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Meaningless Flings and the Myth of the Good Cheater

cheater_pollyanna So as of yesterday Esther Perel now follows me on Twitter. Which is big of her considering I told her to bite me.

On the other hand, there might be something in it for her as she’s writing a book on infidelity, according to the New York Times, and is only taking on new clients “who have experienced infidelity.” Perhaps she’s studying the chump perspective. You bitter, angry, sarcastic people.

I got on her radar because I cheekily sent her yesterday’s column debunking her infidelity essay. She responded by Twitter:

“my heart goes out to you – my article does not directly apply to your situation, as your experience goes way beyond infidelity.”

At first I thought she was being nice and I felt bad for telling her to bite me. (Hey, I’m a chump. Feeling bad is my default setting.) Her heart goes out to me!

But then I thought about it some more and decided this reply was actually quite condescending (because you know, I’m bitter that way). Pat, pat, pat. You poor dear. Still stuck in anger, refusing to move on, riling up cheater hate here on Chump Lady, drawing snarky cartoons, telling people to leave people whose only crime was self actualization. And I kinda got pissed off all over again.

My experience goes “way beyond infidelity.”

Huh.

I’ve gotten this take on my writing before. It goes something like this — Oh, you’re not qualified to draw conclusions about infidelity because you had one of those BAD cheaters. He was a serial cheater, and moreover, unlike my cheater who was sad and lost and misunderstood, your cheater was drunk and angry and mean. My cheater just Made a Terrible Mistake. Your cheater threatened to burn down your house and piss on his ex-wife’s baby’s grave if you told anyone. Your experience goes way beyond infidelity. That wasn’t my experience.

Early on, I tried to take this issue on with the post “A Spectrum of Cheaters.” While there are certainly differences between cheaters, the long-term affairs vs. the short-term affairs, the emotional affair vs. the physical affair, the “sex addicts” and the folks who hold hands and recite Bible verses in hotel rooms. The cheaters who go to prostitutes (and therein we have more distinctions — massage parlors, Thai vacations, Russian hookers…) and the cheaters who find it at home. The cheaters who hook up on Ashley Madison and the like, or those who find old flames on Facebook. The cheaters who fuck a co-worker and those who fuck your siblings.

Sure, there is variation. Sure, there are degrees of cheating. (In fact I’ve gotten in trouble on my own blog by not weighing emotional affairs as heavily as physical affairs, just because I don’t think they endanger chumps to the same degree, i.e., pregnancy, STDs, etc.) But the longer I read and write about infidelity, the more I am struck by how alike cheaters are. How they manipulate with the same narcissistic panache. How they make the same sorry excuses for their behavior. And how — unless you’re dealing with a stone cold sociopath — they all want you to believe that They Never Intended to Hurt You.

Esther Perel writes:

Adultery becomes a moral failing as we move to a description of character flaws: liar, cheater, philanderer, womanizer, slut. In this view, understanding an act of infidelity as a simple transgression or meaningless fling, or a quest for aliveness is an impossibility.

So I put it out to you chumps — did any of you, please raise your hand, have a cheater who committed a “simple transgression” or a “meaningless fling”?

Esther — cheaters who want cake (the affair AND the marriage) all want chumps to believe their infidelity was “meaningless.” I never intended to hurt you. It didn’t mean anything.

But here’s the thing — it means everything to the person whose world wasn’t considered. You threw away our commitment for something that didn’t MEAN anything to you? It’s almost worse really. Falling in love with your soul mate schmoopie, while horrifying, is at least understandable at some level. (Okay, not really. I also debunk the whole We Were Compelled By Forces Greater Than Ourselves.) Anyway, it’s a neater rationalization than — I did something that didn’t mean jack shit to me, that clearly seems to devastate you, for an orgasm.

We’re not stupid for wanting our feelings to be considered, for relying on commitment, for believing in monogamy — IT WAS PROMISED TO US. And we abided by that set of rules — and moreover, we didn’t see it as a “set of rules” to break and “exuberantly defy.” We loved with our whole hearts and got played.

Oh, but my experience “goes beyond infidelity.” How exactly? I welcome you on to this blog, Esther, the largest assembly of chumps you’re going to find, and let you explain exactly what you meant by that infidelity article that sure as hell seems to excuse extramarital affairs as exercises in self actualization.

Self actualization sounds so much nicer than “Fucks in a Harrisburg hotel at lunch” or “let me stay home with the children while he screws around on business trips” or “slept with other men while I was deployed.”

Because those are the stories I read here EVERY DAY. Do their experiences go “beyond infidelity”?

Really, Esther, I’m a lightweight in the chump department. You ought to meet my husband — 22 years to a serial cheater. She slept with her boss, his best friend, and assorted others. And when he found out, he divorced her. (Or in your parlance, he indulged in the “dissolution of the family structure.”)

Okay, she never threatened to burn down his house. She wasn’t one of those cheaters. She just wasted 22 years of his life.

Please show me the Good Sort of Cheater who has a meaningless fling. Even a one-night stand involves a series of decisions and a cluster of lies to cover it up. How does a person happen to encounter a meaningless fling? Do you advertise for one on a dating site? Does it sidle up to you in a bar? Offer itself at work? Boundaries are crossed, conspiracies are made, rationalizations created.

All apparently “meaningless.”

 

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  • Affairs are acts of cowardice. If unhappy in marriage, get a divorce then move on to other people afterward. It really is that simple.

    • Exactly!!!!!!

      If things are so fulfilling then the courageous (and compassionate) thing to do is cut the other person lose so that both you and him/her can move forward. It may hurt, but not as much as betrayal. Those basic values of courage and compassion are very relevant here.

      • Amen exactly!

        My ex had one affair (that I know about). He lied to me for a month while he snuck around with the other woman. When I found out he told me “Our marriage was over anyway.” I didn’t get that memo ironically enough.

        It’s weird how he thought the marriage was over anyway yet we went on a vacation together a full month before it began.

        He must be one of the cheaters Esther is talking about. His “one transgression”. His continued acts of unprotected sex with the both us. I was just one of those silly people that imposed a consequence on him. Poor little wayward cheater that got lost, didn’t mean to hurt me and thought our marriage was over anyway so why not!

        I might have a shred of respect for him if he did it in the right order and just asked me for a divorce if he was that unhappy. Total coward!

        • Yes, agree.

          It occurs to me that cowardice comes from knowing the right thing to do and not doing it while NPD cheaters really just don’t care. They may care once they’re caught but it won’t stop them the next time…just makes them more covert.

          Btw, there’s nothing to say that the first time we discovered the cheat wasn’t the first time it happened. It makes me sick to think like that but people really don’t change that much in this regard. The cheater-trait is part of the core personality.

          Cheaters don’t cheat once. That only happens if they had sex against their will. But that’s not cheating…that’s rape. I assume your poor dear wasn’t raped. In that case, you’ve dodge the bullet by losing the loser.

          • It’s sad. Little did I know that the morning I caught him in bed with Skank was going to be THE BEST DAY I was going to have during the whole ideal. As gutted as I was, it was going to get so much worse.

            That wasn’t the first time he slept with her (as I had assumed in my desperation to soothe myself), she wasn’t the only one, and the first one happened in the first 3 months. I caught him again and again….friends then started coming forward (frigging finally???) telling me all kinds of crap.

            Nope….I guarantee you it wasn’t the first time, or the only time. I wouldn’t have believed him capable, only he was.

            • It’s so hard to change our fundamental beliefs…especially when we love those beliefs. I too simply couldn’t believe she was capable of even being interested in another man. It took way too much evidence before I admitted she was completely lost to me.

              That’s the one lingering piece of anger I have…it took me too long to wake up.

              • So true. Looking back, I can’t believe some of the dribble I fell for, grasping at straws, holding on for dear life – mostly waiting from some sign from him that he was sorry he hurt me, and that I did mean something to him.

                Sad to say I did the chump walk instead of walking out the first time it became obvious (to anyone over the age of 4) that this guy was nothing but a remorseless, selfish loser who didn’t give a crap about me.

                Lesson learned.

              • Dan, I’m not big into forgiveness, except for oneself. People have pointed out to me–aw, you’re supposed to trust your spouse. Of course you didn’t believe that his last-minute “solo” trips to Howaii and Hosemite were anything but innocent. Of course the phone calls in the garage with his “male” friend were believable!

                I was a good wife. I loved him. I loved our family. I was committed, even if not happy. I had sex with him even though he was awful or indifferent to me, because I was working on our marriage, with a long-term view.

                What a chump! What an idiot!

                I used to look at chumps with hostile skepticism and think to myself (or to my husband, even)–“What do you MEAN, (s)he just ‘walked out,’ you had NO IDEA?? Right. How dumb and blind could you be???” Ah, those chickens, when they come home to roost, they make a mess. Ironically, my ex was appalled that I could be so callous toward the chumped. (Our Realtor’s wife left him for another man about a year before my ex did the same to me.) But, really–I’d never heard of such a thing. I had the idea that these things were obvious, that cheaters were un-subtle, that only someone dull would be so clueless about the state of their marriage, or about the shiftiness of their spouse.

                But my people are kind, and urged me to be kind to myself. And you know, a silver lining in all this is that my eyes are open a little wider, my heart is a little softer, and I am undoubtedly more sure of my values and my strength. As my friends (including you all here!) reassure, it’s not bad to love with all your heart and to trust and to try and to accept the good with the bad. Live and learn, eh? When you know better, you do better? Right?

                Be kind to yourself, Dan. You’re a good egg.

              • Sunshine: “…my eyes are open a little wider, my heart is a little softer, and I am undoubtedly more sure of my values and my strength.”

                Thanks for those words. They capture the feeling I have moving forward. I’m certainly not ‘glad for the experience’ but I am so much stronger. I didn’t understand how cheaply I gave away my total and unconditional love. Someday, I’ll have another shot at that and then I’ll pair my head and my heart in the partnership. No more NPD’d for me. :>
                Cheers, and thx for the ‘good egg’ comment…a little scrambled for now perhaps.

            • My gf said to me “c’mon, he didn’t just get that lucky the first time out of the gate. He’s been trolling the Internet for quite some time in search of somebody or something to masterbate with.” Harsh but so very true. I stayed much longer than I should have alternating between I don’t want to be divorced/break up the family/hurt the kids and the marriage police. I absolutely hated monitoring an adult.

            • It’s rarely the first time. When I found out about final OW I had to quickly name her Final OW because once she was revealed a slew of others came crawling out of the woodwork. And people started telling me things and yep, I’m very doubtful if, in a long relationship, it’s only once.

          • Affairs are like cockroaches: if you see/discover one, multiply that number by, say 10, and you might approach the number they had.
            Same with lack of integrity: if you think these folks confine lying and cheating to the sexual fidelity realm, think again. They run through life leaving a trail of destruction.
            I know of at least 3 married men my XW screwed before we were married. This trait was well entrenched long before I arrived on the scene.

        • I got the same line. He also lied for about a month & suck around. He gave me the ILYBNILWY speech however when I told my mum she said he has someone, or someone is on his radar. When I confronted him got the I was leaving you anyway. We were together for 25 yrs but really time means nothing to them. I did pretzel for about 2 weeks then I told him to go after he said she made the ultimate sacrifice for him. Cowards and liars the lot of them.

    • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this very thing.
      Staying (for years and cheating multiple times) just does more damage to spouse and family.
      Idiots want it all or are “too confused” (cowardice) to make a decision/life change but it’s ok that they mess with OUR lives, OUR emotions and our confidence.

  • My wife would think of herself as a “good cheater” if she didn’t think of herself as someone unfairly judged for a mistake. She didn’t mean to hurt me, it’s just it was “a dark time” and her (married) boss came on to her, so she had to have a year-long affair with him. And lend him $200k. And have me do work for him. And become a client of his business. It’s not like she meant to hurt me. No, sir. Is it her fault I’m so sensitive?

    • I like that, “a dark time.” Mine said, “we just ended up in a really bad place.” yes, that he put us in by doing bad things.

      • Mine said he “went through a sordid period.” The double-speak of the cheater, it’s really mind boggling.

        • By way of explanation, my ex texted me soon after D-Day: “I got hard.” When I laughed and typed back “Whoa. Bad typo,” I knew that I would eventually be ok.

      • Yes, we seemed to be happy and content until the AP came along with her tale of marital woe. Then, suddenly, our marriage was a dull, boring and unsatisfying place to be. Go figure!

          • Yep! Ditto! Thought we were fine until
            She needed my husband to rescue her from her fancy beach home, six figure earner husband who traveled all but four days out of each month who was and supposedly had been physically abusing her for 29 years! The ever needy Dumsel in distress! Please! Makes me want to puke! Am
            I the only person who sees through this over aged bimbo??

      • Love the way he used “we”…..just to make sure you understood that you had a BIG part in the “bad place”.

        • He used alot of bad lines that sounded like they came from B movies. That “we just ended up in a bad place,” was merely one of them. How about, “It’s all over, Kiddo!” or “you and I are not an item anymore, Muse.” Or “I wish I could split myself in two, so one of me could be with you, and one with her.” Should I have offered to do the splitting for him?

          • They are hardly original in their lines are they? When he wasn’t throwing out inappropriate euphemisms, he would repeat things I had said to him at one time or another.

            I think they don’t know what to say because they don’t feel it. So, they throw out what they think they are supposed to say. It also explains stupid answers when cornered. Mimics aren’t very fast on their feet.

            • “When he wasn’t throwing out inappropriate euphemisms, he would repeat things I had said to him at one time or another”, and I bet you thought he wasn’t listening!

          • Ewww! I don’t know what could more more horribly condescending and offensive than to be called “kiddo” in the context of a cheater’s pseudo-acknowledgment.

            Ick. Ick. Ick. I think I need a shower. Or an exorcism. Or both! So sorry, Muse. That’s just beyond gross!

            • Not to mention the, “Hey, there’s just not enough of me to go around, babe!” attitude of the splitting comment.

              Gross. He smells.

            • thanks FMT. He always was a pompous ass of a narc before D-Day. It seems all the drama he created after being exposed just brought out more of his real personality. Yes, he actually called me “kiddo,” and cocked his head slightly. I thought he was going to wink next. I still reel at this, a year later. 16 yrs relationship, then “it’s all over, kiddo.”

              • I’ve read some really harsh shit on this blog. Stories that kept me awake at night and made me question my faith in humanity. But this one word, I dunno. It’s just like, wow. There you have it. To me it encapsulates the cavalier, even sociopathic, mindset that many if not most cheaters have, almost as if they’re adults dealing with very small children or people of presumed lesser intelligence. Even a sub-species.

                When my elder daughter was little and found a spider or ‘critter’ in her room, she’d say, “Say your prayers, kiddo” before she squashed it or vacuumed it up. Your post reminded me of this. Except, I believe my daughter probably felt more compassion in those moments than your ex did. Or mine. Or any of ours.

                Good Lord.

              • I’ll tell you what is as bad as being called Kiddo !!!!! My husband tried to make it sound cutesy when he said “I know i’ve been a bad boy ” !!! It made my stomach turn…it gave me the most sick feeling! I swear if there were a gun nearby I don’t know if I could control myself. Boy??? NO you fuck face…you are a fucking senior citizen with a daughter older than your Russian curb crawler. Your grand children are older than her kids…Fuck yourself because no one especially me wants to fuck you…she only did it because you overpaid her too! Fuck off wrinkle dick !!!

            • When I told my ex I was going ahead with the divorce, his reply was, “Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.” This after a 20 year marriage. But at least he didn’t call me kiddo.

          • Sure!! With a dull machete!

            (Actually, Naw…..Not worth the jail time! We need you HERE, Muse!)

            ForgeOn, beloved ones……..

    • Mine said “Just know that I was very unhappy with you at the time so that make it okay for me to go to him”

      • That’s what mine said. That he had been unhappy with me for a long time and that it was my fault that our marriage fell apart. I drove him to the affair. He claims he told me for a long time that I needed to change but I ignored him. So he went out and sought happiness elsewhere. REALLY? How could I have missed a memo that he claims he sent repeatedly over and over again? In my case, I didn’t discover the affair. He told me. Used it as an exit strategy. Left me and our 1 year old, 6 weeks before I was to graduate from residency, leaving me a single mom and emotionally devastated 3 months before my board exams (the medical equivalent of the law school bar exam). He falls under the “self actualization” category that Esther Perel mentions. He says “life is too short to be unhappy. I wanted to be happy.” GREAT! I’m more than happy to pay for your happiness with my own happiness and our kid’s sense of stability!

        • That’s how I feel about my xH’s “happiness.” He stole bits of it from his own children. And the disgusting part of it is, I now realize, he’s chasing a mirage–he’ll never be happy. So the pieces of my children’s souls that he squandered are all for naught. What a waste.

          • Yep, what he did to the kids is unforgivable. The hurt he caused them, not just from cheating but from how he responded to their hurt, will forever make him a giant asshole in my book. And to this day he’s full of hate towards me, because … erm, yeah – who knows. I guess I didn’t go by his script and he can’t control me any more.

    • Well my ex wasn’t a cheater because apparently all feelings he had for me were gone. I just didn’t know it. Apparently living with and fucking his secetary while he needed a break doesn’t count as cheating.

      • yeah, ditto. I got, “I decided I wasn’t married to you anymore.” … of course I myself never got the memo… [cake!]

        And “I really didn’t want to be a suburban dad anymore”…with a 15 y.o.daughter to finish raising. Superb narc timing! Just superb.

        These morons are trash, and they don’t deserve the love of the children whose hearts’ they’ve broken. In my bitter, shriveled, limited, judging opinion.

        • Got same stupid argument…”I am already divorce in my mind, I don’t need a paper”. That is how he justifies his adultery. Oh! but it isn’t adultery because he was already divorced in his mind. Today, two years separated and struggling to get the stupid divorce he is still in adultery, but you know? Jesus forgives him, because he was already divorced in his mind.
          You just can’t make up these shit.

  • I guess I’m excluded because my ex’s affair wasn’t “meaningless,” – it “just happened.” He “just happened” to start a relationship with a much younger married co-worker while we were also married and lie about it. And after they were found out and both getting divorced, moved in together, though from what I’ve heard, they both tried to lie to their families about that too. After she dumped his ass and he tried to come back to me, I believe he did try to sell it to me as “meaningless” – although I pointed out that you can’t move in with someone else and divorce your spouses to be with each other and then try to say it was “meaningless.” I also pointed out that he said extremely hateful things to me during that time. So then it became “I was crazy, I don’t know why I did any of that.”

