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Dear Chump Lady, My fiancé is friends with a nest of cheaters

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Dear Chump Lady,

I found your blog recently and have been reading all about ego kibbles and cake and chumps, because of a fucked up situation that recently came to light and is wreaking havoc in my life. I’m hoping you can help someone who isn’t a chump, but is currently being affected by a massive amount of cheating, gaslighting, and the works.

My fiance’s friend group is unhealthy, and has been since he and I met two years ago, but now it’s insane and unhealthy and falling apart. When I met him, he was living in a big house with two other married couples, and there were two more couples in their friend’s group (8 people plus my fiance). He moved out last year to get an apartment with me (yay!). Since we started our relationship, all four married couples have split up, all four due to cheating, and in the two most recent breakups (last week), one person from each remaining couple was cheating with each other. EACH OTHER.

I. Can’t. Handle. It. The cheating people also bullied their spouses into accepting open marriages to avoid feeling guilty. The whole past year this has been going on in secret. My fiance’s four closest friends. For about six months, they’ve been ignoring him and leaving him out of things while they run around, turning down all his invitations to get together. They’ve been completely unavailable to him, but NOW that everything’s come out and there’s disaster everywhere, all the cheating folks keep popping up and asking to talk with him. “OH I NEEEEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE. Let me pour insanity into your ear about how my childhood was so awful and I cheated without thinking about it (with my childhood best friend’s spouse, for a year) and now I want to hurt myself, and I demand you be available to me whenever because you’re my good friend, right? I know I ignored you for months, but you see now why I couldn’t talk to you then, right?”

These people have also been superior, snobby, and exclusionary the entire time of our relationship, giving him unsolicited relationship advice as well as treating me as though I wasn’t there. They never accepted me (I know this isn’t the point, but I spent a long time agonizing over what was wrong with me, finally going to a therapist and coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t me). They went so far as to tell my fiance that marriage sucks and his friends are his “mirror” and he should listen to them, etc etc, and that I don’t “push” him enough. I never got comfortable with them, and even though I tried to get to know them each individually, they only ever wanted to socialize as a big group. Eventually, I stopped joining my fiance when he went to see them.

Luckily, he and I have worked to build a good relationship. We went through couples therapy for months to prepare for marriage, and a lot of that time was spent talking about his friends and why they treated me and our relationship like they do. He now sees their behavior as strange and unwarranted, thank God. We’re getting married in November and these folks were supposed to BE in the wedding, but he’s trying not to take sides. I’m having a hard time stomaching that, as well as their constantly filling his head for hours with tales of their infidelity and woe. I know I’m letting myself be affected by their past shitty behavior to us as we got closer together. He is crushed by this revelation of their characters, as he grew up idolizing these people (they’re a few years older). We’re going back to counseling over this, and I’m just SO ANGRY. It’s taken so long for him to create healthy boundaries with these people, and they have found a delightful new way to fuck with him.

I guess what I want to know is, how can I be a support for my fiance and what can I say to him? For obvious reasons, he can only talk to one of them at a time, and he is determined to be there to talk whenever any of them ask. This is very trying. I’m trying to understand this. Thank you. And thanks for being a voice of reason amid insanity!

Sincerely,

Civilian Casualty Bride

Dear CCB,

The problem isn’t your fiancé’s friends — it’s your fiancé. Look, that pack of hyenas he calls “friends” are narcissistic fuckwads. Why he doesn’t toss the whole lot of them says a lot about HIM.

You’re asking me how you can be supportive of your fiancé while he supports wah-wah crybaby cheaters who phone him up at all hours? Not gonna do it, CCB.

Ask yourself — if you were a cheater and you wanted some kibbles of “There, there, you poor sausage, what you did wasn’t so bad” — who would you call? A Catholic nun? Someone who would tell you you’re an asshole? Someone who wouldn’t pick up the phone? Or would you call someone you suspect won’t call you on your shit. Who, you suspect, adheres to the same crap values you have?

At best your fiancé is a spineless dude who has poor judgement in friends and won’t set boundaries. He’s just a big pussy kibble dispenser. At worst, he’s someone who’s okay with cheating. It’s all a big whatever to him.

Unfortunately, you’ve given me some evidence of the latter when you wrote “he doesn’t want to take sides.”

There’s a red flag! But before I launch into my Jerks Who Want to be “Neutral” sermon, let’s take a moment to reflect on your fiancé’s other acts of shittiness.

1) He didn’t distance himself from his friends when they were cold and unwelcoming to you. I believe the terms you used were “superior, snobby, and exclusionary.” They excluded you and he went along with that. Worse, when you wouldn’t tag along, he went without you.

I’m not saying you have to be glued to the hip with your boyfriend. Or that you both can’t have other friends outside the relationship. Or that you have to do everything together. That’s not the point. The point is — they were rude to you. They slighted you and let you know you weren’t cool enough to hang with them — and THAT didn’t make your fiancé question his judgement about them. No, he hung on and got his nose out of joint later when he kept calling them to do things, and they were too busy banging each other.

So not only did he not put distance there — he chased them. I really don’t know how else to interpret that other than hanging with the cool kids means more to him than your feelings do.

2) The hyenas gave him unsolicited relationship advice that was negative about your commitment and you. Did he shut that shit down? No, apparently he told you about it. They are his “mirror”? WTF? Is he no one unless his friends tell him who he is? Maybe that’s one for the spineless pussy column. He is sharing his joyful news of engagement with these people and their reaction is to tell him how much marriage sucks? And it never occurs to him that he needs a better class of friends? Way to revel in his happiness, there. Friendship FAIL.

Then the moment comes when he is shocked! just shocked! that’s they’re all a bunch of cheaters.

He’s so shocked and upset that….

… he keeps taking their phone calls.

He is so “crushed by these revelations of their character” that…

he doesn’t want to take sides. They’re still in the wedding. And you’re supposed to go along with that.

Oh yeah, I can smell the stern disapproval from way over here in Texas.

Here is where I launch into my Jerks Who Want to Be Neutral sermon.

Somewhere in this clusterfuck, CCB, are some chumps. Unless every single one went along with the open marriage gig, someone got grievously played. Their marriage fell apart. They’re shattered. And their “friend” there, Mr. Switzerland, would like everyone to act like it never happened. Just show up for my wedding. Let’s be cool and hang out again like we used to! He’s not going to judge. Apparently he’s not judging when they call, which is why they keep calling back. All the kibbles! None of the judgement! Everyone gets to stay friends!

Why isn’t he going to judge? Because he’s got shit for values. His attachment to these people isn’t that deep. He wants whatever sparkle they can confer, he isn’t really invested in who hurt whom. His heart isn’t breaking for the person(s) who got betrayed. No, he’s conferring comfort and kibbles to the cheaters that betrayed them. Because he doesn’t want to Take Sides.

But he’s taking a side. He just doesn’t want to be called on it. He’s still with the cheaters. His actions say What You Did Wasn’t That Bad That I Still Won’t Be Your Friend.

Hell, you can be in my wedding!

And isn’t THAT rich? Yeah, come celebrate my day of monogamy and commitment! Let’s have people in the wedding party who are on record with how much “marriage sucks.” And who didn’t keep their vows themselves.

THIS is who he chooses. THIS says a lot about your fiancé.

And here is where I tell you what you probably don’t to hear as you’re neck deep in wedding prep. This guy isn’t marriage material. He’s not ready for marriage. He doesn’t know himself and he can’t stick up for what he believes in (assuming he even knows what he believes in). And I’m not sure he’s going to figure it out in 8 weeks.

And you’re taking an enormous risk marrying a guy who keeps company with a nest of cheaters.

You can throw a lot of counseling at this, and good luck with that, but the best shrink in the world can’t give your fiancé a character transplant. The best I can say about your fiancé is that he’s immature and spineless. Ask the folks here how it worked out for them marrying someone whose values didn’t align with theirs. Who were on different pages when it came to monogamy and loyalty.

But his love for you will transcend all that! He’ll get his shit together and leave these losers!

I don’t see any evidence of that. He loves you… and he still picks up that phone.

Please give this marriage thing some more thought. (((Hugs)))

— Chump Lady

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Sadly, I think CL is right on this – the bottom line is that you will be taking a huge risk in marrying such an immature individual. The risk is more than ‘he might cheat on me too some day’. It’s more about the low-level, enduring stress your doubts will cause you in the coming years. It’s complicated, and some days no doubt, things seem OK.

    The fact that he has not just walked away from them says a lot. I have dealt with spineless men in my life too. They are SOOO nice, but after a while, you wish they’d just have an opinion on something. That they would. actually. take. sides. when morals are involved.

    Any guy who told me he ‘worships’ someone would not have my respect. Unless it’s his granny.

    It may be extremely difficult for you to make such a decision, but you would be doing yourself a favour by stopping just ‘feeling angry’ and stand your ground. Set some boundaries for yourself.

    The problem is that you will end up looking like a control freak – if you tell him to drop them. The most important thing is – he should have done that already himself.

    Best wishes to you – and I know, out there, there is a better man for you.

    • As an aside, I recently walked away from a relationship where my BF’s best friend was an admitted cheater. I was well acquainted with the guy’s lovely wife of 25 years. The reason I changed my mind about BF was that the Cheater shared his infidelity with BF, and BF did not think it necessary to even voice his disapproval. He just insisted on continually going out to “talk” with his Cheater buddy, who revelled in telling him how great it was to have two women. He would “disapprove” behind his back, but that was lip service to me.

      It did hurt a lot to walk away, but I felt my faith in his principles was too damaged. I am very reluctant after two divorces already to ever leap into a pile of red flags again. Have courage, there are good people out there.

      • I think you were wise, Marci. People who cheat are more likely to have friends who cheat. Your former BF’s behavior showed his real attitude towards cheating.

  • RUN, FORREST! RUNNNN!!!

    OMFG, soooooo been there done that.

    Honey, get out! Get out now! Before genuine legal entanglements and children happen! There’s a quote from Maya Angelou (?) talking about how when someone shows you who they are, believe them. I have lived this hell before. Thank [insert deity here] that my relationship failed out because of their so-called “good friends”. If you’ve had to do all this kind of therapy about his friends’ behavior *before* the marriage – it’s doomed. He will never be what you need him to be, at best. I smell closet cheater though. Birds of a feather flock together and all that. Real love is easy, supportive, a source of strength. It’s not filled with conflict, making you do so much analysis your head hurts.

    You are emotionally strong & mature enough to move forward without him. Please, PLEASE do so. ASAP. I’ll be praying for you.

    • Agreed. When his friends are terrible and they continue to be his friends… Then… You are what you eat. People who are amazing sometimes have a few shitty friends because they believe in them, they want to give a dark horse a go. But usually shitty people are surrounded by shitty people because they put up with and reinforce each other’s shitty behaviour. They have a few kibble machines (nice folks- chumps and such) who are sadly manipulated enough to think that ‘they’re nice to me..’ But that’s not really good enough. Not enough to put your whole life on the line. A pile of shitty friends doesn’t really bode well. Vampires stick with vampires.

  • CCB, if CL is right (she is) and this guy isn’t marriage material and you are (and clearly would like to move in that direction), then not only should you call off the wedding, you need to break up with this guy and go no contact (NC).

    I’m guessing your brain is a little vapor-locked right now, but I bet support would crawl (pour) out of your friends and family woodwork. Most of them have probably watched you gently domesticate this Timid Forest Creature (TFC – see the CL post), with clenched teeth and a measure of hidden eye rolls. For two years they’ve seen you pour resources into this relationship, while he pours resources into something else.

    I recommend you salvage what resources you can from the expense of nuptials and invest those back into yourself. Get therapy, take some personal development classes, read the books, etc. Figure out why you missed the red flags or excused them.

    Either way you go, I guessing you won’t recognize yourself in a year.

    Good Luck, CCB

  • Sounds like the fiancé has a dysfunctional family. I have one of those. The black sheep always stick together; supporting and defending each other in their lying and manipulations and cheating and scamming… The black sheep sometimes appear to distance themselves from each other, but they know they can always count on the stray ones to come back to commiserate in their criminal activities. They only allow other black sheep into their circle. CCB is not a black sheep, but she is planning to marry one.

  • OK, I was reading the CCB’s account and thinking…ooooo honey, it’s kinda not good for you eh? Then I read your response and whooo! You applied a heavy dose of varnish remover.

    I agree btw. I’m just amazed at your short-cut to the gut wrenching truth that the fiance is a ‘pleaser’ not a standup guy.

    I echo the “Run Forrest, Run” comment from Sunny.

    • I also speak from experience when I say that people who are okay with other people cheating are also okay with themselves cheating. This is a reflection of his values, and you can’t change that.

      “I really don’t know how else to interpret that other than hanging with the cool kids means more to him than your feelings do.” Please take that comment to heart. Your feelings will always be low on his priority list -on big things and small ones. There is nothing but misery to be had with someone who finds it so easy to throw you under the bus.

      He is NOT marriage material…..everyone here can see him for what he is (been there, did that) and is warning you because they can see the writing on the wall. Ergo, our collective advice to save yourself and run like hell.

      • You betcha Einstein! Mine was anti-cheater for our first twenty years. Massively anti-cheater. Then I remember thinking it was odd he was reluctant to cut a known chedifficult tof our lives, “because it is too financially messy with the other guys (they were building a lodge together) besides, we don’t know the full story.” I should have known then. But it almost seemed he had a point. I was furious with him that day. The flags were waving madly and I must have been colour blind.

        Thank fuck CL called it what it is. I was on fire reading your letter, CCB. I’m so sorry, but she is on the money here. Hopefully one day you will be grateful for her difficult medicine to swallow.

  • Dear CCB,

    Now that my 22 year marriage and life are in shambles, and my children have been hurt and deceived by the man I thought was going to a “fantastic father,” I find myself going over a particular incident in our youth that was a huge red flag. We were both transitioning from one college to another when we met. I never got to meet any of his old friends before we married. But as he started to make new ones, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe his poor judgement. The friends he chose were TERRIBLE PEOPLE with terrible values. I can remember going out with some of them one night, and later telling my husband that whenever I was out with them, I felt like he had “turned to the Dark Side.” Corny Star Wars reference aside, I was right on target. I wish I had paid more attention to that. His choice of friends told me more about who he really was than anything else about him. It took me many years and a lot of heartache to accept that the things I loved about him didn’t change who he was at his core. I hope you give yourself more time to come to terms with what you know about him, and how he treats you, and don’t rush into marrying him just because wedding plans are set. Good luck!

    • Agreed, DoneNow, and of course Chump Lady, who writes, “Ask the folks here how it worked out for them marrying someone whose values didn’t align with theirs.”

      VALUES — CCB, it’s about values and yours don’t match your fiancé’s, this is NOT GOOD. This is a very big red flag.

      I’m also alarmed by him going to see his pals without you, this is setting you up for disaster. That is how my husband eventually found a woman to cheat with. You should not consider a marriage to a man who thinks he can compartmentalize his friends and spouse. This just has failure written all over it.

      I know it must be hard to hear, CCB, but he’s too immature and lacking a strong enough character. This will not end well.

      Please, if you’re having to work so hard at this relationship BEFORE you’re married — it’s just not a good sign.

      • Here here! It’s not about needing to do everything together. It’s knowing that he chooses regularly to not be with you, and be with terrible people who make bad life choices. Boo. Hiss.

  • CCB,

    I agree with CL here. It is very troubling that he is valuing these “friends'” opinions more than his relationship with you. And it sounds like these friends are already in your relationship. Is that okay with you? My cheating ex-wife was like this especially towards the end. It is not a good sign to have relationships outside of the future marriage already taking precedence over the budding marital bond.

    And I would add from what I remember in the book by Dr. Shirley Glass about infidelity that having friends who cheat and support cheating is a MAJOR risk factor for infidelity in your marriage. Your finance is giving them a forum to fill his mind with values that you apparently do not hold (i.e. promiscuity and cheating). It is SO unhealthy!

    • Exactly. Think about that. He admires a circle of cheaters. If he cheats on you, he has a ready-made group of people who will be poised to support his cheating and demonize you. He hasn’t cheated…yet, but the people he feels closest to, (odd that isn’t you) are admitted cheaters who openly told him marriage sucks and they don’t like you.

      You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.

    • The cheating friends even supply their rational for doing so, and even set up the future spouse (hope not!) with his built in mindset; excuses, limbo level boundaries you can just hop over, etc.
      The more you hear it the more normal it seems.
      This is true with crime, violence and every other atrocity known to mankind. Over time it becomes less of an impact until one day the “up” side stands out instead of the “down” side.

  • Aligning your moral and definition compass with your partner is paramount to a successful relationship/marriage. I fear he’s going to be no good for you in the long run. It must be difficult to consider pulling the plug on this relationship because you love him.

    Take a good, long, hard, honest, unbiased look at WHO he is. At his core. Look at his actions always. Words are nice but meaningless.

    Aligning your moral compass with somebody else is one of THE most important things you can do. Aligning your definition compass is another. What that means is what is LOVE? It’s such an abstract concept that means different things to different people. You ask anybody what a table is, that’s easy to define . Love… not so much. I see Maury Povich lie detector episodes where they cheater is asked if he loves his spouse. He says, YES and the lie detector says he’s telling the truth. 3 more questions later he’s discovered to cheat on his spouse with hookers, best friends, etc. So really his version of LOVE doesn’t mesh with her version of love. Love for the cheater is, “Does he/she meet my needs? Does he/she make me happy sometimes? Does he/she do things for me? etc” Love for the chump is sacrifice, fidelity, compromise, intimacy, selflessness, support, honesty, etc. Both different definitions.

    Sorry for the long winded response, but the bottom line… Align your values and your definition of love with a potential partner. It seems this man has great potential to cause havoc in your life in the future. Please consider your choices. It will effect the rest of your life.

    • ” Love for the cheater is, “Does he/she meet my needs? Does he/she make me happy sometimes? Does he/she do things for me? etc” Love for the chump is sacrifice, fidelity, compromise, intimacy, selflessness, support, honesty, etc. Both different definitions.”

      Great advice.

    • Bravo scoops! Well stated!
      Immaturity really comes into play.
      Children love someone who buys them an ice cream cone.
      NC’s are a sucker for anyone who flatters them, the adult version of the ice cream cone.
      Mature people know that if you don’t respond to the flattery, or the line, they usually just move on to the next person to see if it works on them. The guy in the bar who says you are the best looking woman in the room is still using that line with the last women left.
      Immature people are still looking for the ice cream cone while the mature ones have moved on to real life and real world commitment that actually have value.

  • CCB –

    What CL is saying is definitely not what you want to hear, I know. You are VERY invested in the relationship. I get that. In fact, I get it so much that even when my boyfriend of 6 years threatened to break up with me if I didn’t move where he wanted to, I gave in and moved and married him. And then he eventually cheated on me and I found myself here. I did not see at the time what a huge red flag that was because by that time I already couldn’t picture a future that didn’t include him in it. So we know you are invested, but ask yourself how invested is he?? How has he shown that to you?

    My living with shitty treatment and giving into those types of threats showed that I was the one with the love and he was the one using my feelings to get what he wanted. And then my ex pushed the limits even further. Well, she’ll live with that, then she’ll live with this. He did not think I would ever leave him.

    Whether I think your fiance is a future scum-bag cheater, I don’t know. I do know that it doesn’t seem like this relationship makes you feel good about yourself. And if that is already the case, I don’t see it improving over time. If his friends talk shit about you, he should have either dropped them (they are undermining a very important relationship to him… and who wants friends like that??) or you (if he agreed you weren’t right for him). Or you should have dropped him. If his closest friends make you feel like shit and he wants to continue to hang out with them and even tell you about the shit they say, then you should have moved on. Your significant other needs to respect you, and he is not showing you respect. He should bring out the best in you, not make you feel like crap. You are probably saying HE makes you feel great; but by keeping his friends around, he really doesn’t. I mean, you’ve been in therapy discussing how bad they (him included, because they wouldn’t be in your life if not for him) make you feel.

