it go”. I think that is what I owe myself. I just want to reach a point where I don’t think about stbx except in terms of the kids.

    That is all. I’m starting IC soon. The scheduler is supposed to call me Monday. I don’t need any of the crop that showed up at the end of that survey.

    • Good luck to you, TiredSigh. Hang in there.

      Someone once told me that forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you—and you never have to let on to anyone that you have forgiven anything, ever.

  • One of the dangers of forgiving is that someone who has a stake in the web of relationships including the cheater / abuser / whatever is that he /she may assume that everything is okay after that. “hey, you forgave, so now what’s the problem? why can’t we invite him/ her” and so on.

    I think people can get on with their lives without having to utter the words “I forgive….”

  • CL, thanks for putting the student straight. I hope she heard you and got a clue.

    Like many here, I didn’t have a chance to decide to stay in my marriage or not, I was expelled from it. So whether I forgive him or not doesn’t matter at all.

    I am not going to “forgive” him to his face but neither will I hold on to bitterness for the remainder of my days. I will move on for my sake, not for his.

    If I make a big deal of saying to my husband, “I forgive you.” He’ll spin into, “See? I did you a favor. You’re happier now. You’re in better shape.” And he’ll take CREDIT for my doing well. And fuck that! I’ve worked far too hard for him to get an ounce of credit for what I have accomplished.


    • ML, my cheater would not even care about how I was doing, or bother to take credit for anything. Nope, but now that his girlfriend has left I bet he would be at my front door with all his shit before you could say “reconciliation”, park his fat ass in the lazy boy recliner and ask what’s for dinner.

      Keeping forgiveness to yourself, fine. Expressing it to a narcissistic cheater? Just reinforces that what they did really was ok, after all, and that everything is now back to “normal”.

      On the survey – my degree is in the “hard sciences” and I am an experimental design geek. Sorry, I but I think any data coming from these kinds of surveys with no clearly laid out question or hypothesis, no controls, no idea of who the audience/responders are, skewed wording of questions, etc etc etc, are not very useful. Can you imagine if our cheaters, poor sausages, who are after all victims in all this, answered this survey or one like it? (After all, they lie, fantasize, make shit up……) Nothing to stop them, and wouldn’t it make for some pretty interesting results?

      Stuff like this originating in academia is what the RIC feeds and grows on, to the detriment of chumps everywhere.

      • “– and wouldn’t it make for some pretty interesting results?”

        Indeed it would. Completely skewed and unhelpful results to feed the RIC.

    • So true ML, I was “expelled” too. He’s a teacher so rather fetching for me. You are so right. If I had “forgiven him” he would have taken that as a sign he did right. Impression management. No I haven’t forgiven him either. This forgiveness concept does get me a tad ( OK more than a tad) riled up. I posted my “rant” further up

      • I saw your “rant” and thought it was beautiful! You are truly mighty!

        Are you in the UK? I’m a true Anglophile.

    • Moving Liquid,
      I believe that everyone here was expelled from their relationship the minute cheating occurred. That decision in itself was made without any consultation with us chumps. Therefore the relationship ended at that point without our say or knowledge as far as I am concerned.

      • I want to add that when you are removed from a relationship without your say or knowledge then there is nothing to forgive. It was an intentional decision on the other party’s part. The only time forgiveness comes into play is if someone makes a mistake and is sorry for it and shows via actions that they are sorry. I haven’t seen that here by any of the cheaters.

        I made the mistake of being in a relationship with a cheater so I have forgiven myself for making that mistake as I am sorry for it and have proven to myself that I am sorry for it and will not make that mistake again. So I have forgiven myself.

      • WELL SAID Deborah. My marriage ended when [with the intention of fucking her, so announcing his availability], my husband leaned forward over a cosy dinner [that he never took me to] and confided in his junior co-worker:

        ‘I don’t love my wife any more. SHE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT ME’.

        Spot the narcissism! Bumping uglies was still months away, and I was 8,000 miles north of the spot this beautiful speech was made at the time, but that was, unbeknownst to me, when my marriage ended.

    • MovingLiquid, that is exactly how my cheater was talking as soon as he walked out the door. He seemed to feel I should be grateful to him and I will never credit him for the hard work I’ve done to rebuild my life.

    • ML – Amen to what you posted. My narcissistic Ex would just love to hear me say “I forgive you.” He said several times right after he left me and our two children that “you will be so much better off in the end…you will be happier…me finding my happiness is good for all of us…” and other barf inducing statements along the same line. He actually thinks that he has done me and his two boys some sort of favor by leaving us for another woman because if HE is happy, won’t we ALL be happy?? He truly believes this, and it amazes me still the amount of self absorbency needed to internalize something like that as truth. My Ex would take credit in a heartbeat for any ounce of forgiveness or kindness I would show to him at this point. He would pounce on that like a cat as proof that we are ALL so happy because HE is happy. He even sent my boys a video recently of him on a cruise with the OW with Pharrell’s “Happy” playing in the background. He captioned it as “two happy people having fun!!” How is this supposed to make his two teenage sons feel? Dad is happy screwing another woman on a cruise? Whee…well, doesn’t that just make us happy too! Any happiness I feel now (and I do feel it…I have healed and moved forward and am able to find joy in many things in my life again) I will NOT allow him to hijack and try to make it part of his narrative.

    • ML,

      Taking credit for my hard-earned happiness would be EXACTLY what my STBX would do. “See! I was right! You’re better off without me. I was right, you never loved me enough!” I REFUSE to engage in any conversation with him other than finances or kids. He will NEVER get the satisfaction of talking to me about how much better I am for having kicked his sorry ass out.

      Every time I read these comments on any subject I read versions of my story. As this is my second Dday, I wish this blog had existed 13 years ago when I first found out about his infidelity, but agreed to reconciliation. I will never forgive him for duping me for 23 years of my life, and for agreeing to a second child when he KNEW the true state of our marriage (although I will never regret my second DS).

      Every time I see him I scream FUCK YOU in my head. Hopefully that urge will diminish as I progress to MEH.

  • To the researcher, just want to point out that I could not finish the survey because the infidelity took place in a relationship in which the divorce was completed more than 11 years ago.

    I also could not say that I was both divorced and in a committed relationship. I would not want to give either the assumption of A) that those who do not forgive are subjected to eternal damnation and alienation and spinsterhood; nor do I want B) the assumption to be made that I am still in that relationship where the infidelity took place that I did not forgive.

    • I did fill the thing out but you are correct, there are some big flaws that wil skew the data set

  • So I’m no CL, but here’s my email to the idiotic student after I completed the “survey”

    Are you fucking kidding me? I do hope you are running a secondary survey on counseling cheating spouses to be WORTHY OF FORGIVENESS. What a sick ass joke this one is. I’m baffled- and mad as hell – that here it is AGAIN,: it falls on the shoulders of the faithful spouse to be “empathic, committed, and satisfied,” ummm fuck you, we were. We weren’t cheating.

    Perhaps you should consider counseling people early in their relationships to be mature and honest, and reconcile problems BEFORE they decide to stick their dicks in random holes. Wow, you’ve completely missed the mark, I weep for future generations… You have, I assume, a brain and a heart – why don’t you put some time in and learn how to use them?

    • Research student is probably a past, current or future cheater. Got the mindset, good to go.

  • I always ponder the Lord’s Prayer on this forgiveness issue–on asking God to forgive us and we forgive others. Now, assuming for the sake of argument that there is a God or universal force, if we are asking his forgiveness, we supposedly mean that we have done something we recognize as wrong, we admit it in full detail without blaming others and we regret our actions and will never do it again. How many of us have a cheater in our life that meets that description? . We are more likely to have cheaters that blame us or the kids or the dog for what they did. Forgiveness requires empathy FROM THE OTHER SIDE–genuine recognition of the devastation and a willingness on the cheater’s side to do what we talk about doing here all the time: gaining a life after betrayal. If we can’t see evidence over time of the cheater doing that work, “forgiveness” is a moot issue.

    • Well said Jack. This is the bit where chump nation hits a wall:

      there is no genuine recognition of the devastation and a willingness on the cheater’s side.

      If there was, we would reconcile. The RIC MUST understand that some people are character disordered, entitled and lack empathy, and you CANNOT have a true and equal relationship with them!

      How do you counsel these people? Not with person centred approach, that’s for sure. Enter Dr George Simon, stage left…

      • Dear Patsy:
        Bingo! My cheater actually said to me that he has no idea what it feels like to have this happen. It’s impossible to forgive someone who doesn’t even understand what they did to you. And this emotional cripple had done it to many others before me including his first wife and children, one of which will not even tell him where he lives!!! So if he doesn’t get it after that, he will never get it.

        What makes me laugh looking back is that whenever his son would come up, it would make him angry. I can only imagine what he did to his son to make him completely remove him from his life. Part of it was I know he caused him tax problems by not paying his taxes to the government when he was a minor. I can only imagine the rest because I never got a straight answer from the Cheater on that one.

        All I know is something very very bad must have happened to stop a child from having any contact or even having your father know where you are! Even the cheaters own Mother will not tell him where his son is.

        Enuff Said. Glad that’s out of my life!!!

  • Forgiveness.

    Oh Lord, I’ve struggled with this one. I think during my false reconciliation I did my best to forgive my X for all his transgressions. Everywhere I turned I was being told to work on forgiveness because it’s a burden that I would be carrying, not him. So, I tried. And I failed miserably, but surprisingly I’ve found that life does indeed go on. As CL says, one can have quite a fantastic life without it. Since I divorced my cheater, I don’t feel any burden at all, so I’m not too sure what the big deal was about anyways.

    I think forgiveness only works if the cheater asks (begs?) for it – if they actually acknowledge that they’ve done wrong and understand the level of pain they’ve inflicted. As we all know, only a blessed few are capable of that. The rest, well, in my opinion they’re just not worth the effort. I very much believe that forgiveness benefits the cheater far more than the chump…it feeds into their belief that what they did wasn’t so bad after all. To this day, I’m left wondering how exactly forgiveness is meant to benefit the chump at all.

    If anything, I believe that forgiveness of one’s own self is more important than forgiveness of the cheater. I think, as chumps, we have the tendency to beat ourselves up for putting up with the crap for as long as we do, for not recognizing the warning signs long ago, or for (insert whatever action we feel we’ve done). I know I did. If we are to have forgiveness for anyone, I’d say it should be towards ourselves for all of it.

    Self forgiveness – now THAT’S a concept I could get behind!

  • My Cheater XH never asked for forgiveness and never acted sorry for a second. He was so thrilled with his new Schmoopie and I was yesterday’s news. I’ll never forgive the sonofabitch in a million years. Meh is so much better and I’m there.