    So maybe that puts me in the “way beyond infidelity” camp too. I have no idea what that means, perhaps I should phone my ex and ask him, I’ll bet it would make sense to his narc mind.

    While some people might be able to forgive a “meaningless” one-night stand, I don’t believe I could – that’s a special kind of evil. So you’re willing to ruin everything with your spouse for something that means absolutely nothing to you? That’s pretty cold-blooded.

    • Mine fell in love with his married coworker, then left me after 36 years and moved into her parent’s basement. In a document I accidentally discovered, he is planting seeds to break up his coworker’s marriage because everything worth having is worth waiting for. He has her kids calling him Uncle and claims to love them as much as he loves our kids. He’s just trying to find himself, though, finally embracing his shadow side. No, He isn’t one of those bad cheaters.

    • I’m sure his numerous “flings” were meaningless. He never did much better than double-baggers – would have been hard to muster up some meaning in that.

      So, he risked gutting me – and losing me – for some hookup on match.slut? Wow…..call me underwhelmed.

  • I completely disagree with Esther Perel’s arm-waving hypothesis as delivered in her Ted Talk in which she claims love and desire are two separate things that cannot be fulfilled by the same partner. I find it simple to fulfill both on the same chosen partner. While married I do NOT feel the need for “adventure” outside my marriage. I find it within my marriage.

    Anyone who feels the need to look outside for adventure, mystery, risk and all the other crap she lists…should simply have the balls to end the marriage before cheating. Or never take marriage vows in the first place. I felt the urge to silence Esther before she bored me with her psychobabble.

    • If people want to walk the path of chasing “desire” outside of marriage, then it’s simple: find like-minded persons to explore that with you. Don’t marry or commit to a person who believes that you intend to be faithful and loyal and then cheat–cheating them out of the kind of life they intend for themselves.

        • ML — they don’t WANT to understand. In fact, as you know, they go to great lengths to lie to themselves so they can look in the mirror. Unless, like ChumpLady says, they are a stone cold sociopath, then it’s a case of not caring at all. Five years out, and I am still so very hurt, saddened, and disgusted by my X’s behaviour — so many people have been forever scarred, especially the children.

          Esther may want to look at how a cheating parent propels children into self-actualization — not!

          • Chatty I am four years out. Feel the same as you. He is still with ho-worker living happily ever after. Kids? Wife? Old life? Who?

            • Same. Four years out. Not feeling much different than the beginning. Him…appears to be living happily ever after. Married the much, much younger AP. No interest in the family left behind.

              • Chances are good she will leave him with the same callousness he left you with. That is some hopium I can put in my pipe & smoke!

    • I think one problem is that people like Perel assume that all people are the same: basically good with “normal” drives.

      With that point of view, it’s easy to imagine that ALL of us want to screw around, errrrr…
      I mean, “experience a tension between love and desire.” I disagree. Not all of us want a sexually diverse smorgasbord. Some of us actually like real intimacy, the kind that takes a great deal of time and energy to develop.

      Not all of us are horny freakazoids.

      • Exactly. And that real intimacy also requires, absolutely requires, being able to trust your partner. Perel has no clue. Without honesty and trust, how can we be vulnerable with a partner? Without that vulnerability, there can be no true intimacy that comes from knowing and loving a partner. What Perel is suggesting is an exercise in ego fulfillment–just more “all about me.”

    • Or maybe get in touch with themselves enough to understand that, perhaps, the fact that they can’t keep it in their pants could be related to their lack of other interesting things to do combined with the expectation that all their needs be met by an external agency.

        • It really is. Ex always talks about YOU weren’t making me happy. YOU weren’t paying enough attention. YOU this and that. Not once did he look to himself and say ‘why do I feel this way?. It seems to have never occurred to him that he is responsible for getting those things, not sitting around waiting for someone to deliver them, OR thinking that his needs are more important than the needs of the person he’s with.

          Sure, at the beginning he was very attentive and sort of carried his weight but now I see that that slowly drifted away until I was doing absolutely everything and it still was never enough.

          Crazy shit and whatsherface ‘cheaters need excitement’ or whatever she said (do I really need to know? It’s just more blah blah blah get over it crap) can bite me with her whacko theories.

  • Infidelity is committed the entitled, self-absorbed, weak-willed and shallow-minded. NEVER once do they think about the others who will be pained by their actions. They live in the moment, and prove they are as shallow as the fucking they do with their fuckbuddies. It was never about commitment with them.

    • I agree they live in the moment and never think about the ramifications of their actions. One day I was sobbing and telling him I was going to miss his mother so much, she was like a second mother to me. He said, “that makes me feel horrible.” I don’t think it ever occurred to him the life-long family ties that would be ripped apart by his decisions.

      • Agreed. When my husband told me he was leaving me and our kid for a co-worker he’d been seeing for a few months (but those few months were apparently enough for him to decide that he’d be happier with her), I was devastated. I asked him whether he really understood what this means. Has he really thought this through? I said, “Do you realize this means no opening presents on Christmas day with our baby? No Disneyworld and no family vacations? When our son kisses his first girl at school and comes home to tell us about it, YOU WON’T BE THERE FOR IT. Do you understand that?” He looked stunned. It is unbelievable that these cheaters don’t think of the ramifications of their actions. They’re incredibly short sighted and selfish.

        • He was stunned by the realization that he must look like such an asshole. Make no mistake–it’s not that he actually cares about being an all-in dad. If he was capable of caring and of being a courageous and heroic father to his own son, he’d never have dared to risk his family for some cling-on homewrecking twat.

          • The Jackass’s MOW had three kids, and I am sure she thinks of herself as a great mother, while at the same time putting up stuff on Pinterest about how she would “follow [her true love] anywhere.” They’re like toddlers playing with plastic toys and wrecking everything in their path.

        • Perfectly said, derailed. When I asked STBX if he realized that he was taking my family away, too..his family has been my family for 26 years..I got “no I didn’t think of that”. No you didn’t you asshole! You thought of yourself and your skank ass girlfriend, and all about the unicorns over the rainbow with your “true love”. Doesn’t matter you tore me away from more than just your lying ass!

          • Yep, lost a whole lot of family in all this and I too pointed out a few things as I was kicking him about the losses so many people would suffer. He was all ‘golly, I didn’t really think about that’. They’re all a tad thick, aren’t they?

    • This is shit. Just last night I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t spoken to in years. When she heard the whole story she said, well can’t you at least just say you had a good run but could not put up with that kind of behavior. ??????????? WTF. I said that the porn addiction that took all of his available time, the fact that he would find any way to get me and tha kids out of the house so he could persue his vocation as a pervert, was NOT a good run. She said ” so you never had ANY good times being married to him?? I said” he was not who he said he was when we married me.. He lied, he ruined me financially, he gaslighted me, he was “emotionally unavailabe” to me, he could’t keep a job because of his arrogant narc personality and his inabilty to tell the damn truth!!!! He has devastated my children. He has wrecked our family. I have the gift of PTSD, nightmares and living on the poverty line with food stamps and mecicaid for my kids.. I have no health insurance and have coronary heart disease, have had 2 angioplasties, and don’t know how I will be able to see my cardiologist because his appointments are 160.00$ So fuck no it was not a “good run”. I was expecting a lifetime run! So she says” just accept that it didn’t work and move on”. RIGHT. 4 homeschool children. NO job yet. Making homemade soap and training dogs on the side while he drags his feet and won’t let me go. She said ” all guys look at porn, if it is not for you, then just move on.” She said that men who cheat or are porn addicts are like all other addicts and deserve pity. That in reality they DO love their partners, just are addicted to sex.. Oddly enough, her second and my first husband were cheaters together. She actually finally filled in the blanks for me last night when we talked. While I was home with my newborn, nursing all night, pumping milk for daycare, working all day in the OR then picking up my newborn and doing it all again, he was with his groupie shmoopie. He was a guitar player in band. Her husband hung around the band. Her husband and mine were fucking sisters. Isn’t that sweet. OH, and he married her and became my sons stepmom. So I am a twice chumped dumb shit. TWICE. But HEY that’s ok. They are just expressing their fucking EXUBERANCE. For fucking other women and grabbing their own dick of course. Why can’t I understand that and just MOVE ON! HUH! What the hell is wrong with you Irish. Grow up! All men have personal relationships with their dicks. Deal with it OK. No harm intended and if it bothers you that much, well HEY, you had a good run right?? NO! Hell to the no! I did not have a good run” finding out that my husband preferred beautiful, young, hot teen bodies to my 5 babies later body. NOT A GOOD RUN! He played some serious mindfuckery with me. Both of these shitty men did . And they could care less about the bloody wreck they left behind, because HEY! they couldn’t help it. Poor, poor, sausages. It was all in the name of good fun right?!?! Men are expected to cheat and if you can’t deal with it, then sift the good part from the bad, consider it a good run and move on! WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?????? I am astounded that anyone can think that a human being, who thought they were married to someone who loves them then finds out over and over and over till they through the bum out, could honestly just “move on and think of the good times, because they can’t be ALL bad.” I am now feeling so slapped back down, like I should not be so judgemental of his flippant and selfish treatment of me and our children. She actually caused me to question my sanity. What kind of person can’t just let this shit go, chalk it up to experience, try to remember the good times…….
      I guess the kind of person who forgave and forgave and forgave while her heart hardened like a rock. I guess the kind of person who had to get tested for stds. I guess the kind of person who had to get an order of protection from the court to keep you away from her. I guess the kind of person who is looking at having to sell her house, send her kids to public school, get a job with insurance benefits to take care of her heart……. Call me crazy, but none of that was a “good run”. None of it.

        • Irish!! {{{HUGS!!}}} No, you are NOT! crazy. Keep coming back here and getting your validation. Hang in there.

      • I wonder if this ‘friend’ can condone lying/cheating so easily because she does it also. Just because she’s been cheated on, doesn’t mean she hasn’t cheated also, and that’s why she can just shrug her shoulders. “Everyone does it” “so what?”

      • I might be a little twitchy,
        But she’s quoting from the cheater 101 handbook.
        She’s defending your STBXH like his OW?

      • Irish, I hate to say it, but I’ll bet that “friend” was one of your ex’s OWs, or at the very least, she’s a cheater herself with somebody. Please do not talk to her again. In fact, block her every which way. She is toxic.

        • I hate learning how little a friend cares when they shrug and say “just move on”. Toxic is right in her case, Irish. The strangers on this website care more about you than she does.

          • Sadly, one of my sisters recently lectured me, out of the clear blue sky, on how I needed to forgive my cheater XBF and move on. She said cheating is just what people do, so many do it, it’s not that big a deal, I should call him and be friends, etc. I don’t know why she brought it up; maybe because I am not dating, and it’s been more than two years. I was disappointed and depressed, and don’t think I will share much with her anymore.

            • Sorry that you’ve had this “lecture” to deal with on top of recovering. It is a big deal, crush, at least for people who truly loved their partners with their whole heart and thought they were loved in return. You don’t need to forgive and you have “moved on”–without your cheater XBF. That you aren’t ready to date yet is no surprise. There are lots of us here taking our time to heal and fix our pickers! Hugs and good thoughts to you.

          • I totally agree with all of you. THANK YOU for the validation. How can one person slap down 1 year of slogging it through this stuff? I swear, it set me back 6 months. The next day was sheer hell. Feeling like crawling into a hole and staying there. I hate the fact that I feel like I have to try to ”convince” someone of my pain. It just sucks. Thanks chump nation, you all are the best!!!

      • Irish, your comments reminded me of something a fellow chump posted a long time ago on CL. She was told the same stupid thing by her cheating ex (I believe), that it had been a “good run”…. As I recall, her response was “it’s not a Broadway show, it’s a marriage”

      • So I was bitching about ex who it seems has lost his job which is affecting child support when a colleague says “oh well I bet you didn’t feel like that when you were married to him”. When I was married to him I thought I had to put up with his shit, there was no point complaining, it didn’t fix anything anyway, and aren’t you supposed to sand by each other through thick and thin? Well, I don’t have to put up with his shit anymore, I can sing the truth like a bird. And so can you Irish. People like your friend are just ignorant dickheads

      • Irish, this “friend” is disordered herself.
        Have you ever told someone something like your dog got run over by a car and they say something like “Oh my sister has a dog she needs to get rid of, I’ll give you her number!” It’s kind of like what don’t they understand about being human and having horrible visions, loss, grief and all before they can jump from A to Z?
        My guess is these people who were cheated on & came through it with flying colors were either not fully committed themselves, were not in the relationship long, it happened when they were relatively young & still felt they had their life in front of them, OR they are disordered themselves & don’t have the capability to understand the depth of human emotion others have.
        I remember making a list of my losses I kept adding to after D-Day, and it went up to 37. He said he felt too bad to read it or have me read it to him. Poor sausage. I guess that was my 38th loss, he didn’t care to hear about my losses!!

  • I know a lot of people who have been cheated on and more than a few cheaters. And I’ve never come across anyone who felt, even remotely, that cheating was self-actualization.

    I can only assume that these folks (this lady and Dr. Tammy, etc.) have a need to spin infidelity in this way, and so they do. They need a novel viewpoint, something unique, to sell their books and get their articles published. The stone cold, hard, dirty and downright un-glamorous truth isn’t high class enough. We are simple minded and that’s our problem. LOL

    Yeah, I’d be pissed about the comment that your situation went beyond infidelity. Perhaps it did. But here’s the rub; the rest of the story isn’t what usually does a marriage in. Most of us can deal with financial woes and other assorted crap. It’s the cheating that’s the deal breaker. So no, it’s really not any more complicated than infidelity.

    She can write a book. I don’t know anyone who could believe that crap. Because it’s crap. But hey, I guess it makes for a good academic conference break out session.

    • Good points. And the question of “things beyond infidelity” is odd simply because infidelity involves lying, cheating, deception (meaning concocting scenarios to hide the affair and the time/money/attention it takes up) and in many cases, stealing money from the family, What kind of people can carry on like this for years? They are cheating because where there should be empathy and a heart, there is a bottomless well of narcissistic need. In this case, like the proverbial blind squirrel, Perel might have found something, but she fails to realize the universal nature of what she’s found. If she sees infidelity as being about sex and desire, then every single F***ing one of us experienced “things beyond infidelity,” because (as I have come to believe) the sex (or the emotion-filled emails and texts or the trolling on Craig’s List) is just an expression of the dynamic at the heart of infidelity–“you aren’t the boss of me,” “I am not accountable to anyone,” “Rules don’t apply to me,” “I want what I want when I want it, and too bad for you.” Take your pick.

      • Esther and her cohorts seem to think the only emotion involved in infidelity is some variation of jealousy. That’s so far from the truth. The actual physical contact he had with the skanks wasn’t the biggest blow. It was the deception, duplicity, lies , disrespect (what it said about what he REALLY thought of me)….that is at the heart of betrayal. She has it all wrong….it isn’t about sex, it IS character.

        • Don’t you wish there was some kind of “virtual reality”” machine we could hook these people up to… both the cheaters and those who endorse them. I’d like to watch them experience the indescribable hell most of us have lived through – without any buffer. Then we’ll see what kind of pompous proclamations the ass-hat cheaters (and the Esthers) have to share. That would be the kind of instant karma that would give “meaningless” some meaning! BTW, my ex was juggling “meaningless” sex with three of his ho-workers and whoever else he could seduce with his sparkly lies – including me. He had the audacity to tell the therapist we had grown apart… but he was never going to leave me. you can’t make this stuff up and you sure as hell can’t pretend to understand it unless you’ve gone through the mind-fuck hell of it.

          • Would that be great if they could just feel it for a week, a month???? I wished for that more than once.
            Part of the shock is how differing your realities really are….one had their ego fed at the expense of the one whose ego is destroyed.

        • Exactly, it’s not about the sex.

          As a guy, I felt totally eviscerated by the affairs. Someone said (I believe on CL) that once your spouse has slept with someone else, there’s no way to rebuild their respect in you. For one, they’ve exerted the ultimate power move.

          This is especially hurtful when a my end of the marriage wasn’t about power-struggles but more mutual caring. What a dope I was. The introduction of this power-centric dynamic was like bringing a chainsaw to a Tupperware party.

          I hate the truth in the line from House of Cards, “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” — Oscar Wilde quote originally.

  • My wasband invested thousands of times more effort into concealing his emotional, then physical affair than it would have taken to simply leave or lift a finger to work on our relationship. He even admitted that the issues he thought were so intractable were in fact minor and solvable. But he no longer had an affinity with “my core as a person.”

    But he HAD to blow up our family to be with Schmoopie. His happiness is a goal so paramount that it requires everyone in the vicinity be drenched with emotional napalm.

    In the past 2 1/2 months since D-Day I’ve done every single healing, dignified, kind of mature physical and mental exercise that a human being can muster to rise above, and one day out of ten still wakes me in a cold sweat of PTSD at the cruelty and verbal abuse he sprayed behind him when he left.

    It’s not about love. It’s not adrenalin. It’s not mystery or joy or variety or growth. It’s an unnecessary choice to inflict pain on the person you pledged to protect and cherish. For fun. That’s an adventure like a crime spree is. Rationalizing it makes it worse.

    • Hang in there Luziana! You are just a few months from DDay and you managed to find CL and to only wake up in cold sweat one day out of ten. I cried EVERY day for six months, even after I discovered CL because she and commentators confirmed that my cheater was a common asshole, not a special soulmate like I used to think. But it is necessary to go through the mourning and pain and try to get it out of your system through everything you are doing. I am eight months from Dday and I only cry once in a while, usually out of anger from all the financial, legal and single parenting stuff I have to deal with. But I don´t cry anymore about missing the marriage because I now realize that I was married to an abuser. She can keep him. I am free to be me again…

    • Oh, Luziana– my sympathies to you. I am now officially 2 years and about a month out from DDay, divorced, on my lonely old, but honest self, beginning to recover in all kinds of ways…and I still get the PTSD nightmares, I rarely trust anyone, et cetera.

      I think your description of “cruelty and verbal abuse …sprayed..when he left ” is brilliant. So is “An adventure like a crime spree.” Just brilliant, and it captures the experience in a nutshell–so hard to get across to folks who’ve not been there.

      So I guess my question to Queen Esther, and anybody really is: what the fuck does “beyond” infidelity actually mean?

      Is she parsing the difference between the actual physical fucking part (or sucking, or what have you…) and all the rest? what about the emotional wreckage? As Luziana says, the cruelty and abuse sprayed out– it’s so common I’d say it’s pretty much par for the course, and those who didn’t get this delicious after-treat are rare (or probably in her terms, (“rara avis”…sounds fancier, right?)