    And if you don’t agree with his lifestyle choices, the types of people he chooses to surround himself with, etc., then those ARE red flags. Even though you’ve told yourself they are no big deal. I know how that is, I rationalized away so many “small” red flags (along with a few big ones later on). Those small red flags should have added up.

    Trust me, I know you love him. But love isn’t enough. You can love someone the whole time they are also making you miserable. You probably don’t even realize how miserable you are. I know I didn’t. But the infidelity made me reach a breaking point. I was scared shitless when I left my husband and father of my children, but I am much MUCH happier on the other side. And now I know the type of relationship I will insist on going forward. I’m not saying calling off a wedding would be easy. It would be full of sadness, embarrassment, shame and a bunch of other crappy emotions just like ending a marriage is. But there are also huge feelings of freedom and happiness. You are having very serious doubts about this relationship to be writing into an infidelity website. I think you need to listen to your gut.

    • I so agree with your point about not realizing how miserable you really are.
      I think that kind of misery creeps up on us, making it all seem not so bad.
      It’s the frog in the pot of slowly heating water, we accustom ourselves to little bits of bullshit, until we’re swimming in it, and not even noticing. (Sorry to mix my metaphors)

    • “You probably don’t even realize how miserable you are. I know I didn’t. But the infidelity made me reach a breaking point.”

      AnotherErica, this is EXACTLY how I felt. CCB, you have so many warning signs here. A man who will not defend you to his friends is not husband material. My husband’s family was horrible to me when we first started going out. When I would get upset, he told me that I should tell them to “Go f- – – themselves.” I was only 19 and had never been in a situation where a boyfriend’s family was rude to me. I absolutely would not say anything rude to them. He never once defended me from their snide comments or tried to help make things better. As it turns out, they were all verbally abusive like him. Everything smoothed over eventually, but this should have been a huge red flag.
      Fast forward through36 years: He is controlling, passive aggressive, verbally abusive, horrible with finances, then he cheats on me – or at least has an EA – won’t admit to anything because he is such a liar. Looking back I had every warning sign and should have RUN. But with three kids, it crept up slowly and I got used to it. Do you really want to get used to that kind of treatment, CCB? Think hard about your future with this man. This cannot be easy for you. Best of luck and sending hugs.

      • Yes, this. It’s very true. I know it’s kind of presumptuous to tell someone how they feel, but think about it CC…you haven’t even married him yet and you’ve already been through a lot of marriage counseling and he STILL will not drop these people who have talked shit about you, cheated on their spouses, are NOT happy for him getting married, and are more than happy to ditch him until they need someone to justify their cheating, which he willingly does. And now you’re here, asking us for advice.

        Is this really what your idea of marital happiness is?

        Seriously, think about it. When you picture a happy marriage for yourself in your life, do you imagine having to go through several months and rounds of marriage counseling, friends that hate you, and infidelity being the main topic of conversation between them and your husband?

        If the answer to that is “no” then you probably are actually in denial about your own happiness. The one way to really pull away the veil of denial is to stop making excuses for both him AND them.

        I too, was in complete denial about how miserable I was. It wasn’t until after my relationship ended and I was in my own individual therapy that I really looked at the situation and realized “No, this shit is NOT as good as it gets, and I damn well deserved BETTER.” It is possible to be with someone who’s friends like you, who will defend you from people who unwarrantedly talk shit about you, who will choose to keep better company, and who will not abandon you for people who are not worth his time let alone yours.

        Sometimes you really don’t know how unhappy you are until you get a taste of something better.

  • Dear CCB,

    Boy, I really feel badly for you — I can’t imagine this was what you were hoping to see here as a response. Canceling a wedding, breaking up with your guy, … hard days ahead.

    But nowhere near as much pain and suffering is in store down the road after (as other have already said) marriage and legal entanglements and kids.

    This forum is comprised of real human beings who have been where you’re heading and we’re all here to tell you to turn back while you still have a chance. My own story is that I ignored the red flags (not the least of which was my XH’s perspective on his own cheating dad, who told HIS OW that his kids’ mom was dead — nice, huh?). Now, sixteen years later, I’m cleaning up the mess of my life and I’ll never get those years back that I could’ve spent with someone who valued (as I do) loyalty and commitment instead of just casting me aside for the first pretty twenty-five year old who batted his eyes at him.

    Furthermore, his friends (who I thought were OUR friends) are playing the “not taking sides” role, as well, thereby condoning his actions and forgiving him for hurting me. His betrayal & disrespect is OK, and so is all my pain. If you just met someone like that, would you be friends with them? No. But because it’s a longstanding relationship, suddenly it’s OK? No.

    Oh, if I had it to do over, CCB. What I wouldn’t give… Do yourself a favor, and run.

  • Why would you marry someone whose value system is diametrically opposed to your own?

    The people who “don’t take sides” are as bad as the cheaters, IME. By “being there” for his cheating buddies, he is giving tacit approval to their shameful exploits. Also, as Divorce Minister said so well, it doesn’t bode well for the future of your *own* marriage, should you decide to go through with it.

    Look, I don’t know you from Adam, but I am sitting here, hoping and praying that you will dump this jerk and take some time to explore, within yourself, what it is that attracted you to him in the first place, and more importantly, what has kept you with him, making plans to marry, no less!

    The very fact that you have written to CL tells me that somewhere in your mind and heart, you know this relationship/marriage is a terrible idea, and now is the time to listen to that inner voice, and to take action. The scales have fallen from your eyes, and if you go through with this anyway, I fear you will be met with a chorus of “I Told You So’s” once the inevitable happens and he decides to join his buddies’ infidelity club.

    You are worth way more than this, and what this disordered person has to offer. Run! Run like the wind.

  • To clarify, I asked when I received the letter, who the “four closest friends” were. She replied:

    “Let’s call the 4 closest friends two couples, Beau and Missy, and John and Liz. According to my fiance, Missy is a serial cheater (of which her husband was sort of aware, in a “this is her past” kind of way. Neither Beau, John nor Liz were cheaters. Beau revenge cheated on Miss when he started suspecting her of cheating; Liz has never cheated on anyone. John is a first time cheater, with Miss. This is very confusing for me too.”

    So, red flag to me is that fiancé is more aware that Missy is a serial cheater than her own husband is? If he thought it was all in the past, why didn’t fiancé? Unless Missy was confiding in him, which again, underscores his shitty character to both his “friend” Beau and more importantly, to CCB. Although Beau doesn’t really seem like a prize either. Or John. We got one chump here, Liz. Who doesn’t appear to be on anyone’s radar because she’s not cheating.

    • “So, red flag to me is that fiancé is more aware that Missy is a serial cheater than her own husband is? ”

      Umm, yeah. Huge red flag. Like, maybe Missy was cheating WITH the fiancé at some point. If these are the couples he was living with, there would have been plenty of opportunity.

    • I would read that as the husband now knows that Missy is a serial cheater. It’s not clear to me that the fiance knew before the husband did, particularly since everyone was avoiding him so he wouldn’t find out the bad stuff.

    • I had a cheating, home-wrecking female friend for a few years, when I was young. She had zero conscience about sleeping with married men (and she slept with a lot of them). I knew about this behaviour all along., but our friendship was completely platonic.

      Obviously we’re no longer friends, and, as far as I know, none of my friends are cheaters. I would distance myself from any that are.

      Just wanted to point that the fact that the fiance knew about Missy’s cheating doesn’t necessarily mean he was cheating with her.

      However, the fact that fiance is a confidante of Missy’s, combined with what I interpret to be a fair amount of minimization on his part (“first time cheater”, “‘this is her past’ kind of way”, “revenge cheated”), makes me suspicious.

      There’s a tangled mess here where there could just be some simple honesty and backbone: “Honey, it turns out my best friends are a bunch of marriage-hating, cheating narcissists. Also, it seems like they don’t like you very much, which I am not OK with. I don’t need friends like this, so I won’t be hanging with them anymore”.

      But instead we have late night phone calls, subversion, secrets, lies, minimization, blah blah blah. This is how the cheating world operates – it thrives on drama and tangled webs. Fuck it off, I say.

      You will find someone else. You are not that desperate.

  • what kind of ultra fucked up scenarios are they? I’m sorry but CL didn’t even question why said spineless fiancé would live in a house with 2 married couples? Is this the land of Mormones? Is this straight from one of the episodes of Big Love? In my book this set up is abnormal and I call myself hip enough for 2014.
    The rest of the advice I agree with. I do wonder also, how sincere people really are when they’re dating and the topic of cheating comes up. My ex swore up and down he wouldn’t follow his own father’s footsteps into the mystic land of infidelity but of course, the opposite happened. I think words are meaningless in these situations. If the person you’re dating still hangs out with cheaters, it’s not only a red flag for me, it’s a sign they indirectly support them. Or directly? There’s no stronger statement than “i know what you did but im here for you, my friend.”
    or “I know what you did and I’m okay with us setting up play dates for our children.”
    This letter may be a good idea to introduce questions about how much personal involvement are we required to have with friend cheaters, neighbor cheaters, cheaters we know from our kids schools, you know, all the social groups we belong to… I’ve been so anti- cheaters lately that when I get a whif of one and it may be a complete stranger, I don’t even want to associate with them when the opportunity arises.

    • If they are cheating, they are also lying and sneaking and disloyal to the closest people to them. Not something I want in my inner circle, and something I watch very carefully when required to interact with cheaters in the workplace.

    • My STBX is also the son of a cheater. He hated his father for leaving the family, for not being there when his brother needed a dad. At the same time, his father was on a pedestal, and his mother made sure that her sons listened to their father. They never divorced, though the father lived in a different city and came home for exactly 48 hours every weekend, at which time he spent his time either watching TV or pontificating.

      STBX spends his free time in front of youtube or pontificating. Probably sexting, too, but only when he thinks he can get away with it. Not that I care, now that I’ve filed and all. 😉

      • Congrats on filing, KB – I recall you moved in a very deliberate fashion to take this step. I hope it all goes smoothly for you.

  • Oh my God, CCB,

    Don’t get married to this guy. I truly applaud you BOTH going to pre-marital counseling. This guy is not marrige material as CL points out. Your man is not the last man on Earth. You’ve been a couple long enough that I get the feeling you are settling for someone who does not really value you.

    A lot of people here have similar stories. Mine too. So I won’t bore you with the details. I will tell you THIS: any person who does not Have Your Back is not a person to invest your life into. You will be left diminished, depressed and despondent. Your partner will craft lame ass statements that these feelings of deep unhappiness that you can’t put your finger on are all in your head. That YOU are creating the unhappiness.

    Your gut is screaming to you today- why else did you send this letter to CL? The red flags of your relationship have been there waving in your face. You’ve spent too much time already rationalizing your guy’s behavior (spackling over the crap that it IS). Listen to your inner voice. It’s not lying and it will save you or protect you from years of self doubt, subtle emtional abuse and buckets of tears.

    Time to find out why you chose to let someone take your self worth and stomp all over it, and accept his behavior. This guy is not your soul mate. Big hug!

    • PSA, if a person SAYS they “Have Your Back” a lot but their actions do not conform, they do NOT have your back

      • Bingo wuf!

        CCB, for starters, you had to go to counseling because his friends were so horrible to you, and he was still desperately clamoring for their time and attention? Bad sign….bad, bad, bad.

        Don’t put ANY stock in what he says in pre-marital counseling (or ever), believe what he does and does not do. Words are cheap…..actions tell you everything you need to know.

    • my XH never stuck up for me or our children. in the end, it was his “friends and family” (more like his enablers) that talked him into or in the very least supported his decision to leave his loving wife and loving/trusting children because he wasn’t happy. I supported this man for 14 years, gave him everything and the best that any man could ask for, he could not support me for 2 years while I struggled with the death of my oldest child.

      He ran straight to his “friends” who never really liked me in the first place. And telling them everything he should have been telling me. And of course they supported him, they agreed with him, they made him feel better about the crappy decisions he was making all behind my back.

      I foresee this happening to you if you marry this guy. I never thought about it when we were dating. he “stayed” with me, but in the end, his friends will have more influence over his decisions then you will. and if they already don’t like you, how do you see that working out in your favor in the future? who do you think he is going to turn to when you all have an argument or disagreement or issues that every married couple has? and whose opinion do you think he is going to give more weigh towards?

      save yourself some pain, heart break, anguish, and dignity.

  • Okay, this letter is TOTALLY the reason why the Bible says not to be yoked to unbelievers.

    When you truly value something, you will stick up for it. If your fiance truly valued you and your relationship, he would stick up for both, not sort of apologetically wander off to his narcissistic friends because you and they aren’t a good fit. What would happend once you had kids with this guy? You’re up in the middle of the night feeding the baby while he’s on the phone catching up on the latest episode of “As the Ego Turns”, and watching the revolving sexual encounters closely?

    Hon, he sounds like he can’t give himself because he doesn’t have a self to GIVE yet. It’s almost like he has to live vicariously through their excitement, and guess what? As life goes on, he’ll start feeling left out on the sidelines, and he’ll want to jump into the “real world”–and if his time is with those cheaters, which pool is he most likely to dip into…?

    Get out while you still have dignity, a home, financial security, and not the responsibility of children. NOW!

  • Oh, and PS: CL’s additional point is a good one. Reading the letter after editing doesn’t show that his relationship is closer to the female cheater–him getting these deets is just plain too titillating and inappropriate for an attached guy to get into. Doesn’t matter how long he’s known her.

  • Alas. On reading your letter, I tend to concur with all the voices that say that this is a necessary time of sober re-evaluation, not of his relationship with the cheaters (because what more do you need to know?), but of your relationship with him.

    My witness comes from my own experience: I married a pleaser who turned out to have a moral code made up of pure opportunistic instrumentality, where nothing he said (and he said all the right things) had any purchase when his stated values came into conflict with one or another form of selfish gratification.

    I also had red flags to pay attention to — much like those you are aware of now in your relationship — and I confidently suppressed my knowledge of them, based on what I wanted to believe about him and the plans I had for my marriage and life. I systematically overlooked the character issues, the warnings, the sleaziness, the refusal to be accountable for his actions. And I paid for it. I did hard time for years in a marriage that was suffused with gaslighting and passive-aggressive action/strategic non-action on his part, and increasing confusion and frustration on mine. Once we had a child, I was so committed to the marriage that I did not allow myself to imagine another way of being.

    I have just had a major conflictual tangle with him this summer. This is almost three decades after the year we became involved, and almost a decade after he left unilaterally in an exit affair. What emerged was that he still has the learned incompetence, the maladroit lifeskills, the core selfishness, and the inability to own his actions that he brought to the relationship in his mid-20’s. Dude has not grown. When push comes to shove, it’s all about him and as far as he is concerned, his child’s needs and issues can go hang.

    Message:

    If who he is now is who he will remain (and that may not be the case, people can grow, but as a brilliant poster noted earlier this summer, past performance really is the best indicator of future returns — and sunk costs are not the reason to keep investing, because the total patterns of sunk costs are precisely the evidence telling you that your returns will not equal investment), do you want to make a life with him?

    For most folks, one way or another, marriage is about the work of family. If you are contemplating a marriage where either of you can easily detach at will, then this guy may be a reasonable bet. If you are planning to have children, go all in, love with your whole heart and center your life with him at the core, as in traditional marriage vows — well, he’s showing you who he is (a guy who puts other folks ahead of you, which is really enough disqualifier, but to put other folks who are drek ahead of you does summon the Run Forrest Run meme! ), and as Maya Angelou (bless!) reminds us, the healthy choice is to believe what a person is telling us (in deeds, not words) *the first time*.

    As the suffragettes painted on their banners: DEEDS NOT WORDS.

    Sober evaluation: at the least, postpone the wedding while you figure out what you want from a marriage, and if it’s not total commitment with a person of substance whose actions consistently match their words and who puts you, unquestioningly, first (well, after Godself, if that’s intrinsic to zie’s moral code), then: NO, not this guy.

    And it will be sad. But it will be a healthy sadness, because you will be choosing to honor yourself and the moral compass by which you live. People heal productively with that sort of loss. The loss of several decades of your life to an unequally balanced relationship with a shady partner? the consequences for children of procreation with a scumpig? so much more scarring.

    I wish you clarity, friend!!

    • drat — murky antecedents! oh, prose intransigencies!
      at the least, postpone the wedding while you figure out what you want from a marriage, and if this marriage does not offer total commitment with a person of substance whose actions consistently match their words and who puts you, unquestioningly, first (well, after Godself, if that’s intrinsic to zie’s moral code), then: NO, not this guy.

    • andstillirise, your comment – I also had red flags to pay attention to — much like those you are aware of now in your relationship — and I confidently suppressed my knowledge of them, based on what I wanted to believe about him and the plans I had for my marriage and life. I systematically overlooked the character issues, the warnings, the sleaziness, the refusal to be accountable for his actions. And I paid for it. I did hard time for years in a marriage that was suffused with gaslighting and passive-aggressive action/strategic non-action on his part, and increasing confusion and frustration on mine. Once we had a child, I was so committed to the marriage that I did not allow myself to imagine another way of being”.
      You could be writing about me here and I am sure many other Chumps. Your words resonated with me so much, I wish I could have written them but I find myself still confused. I am an intelligent and articulate person and yet what has taken place still confuses me. Maybe I am just stupid which by the way I have been told many times by the ex husband.

      • THIS^^^

        i also suppressed my knowledge of my XH faults because i WANTED to believe he was more and the plans i had for my marriage, family and life. i SAW more in him that was really there. my XH has some truely good attributes, for the most part he has a good heart and good intentions. i could see that in him and naively thought that our marriage would bring out those good attributes more and we could have a good life.

        and in theory it COULD have worked. but his bad attributes, his weakness and spinelessness. his inability to own his actions, could not forgive, people pleasing, wishy washy values and morals, inability to grow and has zero coping skills lead to our destruction.

        i keep trying, holding on and waiting for all the energy, effort and love that i put into him and our marriage to show the rewards of a good and happy marriage life. but it never happened. when it got to hard to deal with, my XH turned his back and just walked away.

        just seeing the good in a person. hoping and thinking they can and will develop into a better life, is not good enough. this guy might have some good things going on, but the bad things are out weighing the good and it is those bad things you will deal with in the end. you will not be able to change him. he cant even make a choice between you and his friends now. dont think he will eventually make that choice in your favor in the future. THIS is as good as it gets, people put forth their best attitudes and personality when dating and in the fiance period. you are already worried, already went to counseling and already in your heart feeling like it isnt enough (why else would you go to counseling if it was?)

        listen to your intuitions, it sees shit better then your heart does. like so many others here, i wish i had listened more to mine in the beginning stage with my XH. it would have saved me from heartbreak, immense sorrow, confusion, frustration and living a lie for 14 years. Dont do that to yourself.

    • Thank you for this comment, andstillrise. You’ve so eloquently expressed what so many of us here have experienced.

      CCB, I hope and pray you’ll listen to the voices of wisdom here. We wish you well.

  • Sweetie, your therapist is wrong on two counts. Not because the cheaters aren’t a problem, but that you have allowed yourself to get into a “pick me dance” with a triangulator and a group of cheaters.

    Your fiance is in the enviable (in his tiny brain) position of being courted by both his friends and his fiance. His “Switzerland” pose just keeps the kibbles of attention coming from both sides. He is a triangulator because he likes to be at the point of the triangle. When it isn’t his friends, at some point it will be an affair partner or his mother or someone else. If your therapist didn’t see that, switch therapists.