  • Great response, CL. Way too many variables here for a survey, and the survey does seem a bit skewed.

    As has been pointed out, if someone messes up and then comes back and acknowledges that what they did was wrong, that they will do what they have to do to make sure it never happens again, that they truly have remorse and will take the lead in earning back trust, that they realize forgiveness may take a long time and isn’t a given, that forgiveness may be earned over time but that forgetting will never happen…

    Well then, perhaps you have something to talk about and work with. But I sense this is not what is in the premise of the survey. I sense what is sought is the philosophy of: “two people stopped communicating with each other, two good people just grew apart, if people stray there is a reason, it’s hurtful to both parties, you have to just let it go and move on, etc., etc.

    If of your own volition you hurt someone in the most visceral, gut wrenching way possible, expect bad consequences. Don’t expect that person (after you have decided you’re done hurting them – for the time being anyway) to sit down with you and work with you in peace, love, and mutual harmony to find a situation that works for you.

    • With respect to variable and skewedness, Chumpguy, I have a few questions:

      How much do you know about the latest computer programs designed for multi-variate analysis?

      What precisely is skewed about the survey? Have you seen her actual research design?


      I realize that most of the people here are experiencing some degree of PTSD, but the skepticism bordering on paranoia about a simple Likert Scale that is going after measurable data is astonishing even to me.

      Everybody’s a research psychologist…. without the first course in experimental or research design and advanced statistical applications in the area.

      What I finding particularly fucking offensive, though, is the notion that research psychologists set up their studies in order to provide themselves with some kind nifty little confirmation bias. Yup. That’s what researchers do. Set up a design that doesn’t give them any new publishable information.

      Yep, those researchers in the area are just ALL a bunch of cheaters themselves!!

      Everybody but “me and thee” is a cheater of some kind. So basicaly

      • there doesn’t seem to be much use in even having this forum. All that’s gonna happen is that you will get cheated again in some shape form or fashion by somebody.

        Why bother to learn anything? or even try to get to “Meh.”?

        • Come on notyou, we are all grown ups here. People are entitled to give an opinion, good bad or indifferent. I have no idea what a Likert scale is and am not interested in computer programme analysis. We aren’t obliged to take the survey if we think it’s ridiculous in the first place.

        • Notyou, you asked Chumpguy how the survey could be skewed. I think I’d like to point out your response to GIO as exhibit #1 as to how the survey could be skewed.

          Respondents can lie. Respondents could themselves be mentally ill (you did state that ‘pretty much everyone here suffers from PTSD of varying degrees—also of paranoia’—or is it just the chumps on this board who suffer this way, no other respondents from other sources can suffer PTSD as well?) Does having PTSD lower my IQ or something? I can’t make sound judgements or know my own mind because I’m a little gun shy?

          Researchers CAN be biased, Notyou….you know this. Studies done by chemical companies on the safety of their pesticides comes to mind. When there is sufficient motivation, people lie.

          I think that the experiences here with all of the Chumps shows unequivocally how efficient and effective a sociopath can and will lie to get whatever it is that they believe they want/deserve.

          Are you saying that, unlike every other profession on the planet, mental health professionals and researchers don’t have their fair share of pathological liars, cheats and cons? I can think of one right off the top of my head at a nationally known school (also presently going through a sports program scandal involving athletes cheating)–who recently canned a top researcher for faking his data. Cost the college millions. Are you saying that as long as it comes from a “researcher”, then the information is accurate and cannot be flawed? Are you saying that researchers are all completely immune to fallacious argument and thinking? (case in point, “Why bother to learn anything?”)

          There could be a myriad of other very simple, non technical reasons that the results are skewed. I think that was lesson #1 in my Statistics 101 class….all surveys are inherently skewed to people who respond to surveys 🙂

          And sometimes, there is no one to “email the earnest little grad student” that there may be inaccuracies in their dataset….and those results are useless, but used. Used to coerce and convince and sometimes bludgeon people into feeling “less than”. For example, the one that my XH used to use regularly to make me feel like an utter failure—that “normal” couples have sex 4-5 times every week. Really? But these “statistics” are passed around and used by those with an agenda. Didn’t matter to the researchers how that information was used.

          It seems from your vitriol that you are taking the responses here as a personal attack and I am not sure why. You don’t know any more or less than what someone here is willing to reveal about their story. Although I agree that some of us are probably suffering from PTSD–somehow that invalidates our opinion?

          The people here find comfort and community in the forum and in Tracy’s blog posts—some are far ahead in their quest for “meh” and some are just beginning. NO ONE has the right to judge them on how far they “should be” in this process. THAT is the purpose of this forum.

          • We had sex 3-4 times a week. I really loved him.

            Still got cheated on!

        • notyou, and all–I’m just seeing a groundwork for a factor analysis here (pretty old school), or some other kind of clustering. The groupings of questions seem pretty clearly designed that way. Unfortunately, they are very one-sided, and incomplete with respect to understanding the phenomenon of how a cheated-upon partner understands her or his experience.

          And frankly, who among us really gives all that much of a shit about the “3rd party” unless it’s a family friend? That seems to occur, based on comments, but is rare. At least that’s my observation.

          I feel that this researcher has built into her research design an assumption that the OW/M is a significant person to the Chump, which is, I would say, an uninformed stretch.

      • notyou, I certainly am not making any judgments about whether or not anyone involved in this survey has cheated. I don’t care. What I see is that the sources for the information going in to this survey can’t be confirmed, the questions are biased, badly worded and often puzzling.

        Question 26 – if you have no idea who the AP is, have never met her, don’t care to, have never had any curiosity about her (this is my case) how are any of the responses to the statements given useful? There is no “N/A” or neutral choice available, so automatically the survey is skewed to a shade of agree or don’t agree.
        “The third party was a priority in my life” – what does a response to this even mean? And as someone else has pointed out, these are absurd statements – “My partner was unfaithful on purpose rather than unintentionally”, “My partner’s unfaithful behavior was motivated by selfish rather than unselfish concerns”. “Unintentionally unfaithful”? What, sleepwalking? “Unselfish concerns”? In whose opinion? how defined? How possible?

        And the statement at the end, no bias there – “Forgiveness is an important process for the reconciliation of an intimate relationship. Previous studies have found that forgiveness of one’s partner is dependent upon a variety of factors, including empathy, commitment, and relationship satisfaction with his or her partner.” Poorly written, right off the bat. Citations? What studies? What the hell is “relationship satisfaction”? Even Wikipedia seems to have a more rigorous criteria than this survey.

        GIGO, whatever method you use to analyze. I’ll accept this as a grad student exercise in learning how to design a survey, but it needs a lot of work for publication.

        • The questions about one’s feelings toward the “third-party” were nonsensical and assumed some sort of relationship with the AP. What does that have to do with forgiving the cheater? The survey seems to conflate two distinct types of forgiveness and that, to me, is one of its fundamental flaws. I have no particular problem with research psychologists, but I also do not believe they possess some unique ability to render opinions based on illogical connections. Bad data in equals erroneous results out. And, of course, none of this discussion factors in the education, expertise, or experience of the individual who has designed the survey.

          • Can craigslist be considered a third party? Because my husband’s activities on casual encounters definitely affected my relationship with looking at free ads for used furniture.

            • Kat – thanks for the laugh. I too used CL a lot and got most of my furniture for free, off the side of the road or at the swap shop at the dump.

      • Notyou, my take on this is the researcher has a conventional notion of infidelity and reconciliation. That the onus belongs on chumps to forgive the cheater. It says on the survey that our ability to do so depends on our empathy, compassion, and commitment.

        I think the researcher is asking the wrong people about commitment and empathy. And the questions about selfish cheating vs. unselfish cheating are just silly. How can cheating be unselfish? Intentional or unintentional?

        I don’t think mental health professionals should push forgiveness. Acceptance YES. Forgiveness? NO. That’s between them and their God.

        • The survey was very simplistic. I hope the researcher spends some time reading what has been written here. It would illuminate her understanding of forgiveness in the face of infidelity.

      • Notyou, I am kinda floored that you find it offensive ppl might think the study suffers from confirmation bias. Of all ppl, a psychologist must be aware that we all suffer from confirmation bias and that this can very easily be translated into any study survey constructed, especially in self report studies like this one. Don’t get me started on political surveys! The person conducting the study creates a hypothesis and attempts to prove it objectively, unfortunately it’s well known we are not good at the objective part, especially when it’s our own hypothesis. Just sayin

        • Notyou, of everyone I respect your opinion the most, and here I agree (along with F Rogers troll) that we must beware of black and white paranoid thinking on this site.

          My objection to this survey is that it assumes the basic premises of the RIC, and requires agency of chumps that they simply don’t have. We cannot control another person. Believe me, I tried. So for me, it is that assumption of this research that gives me no ‘voice’.
          Now, off to my Research Design Analysis and statistics lecture…

      • I worked with numbers in my past life. Not an accountant, but in business, in finance. You can manipulate any data to shape any story to meet the message you want to tell.

        The survey is to “hole-y” for me. I’m not a researcher, clinician, etc…. What I mean by hole-y is that whatever data being collected via this survey design can be twisted into whatever message will suit the researcher’s thesis.

  • As you all know, I forgave my husband. He asked for a second chance after making his “mistake”. I thought long and hard about whether I was capable of setting my hurt aside and working toward the successful recovery and reconciliation of our marriage. I decided to forgive him…and he decided to continue the affair underground during the year of our false R. The revelation of the truth was even more heartbreaking and humiliating the second time around but I wasted no time seeking a divorce attorney and filing papers. There will be no forgiveness this time around for my stbxh or the AP. It is not something that I feel they deserve and, quite frankly, I bet they couldn’t care less if I forgive them or not. I’m more concerned with forgiving myself. I am so ashamed that I entrusted this man with my heart. I am so ashamed that I gave him a second chance to hurt me when he had already proven that he was nothing more than an immoral, weak, selfish, disrespectful piece of shit. And I have kicked myself a million times for thinking the AP might have had enough compassion and human decency to remove herself from our marriage and allow us to reconcile in peace. No, I have no forgiveness to spare for stbxh and the AP…but I’m looking forward to the day when I can forgive myself : (

    • LHC, my heart breaks for you. But try to be gentle with yourself. You wanted your marriage to survive! No shame in that. If you hadn’t given him another chance perhaps you’d always wonder if you should have. Now there’s no doubt at all.

      I have to agree that when we realize we’ve been harmed by these monsters, a small part of us dies. We just aren’t capable of behaving that way.

      I’m a changed person from my husband’s betrayal. I’m sure we all are changed.

      • Well said LHC. A lot of our trauma I think comes from our bewilderment and pain that we really loved someone, and our heart wasn’t worth anything, our feelings meant nothing, and we weren’t worth caring about.