      I cannot comprehend what goes “beyond” infidelity…murder?

      (NB clearly our gal Esther does not get that cheating is what the wise Divorce Minister calls ‘soul rape.’ I mean seriously, what’s beyond that? I’ve been raped, and I’ve been cheated on, and I’ll take the rape any day. God, what a horrible choice. (Hélas, both by husbands. Never gonna get married again, that’s for sure ! )

      • Just mindless word salad bullshit from her pretentious ‘only speak French to her children’ empty skull. That’s all it is.

    • Well said Luziana, ‘It’s not mystery or joy or variety or growth. It’s an unnecessary choice to inflict pain on the person you pledged to protect and cherish. For fun. That’s an adventure like a crime spree is. Rationalizing it makes it worse.’

      I had the ‘privilege’ of reading the emails between my now (x) husband and the OW and they did it for FUN! They had FUN napalming my life! They made jokes about me!! They chuckled at my despair and tears. Yup that’s what those fuckers did.

      I wonder if Esther would consider that ‘beyond infidelity?’

      • It truly is terrible. I refused to look at the actual thousands of texts they exchanged, but the volume and timing told me all I needed to kick his ass out. I asked ONCE for him to sever contact. he said no, and he was gone in nine days after taking a large loan from his father. He publicly declared himself “in love” exactly seven weeks after starting the affair. I am NC except for my stepdaughter, who is being pressured to accept this woman and her kids as family. It’s all so meaningless, Esther!

        • That large loan from his father will never be enough for all the therapy your stepdaughter is gonna need.

          The impact of all this on our kids is what is most horrifying.

          • Oh, he’ll never let her go to therapy. Everything he’s doing is fine, and “if Dad is happy she will be too.”

            He said that. I just….can’t fathom. My children are going to therapy.

            • Sounds like we’re in similar boats. My kids and I are in therapy from now until Kingdom Come.

              “If Dad is happy, she’ll be happy, too” is the same leave-it-to-happenstance philosophy that he used to justify his cheating. Good luck with that, bro.

        • And its this sort of stuff as to why you have people who murder OW/OMs while they’re in bed with their own husband/wife. Completely understandable to see someone lose all reason and to just revert back to primitive instinct.
          Fucking disgusting, every single last one of these shitheads.

    • Luziana, if you are able to be dignified, focused on healing, and only wake up in a cold sweat 1 day our of 10 at a mere 2 1/2 months after D-Day then you are mighty, indeed. I am so impressed. I was a wretched mess for months after the emotional affair came out (when he said he would choose his “innocent friendship” with her over his relationship with me – if I continued to be suspicious and nag him about it. His wife of 17 years and mother of his children. When the physical stuff came out (different woman by then) and we were on the road to divorce but living together, I become so physically ill that I came close to being hospitalized. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. And I most assuredly was not dignified. You are doing a terrific job coping and moving forward! Also, ditch the crappy friend. That’s not a friend in any true sense of the word and you do not need that kind of toxicity in your life.

      • “if I continued to be suspicious and nag him about it”, OMG….they will say some of the stupidest shit. About three weeks after the first D-day, he tells me that he is sick and tired of my jealousy, and he “refuses to walk on egg-shells” one more day. I just told him, “hmmm……do you want to accept ANY personal responsibility for that!!!”

        What a dumbass.

    • Luziana, so sorry you are going through this. And you are still in early days. If you only have the “cold sweat of PTSD” one day out of ten, you are mighty!

      And this is not only true, but very well said: “That’s an adventure like a crime spree is. Rationalizing it makes it worse.”

  • Cheating can never be meaningless. The cheater is an adult who understands the multiple consequences for his/her marriage and the pain it will cause his/her partner, children, family and friends but doesn´t care (narcissists have no empathy). Therefore, they take risks knowingly, they plan consciously, they steal time, love, money from their family without hesitation because, as CL repeats often, they feel entitled to do so. And if they kept it secret, they know it is wrong. Full stop.

    Every time I managed to get my “good” cheater to understand that the cheating part was all his fault he acted a bit guilty but then came up with some way of blaming back on me (he once said to me “No, it is impossible that all this is my fault…it just can´t be…”). His justification was in the Esther Perel sense “I didn´t mean to hurt you but I needed to feel like a “man”” while at the same time his acts of betrayal and indifference at home humiliated and denigrated me as a “woman.”

    This is plain, straight-forward psychological abuse and seeing it like this has helped me on the road to “meh.” Before I had the chance to read CL and other literature on narcissistic abuse, I accepted my responsibility for communication problems, boring sex, etc that all couples have, but now I now see them as all tainted by the cheating…how can you “communicate” or establish a good sexual relationship with someone who is thinking about how soon s/he can get out the door to have his next rendezvous? I used to think my STBXH was depressed and could not be affectionate and was going through a period of sexual malfunction, and I tried to understand it, but now I realize that it was
    his form of abuse by not giving me what I wanted the most: his love. It is obvious that he was perfectly capable of giving everything I wanted to someone else, “so there, so I could feel like a man.”

    • He’s an asshole, not a man. Feeling like a man is not the same as being a man.

      A man is honorable, decent, hardworking, honest, courageous, compassionate, and true.

      And I’m sure you know, it’s a genderless thing.

    • To be fair, she does say that cheating is wrong and terrible, and that it doesn’t lead to fulfillment like cheaters think it will, but then it’s all wrapped up in a lot of minimizing language too, and the only thing I can think of is that verbiage basically boils down to “get over it already”, so it comes off slightly abrasive to anybody who has gone through all the abusive/manipulative behavior that usually accompanies cheating, and it comes off like a lot of the minimizing/lack-of-remorse stuff that most of us heard when we were going through our respective experiences.

      I’m all for people becoming more resilient: don’t let this crap define you. But… it was crap. You learn from it, and then you move on. But… it was total crap, and sugar-coating (or even chocolate-coating) the crap sandwiches we were force-fed by our cheaters isn’t going to turn them into tasty morsels.

    • Susan – boy, you hit the nail on the head. I also thought my H was depressed and had sexual issues and was so patient with him. HA – what a waste of my love. It all came together of when this disassociation started with me, and when her’s began. And, we loved these guys who held sex and affection from us far too long – yes, I have since learned this is definitely a form of control and abuse. Sorry, guess we have a small club of folks like us.

      • Yes, of course…the disassociation coincides. And they are so twisted that not only do they withhold affection to control, abuse and blame us for their malfunction but they also (the “good” ones who cheat with one person at a time) do it to prove their fidelity to their AP! When I read the emails in which the OW would ask if my cheater if he was sleeping with me or if he had flirted with anyone else (playful jealousy) I understood that his emotional distance and his never going to bed with me at the same time was a way of being faithful to her! You are so right, these assholes were such a waste of love, time and patience!

  • I am also an “adventure-junkie”, but there are lots of other ways to get excitement than to screw around and screw over your best friend/ lover/ spouse. An exciting job, international travel, dangerous hobbies, ethnic food, spontaneous anything, even an adrenaline-inducing book: these don’t require you to compromise your morals or your life partner’s physical, emotional, and financial health. Besides, shouldn’t your quest for “exuberant defiance” be about fulfilling your needs yourself, not about finding fulfillment through others? And, if you are so lame that screwing around is the only way you can find fulfillment, then get a divorce already and have at it!

  • Maybe my ex-wife was a good cheater? She did blame her cheating on how I treated her, and some of the things she said were even true. I was overly critical, for example, although I was under a lot of stress as I was in the last stages of completing my Ph.D. But no excuses for making someone feel bad, right (unless it was cheating that made them feel bad!)? Sure, she could have explained her feelings to me during the hour or two I set aside to be with her each day despite my schedule, or when I took her out on a date, but maybe I really was just an awful husband, such that she had no other choice. She even told me that she was “sorry this had to happen.”

    Anyway, back to how she might be a good cheater. Let’s say I really was holding her back, and cheating on me was simply her first step on the path to self-actualization. I think we’ve moved a bit – if not way – beyond infidelity when it comes to how she spoke of her affair partner. After telling me how the two of them had discussed their future plans together (he would even take antihistamines to deal with his allergy to our cats), she later informed me that she didn’t care if things worked about between him and her. “If you didn’t care what happened,” I said, “you wouldn’t be in a relationship with him in the first place.” When I later confronted the other man, and asked him to end it, he said he could not, because he “only wanted her to be happy.” Which is interesting, because his happiness did not seem to be a concern for her.

    I guess the trouble I’m having is that I can’t see how using two people to serve your own needs could possibly be good. Whatever “self-actualization” veneer you put on it, there are now two people being used to serve as ego-boosters for another person, and both are being deceived. It’s been a while since I took undergrad psychology, but I’m pretty sure that using people in this way is not considered a wholesome path to self-actualization. To end, it seems that not even my seemingly justified cheater ex was a good cheater. In fact, Perel’s “good cheater” is an obvious user of other people, and she has conflated the positive feelings of certain “self-actualized” psychological states with moral norms. But using people as fuck-toys is without their consent is wrong, no matter how it makes you feel.

    • It´s narcisstic abuse, dslak, plain abuse…She doesn´t care how you feel or even how her OM feels. She just cares about getting kibbles for herself,..don´t dwell on it.

      • Hi, Susan. Thank you for the comment, but my remarks were mostly tongue-in-cheek, even if the events described therein were real. Sometimes that doesn’t come across when writing, especially when it involves an account of one’s experiences with infidelity.

    • It doesn’t matter what you brought to the table, dslak. Divorce may be justified, but cheating NEVER is.

      D I V O R C E.

      The cheater had options and chose to cheat. It’s on the cheater 100% every single fucking time.

      My cheater actually said these words to me: “I was a GOOOOOOOOD Boy!” Because of the shit things he DIDN’T do.

      GAH.

      • It’s bad enough to be blamed for the most devastating thing that ever happened to you, it adds insult to injury when it comes from the RIC and community at large.

        I thank the Lord that he gave me a mouth big enough to eat all those shit sandwiches. They do build muscle.

  • Okay, so I wasn’t married to either of the asshats that cheated on me. Does that make it better? Less bad? Did it leave me at any less risk for an STD? Any less devastated to find out what a fool I’d been plyed for?

    In both cases, my cheaters professed to “love me more than they’d ever loved anyone.” In fact, the last lying shit declared, as nearly the last words I heard out of his mouth in person, that he intended to marry me. That was only hours before I found the emails from match.com. Hours before I realized that he actually DID intend to marry me, because I believe he’s the brand of cheater who finds it convenient to have a doting little woman at home taking care of all the dirty work while he exercises his options. He gets a thrill, I believe, out of the very act of lying and deception.

    Granted, I didn’t have to divorce him or fight for custody or untangle finances. I just got to put up with him stalking me for over a year, and I’m certain he still stalks me online.

    I know there are far worse experiences than mine, but it doesn’t make him any less sick or harmful. It only makes me lucky I found out before I married the bastard.

    He can bite me, Esther can bite me. Walk a mile in the shoes of one of us, lay awake at night grieving the loss of your family, feel the humiliation of asking your doctor for a full STD work up, explain to your children why they can’t have the things they need because daddy spends all his money on his AP or whores. Do that, Esther, then you can write an intelligent discourse on the theory of cheating.

  • My and my child’s PTSD? Meaningless. Scars? Meaningless. Emotional terrorism? Meaningless. Putting your teenage kid in a situation where they see suicide as they only way out? Meaningless. Giving your partner an STD and rendering her infertile? Meaningless.

    Esther, welcome to the blog. Hopefully you will realize not just the stupidity of your position, but also how dangerous it is.

    • Look, Mehphista. Sure, all those things sound bad, but what about how the cheater feels, or what drives them to cheat? Can you confidently say that driving someone to suicidal depression or giving another person an STD that renders them infertile outweighs the self-actualization a person might achieve through cheating?

        • Oh you guise, I love your discourse, er, convo. Seriously, Mephista, I feel for you, as I do for everyone on this blog.

          It’s really quite incredible. We clearly come from quite a variety of political, religious (geographic!!) and what-have-you different life places.

          Yet we all have cheaters who used the same damned manual–possibly re-read different chapters, but, really, same damned manual. The “I-Only_care_About-My_Needs_Now_lalalalalal_I_can’t_hear_you” manual.

          Esther has so much to learn, she doesn’t even know how much she has to learn!

      • Yes, because self-actualization is an abstract, bullshit rationalization for narcissistic entitlement if you fuck another person in secret in order to do it, and gaslighting and emotionally abusing your own kid to the point of self harm and suicide is evil. All because he is such a special little sunbeam. Oh! Wait! I suppose I should be grateful he didn’t give me HIV. Or kill me, as threatened.

        I get the sarcasm, dslak, but make no apology for not finding the 400 or so scars on my kid’s arms and legs funny, or that a thirteen year old kid feels (correctly) that to her Dad, his dick is more important than his daughter. She will carry that all her life, and I just can’t find that funny.

        Sorry, I am sure this lack of humor and moral absolutism on my part is what drove him to cheat, and fucking your kid over is indeed a legitimate part of self-actualization.

        If you truly think that, go forth and actualize yourself.

        • Mehphista, the humor was not targeted at you, but as a mockery of Perel’s attempts to minimize the consequences of cheating. The point is that, whatever their motives, cheaters can’t control the knock-on effects from their actions, but they do bear responsibility for putting them in motion. Your case puts the lie to the notion of the “victimless affair.”

          Since the cheater cannot control how others react to their cheating, this means the severity of the outcome is largely a matter of luck. The minimizers can, of course, point to those cases where the only pain is of the emotional kind, borne by the betrayed spouse. This problem should really be treated the same way as drunk driving (which also took years of work to accomplish). That is, drunk driving is itself a serious violation that merits punishment, even if no one was hurt. Because drunk drivers don’t control whether they hurt someone – that’s just a matter of chance.

          • No offense taken, dslak-good analogy with drunk driving. Perel deserves everything she gets on this blog. Whether she understands it is another matter.

            Whether a drunk runs over a toddler is indeed a matter of chance and not intention. Their driving drunk, though? A matter of choice, that significantly increases the chance of catastrophic harm. That works as a moral philosophy problem, but in real life, much messier. I am sure Mr Fab didn’t INTEND for his affair with his brother’s ex (who DD regarded as an Aunt, and I a friend) to have the dire effects it did on his child. So that makes it all okay.

            • Mephista – I feel for you and your daughter. My Ex-NPD became vicious and cut me off from my three step-daughters the moment I asked for the divorce. The first time I got to see my oldest step-daughter in 18 months was in a behavioral center after she had attempted suicide. When she saw me walk through the door of the facility she flew across the room and flung herself into my arms and clung to me for the whole 35 minutes that we got to talk. 35 minutes. In 18 months.

              Ms. Perel – Chumplady often refers to folks who have never been the victim of infidelity as the “smug unknowing class”. I think it is difficult to really understand what it really is like, how horrific it really is, unless it’s happened to you. So, perhaps it’s never happened to you, and it’s just going to be really difficult for you to “get it”. But, apparently, you have some sort of platform through which you are choosing to reach out to the greater public regarding the topic of Infidelity. I hope you’ll spend some time here. I hope you will learn. And I hope you will have the wisdom to use your platform with more care. To boil it right down, you’re just wrong. Period. I hope that you will figure that out here. I hope you don’t actually have to go through a DDay experience to realize how wrong you are. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

              • FL Bright…I WISH it with ALL my heart that Skank Woman gets her Dday soon with my XH. She knew exactly what she was doing when she fucked my husband and she deserves every shitty thing that ever rains down on her head up to and including catching him fucking a NEW skank woman. Bwahahahaha. I know it’s not very Meh but I would love that soOOooo much. She thinks she’s So Special, he left his wife and happy home just for her. I want her to find out that, no, not really. She isn’t. He’s been married a half dozen times and had dozens more affairs. She really ain’t shit. Just the latest blow up party doll in the passenger seat making him look good.

  • Raising my hand to say, according to that definition, my experience “goes beyond infidelity” . LOL.

    Now, that is not my experience having met and known a lot of people who have dealt with this crap: what I experienced had its quirks, but is kind of amazing in its sameness to most others.

    It was no some antiseptic, cheating-in-a-vacuum clinical thing at all: it came with unusual radar-alerting behavior, gas-lighting, disrespect, blame-shifting, put-downs and a host of other manipulative and dishonest acts that were probably were a better fit than most of what passes for emotional abuse. It was friggin aweful, terrible behavior, and I don’t think that’s uncommon.

    It definitely wasn’t sanitized, clinical cheating if that rare bird even exists.

    • err, I need an editor:
      —–
      t was not some antiseptic, cheating-in-a-vacuum thing at all: it came with unusual radar-alerting behavior, gas-lighting, disrespect, blame-shifting, put-downs and a host of other manipulative and dishonest acts that probably were a better fit than most of what passes for emotional abuse. It was friggin’ aweful, terrible behavior, and I don’t think that’s uncommon.

      It definitely wasn’t sanitized, clinical cheating if that rare bird even exists.

      fixed

      • Good point, TH. That’s what people like Esther don’t consider. The amount of abuse that is necessary to carry on an affair (or a series of harmless sleep-overs).

  • “Meaningless Fling”: An extra-marital affair that does not involve *your* spouse. Similar to “not the bad kind of rattlesnake bite” and “not the bad kind of lung cancer.”

    My bet is that Ms. Perel has either: 1) never been cheated and so has no basis in experience for her opinions; or 2) has cheated herself and is eager to minimize or justify that cheating. Given her bragging to the NY Times that she was “raised in a community of Holocaust survivors” (As if that is some kind of qualification or accomplishment by HER? As if being driven around in a station wagon in my childhood makes me a Chevrolet?), her choice to stand with the powerful (cheaters) against the powerless (the duped and defrauded) is stunning.

    If she’s looking for more questionable plaudits for her CV, I nominate her for The Least Compassionate Therapist in America.

    • “My bet is that Ms. Perel has either: 1) never been cheated and so has no basis in experience for her opinions; or 2) has cheated herself and is eager to minimize or justify that cheating.”

      This. Right here. She’s either ignorant or guilty.

      • Or convinced of her vast superiority. The thing about being “chumped” is that those who cheat or who have never experienced betrayal and infidelity can tell themselves that it wouldn’t happen to them because they are either 1) enlightened; 2) a model spouse or partner; 3) super special, with a perfect spouse; or 4) the one busy chumping someone else. There’s no question that she condescends to those of us who clearly couldn’t keep a wandering narcissist entertained. After all, she’s given a TED talk, right? And gets written up in major newspapers. No point for me spending my adult life helping young people become highly literate or teaching them not to lie, cheat, steal.