    And that is where YOU are part of the problem. Why are you staying in a relationship and putting all this effort into the competition with these friends? You are thrilled he “picked” you and moved out of that house into yours, but that is just the triangulator keeping the game going.

    Get out. You should indeed judge a man by the company he keeps. And your fiance is lying down with a lot of flea-ridden dogs. I am also not convinced that he wasn’t involved in the sexual mix with these folks. Jackass the cheater was also good at faux outrage. Get out while you can. And figure out why the triangle is so attractive to you or you will go right back to another triangulator. Good luck.

    • Yes! well called on the therapist! and on taking time to figure out you!
      — and, ps — I *wish* I had had your perspicacity in noticing that you’re in a bad place when I was at your stage. As noted, I paid for my willful blindness.

      Excellent that you are awake enough now to take this to a therapist and write your letter.

    • Big hugs to you, CCB. The advice above cuts straight to the heart of it. Figuring out “why the triangle is so attractive to you” is indeed the task at hand. You can do it after the breakup of an engagement or you can do it later after marriage and children make it more complicated.

      Just wishing I would have had the awareness and maturity to reach out and ask the high-quality questions that you are asking in your letter to CL. High-quality questions usually result in high-quality answers. You’re getting that from CL and the rest of us.

    • Yes! Yes! It will be constant triangulation & the “pick me dance”!!!! “When it isn’t his friends, at some point it will be an affair partner or his mother or someone else.” Or even something else – excessive exercise, work, etc. It will always be about him!

    • Nailed it! Something about the therapist was bugging me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Spot on assessment.

      • I mean, the first thing the marriage counselor should have done is ask the fiance “Why were you lviing with these people?” and “What are you doing hanging out with them?” The whole “non-judgmental pre-MC and MC” thing is BS to my mind. And an individual therapist who wouldn’t say “Look, he’s triangulating you and the friends. What does he get out of that? And what position does it leave you in?” Game, set, match.

    • LovedAJackass; Good call on the therapist! Very insightful.
      When I was going through this hell, I went to FOUR therapists, and none of them were any good.
      One even told me she had not met another client/patient that had the kind of values I have. (who did not want to revenge cheat, etc.) WTF? Just what you want to hear when you are hoping there is a good guy out there somewhere. I even had another one who was flirting with the Narc on his first time there after I had been going once a week for 6 months and I was the one paying for it! I felt betrayed again! Could not believe it. Could not even buy loyalty.
      Some of these therapists sure do have problems of their own.
      Sounds like you need a new one, but don’t waste time on them if they are not helping you! A week seems like a long time in between when you are in the thick of it. Find someone who helps you!

  • Oh, wow, CCB, does this take me back…about 29 years. This was pretty much the set up with my then-fiance (now Ex) and his friends, minus the fact that they were married and IDK about the cheating. They were all desperately trying to find partners then, so….

    But, he treated me like shit, he wouldn’t stand up for me, they were in the wedding. All that crap.

    And twenty five years later? I got a big old D-Day, and in retrospect, I had at least 20+ years of a spineless, uninvolved, narcissistic “spouse” who had his head so far up his own arse I’m not sure he knew I existed, much of the time.

    As in, I would initiate all family activities: let’s for for a bike ride; let’s go for a hike, a swim, to an old thrift store, whatever. He never, not once in all that time ever took me out to a play (unless HE wanted to see it), or a movie, or dinner (unless it was a birthday, and the kid was old enough to notice.). He never remembered our wedding anniversary, or any of the little ones, either.

    And the same pattern applied with his family, who were hella abusive to me.

    He WOULD NOT stand up for me, to them. A story: when my daughter (first, and only, as it turned out) was about 2 months old my MIL came (from Jakarta, where she taught nursery school) to visit. I had really extended myself–I was a FT grad student with no day care and new baby.. I made a lovely pilaf with apricots and walnuts. She took one look, poked it with her fork, and said, “oh, this is what we feed to the dog.” I shit you not. And my “husband” said NOTHING.

    Clearly I have never gotten over the level of shittery…even though she’s dead, and I’ve learned enough about the horrors of her life to curl my uncurly hair.

    I’m sorry to say this, but the down side of such an easy-to-get-along-with type of guy is they don’t stand up for anything, including you, and it turns passive aggressive with a vengeance really quick. Before you know it you are invisibly defending yourself against slights you din’t know you made.

    This situation sucks, and I recommend you find someone who will affirmatively Pick You.

    • Yes, one red flag for me, exH would not stand up to his mother in instances related to me. Sorry, driving our infant son in a car WITHOUT a carseat to help me after I had just been in my own car accident…. NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    • Interesting observation. The unwillingness to stand up for her is a classic tactic of the passive aggressive (very nasty people). And note the focus should be on aggressive, because the passiveness in this case is just a deniable way of agreeing with the friends’ assessment. There is resentment in everything a passive aggressive does.

      On the other hand, he simply values their friendship more than he values CCB. He doesn’t want to stick up for her because he doesn’t want to jeopardize their friendship.

      • You nailed it Einstein…..CCb, Honey, he does value his friends more than he values you, otherwise he would have kicked them to the curb a long time ago. If he won’t even make the effort to defend you now when he is trying to convince you to go through with the marriage, I guarantee he won’t have your back when he gets that ring on your finger and you are his wife. For these passive aggressive jerks it amounts to “ownership” of you, and in their eyes they can then do whatever they want because they’ve “got” you finally. You are not the precious, dear wife…..you are their possession, more useful than the car or washing machine but with about as much clout.

        Mine did not stand up to his family on my behalf, in fact joined them behind my back in denigrating me from day one after he got me to marry him. During the 14 years that followed things just went down hill from there. There was all the standard cheater stuff……gaslighting, lying, smearing me behind my back to anyone who would listen, abuse, refusal to take any responsibility on his part, and a few extras to boot ….like the STD he shared which will never go away, the bankruptcy he forced us into…I could go on and on. We eventually divorced, but he wasn’t done. His final parting shot was horrific as was his family’s final act of revenge on his behalf.

        I could have saved myself all that heartache if I had just paid better attention to all those red flags, and run far, far away. I would give anything for a do-over, but that is an impossibility.

        CCB, there is a huge amount ob collective pain here, pain that you can avoid simply by paying attention to all those red flags.

        You deserve so much better.

  • CCB,

    Your gut is telling you something, which is why you emailed CL. Listen to your gut. Think of any money lost, inconvenience or humiliation you may feel now due to canceling the wedding as a small price to pay for any future money and time you would lose, not to mention the emotional devastation you would feel, if you had to divorce your fiance 5, 10, 20 years down the line.

    Your fiance is a triangulator, which I think makes him a good candidate to be a cheater. He’s triangulating you and his friends–you don’t like his friends, they don’t like you, you get jealous when he is with his friends. He is not giving up his friends because he likes all the attention he gets from everyone fighting over him.

    A big red flag I missed was that my XH was triangulating me with his mom and sisters–everyone was fighting to spend time with him, and they were apparently badmouthing me, which he would tell me about. He would sometimes complain about his family and say that they were abnormally attached to him and just jealous of me, but he never cut ties with them, because he could never say no to them. In fact, he had his parents living with us and his sister coming over all the time to criticize my parenting (even though she didn’t have kids), the cleanliness of the home (even though I worked full-time) and the fact that I wasn’t nurturing enough or didn’t spend enough attention to her poor, hard-working brother.

    I could never figure out why XH insisted on having his family members so involved in our lives when he always complained about how they were so critical, needy, nagging, etc. He always said he felt obligated to spend time with them because of all the sacrifices they made for him. But, deep down, at least unconsciously, I just think he loved being the center of everyone’s attention, even if it was negative attention (even bad kibbles are good kibbles), to fill some bottomless pit of emotional need. But, in the end, even that triangulation wasn’t enough (it never is), which is probably one of the reasons he had to add another point (the OW).

      • Triangulation is a huge abusive tactic!!! My XH used it our entire relationship on many different levels. The biggest being with his family and friends. He sits at the apex of the triangle (of course at the top) and spews junk down one slope of the triangle about his family/friends to me. Then, he spews junk down the other slope of the triangle about me to his family/friends. Then, he sits there baffled at why we are at opposite ends of the base not getting along – because he just wants everyone to all be on the same page. All the while, receiving as much kibbles as he can because everything is all about him!

        • Thanks, HSM. That explains a lot of stuff in my own FOO that I never knew the words for *head slumps in hands*.

          • Yeah, those of us who came from dysfunctional FOOs have to learn this elsewhere. For me, 3 good therapists and thousands of dollars.

    • Well said, Young.
      My H used to triangulate me – with the dog. I was jealous of the affection bestowed on a dog.
      Tragically, later he triangulated me with our daughter.
      Seriously, you need to run. This sort of passive aggressive behaviour will do your head in. There are much nicer and less complicated people out there (I wish I had known).
      You really don’t need this drama in order to feel alive and connected. You WILL get burned!

      • I was triangulated with a dog too!
        So much so, that when he abandoned me and our life, I thought “ok, I understand how he could leave me, but how could he leave HER?!?” That shit will do a real number on your self esteem.

        I kept the dogs and the real friends in the divorce.

        • Doop – can SO relate to the dog issue. BTW folks – We’re done mediation and D will be final 9/7. I have huge dogs that we bought as puppies together, as a family. We wouldn’t have ever brought a dog him we both were not totally involved with. At the end, I asked him for an up-front payment for the food/vet care, etc, which is triple for dogs my size. He refused. Guess he didn’t care about them after all. He will never see another one of MY dogs again, which we co-own, and in my small dog-showing dog circle, I will make sure he never gets a quality Dane again. And, in mediation, I told him, he doesn’t DESERVE another dog – ever.

          Doop – I also kept all our close friends.

          • 9/7 is almost here. My brother had a wonderful Dane who lived to be almost 13. He was a sweet, gentle giant — I know you got the better deal.

          • Same here. He wanted “his” dog back after agreeing in the decree that I got to keep him. So I asked for the last 9 months of vet bills and food money back (1k due to xrays and medications for and adult male german shepherd). He stopped asking after that.

          • Shechump – Congrats a few days early! And well done on the dogs. I also got my Dane in the Divorce. She was supposed to be *His* dog, but attached to me and there was no way I was leaving her behind. She is now about to turn 10 in October!

      • Yes, sadly they will use the children as a wedge too.
        They deserve all the attention you are wasting on the kids too. against the kids.
        They will try to use triangulation as a leverage also against the kids. You can start resenting your own kids and not quite understand it at first.

    • I can’t think of any other reason why you would tell somebody about the shitty, hurtful things someone else said about them, except to create competition (i.e. centrality). Especially if you didn’t do anything to diffuse the situation….I mean, most people would go out of their way to work for peace, or at a minimum civility and acceptance. This is really isn’t rocket science, is it?

      • God – I agree Einstein – why would anybody, especially somebody who loves you, tell you hurtful things ‘their friends’ said about them. That is cruel – beyond belief! He should be protecting you from those comments, (what good do they do for you?) and, if it was true love, he would not be associating w/people who said mean things about you.

        My ex used to tell my that my ‘best friend’ said horrible things about me when they were together as lovers and he ‘sure tried to put a stop to it and didn’t participate’. UGH

        Thanks – asshole, I needed that on top of everything else.

      • i think the reason they tell us what bad things others say about us is because:

        1. He believe it too. or in the very least it is something HE wants to tell me but doesnt have the balls to say it is HIS thought so he puts it on the mystical “others” say this about you. in ultimately, in a round about, no fault of his, he is telling you exactly what he wants you to know he feels, thinks or wants from you but it is not his own word (or are they?)

        2. the main reason that “others” are even saying these bad, hateful things about you in the first place is MAIN DUE to what HE is TELLING them about you. especially, like in my case, i never spent that much time with them other people in the first place. so if all of suddenlike (not really sudden to him, just sudden to you) His FRIENDS and FAMILY are saying shitty things about you is because HE told them something that didnt make you look that good anyhow and that is why they think you are “BAD”

        3. and lastly, what in the world IS he TELLING them about you? and WHY DO THEY FEEL SO COMFORTABLE telling him bad things about you anyhow? i mean if someone tried to tell me bad things about my spouse (no matter WHAT we were fighting about), the first thing I would say is DONT TALK ABOUT HIM LIKE THAT, you dont know him. as a loving wife, it is MY JOB to stick up for my family, my children and most of all my spouse. So here these people feel perfectly comfortable bashing you in front of him — THAT says a lot about the character of your spouse.

        sadly, i didnt find this out until it was too late.

        • You nailed that one! Why do they feel comfortable talking about you in front of them…..yeah…..because they know it’s safe. I guess #1 goes to their passive aggressive nature….

          Wow….good points.

          • thank you Einstein. it took me years and years to catch on to 1, 2 AND 3. it took me standing on the outside of my broken marriage to even BEGIN to see it. but i surely wish someone would have brought it to MY attention how if they feel comfortable talking to him about me it is because they know it is safe. i am telling this to my children now

        • As to #1, if you are dealing with a cheater, aka a liar and a gaslighter, for all you know the cheater is gaslighting you and the friends never said it. Amounts to the same thing–if someone is repeating nasty words about you that “someone else” said, that person is either argeeing with them or using the words to hurt you. The only exception might be if there was a clear need for you to know what was being said about you if it were clearly untrue and the record needed to be set straight–AND you were in a position to go to the gossiper and end it. I did that once in a work situation. Someone was saying I was involved with a colleague and I wasn’t. I went to the source and took along a work bigmouth and set that person straight publicly. In that unusual situation, I was glad someone let me know. But usually it’s a game of “let’s you and him fight” or some kind of passive-aggressive move.

        • Good point MrsVain. I didn’t get much of that stuff until the very end, right before dday, when he told me a friend of his had said something about me that wasn’t very nice. I was sort ‘fuck that dude’ but didn’t think much of it. Now, looking back, naturally it’s obvious that ex was making it ok to say shit about me to my husband.

          Well, anyone who would say shit about a wife to a husband whom they’ve known for 20 years and accepted the hospitality of for just as many years can kiss my sweet ass. No, I’m not friends with that person anymore but the funniest bit of that story? Ex fucked that friend’s old girlfriend years ago, when they were still a couple. And that guy has no idea. Hahaha!

          • i was also in the “fuck those people” attitude when he would say things like that to me. my usual response was “why is he/she/they even talking about me? they dont know me?” i blindly turned off the “what are you telling them about me” part of my brain. i actually never dreamed he was bad mouthing me to these people mainly because i didnt think i was doing to bad of job being his wife. i never knew all these issues that came up in the end because he never told me. i had NO idea he was sooOOooo unhappy. and in all actuality i have NO idea wtf happened. yes, we has issues, but in my eyes they were little issues that all married people go thru and get thru. nothing we were dealing with was really horrible, or marriage breaking until he stuck his dick into the first hood rat that connected with how miserable he was and made his dick hard.

            i didnt make that whole connection until way way after and reading this site. so many things just come into focus when i read someone elses story that is similar if not downright verbatim to my story. funny how we can CLEARLY see what it it is when it is happening to someone else, but turn on our own blinders when it is happening to us.

            my excuse is, i loved that man with all my heart and soul. i truly believed in him and thought his family, his children and his wife were as important to him as it was to me. i could see the good in him even when he was making bad decisions and wanted to believe he would make the right choice.

            i was wrong.

  • RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN! As fast as you can. Today. Immediately. DUMP HIM AND RUN. I ignored “red flags” to my regret. I did not heed what was put right in fornt of my face. 16 years later I am paying dearly for not heeding the signs.. I know when it comes to affairs of the heart we lose our ability to actually see the person of our affection in a real light. But from what you said…this guy is one you throw back. I liken it to when I buy a horse. Why spend money on one who kicks, bites, won’t load, won’t ride well with other horses and spooks at everything when there are so many good ones out there. Get the hell away from this guy. Trust your instincts. Your instincts are screaming at you right now, that’s why you came her to CL for advice. In your heart you know. But acting on it and getting the hell out is tough. I’m a second time chump and on x #1 I called my besty and told her that I did not want to marry the guy. We had lived together for 15 years, I was pregnant with child #1 and knew what the x was like. Drugs, alcohol and a musician. She told me then DON”T MARRY HIM! I said ” But everyone is coming and have already bought the tickets!!! Everything is ready and paid for!” She said ” SO WHAT” don’t do this if you feel like that.. Well I did and he cheated on me before and after my son was sborn. In retrospect and if I am honest with myself, he always cheated on me. Please think this over. Talk to YOUR besty and YOUR mom and dad if you can. But I still say RUN. Let us know how it goes for you. Take care.

  • I want to shift topic just a bit to suggest that there are ways to “not take sides” and still behave with integrity. When my EX and I split, several of our mutual friends offered me respect and continued friendship and offered different kinds of help to my EX. For example, they offered to take a pet off his hands that he wasn’t properly caring for (acquired post-split); they had him over for dinner when he had our kids so that the children would have a nice evening, etc. As far as I know, they didn’t support his immoral or abusive behaviors, but they tried to support what strengths he possessed and tried to help him be as good a parent as is possible for him.

    Whether all of you would define this as “not taking sides,” I don’t know, but I don’t think going NC is always the best route for friends. When the person’s behavior is alcohol related, taking him or her out for a drink is an inappropriate kind of “neutrality,” but taking him or her to the AA meeting isn’t, at least in my opinion.

    I appreciated these friends who “didn’t take sides” a great deal during the worst months because I knew they were eyes on the scene when I didn’t have custody and that they would keep to themselves things I didn’t want to hear more about–yet, they’d let me know if my kids were in danger or being neglected.

    There is one telling caveat, however . . . most of these sorts of people didn’t let my EX know that their friendship with me continued. He was the one who was demanding everyone cut me off–part of his gaslighting, lying, and narcissistic pattern of behavior. And over time (4 years), he’s dropped most of them because they won’t enable him.

    I think the problem with the “neutrality” being practiced by CCB’s fiancee is that it demonstrates he values his so-called friends more than his intended spouse. Whether this man is too chumpy, too insecure, too intrigued by the drama of cheating, or just too immature doesn’t matter. Frankly, if he was neglecting CCB’s concerns to listen to his friends talk about financial woes, health woes, skiing holiday woes, or infidelity woes, he would still be a very big risk as husband material.

    What catches my eye about your story, CCB, is that your partner was the odd-man-out in his living arrangement, and he seems very dependent on other people’s opinions of him. So, he acquired a significant-other, you. Now, he fits in. When his friendship circle imploded due to cheating, he believes he needs to be involved (if not actually by cheating, by hearing all about it). Again, being the odd-man-out seems terrifying to him. The fact that this set of people is all a bit older than him suggests he’s trying to catch up or keep up with them–as he has been struggling to do for years, according to you.

    I hope you call off or postpone the wedding. It will be hard, but not as hard as decades of marriage to someone you can’t rely on to be his own person, to know his own values, and to prioritize a partnership with you above all other relationships.

    A lot of people get married hastily because they are too involved with the wedding preparations and hype. You’ve got a clear head on your shoulders. You are thinking about actions and consequences and solutions despite the impending celebration. I hope this strength of mind helps you see that the ugly consequences of delaying or calling off a marriage that is not starting off on very firm foundations are nothing compared to the consequences of dismantling the relationships months or years later.

    You deserve a wedding where you like the people who attend. where you are surrounded by people who celebrate your commitment rather than scoff at it, where the married guests are quietly renewing their own vows to each other with private winks and a romantic spin on the dance floor. I just can’t see you getting any of this in November.

    • I think your friends did take sides. They were trying to help protect friends, animals, your children from him. They were charitable (not kind) to him because they were actually helping others through him – not him.
      I have one such friend. I get irritated at him occasionally, but he is trying to make things better for my littles not for him.