        Boy, did that fire up a lot of childhood trauma about neglect, which he is right, he didn’t cause and is up to me to finally resolve. There is opportunity is all this horrible stuff.

        • There sure is, Patsy. The infidelity and lack of remorse brought up past trauma for me ,and gave me a real incentive to recover from it. That’s been a huge gift.

          • It’s funny, I have also noticed “gifts” in the midst of all the agony I’ve been feeling since d-day. But I won’t let him know because he’d take the credit for giving me the “gifts”!

            • I’m not telling my wife, either, not because she’d take credit for the gifts so much as I’m afraid if she knew about the depth of the troubles I’m recovering from she might use it against me when it comes to child custody. Maybe she wouldn’t be that low, but I’m not going to bet my children’s happiness on it.

    • OMG LHC your post is exactly why I love CL and all the fabulous posters. Your story resonates with me. As I too walked the path you have just described.
      The decision to try,
      The heartbreak
      The humiliation
      The shame of listening and believing the lies.
      I believe that forgiveness should be for “us” the chumps.
      Infidelity is abuse.
      And I ask does “meh” = forgiving ourselves?

  • Forgiveness of the type that welcomes the offender back into the fold (see Prodigal Son) requires that forgiveness be sought and fault FULLY acknowledged. The Prodigal came back to his father and fessed up to every squandering way he spent his inheritance. He acknowledged he was lower than the lowest and asked only for the lowest, most minimal sustenance because he knew and accepted that he deserved no better. That is the key. Forgiveness hinges on the contrition and atonement of the offender.

    Forgiveness as a balm to the offended is exactly what you said, CL – it’s “meh”. It’s acceptance. No more hopium, no more unicorns where the a-hole ex is concerned. You see him/her for what she is and decide to save yourself by removing from that toxic orbit. You don’t want an asteroid to fall on them (much) but you do share a secret delight when karma comes home to roost on them. But not enough to cause it yourself. Not enough to let them occupy your thoughts. That’s the freedom of that kind of forgiveness.

    The student needs two parts to that survey to fit each situation.

    • Absolutely, Char. And the second part of the parable was the narcissism of the ‘good’ son.
      The prodigal son GOT IT. That is the whole point.

  • ” …but I’m looking forward to the day when I can forgive myself : ( ”

    LHC, we haven’t done anything wrong to forgive ourselves for and yet we seem to carry all the guilt. 🙂

    My ex is also, nothing more than an immoral, weak, selfish, disrespectful piece of shit and yet everyone loves him. The facade he presents to the world is scary actually because I know who is under the facade.

  • I recently read an article about the prevalence of the idea in therapy practices that one HAS to forgive to move on. I agree with that author that it’s possible to move on without it. In fact I think forcing it can stunt the healing process.

    My ex did some pretty unforgiveable things. I was one of those who miscarried shortly after d day. It’s not hugely unusual to lose a twin in pregnancy but my doctor said considering the timing it was most likely stress contributed to the loss. It’s something I think about every day when I look at my son. But the thing I know I will never ever forgive is the loss of my relationship with my step children. Those two kids were part of my greatest joy and I loved them like my own. When we got married my ex told his son and daughter that now they were stuck with me forever. D day came not long after that and after I moved out he cut off my communication with the kids and triangulated them. I can not forgive the blatant disregard for their wellbeing. For creating such a close family bond that he had little intention of maintaining. Because I am not biologically related I have little chance of visitations. The kids’ bio mom is not very stable and told me herself she both regretted having kids and didn’t want hers. Now I worry about the trauma of losing a parental figure in addition to having to deal with two very effed up parents.

    Forgiveness is not a requirement to get to the absence of bitterness or hatred. Although I think some of us have to forgive ourselves to heal. No doubt if you are trying reconcile eventual forgiveness is necessary to have a real relationship. For me moving on won’t be absolving my ex of his sins towards me but rather getting to the point where I no longer harbor any fantasies about him falling of a cliff…..or getting hit by a bus…..or having scalding hot soup fall in his lap.

    • Kat, do you send them little messages through friends, FB, Twitter?

      I hope you do x

  • Im 2 years in reconciliation and I don’t think I will ever forgive him. Does any cheater deserve to be let off the hook after permanently scaring their spouse? He knows this is how I feel And I’m very open these days about my anger. My anger shows up less and less, but it’s still very strong. He’s making great strides to prove his love for me,in fact, he just finished reading CLs book. His comment is he’s very very sorry, it was all his fault and he’s going to prove CL wrong in that he won’t cheat again. I will say my trust is slowly returning, but I can’t say the same thing about forgiveness. All the crap the reconciliation complex says is just that crap! I was a great wife, mom and lover, he was weak, selfish, and loved all those kibbles. End of story! If you are trying to reconcile, don’t hide what you feel to keep your spouse with you, free yourself! If your spouse is truly wanting to reconcile, he will understand and love you through it. Why do counselors always want to blame the victim of infidelity? I have had plenty of chances to cheat during my marriage, and I just said NO! He said YES, end of story.

    • Wow, real reconciliation LML.
      ACTIONS. Picking up a book is a huge action. My husband, in the depth of his remorse, managed 2 chapters of ‘Not Just Friends’. So your husband is doing the work, hence: reconciliation.
      I knew my ‘reconciliation’ was done when there were 10 ‘how to heal from an affair’ on my side of the bed, and the usual hunting fishing war ones on his side. Only one person was working.

      • Your husband read 2 chapters of a book? My wife read one article and tried to get me to concede that infidelity wasn’t as painful as as the article said.

  • Well, I went ahead and did the survey. It doesn’t really seem applicable to those of us already divorced, though. I’m totally puzzled over the question on whether or not I think my cheater’s affair was “intentional or unintentional.” What the hell? No one “unintentionally” has sex with another person unless they are drugged or attacked, neither of which would qualify as an affair anyway.

    For the number of people I think my cheater had sex with, I answered 500. LOL, I’ll bet that’s going to throw the student for a loop! In reality, I think the number is a lot higher, but since ex admitted to sex with “hundreds of men,” I figure 500 is a good median.

    Totally dumb survey and I take back what I said about seeing the benefit of it…. after reading the questions, I think this student is just another groupie of the RIC.

    • Glad, I’m not sure she is a groupie necessarily. I think that the student has done an “internet search” with some keywords suggested by her supervisor, found the panoply of RIC sites (as we all know there isn’t much else out there giving a point of view different from the Received Wisdom de jour about infidelity, at least not on the first page of a Google search) and proceeded from there. Given this is a project for a master’s degree, it doesn’t need to be very rigorous, and I’m guessing that the student has not had much instruction or experience in survey design. After all the student just needs to display enough knowledge to pass the defense (if there is one) so she can get her credential and move on.

      That is the insidious thing about surveys like this. They are done as a discrete project to display a modicum of knowledge about a process by an individual student/credential seeker, and are not designed to examine an event or social phenomenon or as the beginning of a larger sociological/political/psychological study of a question through fresh eyes. But that is how the majority of us see them and use them, and it is, as one of my mentors once said, “not helpful”.

      It’s why the Chump Lady site is so useful. Anecdotal, yes, but at least based on real experience and not skewed to current dogma. Something to be said for that as a balance.

    • When is someone going to do a study about trauma indicators in such situations? Or similarities to other abusive situations? If there are such studies already I’m sure other chumps could chime in about them.

      • There are studies on the trauma of infidelity. I can find the citations. There are not many, primarily one scholar, but they exist. She does clinical work from a somewhat mildly Christian perspective, as best I can tell, yet seems to be among the few actually publishing the correlates of trauma and infidelity.

    • Nope, because I am going to email that earnest little graduate student and recommend that she come here and read this column before she puts any data from here into her study.

      BTW, your giving erroneous information to someone who may well be honest is a form of “cheating” in and of itself.

      • Notyou, that study did not allow one to answer questions with an estimate. In the case of the “how many affair partners”, it allows only a number. How is Glad’s response dishonest?

      • I also don’t see how Glad’s answer could be construed as cheating. If anything it illustrates how ridiculous this survey is because we don’t know sometimes how many affair partners cheaters have had because they are generally liars!

        • Yeah, that bugged me too. Bad design.

          (and I DO have a degree in Research design–I should say that in addition to Family, Research Methods is one of my specialties, and I have taught statistics and research methods at several highly prestigious institutions.) na na boo boo. as long as we’re going there.

      • It wouldn’t hurt for the grad student to come here and read the comments, notyou. Might give her some useful information. On Glads estimate – hell, if we don’t know the number of affair partners, just have the lies that our cheaters gave us, how useful is any number we give? I mean, I suspect my STBX has had multiple affairs and one-offs, but I’ve never asked and he would lie anyway. I can take a wild guess, and I did – no option to do otherwise – so is that “lying”?

        And why would data from here be any different than data gathered from Marriage Builders or any of the RIC sites? All biased, each in their own way. At least here we have some spirited discussion about it, which as I say may be useful to the student.

      • “BTW, your giving erroneous information to someone who may well be honest is a form of “cheating” in and of itself.”

        How was my answer erroneous? I answered to the best of my ability, given the constraints of how the survey was organized. The box required a number, not a range or a written explanation.

        Besides, I really doubt many of us here know exactly how many affair partners our cheaters had…. I’ll bet lots of chumps think the answer is “one”, but it is really a lot higher than that.

        My ex admitted to “hundreds” of partners. Given the length of our marriage, and information he gave me regarding how frequently he visited gay bath houses along with his other activities, I think 500 was a reasonable answer in my case, and not any more erroneous than anyone else’s reply to the question. Actually, I think the number is probably far higher than 500, but I chose that as a reasonable midpoint.

        • I agree. How are we to know how many AP’s there were? We will never know with any degree of certainty. Cheaters lie, that comes with the deal.

          The question was poorly formed for the purpose. It also doesn’t clarify what qualifies as an AP. Only AP’s with sexual intercourse? Or does any sexual contact count? Many people disagree on what constitutes sex and cheating.

          I would never be able to count how many my exH had. He lied too much. It could be a thousand for all I know.

      • I wrote “1” for the answer because I don’t know, although I wonder if he had other, less serious women on his cell the whole time. And when I tried to write an explanation, the survey form would not take it.

        If this grad student is putting surveys on Craigslist, how can this site be less reliable as a source for data? I can understand why this subject is personal for you, as an expert, but I don’t think people who post on this site would try to skew this person’s data. I also found some of the questions to be very naive about human behavior (whether the cheating was deliberate comes to mind). And she might be imagining the kind of cheating that Steve did on the “Sex and the City” movie–a single drunk encounter–as typical, rather than the kind of serial, highly abusive behavior discussed her on a regular basis. I hope you can step back and allow posters here to participate or not, as best they can, without assuming we are all nutjobs who would try to destroy this person’s study.