    • “Given her bragging to the NY Times that she was “raised in a community of Holocaust survivors” (As if that is some kind of qualification or accomplishment by HER? As if being driven around in a station wagon in my childhood makes me a Chevrolet?)”

      LOL!!! Bang on, Nomar. I find it hilarious that someone can actually make a comment that someone’s experiences “go beyond infidelity.” How can you quantify something when you don’t even know what the ‘something’ actually is?

  • *sigh* I think I have finally become exhausted at trying to figure out the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of stbxh’s affair. I’m left with a few simple and indisputable facts: his moral compass is broken; he cheated because he wanted to and he could; he must have wanted out but didn’t have the balls to say so…instead he chose the most destructive, hurtful path to “freedom” that he could; he is a selfish, immature, immoral coward who quite happily gave me the shit end of the stick. Esther what’s-her-name and all the other so called “experts” can just stick it where the sun don’t shine!

    • LHC, sadly, the answer to why doesn’t boil down to anything more convoluted than “because they could”. Period. End of story. That IS the reason.

      How? Cause what they want matters, and you don’t. It isn’t personal. They are incapable of consideration for anyone but themselves.

      That’s the skein, and getting that goes a long way in getting you unstuck.

  • Reading Ms. Perel’s defensive drivel makes me so angry. I had to stop yesterday when I got to “simple transgression”. Synonyms for transgression are: breach, crime, debt, error, lawbreaking, malefaction, misdeed, misdoing, sin, offense, trespass, violation, wrongdoing. So, yeah, real simple. Continue to make light of the horror show that the cheated on have to deal with. Fork u Ms. Perel, Fork u.

  • Great points CL!
    I for one was more, let me say MUCH more devastated I was when my husband told me it meant nothing! I was like WTF? You men I actually mean THAT little to you that you would risk my physical, emotional & mental health for a whore???
    I subscribe that it DID mean a lot to them. Not as a soul mate maybe, but as “kibbles”, ego boost, fun, whatever. Mine had (has) a job where he gets up for work at 3:30 am & get home about 4-5PM exhausted. He goes to bed at 8:30 weeknights & about 11:00 on Fridays & Saturdays. Somehow, he fit in a schmoopie fix on Friday nights whenever he could. I on the other hand have a sales job where I make my own hours. I am usually up until 1:00 am, and am home writing this now at 10:36AM. I work with doctors (another pretty cheaty group) and would have endless opportunities to mess around and probably would have a more successful career if I wanted to play the flirt game or the which body part will scarcely be contained in my outfit game, much less the “hide the sausage” game. It ticked me off he barely had enough time to do chores, work & sleep & still found the time. I am sure he didn’t stick to the above time schedule when he was rolling around with her…..I’ll bet he could stay up half the night doing that!!

    • Regina – whoa – I had a husband’s schedule very similar to that. He worked from home! When in the world did he have time to cook up this batch of bitch cookies to serve me? I’m guessing his mind was in overload, with the work and juggling two women. No wonder he felt *so relieved* when I caught him. Now, he didn’t have to lie anymore. Whew – bet that felt good. Except, he landed on the curb. Hope he sleeps well now.

  • Holy Saint Joan of Smores, I am once again amazed at CL’s ability to articulate so clearly what I think and feel when I myself am unable.

  • These articles about infidelity are really starting to drive me crazy. I’m tired of all of the discussions about types of cheaters, types of cheating, justifications, rationalizations, causes, cheater needs, and all of the blah blah blah that makes infidelity seem like this big complicated thing that needs to be understood.
    Relationships can be complicated, sure.
    Infidelity is not complicated. Nothing complicated about it. You make an agreement. You keep it or you don’t. Not complicated. Everything surrounding it is circumstance. Smack dab in the middle of the bullseye is your choice. It’s a pass/fail. Not complicated.

    • I agree, Fower. I’m tired of people like Esther making money off of our pain, making infidelity out to be sexy somehow. We need to get our Chump Lady on the talk show circuit to spread the word AND give her the monetary reward she deserves. Surely one of us chumps knows an agent!

      • Chumplady should consider starting a youtube channel and do short videos once or twice a week. It would be a free way to get a lot of exposure, possibly make money and get her message out.

        • That’s true. Original content on a YouTube channel would get her noticed, although she might want to disable comments from the peanut gallery!

          Tracy, get out your camera and start practicing!

    • AMEN, Flowerlady! It really ISN’T complicated at all! If you don’t want to be monogamous, STAY SINGLE, and find others who have no problem with non-monogamy.

      It really IS that simple!

  • It is safe to say my experience also went beyond infidelity. (Anyone else hearing “to infidelity and beeeeeyyyyyonnnnnnndddd!”?)

    But, even if it was “just” cheating, that’s enough. Just cheating is just lying, just stealing, just endangering. I can hardly stand to play golf with people who fudge their scores. Why would I want to spend life with someone who does?

  • Yes, my X had a “meaningless” affair and that made it all the worse! He threw away a long-term marriage for some quickie blow jobs in his car! Years and years of love, children, good times and bad, for NOTHING! Oh, and he didn’t “intend” to hurt me, either, which means he never once thought of me, considered me or cared about me while he was imploding our marriage. Meaningless to him? I guess, because, as long as his emotions weren’t on the line, it didn’t matter. Meaningless to me? Fuck no, because I actually gave a shit about the state of our marriage.

    And that’s the problem in a nutshell. Anything that doesn’t impact the cheater is meaningless. For the rest of us mere mortals, who are capable of, you know, human emotions, cheating is one of the most devastating experiences we will ever live through. It takes years to recover from infidelity and, even then, the scars remain. So please spare me the distinction. My X’s meaningless affair hurt me just as badly as if he had found the “love of his life.” Barf.

  • I heard “it meant nothing” from my cheater about his long-term affair, visit to an erotic massage parlor, ads on Craigslist etc. But he told his affair partner how much he meant to her, and he spent a lot of time, effort, and money making all of this happen.

    If I hadn’t told him I was done, he’d still be playing this game. Only when I walked away, did AP “win” her prize.

    It meant nothing. It meant everything. Well, which is it then?

  • She sounds confused. The only meaningless part of an extramarital “fling” is how the cheater views their marriage vows and commitments. It is not meaningless to have those violated….no matter how casually a cheater does it.

  • CL, we hear that shit all the time! I have to bite my tongue everytime I hear a conversation about infidelity (most people don’t know about what happened to me). Everytime, you are sure to hear someone say that they would rather not know about it because a fling does’nt mean anything. Or that it was just the fog, not the cheater’s real personality. I just feel too strongly about this to reply to these blissfully ignorant folks. There is no such thing as a “Disney infidelity”.

    Hello Esther? You say CL’s experience went beyond cheating. Good, you figured that out for Tracy and you are perfectly right. Now, this is where you can generalize this conclusion. Everyone who is cheated on has an experience that goes far beyond the cheating. Of course, it’s not just the sex with somebody else. Meaningless flings don’t exist!!!! They really don’t! It’s never just a one night stand. NEVER! It’s never like that except in movies.

    Bad cheater or good cheater makes no difference. A cheater (whatever the kind) is always lying and manipulating his/her spouse. Even I will tell you that my ex is a good person who takes care of his mother and everything. But he took me for granted, took fogiveness for granted and manipulated me for years. For the longest time, I could’nt rationalize his cheating because he was such a good guy. But what he did to me was very wrong, even if he can be a good person with others (like the OW, as a matter of fact).

    There is no grey with cheating. It’s a black and white thing, period.

  • It is nearly 1 year since I found out that my husband of 34 years( together 36) had 2 year affair with a single coworker 31 years his junior (23 years my junior). The pain is still excruciating and I can’t get over it.
    I had all the ” it just happened” crap and “I never meant to hurt you” , “I didn’t think you’d find out”, “I was addicted ” etc. etc.
    Now he is “sorry” and wants us to “put all this behind us”.
    If only. I wonder if they would still be going at it if I hadn’t discovered the disgusting sexting and intimate loving messages.
    I want to be sick every time I think about it.
    It is certainly a horror story and I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy.
    Will I ever get over it and learn to trust again? I hope so but I am still crushed and feel overwhelming sadness every day.
    I have confided in one close friend and my daughter knows how I feel but otherwise I have to pretend everything is just fine. It can’t go public you see because of his “reputation and the damage it would do”.
    This woman spouts so much insulting shit I can’t believe it.
    We chumps have all suffered so much – each story different but the outcome is the same – total heartbreak.
    Thank God for this site and to CL for understanding. Chump Nation is life saving.
    I certainly hope this idiot woman learns something from reading all our comments.

    • Screw that, you make it go public and let him suffer the consequences.
      His reputation means shit when he has disrespected you so much.

  • Ester Perel’s brand of word salad is so mind boggling that it should be moved to the “Entree” section of the menu.
    …with a little asterisk pointing to a footnote that says “consuming uncooked and half-baked psychobabble may be dangerous to your health”

  • Okay, Esther, I gather you’ve never been cheated on (that you know of) and for that I am glad for you. But surely in your vast experience as a psychotherapist you have sat across the room from that broken man or woman whose despair due to infidelity is worse than someone who has experienced a death in their immediate family.

    Couldn’t you see and feel their despair? Wasn’t it palpable? Everything they thought they could count on in their life is no longer true. When I sit across from my therapist, I can clearly see that she “gets it” when she repeats to me, “Yes, clients have told me it feels as though you’ve been thrown away.”

    It’s true that I did not know how devastating infidelity is until it happened to me, but I’d think that sitting across from people who are in the throws of agony from the discovery of their partner’s affair would sort of get the general message across that it’s THE MOST PAINFUL FUCKING THING THEY’VE EVER HAD TO ENDURE IN THEIR LIVES.

    Since you can’t seem to see how painful infidelity is, then I question your judgement on, well, EVERYTHING. There must be something broken in you that you have simply chosen to look at infidelity through a tiny opening which faces the cheater’s side. I’m sorry, Esther, but that’s a terrible observation method. And a really cheap way to make your living.

    If there’s any chance you’ll actually bless us with your presence here today, I want to echo what many of my fellow chumps are saying, infidelity is severe abuse, in fact it’s one of the worst forms of abuse. I’ll be honest, I could endure a once a week beating for years and it wouldn’t hurt as much as knowing he threw me aside for a casual fling.

    Esther, the first thing you need to do while doing your research for your upcoming book on infidelity is sit down with the ones who were cheated on. When you finally see the hopelessness and despair then you’ll understand that the one who cheated is disordered, selfish, cowardly, cruel, abusive, and in no way deserving of your sympathy and silly descriptions of self-actualization.

    There’s never a reasonable explanation for cheating, Esther, ever. And until you can fully see the raw and severe pain of betrayal, you have no business writing on the subject or doing the talk show circuit.

    But I suppose it pays better than someone who will sit across from Stephen Colbert and say, “Well, Stephen, there’s no excuse for cheating. It should be a criminal offense!”

    Esther, it’s because of people like you, that people like us suffer even more. The only person we have in the world who truly understands infidelity is our captain, Tracy Shorn. Thank God for her standing by us week after week and month after month and seeing us through the darkest time in our lives.

    But Tracy’s not getting rich off her commitment to us because talking about people who are barely hanging on to a will to live isn’t sexy and worthy of television or a TED talk. I do hope our Chump Lady gets her just reward and can join you on the talk show circuit to balance out the misinformation you present to the world.

    The bottom line is this: Once you realize the true seriousness and pain of infidelity you can never sugar coat it or make excuses for it again. Ever.

    • Ted Talk. Ted Talk. Ted Talk.Ted Talk. I hereby nominate Tracy! (of course I have no idea how she feels about this, would need to know….because I’m a chump and typically care about other people’s feelings, yuk yuk.)

      But seriously, crew, a TedTalk would reach such a WIDE audience… and sell books…and tell the truth…. wow. (All this despite my skepticism about many of them, others have been very good indeed.)

    • I think her entry point into all of this is as follows:

      She claims to have grown up among holocaust survivors and to have become interested in how some managed to go on a live good lives while others never fully recovered and lived lives filled with fear, suspicion, etc.

      She then works for a while on “interfaith relationships”, her husband has worked with genocide survivors apparently (I know Bonano actually did a very good study of such folks also at Columbia–maybe that was the entry point?).

      Within the last 10 years she starts working in the more lucrative field of working with couples affected by the infidelity of one of the partners. It’s not clear to me based on the little I have read and watched that she really gets it, or that she has a firm grasp over what the most common experiences with cheating are really like.

      • I bet, however, if she discovered her husband was having an affair with a grad student after he had been denying anything was wrong (etc) for months, he started picking fights, and then finally lowered the boom that he was “in love” with somebody much better than her, and it was real and he loved this woman like he had never loved her (etc), and while she was trying to figure out what to do, he decided to jet off to Monaco with that grad student and proceeded to create so much joint debt that college looked iffy for her two kids, and then she discovered the grad student was pregnant…

        the tone and message would change.

  • I think unless you have had your heart ripped out of your chest and replaced with a bag of dirt perhaps it is difficult to understand the hurt of someone who has been through infidelity. For me, it was the deceit that made it so awful. I always just asked for honesty and to be upfront if he was developing feelings for someone else, we could work from there, I was that cavalier. He could not even honor that. So I get the whole Franco-laid-back view on infidelity, but that was not the arrangement I had with my husband and that was not the game he was playing. I really say this from a place of compassion– Tell me all about sex and intimacy, but that one-size-fits-all theory of desire does not apply to commitment.

  • This really pisses me off. A cheater is a cheater is a cheater. Whether it be once or one hundred times … it’s still wrong and it still hurts. Don’t pat me on the head and send me on my way. We deserve to be heard! There is no GOOD in any cheater. They are selfish, lying pieces of shit! They could be the greatest humanitarian in the world, but the minute they cheat, everything good is wiped out because their needs came before someone that they made promises to. There are NO excuses to cheat … EVER! So Ms. Perel, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  • I second it—ESTER YOU SUCK! You like hearing yourself talk. You must have been or are a cheater. You rationalize as cheating is self actualization???? Well I guess on a continuum of self actualization this could be one, but it’s setting the bar pretty low for yourself. So to achieve self actualization you have to decimate someone else?

    Maybe that’s why George Bush declared war on Iraq. He really wanted to cheat on Laura, but instead figured out that true self actualization would be to bomb a country that never did a fucking thing to us. That could possibly make him king of the world. True self actualization–King of the World. On the other hand Bill Clinton decided to fuck Monica Lewinsky because he knew that bombing Iraq would be wrong????????

    I hate these erudite “I’m too cool to think cheating is wrong on so many levels that I will come up with some dumb ass theory” Fuck you Ester. Live my life. Live in my head for a while Euro Bitch!

    I’m actually into self actualization people so don’t pay any attention to my mindless chatter.

  • Insult to injury. How do you qualify “beyond” infidelity? What exactly does “infidelity” mean to Ester? And why the fuck is she moralizing it? When a victim is dealing with a crisis, why would it be helpful to discuss what was going through her perpetrators mind? What matters is the crisis experienced by the victim(s). Would theraperizing a victim of sexual assault with a walk through her rapist’s mind… Hell NO! I’m so sick of therapists trying to understand the ‘root of the problem’, rather than addressing the actual crisis!! I actually had a therapist try to help me ‘explore my responsibility in it (husband’s affair)’?!? Um.. My part in him choosing to step out of our marriage? I’m pretty sure I was not anywhere near that choice. That ‘act’ had NOTHING to do with me. I didn’t choose it, I didn’t create it, and I had no control over it- nope. I’m not owning that. I don’t think there’s anything good that can come from understanding (sympathizing) with a cheater. That’s HIS work. What’s more, it tends to make the victim ponder what she did ‘wrong’. No? Like the victim needs MORE esteem crushing material to rhuminate about.
    Regardless of the details of the cheater’s “transgressions”, Infidelity cuts deep. It elicits feelings that go beyond pain. It seems obvious to me that if something feels that bad, it should be the main focus. Ester, and therapists like her minimize the pain that the chump feels, by this writing shit. It’s like she’s telling chumps that we’re ‘over reacting’ because, of course, ‘monogamy’ is unnatural… Wtf?!
    Ok.. Now I’m just ranting… 🙂
    Bottom line: insult to injury….

    • “When a victim is dealing with a crisis, why would it be helpful to discuss what was going through her perpetrators mind? What matters is the crisis experienced by the victim(s). Would theraperizing a victim of sexual assault with a walk through her rapist’s mind… Hell NO! I’m so sick of therapists trying to understand the ‘root of the problem’, rather than addressing the actual crisis!! I actually had a therapist try to help me ‘explore my responsibility in it (husband’s affair)’?!? Um.. My part in him choosing to step out of our marriage? I’m pretty sure I was not anywhere near that choice. That ‘act’ had NOTHING to do with me. I didn’t choose it, I didn’t create it, and I had no control over it- nope. I’m not owning that. I don’t think there’s anything good that can come from understanding (sympathizing) with a cheater. That’s HIS work. What’s more, it tends to make the victim ponder what she did ‘wrong’. No? Like the victim needs MORE esteem crushing material to rhuminate about.”

      Here, here!

    • Bliss, yes. Will Esther have an excuse for each and every one of us as she did for Chump Lady’s situation (“beyond infidelity”)? Yes, I suspect she would. Which goes to show she is utterly clueless about what she stands for.

    • I had the same thing happen to me! Therapist didn’t want me to talk about the cheating-she wanted me to “acknowledge the reasons” for it and my “role” in “contributing to an atmosphere where my X felt the NEED to cheat.” Later found out she was related to OW… Fuck her and every bullshit therapist who peddles that garbage, Seriously.

  • There is no “beyond infidelity.” Every story here is from infidelity in and of itself and the never ending list of damages that comes in conjunction with it. It’s infidelity, plain and simple. There’s no “harmless” infidelity and there’s no separating it from the mess that comes with it. You might be able to say “infidelity and then some” to indicate that there is far more involved and at stake; but “beyond infidelity” only minimizes cheating to some minor thing in the grand scale of things. “I only slept with 52 prostitutes while we were married. Well, actually I lost count after that but it’s not THAT bad. I didn’t go BEYOND infidelity.” Uh, no.