    • We had a few “couple” friends where the husband did try to be there for my ex a little bit. And those guys trying to reach out did not offend me. They never condoned the behavior and they were just trying to be supportive to him during the divorce, etc. One of the couples was actually one of only 3 people that knew in the 6 months following Dday while I was still in false R. But my ex was actually so completely “ashamed” or who the hell knows that he refused to talk to the guy about it. Or even call back the other friend that tried to reach out after I left him and told some more people.

      I kinda wish he had responded to his friends because these people could have tried to talk some sense into him and maybe kept him from pulling a bunch of the shit he’s pulled on me since then. This is probably why my ex didn’t respond to their reaching out – he only wants “yes” men that would agree with him and wouldn’t make him feel bad about his behavior or try to get him to see reason in the aftermath.

      However, none of these guys had any experience dealing with infidelity either. I really think it is easier to try to be understanding and actually really believe that it is possible that it was an accident or something when it hasn’t happened to you or anyone you are close to. And actually, when they were offering to help, I was still at the point where I myself wanted to help my ex. Now I honestly don’t know what I would do if a friend of mine cheated. First, I’m sure they’d totally hide it from me because I am obviously so open about what I think about it. But I think I would have to cut them off as much as possible. Because I just honestly could never trust someone that is capable of doing that to someone they “love”.

      • “these people could have tried to talk some sense into him”

        It isn’t that the cheaters lack “sense”, or don’t understand english….they get it. What they have is a giving-a-shit problem. And that’s exactly why he was hiding from everyone. He had no intention of doing anything differently than he did.

      • agreed!! Mine surrounded himself with people who are all for divorce, and people who are STILL married but have boyfriends/girlfriends. there is NO way i could be around people like that but he has completely gave himself over to them and their way of thinking because it SUPPORTS his fucked up decisions and the messed up actions he was doing before we got divorced.

        THEY were his enablers, his supporters. HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING WAS WRONG!! he stayed away from the people we knew who believed marriage was scared. many of those people tried to reach out to him trying to get him to “Come to his senses” but he ignored those calls or refused to talk to them because he DID NOT WANT SOMEONE to TALK HIM OUT OF IT. he wanted someone to help him leave, to tell him what to say to me when i was practically BEGGING him not to do this and not give him shit about walking out on his family.

    • Chump lady: I’d love a topic on this very subject….. So called friends. I have mixed feeling about these mutual (close) set of friends who keep saying they haven’t taken sides but in my mind (maybe it IS me), they condone his actions by BEING at social situations, at their home at restaurants, vacations, when cheater X is there. Wives have admitted they are tired of seeing his face… Say that he keeps inviting himself at functions. To me it’s their husbands accepting him. Supporting him because of the “strengths he possessed”…. But I feel he uses these friends because X doesn’t know what to do with his “dad” time with the kids. Honestly!

      I’ve been neurotic about it too… After D-Day, questioning why the husbands didn’t take sides. One is a twice cheater himself, same wife, together still, other is a chump himself, another is a very religious and childhood friend of his (says he is waiting with open arms of friendship when my X needs him).

      Since I’ve decided my position -no contact with cheater X, no social situations if cheater X is there with friends (no birthday parties with friends’ kids), BBQs etc., it’s made ME the odd person out. I’m only socializing with the wives when it’s only social events involving just the women. Even THIS is hard for me. Maybe I’m not at ‘meh’ yet.

      Few friends have dropped him, shunned him. He’s even admitted to his sister he’s lost friends over this. It’s the real close circle of friends that I’m sad about.

      Though i have my up-down moments on this “friends” topic, my therapist agrees with me. I’m making new friends. Expanding my circle. Staying my course.

      As for the original poster….. I agree with everyone here and with CL who has the balls to call it!!!!! Run from this guy! I ignored the red flags in my X but he definitely is a narcissist, with bad anger issues. Your boyfriend’s triangulation with his friends will spread to every facet of your lives together if you allow it. Counseling at this stage involving his sick relationship with his friends is alarming.

      Be kind to yourself. Don’t settle.

      • OCRunner,

        This is also my current problem. I’ve accepted that XH is duplicitous, weak, cowardly d-bag, but the reaction of our closest friends in not condemning him is the new surprise. When pinned down, the wife of this couple said she respected (!) that he did what he thought was the right thing (??? — This was by email so I couldn’t parry) and she’s not comfortable with my anger toward him. In contrast, the guy who was best man at our wedding says he’s very angry with XH and isn’t letting him off the hook and is struggling to find a way to continue to be friends with him in spite of his actions — See? Common sense.
        My therapist warned me my social platform would shift, and I expected to lose his family, but I’m shocked to also be losing our two closest friends. (Sorry, I know this is off-topic from CCB, apologies.)

        • Very sorry you are experiencing yet another loss caused by a cowardly cheater. But I am going to remind you of what you know already: sometimes you think you know people and you don’t. To be honest, I have doubts about “couple” friends. Those relationships are often at the foundation social friendships. And the social familiarity and the shared “family” events, etc. may mask that what is needed for true intimacy in friendship is missing. Brene Brown talks about how people have to earn the right to hear your story. The shared carpooling and bbqs and weekend vacations, etc., are not the same as what you have when people truly have your back. My best friend lives 2000 miles away. After D-Day, at the first opportunity, she got on a plane and came to my place for nearly 3 weeks and got me functionally back on my feet. She always has my back. She would NEVER side with anyone against me, nor I against her. Moreover, if we are screwing up, we always call each other on it. After D-Day, you gain a new understanding of who YOUR friends are. Who has earned the right to hear your story. You nail it when you say they are “our” two closest friends. Those friendships were about the marriage, not you as an individual. It was a couples thing. And you represent, perhaps, this woman’s greatest fear, that she could become a chump. What you will find is that, on your own, you can rekindle true friendships with people who didn’t fit into the couples scenario. While I didn’t “lose” friendships in the cheating scenario, getting out of that relationship made me see how little I invested in my other friendships because my head was so full of him. Fixing that tendency in me has been a big part of my healing.

          • NWB an Lovedajackass: you two are spot on! Thanks for putting into words what I’m really experiencing with the couple friends. You’re right. The friendships were based on being a couple, the shared experiences. The ones that have your back, those are the true friends. My childhood friend said…. Your X really didn’t know YOU. You are the person (of values, of integrity, of strength), I always knew you were). He and his sister have been my longest standing friends since kindergarten!

            I need to continue those friendships with those that support me and my children, create new lasting friendships with those of the same values, and walk away from the others. I just can’t dwell on the sorrow of those lost “couple” friendships.

            Thanks for your help on this subject…. I’ve been lurking here on CL.com for almost 10 months. It feels good to post!

    • people tend to hang around people who they agree with. we only friend others who think, and believe like we do and will support our own values, morals and what we want out of life.

      my XH wanted to party, do drugs and drink above everything else. And not to have someone around to point out that he was messing up his life and shirking his responsibilities. he found that in his MOW. she tells him he is not doing anything wrong, she tells him what to tell me when i point out the shitty things he is doing, and when it gets too confusing for him (because he knows what i am telling him was the truth) she sticks up for him and actually CALLS ME to tell me to LEAVE HIM ALONE

  • CCB, CL and this group have given you permission to do what you know in your mind and heart you need to do. Marriage is about love. Loving yourself enough to take a stand and say to yourself, “NO, this hurts!” and taking the appropriate action is the first step to a healthy, loving, marriage. By honoring that voice inside you are saying to the Universe, “I am worthy!” Making the decision and acting on your decision is just another affirmation to push you further on down the road to what will be greater than you can ever imagine. It is an act of loving kindness to him as well. This could very well be the spiritual kick in the pants that he needs and the Universe has chosen you to wear the boots. Please keep coming back to this site. It’s no accident you are here.

  • My EX and I were married for almost 29 years (would have hit that milestone tomorrow if the divorce hadn’t been finalized in June) and we lived together for 5 years before that. During all that time, most of his good friends cheated on their wives or girl friends. We always discussed how if they were unhappy, they should get away, then find someone else. The way he put their actions down to me, I thought he would never cheat. I didn’t even see the flag when he refused to take sides when his friend cheated on his wife of 17 years. I supported her and refused to talk to her jerk of a husband. EX just said he didn’t want to take sides.

    Well, after all was said and done, he picked cheating to end the marriage. Instead of getting out when he was unhappy (as he said “for years” unbeknownst to me or any of our friends). He found someone at work that he became friends with, then had a relationship and when he determined that it would last for longer than a couple of months – THAT is when he told me about being unhappy and the cheating and wanting out.

    Guess I should have seen it coming from the class of friends he kept. And even though it took a mighty long time to manifest itself, he acted exactly like they did.

    Please take a long hard look, take off the blinders of love (God, I still wish that I was married to that jerk, but know I am better off without him and will get to ‘meh” eventually) and SEE what is there.

    I hope everything works out well for you, regardless of what your final decision is.

    • CCB, please RUN! Like bogie, my STBX also said he was “neutral” about the cheating husbands of close couple friends. We all had babies at the same time and they cheated during our friends pregnancies. In one case, one of the cheaters left a student of his pregnant while our friend had just had her first baby. I thought that my husband was above them and would not cheat, but it always bothered me when he said I was “moralistic” when I got mad about the cheaters who left our friends with babies. Now I know that he was also cheating at the same time! But I only found out seven years later, when I was searching for evidence of his current affair. The two male cheaters were part of a group of colleagues which included three cheating women who had affairs with my STBX. I hardly ever went to their meetings because I always felt uncomfortable with the women there (now I know why..) and my STBX never tried to invite me to their parties so I mostly stayed home babysitting, while they were out “working” and then celebrating. I know, I know, I was stupid, but I trusted him because I thought he was “different” but now I know he was part of the same club. I believe they had some sort of filter to be admitted to the group: you had to be a confirmed cheater or willing to cheat to be part of them. BTW, this group was formed by my husband and one of his OWs when I was pregnant with our second baby. His new OW is part of the same group, and during our divorce discussions it became evident to me that he would prefer to destroy our marriage of 20 years and break his children´s hearts, than to loose his group of accomplices. So, please think that the emotional and economic costs of leaving your fiancé now are minimal compared to what it will be when children and property are involved in the future. RUN CCB RUN!

      • I forgot to mention, please remember that in these groups the other women will be more attractive and interesting than you because your husband will only see them during party time, while you will gradually become the nagging wife who needs to pay the bills , take care of the kids, and work full time. If your not happy with his friends and family now, it will only get worse. Remember that you will be marrying the whole package deal: wishy washy fiancé, cheating friends and disfunctional family!

  • Wow, this letter makes me so sad. Every single one of us can see the writing on the wall and is desperately try to convince her that marriage to him is a bad idea. Will CCB be able to listen? I hope so.

    • I was thinking the same thing, ML. It’s like seeing a car on the train tracks, stalled, with the train coming…

      • That’s the hardest part about being a “survivor”. Seeing into somebody’s future, and hurting for what is fixing to happen to them.

        • Man, it’s funny… when I was in grad school with a bunch of kids much younger than me (I mean, literally 10 years younger) there were a few I REALLY wanted to give advice to. But they didn’t ask for it so I didn’t because that’s how you become an annoying old person 🙂 Though actually a few things I said did impact a couple of my closer classmates relationships… mostly involving red flags in long distance relationships. Or I guess I should say moving somewhere for your SO, since I did that a couple different times for mine. Hopefully I am not the destroyer of relationships now though 🙂

          • Hopefully hearing our stories will at least make her think about her upcoming marriage. i wish i had someone (ANYONE) who could have told me how to really look at things. i thought i asked all the right questions, i thought i explained to him everything i wanted out of life and i thought he wanted those things too. we were together a year and a half before we got married. i thought i was doing all the right things. but i failed to really look at him. i did NOT ask all the things i should have asked and i did not pay attention to the “red flags” because i didnt THINK they were such bad things. i SAW what i wanted to see in him and made excuses for the things i didnt like.

            i only wish someone had sat me down and explained the “red flags” THEN and at least gave me something to think about.

            we can not prevent what is going to happen, we can only hope for the best for this person. at least we gave our honest opinions and stories so she can have her eyes wide open when she goes into the future. although it does make me wonder why someone would FIND this site if they were super happy and confident in their fiance.

  • This man is telling you that drama, hurt feelings, and rejection are no big deal to him. When your feelings are hurt, he’ll just walk around you to get more ego kibbles. And one thing that I think Chump Lady missed here is that HE is getting ego kibbles out of all of this. “My super special friends think I’m special too! I’m important enough to be central in their drama! They like me! I’m not going to pick sides because then I would have to shut down a kibble source!” You are trying to come between a covert narcissist and his kibbles.

    Here’s the scary thing about this man, CCB. He is sneaky about his character. He seems like the good guy, which will make you feel like a crazy person for years. But underneath that exterior, he needs his ego stroked and his goal is kibbles, just like his friends. He will continue to leave you out of his activities in order to get them like he already has. You will feel like something is off, but since you can’t put your finger on it you’ll sweep it under the rug. Don’t let him fool you.

    • Yeah, the fact that he is the “go to guy” (to use a Jackass favorite phrase) for the cheaters and their drama is all about centrality. Jackass loved to be the “go to” guy, as long as that involved an opportunity to show off or centrality without actual investment.

      • “Jackass loved to be the “go to” guy, as long as that involved an opportunity to show off or centrality without actual investment.”

        This statement resonants with me so much. My guy also was that go-to guy, for everybody. He was SO special. Everybody admired him. Financial advice – big ego booster (altho he was good in that field).

        All I know, in the end now, the higher they were, the harder they fall.
        My xh fell damn hard. They don’t think about consequences.
        He got too big for his own pedestal and it snapped.

        Signed, Divorced (9 mos after d-day). He’s lost everything if you ask me.

        • Jackass, too, is a true expert in his field, and a sort of Renaissance man with lots of talent. It’s sad that isn’t enough–he has to use those gifts to get kibbles, that ego boost. “Look how great I am!” A huge show-off. Yes, they lose everything and don’t even know it because they value the wrong things.

  • The friends people keep tell you a LOT about them. Make no mistake about that. Water always seeks its own level in terms of integrity, character, maturity. If your boyfriend can’t confront these people and tell them to grow some integrity balls or piss off, then he’s not mature enough to be getting married.

  • Civilian Casualty Bride

    I have to ask, how old are you? This sounds like High school bull shit. Or in your case maybe it is “fresh out of high school bull shit” The way I am interpreting this is: He wants to fit in with the cool kids. I didn’t see any definite signs that he is also a cheater or that he is even lying to you. However if he continues to look up to these low lives he will become both a cheater and a liar.

    Your boyfriend needs to grow up and stop trying to impress the cool kids as if he is still in school trying to fit in with the popular crowd.

    You got two choices. Tell him to leave those dirt bags and put them out of his and your life completely or just dump him. It would probably be easier to just dump him. He is not thinking the way you are and he won’t anytime soon.

    If you stay with him and there are not some major changes in who he is friends with then I guarantee you are setting yourself up for a very bad heart breaking experience.

    Take action NOW. Do not accept any more excuses. If he wants to be with you he has to respect you starting now.

  • PULEEAAZE listen to Chump Lady. Read and reread.

    This guy hoists the red flag again and again in different sizes.

  • CCB, you deserve so much more. Never settle and never underestimate your worth. Those of us who did are paying dearly. Consider what you’ve already spent on the wedding day not as a loss, but as an investment in a future with someone more special. You will be amazed at how glorious your life will be when you lose this albatross of a relationship.

    YOU ARE WORTH IT. Hugs.

  • CCB–

    I’m sorry to say this, but CL is very right. This is a huge red flag.

    And you know what? It sucks. The invitations have gone out. You’ve probably made deposits, bought the dress, the whole nine yards. You hate the thought of telling everyone that the whole thing is off.

    BUT you will be happier next year at this time because you will not have married a man who hangs around with friends who badmouth you–a man who was okay living in the middle of all these sexual highjinx, and who thinks that there are acceptable circumstances that allow for cheating.

    Here at Chump Nation, we talk a lot about how you know people by what they do, not what they say. When a man chooses to surround himself with friends who cheat, who badmouth you, who browbeat their spouses to “accept” an open marriage–that action shows you who he truly is.

    We also talk a lot about spackling. Because we’re Chumps, we like to see the good in people, and we want to spackle over the bad parts. We fell in love with a house, but instead of seeing that the holes in the plaster and crumbling foundations are clear signals we should pass on that house, we sign the mortgage and grab the spackle. Then we admire our repair job without thinking that we’ve simply hidden the real problems.

    You need to decide whether his choice of friends, his willingness to hang out with people who disrespect you, and his inability to set appropriate boundaries are signs of the holes in the plaster and the crumbling foundation. And don’t let the fact that you’ve set the wedding plans in motion get in your way.

    Good luck.

  • CCB,

    First of all, a shout out to CL who must live her life attired in night vision goggles because she is always able to see through the murkiness and zero in on the truth hiding in plain sight.

    As I read your letter, I felt a tightness in my chest and kept shaking my head and mumbling, “why can’t she see that HER real problem is not her fiancé’s “friends,” but her fiancé?” Years ago I had a discussion with a co-worker about evaluating people’s true characters, and he said that his mother had told him, “Show me your friends and I will tell you all about you.” It was in line with several of the warnings my grandmother gave to me (to which I wish I had given more attention) in which she said, (1) “association breeds assimilation,” and (2) the more popular, “you’re known for the company you keep.”

    Please listen to CL’s advice and the advice of others who have (and will) post. These sordid and disordered people are your fiancé’s friends – that means he chose them, which also means that something in them appeals to something in him. Their treatment of each other, their treatment of him and their treatment of you indicates that they have little to no loyalty or integrity, even in their most intimate relationships. It also indicates that they are casual about and careless or unconcerned with the rights and feelings of others, even in their most intimate relationships and that they lack an accurate and working moral compass. While your fiancé may “complain” (is he really complaining?) to you of their exploits, he has made no move to extricate or distance himself from a relationship with these people and, in fact, has continued to pursue a relationship with them even when they distanced themselves from him. Whatever he has represented or “said” in therapy, his BEHAVIOR speaks to his beliefs and WHO HE IS.

    I spent 25 plus years married to a man (almost 30 knowing him) who showed me who he really was 3 or 4 months into the relationship. There was no Chump Nation back then to tell me what some of those things meant, but I probably knew just enough to be leery and to end the relationship. Instead, I got caught up in what he “said” and how he could make himself appear (he could play a great nice guy on television) instead of looking at what his most consistent choices and behavior were telling me. His closest friend and confidante was his scheming cousin who, truly, is not a good person. Other people that he knew that were decent usually ended up distancing themselves from him. Most of his other associates were people of questionable morals (liars, schemers, cheaters) whose stories of intrigue he frequently shared with me. To this day, he tends to seek out people who practice situational morals and ethics and who are character and integrity challenged, including his AP. Water truly seeks its own level – he is comfortable with these people because AT HIS CORE, this is who he is – and his choices and behavior continue to reflect it.

    Please re-think marriage with this man. I know it is hard and you would prefer to believe in him and in your future with him because you love him. I truly get it. I loved my STBX so much that I could not imagine taking my next breath without him. I am telling you, though, better to end it now than to waste YEARS that you can never get back on someone who will NEVER be the person you want to believe them to be. If therapy is going to truly help your fiancé, it will ultimately have to be something chosen by him because he can no longer live with the reality of who he really is.

    Good luck and (((HUGS))) to you.