  • No. Mostly because it lacks methodological soundness. The validity of the results would be severely undermined by the sample and data collection method. Furthermore, any explanation of the study should have been disclosed at the beginning, not the end, of the survey.

    As a researcher, I am slapping the palm of my hand on my forehead for a number of reasons (convenience sampling, language of study explanation, survey design, no option to decline answering a question, etc).

    I am going to assume the study received IRB (Internal Review Board) approval, right?

    • Trust me, if I had gotten to the end of the survey, which I did not– sorry, you will have to adjust your results– I would have been peeved with the message at the end.

    • Okay, maybe IRB is not necessary. . . But my other concerns remain.

      • Dr., where I am this would have had to go through ethics approval. Not sure that they would need to show that in the survey, but it certainly would be required documentation in the thesis.

        • Yes, at my university, they are pretty strict, so we were always advised to do it unless you clearly met an exemption.

          • Mine, too. Even for an anonymous survey. Heck, even non-academic units who wish to do surveys for internal use only end up going through IRB.

      • Yeah, IRB should absolutely have been required. Dunno if “anonymous” on line surveys fall into some different category but anything touching on such aspects of private and sensitive life, with the potential to cause harm, ought to go by and IRB/HSR board….

        • It’s not legit. Some net troll like the one doing the bad book reviews is getting some weird thrill with the nonsense.

  • Wow. This is an interesting day: huge split in responses. Several people defending the student, some agreeing with ChumpLady, and one person in apparently real reconciliation. I guess it is possible that some people are not cheated on ‘that badly’ although I’m not sure I can imagine a good affair. But, I think a lot of us here have true monsters for Xs.

    Mine is really, really sick. It actually helps me all the time. I don’t have the “charming” or “sparkly” cheater. I have the one that gets up in the witness stand and creeps the pants off of everyone in the courtroom. It is not only the cheating. It’s the no child support, it’s the wingnut legal allegations, it’s him suing me for half of all my birthday and christmas presents during our relationship, it’s him flying FROM ANOTHER STATE when he does not have visitation, renting a car and driving around town looking for us. I’m not sure these studies can take that into effect. This study is predicated on the assumption the cheater is an otherwise normal, stable, reasonable person. Except- most of them are NOT. The cheating is one way in which they act out their sickness. I honestly don’t believe my cheater is a person in the same way as I am. I think he is sort of a partial-human, or a sub-human. I really do. I guess that is a form of forgiveness because I no longer even hold him to the standard I would hold most people. Like, I guess I forgive him for being poop because it’s not poop’s fault that it is poop. It is what it is. It’s a gross by-product of humanity- like him.

    Cheating is a tragedy so great the it alters the course of everyone’s life forever. I, personally, think people don’t take it seriously enough. I think it is as serious as rape, as CL says. It is even murder. It is the murder of a family, a way of life, and a future that should have been. It is a murder of the past, present and future and it is irreparable. How can you study that with a bell-curve?

    • Wow Rose. Sorry your X is such a creepy guy.
      It makes me put my life in perspective. My XH was just a dumb ass drunk who if some skank wanted him he just couldn’t say ‘No.’ It was just a matter of time before one came along and he would be off and running chasing the new sparkly thing with dick in hand. Of course I didn’t know that when I married him.

      He was fair in the divorce settlement. No pick me dance. No false reconciliation. He was just GONE one day. Living the life with the latest sparkly Schmoopie. Of course it was devastating because I really believed this guy loved me and thought our life was real and I had a lot of time and money invested in it. There was no lengthy legal battles an in the end we had the same attorney because we agreed on everything.

      Maybe his leaving left open the opportunity for me to meet a real man who is capable of loving me the way I deserve. Reading here every day for several months has helped me a lot. Thank you Chump Lady and Chump Nation!!!

  • Thanks for the plug, Chump Lady.

    So much is off on this survey idea. To begin, the survey is open to people like myself who did not reconcile the marriage. I fundamentally disagree with presupposition that my non-reconciliation had anything to do with my ability or non-ability to forgive my ex-wife. Even if it was present, I will remind all that correlation does not mean causation.

    On a theological level, I push back on the idea of cheap forgiveness as well. Mathew 18 principles ought to take effect in the case of Christians cheating. This means confronting the cheater until they repent and turn from their cheating ways. Jesus tells His disciples that this is how to deal with such sin in the camp. He does not instruct them to keep on forgiving the offender and pretend everything is fine. Confront them and escalate it to the point where if they do not change, you treat them like a social pariah. If I remember right from my education and reading, this punishment in Jewish culture was WORSE than the death penalty.

    Finally, I take issue with conflating forgiveness and reconciliation. They are not the same thing. Forgiveness is like getting to “meh.” The wrongness and my need to get my pound of flesh from my cheater et al. no longer controls me in forgiveness. Reconciliation is a different matter. It takes two to reconcile and only one to forgive. Such forgiveness would be needed to reconcile but it is a necessary and NOT sufficient condition. You still need the cheater to repent. Also, I would point out that reconciliation does not necessarily mean staying in the marriage. It means an end of animosity. If a cheater continues to sin against you, his/her actions makes that state next to impossible to achieve as they are acting at war with you still.

    Those are just a few quick thoughts on this matter from the top of my head.

    And I am not surprised this survey is going out. In my chaplain training, I am seeing psychology reach into theology by studying forgiveness as a way to heal. It’s hip. Personally, I agree forgiveness is important for all. I hope everyone achieves “meh.” But I see the methodology and faulty presuppositions about forgiveness/reconciliation as unhelpful muddling whatever good this survey could have. Also, I see it as a subtle blameshift back onto the chump–“Oh, your reconciliation efforts failed…must not have forgave him/her.” Yeah, like that is the main problem after adultery. That’s not how I read Scripture.

    • DM, you have such a precise and eloquent way with words. Forgiveness seems to me to be such an intimate thing.

      Degrees of forgiveness. Is there such a thing?

      I recall a friend of Tracy’s from South Africa—Tracy could you remind me of this story? The one who was tortured–did he forgive his captors?

      The point is….that each individual’s experiences and judgements are just that–individual. What one person can forgive, another cannot. Who is to judge the “degree” to which someone can or cannot forgive a transgression? I simply do not believe that there is a quantification, no matter the sample size or survey design method.

    • Reading this, I think the study (and much of our culture) has it backwards. As you say, it only takes one person to forgive, because that is an individual spiritual state and a chump who does not reconcile with the cheater can achieve that state alone. In this scenario, the chump gets to “forgiveness” by focusing on recovering, healing and living a healthy, authentic life, by letting go of the cheater and the past. That has nothing to do with the cheater, and everything to do with the chump’s courage and resiliency.

      The other possibility is true reconciliation, which might LEAD to forgiveness if the couple stays together and the cheater does the work to reconcile. Whatever else was going on in the marriage, the trust bond has been destroyed and I am defining “true marital reconciliation” as the repair of that trust bond. Being in the marriage police state or “pretending that everything is fine” might allow a couple to live together but the only way to repair the trust is for the cheater to go through the long, slow process of becoming a trustworthy person. That’s probably not possible for cheaters with major character disorders. And it would be disastrous for the chumped spouse to “forgive” the betrayal, giving the cheater more access to the chump’s intimate life and emotions, without evidence over time that the cheater is doing the work and there is actual, not genuine naugahyde remorse. The cheater needs to be sorry and change. Then, the kind of forgiveness that can lead to true reconciliation is theoretically possible.

      The problem is conflating “forgiveness” with a number of other possible states: mercy, denial, fear, financial concerns, guilt over the thought of “breaking up the family,” religious belief, and romantic love for the cheater. Any of these states may lead a chump to stay with the cheater, but none of them are the same as forgiveness, which as you point out, requires the sinner/cheater to be repentant and committed to change. What reconcilation requires of the chump is not even the willingness to forgive, as I know couples who stayed together with the chumped spouse hanging on to the betrayal as the central event in their lives.

      If, instead of seeing it as a hall pass to get back into a marriage, we think of “forgiveness” as a state of spiritual health, with chumped spouses having reached a point where the betrayal and the need for revenge or recriminations no longer controls them, then “forgiveness” WITHIN A MARRIAGE is a state that follows healing and reconciliation, rather than preceding it. I am just thinking this through now; take a poke at this reasoning to see where it doesn’t work.

      • *Then, the kind of forgiveness that can lead to true reconciliation is theoretically possible. Sorry! I got that backward, too! Then, the kind of true reconciliation that can lead to forgiveness is theoretically possible.

      • That actually makes sense, LAJ, though from where I am it seems weirdly theoretical.

  • Well I just found out today my ex cheater got engaged to the OW 2 weeks ago. They’ve been together all of 3 and a half months, half of that time carrying on behind my back. Forgiveness? Screw that. The only person I forgive is myself, for being 6 years involved in a relationship with a true narcissist. No need to reconcile, no need to forgive. His actions are unforgivable and dishonorable.

  • Sorry if anyone else has posted this, but– *This question* really bothers me:

    “Did your spouse have the affair intentionally or unintentionally?”

    Really, how-the-everloving-hell should *I* know?! *I* WASN’T THERE!!!
    Oh, wait… I supposed to actually _believe_ him, when he said (after aaalllllll the other lies) that “it just happened”?

    Uh huh. Pull the other one.

    • We choose our behaviors unless someone has a gun to our heads. It’s aggravating when people insinuate that affairs just happen. Ask our cheating spouses how much time, energy, planning, deceit, etc it took for them to cheat on us. If that’s not intentional, I don’t know what is.

    • Yeah, haha. A couple of people said that. I don’t understand how you can unintentionally take your clothes off and puts parts of your body inside another person’s body.

      I noticed it was geared towards people who knew the OW/OM really well. Like, a family member. That part was confusing. Do a lot of people cheat with their sisters in law?

      • There did seem to be a number of assumptions that just didn’t make sense to me and, at the same time, the question about whether the betrayal was intentional was just dumb. Of course, infidelity is intentional! The cheater is not insane, incapable of understanding the nature of his/her conduct, involuntarily drugged. As someone once said here, my X’s dick didn’t just happen to fall into a hole. He put it there. And I do not now and have never felt the need to forgive either one of them. That’s their burden, not mine.

      • Yes so agree. I got the “it was only meant to be a one night stand” really? Well when he went to his end of year course celebration, my STBX dressed up, and made sure “everything looked good” I foolishly believed he was going to unwind, and because it was a celebration for his classmates we had planned I would stay behind and look after our two children. There was nothing unintentional about that, his actions were intentional. He planned to be with her that night. Hell, who really knows when he got with her, but either way it was very very intentional.