  • Thank you again Chump Lady for bringing sanity to this situation. I have often noticed that those with large vocabularies like to muddy the waters for everyone. Maybe there are a few reasons – Maybe Esther would like us to pay her due diligence in regards to her vocabulary and esteem her higher? … or maybe she would like to confuse us readers as we wade through her descriptions? We read … then re-read… then read again the chosen words. Because we are thinking: “did I get that right?” maybe THAT word or THAT sentence doesn’t mean the actual thing that I think it does because she said it SO well. OH SHIT. It does. This woman is using language to cover up a nasty, sick and complete failing of character and integrity. I have bad language. Fuck her.

  • Yep, Bliss, that pisses me off, too. But there is money to be made from BS reconciliations-CL doesn’t call it the Reconciliation Industrial Complex for nothing….

    Big hugs, let’s get through today, and let Esther fester.

  • Anyone that could have something that in any way resembles a “meaningless” affair or not care or realize they might hurt their spouse is actually probably the worst sociopath there is actually.

  • I can’t shake the icky feeling that Esther is on a quest to justify her own transgressions. Does anyone else get that?

  • I think it’s kind of like the “mugger” analogy that CL uses sometimes.

    The guy who did the mugging says, “it was no big deal. I just asked the guy for his wallet, and he gave it to me. Yeah, I had a gun, but it’s not like I was going to use it. Come on, we all know how this works: I ask for the money, he gives it to me, and then it’s done. No big deal. Muggings happen every day all over the world. Dude should get over it already.”

    The person committing the crime (mugger, cheater, etc.) never thinks it’s a big deal. It’s only the victim (chump), who experiences the fear, anguish, distrust, abuse, PTSD, years of counseling, etc., whose life is temporarily devastated and forever changed.

    • when I told my best friend of forever that my h had found a subordinate to blow sunshine up his ass, she told me flat out that maybe if I had been blowing it instead he wouldn’t have strayed. It was like a second dday for me. She also told me that my behavior immediately following my discovery was terrifying and irrational and she feared for her safety. I was dumbfounded – the one person to whom I could lay it all out got all judge-y. Of course I was crazy – I had been gutted, and I felt comfortable sobbing and freaking out to her for 2 hours. Apparently I was too over the top. I will never feel the same way about that friend again and it’s another loss I suffered. The whole thing sucks, Ester. She needs to research “affairs with no fallout or negative repercussions” and get the fuck back to me. I didn’t go through half the shit a lot of my fellow chumps have experienced, and it was life altering. Turns out my bestie of 27 years is a cheater and I think Ester is too. You can’t cover up shitty character by throwing around the words holocaust survivors and having a big vocabulary. That’s disgusting.

      • Long before I got to the end of your post I had assumed your BF was a cheater just by that response. I am so sorry! When your closest most trusted people all turn out to be part of the “special reality”, it really toasts your perception. (((hugs)))

  • What am I not getting about the difference between regular prostitutes and the Russian Hookers often mentioned on this blog? It just kills me because thats where my husband went, half way around the world to get Russian ass…must be some good stuff !!!

    • Just my own personal feelings about this, but I think there are certain men who might prefer one type of hooker or mail order bride over another simply because they feel they can “be” someone different with them. Dominate them, impress them, fool them, whatever. They can’t hold their own with us. They need to be able to reinvent themselves and fool these vulnerable desperate women into thinking they are knights in shining armor. And we all know how that ends up, right?

    • It’s a Thing, Paula. I don’t know a lot about it, other than what people write to me. But it seems there is a whole scam artist side to it (organized crime?) that targets men on these “dating” sites. Anywho, some people blow a lot of money on Russian hookers. Whether they believe it’s NSA hook-ups, or they’re saving some poor Svetlana, or paying for her college or whatever, or it’s sex tourism. Russia and Thailand come up a lot in my mailbox.

      • Can I add that it is likely such behavior is connected to human trafficking. And that adds a level of further despicablenes to the whole cheating thing. They are having sex with women sold into slavery. Sometimes they are sold into this as children. It is truly heart-breaking.

        • yes! as is porn consumption. I used to say to my Ex—are you having fun watching girls the age of your daughter being raped? How would you feel if it was [daughter] “? They are somebody’s kid, you know. ach! [throw up hands…]

  • If “they” (media, government with their corruption, people like this woman) can take the moral decency and integrity out of people slowly but surely (maybe not so slowly) we will destroy ourselves & this Nation. It is becoming an “anything goes” society where rules are for the uneducated & uniformed. And thank God for the free speech which although has been squelched, we can find a bold voice for real pain people should know about BEFORE they seek infidelity! (Oh yeah, that’s right, they didn’t go looking, it found them!)
    Hope this is right thread where porn was discussed. No men can live without porn? Porn hasn’t been around that long (on the internet anyway!) When they had to go to special places to buy/rent movies and had to buy the magazines, I am sure many men lived without it. Now you are “uncool” if you don’t have your “favorites.” In the younger generation, I understand that there is a problem with young men being able to even keep it up for a real woman. I would agree most younger men are into porn now, and young woman just have to deal with it.

    • I hope we haven’t crossed the line from “no shame in porn” to “it’s cool to look at porn”. The internet pretty much eliminated us guys from making the walk of shame to the corner portion of the mag, then to the cashier, for porn. And there is 1,000 times worse things on the internet today than what was in those magazines. That said, I’m not sure we’ve degraded to bragging about porn use, and hope we haven’t. Although the latest crop of mainstream movies tends to normalize it, which is another notch down.

      My experience, as a man who was married a long time with kids and who self confessed to my then wife the struggle that I had with porn, is that it’s a powerful thing for a guy, if left unchecked. In small groups, and in friendships, conversations and confessions often end in grown men crying that they want to stop, and how shameful it really is. None of this is to justify or gloss over the impact that porn has…none of it. I just think that it’s a reality most men have to struggle with in today’s society and are bombarded with images on a minute by minute basis. I had controls put on my PC and my wife had the passwords, and I was an open book after I let her know about the issue. From that point, I thought we were ok, but she used it as the basis for multiple affairs and we are now divorced.

      I’m happier, more at peace, and simply trying to stay busy and raise my kids the best I can.

      • AtPeace, I wrote on this a bit on the forum. I love technology, but the porn aspect of it is out of control. I am glad I don’t have a young child who is innocently trying to do their homework or find a YouTube video who stumbles upon god knows what. Stuff I didn’t see until I was in my 40s!

        A while back there was an idea that all x-rated websites should have the extension, “xxx.” And I thought that was a terrific idea and would make it easier for parents to control what their kids are exposed to. But it was shot down. These days even YouTube is filled with tons of inappropriate stuff.

        I’m not a prude, I feel I have to say that. I wasted many years and ruined a good marriage because I hid myself behind the screen so that I didn’t have to face who I really was. When I came out of my fog (I didn’t cheat, but was addicted to the false life of a chatter), my husband no longer loved me and I don’t blame him a bit. What a bitter lesson to learn.

        That’s why, when I then met my now STBX IN A CHATROOM and he used up every penny I had and cheated on me and left me when it was gone, I feel he was just my karma bus pulling up.

        Now you can read about YOUNG men who can’t “perform” because their own constant self pleasuring is so specific, that they can’t actually have sex with a real live woman! This is a terrible shame.

        Sorry to get side tracked, but I feel so sorry for today’s young people in this regard. I work on the internet and love how small it makes the world, but I have no desire to chat, or try to meet anyone significant on it.

      • Thank you At Peace for the insight. I know it is a struggle from what I have gathered.
        As a woman, it is scary for me that porn has become so mainstream.
        That what a man really wants is so far from what one woman can deliver.
        That what seems to turn men on is when paid participants’ act like what turns the man on is what turns them on, and they really do not need to be pleased, pleasing the man is their true pleasure. And of course the variety.
        Women have no way to fight against this, except trying to demand their man not look at it. (For whatever good that would do!)
        I guess it is like crack or heroin, just stay away or your thoughts will wander to it.
        I believe watching it creates many “triggers” just like Cheating, but in another way that is not healthy for a relationship. The red dress, the culture, the platform heels, whatever it is, keeps a man’s mind on sex almost constantly if he watches porn, especially a lot. You become the depository of his excitement & fantasy about someone else on an ongoing basis. Talk about feeling used!
        If my guy watches it I do not know, he says he does not and only has a work computer where it is prohibited. People here might disagree, but if my guy was stuck on porn, I would rather be alone or find someone I was “enough” for. Women already have their insecurities, even if they look great, stay in shape, keep an upbeat, fun attitude-they can never be another woman.
        One of the crushing things my husband said after he cheated was he “wanted something different.” Different height, weight, ethnicity, background, etc. This crushed me because of all the things I cannot be, it is a different person. At the time he said this, it was like no big deal to him. Something anyone should understand

        • Sorry if this was a sidetrack. I think porn acceptance and the level of cheating we see today are connected. It engages fantasies with probably just about everyone. It puts thousands of images in someone’s head that will be there forever.

          • Early in my marriage (5 years) I became addicted to porn and justified it as not cheating because I was gone a lot(Military). When I noticed that I would rather masturbate then have sex with my wife……I knew it was a problem. I still “use porn” to this day, but only for 10 minutes or less…….just to get release. The only porn I watch for 30 minutes or longer is of my wife. When I’m gone and I watch porn of her, it only makes me want to see her more. Just my personal experience.

  • Totally. All narcissists do-ever read Sam Vaknin? Reams and reams of self-justification, dressed up in pseudo-scientific jargon.

    Chumps have to trust that icky feeling.

  • This is bad — but part of me really wants to untangle Esther’s skein of fuckedupness.

    What I am seeing is a basic lack of empathy. She has some catch phrases she uses that feign empathy (she “feels our pain”) but only insofar as she can use it to further her denial of our experiences. (Who are you going to believe — the “respected” therapist or your own lying life experience?)

    It is one big old example of gaslighting.

    All of us refuting what she is saying?– well it just goes to show how important and sparkly she is, doesn’t it?

    I mean, she is entitled to benefit from the experience of holocaust survivors she claims to know…She is at least as important and special (they should be honored she mentions them).

    And we should all be honored she is now taking up our cause, which e could not possibly hope to understand as well as she does.

    *ahem* narcissist *cough*

    • Nicely put, Stunt Chump!

      And the skein-the lovely, tangly skein….I know that temptation. And I recognize I have been conditioned to the Urge to Unpick.

      I like how Chumps watch their and others’ language carefully. “Your own lying life experience” , brilliantly clear. I never wanted to pick up all this jargon/vocabulary that Esther deploys in her own honor, or that I needed to be able to figure out what the hell happened.

      But another REALLY helpful thing to know, for me, has been the term ‘mansplaining’- maybe ‘narcsplaining’ is better.

      If you were/are a Chump, then ‘Your own lying life experience’ was being administered, to some extent. Depends on the severity of the Narc. Therein lies the headfuck we are all clawing out of in our own way.

      The Quakers have a good term-something ‘speaks to your condition’, as Chump Nation does for me every day.

      I am grateful to this blog and everyone on it-and for the no bullshit example Chump Lady sets. Tracy is the Chump Who Lived. We all are. So we aren’t her best audience.

      Right. Going to get off my ass and get off my ass. Any Bay Area Chumps? Message me!

    • And this can be where she falls into Corporate Motivational Speaker for large company events.

      Sure, I’m connecting some distant dots. I think the corporate message is how to get “buy in”. Not by negotiating and compromise (honesty??) but by Gaslighting and inciting FUD.

  • CL, that twitter response by Esther Perel to you was patronizing.

    “My heart goes out to you- my article does not directly apply to your situation, as your experience goes way beyond infidelity”.

    Let’s look at her response to you more closely:
    1. She established she has a heart. She feels pity for you.
    2. She also established you seem confused. Poor bitter CL, you are delusional to believe her article directly applies to your situation.
    3. She then says “your experience goes way beyond infidelity”, but she does not elaborate what she means by this.

    Basically, she put you in your place. Her faux sympathy was passive agressive. She estalblused you are confused about what “beyond infidelity” means.

    Esther Perel’s response to you , showcases how to manipulate the discussion. She does not want to debate. Her response was to shut you down. How can you debate someone who has a heart and feels pity for your bitter confusion.

    It’s obvious, Esther Perel cannot deal with her intellectual paradigm being criticized or questioned.

    Hey…Esther Perel, can you explain what “beyond infidelity” means and how that jives with “exuberant self actualuzation” in regard to cheating.

    • I agree P.F.

      It was essentially a “polite” conversation stopper and a way to distance my critique from her work. Take a quick read of the Twitter conversation and oh, I am mistaken and what I wrote doesn’t apply to her work.

      Except that it does. And she doesn’t seem to have a very nuanced view of infidelity for a person who claims to work with “trauma victims.”

      Also her credentials, IMO, seem a bit questionable. Her bio on her blog says she’s on the faculty at NYU at the psychiatry department (seriously? medicine? with an MA in art therapy?), but on the NYU psych website, she’s not listed as “faculty” nor does she appear anywhere on a search of their site. Download her CV and it has her association with NYU ending in 2006 and it doesn’t say “faculty” it says “clinical instruction.” But her website is quite happy to have you assume she is currently faculty (read Ph.D.?) at NYU.

      Anyway, she probably thinks I’m stirring up shit, and calling into question her views. Which I am, on infidelity anyway. If she wants to wax poetic about self actualization and intimacy and desire — fine. Just stop with the chump blame and the cheater excuses. She’ll be happy to note I’ve tagged my posts “Esther Perel” and my SEO is pretty awesome, so with any luck, these pages will come up in web searches.

      It would be better if she stood by her convictions and just offered to explain her POV or WTFever “beyond infidelity” means.

      All to say — yes, patronizing and conversation stopping.

      • Exactly CL, you’ve punctured her intellectual paradigm bubble. It’s no surprise she used the old patronization side step.

    • Yep…
      I’m with you P. F.
      She sent us all a big “law tee daw”
      In her more special over educated way of course!

      Well Ester… You shit way to close to the house!

    • Once at a public gathering I took issue with something Timothy Leary said about the nature of artificial intelligence research (this was 1990s, before the cognitive computing revolution that is just now getting underway). I know what you are thinking: what was I doing in such a place? I don’t know. I thought it might be fun, I guess. Anyway…

      The way he was explaining the state of research at the time was a terrible over-simplification and demonstrated a lack of fundamental understanding (admittedly the field faced some serious constraints–so much so that it would be another 20 years before hardware and software design advances really made the advances needed to make the whole field a viable commercial undertaking).
      Basically, his argument was machines will never successfully mimic reasoning and creativity (today Watson is cranking out Master Chef recipes as a promotional stunt, and it’s aiding cancer researchers, etc, etc).

      His argument reminded me of “If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings”.

      So.. I spoke up. I pointed out that prolog-based “expert systems” were not the be-all-end-all of every effort, that it wasn’t all about brute force gaming algorithms, and I closed by mentioning some of the early neural network designs at MIT.

      His response, as the crowd all appeared stop to hear this exchange (which incidentally made me very, very nervous–not used to that) was this:

      “MIT. That’s Tim spelled backward. I know those guys personally. They’re the same guys who kicked me out of Harvard”.

      I had no idea of how to respond to that even though it didn’t deal with what I was asking him to consider. Plus people were all laughing now, so i was kind of embarrassed.

      When I got home, I looked up everybody in that MIT program. I looked into their backgrounds. None of them were at Harvard when he was, and based on correspondence, none of them had ever worked with him or had anything to do with him.

      Tim was a smart… devious guy.

      He shut me up, though.

      • Deflect, redirect.

        Manipulation 101.

        I’m sorry, how awful for you. You asked an intelligent question and he made a joke out of it instead of answering. He’s the douche though, not you.

    • Hell yes P.F, you are very adept at scouting & uncovering mindfuckery & manipulation!! Kudos! Send that one to her, I’ll bet she can’t throw a curve ball abck.

  • I think what annoys me most about this kind of writing-is the implication that because cheaters are free-loving, evolved spirits, and that those of us who don’t live a double life are a bunch of repressed, starchy, sexless marms from the 50s. We’re John Lithgow in Footloose: “Thou shalt not dance!”

    It feeds into their fantasy. Makes them seem interesting in comparison (in their minds). It never occurs to them that they are cliche and boring.

  • I’m thinking that these psychologists who use this bullshit psycho babble are just as harmful as the cheaters themselves because they become incredibly prolific with this Blame the Chump rhetoric, which results in the RIC. Also, I believe that this bullshit psychobabble is largely responsible for the idea that cheating is self-actualizing.

    Every time I hear that come out of the mouth of a psychologist, I wonder to myself, why on earth would a therapist, who’s job is to help people navigate emotional pain, sympathize with the cheater, rather than the person who has been harmed by the cheating actions?

    Then I think, because that “psychologist” has something to gain from a social attitude that excuses cheaters and punishes the victims. Usually the thing they have to gain is justification for their OWN adulterous acts.

    Anyone who so fiercely defends the act of infidelity either has never experienced it or needs justification for it. Even chumps who are stuck in reconciliation don’t defend infidelity that hard. Chumps in reconciliation want something different. They want the cheater to understand their pain and change. People who need to justify their cheating want their chumps to take responsibility and place blame pretty much everywhere but where it belongs, on themselves.

    So, Esther, psychoanalyze THIS:

    1) We view cheating as wrong BECAUSE IT FUCKING HURTS. Finding out that someone who promised you monogamy broke that promise HURTS. It’s the same with other forms of betrayal. If someone tells you one thing, then does the opposite, then has the audacity to tell you that their choice to betray you was your fault, IT. FUCKING. HURTS.

    2) It hurts because it is a betrayal of TRUST. Especially when it’s a marital vow. Marital vows, aside from being spoken before your whole family and a gathering of friends, is actually legal and binding. Which means when you agree to marry someone (and no one held a gun to the cheater’s head here) that you are legally bound to hold that contract you signed at the wedding and then dropped off at the county office of records. So it’s not like the cheater, especially the ones who have been carrying on affairs for years, didn’t have any WARNING that they were entering into an arrangement that was monogamous and kind of a big deal.

    So unless every single cheater on the face of the earth got married on a whim in Vegas, they had some idea of what they were getting into.

    Which also means that the chump, i.e. the victim, also had plenty reason to believe that the cheater was going to HONOR those vows. That’s trust. We also TRUST our spouses to communicate with us. If our spouses really feel that they need to go out and “find themselves” we trust that they will TELL US and something can either be worked out, or a divorce settled. Which IS possible. Two very close friends of mine did just that. The husband felt that his life was not where he wanted it and that he needed to get out. There was no other woman, there was no lies, there was no blaming the wife. They talked about it, they reached an agreement, and amicably divorced. Yes, it was painful, but it was HONEST. I still talk to both the husband and wife, I still talk to their daughter (who is in her 20’s and was a bridesmaid at MY wedding) and everyone who knows them was supportive.