    • I had known Jackass for 30 years when he told me a disturbing story. My contact with him was very intermittent, and most of what I knew about his life came from what he told me, not what I observed. But when we began seeing each other seriously, he told me that for a time after HS, he worked for an organization that stole cars, chopped them and sold the parts. I was stunned. But with just a few turns of the mind and a lot of spackle, I wrote that off to a mistake made in his youth, lesson learned. But. If I had paid more attention to his affect as he told this story, to the actual words, I would have put more weight on the fact that he wasn’t really sorry. He quit because he almost got caught and the risk was no longer worth it. That’s just what he did when I caught him with MOW. A few weeks later he kicks her to the curb. He’ll do the crime, if he gets caught he’ll lie and deny, and then he will go to safer ground and find another thrill. He has ZERO moral center. He loves the thrill of the forbidden. And I was a lot older than CCB when I thought I “loved” this guy.

      • It’s a hard lesson to learn that people are who they are, and how they do anything is how they do everything – it’s all of one piece. You have to watch carefully how people live, what they do, who they value as friends, how they deal with moral dilemmas and so on. I remember now that when I first met my ex-husband and he confessed that he had been in love with his best friend’s wife for some time, but had given up hoping that she would look his way so he had gotten over it (he really hadn’t as I found out much later) and also about when he was a young man in the navy he had visited prostitutes in different ports of call…all of which should have been a BIG RED FLAG for me about his morals. At the time I figured that since all of that happened before he met me, and these were just youthful mistakes, it wasn’t anything I had to be concerned about. WRONG.

        All of it said volumes about not only his values and character, but what he thought of himself. And this is really important. People who don’t act decently don’t like or respect themselves. In my ex’s case, if I had really been paying attention, I would have realized that his laziness, lack of empathy, not really caring about other people or issues in the world, passivity, wimpiness, not sticking up for me – all of the things that eventually became intolerable in the marriage – were linked part and parcel to everything he had done before he met me. It was all one big package of self-contempt and entitlement and gradiosity at the same time. This is who he was. This is who he is. When you really know what to look for, the pieces always fall into place.

        • Also want to say: trust your first impressions of someone. Listen to trusted friends and family when they tell you “There’s something off about this guy.” Whatever is wrong with someone is visible to others who know what to look for. The very first time I met my husband, my thought was: “This is an unpleasant guy with a big chip on his shoulder.” But that seemed uncharitable and maybe he was just having a bad day and who was I to make a judgment so quickly, etc. so I pushed it right out of my head. Sixteen years later as we were getting divorced I realized “Yep, this is an unpleasant guy with a big chip on his shoulder.”

  • If you need extensive couples counseling even BEFORE marriage to deal with issues over friends, you have a huge problem. These are FRIENDS, not blood relatives — he could walk away from them at any time. Plenty of people need therapy to deal with FOO issues, but not friends issues. And seriously, your fiance claims he now sees his friends’ actions as “strange and unwarranted” and he is devastated by their cheating and lack of character, to say nothing of bad-mouthing you and the institution of marriage, but he STILL WANTS THEM TO BE IN THE WEDDING? Something is very wrong in this picture.

    My ex had a circle of friends he was extremely close with, even though I often told him I was very uncomfortable with that, and with the way he clearly valued them more than me. I occasionally joined him and these friends on outings — all of them were married to other people (who were not there on the outing) and they would all talk about how much they wanted to sleep with each other. I told my ex that was bizarre and inappropriate and his friends were messed up. He would sort of agree, but basically laugh it off. Well, low and behold, these people WERE sleeping with each other and my ex slept with some of them as well.

    I spent two decades being way down the line in my husband’s list of priorities. His friends always meant more to him than I did. Don’t make my mistake. Your fiance is already showing you who he is, believe him.

  • CCB …. You marry this guy in November, by this time next year, you won’t be reading this website “just because”. You will be reading it because you will have joined the ranks of Chumped. Anyone who accepts this behavior in their friends will accept this behavior in themselves. I cannot stress enough that all of the counseling in the world won’t help you. Any man who won’t stand up for you against his “friends” has already taken sides and it isn’t yours. I hope that if you won’t call off the wedding, that you at least postpone it for a very long time….like the twelfth of never.

  • Off-topic, but I thought this was fascinating. I’m not a racing fan, but this story sickens me. I think the murderer might be a narcissist.

    See if you can pick out the Poor Me, I Suffer In My Own Way language, even disguised by tears and a shaky voice in the press conference video. I think it’s a good exercise for chumps:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2737934/NASCAR-driver-Tony-Stewart-hit-killed-opponent-Kevin-Ward-Jr-returns-track-says-accident-affect-life-forever.html

    • Oh yeah……Tony Stewart lost his shit, acted like an ass (by driving as close to him as he could, while going pretty damn fast considering the yellow flag was up), and killed the boy in the process. I’m sure the only person he feels sorry for is himself.

      He should have been brought up on manslaughter charges.

  • [slump]

    Shit.

    I read your response, and all I can think is that I didn’t have the sense to see what you immediately saw. I have a shit-ton of work to do.

    CL, you’re a sage. I just learned a lot from this post.

    • In spite of the levity of our posts the other day about “credentials,” I’ve learned as much about a good relationship here as I have anywhere else in my long life. And I’ve certainly deeply enriched my understanding of cheaters and various other disordered people. I’m working on that doctorate in Seeing the Obvious.

  • More Daily Mail drivel!

    But check this out!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738217/It-s-true-Cheaters-really-DON-T-change-spots.html

    The last line of the article is apropos to your situation, CCB:

    ‘But we found that people who are successfully poached are the opposite, that is socially passive. It might be that being outgoing puts you in a position to get a lot of attempts – perhaps simply because you’re around people more – but being passive makes you more likely to go along with the attempts and actually get poached.’

    • The reason these guys were poached in the first place is because they will ALWAYS pay more attention to, and value “alternative” romantic interests.

      I don’t know about the introvert/extrovert classification though. Neither has anything to do with the attributes of loyalty, consideration and faithfulness. As an outgoing introvert, I was a little peeved with the comparison.

  • A word about triangulation. I am not a therapist, but I’ve spent years in therapy talking about how what it means for people to triangulate. I’m not referring to the normal, healthy way that people are in intimate relationships and also have healthy friendships, relationships with parents, colleagues, etc. “Triangulation” occurs when Person X (1) manipulates two people by putting them into interactions or type of relationship that X controls, or (2) positioning himself between two people or sets of people so as not to be committed to either set.

    Common, reasonable benign examples of (1)–kids who ask Dad for permission to do something that Mom would say “no” to; kids who say “but Susie’s parents are letting her do it!”; people who gossip about someone in order to solidify a relationship with someone else. CCB, your fiance is engaging in a toxic form of type #1 by playing pitting you against his friends in a game of “let’s you and them fight.” All of this behavior is manipulative and controlling.

    Type #2 is very dangerous for someone who wants to be in a true marriage, because this type of triangulation is about avoiding intimacy. I ignored all of the red flags about Jackass’s triangulation. But looking that during his second marriage, he used his friendship with me as a kibble source; no cheating went on, but he did lots of “poor me” and complaining. He used at one point or another his mother, his daughter, his boss, and even his cat (!!!!) to avoid fully committing to me. By “fully committing” I don’t mean going through a marriage ceremony; I mean making me a full and public, emotional partner. And eventually, of course, he used his a married woman with three kids as his exit strategy, because there is an instant set of nested triangles. He could keep me at bay using her, keep her at bay using me AND her husband, and get kibbles from controlling me, her AND the husband. I loved this guy, or so I thought, and was within about 48 hours of having him move into my house when he bolted for Mommy and the married OW.

    All of this doesn’t mean we have to love all of our partner’s friends or relatives. But when partners won’t set boundaries and have clear expectations for how they expects friends and relatives to behave toward the people they loves, or when there is a life pattern of relationships involving triangles, it’s pretty much a dead-end street.

    • The antidotes for triangulation attempts are loyalty to others, strong boundaries and a united front against those who try it. Parents who say, “Let me talk to your mom (or dad” before agreeing to things. Friends who say, “I’m not comfortable talking trash about my friends.” Partners who tell their meddling parents that they won’t tolerate any sort of abuse or marginalizing of the spouse. Partners who tell friends, “Dude, I’m not trolling the bars with you because I’m married and that’s trouble” or eye-batting wannabe Schmoopies “I’m married. Don’t do that.”

  • CCB, I feel for you, as someone who walked down the aisle and married someone I didn’t love because I didn’t know what else to do. There was the cake, the hall, the dress, all the fighting I did with my mother–how could I cancel the wedding? And I was looking for marriage to solve the question of what to do “with my one wild and precious life.”

    1. You’ve tried individual therapy. You’ve tried couples counseling. And your fiance is not willing to be rid of these friends. What does THAT intransigent, stubborn refusal to do the healthy thing, to do the best thing for the two of you predict about what he will do the next time he chooses bad behavior over good, through drinking or perhaps an affair? What does his response to therapy tell you about his ability to reciprocate your level of commitment?
    2. The “4 best friends” as described above raise more red flags than a parade in the former Soviet Union. These people were married and living in a house with your fiance. And what, exactly, was he doing there? How sure are you that he hasn’t been involved with one or more of the two women, especially Ms. Serial Cheaterpants? Let’s just say I wouldn’t be $5 that your fiance was totally ignorant of what was going on. And if either of the women are turning to him for “talk,” and he’s willing to listen, that isn’t a red flag. That’s a full-blown stop sign.
    3. If Liz was chumped by this bunch, or you think she was, ask to meet her face to face and ask the hard questions about her perceptions of what went on as well as the role your fiance played both in that house, during the cheating and afterward. Do your due diligence. If it turns out he has been lying to you about anything, and I would bet my last paycheck you don’t know the whole truth, then let HIM pay for canceling the wedding.
    4. I think there is a possibility that your fiance is testing you to see exactly how much nonsense you will put up with. We call that “grooming.” Cheaters in the wedding party? Late night calls from Hanky Pankyville? What happens when the cheaters want him to hit the bar with them during happy hour? You just gonna stay home and hope for the best? How much fuckedupness are you willing to have in your life?
    5. Try this: tell him that unless the cheaters are not only out of the wedding party, but out of the wedding and your lives, there will be no wedding. Make him choose. You can’t expect anyone else to set your boundaries for you.

    I think your gut knows there is something very wrong. This is a heart-breaking moment in your life but things will only get more painful and far more expensive in time, money and self-esteem if you shut your eyes and ears and refuse to listen to your intuition. You are young. The world is full of nice young men who don’t move in with a nest of married cheaters and ask them to be the most significant witnesses to his marriage to you.

      • After thinking about this, CCB is trying to set her fiance’s boundary via therapy and not her own boundaries with the fiance. Been there, done that, epic fail.

        • People who haven’t been through ‘it’ think the solution is in getting someone like a therapist who can explain the error in their thinking (lack of values, selfishness, etc). The problem isn’t that they don’t understand…..they just don’t care. They have their own set of rules they live by.

          • “The problem isn’t that they don’t understand…..they just don’t care.”

            This is huge and something chumps have a hard time grasping. We think if we just EXPLAIN enough how they are hurting us, they will see the error of their ways and stop. But in reality, they know perfectly well what they are doing is hurtful and wrong. They just don’t care.

            • THIS!!!

              took me YEARS to figure that out. i kept explaining and talking and asking and begging and crying….and still he would do whatever the fuck he wanted. sure he was sorry. sure he said all the right things during our “talks”, sure he agreed that it was a messed up thing he did and how he “messed up” and it would be good for a while. but then he would do something else to “mess up”. i never caught on because he actually never did the same thing twice after we talked about it.

              but seriously how stupid was i, i kept thinking he just didnt know because his childhood was so messed up, because his mom and dad didnt TEACH him the right way to love someone, because he really was a good person, he just made some mistakes and dont we all make mistakes.

              but in reality, they know perfectly well what they are doing is hurtful and wrong. they just dont care.

              • “What does THAT intransigent, stubborn refusal to do the healthy thing, to do the best thing for the two of you”

                THIS. This to me is the biggest, the hugest, the most spangled red flag going. Because it shows up right at the beginning. In the first, smallest argument and all the small subsequent arguments after that.

              • its hard to see especially if you are the one who makes all the decisions and planning. if they just meekly allow you to do everything then you dont even really SEE that they refuse to do the right thing and the best thing for the two of you.

  • CCB, please listen to all of the voices here on CL. We know what we are taking about through very bitter experience. I am in the midst of a divorce after many years and two children. A friend told me, just before I married the STBX, that she thought he was selfish and immature. That he didn’t care for me, respect me, the way that he should. I knew she was right. The warning signs were all there: his crappy friends, his horrible FOO, his love of the pursuer/pursued game…. I married him anyway. I loved him and that would fix everything. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The really terrible thing is that yes, I have paid for my poor judgment, and can accept that – BUT many other people have paid who had no choice in the matter (the kids, my parents, friends) because I chose this guy over everything else in my life.

    You still have time to change the path you are on. Be brave and strong and do what you already know in your heart is right. Cancel the wedding, end the relationship, get a better therapist, and get on with your life. You can do this. You should do this. I wish you all the luck in the world.

    • “The really terrible thing is that yes, I have paid for my poor judgment, and can accept that – BUT many other people have paid who had no choice in the matter (the kids, my parents, friends) because I chose this guy over everything else in my life.”–Oh, Lissa, that is so well said, and probably speaks for so many of us.

        • yes, and that has only added more pain and saddness and guilt for me. for thinking i could change him, that i could show him what real love really was and that he would be a better person to me for it.

          • Lissa well said, and Mrsvain. We chumps have to really own this. That we thought we were God: that our love would change them.
            That is control and codependency (living our lives through another person instead of through self integrity) – and that is on us.

            • o i didnt think i was God. i dont think THAT much of myself. haha but yes, i did think i could “save” him from all his misery. and was hoping that he would grow and his values would eventually match mine because it was good and right and just. i do and did see so much good in him, and he put on a good show of acting like he WANTED the right things. so i gambled my heart and i lost. and unwittingly hurt my children, my parents (who loved him too), my sister and nephews (who loved him and accepted him into the family)

              i never saw myself as codependent. i think it snuck up on me while being married to him. Although i still maintained my own integrity and morals, i tended to “bend” them when it came to him. somehow HIS happiness became the center of my world, and no matter what i tried or did or said, he was never happy. i just couldnt see it, couldnt see it wasnt me or anything that i did or did not do. i used to be really organized, boxes and folders for items, lists and date books, i am now cleaning the mess that he left behind. and i am just beginning to realize how UNorganized my life had gotten because all my energy went into “saving” him.

  • Amazing advise from a fabulous nation! “Chump Nation” I agree with so much of this and can relate to it as well. Do not marry this man. The red flags are waving high and if you ignore them, you are a chump! It appears that so many of us on here chose to ignore those red flags (the orange and yellow ones too – yes, some of it does creep up on you). Hind sight is 20/20. Why don’t you look through our spectacles that see more clearly. You can get out before going through real trauma or putting children through worse trauma. Check out http://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com as well. I bet http://www.divorceminister.com could do a post on Matthew 12:30 or Revelations 3:15-16 about those that sit on the fence. My heart goes out to you! I went to XH right before the wedding due to issues with his family. I let him talk me back into it. I wish I hadn’t. The money lost is no big deal to what you are going to lose. The dress can be saved/exchanged, you will lose deposits, but the food hasn’t been made yet. The details don’t matter. I knew that he didn’t respect me, and I married the Narcissistic Charmer/Liar. Now, my 4 children are paying the price. If you can’t think about yourself and respect yourself, put yourself in the shoes of a child (even one that hasn’t been born yet) and ask yourself if the outcome is really worth it.

  • FROG IN THE POT!!!! You already know the water is warm. Trust these chumps…..at some point it is going to boil you to death.
    You are still in the honeymoon stage of your relationship. What happens when real life comes along? Marriage is tough enough when you have good supportive friends. When you have this bunch you are already in hot water.
    Also, your signature reads as if he is in the military, law enforcement, or works as an EMT. Is this why you are on the outside looking in?
    Hope you pay close attention to the advice here. Don’t give 10, 20, 30 years of your life and then wish you had not ignored the red flags.
    You wrote to Chump Nation for a reason. Own it!

  • CBB
    Basically what I have taken from your letter is that you met a guy and have since put every effort into changing him. It’s causing angst and heartache already. If you marry him, your efforts to turn him into someone you can trust and rely on will need to carry on without pause. It probably won’t work. Honey, you’ll be exhausted. What a way to live.
    Choose someone you don’t have to change otherwise you’ll be back in here some day warning others with your tale of “how I saw the red flags and ignored them”.

    • TOTAL, Justine.
      There is an old British joke. What are the 3 things in a wedding women are most interested in? Aisle. Alter. Hymn.

      We actually do not have the right to presume that we can change/improve another person. On that we are being wilful and heading ourselves to disaster and unhappiness.

      You WILL get burned!

  • Reading the responses that are “dump him and run” make me cringe because it’s easier said than done. You’ve invested your heart and put real emotional work in on the relationship and those things are as tangible as money. In that respect, is it worth the investment? I think you’ve identified the uncertainty on your end and that’s a gut instinct…and chumps don’t go with their gut, hence –> chump.

    I was enagaged to a guy who never judged anyone, was all googly-eyed for the open relationship ideas, never spoke badly about people he knew who had cheated on their spouses, and I thought, “I’m so awesome and I love him SO MUCH that we will work on this, and it will fix him and this nagging feeling I have will go away.”

    What happened? He fucked a bunch of women who were desperate, physically unattractive and because of “no judging!” never believed what he was doing was bad or destructive.

    What happens next? Decimation…. and you are down a spiral of questioning your own judgement and whether or not you can ever be in a relationship again. You don’t deserve that.

    If the advice of dump him and run is too cut and dry, I would suggest you tell him you want to talk, postpone the wedding and then grab ahold your metaphorical balls and just lay it out there. That you are not comfortable with X,Y, Z aspects of his friendships and the wedding is off until further notice. At least that gets you out of the wedding planning/expectations juggernaut and you’ll be able to make a clean break feeling sure of yourself and you’ll be in a better place coming out the other side.

    Hang in there…as we all know, it gets better

  • CCB, after 15 years of marriage, I got deeply, horrifically narcissistically abused. Cheating in my bed, being told what a dreadful wife and person I was, hatred and contempt (whilst keeping me on for the housekeeping, property management and childcare), the works.

    The trouble is… I got WARNED. By a psychotherapist, who cared about me enough to say: do not marry him. He will make you very unhappy.
    Now: he isn’t a bad person, but he is a narcissist, and you CANNOT have a relationship with a narcissist. The definition of narcissism is ‘failure of relationship’. After the beautiful completely perfect enmeshed soul mate perfection of the beginning, when I look back he was always selfish, always got his own way, and got control of the relationship pretty soon.

    So that is a long winded way of saying: you can have your pain now, or you can have it compounded down the line, when you are older, more tangled up financial and kids wise.

    Put this wedding off. Please.

    • Patsy, I fail to see how an abusive narcissist is not a bad person. Am I missing something here? How does your ex get to keep the title of “good person” after he mistreated you? I understand that nobody is perfect, but if I find out that someone who I thought of as being a “good person” secretly tormented select people, I wouldn’t think of them as “good” anymore.

      Sorry if I’m putting you on the spot. I really struggled with this my whole life, as I was raised by two abusive narcs.

      • Yeah, me too. I love my parents, with all their struggles and flaws, even my abusive narcissist mother. I am grateful for both the things they did for me (food, clothes, shelter, opportunities to learn) and for the learning that came from being a child in that family–whether from their bad examples or their good ones (my dad was very courageous in the physical sense; my mother an artist). I think one kind of love is being able to really see people for who they are and feeling compassion for that struggle while at the same time not condoning the destructive things they do or trying to fix them. I got a lot of practice with this when my mother had dementia and with my XH who is a drinker. It’s all about recovering from codependency for me.

      • This comes from a prevalent cultural belief (modern) that you shouldn’t judge people. I’m guessing this mantra evolved with the idea that there are no bad people, just behaviors (I was going to say “bad” behaviors, but that’s so judgmental.)

