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Dear Chump Lady, How can I get my chumpy friend to wise up?

hastyDear Chump Lady,

I just wanted to get your advice or insight on what you would say to this extremely naive, gullible chump.

She and the cheater have been together for over seven years. She has basically raised his 9 year old, as he is your classic liar, manipulator, cheater, addict, abuser (mental, verbal and I personally believe physical too). His behaviour over the years has been deplorable and she should have kicked his sorry, cheating ass to the curb eons ago.

However, until recently she could never actually “prove” the cheating and to her “proving it” seemed to be extremely important — even though anyone with half a brain cell KNEW he was and I’m positive has been for years, with MANY people over time. Well she finally, definitively, caught him — no hiding it, denying it, lying about any more — he was CAUGHT red handed. So obviously the shit hit the fan and her world fell apart. Finally his little cheating Utopia was crumbling around him and he had to “fess up”.

Well, unfortunately she took this ‘admission’ and his apologies (which I believe was nothing but GINR) as gospel and decided to forgive and forget. Oh did I mention that the affair she ‘caught’ him having, had gone on for 1.5 years?!!

All I hear is “but I love him” (gag, barf, choke). She had told me previously that he “doesn’t want to marry” her… but guess what? After he realized that he could potentially lose his live-in cook, cleaner, child care giver, and after he cried, apologized, wallowed in his self-pity and misery, what does he do? HE PROPOSED!!!!!

We are talking only WEEKS after being caught! Not only did she accept, but another couple of weeks later guess what happens? She gets PREGNANT… with TWINS!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t believe for a millisecond that this was accidental. I think HIS “trap” to keep her from leaving was to propose and HER “trap” was to make him straighten up by getting pregnant. All of this has taken place since May. 

I’m at my wits end. I don’t want to abandon her because I believe she truly suffers from battered woman syndrome. She’s already lost friendships over her decision to stay with him. But I can’t stomach what’s going to happen once these precious babies arrive. I just CAN’T believe that he’s ever going to “see the light” and become a decent human being. Not possible.

What would you say to her? Help!!


Dear Smartenupalready,

Well, I’d direct her to this blog for starters. She could read stories here of exactly how it turns out when you breed with a cheating fucktard. But that would be assuming she wants insight or help. Her actions say what she really wants is another helping of this creep’s “love.”

I’m sorry, Smart. There is nothing more painful than watching someone you love behave self-destructively. As we say over and over again here — you don’t control that. You only control yourself. So you have to do the cost/benefit analysis. Is staying friends with this person (whatever else you get from this relationship other than a front row seat to her drama) sustainable in the face of the grief and upset of her crap life decisions? You CANNOT save her. She has to save herself. There is nothing magic I can say, or you can say, that will make her see sense.

Look, if I had that particular “Abracadabra” to make people behave, do you think I’d be blogging? No, I’d retire with a bazillion dollars and would’ve achieved world peace by now.

That said, hey, I’m a chump. I try to save people from their idiocy every single day. Having been a huge idiot myself, I now devote my life to standing at the sidelines yelling at other people: “DON’T BE A CHUMP!!!”

So I’ll try to help you with this the best I can.

I have a lot of sympathy for unknowing chumps. I don’t like the judgment of others that We Knew, or Had an Arrangement, or that somehow our inadequacies Drove the Cheater to It. No, to be a chump means you got PLAYED. Your love and trust were abused.

BUT, once you find out and you stick around for MORE of that shit? Now I’m judging you. You’ve just volunteered for more abuse. This person showed you who they are, and you can either choose to believe it, or stick your head in the sand and deny it, or cover up the stench with instantly conferred, unearned “forgiveness.”

And listen, just because I’m judging this idiocy, doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. Painfully, I do. I’ve written about why we stay stuck with cheaters. Let me untangle your friend’s chumpy skein for you a bit.

1) She doesn’t want your insight. She sees but she disagrees. Is your friend naive and gullible? Or does she just disagree with your assessment that this guy sucks? She just caught him red-handed cheating. That proof that she was waiting for was just handed to her, but apparently she still needs a few more disasters to connect the dots. (Thus today’s cartoon.) You see an abuser. She disagrees. She sees a broken man who really loves her but just needs help.

2) She’s got a fucked up idea of what love is. She’ll accept his abuse as the price of admission for his “love.” Somewhere along the line she’s learned to make her needs really small and feels that no one will love her unless she is Of Use. Thus the cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, and general lopsided, un-reciprocal nature of this relationship. She’s pick me dancing. She thinks love is jumping through flaming hoops for people in order to be found worthy. She gets a feeling of being needed and indispensable. She also feels a (false) sense of control. I can COMPEL people to love me by being Of Use. Then she’ll feel resentful when that doesn’t happen, and rewarded when a tiny kibble is thrown her way. She’ll just try harder. (Maybe I’ll get ANOTHER KIBBLE!) It’s codependent. At some level she’s used to this shit.

There is also brain science behind why this intermittent reward love is addictive.

3) She’s making decisions based in fear. Not just fear of him, but fear of who she is without him. What her identity is, how she will manage, how she’ll face being alone. She’s convinced herself that being with Mr. Douchebag is better than the nameless dread of The Other Side. That’s why this blog might help her — we’re on the other side and it’s lovely and sane over here. Jump in!

4) Her values are out of whack. Chumps don’t like to hear this, but frankly, a lot of why we keep hanging on to cheaters has to do with our own judgments of others and our values. Oh, I don’t want to be one of those Pathetic Divorced People! (Yeah, you’d rather be one of those pathetic people hanging on to a loser.) She thinks she’s nothing without the public “commitment” of a cheater. Other chumps want the lifestyle, can’t give up the perks of being the number one satellite to the narcissist. They don’t know what they stand for, so they’ll let this larger than life asshole take the place of where their Self should be.