  • Nailed your response, CL.

    Some troubling ideas are implied by the way this young researcher presents her study, including among others:

    1. Reconciliation is a successful response to infidelity and a lack of reconciliation is a failure.
    2. The cheating spouse has no significant responsibility for the difference between success and failure in this matter because that depends primarily on the response of the spouse who did not have the affair.
    3. A successful response to infidelity occurs when the spouse did not have the affair forgives the spouse who had the affair.
    4. Whether the spouse who did not have the affair forgives appears to depend upon whether that spouse lacks empathy, lacks commitment, or is disgruntled in the marriage.
    5. How can we fix all those messed up spouses who won’t forgive, or stated otherwise, how can we equip therapists to steer spouses who have had not had affairs to have more empathy, more commitment, and be happier about their marriages so they can forgive and save their marriages?

    You could write a master’s thesis about all the flawed assumptions about marriage, cheating, and healing that went into this query. Totally FUBAR.

  • I took the survey and thought it was pretty benign. I don’t think the questions had anything to do with “empathy or compassion” though as the grad student’s email said it did. There was nothing in the questions to gauge empathy or compassion, they won’t be able to draw conclusions in those areas from the survey results. I also don’t think the study is going to provide accurate results when it comes to how time in the relationship and post DDay affects how someone feels. The questions didn’t clarify time. She asked how long ago I found out, then to fill out the questions. My answers to the questions would have been different after I first found out. If they really want to gauge how time affects answers then there needs to be separate questions: answer this with how you remember feeling at discovery, then answer them with from present day.

    My story is pretty mild compared to everyone else’s as mine happened in high school. That’s pretty pathetic on the grand scale of things. But I know I had to get a new best friend and I was so angry that I ran a mile in 6min 30 seconds instead of the 8min pace I’d been going at. That’s a pretty big deal to cut 1min 30 off your time in one run. I found a new best friend, we’re still BFFs 10 years later and lo and behold, her boyfriend cheated on her with the same girl that mine did… I think it’d be interesting to see what results come back from the spouses of those that have survived infidelity. My husband’s ex didn’t cheat on me, but she did a number on him. There are days when I’m more upset at her than he is. I’d be more likely to show more compassion towards her if she was actually remorseful (which she’s not). Has he forgiven her? Yes. Do I forgive her? Meh. I guess so. But if I ever get the chance I will have no problem calling her BS as I see it, I hope she eats what she sows and I really hope she loses her LMFT license.

    • Mmmmm. Donuts. But no powdered sugar ones.

      The cat toy down the page is pretty awesome too. How can you go wrong with cats AND Star Wars with some MAKEish mad skillz thrown in?

      • I think this young researcher missed the opportunity to conduct a relevant study on forgiveness in regard to infidelity. The survey is screwed, the questions are rather naive and leans toward an assumption by the student.

        I doubt is this researcher could define “forgiveness” in a scientifically proven way.

        Ironically, the best folks to survey about “forgiveness” would be cheaters and not those cheated on. That would be fascinating study.

      • I am so jealous Tracy, I would love to meet Bloggess in person, did she get stabby? LoL

  • I find her survey offensive & it pissed me off, so I wrote to her. Sure, it looks just fine on the surface, but there’s a hidden agenda and it’s based solely on her opinion.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    I think you should rename your survey. In view of your hidden agenda, I believe it should be called “Forgiving Infidelity and Reconciliation”. Had I known that reconciliation was your agenda, I wouldn’t have wasted my precious time. So, now that I have, I wanted to share my thoughts.

    Forgiveness is not required. Reconciliation is a bad idea. Cheating cannot be tolerated. That pretty much sums it up.

    I am an empath, so don’t give me any crap about my level of forgiveness being directly related to my empathy. Being an empath is sometimes a handicap in situations such as these, and you damn well ought to know that.
    Commitment wasn’t my problem. I was all in. Seems to me it would be the cheater who might have a little problem with commitment.
    Relationship satisfaction? Shut up. Just shut up.

    So, good luck with your survey. Since you are only worried about reconciliation, and not other outcomes of cheating, perhaps you will receive valid results. Perhaps. Doubtful. Your methodology is corrupt. Your questions are biased. Your answer selections leave no possibility for anything other that what is listed. I was forced to lie.

    Yes, please email those results to me.

  • Took the damned survey, and wrote the following:
    Dear Ms. Mikelson & Dr. Stephenson,

    I am writing in response to the infidelity survey you requested be posted on Chumplady blog. I took the survey (I am a former survey researcher, and I always like to help out.)

    I wish to illuminate a few points that I feel are underrepresented in your study. Please understand, I hold a Ph.D. in the Sociology of the Family, so my insight comes from my professional training as well as my own personal experience with this painful topic.

    Infidelity on the part of one partner towards another within a committed relationship is always profoundly abusive. It requires planning, the construction of an extensive web of lies, gaslighting–the attempt to make the abused partner mistrust her or his perceptions–tricking, misleading the abused partner, and furthermore, it is abusive towards any children in the union.

    For a child in such a family to come to understand that one parent profoundly disrespects and lies to the other, is a revelation of hugely depressing and consequently productive of negative self worth and esteem for the child.

    Put simply, cheaters are liars who are only concerned with their own immediate pleasure. Partners or spouses never, under any circumstances, bear any responsibility for the decision to cheat.

    If a relationship is not happy or healthy, there are other ways to end it: couples therapy is one way; honest discussion is another; divorce is a third. Cheating is a unilateral decision by the cheating partner to lie to her or his partner, abuse the most intimate parts of that trust bond and relationship, and sever the bond in the most cruel way imaginable.

    Finally, please understand that for many cheaters, a good part of the sexual thrill of the affair comes from the experience of keeping secrets. Hence they carry on affairs with partners whom they would not otherwise consider. But the thrill in keeping the affair secret is a powerful aphrodisiac.

    NamedforVera, Ph.D.

      • Thank you for so eloquently articulating why I find this whole “survey” bullshit. Cheating should never be a “Family Feud” topic.

      • Geeze, you guys….right back atcha! I get so much from your thoughtful posts.

    • So well written and smart. I’m saving it in my wisdom file. Thank you.

    • Copy and pasted most of your post into my notes. Considering sending it to STBX.

  • The young BA student identified herself as the “principle investigator”. What the heck is that? Is it some sort of psych or social science term?
    Does she mean..”Principal investigator”? I could not get past the consent.

    • Boston- the PI of the study is the one who’s conducting it. It’s their name(s) that will be cited as the authors and yes, she meant”principal” not “principle.”

      • LOL. Good catch. Has me leaning more toward “freak with an agenda”.

        Certainly not “principled” investigator 🙂

    • Well, it could be a Freudian slip since she is investigating forgiveness and “empathy, commitment, and relationship satisfaction.” 🙂

  • Forgiveness means so many things to different people. I would like to come to a place of forgiveness but I also want to be emotionally safe. The best description I heard of forgiveness is from an interview with Maya Angelou:

    Maya: But you can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, “I forgive. I’m finished with it.”

    Oprah: I’ve tried to let people know, as you have taught me over the years, that when you forgive somebody, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to invite them to your table.

    Maya: Indeed not. No, no, no. I don’t even want you around me. It just means I’m finished with you.

    • I struggle with the meaning of forgiveness. I think it is something for the one doing the forgiving – letting go of toxic resentment and anger (when the time is right and it is no longer useful – and it’s for each of us to decide for ourselves, in our own time) in order to move forward. It’s moving past the grudge (yeah, right! easier said than done!) and maybe it’s part of “meh”. It’s letting the person go, with the idea that maybe they can find peace in the future, as I want to find peace for myself. Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook for what they did or saying “it’s ok”. It will never be ok. Forgiveness and restored trust are two very different things. I know that for sure.

      • Flowerlady, I agree that forgiveness is never about saying it’s okay. I want to forgive for my own sake, not for the cheater ex. It is a journey, and a tough one at that.

    • I actually like Oprah’s definition of forgiveness, it’s recognizing things could not have been different and learning from it, leaving the past in the past.

    • We forgive because we love ourselves too much to let the bitterness contaminate our souls and change who we are.

  • I emailed her after I took the survey. I was a little offended by the university, which is a quality school just outside of what I consider “my area.” Well, I thought it was a quality school. Anyway, I put in a plug for chump lady again, and nicely told her that someone detonated a nuclear bomb in the middle of my marriage and containing the radiation was more important than forgiveness. And that I’d be happy getting out of this mess without being bitter. Don’t know if it will help. Hopefully, it will give her something to think about.

    • “someone detonated a nuclear bomb in the middle of my marriage and containing the radiation was more important than forgiveness.”

      Beautifully put, Leia.

  • I just took the survey. I did not see anything offensive. There were questions regarding if I thought the affair was intentional or an accident. Another question regarding whether I thought it was the cheaters fault. I didn’t take this to mean the survey author thought this was a possibility but was only asking if the victim thought it was the case. It seemed to me they were looking at the correlation between length of time since the affair, the number of affairs, type of relationship, and how the victim saw the responsibility of the affair, and how the victim feels now about the cheater and their accomplice. Maybe everybody that thought the affair was an “accident,” stays. Or everybody that now wants something bad to happen to the cheater, leaves. I did not see anything that advocated me to stay or leave. Can someone be specific as to what in the questions leads them to their conclusion. Please don’t be mean to me. I swear swear swear that I have been abused enough.

    • Most ppl have already laid out why they think the survey shows bias or is unlikely to yield useful results, with a few defending it. You might want to refresh the page and read the comments from the top.

      PS: No one here is going to be “mean” to you. We support one another, we don’t tear down. Jedi hugs!

      • You’re not going to be mean to Carol, DDW, but I don’t think she’d have included that sentence in her post if there wasn’t a reasonable basis for it.

        • I think the point was really missed with this survey. I also think calling somebody a troll is really mean. I did not see anything in this survey that tried to point people to think one way or the other. It was a survey of the opinion of the person taking the survey. Some people do think their partners affair was their fault – they didn’t give enough sex or weren’t pretty enough or was being abusive to their spouse. Some people do think it was an accident- the person was drunk is usually the one I hear. People think a lot of different things. It is not blame shifting asking some one if they feel it is their fault. I am just finding out about my 20 year marriage. I am married to a narcissist. It was mind blowing. I thought he was just a selfish baby but it was a lot more. I came here to learn more and get help. I just see so much hatefulness. I understand the anger but what about the person it is directed at. I am extremely empathetic to other peoples feelings and when I see people being called names or being put down when nobody even knows them. Then it is stated to not even go to that school. Here is a person putting out a survey to find the mindset of someone who stayed with a cheater as apposed to someone who left. I know people who stayed because they thought it was their fault, or it was an accident, or they had been married so long. Sorry, I am a person who was raised by a narcissistic mother then married a narcissistic man. I have social anxiety, because of my fear of being judged. I am very sensitive to people being judged over one thing. Sorry about the rant. I usually don’t do this.