        It’s all ridiculous, of course.

        • Thanks for all the responses everyone.

          I say this because Mr Patsy is not malignant. He does have a sense of fairness, and he takes providing for his family very seriously. I can see that underneath the concrete defences is a scared posturing little boy. He is committed to his children and one day they will sense he is a bit off, but that is their journey.

          In having this compassion, it means a) he becomes less frightening and b) I can respond to him kindly and in so doing ramp right down the conflict which for me is a huge mistake to get into because he ALWAYS WINS. If he has enough fairness to financially provide, I don’t want my pride and need to be right (which I am guaranteed to lose) to put that in jeopardy. I am more than happy to praise and acknowledge him for the things he does well, in order to keep that side open.
          Does it make any difference? Does he act any less narcissistically? No. He still tells me what a dreadful and punishing person I am, how much I despise him, everything is still all my fault, but to expect him to be any different is to require a cow to take to the skies.

          It is about letting go of my requirement for him to behave more humanly, to be accountable, to be normal. It is about me accepting him for who he really is, not what I want him to be, about accepting that he does not want to change and I am not worth it.
          This struggle has literally taken me years. Al Anon (let go and focus on yourself), Chumplady (to accept the reality) and melanie tonia evans (how to heal from narcissistic abuse). He cheated in 2007 really abusively, and we are only getting divorced now. I clung on like grim death. IMAGO, RIC, mid life crisis theories, you name it. Chumplady is the only one who talks clearly about narcissism and abuse.

          • Oh yes, both my parents were narcissists. There are some children who do fantasise about being adopted!
            So I was completely trained to not have needs and to not exist.

            Every cloud has a silver lining. I had to learn to grow up and take responsibility for myself some time, the measure of how much it would take the universe/God, was a vicious affair smacked between my eyes.

            • Well, you have a 62-year old sister here in me. Nothing like a D-Day to blow up all the spackle and show us the truth.

          • i see my Xh as a lost little boy, sad and miserable. who just needs to be loved.

            and God knows i tried. i wasnt strong enough to “save” him. because i am human, and i have needs too. it hurts me that i couldnt save the good in him. right now he has sunk really low (at least it is low in my opinion, probably not his) he is not working, doesnt have a vehicle, all he does is drinks all day, and drugs so he can forget his pain. i still truly believe he is lost and confused. but how much can you tell a person about how to live the RIGHT way, to make the RiGHT choices and to put your FAMILY, wife and children FIRST. i was exhausted. Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. my daughters death was the point were i just couldnt give him anymore. i needed to focus on my hurt, my pain, my sorrow. and in the end i lost my husband because i had no more to give to him

            • Lost little boys aren’t ready to be husbands and fathers, and of course nothing we can do will make that so. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your daughter.

              • thank you LovedaJackass (btw, i love your screen name) sadly, i knew her death was his trigger. BPD. i wish my story was different. but i am finding peace in my story and in knowing i did all that i could possibly do. i gave him my all, and it just wasnt good enough. it makes me very sad for him because he will never find someone like me who will love him unconditionally, help him be a better person, forgive him all his transgressions, and still see the good in him like i did. he is on a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and avoidance. in the end, he will have nothing at all to show for it. but i also realize that it is beyond my control. he fired me from that job of caring, worrying, supporting, and helping him. i will survive and be a better person, a better mommy and have a better life in the end.

            • So sorry to hear about your daughter Patsy. There is pain like no other connected to losing a child. As a mother who also suffered the loss of my 14 year old son due to my ex’s evil, I understand exactly what you are talking about. It takes something from us…..not sure what exactly that is, but I know for myself that I lost that extra oompth, that spark of energy that enables us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and jump back into the fray. Utter exhaustion on every level. We can’t give from an empty cup, and losing a child keeps that cup empty for a very long time. It is all we can do to survive from day to day. I’m sending you hugs and prayers, Girlfriend.

              • Mrsvain lost her daughter, Tessie. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.
                Hugs for MrsV, and prayers too

              • OOps. that is what comes from typing while tired, my head was thinking Mrsvain whilie my fingers were typing Patsy……sorry!

              • thank you tessie. and yep you nailed it. that sparkle of energy, the oompth. my ability to just get it done, do what needs to be done and to laugh at life was gone. i am still working that out.

                and it killed me that my asshat XH couldnt stand by my side. i wasnt even asking anything from him, just fucking stand by my side. STAND there. he didnt have to fucking say or do anything, just stand. fucker.

                he told me i got boring.

                piss on him.

          • Patsy, your post really moved me. I am in awe of your ability to let go and to accept. I hope to get there someday. At the moment I am either seething with hatred or in a ball on the floor weeping.

          • Patsy, I can so identify with what you say about accepting these people for who they really are, however, “….he does not want to change and I am not worth it.” Did you mean HE is not worth it?

            • i might be wrong, but i feel it the way she wrote it. he does not want to change and i am not worth it FOR HIM to make that change. even after ALL i have done in all the 14 years we were together. if i gave him my everything i could give him and it STILL wasnt enough, then no matter what i will do, can do in the future is ever going to be enough. HENCE i am not worth it TO HIM. because if i was then he would have tried harder, fought harder and made better choices regarding the two of us. i am not saying i am not worth it, because i know i am. i was a good wife. not a perfect wife. i did make mistakes but everything i did was for the betterment of the family, the children and for my husband. HE JUST couldnt see it for what it really was.

              it is HIS words, saying i am not worth it. it is how HE thinks and feels. i know better. but you cant convince someone who is determined to misunderstand you. you cant fight what they WANT to think about you. so you just have to accept that they feel or think that way and move on.

              • your words could have been my words. i totally feel you. sadly, this shit is always the same for us chumps. thank you for writing your story. it gives me strength and helps me move on.

              • @mrsvain–When students tell me something or someone is boring, I tell them either they don’t know enough to be interested or they are lazy. “Boring” is a word that reflects back on the person who claims to be “bored.”

  • CCB, you are listening to your gut, that’s awesome. You recognized a problem and you tried to fix it, that’s what we do. Now you are seeing it is not fixable, unfortunately we fixers tend not to give up if we *think* we see any bit of progress. Fixers are great people, thing is, when we are young we tend to have confidence that anything can be fixed. Then one day we realize, anything can be fixed that is within our control, other people’s actions are not within our control. Even if we love them, even if they “try” to fix themselves, they are who they are until they want to change. Your fiancé doesn’t appear to want to change, he seems to be doing what you ask to appease you. Like going to MC and saying the right things, then taking the late night call from his cheating friend and sympathizing with him while said friend trashes you.

    The thing that stuck out to me in your letter is that only the cheating friends are reaching out to your fiancé. Ask yourself, why aren’t the chumps reaching out? And if your fiancé is so “neutral”, why isn’t he reaching out to his chump friends?

    Experience wise, my BFF confessed to me that she cheated briefly in her twenties, confessed to her partner and hated what she’d done, she took full responsibility for it, she learned from it. She is still my friend. If she’d given a bunch of excuses and expected me to sooth her, we’d have been done. People do make mistakes and become better people, it happens and can be understood and accepted. But, I do not have flexible ethics, I don’t think you do either. It sounds like your fiancé does have flexible ethics and IMO that sucks.

  • CCB, as someone who has been through costly divorce, I can tell you unequivocally that whatever money you lose by not marrying him is a BARGAIN DEAL compared to what it will cost you down the road.

    Marrying potential is a mistake. You marry what is–and this guy is no gem.

  • CCB, I’m sorry for what brings you here, but applaud your willingness to examine some very difficult questions at a time when some of us (me) got swept away with fun of wedding planning and used a white veil to ignore red flags.

    I married a guy with whom for years I had shared a great circle of friends, and, I thought, similar values. That was before life got real and challenging.

    With each difficulty, his true colors started showing. The friends he started to choose to spend time with were people I couldn’t bear and, while I did not tell him what to do, I chose not to spend time with them. Same things described above – my moral compass did not align with theirs, and as it turned out, with his. Contrast the “real” friends who are True North.

    Our formerly friend-filled life turned into a lonely marriage.

    I read all these comments telling you to run, or at least pause, and keep thinking of the Warren Miller quote “if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”

    Good luck to you, whatever course you choose.

  • In your heart, you know all this.

    You don’t want to believe it and you had a glimmer of hope that CL would tell you what you really really wish were the truth.

    We can be very complicit in our own gaslighting. We think, “well we wouldn’t do X, so it is only fair to give BF the “benefit of the doubt” that although his actions are telling me one thing…he means well.

    And the fact is, he probably ISN’T malicious — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hurting you in an ongoing way that makes you doubt what a healthy relationship is. Making you doubt whether you are expecting too much. You are not.

    You have found a person who you are compatible with in many ways, but does not share your moral compass. He may want to, on some level, but his actions show that he doesn’t.

    You are feeling all the time and energy you have already invested as something you are losing — try to think about things that you gained and things that you learned. You had good times, do not think of the time you spent with him as a waste of time — but you suspect you deserve better.

    WE are here to confirm that you do. You will not ever be truly happy accepting less than you deserve. Don’t sell yourself short.

  • Another complicating factor is this situation is that it is a group of disordered people who are influencing fiance. It’s sometimes simpler to identify the wonky behaviour in one individual, but in this case, it’s Quadruplets. He may be spineless, or desperate for their approval, but also, the fact that four people are participating in a mindfuck of complicated behaviours – he should have the common sense to run away!

    So many guys want to be seen as “Mr. Nice” and they do all sorts of stupid things in pursuit of that. They stay friends with needy creep who comes along.

    My chosen behaviour is to quietly eliminate toxic people from my life by simply fading out of the friendship. This extends to family members if need be. The problem with being married to someone who isn’t emotionally healthy enough to shun toxic friends is, you are burdened with their bad choices too. Then if you try to show them why it would be better to do the elimination thing, they turn around and accuse you of being controlling.

    Since you can’t control someone else’s behaviour, or usually even change it, then why choose a partner whose behaviour is already clearly unhealthy. It will only get worse.

    • I was thinking the same, he’s a “nice guy”, the kind that gets quietly, passive aggressively pissed when people don’t appreciate all his “niceness”.

  • Ex BF had several friends in a group that openly espoused polyamoury. He would tell me stories of who did what with whom, and of conversations they’d all had about the idea of love not being ‘inhibiting’ or ‘confining’. He even mentioned that he told them “That’s all good for you guys but it’s too late for me, I am stuck with the value of monogamy”.
    His parents divorced over raging cheating on his mom’s part, and when we first got together he told me he didn’t want infidelity in his life.
    Fast forward six years: GUESS WHAT HE WAS DOING ALL THAT TIME! Or WHO he was doing– yep. I look back now and wonder if some of the stories he told me were actually about him.

    • “I look back now and wonder if some of the stories he told me were actually about him.”

      Was he grooming you? Testing your reaction?
      In my experience (unfortunately) I think the ones that tout the highest morality or the ones that say they would “never _____” …. do. I am not sure if they are psyching themselves up before the deed, or after… to get used to and make cheating okay in their head.

  • I don’t see any one call this out as a red flag or even a caution. When TRY is always the key word rather than WILL. Looking back I realize my ex rarely said “I will” or “I will not”. He said “I’ll try” or “I’ll try not to”. Then he would fail to follow through and he would say “but I tried”.

    The intent is the issue, when you say “I will”, you may still fail. When you say “I’ll try”, you are indicating a lack of commitment and building in an excuse for the failure at the same time.

    An easy example; if a smoker says they are trying to quit, not gonna happen. I ought to know I say it. The day I say I am quitting, it will happen or I will fail having gone all in.

  • My x had good friends and bad friends. The good ones he used, and discarded, and got new unsuspecting friends…and the cycle repeated. He does have one long term “good” friend who is a chump — an ultra understanding chump of a buddy, actually quite a good guy, but is also a long distance friend who doesn’t see him on a regular basis. Probably why they are still friends.

    The bad friends he also cycles through as needed. These guys were often accomplices in bad behaviour that of course, I didn’t find out until much later, like post-separation.

    Then there is x’s work career. He chose what area/department to pursue within a large multi-national corp. It involved lots of travel. He traveled so much, he said, “to get ahead financially for the family… what a huge sacrifice I am making by working so hard.”

    I gave up my career and stayed home and parented and held down the house, while he screwed anything that moved (unprotected sex too!), including prostitutes all over the world from disgusting corners of the earth. My family is broken up, my kids are messed up permanently, I have ptsd, no uterus (from stds), he is now rich, I am now poor. I am starting from scratch at 50 years old. All my hard work, loyalty, dedication didn’t pay off — my kids and I just got screwed over big time!

    There were red flags — personality and character being the main thing, but I ignored them because I felt “special.” My X has done the idolize/devalue/discard dance with me and everyone in his life. Everyone. Yes, it did take 20 years before I become poo on his shoe, but it was inevitable. At some level, especially the last few years, I knew it would come. And it did. I wasn’t special because with a narc, no one is immune. Sadly, I think my kids will eventually get their “discard” at some point.

    Seriously, you are blessed by the opportunity to hear the experiences of those who went before you. Run, run, run before commitments, obligations, and responsibilities keep you stuck.

  • Please listen to Chump Lady!! She nailed it right on the head. I couldn’t help but wonder when you said that his friends were telling him marriage sucks and they were saying shit about you. He didn’t shut them down, instead he came and told you what they said. Double whammy!! and this is the guy who supposedly loves you??
    In my books that is spineless and cowardly. Same as the cheating. People who don’t take sides DO take a side when they decide not to take sides. The act of not taking sides says you side with the offender because if you really don’t believe in what the cheater did you would call them on it. As a friend even. I have had friends who did stuff I thought was shitty and I told them I thought it was shitty. His friends can have their opinion, if they have been friends for a long time they should be able to say whatever they want BUT they respect the other person’s choices too. Maybe they don’t like you but then your fiance shouldn’t go and tell you that!! That’s not staying neutral, that is hurting you by choice.
    Just my opinion.

  • The biggest red flag I see here is more about your fiancé’s unwillingness to support you as his partner, in front of his friends, rather than about his friends’ cheating ways. Did you ever confront him and ask him why? You stopped seeing these people, but he did not. Did you tell him outright that you had made this decision, or did you slowly and unobtrusively just fade out? If you told him, did he seem relieved? Happy that you were no longer around to cause trouble?

  • I agree. I bet a lot of us had spouses who
    Hung with folks who
    Condoned cheating. I think it is no coincidence they cheated , eventually too.

  • Hi CCB,
    I am in Costa Rica right now without a computer but your story is so similar to mine I have to add my two cents. My ex also had a group of friends and family who got off on being exclusionary. Would look at me like I was from Mars and talk about all the mutual friends they had. If I wanted to join in I would have to ask them questions, which they barely tolerated. Mother in law was outright mean every single time I saw her. He stood by all of this in silence. When he cheated he did so with a woman he befriended (married with kids) whose “best friend” was one of the cool gang—I never fit in with.

    I know it may seem impossible to you to stop this train, but it will wreck and you will always feel angry. Get off the marriage train with this guy before you waste another precious minute of your life. You have invested so much and you probably decided on this guy before you really knew him. Being alone is better than what he promises.

    • Yeah, CCB, get off that train wreck and soon you’ll be vacationing in Costa Rica like Chumpectomy! (Well, we can all hope).

      Hope you’re having a great time in CR, Chumpectomy.

  • CCB, you are fortunate to have found CL and be getting all the great advice here BEFORE you are legally committed to him and potentially have kids in the picture. I think most of us Chumps wish somehow we had recognized it upfront so we could have avoided falling into the traps we did. The key question for you is `are you strong enough now to avoid being/continuing to be a Chump in the future`? It`s easy to say `oh I know him better than they do` and continue on with the wedding but please know that is exactly what a Chump would do.

    My STBX told me before we got married that the one thing he would never tolerate was cheating. I fell hook, line and sinker. Wholehearted trusted him from that standpoint for 24 years of marriage before discovering that he`d been cheating for many years with many women and prostitutes. I was blind to the lying, gas lighting and deceit because I trusted him. I guess it was tolerable for him as long as it was him doing it – I`m sure he would say that it`s my fault though for not asking him to clarify that upfront.

    Don’t allow yourself to be duped simply because it’s so close to the wedding date. You may regret it.

  • CCB, I’ve got one word for you: CHARACTER!

    I’m going to share my story with you to show you how it CAN be done. After my husband of 16 years left me and our two young daughters for the town marriage-wrecker, he revealed to me that he had been unfaithful throughout our entire marriage over a dozen times. I was blind sided. Two things apply to your situation:

    1. His group of friends when we first were dating were all womanizers or cheaters. Not just the men. The women too. I later learned that most of his cheating (with secretaries and hookers) was with his two business partners, both married with kids. So, these were the people he spent almost every waking hour with. Had I known the work environment, I would have clued in sooner.

    2. His brother showed what true character is. For the first few weeks after my ex left, his brother remained neutral. Made sense. Younger brother. Worshiped his “do-no-wrong” successful older brother. I never asked or expected anything else, especially since I have no relationship with my brother in law.

    But then, his brother showed true character – but not for ME. He did it for himself. After his brother learned that he was balking on paying child support, my ex was at a family bbq showing off his new $1000 shoes that he got on a $10,000 shopping spree with his other woman. Of course ex didn’t know his brother knew this, but something clicked inside his brother. He turned out of neutral gear and started to verbalize “this is wrong.”

    It wasn’t that one incident of course (he was mostly miffed by my ex being VERY public at social evens with the other woman before we were even separated), but that’s when he started to speak out proactively to other friends and family saying, “Everyone has a right to end a relationship, but there is an order of things. First you end it, then you take up with someone else. And you always take care of the kids.” The brother stopped talking to my ex, does not attend any event where he might be there and wrote him a long letter saying it did not want to be near him while he lived that life style.

    And, he did none of this for me. Maybe a bit for my kids, but I don’t think so. He did this (shun his brother and lifetime hero) because he has character and was willing to sacrifice family vacations with other parts of the family and fun social events to make a stand. I will add that my brother in law is normally a mute person who is not vocal or “touchy feeling” so all of his actions where a huge deal for him and everyone around him. Character.

    If your fiancé is not willing to do that for himself, that shows lack of character. If he’s not willing to do it for you, that shows lack of empathy, or frankly lack of common sense.

    • well said. thank for that.

      before january, my XH brother divorced his wife and then started dating his wifes sister. i was appalled!! disgusted!! and frankly in disbelief that people really do that kind of disgusting thing, i verbalized all this, expressed my saddness for his brothers kids. Thing is my Xh thought it was funny. he was smiling and laughing while he was telling me before i said anything of course. then he agreed how messed up it was and walked away.

      something in that story ALWAYS bothered me. i could never put my finger on it. (and apparently brain dumped it.) until you told YOUR story. and now it makes sense. i know why it was bothering me. it showed my XH lack of character!!!! thank you for that.

    • My ex’ brother has ethics too, after finding out the ex abuse of me he cut him off. Bro even testified in court for my PO, we are still friends. He lives an honest life nd I am glad to know him.

  • Great advice always from CL
    CCB-What really stood out for me in your note to CL is how much mental/emotional torture you have been through already & you haven’t even married him yet. You sound so much more invested in him than vice-versa. A classic mistake us Chumps make. If only I would have had Chump Lady to advise me when I saw my first red flags before the marriage. Some of us have been through decades before we said “enough.” By then, believe me, you have so much to recover from!! (And a good deal of your life us behind you.)

  • What a terrible situation you are in. I know the wedding is coming and you’ve dreamed of your special day, but fast forward five, ten years. Really put yourself into the future with this “man”. Everyday stressors, in-law troubles, career confusion. Now add a couple of kids. Look around your future messy kitchen. You are being pulled in twenty different directions and are at the end of your rope emotionally. You really need someone to lean on tonight. Got the picture?