    See? It’s possible to reach “self actualization” WITHOUT the profoundly narcissistic act of actively and willfully BETRAYING the person who swore vows to.

    3) ANY affair “means nothing.” Seriously. All of them. They all mean nothing. Want to know why? Because if the cheater’s marriage actually meant something to them, they wouldn’t cheat in the first place. That’s why chumps don’t cheat. Because our vows and our relationships MEAN something to us. Cheaters cheat because they don’t care. Ergo, no affair actually means something. You’re probably going to wrench your brain and try to turn that statement into some psychobabble about my insecurities or what have you, but your continued and increased defense of your cheater sympathizer position only proves my point further. So please, go ahead and argue how affairs mean something, considering that would contradict your original statements. Have fun working that out.

    4) Anyone who’s idea of self-actualizing is the knowing and willing deceit of someone who cares about them is someone I don’t want to be around. Because *drumroll* I can’t TRUST that person not to fuck me over for their own gain.

    5) We as a society view lying, cheating, betrayal and stealing to be bad things because they HURT people. This is a basic tenant of ethics necessary for harmonious living. Can you imagine a society in which no one valued truth-telling? In which no one valued respect of someone else’s property? In which no one valued the lives of others? It would be absolute CHAOS. This has been the basis of ethical theory for centuries. I would think that someone who supposedly has a degree in psychology would have taken at least ONE ethics course in that time. Even if you haven’t, it’s not hard to do a google search. We have values and ethics so society doesn’t go to hell.

    One of the main things about cheating that hurts so much aside from the betrayal, is the actual, psychical consequence on real human bodies. “Whatever do you mean?” you ask.
    It’s the spread of STI’s. Cheaters aren’t magical, disease resistant super beings. They can, and do, pick up STI’s. There are some people on this very blog who’s ex-spouses not only picked up STI’s from their sleeping around, but infected them. Ask those people how their ex’s “self actualization” affected their lives. “But the chump didn’t use a condom either!” you argue. Why should a chump be expected to use a condom with their own SPOUSE? Some of them were trying to have a baby and start a family. Some of them were using more permanent forms of contraception and trusted their spouse to not pick up an STI from their extramarital fucking. (See how we’re back to that whole trust thing?)

    This is how cheating has larger negative implications on society as a whole. Diseases being spread by people who don’t care. For those who were trying to conceive and ended up infected with STI’s from their spouses fucking around, that means a higher risk pregnancy and also the risk of infecting the child in utero. For those who aren’t trying to conceive, that’s the infection of one more person who now has to exercise even MORE caution in their future relationships because of the mistakes of someone ELSE. Does that sound FAIR to you? NO! It isn’t!

    And for the infected SERIAL cheater, that’s the risk of infecting even more people and then having them go off and risk infection for even more people. And no, I don’t TRUST serial cheaters to use protection. Why the hell should I?

    Got any self-actualizing excuses for that shit?

  • I don’t believe for one minute that cheaters are looking for self actualization when they involve themselves in extramarital affairs, whether physical or emotional. I don’t believe they are that “deep”. Really. Cheaters cheat because they can. They lie so they can continue to do what they want to do. They put their spouses/partners and families at risk because they can. They don’t think about anything other than the here and now. They do not think far enough ahead about how their actions will affect others. Again, they are not that “deep”.

    Cheating is just a huge character flaw. The cheater does not have the loyalty trait. And quite often I think they show signs of poor decision making prior to the affair. They are compulsive, lack empathy and search for superiority.

    The cheater, once they are discovered, cannot face the fact and they do not want to believe they could be this shitty so they find excuses for their behavior. Self-actualization (whatever the hell that even is) is just bullshit. So are all of the other excuses.

    • Kimmy, Your post makes me smile. I can see that you clearly get the true reality that underlies cheaters and cheating. When you get it there is no confusion regarding the seriousness of this issue or experience. It is what it is and it is very predictable and it is not creative.

  • What bothers me is that several acquaintances of mine who have been chumped, still, after several years in some cases, believe there was something inadequate in their relationship that made their partner cheat. The “blame the victim” mentality is so screwball. There’s a whole industry out there … Therapists who make their living dishing out crap advice on “how to get past cheating”. Simpler than therapy…just kick their sorry butt out and reclaim your life.

    When you ask a self-blaming chump exactly what it was they did to “deserve” such treatment, they don’t have a clue. That’s because there is no “why”.

    A pox on those who make money out of blaming people who are simply lied to.

    • Usually they did not know they were unhappy at all, or that you weren’t the love of their life, or that they didn’t want to spend the rest of their life with you until they decided they wanted to hump smoopie, and then all the excuses that couldn’t include any failings on there part began to be accepted as truth in their cheater brains. This is the hard part, how do you ever trust someone again who can make that transition in their brain even once?
      I remember asking “what would possibly make all of this OK? How do you do these mental gymnastics?” My mind would tell me “this is bullshit,” you don’t need this flattery, flirtation, etc…you know exactly where it goes!!” They could stop themselves & don’t. At some point it is pretty clear where it all is headed. To any fool, much less anyone with any intelligence!

  • From TwinsDad on yesterday’s post. Good so I thought I’d repost in case you missed.

    I had a discussion today with a fellow chump who is very precious and special to me. I was just so blown away by what she had to say about Perel’s “village” that I asked her if I could share it on CL. She agreed. Here is my attempt to combine a string of her text messages. I own all typos:

    I can’t get to get to the website at work, and I sure as heck am not gonna take time from my own village to complain on CL about the idea behind Ester’s. But the more I think about this imaginary village, the more it seems not to hold. If at the core is this idea that we expect one person to do what we used to expect an entire village to do, then shouldn’t we focus on building better villages to keep our primary relationships intact? If our relationship fills our need for stability but not excitement (not my particular problem – just a hypothetical) then what exactly am I supposed to do? Hit up my partner for excitement or my village? What if my village isn’t very exciting? What if my own brand of excitement is too risky and my partner and my village say ‘no’, am I entitled to change either? How does that not upset either the partner or the village which I am supposedly conversely supporting as well? Is either going to celebrate my exuberant defiance?

    It takes a village to raise a CHILD. Keyword: child. We all invest in one-way relationships with children. We all give them candy and kiss their boo-boos and expect nothing in return. But in grown-up world, villages are only as good as the interdependencies that maximize the number of win-wins. We give politeness expecting politeness. Well, this ‘village’ that supports my adult self presumably expects some support back from me. Heck, even the local bartender wants a tip. So in my adult village, I get. But I also have to give. I have to give support in return. Or excitement. Or stability. Or predictability. Whatever the need of the moment is. Whatever complex interplay that keeps the whole thing standing another day. But what if instead of offering support where needed, instead I’m exuberantly defying, and fucking my villager’s mate? How long is my village gonna last?

    This whole thing rests on a fairytale idea of a village that we create only for children (or other complete defendants). Not adults. Never adults, actually. But some adults never fully transition from being the child and receiving the benefits of the child and try to drag this village along with them into adulthood. Like a binky. Who gets that deal? Nobody. Only in love, do we find people who give us precious moments of being able to purely receive. Precious moments. Then reality kicks in. And that’s okay. Because without a village of grown ups, how are the actual children ever going to make it? They’re not.

    • If my “village” is filled with people who will sleep with my spouse and lie to me about it? It’s time to move.

    • What I want to know is what exactly does Esther think this “village” is supposed to do when we’re lacking in “excitement” in our marriages. And what exactly does she mean by excitement? Because you can get excitement in the form of skydiving or surfing or licking a battery.

      Given pretty much everything else she says, I’m going to say that, to her, in this context, it means sexual excitement. In which case it would logically follow she means that we are supposed to be getting sexual excitement from our “village.”

      I’m guessing that with her toss word-salad, she’s trying to say by being in a monogamous marriage, we are getting sexual excitement from one person, rather than several as we would being single.

      I don’t know about her, but when I was single, I didn’t go around fucking a bunch of people to satisfy my need for “sexual excitement.” I bought a damn vibrator.

      That’s no knock against anyone who enjoys casual sex with other singles when they are single. Singles hooking up with other singles isn’t a crime. There’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s what you enjoy when you’re single, go ahead. Knock yourself out. Seriously. I know some people who like to do this. Doesn’t bother me as long as the people they sleep with are also single.

      But if your thing is casualty, then don’t get married. Don’t get into an arrangement under the pretense of monogamy when what you enjoy is the “village.” As I said in my first comment, it’s not like these assholes don’t know what it means. What? You mean being monogamous means getting sexual excitement from one person?! OH SHIT!!

      Bottom line, still want the services to come from the village? Then stay in that village. Don’t go into a marital home and act surprised when you don’t get a figurative night on the town anymore.

  • Look, Esther. As chumps go, I had it easy. I wasn’t married to the cheater. And while he was on the verge of moving into my lovely, lovely home, he did not. While I had a 30+ year friendship with this man, and not one unkind or cross word in that time, I didn’t have children with him or property to divide, etc. I have a doctoral degree from the most influential program in my field, a great job, an adequate income, friends and family, none of which were altered a bit by the betrayal. Moreover, I was already in therapy with a highly skilled woman who has an understanding of who I am and where I have come from, and my friends showed their love, loyalty and true worth every day.

    So when I tell you that the betrayal nearly destroyed me, perhaps you will get some idea of what these people who have long-term marriages have endured. The cheater in my life went from a seemingly–seemingly–loving, attentive partner one day to someone who found fault with everything about me, about us, the next. Only that wasn’t expressed as direct criticism. He changed everything about how he treated me. He stopped calling and texting. We had spent every night together; suddenly, he couldn’t do that. He stopped telling me about important events in his life and stopped caring what happened in mine. He talked about finally “starting a new life” but in the same conversation denied that he was ending the relationship, a cruel form of gaslighting. He dropped me off at the door on my birthday and didn’t bother with a gift. He picked fights and then used my reaction to his unkindness to justify more unkindness. He started smirking and patronizing me. He refused physical intimacy, which had been like breathing for us before, so I thought. In the midst of this, he went to his friend’s funeral and 8 hours later called to say he was too tired to see me. But not too tired to speculate about why the sister of his deceased friend didn’t seem to be around. Or to call a few weeks later to talk about how she wanted to buy his mother’s furniture. All the while, I was shocked and sick and had no idea what was going on–because he lied. Because he withheld crucial information about why he was disengaging and what that would mean for me. Because he denied the relationship was over. Everything was different but he just “needed time” and “had to make changes” but “was optimistic about us in the long run.” And why did he play me that way? We weren’t married. I didn’t as yet know for certain about the MOW. But he had my money in his business account. And he needed a new phone. And a new truck. And he had to take off work because of a death in the family. And his daughter needed….you get the point, I am sure. And, of course, I had been a true friend and a source of love and encouragement for him for 30 years. Why give that up?

    When I finally discovered his FB page, dated 3 days after the funeral of his buddy (the married other woman was his only “FB friend” and there was no public activity at all), suddenly all of the lying, gaslighting, blaming and trashing of our relationship made sense. It made sense that he moved back to his parents’ former home, because she lived 5 minutes by foot from there. It made sense that he wanted to be alone so he could text here when she was available.

    I cried nearly every minute I was alone for 4 months, from the time the gaslighting started until after his last cruel message on Valentine’s Day, when he said he wouldn’t speak to me because I had “accused him” of having an affair. There were times when I was trying to hold the relationship together that my chest hurt so much I though I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t eat or sleep and for the first time in my professional life, my work suffered. I worked well through the deaths of both parents, a divorce, surgery, my mother’s dementia, the death of a close friend, but this betrayal blew up my heart. I lived literally from one minute to the next. It’s almost exactly a year from the death of his friend, and this week I’ve had some “anniversary moments,” but at last I don’t think of him all day, every day as part of the background noise in my life. I go whole hours without his name or the things he did to me crossing my mind. I’m 62. We were supposedly planning for the rest of our lives, and I made major financial decisions, including tapping my 403B retirement and a home purchase, based on his promises and commitments. And he walked out of my house one day and just never came back. He didn’t call when my cat died or the pipes burst or the temperature hit -30 with wind chill. I loved him with my whole heart and I was devastated. The hardest part for me was that he had sworn for years that I was the love of his life and after years of holding back, I let myself be fully vulnerable. Nothing in the world was as wonderful as resting my head on his shoulder and breathing in the smell of his shirt. And he dragged my heart behind his pickup truck for 4 months and would probably still be gaslighting me if I hadn’t caught him cheating with a woman who doesn’t even like to work, who has three kids, and who spells “happy” like this: “happpppppyyyy.” A woman whose husband seems to love her as much as I loved the cheater. I didn’t sign up to share his attention, time and my money with anyone else. It’s sad, Esther, that you don’t feel any empathy for those of us who were promised we were in a “safe place to fall” and found out, instead, that we had given our hearts to someone who used and abused us.

      • Thanks. I wouldn’t want to live through it again. Ever. But I am not sorry about what I’ve built from the rubble. I love every part of my life. And thanks to all the Chumps here and CL for teaching me so much. Part of me would still be waiting for him to come out of the fog….on a unicorn….with a cake….

        • LAJ, you describe so perfectly the confusion of what happens during the gaslighting phase. I will never forget how my husband put his arm around me and reassured me that I had nothing to worry about in regards to his coworker, when he was already involved with her. I’ll never forget discovering his journal where he wrote about his love for her. When I confronted him with what I’d read, he tried to tell me I didn’t understand what I read. That I hadn’t interpreted it correctly. Well, it was pretty much in black and white. That’s when I realized how easily the lies came off his tongue.

          • That might be the very worst–to find out that they are just liars. Con artists. That means we have to question every kind word they ever said, because after D-Day, they are still saying a lot of that same stuff but we do indeed correctly interpret what’s in black and white in front of us, whether it’s a journal or emails to the AP or that strange FB page with one “friend.”

    • Hi LAJ your writing so expresses my feelings as well. I was with my STBX for 25 years, have two young children. I was a SAHM while I was studying. I also supported him while he studied to become a teacher, only to be discarded after he finished, and 1 week before XMAS. Yes he met the new love on this course. I still had two papers to go on my degree. I finished, which was so hard, dealing with my grief, and my children’s grief. I am now starting my masters.

      The callousness and cruelty, we are subjected too is so surreal. You go from being their #1 to the crap on the bottom of their shoes. You would think that we the oyal and honest people did the cheating. You believe in these people, and yet, they don’t care what they do to you, or others. I don’t really believe in karma, in that I am not waiting for anything to happen. I have cut him out of my life, bar only minimal contact for the children. Time does goes fast, and I so look forward to the day when I am free of this lying, cheating, abusive, disordered individual. Today I am in a much better place (20mths out). I am happy in myself. I do need a job though, so I can get a mortgage to buy my own place, but I believe I will get there too.

  • “But. But I’m a Good guy!” Words from asshat during one of our first MC sessions. AND he was still in contact with the MOW during the first 3 mths of counseling. Must mention, that they felt they now needed “to do the Right Thing”. That is verbatim.

    So see? These creeps knew what they were doing was WRONG. If you have to hide it, then it is most likely deceitful. And the MOW is/was a swinger, Christian swinger that is. So this has NOTHING to do about being an uncool monogamist. Good guys and gals are not making mistakes exuberantly. They are cheating

    • A Christian swinger???!!!!??? THAT’S like saying a Feminist rapist. Or is it rapist Feminist? Sheesh. I’m sorry ANC. 🙁

      • Thanks. I am very much over that. I don’t suffer hypocrites. If you talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk. That fat mess forgot the 7th commandment.

    • Oh man, I get this all the time…”I am a good person who did a bad thing”…Apparently 3 affairs, one 4 years long distance, while six months of this was also spent fucking the neighbor, 8 months of false reconciliation while she lined up her exit affair by trolling bars with divorced woman…not to mention $30,000 in credit card debt that I had no idea about because she opened a bunch of cards in my name without telling me…not to mention the years of lying, gaslighting, rejection, criticism etc etc etc … is in her mind 1 bad thing done by a “good person”

  • People that violate others, that lie and that live inauthentic deceptive lives are actually creating profound meaninglessness in their own lives. Being a fraud pretending to be an honest person while hiding who you really are and what you are really doing is exactly how meaninglessness is created. Violating using and deceiving others is wrong and this “wrongness” is not some complicated psychological concept or ideal. It is simply the factual truth.

    Self-actualization is not gained or attained by deceiving and violating others! Using and violating others so that you get your own narcissistic needs met, at their expense, is not a spiritually evolved or psychologically evolving action to take. It is an act of degradation to your own integrity. It is a deluded act of “false self” enhancement that actually violates the authentic self of the person committing these acts. No one is bettered or evolved by choosing to be out of integrity or by being deceptive or by knowingly violating others or the rights of others. These types of actions are degrading and a self-annihilating acts that only serves to spiral a person and their life into true meaninglessness.

    The truth is, a very large number of cheaters are not ever going to change in any fundamental or significant way. These professionals know this. It is not some secrete or something that is not well understood. They know that it is highly unlikely that the fundamental underlying structure of a person’s character is going to change. This reality is denied by many professionals and relationship gurus alike. The people that financially prosper or make a living from “helping couples through infidelity ” need to be in integrity and need to be clear regarding the TRUE reality of these situations. Chumps have often already had their sense of reality seriously and needlessly distorted by the gas lighting and lies of a cheating spouse. I think a lot of the cheaters get a big hoot out of this psychological bull, where they are made out to be wounded or somehow just these evolved seekers of some profound “self-actualization” through acts of infidelity and deceit. They see this opportunity and they grab at the chance to use the professional setting to continue to blame shift, minimize or to rationalize what they know in reality is nothing but narcissistic self-entitled abusive violating behaviors and choices. To say that cheating is a conscious or unconscious attempt for self-actualization is a delusion at best. To normalize abusive violating and predatory behaviors is irresponsible. Maybe when professional stop blaming authentic individuals, that have integrity and a conscious, for the narcissistic abusive behaviors of others and when the normalization of abusive behaviors is not tolerated or bought by the masses then this abusive dilutedness will stop. The truth is most often not complicated at all.

    When a profession minimizes and justifies behaviors and choices that are not justifiable very real damage is caused and any opportunity for authentic change is lost. When behaviors that are violating to the wellbeing of others are packages into deluded or distorted frameworks based on untrue assumptions all so they can sell a book or build a practice around this concept is irresponsible, predatory and even criminal. This amounts to taking advantage of the vulnerability of people that are experiencing traumatizing and life shattering events. Abuse is not normal and people do not self-actualize by choosing to violate and deceive others.