          • Carol, I’m glad you posted this, because

            a) the best way of getting over sensitivity to judgement is to expose yourself to it, and
            b) you make really good points, both about the survey (and I’ll admit right now I know nothing at all about constructing academic research surveys) and the tenor of some of the comments on this post

            • Thank you for your kindness. The anxiety attacks I had writing this and then seeing it was replied to, were horrendous. I would like to tell my story someday.

              • You should. I was raised by a narcissistic mother as well, but I’m grateful that it hasn’t left me so prone to anxiety attacks. I go more for the flat-out self-hatred, but it’s much better than it was. 😉

  • I’m still trying to figure out how an affair can be unintentional.

    • This falls under the category of “I was drunk/high and woke up in someone else’s bed.”

      We’ve had discussions of the whole “whiskey dick” phenomenon and whether someone can be drunk enough to have blacked out the sex, but still functional enough to perform.

  • Just sayin, anybody, anybody at all can create a survey…I’m creating one now. I can put any name on it and describe it any way I like, who knows, maybe I’m a grad student or a famous researcher, or perhaps I have a great interest in neurobiology! Heh

  • Enjoyed reading this, and the comments above.

    Once I’d been separated, out of the family home and in counseling for a few months, I realised that there was no way in hell I’d ever forgive my ex.

  • I took the survey. It was weird. It didn’t seem to address that one’s response to an affair is on a continuum (my feeling changed over time, and I still have mixed feelings). Also, I got stuck on the “did you spouse apologize for the affair–yes or no.” There was no “kind of” option. IDK. Didn’t seem like it would yield very accurate results.

    I think forgiveness is important in that sense that it allows you to move on. I do wish my former spouse well, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel anger and resentment sometimes. I just have to let it all go because it doesn’t do me any good to harbor those feelings (I think CL talks about this someone on the blog. Forgiving your spouse is part is setting yourself free. I don’t know what it means if you decide to stay together.)

    • Well I got the “sorry I hurt you” but it was so contrite. Not genuine when your actions are saying the opposite. Hmmm how do you really answer that?

  • My reading of the survey statement at the end is that she’s trying to put the focus on the cheating not the betrayed spouse. It looks like past research has suggested that the issue is whether the spouse has empathy or values the relationship. That’s a little nuts.

    She’s asking if what the cheater did plays a role in whether or not the spouse forgives. It’s a very sensible question and I can’t think why nobody did this research before. I think it would be much easier to forgive someone who cheats once on a business trip and confesses compared to someone who carries on an affair with your neighbor and buys her presents.

    I give the person doing the study credit for coming here. She needs some people to answer the survey who aren’t reconciling.
    I don’t know about the specifics of the survey, but if someone reads this discussion and then takes the survey, the survey results won’t be valid.

    • LOL. When you start out doing a “push poll” (where you push suggestions) on the internet, you’re not exactly starting out on firm ground unless you are trying to start a career in politics.

  • Interesting discussion…. As to the study it seems there are many opinions but if one thing can be said I think the author is young. Naive. And forgiving others is “hip.” And like anyone else I know has a set of beliefs which influence her. When I was younger I never knew much about cheating and what it really meant. Just watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette now is an eye opener. I know there’s that whole Spackling thing going on and the people I knew just swept things like that under the rug. No one really talked about anything. IMHO I do believe some people buy into that whole YOLO, they grew apart, they didn’t like to do the same thing, they stayed together for the kids, or finances, or WTFever, bullshit. The lies and personal betrayal, the destroyed finances, the medical concerns, the children’s struggles, and the fact that I had no choice in how/when my marriage imploded are things I personally had never experienced when I was young. It was around but I trusted people. I believed in marriage though more of the modern kind where both spouses worked together. Raising the kids and supporting each other’s dreams. Where there was some equality. Some discussion, not like my grandparents’ or even my parent’s generation. I thought I knew what my challenges were, but still attracted the one person I should never have married. He is a narc, passive aggressive, and entitled in a Sparkly modern day package. He cares for himself. I don’t believe for a minute that people can change. Habits, yes, but WHO they ARE, no. A liar will always lie. A cheater will always cheat. Some people will simply never care for another. Some of my coworkers could not wrap their heads around what my ex did to me. They said I was too happy and independent. (I guess it just never occurred to me why my ex was always so absent! Lol) They said he needed to be needed. I remember the discussions we had and the nights I could not sleep. And how ill my marriage made me. How we had everything we ever wanted but it still felt “off”, I just could not figure it out. The only one who understood my heartbreak was a fellow coworker whose husband kept his mistress in a condo in the Bay Area. For five years. He of course paid all her living expenses. 5k per month. While having the perfect little family tucked into our small foothill community. My friend learned of her husband’s affair after the AP started calling the house at 3 in the morning, crying and begging him to leave his wife. (Guess she got tired of waiting.) He did. Their children were 12 and 17. They had moved to the US from Russia and had been together for twenty years. He settled within a month, and the day my friend moved out of her home, her ex moved his AP in. Who the fuck does this?!? Every time I stood in my small family court I thought about how many of our divorces were a direct result of a spouse cheating. Then I thought about how many of us were screwed over financially as well? How many spouses walked on the mortgage even when they could afford it? In my case I discovered a HIV test taken two years before my ex walked out. How many spouses are exposed to or contract an STD? How many ditch their kids financially? His salary was four times mine and we have three kids. Two were in college and we (my kids and I) scrambled to get that covered while my ex courted his long distance true love. I paid what bills I could but could not cover the mortgage; my legal fees were outrageous. There is so much more to my story and some I am sure I don’t know. Thankfully. I know enough. I know he was coming home and having sex with me after spending time with her. I knew he was treating me poorly and doing so in front of our kids. Tip of the iceberg. To say that I will ever forgive what he did to me. No. Have I forgiven myself? No, not completely. Not because I didn’t see this coming but because my kids now are in an incredible amount of pain. They are beginning to see the whole picture. But I don’t see forgiveness as an obstacle to my happiness. Or theirs. I see it as setting healthy boundaries. I see it as no longer putting up with toxic people. We are living a more authentic life and I see more honesty and integrity in our future. We value one another. Did we ever have that with him? No.

    • “I thought I knew what my challenges were, but still attracted the one person I should never have married. He is a narc, passive aggressive, and entitled in a Sparkly modern day package”

      This was me also. And the rest of it really resonated as well. Thank you for sharing Drew. I feel that my heart is on the mend, but I’m still trying to shake his boot prints off my soul. I felt ill as well in our relationship. There’s a sort of miasma that comes off of my ex, the feeling that nothing good will ever come from interacting with him. I can’t wait to be truly free from that.

      • Kat, your writing is beautiful, “I feel that my heart is on the mend, but I’m still trying to shake his boot prints off my soul.” Me too.

    • Drew,

      ” . . . but still attracted the one person I should never have married”

      Much of what you wrote resonated with me but I just chose the big one. My dear old dad is a cheater, my mom is a narcissist and I married a narcissistic cheater. Of course, I didn’t see it until my therapist pointed it out to me.

      I am so fortunate because I am free. I am no longer treated with disrespect. I no longer made to feel like the last priority. Even though I have access to a lot less money, it’s worth it. The x lost more than I did.

      My concern is for my college-age sons. I see that they struggle with establishing boundaries just like I did. I hate that they learned how to allow others to disrespect them. I hope that I have set a good post-separation example for them. I am happy. I am enjoying my life. I am their stable parent. I have tried to show them that their father can no longer hurt me any more.

      Sorry for the ramble. And I guess it’s off topic. As far as the survey, it is lacking. I forgave my x. He’s damaged. I understand why he does what he does: he wants to and he feels like it. He’s a narcissist. He lacks a range of emotions which is why he was attracted to me: I have enough emotion for both of us. He is incapable of being empathetic. He can rationalize anything. “Of course I’m living with her! You didn’t tell me that you wanted me back!”

      I’m lucky. It only took me 25 years to see the writing on the wall. I am now free.

  • CL, please, please please give us the masters student’s email. Not to abuse her or anything like that, but (I am also heading into postgrad psychology) because the tenets of Carl Rogers (person centred therapy, i.e. fully empathetic and non-judgemental space) hold complete sway. When my husband was in IC, I fully saw how unchallenged he was, and how his counsellor ended up enabling him.

    It is absolutely vital that people start considering the possibility of character disorder and that these people need challenging, not understanding.

    Infidelity is abuse. This is the most important message that Ms Masters Student needs to hear. At least Willard Harley knows this, and describes the pain of infidelity as worse than rape, or having your house burn down. The real impact of betrayal is just too minimised in our society.

    I believe that infidelity is very strongly correlated to narcissism. I also believe that chumpdom is strongly correlated to co-dependency!
    It is the same issue as F Rogers the troll. Whilst she is correct that one must not hold a binary black and white position, she completely misses all the ground in between, where over responsible over functioning chumps need to LEARN to get angry and truly accept that this was never about them and that it is never acceptable. It is a process that must be gone through. And (if any other chumps are like me) it is in this process that we slowly learn what it is we speckled over and what we should never have tolerated and how much we spoke truth to stupid instead of demonstrating through actions…. we slowly move away from that black and white position and look at ourselves.

    If you don’t quite trust the Chump Nation to behave themselves, hopefully Ms Masters Student will read these comments, and your main essays. Ms Masters Student: betrayal is intimate emotional abuse. Please believe us on this. Their behaviour afterwards, refusal to face themselves and their choices, expecting us to ‘move on, already’ and ‘don’t mention it’ and ‘forgive’ – that adds insult to a huge injury.

    Chump Lady is right, you have to do a bit more research, and change your premise. Maybe you could put a question into all of your research websites: ‘Is infidelity the worst thing that has ever happened to you? What was worse?’ Put that question on all the infidelity boards. You will be surprised at the pain. People have had cancer, lost their siblings to murder, lost their children, had their house burnt down. And they say being cheated on hurt more than those terrible life events. We are not making this pain up, Ms Masters Student. If I had a choice between betrayed rejected and abandoned by the person I thought was my love, and being stabbed in the street, to this day I would choose being stabbed. Punctured lung, perforated liver, bring it on. It would hurt less.

    • Not to be overly dramatic, but when I was a law student, I had my throat slashed during a robbery in a Philadelphia subway, and am incredibly lucky to be alive (and able to talk). I told my ex after D-Day that what he did to me was worse than the throat slashing….hands down.