    Hubby breezes through the door, pats a child’s head, and gives you an air kiss. He asks about you day and as you begin to tell him, he cuts you off and says he’s going to meet _______ (insert insensitive cheater’s name here) for a drink. His friend really NEEEEDS him. He breezes out and you are stuck with baths, bedtime stories, clean up.

    The moral of the story? When a “man” is so enmeshed with a group of friends, it’s like fighting a losing battle. In my case – frat brothers. My H would bend over backward for these numbnuts, I was always last in line. ALWAYS. It’s a sign that he’s mentally and emotionally still back in high school.

    Please don’t be blinded by the veil you hope to wear soon. This is your one and only life and the life of your future children we’re talking about. NOTHING is more important. Also? The old adage fits: “If you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas”. When he gets tempted by some ho-worker a few years down the line, who will be the voice of reason for him? A pack of cheaters, that’s who! You really can judge a man by the company that they keep.

    Take off those rose-colored glasses and get thee a magnifying glass!

  • CCB, I am going to just discuss you. I am guessing that you are young so this is the most difficult thing for a young person to do and that is to stand up and say out loud “Stop it!” For you to have stood up to that group of his friends would have been impossible. It would be difficult for someone even older but for a young person to go against a group calls for a spine that gets hardened over time. I may be mistaken you may be older but I am guessing that you are not. If your fiancé is less than 26 years of age his brain is still maturing. The idea that he worships these people tells me he has not squared away who he is yet. But back to you. You see him as a loving person because you are. You see him as trustworthy because you are. You are projecting onto him things that are true about yourself but so far he has not proven that about himself. Look at how your romance has progressed, look at yourself. Have you stopped and ask yourself is this what I want for the rest of my life? There is an old book written called “games people play”. It is about mind games that are played unconsciously between two people. The basic premise is that every time you have an interaction with someone and you are left with negative feelings that include hurt feelings, anger, frustration then a mind game has been played. There are all sorts of negative mind games that people play with each other. If your interactions with this young man often are frustrating then a mind game has been played. His interaction is just as unconscious as yours. One of you is setting this game up. It does not matter who. What does matter is that it gets you no where. It’s a loop…. if you look back over your letter you have talked about the same issues over and over again with your fiancé and nothing has been settled. So look at yourself, you, and your expectations. If there is some way to postpone this wedding until you find out just how mature this man is it will serve you so much better in the future. Right now his immaturity is very clear from your letter but sadly so is yours. If you were older, wiser, more experienced you would have put a stop to his behavior long before now. Again, look at yourself. How far along are you in the maturing process. No one is going to stand up for you the way you will for yourself. The word “no” is in our language for a reason. It is time that you used it over and over again until he gets the idea that you will not tolerate being treated as a second-class citizen by him or his friends. Psychologists have now discovered the three most important things that tell us about “character” are our genetics, environment(parental care) when we are young, and the peer group we choose. You have certainly told us about one third of the important part of his life. His peer group. This group has shunned you. Shunning is a way of squeezing out anyone who does not fit into their small frame of reference. It is often done by religious groups but it can be any group. Actually there is a psychological term called “groupthink”. It means that the group is so intent on keeping its identity that it winds tighter and tighter until no sunlight gets in. By the term “sunlight” I mean another person’s opinion that does not fit in with the majority opinion. This group has somehow made your fiancé feel that they are inviting him in and leaving you out and he has allowed it. Ask yourself if this is how you want to feel in the future. If he is so committed to belonging to this group then at some point he will begin to shun you as well. It may not be an affair but it will be something and you will feel less and less of yourself as the years go on. That is what this group of chumps is trying to tell you. Use your common sense to postpone the wedding and give both of you a chance to come out of that madly in love stage so that real life helps you make the best decision for you.

    • “If you were older, wiser, more experienced you would have put a stop to his behavior long before now.”

      Well, I was older and more experienced and I still fell for Doucheturd’s horsekaka…but maybe the key is that I was no wiser. I hope I am now.

      • Crushed, I hope you did not take offense. I was mainly referring to her allowing those people to treat her the way they did. Falling in love with someone blinds us to their faults, their age does not matter. She is his typical of any of us in those first few months or years of love. We want to believe the best of them. Now she needs the backbone to let her fiancé know no one treats her the way those people have treated her and no one who loves her would allow it. That is what I was referring to. The “games” I discussed are power struggles that one person is always on the losing end of. The fact that she wrote to CL shows that she recognizes something is way off in her relationship but her fiancé is saying, and doing, just enough to give her hope. I just want her to slow down and use the real life experiences all of you have shared. There are not “do overs” in life so being cautious makes sense.
        I hope you are doing better.

        • Oh, thank you for that thoughtful post, Thewatcher. No, I was not offended; in true chump fashion I blamed myself:)
          I just feel like an idiot and a fool for being so, eh, mature and yet still managing to ignore red flags, some with with beeping lights attached.

      • i was older and more experienced also. i never seen it coming. i was blinded by his faults from the very beginning. damn love!! i guess that is the way it actually should be but it certainly makes it harder to find someone who is truly honest and will love you back in the same way. it would have been nice if he had a few blinders on to my faults.

        i am also hoping i am more wiser but damn!!! i thought i did it all right with this one. the one i married. never in my wildest dreams did i ever think he would just turn his back and walk away. i have never seen this ugly hateful side of him in 14 years. i dont know who he has turned into. it is still hard for me to believe that is his true self. but regardless, it is who he is now and i dont want anything to do with that.

  • Being celebrated all over the internet this morning. Dwayne Wade & Garbrielle Union “marriage” They “dated” for four years prior to 2013, so that means 09 or 10? He got divorced in 10 and had a baby Nov. 13 with someone else and now marrying this one! Really? Wtf? Sick society that this is celebrated…

    Kudos to Zayda Rivera of the NY Daily News for telling the REAL story!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/gabrielle-union-won-sacrifice-relationship-acting-article-1.1571176

  • CCB, your fiance made his choice. That’s clear. Now, make yours. Do you want to live the rest of your life with a spineless man? Someone who wants to keep the peace at all costs? Someone whose moral compass will point to where it needs to point so others approve of him? I married one and paid dearly for it. You’re not married yet. At the very least, postpone the wedding and spend alone time with you so you can figure what what you want your future to look like. And if you start telling yourself that you can’t live without him, then by golly, DO NOT marry the guy. Instead, go to individual therapy. A few months of working on yourself will be prove to be more valuable than gold.

  • Boy could I have used this column years ago. It all makes so much sense with the benefit of hindsight. Spot on advice as usual. Not only did I end up divorcing my wife, I ended up divorcing my core group of very similar fuckbag “friends”, too. Always be wary of people who “don’t judge”…they’re either spineless, have shit values, or most likely, both.

  • How to support your boyfriend while he supports his old friends? Well, let him go see them whenever he wants to and then listen to him vent. Be nicer than they are, be stable and someone he wants to talk to. Be sexy and romantic. Be clear about your values and ask him how the ones who were chumped are doing.

    On the other hand, it is reasonable for you to have some wants and needs too. You can talk to him about being there for you, i.e. spending time with you and not changing dates at the last minute. You can suggest that the friends come to your house and spend time with both of you – and you can insist that they be polite to you. You can even say that it makes you feel weird to have someone in your wedding party who doesn’t believe in marriage and cheated on their spouse. It feels like bad luck or whatever. Double if they don’t like you and have told him so.

    I have a lot more sympathy for your boyfriend than CL does. (This depends on his age, though. If he is 35+, disregard the following.) He likes his old housemates and doesn’t want to believe ill of them – he has bought into the idea that you shouldn’t take sides and there are two sides to every story (but of course, the side where one person is in pain doesn’t exactly count the same). He respected them and is confused as hell.

    I see his housemates as a kind of a family for him. This means you have ended up with the in-laws from hell. They don’t like you, they try to keep him from marrying you, they put you down and make you feel so bad you need therapy, they cheat, and they don’t believe in marriage in the first place.

    If they were real in-laws, you would have to figure out if marrying him was worth his family or if you could avoid dealing with them most of the time. They are not real family, so I think you can hope that he will dump them, but if not, you have to decide if marrying him is worth dealing with this dysfunctional family.

    I would not say you have to dump him because he is trying to support people who cheated; that could be about naivete. However, you should pay attention to whether or not he starts to understand the chumps’ point of view and have sympathy with them.

    Back to the other hand, though – you’ve been in a lot of therapy for a couple that isn’t married yet. Unless that is just premarital counseling for everyone, it seems like a red flag to me.

    The other thing I can’t figure out is why is he telling you the bad things they say about you? On what planet does that make sense? Does he want you to dislike them? Does he agree with them? Are you supposed to sympathize with him and help him protect himself from them? What does he tell them about you and what you say to them?

    What is he trying to say when he tells you that his friends don’t think he should get married?

    Okay, you’ve been in therapy and worked through these things and he thinks his old housemates treated you badly. Can he stand up to them if they treat you badly again? Why are they in the wedding? Does he have a bad relationship with his real family and so he needs these housemates?

    Anyhow, I agree that there are a lot of red flags here, even if someone might be a chump who tries to help their old friends who cheated.

    • “I would not say you have to dump him because he is trying to support people who cheated”

      I did not say that. I said this guy doesn’t know what his values are, won’t stick up for CCB, and has chased hanging out with his narcissistic friends (one of whom he a woman he is aware is a serial cheater) over CCB. His ACTIONS and indifference to CCB are why I think she should rethink the wedding. I did NOT say dump. I think the guy has demonstrated poor character and is being disingenuous about his tolerance of cheating. He’s “shocked” and dismayed, but still wants these people in his life and in his wedding.

      All of which is making CCB heart sick and seek therapy.

      Look, MANY of us have cheaters in our lives, whether they are parents, co-workers, old friends. It’s up to you what kind of boundaries you have with these people, or your ultimate opinion of them — my argument is Don’t Marry Them. Let them operate on your gallbladder? Sure. Elect them president? Fine. Sit next to them at Thanksgiving. Okay. Marry them? Rethink that.

      It’s not just that these people are cheaters — it’s that they’ve treated CCB like shit. And NEITHER of these things seems to register with him, or influence his opinion of their presence in his life. That’s either immaturity, triangulation, guilt (he’s more than friends with Missy). We can all speculate. It’s not good.

      But please don’t attribute arguments to me that I have not made.

  • On a somewhat different note –

    These people do not believe in monogamy. They bullied their partners into letting them have affairs. Some of them cheated and broke up marriages. They don’t believe in marriage, they don’t like you, and they don’t think your boyfriend should marry you.

    They would sleep with your boyfriend in a heartbeat.

    Spending time crying on your boyfriend’s shoulder about their relationship and what they did is unfortunately, a possible segue into sex.

    This is not your problem – your issue is what is your boyfriend going to do?

    What does your boyfriend think about open marriages and cheating? Can he see that spending time talking one-on-one with someone you are attracted to can lead to problems? Are they meeting in public? Does he have a crush on any of them? Is he talking to them about relationship problems with you?

    To your boyfriend’s credit, they did not tell him what they were doing while they were doing it. They must have realized he would disapprove.

    I don’t know how you can respond to this aspect of it all without making yourself insane. It might be worth talking to him, though, about boundaries in relationships with people of the opposite sex, particularly people who don’t believe in monogamy.

    • Diana, the fiance can say anything. They have been in counseling and these relationships are still causing issues. And we don’t know what the fiance did or did not know; we know what he told her. If we don’t learn anything here at CL, we should learn to look at actions, not words. Most of us talked ourselves blue about boundaries and heard some version of “you aren’t the boss of me.” Which is what the fiance is saying by continuing these relationships. What matters is what he does.

    • “To your boyfriend’s credit, they did not tell him what they were doing while they were doing it. They must have realized he would disapprove.”

      According to him.

      Pretty convenient how all this stuff is coming out around the same time that a wedding is in the offing.

  • Let me say this again: based on the story as CCB told it, much of what we know about the open marriage/cheater stuff going on with the 4 friends is based on what her fiance tells her. If she is going to marry this man, I think she needs to know a lot more about his relationship with all of these people, most particularly Missy. And if Missy is the one calling in the middle of the night (having trouble here believing that the guy friends are doing that), well, enough said. Nearly every chump here has heard, “She [or he] is just a friend.” “He [or she] is just having a tough time and I’m just trying to be there for my friend.” CCB would do well to check emails, phones and call the chumped friend or some other third party who might be in the know about this group. It may well be that the fiance is not a cheater, or not one yet; it may be there was involvement in the past, but CCB should get some outside verification now before she ends us having a D-Day a year or two or ten after she gets married. How transparent is this guy’s behavior? What would happen if CCB picks up the phone in the middle of the night? All of that stuff, based on the minimal description we have, rings all of my alarm bells.

  • Dear CCB,
    This must rank up there with the best advice CL has ever given. I hope that you heed it. Red flags everywhere and your relationship, not to forget your own psyche have already been badly affected. Take it from someone who ignored all the red flags and consequently suffered in a very bad, dysfunctional relationship. Think very carefully about what you are about to do. At the very least, postpone your marriage until you and your fiance resolve the situation. I was made aware of a significant problem before my marriage (albeit only a few days before the wedding day) but chose to go ahead with the wedding hoping that “love would prevail”. It didn’t, despite all the promises my fiance made. Take care.

  • There are so many responses to this, but I don’t have time to read them all at work. Will look through during the week at home when I have more time.

    My ex-wife had cheating friends. She was kind of “meh” about their cheating, for the most part. She also told me that if I cheated that it would not necessarily a deal-breaker for our marriage. Why I didn’t take this as a giant fucking red flag at the time I’ll never know.

    She cheated on me and, unfortunately for her, discovered that cheating is very much a deal breaker for me.

    CCB – really believe what people are telling you above. Someone who won’t put a stake in the ground about such an important issue is a waste of your time. There is anxiety and heartbreak ahead of you if you don’t end it now.

    Also, why would you and he need couples counselling prior to getting married? This tells me something is not right. Maybe you’re not fighting, but one of you (i.e. YOU) knows there’s something wrong. Guy needs to grow some balls and decide what he’s gonna be. It sounds to me like he wants to be one of the cheaters. Let him go and find someone with good character.

    All the best.

  • My advice would be to listen to your gut instinct. If it was not screaming to be heard, you would of not have submitted your concerns to this site. One of my biggest regrets was to silence my instincts. If I would of listened to mine, I would have ran like hell the first time they screamed at me. The screaming evidently became deafening and before I knew it, the gas lighting and his cheating took me to the darkest depths of my soul. It took me 14 years to hear my own voice again. I truly hope that you listen to your own inner voice NOW and not after years of bullshit. And trust me, if he can not put you, his life partner before his friends, then he is not worth your time. If he entangles and associates himself with people with such screwed up moral compasses, then you need to question what is his moral compass is made of. To be honest, you are seeing the writing on the wall; now what you need to do is believe it.

  • CCB, Everyone has given you god advise. I just want to say what I have always said to my two daughters. You already know the answer, trust the little voice inside. I would also add distrust anyone who tells you to not listen to your own little voice.

  • CCB:

    You have received a lot of love, support, and insight from hindsight from Chump Nation. You are in a tough spot, honey, no doubt about it. Please at the very least consider postponing the wedding, so that you can clear your head and think seriously about what you have shared with us, without the pressure of an imminent wedding hanging over you.

    A friend of mine went through with her first wedding due to the pressure, even though all of us (her friends) had cautioned against it. The primary conversation at our table during the reception was morbid jokes on how long the marriage would last. We all fervently hoped there would be no child involved before she got out. She later told us she spent much of her honeymoon locked in the bathroom crying in the shower. She left him 6 weeks later, and the abuse her X heaped on her afterward led her into hiding. It took nearly a year for their divorce to be complete because he refused to cooperate at all, even though they had no kids, no property, and she was not trying to take a single item from their joint married life, including any gifts from the wedding, etc.

    A wedding is not a party. It is not for the other people who might attend. It is a serious, public, solemn statement of promise and commitment to a lifetime together. Please do not take that step now when your faith in his equal commitment is so uncertain.

    • “A wedding is not a party. It is not for the other people who might attend. It is a serious, public, solemn statement of promise and commitment to a lifetime together. Please do not take that step now when your faith in his equal commitment is so uncertain.” So well said. So many brides forget that it isn’t the wedding that matters; it’s the lifetime commitment.

  • All I can say is if you are in couple’s therapy before getting married,you are in big trouble with your relationship. This stood out to me more than anything else. You are going to therapy to change who your husband to be is. This will not work. This is who he is. I suggest strongly that you find another fiancé.

    • My own two cents: I disagree. I think as we get older, we acquire mental “stuff,” and trying to use an impartial third party/therapist can be helpful in navigating that “stuff” with another person’s “stuff.” I think the fact the guy is amenable to therapy at all is actually a good sign, though the rest is pretty bad news. My own XH was violently opposed to the one & only counseling session I forced him into before he walked away from our 16yr marriage, and even then his takeaway message focused on this one little point the therapist made about how women and men tend to go through certain life changes at certain ages, so it was “perfectly expected” that he was going to do something like cheating on his wife and walking away (as I said, his interpretation, NOT what the therapist said/meant at all).

      • Well, I question the value of therapy where CCB comes out of individual therapy understanding it’s not her problem but still not ready to set a boundary and they’ve done joint counseling on this very topic and now there are late night calls, etc. She is worried about him hanging with cheaters and they are in the wedding. So I am not sure what counseling can do when the wedding is imminent, his behavior remains unchanged, and the therapist (seeing CCB stalled on the train tracks) is stuck in “nondirective therapy land” and won’t speak the obvious.

      • if he is honestly going to therapy because he truly wants to figure out how to FIX HIMSELF and not because she is forcing him, or making him. from the way i read it, he is going to therapy because SHE set up the appointment, SHE thought it was a good idea for pre-marriage, couples therapy. She wanted or told him to go, so he goes. doesn’t sound like he was motivated to do all that on his own, and i doubt it was HIM making the appointment and telling her to go.

        dont get my wrong. i completely agree with therapy, and also i think pre-marriage ANYTHING is always a good idea. getting advise from your priest, other couples and/or counselors is not a bad thing. Problem with that though is if he is only tagging along because SHE thinks it is a good idea and his heart and mind is not really into it, then it will not do any good for him. She will get the benefit of good advise, HE will not hear it nor learn from it if he is not really open to it.

        so many people think that just because he is going to therapy, it is going to solve everything. that if he goes to counseling means he really is trying. but they over look the fact that sometimes he is just going to get you off his back and shut you up. or to make it LOOK like he is trying.

        • Good points. And perhaps the pre-marriage counseling is mandated by their church prior to marriage and is not actual “couples counseling” intended to either resolve an issue or learn that there is no hope of resolution.

  • CCB,

    There is a lot of wisdom being shared with you. Please listen to it. I spent 16 years with a cheater. I just didn’t know it until nothing added up anymore, and I took a good hard look at what the asshat was doing while I was working hard to carry more than my fair share of the relationship load. Maybe all of this drama came to light as your wedding date approaches for a reason, i.e., to gauge your reaction.

    As I was literally ready to walk down the aisle, my fiance, now xh, whispered in my ear “You’ll never tie me down.” WHAT? “Oh, I’m just nervous.” No, Fucker, you were giving me fair warning with 130 people seated and a string quartet playing. I wanted to run out and tell people to go straight to the food and drinks, but I also wanted to believe no one could be so evil, and there were 130 people seated and a string quartet playing.

    The good news is that it is easier to not get married than to be married to a Jerk, and it is easier to stay married than to get unmarried, so you have a golden opportunity right now to nip this in the bud and heal yourself before more serious damage is done. And, like me and so many others, you can end up in a much better place with someone who gives you the respect and love you deserve, without reservation. And in the meantime, you can find out that you are exceptional as a person. Good luck to you!