    Cheating, infidelity, lying and deception, none of these behaviors should ever be normalized or falsely empowered, justified, or glorified in any way. These behaviors are harmful and destructive to families and to children. They are harmful to the countless individuals that are affected by this type of abuse and violation. Normalizing behaviors that are damaging to our society, to families and to individuals actually causes a lot of confusion about something that is not confusing at all.

    • WELL SAID Martha. Well bloody said. Unconditional positive regard does NOT work with character disordered people.
      Yesterday I got completely pummelled. My husband took something his therapist said, about how my hurt and rage after D Day made him feel unsafe. He has taken that and turned it into a sword to beat me with. He has managed to persuade himself that just as I ‘drove’ him to cheat, I and my unforgiving is the reason for the divorce and HE is the victimised one.
      Therapists need specialist training to not enable these people.

      • Patsy, What a predictable joke that is and it is a great example of how therapist often feed right into the character disturbed persons’s deceptive games. This is also an example of the fact that cheaters and disordered people are not creative people seeking self actualization or insight. They are so predictably manipulative, calculating and cunning but not truly creative. Sounds like your H has consistently jumped at any opportunity to blame shift, avoid, deceive and deny his own creations, behaviors, choices and feelings. Make sure you do not participate with him in any way shape or form in his attempt to blame you. Let him know you see right through his a**. Tell him he can believe what ever deluded bull he cares to believe but that you have absolutely no intention of participating in this delusion with him in any way shape or form. Laugh and tell him that you are not one bit confused in any way about who is responsible for his choices or his actions or for who is responsible for his pathetic cowardly feelings. It is not complicated or confusing when you see right through them and do not participate or fall for their predictable manipulative tactics to blame others or to lie. Do not participate!!! and I agree therapist need better training and the gushing misplaced unearned empathy and the belief that everyone is intrinsically good inside needs to be addressed because it is not true. The fact is when a person proves that they are not capable of authentic empathy for their fellow humans including their partner and family and when a person demonstrates that they do not have a conscious and can do deceptive cruel evil things with no regard for those they harm then they are dangerous people and therapist need to address this factually.

        • Great advice, and I wholeheartedly agree. You don’t need him to agree with you on how things really went down – they never do.

    • Your post should be required reading for every therapist. When I was “invited” to acknowledge my part in my cheater’s behavior, I was essentially told his cheating was my fault. Talk about being victimized twice! Glad to say, I didn’t fall for it and never returned for another session. But my X sure did, and tried to tell everyone that I was the one who gave up on our marriage. I don’t think that therapist had a clue how fucked up her advice was. Kind of like giving an alcoholic permission to continue drinking.

      • It’s unreal! I think that’s what my husband is doing now- trying to make it seem like he’s the one who tried to reconcile- did all the work- and I won’t show up for appointments, so he can tell everyone I am the one responsible for the demise of our relationship- HA! I think he goes to appts because he likes to talk about himself. Another kibble source. The thing with truth, and inherent personality though, is that it always surfaces. He will reveal himself. Whether or not we (chumps) get to see it, it happens. Karmactic Justice.

  • My then-husband made the choice to open an Ashley Madison account. He didn’t make a choice to have a conversation with me, to say, “MovingOn, I’ve been really unhappy lately.” He didn’t make the choice to ask if we could go to marriage counseling. He didn’t even bother to go right to the endgame– asking me for a divorce. Oh, he pretended to do things in the right order; when he was balls-deep into the A for a couple of months and then went away to a friend’s wedding, he called to check in with me and said that he’d been “thinking about a divorce.” He then handed me some crap about how he felt like the people he’d met at the wedding (who all lived near a major metropolitan area… where we live is much more small town) were SO successful and happy, blah blah blah. So he pretended to try and ask me for a divorce, but he was already cheating.

    Nope, I didn’t get any of that. Instead I got gaslighting, stealth, marital funds spent on his AM sidepiece, and all the while, he acted as though EVERYTHING WAS FINE. There were very few red flags. He had sex with me while he was having sex with her (unprotected, of course). He enjoyed the comforts and facade of our family life while he let our marriage rot from within by screwing a desperate housewife likely in one of our cars. When I finally discovered what he was doing, there was no remorse, and although he could have dogged me in court and drowned me in lawyers’ fees by fighting everything, he was not generous with the assets and initially suggested that we do 50/50 custody because he didn’t want to pay me child support. He married the OW, and despite their supposed marital bliss, he continues to be an ass to me and a relatively sucky parent to our children, even though I stay as NC as possible and keep out of his life.

    He’s a selfish jerk. It was always there; other people saw it while I spackled. It just took his epically shitty cheating for me to finally open my eyes to it.

    So… yeah, sorry Esther. Cheaters are generally assholes. It’s just that their Chumps have covered for them often for YEARS. We’ve managed their images, explained away their previously shitty behavior, and acted as the buffer in a whole host of ways because we wanted to protect them. That’s what we do. If cheaters look sympathetic to you, Esther, you can thank their Chumps who have been helping the cheaters present a pretty face to the world for likely the duration of the relationship.

    • “Cheaters are generally assholes. It’s just that their Chumps have covered for them often for YEARS. We’ve managed their images, explained away their previously shitty behavior, and acted as the buffer in a whole host of ways because we wanted to protect them. That’s what we do. If cheaters look sympathetic to you, Esther, you can thank their Chumps who have been helping the cheaters present a pretty face to the world for likely the duration of the relationship.”

      Thank you for expressing this so well, MovingOn. My IC pointed out to me that I had done it so well and for so long that no one can really comprehend that his shitty choices and behavior is actually who he is. He’s that guy – not that “nice” guy he pretends to be – and you know what CL says about “nice.”

  • And if he wanted to leave me for a lazy, selfish, indiscreet married woman who doesn’t care enough about her kids to keep her lover out of the house on Thanksgiving, he would have been welcome to her. That would have hurt, but I would have seen right away that he was trading down and I could have made my own very different choices about the money and my emotional attachment.

  • “In this view, understanding an act of infidelity as a simple transgression or meaningless fling, or a quest for aliveness is an impossibility.”

    I HATE when cheating is described as a transgression. It makes it sound so light, so harmless. Sure, they gave you a STD, broke promises, and made you doubt your intuition with their lying, but it’s not like they meant to. They were just trying to find themselves. If you were more evolved and less dimwitted, you’d see that possibility.

    UGHHHHHH!!!

    • Making someone doubt their own perceptions is nothing but ABUSE that has ramifications for a long, long time. People depend on their ability to perceive situations for their very survival, and our trust in our sense of perception isn’t magically restored when we discover that we were right all along.

      They should go to prison for that one!

      • I agree it’s abuse. What infuriates me is that it’s not just cheaters who are playing these mind games (that’s to be expected), but also so-called “experts”, too.

        You got cheated on. Your cheater acts all put upon, like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. “I SAID I was sorry.” You distance yourself and seek therapy to validate your perception of what really happened. You meet with someone like Esther who explains that the affair was just a meaningless fling. Certainly nothing to get too worked up over. And if you are getting worked up, then you’re just not enlightened enough to recognize this person’s much needed spiritual journey.

        Your logical side tells you that one doesn’t become more spiritual by screwing someone else over, but this expert sounds so eloquent, so calm, while you’re falling apart. So, your emotional side thinks, maybe you really are overreacting.

        Yeah, prison would be too kind.

  • It’s really very simple. If you do not believe in monogamy and want to be free to sleep with anyone you want to, then don’t get married. If you ARE married, but realize you no longer love your spouse, you are attracted to someone else, or you would prefer to sleep with anyone you want to, get divorced FIRST, then do whatever you want.

    If you choose to get married, remain married and carry on an affair, then the problem is not marriage, it is YOU and your poor character.

    • Yeah, Glad, it’s not all that difficult to figure out, is it? Nobody want to get dumped but it sure beats being lied to, gaslighted and abused. And blamed for protesting about being lied to, gaslighted and abused

      • Amen!! So it’s NOT just me who is demonized for not trusting the words of and unworthy man? One who is trustworthy ‘because he said so’?! These people SHOULD be studied- just not by their Narcissistic cohorts:)

  • Well Ester, I’ve been in reconsiliation for a Year and a half now and let me say, It did not make our marriage better! That’s just BS! Secondly, I found out that the OW is now back with her ex-H, since mine dumped her. Seems funny after all the “I want a divorce, he’s such a loser, our sex life is horrible, I want to be single and free,” that she fed to my H. Why do I know what she said, well, when he broke up with her, to punish him, she sent all their correspondence to me. Chumplady is brilliant! She needs no fancy schooling to say the truth, cheating is a character flaw, end of story. It’s just selfish narcissistic and inexcusable. I’m not a hateful, angry, ugly, nonsexual woman. I’m an awesome woman, that is a chump, who was lied to for 1.5 yrs, for nothing more than selfish secret teenage sex. I hope u change your “excuse” technique and start kicking the ass of the cheater himself. Then, and only then, can they possibly reconsile.

    • Quite sure the OW went back to her husband because life is a lot easier for her with a chump around. Before too long, she will be looking elsewhere.

  • Dear Esther: no one can ever, ever hurt me as much as finding out that the love of my life and my best friend turned out to have a secret life that did not include me, and that I did not know him that well after 15 years. That they knew, and I was the idiot they conspired against. He chose her whilst telling me what a bad wife I was. He chose exciting secret orgasms over our family. It is simply not possible for me to be more devastated.

    I have also been self-actualising. You see, I discovered that his affair was part of a wider selfish pattern of narcissism (diagnosed), and that by whining and complaining – but handing on – I let him know he could treat me as badly as he liked; and I would take it.

    But it is ok. He also is quite convinced that I am bitter sarcastic and angry, and the reason our family unit is dissolving is because I wouldn’t forgive him.

    • My shrink described two types of forgiveness:
      1. ‘Forgiveness-to-remain’ that we give to the cheat where the cost, burden, and repair is borne by the truly remorseful cheat; and
      2. ‘Forgiveness-to-move-on’ that we give to ourselves where the cost, burden, and repair is borne us alone.

      In the case of a NPD cheater, the first form of forgiveness is wasted. (Therein lies Chumpland)

      The second form of forgiveness does NOT involve giving anything to the cheater. NOTHING. They get shit. (Ya, and let life give them that).

      We can’t afford one erg of energy towards her/his peace of mind while repairing the damage serial affairs caused the entire family.

      Forgiveness is for those who deserve peace.

  • X never cheated because he never believed it was cheating. He decided our marriage was over. Unless the bimbo pressed him, I think he would have been fine with how things were. A piece of trash on the side and idiot wifey taking care of his kids at home. Win win.

    He reminds me more and more of the Seinfeld character, George Costanza. “Remember Jerry, it’s not a lie if YOU believe it.”

    • Ahh yes, the old “Our marriage was basically over anyway” line.

      Too bad he didn’t bother to share that bit of info with you, right? And maybe do the actual divorce filing and such to make it true.

        • That, of course, is rhetorical question. But let me pose the obvious answer for Esther’s benefit: cake. They want to have a one-sided marriage, in which all of the devotion, love, and fidelity comes from their chumped partner, and at the same time, they want to have the affair, the affair partner, or in some cases, a whole smorgasbord of other people to help them explore their specialness. If it were all really about “self-actualization,” they would be primarily concerned with their character, not gratifying their urge of the moment.

          • Agreed!

            Self-Actualization is by definition a mining for value within oneself. Not stealing virtual from those around you. The thing about virtue is it’s really not transferable.

  • How painful is being cheated on? To this day, if I had a choice between being viciously stabbed and being cheated on, I would choose being stabbed. Being stabbed is random, not personal, and lacerated organs heal faster with less lasting effect. My punctured lung would not make my children lose their innocence, trust and safety. As my liver healed, my husband would be standing by my bed supporting me whilst I healed.

    People really should not try to minimise infidelity. It is one of the 10 commandments for a reason, and that reason is not because God is a killjoy.

    • Is there a third choice? Like maybe be forced to eat burnt marshmallows?

      I don’t like roasted (and especially burnt) marshmallows, but I’d choose that as a third option 🙂

    • “People really should not try to minimise infidelity. It is one of the 10 commandments for a reason, and that reason is not because God is a killjoy.”

      That is what her article seemed to imply.

  • Oh good golly CL – your followup today is hilarious in it’s truth. Honestly, I’m glad that she’s following you – perhaps she’ll peek inside the site and recognize all the pain poor character causes. Our point of view is more than valid. Financial, physical, emotional, sexual, verbal abuse = abuse, pure and simple.

  • Here is what I would say to Esther Perel: there would be no need for a discussion of infidelity because the cheater could choose to simply not cheat. I didn’t hold a gun to my STBX’s head and force him to promise to love, honor, cherish, and cleave only unto me in front of God and everybody. Truly. He did it of his own free will and I believed that he meant it every bit as much as I did. I loved him with every ounce of my being and funny enough, I found it easy to have sex with just him. I quite enjoyed it actually. If that changed for him then the solution was simple: leave. Tell me that it’s over and leave. Then he would have been free to self-actualize or commit random acts of exuberant defiance by fucking other women. I don’t recall seeing that on Maslow’s Hierarchy but perhaps I am simply out of touch. Instead, he lied to me, funneled money into paying for his dates and his condoms, berated me for not trusting him, told me it was all my fault because I wasn’t supportive and/or was incapable of the kind of intimacy he needed and left me physical and psychological wreck. This is the kind of behavior dear Esther condones? Thinks I am being too judgmental about? That it was a problem in the relationship not in the lying cheater? Okaaaay. Clearly Esther and I do not inhabit the same moral universe. Because that kind of behavior is amoral and not psychologically healthy. What’s almost worse is that it’s completely UNNECESSARY. You need some on the side or have a cliche of a mid-life crisis or are simply bored? Tell your spouse, get a lawyer, and get the hell out of the marriage. Problem solved.

    • Well, to be fair (again), she doesn’t condone that behavior. She says it’s damaging, and she says it’s not the solution to their problem. But she also says that “moralizing” doesn’t leading to understanding and hints that people that do are affecting airs of superiority and are bitter.

      FWIW, I think it’s pretty normal to be angry, especially in the beginning. If not for anger, a lot of us would have stayed in the intolerable situations we were stuck in. Anger was the emotion that said, “OK, this crap stops now! I am going to do what I need to do to rid myself of this person that thinks it’s OK to do this sort of thing to me’.

      I’d hate to get stuck on angry. I’d hate to get stuck in the despair that was part of the grieving too. Any of those things on a permanent or long term basis would suck.

      I vaguely remember that roller-coaster anger, deep depression, a sense that none of this was real (kind of denial), obsessively pouring over events as if I was going to figure out how to either live my life, fix her, or un-break what was repeatedly and permanent broken. It just sucked.

      But you get up, you take care of business, and you go on, and eventually it sinks in, and you learn what you need to learn; people should not do this kind of crap to their spouses, but some people will, and they will be certain that’s the path to “happiness”, and you can argue with them until you are blue-in-the-face about what leads to real contentment, and it probably won’t do any good (especially if this is part of a pattern for them).

      I think she’s right, actually, about one thing: sometimes folks who do this crap really don’t like who they are, and sometimes they are really trying to change that by pursuing externalities. Good luck dealing with somebody who thinks you are responsible for their happiness/contentment though, and it doesn’t excuse a damn thing, and they are still a poor risk going forward.

  • Dear Esther:

    It’s never “just infidelity” or a “meaningless affair.”

    It is not meaningless when you expose your spouse to STDs. It’s not fun to discover that you’ve HPV–even one of the non-cancerous strains–when you’ve had only one sexual partner. That your spouse decided to put your body at risk shows that it’s not the affair that’s meaningless, but you–your health and safety.

    It is never meaningless when your spouse spends money on the AP. That is money that could be used towards the mortgage, the car, the kids, or–and this is a shocker–to spend some quality romantic time with the spouse!

    It’s not “just” infidelity. It’s also the lies and deception. When your spouse calls you on your wedding anniversary to tell you that they’re running a bit late at work and will pick you up for dinner 30 minutes later than planned–and you discover they’ve been having an intimate tete-a-tete at the local coffee shop–you realize that they make a special effort to lie.

    And the other thing is this: to whom is the cheater lying? To the Schmoopie, when the texts are filled with how awful their marriage is? Or to the spouse, when the cheater tells the spouse how much the spouse is loved, etc.? The fact is that the cheater uses both the Schmoopie and the spouse.

    If this seems to be narcissistic, it’s because cheating is a narcissistic act. The cheater doesn’t have to have a full-fledged personality disorder to engage in narcissistic behavior. Once you realize that, then you realize that an affair–far from being meaningless–sends a clear message that the spouse no longer matters as a human being.

    So I call bullshit.

  • Let me see “beyond my ex’s infidelity” was a family destroyed, money (college funds) and savings stolen, children abandoned, a life’s work (28 year “relationship,” 20 years married) undone, a financial future annihilated, a house and the twenty acres it stood on foreclosed (easily affordable mortgage payment, but not so much when a spouse’s affair partner becomes more important than his own family’s expenses). A life story a lie, for the spouse and the children he blew up. Starting over with a credit history that affects the jobs you qualify for. Being in debt because in the two years leading up to dday ex was setting his new life and love up to match our standard of living. Children who are just beginning to become young adults but who now realize that someone you love most can betray you. In small, big, and meaningful ways. Ask my kids how their important celebrations (birthdays, graduation from high school and then college, holidays) are not as important as the guy attending with his new family in tow. My kids are devastated and are struggling with all the shit their dad continues to throw their way. Try being the sane parent, day in and day out. Hey I would have happily divorced his greatness BEFORE all those great memories of our last years together. So many secrets. So many lies. It gives all those family memories a new slant. The best thing about our divorce is that I no longer have someone telling me I am crazy, and I am no longer spackling and telling myself this marriage seems “off.” Oh and let’s not forget those doctors visits. And discovering the HIV test dated two years before you learned of his affair. Piece of cake. I wish my ex the best, and Schmoopie too, on their road to self actualization. No matter who they hurt.

    • “It gives all those family memories a new slant.”
      After almost 35 years, I feel that my memories are so torn apart that they are nonexistent. I am numb to the past.
      Self actualization= His path of destruction.

  • I haven’t read any posts yet, but want to say this (for Esther’s benefit) while it is still with me.