  • Somebody – quick! post the emails here BEFORE you complete the survey. I want to email them, but survey monkey has shut it down.

    Here is the premise of the research: Forgiveness is an important process for the reconciliation of an intimate relationship. Previous studies have found that forgiveness of one’s partner is dependent upon a variety of factors, including empathy, commitment, and relationship satisfaction with his or her partner. The present study is exploring if forgiveness is also impacted by the specific characteristics of an affair, such as the length of the affair, how one discovered the affair, the type of affair, and why they think their partner had the affair. There may be differences between men and women in forgiveness. These findings may be helpful for counselors working with couples struggling with the aftermath of an affair.

    I would like to give them some thoughts on lack of empathy, defensiveness and entitlement on the part of the cheater that completely and utterly PREVENTS reconciliation and is completely out of the control of the chump (what they should be looking at). We cannot change what we cannot control. Our choice to stay married can only come about by making our needs so small we no longer exist, and not having any of our needs for acknowledgement, apology and reassurance met.

  • Forgiving myself? Yes. It’s self-love. Forgiving the disordered pos? Never. He ruined my child’s life, he forfeited that priveledge.

  • I was driving a long distance and I got to thinking about forgiveness of my sometime hopefully soon to be ex tramp wife. It is strange that this particular subject came up because what I was thinking about is how religious people are telling me that to move on I have to forgive. I do not want to forgive that type of behavior. I can move on just fine without acknowledging that what she was doing our whole 7 year marriage was ok now. It is not ok and it is never ok for someone do be like that in a marriage. Getting to indifference is the goal, saying “gee oh that’s ok that you were screwing multiple men in what I thought was a monogamous marriage”. In my mind I see forgiveness as, I had my fun so ok NOW I will be a wife. I do not make any apologies for harboring a disdain for her and people like her. It is wrong and forgiving just minimizes it. It is nothing to be minimized. Maybe the crowd pushing for forgiveness never had something as devastating as having both feet in a relationship only to find the other partner had one leg and one eye somewhere else. I would love to talk to one of them after it happens to them and see if they think the same way. I do not condone harboring resentfulness as it only keeps yourself down. Getting to a point where I see her as “nothing to me” is what I am striving for. I am 60% there and growing.

    • I think we’re talking about a young 20-something year old college student who–according to her facebook page and assuming it’s not all a hoax– is single, never married, plans on being married in her 20s hopefully with huge wedding and a “big assed” white dress and who 6 years ago (teenager, then I guess) boasted her nicknames included whore, slut, etc.


  • I think one of the issues is that there is a fundamental disconnect between forgiveness and deciding not to reconcile.

    Infidelity is a type of “crime” where the victim is necessarily in a close emotional and legal “contract” and relationship with the perpetrator. The decision to end that contract/relationship is in my mind entirely distinct from the process of forgiveness. I am not ending my marriage because I do not forgive my STBXH, or think I will never forgive him. I am ending it because even though I still (perhaps foolishly) love him and want to help him, doing so is too damaging to myself. It is completely distinct and separate from forgiveness.

    I actually looked “forgive” up in the dictionary because while everyone uses the word frequently, I really wanted to see what it’s exact definition was. It is: to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.” After seeing this, I think one of the issues is using the word “forgiveness” as a shorthand for saying that the chump has returned to his/her former state of affection, regard, and commitment for the cheater. That is not what the definition of forgiveness is. It should not be used as shorthand for returning to the pre-affair dynamic.

    Rather, I believe forgiveness is better understand as the equivalent of Tracy’s “Meh”. You have reached it when you stop feeling angry or resentful toward the cheater. But that is certainly not the equivalent of choosing to once again love and trust the cheater.

    • That’s my definition of forgiveness….just letting it go.

      I read a book by Dr. Luskin, Forgive for Good, who has the same definition. I wasn’t magically or instantly freed from my hate chains, but he did discuss the psychology of a grievance which ultimately gave me some perspective on why I was unable to ‘let go’. It was one of the things that got me to acceptance and back to meh. I would recommend it.

  • The author of the survey has written back and asked to please stop responding to the survey and emailing them. So please do, folks. I’m deactivating the link. But here is what she wrote:


    Due to lack of communication, there has been a gross misunderstanding regarding the nature of my survey. Because you posted the debriefing statement on your blog, every participant since your post is now considered biased, and therefore I have had to shut my survey down as this data is unusable.

    Also, I as well as Dr. Stephenson, Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences of Washburn University, are receiving numerous derogatory emails based on your comments and misinterpretation of my research on your blog. The survey has been shut down, so please remove the link from your blog. This survey was specifically designed, and backed by scientific research as well as numerous Ph.D. level psychologists’ approval, for psychologists to better understand how to help those couples who wish to reconcile their relationship after an affair; not to be misconstrued as any type of advice or opinion.

    I’m sorry for the confusion and appreciate your time and cooperation.

    • Huh. Interesting. Well, I stand by my message, and I don’t feel it was derogatory in any way. I’m sure her approach was “backed by scientific research as well as numerous Ph.D. level Psychologists”…I believe those are the folks we commonly refer to around here as the RIC, collectively.

      The poor kid still doesn’t get the point. Infidelity is more than just an ouchie. It destroys any underlying relation that may (or may not) have been there–or more likely, was one sided to begin with.

      I love that the idea that we provide support to one another makes us biased. Are the folks at SI biased? Did anyone check to see if the survey is running a live link there? That would tell a story.

      Imho a better research question is: how many cheaters are really in ‘right relationship” (ok, church words there) with their partners to begin with…? and how many are taking a water-skiing ride until the next thrill comes along to feed the narcissitic yaw?

      soapbox off. Sorry for the trauma drama.

    • Note to self: Revise estimate of Washburn University steeply downward (though perhaps they remain in the middle tier of Topeka’s higher education system, somewhere between Bethel Bible College and Regency Beauty Institute).

      Though as the parent of a 22-year old considering grad school I feel a bit sorry for this kid. The amount of real-world experience she has is likely minuscule. From my own experience in grad school, i think it’s likely the topic and the broad outline of methodology came from an adviser. But you’d hope this experience at CL with Real Human Beings Who Have Experienced Infidelity might cause her to reconsider some of her deeply flawed premises.

    • I did not email or take the survey. That said I think Ms Research could learn a lot by listening to what people have to say on the matter instead of sitting in a fantasy lab somewhere putting data into a computer with her fingers in her ears.

      Maybe we’re not all impressed with Ph.D. level psychologists’ approval and how they wish to help with reconciliation after an affair.

      • I am still trying to get my mind around the control points.

        About the closest things to control points I could see were “how many times” did they cheat (paraphrasing from memory), how long did it go on, and how sincere was their remorse.

        The last item alone has been a topic of exploration on this blog: is it really remorse or are they sorry there are consequences?

        Most of us had to find out that this behavior was part of a larger problem in terms of our former spouses’ character: it was just one aspect of who they were, and it wasn’t changing. Forgiveness would have been a lifelong, ongoing, always-unfinished task complete with many horrible traumas and negative consequences for the “forgiver”.

        I rarely give my ex a second thought. Don’t know where she is, what she’s doing, and quite honestly I just don’t care because it doesn’t impact me in any way whatsoever. I’m lucky. If we had kids, I’d be stuck with some real suckitude most likely.

    • I hope folks here didn’t send nasty emails to the persons conducting the survey, definitely not cool. I sent one respectful email asking her to consider updating her survey to include domestic abuse questions. ie; was there abuse before, during or after the affair, as that would be germaine to the responses to other questions.

      • I hope nobody sent nasty e-mails either. It’s easy to use people like this as stand-ins for our cheaters, but they don’t deserve it, even if their opinions are ill-considered.

        • I know I didn’t send them anything. I just didn’t complete the “survey”. I got about 1/2 way through it, and then I started googling the author and school because I could not believe it was what passed as a research study.

          • I would have liked to have sent an email, but it would have been polite and considered.

            Chumps, PLEASE don’t communicate in an angry or aggressive way. This stuff really hurts, but what that (aggression) does, is confirmed ‘bitter, crazy’ stereotypes.

            Lets always keep this in mind.

    • Biased?! It was already a poorly designed study. She chose a convenience sample from an ill-suited source. This is also the risk of internet surveys! I wrote an email; nothing in my message was derogatory and I tried to relay helpful feedback because designing a study is challenging. Hopefully she considers it.

      • I didn’t email her anything. I was hoping, if she was a PhD student, actually interested in her field, she would have been reading our comments here. Yeah…..I’m always expecting too much out of people.

        • I guess we’re a bunch of noncompliant chumps who are not interested in the the business of reconciliation. She probably should have guessed that from reading some of the posts and comments. Do researches believe they are doing the world a favour by carrying out ludicrous surveys like we’re some charity cases. I thing the smugness is what bothers me most – the lack of insight too – reducing the trauma of infidelity down to mere statistics and data. Makes my gut scream!

          • Assuming this was real (big assumption, IMO), she’s a screwed up kid is all.

            Who even asks “Was the affair intentional or unintentional”?

            • Yes, TH, from the outset the survey is an insult to anyone who has been cheated on and shows a fundamental lack of understanding and insight. I’d expect a higher standard of comprehension by a researcher at that level of education. Stick on the label ‘Ph.D’ and we’re supposed to be all reverent. I have said before, real life is where the learning is.

              • I don’t think the point of a PhD is to be reverent. We just go to school for a really long time and conduct original research to become experts on a particular topic. For what its worth, I hold a lot of respect for the study participants with whom I work– Without them, the study would not be possible!

            • I think an “intentional” affair would be someone who seeks a relationship (ie prostitutes, Craigslist, etc) and “unintentional” would be a relationship that developed.

    • I think the fundamental research design was flawed in that the underlying assumption was that people wish to reconcile their relationship after an affair. The survey needs to drill down to get to those people who wish to reconcile. If the student is still reading this blog, then the student might want to have some opening questions that will discover the following:
      1. Is the respondent the adulterer or the Chump?
      2. Was the affair revealed or discovered?
      3. Was there an attempt to reconcile under each of the above? Who initiated the attempt under each of the above?
      4. Was the attempt reciprocated?
      5. Has the couple reconciled (defined as still married, living together, and without any divorce proceedings)?

      If a couple has not reconciled, then the survey should finish. Likewise, the survey should finish if the attempts at reconciliation are not reciprocated.

      This would allow the researcher to be able to say that there are X many respondents, out of whom x% attempted to reconcile. Out of those reconciliation attempts, y% were initiated by the adulterer and z% initiated by the chump. Out of those attempts initiated by the adulterer, a% were initiated prior to the discovery of the affair (i.e. cheater admitted the affair and asked for reconciliation) while b% were initiated after discovery (i.e. the chump discovered the affair and the cheater asked for reconciliation). A similar set of statistics could be used for the chump.