  • Yes, first things first. Pay attention to your gut. A spouse and family should come before all else. Then work, hobbies, family, friends (not in any particular order there). Looking back my ex always put himself first. Eight years of “dating” LOL! uh any one want to guess if he had enough time to bang others? Wedding night? Out partying with friends while I waited for him to come back to the hotel suite. A move for his job? A done deal (unilateral decisions, anyone?) Another child? Nope! Got the vasectomy scheduled. Hmmmmm. CCB, really look hard at your relationship with your fiance. What has he done to support you? The way he treats you now is the best there is. The day I got married my ex went from “loving” me to disparaging anything I wanted. Red flags but I was too young and too stupid to heed them. I truly was that frog. Married for 20+ years to a man who believed life was all about him. What he wanted. What he believed. You want to hear the funny thing his father when I met him for the first time said, “A hard dick has no conscience.” And what I didn’t get was the fact that I was only one of many my ex was juggling at the time. Bringing me back to the house to meet his folks and watch family slides was his dirty little secret way of getting anyone into bed. My ex did a lot of sketchy things. And his friends were a bunch of men who walked out on their marriages.

  • Hello CL and All,

    I am overwhelmed by the responses here. I want to thank you for your good intentions, but I feel like no one here read my letter carefully. I took the holiday weekend to think about all of your responses, but what mostly happened was I realized how starkly they all contrast the reality of my relationship with my fiance. I know you all mean well, and I suppose I should have known what this would become. I should have known that this would become a “DTMFA”, but I am not writing as someone who has been cheated on. My question was not about what to do about my fiance, but how to help him, as part of a unit. I realize that things are pretty black and white here, and that any amount of cheating by anyone means that the cheater should be abandoned on a deserted island immediately by people who never imagined the day before that they were capable of such a betrayal. That is not realistic.

    There are 2 things that are not going to happen: 1) I am not leaving my fiance because he wants to save his friendship with his best friend (John) of 18 years. There is no question that he loves me; it becomes more evident every day, and has become even more evident through the past week. If anything, this has solidified the fact that he is very different from his friends, and his opinions about that become clearer and clearer. We are in fact more committed and in love than ever, and after I talked with him, as the confusion and shock has died down, he has become more angry with Missy, Beau, and John. He does not want to be involved in any capacity. 2) My fiance is not going to abandon his best friend, even if he deserves it. People are more complicated than that, and as much as we are pissed at this whole mess, we also are not the players of this drama. We are in a complicated and painful role of sorting through the carnage. We are both in full support of Liz, who for the moment wants to try to save the marriage. John voluntarily is going to counseling, both marital and solo, and according to my fiance and Liz, knows full well that she may still decide to divorce, and agrees that this would be completely warranted. His friendship with John will change, and whether they remain close is really dependent upon John’s behavior going forward.

    We only found out about all this last weekend; as for my fiance knowing that Missy is a serial cheater, this information came from Beau, not Missy, and not in the sordid gossipy manner everyone is imagining. He married her knowing full well what her history was; she herself (according to both Beau and my fiance) was completely up front with Beau about her history. This is pretty irrelevant in terms of their marriage, though, except to confirm her complete lack of loyalty.

    We haven’t spoken to our counselor yet about the cheating; that appointment is today. It was actually my fiance’s idea to get pre-marital counseling, which I 100% agreed with. It helped us grow together as thinkers and problem solvers, and helped start to open his eyes about the level of brainwashing he’d been put through. It wasn’t mandated by anyone.

    In any case, I was hoping to get some help dealing as a secondary party unwillingly dragged into a horrible situation. It’s great that this forum exists, and much of your advice has been solid throughout the history of this blog. But I think you come to a lot of hasty conclusions with only a letter’s worth of info to go on, and it’s hard to explain in one letter the complexity of a group of individuals.

    • I’ll bite.
      Why did you write the letter then, if you didn’t want honest advice? Quite wishy-washy if you ask me.
      The fact he’s not culling people who exhibit bad behaviour says spades as to his true character, but that’s your loss if you can’t open your eyes.

    • This might not get read but CCB, you wrote “I want to thank you for your good intentions, but I feel like no one here read my letter carefully.” We did read it carefully. It was you that left out information, you even admitted it “But I think you come to a lot of hasty conclusions with only a letter’s worth of info to go on.” The information you’re calling everyone out on for not knowing wasn’t included in what you wrote. We don’t know the whole story, we’re not you. Of course they’re only going to be based on part of the story. You gave only a part of it. From what you wrote, the responses are accurate. It’s on YOU for not providing the whole story. If you feel you weren’t understood well enough then I suggest next time you change what you include and don’t include. It’s making sense in your mind but not in others. If others aren’t understanding you then you’re probably not communicating in the right way. The responses you get are based on what you share, not on what you don’t share. We don’t read minds. I would also suggest phrasing your responses in such cases where you left out the information as something such as “thank you for your responses. There is more information that I did not share that holds weight on what we do/don’t do and we will use whichever information we found useful here in examining next steps.” Referencing another comment you made below, you DO need to draw lines in the sand when you get married, and in all relationships for that matter. It’s called boundary setting.

  • PS. A special thanks to Diana L. Your advice makes a lot of sense. Spot on about his housemates having been his family, and also about his age (he’s 26; I’m 31), his naivete and confusion. We’re talking more and more about their behavior towards me, and though it took awhile for him to accept the fact that they were not the people he admired them to be, he HAS come around to it. Especially as we have invited the friends over repeatedly and they’ve ignored every invitation. I haven’t drawn a line in the sand, because that’s not what partners do to each other. He is very supportive of me, and he’s agreed that they can’t be in the wedding.

    It’s been a real hard ride. For me, because they’ve been wolves in sheep’s clothing. But also for my fiance, who has gradually woken up over the past year to realize his closest friends are insane and full of deceipt.

  • I think you have to ask yourself what is the best case scenario here. I went back and reread your letter. In the little information I have from your letter (I’m 50 years old, I know that people and relationships are complicated), I (personally — not speaking for the group) see no indication that your fiancé is condemning of the behavior of these friends of his (not just sad, not just surprised … condemning). “Strange and unwarranted,” and that seemed mostly to be about their treatment of you, directly. I’m also concerned about this: “Eventually, I stopped joining my fiance when he went to see them.” Hopefully that’s not still true. If you want to be supportive of him as he conducts his relationships with these friends, you should be present. I personally would be watching them like a hawk, with my finger in the grenade pin the whole time, but that’s just me.

    The closest I can come to identifying with your situation is when my XH was just my boyfriend, his sister called him one day to tell him that Dad has a mistress and is divorcing Mom. My guy was devastated, crying, “How could this happen?” So, how could he still love his dad in the face of such betrayal (obviously, Dad’s betrayal had a lot more personal impact than your fiancé’s friends have on you – -and, obviously, he’s not going to stop talking to his dad). So I encouraged him to be honest — If he was angry, then be angry. If he was disappointed, then be disappointed. Hold him accountable.

    This was over 15 years ago, so I don’t remember how it all smoothed out over time (we lived far from Dad at the time and didn’t talk often), but Dad married his OW, so now it’s at every family gathering: Dad, Mom & OW. The kids still hate her but, strangely, not Dad, because some people can’t/don’t do that.
    My own role as supporter of the friend/son was just to be supportive and understanding of his grief and conflict. That’s all you can do.

    But I’m going to leave you with this footnote: My XH, who was always condemning of adultery, saying (his own words) that “There always comes a time when you choose: to act or walk away.” And, after 16 years together, he took a page from his father’s playbook and chose: Not me, but a woman half my age, with nary a glance backward at the shambles he left behind, because he “just couldn’t help it.”

    If it were me, and I was really intent on marrying this guy (still very bad idea, IMHO), I’d want to see some genuine righteous indignation toward the friends and efforts to hold those friends accountable for their actions. Even then, they’re still probably lying, but that’s your fiancé’s choice (and yours) to believe them (or not — I’d choose not).

    You asked our advice and we gave it to you. And in your letter, you used phrases like “wreaking havoc” and “insane.” It seems unlikely you are going to find anyone here who sympathizes with anyone who sympathizes with cheaters. You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.

    • NWB, I think you speak for most of us with the reply. The tone of the original letter was outrage, and much of the behavior described was outrageous.

      CCB, it seems as if you’ve had cause to rethink the tone of your letter and I am hopeful that the situation really isn’t as bad as you made it seem. I wish you much happiness and hope you will not need a forum like this one in the future.

  • I did respond from a whirl of outrage, shock and confusion, and the past week with my fiance has definitely helped in terms of knowing what his position on the situation is.

    • Hi CCB,

      I wish you best of luck! I had to respond to your last letter, though, because your turn-around in light of your fiance’s very recent behavior change makes me skeptical. In fact, his suggestion that you both go to counseling sounds like a familiar move on the part of some manipulative people I know. I wonder if you check his behavior against this list of dysfunctional habits, you will see why you are hurting behind the happiness (especially number 9):

      1. Be sensitive to contradictions. They end a conversation with a statement that opposes what they said at the beginning. They talk about the problems of the world like a good citizen, yet break the rules without apology, and are just so happy go lucky.
      2. Double-check their (tsunami of) stories. They talk (boast or demean) nonstop about the people in their lives because they (are property) are extensions of themselves. No one is off limits so they even lie about their children. Mainly they specialize in half-truths and disinformation. They have no problem keeping important information away from you.
      3. Pay attention to the quick lane changes in conversation. (One second they are talking about their kid’s party, then a half-second later, they are talking about their friend’s dead cat and veterinary history.)
      4. Look for cold, “robotic” reactions to what should be emotionally troublesome events. Ex: They will state verbally their disappointment, but it’s just words, no show of emotion nor corresponding action. They will make no effort to resolve an issue, no matter how much they yammer on about it. (They feel no sorrow. They have no shame. Their feelings don’t get hurt. This also makes the lackadaisical psychopath incredibly easy to live with. They treat spouses and family members like roommates.)
      5. Track each time they bug you with questions about how you would act in certain (off the wall) situations: “What would you do if I…fill in the blank”. Ex: “What would you do if you came out of your apartment and saw me hiding in the bushes?” *This is something a normal person would not need to ask.* If you respond like they are idiots for asking, then they act like it was just a joke. But, they will ask you another odd thing later, and again and again…
      6. Take note of their scapegoating. Scapegoating is a term that’s usually associated with assigning blame, but psychopaths also expertly assign credit where little or none is due. This gives them a saintly aura, but the reality is that it’s all lies regardless.
      7. Analyze their desire to move quickly into a close relationship; calling you endearing terms right away, insisting that you should freely bring them into your circle of trust, wanting you to share living quarters or share a business venture very soon after meeting… all very seductive, and ego-boosting for you.
      8. Observe the “Poor Me, I’m the Victim” tone and words that they use to get your sympathy, which can fool you into being controlled/manipulated by them and giving them stuff (time, special favors, gifts…). They also use this pity play when they need an excuse as to why they didn’t act responsibly, or didn’t give you a birthday present.
      9. Notice a pattern of hot-cold-hot-cold-hot attraction and attention to you. When they give you the cold shoulder, they leave you inwardly begging for more attention. When they finally bring the heat back, you experience maximum elation and feel high from the boost of dopamine (the “love” chemical) and endorphins. They manipulate you into pretty much being addicted to them, so you repeatedly forgive whatever transgressions they perpetrated against you.
      10. Be wary of their number of claims that “There was a misunderstanding”, because they know that phrase restores your trust, and eases their way past you catching them in a lie.

      These are subtle red flags of psychopathy. I hope you’re not seeing any of these.
      -Tina

    • Hope it all works out for the best.

      This is, perhaps, not the right forum for dealing with this issue. It seems that your fiance is distancing himself from this group, which is a good thing.

      The problem is that many of us have seen behaviour like that described in your first message before. When you find out your partner has been cheating on you, this type of behaviour is cast in a different light (a very bleak one). It’s seen as a warning sign for what was to come. When you’ve been cheated on, being able to identify these signs is really important because you want to be able to avoid that kind of terrible situation again.

      Take care.

  • CCB;
    I was one of those Chumps that went straight to Amazon to order every book known to mankind on cheating…and guess what almost all of them said: “The Cheater usually socializes with other Cheaters.” Sometimes this is AFTER they are married, but you are seeing this now. Sometimes it is their parents or someone else in the family, and even though they say they (the future Cheater) disagree with it, the pattern gets repeated just like verbal abuse, alcoholism & many other behaviors.
    It is very kind of those in Chump Nation to try to look out for you. At one time, we all believed we had someone great who would honor us, with fewer red flags than you are getting. Good luck, truly.

  • Dear CCB:
    I wish you happiness in your decision and no, people are not black and white nor are relationships. But, I know those feelings of not knowing what to do or being made to feel uncomfortable by the actions of someone who “loves” you and wanting to help them even though they aren’t really acting lovingly and not looking out for your best interests instinctually on their own.

    I guess this stuff with his friends has been going on for quite some time which is what prompted you to start reading here in depth from what you wrote above.

    Keep in mind, there is a lot of drama involved with these people in your life and your fiances life and it seems from what you wrote that it has caused much drama within your relationship with your fiance which in turn made your fiance turn to you and say let’s go to counseling together.

    All I can tell you is that I didn’t start reading here when I was happy and felt loved in my relationship. I started reading here for guidance on how to deal with being traumatized from a totally abusive relationship and I connected with this place because what I was feeling matched what I read here. What my gut instincts were telling me I should do also matched what I read here.

    I guess that’s all I have to say to you in reply to your original post above as well as your follow up post that states you are proceeding with your wedding and you are sure your fiance loves you, now in this past week more than ever.

    Hope this place helped you with your decision and I wish you to be true to yourself and make sure to take care of yourself. Cheaters, especially serial cheaters are very subtly skilled in their psychopathy, they are quite tricky if you haven’t before encountered one.
    They dupe and are really good at duping even someone who is not easily dupable.

    Hey but you know that from reading here.

    Good Luck!

  • CBB, good luck, but there are some things you must own and be aware of, and take great care…

    My question was not about what to do about my fiance, but HOW TO HELP HIM as part of a unit…. We are in fact more committed and in love than ever, AND AFTER I TALKED WITH HIM, as the confusion and shock has died down, HE HAS BECOME MORE ANGRY with Missy, Beau, and John. He does not want to be involved in any capacity.

    CBB – big co dependent siren here. You shouldn’t have to help someone. They should be their own person. You should have to tell people what they should think, feel and do.

    Take great care about your motives, your control and your expectations (too small). We aren’t black and white, we have lived in your shoes, had the same attitudes and made the same mistakes you are making. Promise.

    You are way too involved in other people’s stuff instead of focussing on your own (how do I know this?!). You are putting the locus of control outside of yourself. It is very controlling to try and arrange your environment in order to get the love and safety that we all look for and deserve. Your fiancé is passively going along with you (how do I know this?!) but at some stage he will rebel and it will be secretive and passive aggressive, i.e. – cheating.

    I would really recommend Al anon or some other 12 steps programme – it is the best free therapy there is, and it gently teaches you to take the focus off what other people are doing, and put it on to yourself. It is a miracle and a gift, but I suppose you are going to have to find out that what you are doing now will make your life unmanageable and make you insane.

    Remember, we got your back, and we are always here further down the line.

    • Ultimately, you shouldn’t have to explain decency to someone.

      I really, really hope you call off this marriage …

  • CCB,

    Your “reinforcement” by your fiance was intended to appease you and dissuade you from gathering all your toys and going home. “I did respond from a whirl of outrage, shock and confusion, and the past week with my fiance has definitely helped in terms of knowing what his position on the situation is.”

    What you may not understand at this point (what with being a good, honest and trusting soul) is that he will say anything to encourage you to accept a life sentence with him. If you don’t, he will have to find a new place to live. He won’t have you to shower him with love and attention. And thoughtful deeds. And gifts. And to give him that cover of respectability people without conscience so desperately need to give themselves the respectability they lack. So when you are outraged, shocked and confused, they will “explain” it all to you so you will see them in a better light. Just keep in mind that that is the intended result. And sometimes it is a “gas light.” You may wake up in ten years and realize that you have been taken for a ride, but he will wonder why you won’t still wash his socks after you leave.

  • CCB, your fiance has been friends with John since he was 8 years old. Now he is a man. While it’s one thing to support friends who make mistakes and want to change, it’s quite another to honor them by having them in your wedding. You are half my age. I will tell you that a 26-year old man may not even have full brain development. Certainly, your fiance has not yet learned how to set appropriate boundaries with his friends or he would have had a hard talk with John about why JOHN was not being a better friend to HIM, as well as why John, his best friend, wouldn’t accept you. It’s laudable that he initiated pre-marital counseling, but really I am hard-pressed to imagine how my best friend’s cheating would devastate my own life and relationship. It would affect my relationship with her, as it would expose differences in our values and I would not be comfortable supporting her relationship. Had you provided more information about the situation in your letter, you might have gotten responses that better addressed your own motives for writing. But in any case, I would tell any young person who ran by me the scenario you began with that (1) your husband is friends with some low-life people and (2) if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas, and (3) a husband’s first loyalty should be to his wife, not to his friends, no matter how long he’s known them. And finally, if I had to explain this to a man, I would know that he wasn’t ready to be married. Been there, done that.

    • ‘but really I am hard-pressed to imagine how my best friend’s cheating would devastate my own life and relationship’.

      Excellent point, LDJ. I must agree – I can’t imagine how these dramas belonging to other people would devastate my own life and romantic relationship. Why? How? and more Why? Because of phone calls and requests for support? Really? And in such a short space of time too! Even though I’m on full chumpdom alert – can’t really say I’d be driven to describe myself as devastated or embroiled in ‘insanity’ after only a week of my partners friends contacting him with requests for support – even if it was morning, noon and night. Not unless I lived with the telephone bell strapped to my ear – perhaps that would drive me mad – and consider havoc was being wrought, but then again – think I’d probably unstrap the phone from my ear at that point.

      And, absolutely; ‘And finally, if I had to explain this to a man, I would know that he wasn’t ready to be married. Been there, done that’. Such a simple, simple truth – but dear Lord above, hasn’t it taken me over 25 years to learn that lesson! Never, ever, as God is my witness, will I ever get drawn into lengthy explanations, to anyone beyond school age and not recognised as having a learning difficulty, as to what moral integrity involves!

  • Just wow CCB.

    No you’re not writing as someone who has been cheated on…..YET.

    I assume that you’ve read an article or two before here and you sort of implied that you knew what the response would be, yet that didn’t stop you from submitting a letter.

    One of my biggest problems as a former chump is that I didn’t pay attention to my ex’s actions before, during or even after our marriage was over. For a large portion of that 27 years, I didn’t have the benefit of chump lady’s wisdom.

    Your fiance is showing you who he is now with his actions (forget about his words). Plenty of people here were duped by their cheaters into believing that had morals similar to their own by what they said. My ex didn’t ‘condone cheating and thought that “if you’re in a situation where you feel you are going to cheat then you should get divorced”. That’s exactly what he didn’t do. His actions should have shown me that because he knew people in his personal life that did just that yet he remained friends with them anyway.

    There are some major red flags here and CL and everyone else just pointed that out and suggested that you maybe rethink this whole marriage thing or put it on hold. No one suggested anything rash either. I think deep down your subconscious is screaming at you see the light, otherwise you wouldn’t have written the original letter. Your response is classic spackle speak. I outta know since I’ve spoken it fluently for many years.

  • Don’t do it! It is not worth going through the hell of divorce and splitting up a family. Trust me. I am in the midst of it right now. If I had listened to my gut I wouldn’t be in this situation. It’s not too late.

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