    Bitter? Yes….I am bitter about the experience. I’m 56 years old, and have had a life full of drama and trauma starting from childhood, and for all the things I’ve been through, infidelity damn near destroyed me. I’ve never hurt that bad, for so long. It was, hands down, the most painful thing I’ve ever endured.

    But I have moved on, and feel nothing but indifference toward the chap. Most of bitterness comes from people like Esther who clearly have NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT!!!!!

    I got back to me (despite him doing everything he could do to ensure otherwise) and am happier and more content than I have ever been. I’m damn proud to have not only survived, but thrived. Esther would probably frame that as “it was good for me because it made me stronger” or “I should thank him for cheating on me because my life is better now”.

    • Yeah, like I am so thankful I got my legs blown off in a war because I discovered how good I was at painting pictures with a brush between my teeth. (At least something like this would have been done by a stranger & was in a war therefore known dangerous circumstance)
      Good work doing the work to get to this place Einstein.

    • “It was, hands down, the most painful thing I’ve ever endured.”

      DITTO.

      I understand that widowhood is less painful. At least there’s public sympathy and support for the loss and a tender recognition that you’re going through hell.

      A buddy of mine lost his wife to cancer the same month I found out about the first affair. He got cards, well-wishes, time-off from work, even a life- and mortgage-insurance payout. I was so ashamed of being cuckolded, I told no one…not even my siblings. I went to work every day a wreck until I was finally let go (after 23 years of excellent performance…top of my career). I lost my house, car, and summer home.

      I had no support network and figure most of my chumpedness out on my own.
      When I found CL, everything click!

      • I nearly lost my job….it’s hard to be that devastated and go to work like nothing happened. To this day, my intellectual function is affected….I’m not nearly as sharp as I once was. Age and infidelity are such a shitty combination.

          • Well said, Dan. I am told to get over it. But had he died, my 20+ relationship would be mourned and I would be supported in that mourning.

            He might be a cheater, but I am mourning my losses, and I have to do it alone and in silence.

            • I feel for you Patsy, ANR, and Einstein. The sting is so much more potent when our ablitity to recover from loss is handicapped by age, reduced social contact, stress-related illnesses, and financial ruin.

              Einstein’s comment, “Age and infidelity are such a shitty combination” is bang-on. At 55, I too feel cheated by a 32-year marriage. I’m rebuilding and plan on living to 120 to make up for the setback. (Not joking.)

    • “have had a life full of drama and trauma starting from childhood, and for all the things I’ve been through, infidelity damn near destroyed me. I’ve never hurt that bad, for so long. It was, hands down, the most painful thing I’ve ever endured.”

      thanks for telling it like it really is. Nothing hurts like narcissistic abuse. It’s because it is personal, and they are on the inside. Nobody can EVER hurt me like this again. It is simply not possible.

      • Patsy, these could be my words. You would think after life’s’ many tragedies & crazy hurdles I would be an Olympic champ at overcoming adversity….but this really tore me into tiny pieces and spit me out. In aviation they call it a tailspin. It is not JUST the lies but the CONTINUED LYING that is so frightening!! Here you thought you knew this person & suddenly it is like an alien takeover of their body! Who is this asshole that looks just like my wife/husband/committed partner? I tell you I came close to being a “committed partner” but not in a good way. My biggest crime was I kept TRYING to believe him. I now understand the “skein of fuckedupness” & it had a chokehold on me. If I could just “figure it out.” But the truth is why figure it out when they care this little? Chump Lady is so right about this.

  • Dear Esther,

    Virtually every kind of mental health professional is ethically and often legally bound by a duty of “fidelity” to every single patient they treat (see, for instance, the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics). For example, a therapist is generally prohibited from taking information provided by a patient in a confidential setting and conveying it secretly to third parties who could profit by that information. Similarly, if you as a therapist have sex with a patient of yours, you stand a good change of losing your license.

    Do you feel bound by such a duty of fidelity to your patients? Do you feel excused from this ethical duty provided you feel strong enough “existential conflicts,” a “desire to reconnect with lost parts of yourself,” or “yearings and loss” (reasons you’ve given to justify marital affairs)? Do expect your licensing board would see it that way?

    If you don’t feel bound by a duty of fidelity to your patients, please let me know in writing so the appropriate professional and legal authorities can be alerted. If so, please explain how your duty of fidelity to a stranger is more sacred than my ex-wife’s duty of fidelity to me, her husband of 22 years by a Catholic marriage that produced two children and included a complete intertwining of our emotional, physical, familial, and financial lives over more than two decades.

    I’m kinda curious.

      • “Similarly, if you as a therapist have sex with a patient of yours, you stand a good change of losing your license.

        Do you feel bound by such a duty of fidelity to your patients? Do you feel excused from this ethical duty provided you feel strong enough “existential conflicts,” a “desire to reconnect with lost parts of yourself,” or “yearings and loss” (reasons you’ve given to justify marital affairs)? Do expect your licensing board would see it that way?

        If you don’t feel bound by a duty of fidelity to your patients, please let me know in writing so the appropriate professional and legal authorities can be alerted. If so, please explain how your duty of fidelity to a stranger is more sacred than my ex-wife’s duty of fidelity to me, her husband of 22 years by a Catholic marriage that produced two children and included a complete intertwining of our emotional, physical, familial, and financial lives over more than two decades.”

        Not gonna lie, it’d be kinda fun to tweet that comment to her and see how she responds…CL? 😉

  • Let’s do a small dissection on Esther. She has inflated her academic credentials, uses $10 words when $3 words will do in order to impress and, she hopes, intimidate and when challenged, she responds patronizingly and condescendingly. She uses double-speak and circular logic in order to get you to believe that the piss falling on your head is actually rain. She also appears to be a legend in her own mind. Sounds like Esther might be pretty high up on the narcissism scale. The reference to her relationship with the holocaust survivors set off a lot of alarm bells. To me, that indicated an attempt to shift attention away from her self-aggrandizing and to neutralize any criticism by portraying herself as aligned with an injured or oppressed group. How can she be accused of having a lack of compassion, empathy or of having compromised moral integrity when she is aligned with holocaust survivors?

    Cheaters are not some poor, misunderstood, maligned and oppressed group that need people to champion their cause and make excuses for their low morals, lack of integrity and weak character. They are not looking for self-actualization and the only thing they are “exuberant” about is betraying their Chump. Cheaters are to intimate relationships what serial killers are to hitchhikers and pedophiles are to children. The mental, emotional and financial devastation they leave in their wake can be compared to carpet bombing of the family and the relationship. The destruction is wide-spread, complete and leaves long-lasting wounds and deep scars.

    At her best, Esther is a misery pimp. At her worst, she is a soulless, conscienceless ass.

    • WOW Chump Princess, great post! I LOVED “Cheaters are to intimate relationships what serial killers are to hitchhikers and pedophiles are to children.” I guess we could call it the “A” bomb. (adultery) Or “C” bomb if you like.

  • Sure, we had some problems. Every suggestion I put out there to solve those problems was met with “no that isn’t going to work.” And, I got told that I “needed to think about what I had done to make him cheat.” Seriously? Then, because he is exxxxtra special, he wanted to come back and commit to a reconciliation. When asked if I was committed to a reconciliation, I informed him that I was committed to a dialog about reconciliation (I’d been reading CL by that point, and my radar was up). Two very short months later, OW has moved across the country to move in with him. Huh. So much for the reconciliation. Anyway, I’m with the rest of you chumps. I don’t believe this drivel. Also, when I found the texts, OW was very understanding if he wanted to work on OUR marriage. I tell you, these two are some kind of awesome! (NOT)

    • Ain’t no fool’s back-up plan. OW is the boobie prize now. Oh, what a lucky thing.

      But you’re the winner here!

  • Chump Lady – you were so polite to just say “bite me”. To Esther, I say, “Go Fuck Yourself!”

    My ex’s? Neither of them ever admitted to cheating, but they did. Meaningless? Never. That shit can’t happen. Well, I suppose it’s always meaningless for a sociopathic narcissistic cheater. But I don’t give a gnat’s ass what it means to the cheater.

    On the other hand – aren’t all affairs meaningless? It isn’t the affair per say – it’s the lying, the disrespect, the aftermath, and the devastation that have meaning. I remove power from the affair.

    First ex did burn down my house, thinking I was in bed asleep when he did it. Thanks a lot for the PTSD, jerkwad. Oh, but that goes beyond. Uh-huh. WTF ever. Second ex was my highschool sweetheart, 15 years together, thought he was my best friend. Fairy tale, right? Wrong. Cheating, lying, manipulative bastard.

    Infidelity is a tidal wave of horrific pain. It is sleepless nights and days without food that doesn’t come back up. It is life-altering. It is a mind fuck.

    GFY, Esther.

      • I’m a natural. Ever since I broke out of my shell (about 50 years ago), I’ve been incorrigible. This blog just allows me to be myself. Hope nobody gets butt-hurt.

  • Ok Esther, what about my ex? Poor baby cheated on me for the vast bulk of our 25 year marriage with two “co-workers,” and when I caught him blithely left advising me he had decided he would marry one of them anyhow. Her husband had to DNA test their youngest son before divorcing her.

    My children do not speak to their father, not even my 14 year old who has not seen his father in 3 years. I am now remarried to a wonderful man, but the pain of the years I wasted on this cheater and was fooled by him and his AP’s will probably never fully leave me. And worse yet is seeing the pain it has caused my children, which is near unbearable. But hey, he was self-actualizimg, right? He may as well have lit a match or two and torched our house, because it seemed that in an instant not only our future but everything we “knew” of as our past had simply vanished.

  • God, I love this site! Another take-no-prisoners response from Chumplady.com. Just love how clearly Chumplady.com gets an incredibly accurate “bullshit measurement” of Ms. Perel. and decimates her arguments. Why is it that cheaters or their justifiers and enablers are always so full of psychobabble

    Say divorce rather than rubbish like the “dissolution of the family structure.”

  • I read Esther’s book, “Mating in Captivity” and found it interesting. I don’t agree with many of her opinions in the book although I can see how consumers found it edgy and unique. I’m sure it sold a lot of copies and was lucrative for her.

    However, Esther, despite her protestations is yet another voice suggesting that affairs are something other than a shitty life choice. You know I can dress up a piece of dog shit, serve it to you on fancy bread and suggest to you that because I’m a foodie this new dish is a yummy treat. However, I truly hope that you, as a thinking person, would look at the sandwich and say, “Gosh that smells like shit. I don’t want that.” And pass.

    The same can be said of Esther’s take on sexuality and infidelity. There will always be people who try to dress up bad behaviour as exceptional or wordsmith a catchy phrase to minimize the devastation that infidelity causes. Common sense tells us that, despite what PhDs and TED talk presenters may want to share with us, we as compassionate human beings know that cheating and lying are just plain wrong.

    Esther I’ll share this with you; once I learned about his cheating I kicked that asshole out. I didn’t waste a second longer investigating his “exuberance” or “meaningless fling.” I didn’t really give a shit what it was about from his end of things, I needed to protect myself. Oddly enough I prefer men who keep their vows, don’t actively seek to harm my emotional well being and subject me to STDs. Funny that.

    Wanna know what “exuberance” really is? Leaving a cheater.

  • Infidelity in inexcusable. Period. Who cares what flavour it is? Only chumps can understand the “twitchiness” CL describes. We lived it and we unite, because we KNOW how it feels to be a chump. Period.

  • Well, It’s past midnight on the east coast of the US, 309 messages on the thread, and I still don’t see the presence of the swingy, enlightened Ms. Esther.

    Guess she couldn’t face and Ice-cold bucket of reality.

    • Probably doesn’t want to dignify any of this “bitterness” with a response.

      Most days, since the split, I feel like I’ve been released from a life of indentured servitude. It’s fucking great.

        • Frankly, I’m looking forward to that. I did and do a lot for my cheater. He repaid my love, kindness, and trust with cheating and betrayal. I became his servant, tending to his life’s needs while he went off to have fun with Schmoopie.

          All I want now is freedom.

      • I get why people like Esther go on about “moralizing,” because indeed it can be insufferable and superior if someone on the outside of a situation gets on the moral high horse and points out a person’s flaws and bad behavior. However. And it is a big “however,” it is not “moralizing” when you are the victim of betrayal to point out that your partner broke your marriage vows. Had sex with someone else. Spent hours calling and texting and meeting up. Discussed your personal life and marital confidences with the affair partner(s). Gave you an STD. Ignored family events and kids’ activities. Spent family resources on the affair and/or affair partner. Risked the family’s finances by having an affair with someone at work and risking dismissal. Cheated in the marital bed. Picked fights to create excuses for infidelity, e.g., “she’s always angry.” Lied. Created confusion and deception to cover up the affair(s). Went from having sex with the AP to having sex with you, over and over. Brought the AP into family life, under the guise of “friendship,” neighborliness, professional life, the church, the kids’ soccer team, etc. Sent and received sexually explicit pictures by cell or email.

        I could go on, but even Esther might get the point here. It is not “moralizing” to call this behavior out for what it is. Victims of such abusers must be able to identify what has happened to them and name it for what it is or there is no healing. Clearly, Esther’s art therapy degree doesn’t cover PTSD or recovery from abuse. And until she goes back and gets that Ph.D in clinical psychology, specializing in recovery from abuse, she ought to shut her pie hole and stop judging people who have been betrayed, lied to, conned.

        • “Victims of such abusers must be able to identify what has happened to them and name it for what it is or there is no healing.”

          ^^This^^

  • My cheater is “meaningless”. Or maybe “pointless” or “worthless” is a better word! His “affair”, well that was just evidence of that meaningless, pointless, worthless …..suckiness! May he rot in peace!

  • CL, Perel was patronizing and I don’t like her philosophy of life or marriage.

    I also think she has a point, although I don’t fully agree with it. Your ex was abusive in many ways, he didn’t just cheat on you. Many of the people on this site have had similar experiences, but then this site probably doesn’t attract anyone whose partner cheated on them once, confessed, and was truly sorry.

    I think where you’re right is that affairs seem to go with other bad behavior. People lie to cover them up. They abandon their spouses, They cheat their spouses financially.

    You also do a great job of showing the reality of a lot of cheating. People can get STDs or make babies. It’s not glamorous; they’re texting pictures in the bathroom.

    It’s hard to figure out what it means to talk about an affair that goes beyond infidelity and one that doesn’t. Are we excluding all affairs where someone lies to the partner and makes them feel crazy? Do we exclude people who are sex addicts or go to prostitutes? Is it just an affair so long as you don’t give the OW/OM any money? Is the problem when the cheater likes the OW/OM? when they discuss marital problems? If the cheater is careless with birth control and makes a baby, does that go beyond infidelity?

    How common is this affair that doesn’t go beyond infidelity to other bad behaviors?

    I think Perel has to answer these questions (although I doubt she will).

    • Diana L — I acknowledge that my ex was a particular flavor of fucked up. Probably (my best guess) a sociopath. Shrinks said borderline, narcissist, “deep hostility toward women,” etc. Anyway, he wasn’t right in the head. However, on paper, he looked VERY normal. Civil servant. Three advanced degrees. Security clearance. Home owner, steady employment. Etc.

      So, using my own spectrum, yeah, I tilt him way over to the freak side, versus the one-night stand, or exit affair cheater (all however, horrible).

      That said — I don’t think my experience is exceptional, nor does it go “beyond infidelity” whatever that means. I write about cheating. I don’t write very much about domestic abuse, although those worlds certainly overlap. I’ve advised people here to get PFAs.

      Point I made in my article was, however, that I really had a very light sentence as a chump. In and out in under two years of marriage. Yes, my ex had rage issues.

      Does that make him less damaging than the more “normal” cheaters on this board? No rage but 22 years of cheating (my husband’s story)? Getting abandoned while pregnant? Or with small children? Or a brief fling but you get an STD? Or a “loving” husband who is the picture of family life who sees prostitutes on the side and spends marital resources?

      How do you parse this shit out without getting into some kind of pain Olympics?

      IMO, cheating is narcissistic ACTS. Whether this is an aberration of your character or you’re a disordered POS (my ex) — you can’t cheat and dress this shit up as “self actualization” — it’s wrong. Period.

      And ETA — the rare cheaters who post on here (one just did today in Untangling the Skein) — acknowledge this. They did it because they WANTED to and didn’t have a lot of respect for their partner. End of story. Buck stops with them.

      • These are great points. My experience with Jackass was clearly an exit affair, although he wanted to keep the door open to come back. But it was the gaslighting, etc. that pointed me to all the spackling I did and made me re-think many of the stories he told me about his life that revealed, once I put down the spackle, his in a disordered POS. So it seems to me that looking at the behavior, primarily, is the key. The behavior is entitled, narcissistic, selfish; the lying, cheating and conning are destructive of character on their own, but magnified when in the context of betraying those closest to them. And when we start looking at what we do know about them, very often we see this behavior is lifelong and linked inextricably to who they are. That’s not moralizing; that’s using discernment.

      • My first XW: College grad, magna cum law school grad, daughter of a prominent surgeon, nice family, etc. How can you know? Who would have believed she would be hooking up with strangers she would meet in bars.

      • Do you think that post from the cheater is sincere or is he here trying to get material to further manipulate his STBX?

  • I wonder if Esther is willing to answer a few questions?
    1. How should a betrayed spouse (chump) feel when they learn of the infidelity, how should they respond?
    Let me guess, we should embrace the cheater in a firm, loving hug and tell them how proud we are they have embarked on “self-actualization”. Speak no words of the pain and devastation they have caused to our unenlightened psyches.

    2. How many times has she been the other woman or the cheater in a relationship. How many times has she been cheated on in a committed long-term relationship?

    3. How does she define betrayal, and how does she believe a couple should deal with it?

    4. Why is it acceptable for people who have vowed to be monogamous (emotionally and sexually) to dishonor those vows without discussing it with their partner first? Why is she telling people who choose to betray that it is acceptable and not telling them to be upfront and honest with the person they supposedly love above all others?

    5. What does she have to say about the fact that most sexual infidelity does not include safe sex, and therefore, most betrayed spouses are at risk of infection without their knowledge?

    I am all for sexual awareness in life, but it will never be acceptable when it comes at the emotional and physical expense of another person. What will she say next “Rapists are not bad people, they are merely looking for self actualization and erotic awareness”?

    At what point will psycho babble stop excusing bad behavior and holding people accountable for their actions? People like Esther disgust me!

  • Esther sounds like she is trying to assuage her own conscience.

    There is a great image of a puppy who messed with a porcupine and was shot by the quills in the face, nose and mouth. This is exactly how I felt when I discovered my SO secret sex life….it should be our poster dog.