      This would add some much-needed contextual data. For example, the research would suggest the percentage of successful reconciliations that occur when a marriage experiences infidelity. Also, the research might suggest under what conditions reconciliation occurs (i.e. the cheater confesses and asks for reconciliation, the chump discovers and the cheater asks for reconciliation, etc.).

      Then, the survey would gauge how much forgiveness factored in. As others here have indicated, some marriages persist because financial situations make divorce difficult, if not impossible. If a marriage has “reconciled” (i.e. the couple is still married, still living together, no divorce proceedings), is the reconciliation due to financial issues, desire for an “intact” family for the children, forgiveness/renewal of trust, etc.?

      Then the survey would drill down into the issues of forgiveness/renewal of trust.

      The survey outcome would be very interesting, in that it would not only indicate the percentage of marriages that successfully reconcile post-infidelity, but also drill down into the reasons for reconciliation. It may be that actual forgiveness is pretty low on the list. In other words, the survey could help shed light on some of the assumptions prevalent in relationship research.

      I can believe that forgiveness is an essential component of successful reconciliation, but it may be that successful reconciliation is very rare (unicorn sighting), and that it is typically found in certain scenarios, and rarely in others.

      Well, that’s my $0.02. 😉

    • If it was specifically designed to help those that wished to reconcile, then there should have been a qualifying statement at the beginning or qualifying questions designed to weed out those of us who didn’t qualify in that sense. Instead she got a whole bunch of people for which at least one party did not wish to reconcile, so were not the participants she was looking for. And several PHD’s approved this approach – huh, just huh.

      • Well, bogie, that was the problem that namedforvera and others have indicated. The researcher might want people who’ve experienced infidelity in their marriages, and of course Chump Lady gets those, but the researcher really wants only those who’ve reconciled. If you read Chump Lady, you quickly realize that this is not a pro-reconciliation site. I don’t think that CL is anti-reconciliation (though I bet it appears that way to those who’ve not read the site deeply), but more that true reconciliation is very, very rare, and requires both the adulterer to own up to his/her actions while demonstrating trustworthiness and reforging the affection s/he claims to feel for his/her spouse, and for the spouse to be able to accept that the adulterer’s actions are genuine. At any rate, the demographics of this site would include more of those people who have neither reconciled nor forgiven.

        I am sorry that the student thinks she’s had a bad experience here. I, and others here, are involved in academic research and know that research design is very difficult, and very much a learning process. Sifting through the criticism here yields some very constructive suggestions on how to redesign the survey to provide more meaningful results.

        I would encourage the student to pursue the project, but to rethink her survey design.

  • Bummer, I wanted to take it. It sounded as if it was poorly worded, and I wanted to give it a try.
    As for Washburn, hmmm. I turned down a job there; that would be the third Dean since my time. Maybe good thing I turned it down….

  • I think people get confused with reconciliation, forgiveness and natural consequences. I have heard some good sermons on forgiving and forgetting recently. The preacher actually said that forgetting when you have been deeply wounded would be liken to mental illness and that God forgives us, but we still face the consequences for our actions. God forgave King David for his adultery and murder of the husband, but David suffered consequences the rest of his life. Forgiving does not mean zero consequences and the consequence of loss of trust and the breaking of vows is loss of the marriage. My husband knew when he walked out the door to go on a romantic cruise with his OW that he was destroying our marriage. This was his third affair that I know of in our 20-year marriage. He knew the consequence. but he did it anyway because his needs for sex with a woman he hadn’t seen in 20 years outweighed our marriage and family. The consequence is I filed for divorce. He wants to reconcile and has accused me of being unforgiving. I personally think he should be happy that I treat him kindly and speak to him at all. Forgiveness is giving up the right for revenge; it has nothing to do with reconciling. Forgive I have, but chump I am no more.

    • Interesting writer65, I am fascinated by the fact that there is in general so much talk of “forgiveness,” but no one ever really defines it properly for me. Everyone seems to believe it means something else, and for the most part, asks you for commitments to forgive without a mutual understanding of what that would entail.

      Before I can decide if I will “forgive” I have to know what it means in a given situation. You may have said it best, “Forgiveness is giving up the right for revenge; it has nothing to do with reconciling.” Or as CL says, “MEH.”

      • “I am fascinated by the fact that there is in general so much talk of ‘forgiveness,’ but no one ever really defines it properly for me.”

        Agreed. Majority in discussions of reconciliation seem to mean by “forgive” either: 1) I will pretend to have amnesia and act like I don’t even know about the hurtful conduct; or 2) I will acknowledge the existence of the hurtful conduct but present as if it didn’t really hurt me, or better yet pretend that it somehow helped me or our relationship.

        One of CL’s groundbreaking insights IMO is her assertion that forgiveness (whatever it is) should involve no fiction.

  • “your comments and misinterpretation of my research on your blog”

    Ummmm……NO……..I’m not stupid, and I don’t think I mis-infered anything from the questions and statements appearing ON THEIR SURVEY.

    “This survey was specifically designed, and backed by scientific research as well as numerous Ph.D. level psychologists’ approval, for psychologists to better understand…”

    That’s downright scarey….. How much they don’t get is showing.

    • Also, too, in addition…split infinitive. OK, so call me nit-picky. I wouldn’t call that out in natural conversation, probably do it myself. But in a ‘scholarly’, or purportedly scholarly, piece of writing, I believe authors should follow the highest standards and conventions of grammar.

      There I go again, expecting standards and shit. What grumpy old pain in the arse I am!

  • Actually I think it would have been helpful if that student had been able to post a link to the survey. It seems it would have been helpful for that thesis to be written so that therapists are better able to help those that have been cheated on. Oh well, you decided for all the readers that this is not for us.

    • The person who put up the survey took it down, FYI.

      This survey is currently closed. Please contact the author of this survey for further assistance.

      • Well yeah: They took it down because the debriefing statement was posted on this blog. From CL’s post above:
        ” Because you posted the debriefing statement on your blog, every participant since your post is now considered biased, and therefore I have had to shut my survey down as this data is unusable.”

        • Would that be the “debriefing statement” from the “principle” [sic] “investigator”? lol

          • Yes, I get that the debriefing statement introduces bias.

            Look how furious we all were! But maybe we have saved some traumatised people being fed a load of RIC crapola.

            I tried RIC for 5 long years. I tried and tried and tried. All I got was more narcissistic abuse and discard. He isn’t a bad person, but his defences are deeply narcissistic, and the only way to protect yourself is to disengage.

  • No one should be allowed to publish a paper on the subject of cheating unless they have personally experienced it.

    • meh, I can imagine studying any number of things I have never gone through and doing a better job of it.

      For example, one set of longitudinal studies found that more than 70% of people who have survived genocide return to their baseline happiness withing a range of 6months to 2 years (Banano, 2004), while nearly 5% can’t seem to return to their baseline happiness even 5 or more years out.

      Now I can imagine ways to construct a study that sought to understand what makes that 5% different from the 70% that doesn’t involve making insulting judgements about them without going through the experience of genocide myself.

      • Too right TimeHeals. In addition-she could have used a little bit of research imagination and done a content analysis of the blog comments here to enrich her survey planning. Gee– learning about your topic ahead of time, what a concept!

      • I think the idea of baseline happiness and that research you mention is very interesting… Gives hope in the recovery process and in the wait for Meh…

  • My cheater blamed me for his infidelity. He didn’t acknowledge any wrong actions on his part, and repeatedly told me I was the reason he fell in love with someone else was leaving me. It felt similar to being beaten and then told you should feel sorry for your abuser because you caused them to hit you.

    My main focus is on moving forward and learning to love and provide for myself. I want to forgive my ex am not pushing myself on the subject. I’ve got enough to deal with in rebuilding my life without worrying about forgiving someone who never acknowledged the pain they caused

  • I did that thing when you believe reconciliation is what you want and “forgave” my cheater. Somewhere I picked up the idea that reconciliation can’t happen without it. (Divorce Busting, maybe?) I told her I forgave her, because that’s what we needed to move on. She said she didn’t know how I could do it so easily.

    Turns out, I really didn’t. They were only words. I haven’t forgiven her, and I don’t really intend to since acknowledgement of the wrong — that essential part of the process — is never gonna happen. Instead, I’m now working on getting from “Fuck you, you’re awful” to “Meh.” It isn’t easy, but at least I’m not stuffing it in search of a unicorn that doesn’t exist.

  • i was abandoned by my first husband a college classmate and “pillarofthecommunity 50 years ago .mty children were hurt .i was hurt.But i had the sense to tell him to pack and i don’t regret it. i did not hear from him and didn’t miss the contact.His name was Art Ortenberg and his mistress/soulmate/wife was the real Liz Claiborne .20 years later they made millions which i was not “legally” entitled to and did not want. I reinvented myself
    and then when Liz diedin 2007 Art began a series of publicity in newspapers ,internet,etc
    glorifying his torrid affair and indicating that i was merely collateral damage. my children by now adults were hurt are still hurt and he died in February after writing a book of tribute to liz and sending it to me.i believe he is heartless , cruel, greedy, and never should have had children. these men are walking disasters and deserve nothing but indifference.Muriel Kotchever Schnierow.Blessingsto all.

  • Huzzah! Praise the lord! The words I’ve been longing to hear (read).

    “I counsel people to get to “meh” — indifference. Acceptance. Not wishing the person dead. IMO, that is a form of forgiveness. You no longer have the power to hurt me.”

    I am so effing tired of being told that I need to forgive or that my problem is that I’m not capable of forgiveness. how the hell do they turn it around to make it your problem, your fault, your inadequacy?? Hello. Maybe you don’t deserve forgiveness, maybe I don’t need to ever forgive you for what you did. How convenient for you: you mess up and then demand forgiveness.

    I’ll never forget when I was younger and my best friend in the world betrayed me. We lived together at the time and when I found out, I simply stopped speaking to her. Now I don’t know if that was the healthiest approach (seems a bit PA looking back), but it was all I could do at the age of 19…anyway, one day she approached me and said “you can’t just ignore me forever!” and I said “watch me”. We never spoke ever again. It’s 20+ years later and I don’t have any regrets. I don’t miss her at all and I’m sure my life is much better without her. The first year after that was reeeeally hard, no kidding. But looking back, I am so much better without a betrayer in my life. I don’t forgive her per se…but I just don’t give a damn about her one bit. I reached indifference and it was liberating. So now, all these years later, I am being told by my ex (cheater) how I need to forgive him, how we should be friends. As you have said elsewhere on this blog – what use do I have for a friend like that?? Expletive him.

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