And THAT is where you question her. These aren’t magic words, but they can help nudge her towards understanding.

“Is this relationship acceptable to YOU?”

“What do you value? Is this the kind of relationship you want?”

“No, don’t talk to me about potential and what ifs — I’m talking RIGHT NOW. Who he IS. What your life is — is this ACCEPTABLE to you?”

“Can you imagine a relationship in which you are cherished and respected?”

“Is it okay with you that this person is making unilateral decisions about your health and welfare?”

Put HER decisions back on HER. Point out to her that she has AGENCY. She doesn’t have to take shit. And if she takes shit? She CHOSE IT. Of course, she doesn’t see it that way — she sees it as investing heavily in this man’s potential. He’s all very sorry and is going to Make Things Right.

You cannot help her from following the unicorn into the dark woods, Smart. You can only hope that when she has children, she’ll want better for them.

You’re a good friend, but sometimes you just have to detach with love and let the Big Bad Wolf gobble up the unicorn.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost… I am helpless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.

    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in the same place.
    But, it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes me a long time to get out.

    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in. It’s a habit.
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault. I get out immediately.

    walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    I walk down another street.”

    ― Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

  • Smartenup, I found this blog out of curiosity about the name. I stayed because I had never been able to process what happened to my brother. This blog helped.
    If nothing else get her alone, get her on the computer and tell her she has to read this blog. That sounds bossy but she needs to see just exactly what she is up against. Right now she is living in La La land. I have recommended this blog to many people out in blog land. Most do not respond but just a couple of days ago one man, whose wife cheated with two men, says this blog is too negative. One of his readers agree. Wait! What? How is this blog negative? It appears to me that it kept many Chumps from drowning in despair. As you know, when there is a contest, “you know who” always wins because every story gets better. You cannot make that shit up. It is tragic but it is also hilarious.
    Your friend needs to see that there are many people, just like her, who, in the past, lied to themselves. It might take her a while to absorb what she has read but she will eventually see what her life is like. After that, if she chooses to stay there really is nothing you can do. Sometimes the need to belong supersedes any common sense.
    I just read a really good definition of a narcissist. It said that narcissists can fall in love but they don’t “do” love. They enjoy the euphoria, the adrenaline rush, the secrets and the sneaking around. What they can’t do is the day today living that most of us manage just fine. They can’t rub your back when you’re having a baby or hold your head when you’re sick at the toilet, or make you a special meal just because. That is beyond their capabilities. People who cheat routinely really do not have what it takes to maintain a long-term relationship. Your friend has not come to the conclusion yet that the man she loves cannot love her the same way. She might also be very bonded to the child and the idea of giving that up might be more than she can handle. It is so sad when women use pregnancy in hopes of settling a narcissist down. All it does is put children in the middle of ongoing chaos that never goes away.
    Let us hope that she will listen to you, reads this blog, thinks long and hard about her decisions and finds a way to make a life away from that cheater.

    • Let Go, you’re awesome.

      When I first stumbled upon this website, even though I knew my marriage was over, I found it a bit overwhelming. Not for long, just a week or two, but I kept finding my way back here and then I stayed. For me I wouldn’t have described it as “too negative” but “too intense.” Now, however, I not only feel it’s not too intense, it’s just right.

      I think that when you can admit that infidelity is one of the very worst forms of abuse, you realize that no language is too intense to use to try to help others get away from it. It’s like being shaken into reality — it’s necessary for some of us.

      You’re a good friend to lead others to this site.

      • Thank you, ML. My brother had no one but me, who lived a very long way away with young children. I was also so happy she was out of his life that I didn’t “hear” the unimaginable pain he was going through. He would have been here every day if CL was up and running. This blog is the most positive, supportive, IMPORTANT one on the net.

    • This site is only “negative” to cheaters, affair partners and their apologists (who are probably one of the above). To us chumps, it’s an initially harsh reality check, then as many have already said, a lifesaver and therefore a “positive.”

      • I have to say that I was a participant in another blog which will remain nameless. It was so harsh, people regulafly left after being flamed. And I mean flamed. The regulars there were brutal. I exited after I got a thrashing, that in my PTSD emotional state about did me in. I floundered around for a while, read a lot, but then I happened Chumplady. What a difference. I was aprehensite, and lurked for a while. I realized tat everyone here was in the same boat. And such understanding and compassion I had not seen anywhere else. Yes ya’ll call it like it is. And the anger and hurt caused by cheaters in our lives is very visible. And people tell it like it is. And it is sometimes funny, painful, and heartbreaking. But NO ONE flames or shames anyone. I applaud Chumplady for such a great place to come. Safe. Compassionte and yes loving people helping each other through a hell on earth that no one understands unless they have been there. This is the BEST site for support, reality checks when needed and a good laugh or two.

        As a sidenote, the webmaster of the of the other blog saw my initial post. She made sure that I knew she knew I was here. Said she hoped the I was happy here. WTF. Anyway, cudos to all of Chump nation. I have felt nothing but joy that I found a place with great advice and kind caring people. Thanks ya’ll. 🙂

          • For me, X’s cheating was the final straw. He had treated me like the help throughout our entire marriage. Worse, I LET HIM. I was less than nothing to him, inhuman. When I discovered his cheating and embezzlement of our family funds (those which were supposed to help our kids get to college), it was something I could no longer sugar coat or disguise as something other than the selfish, inconsiderate, thoughtless, mean thing that it was. I was raised to keep my needs small, to not rock the boat lest the captain make me walk the plank. When I was butt dialed by him during a tryst, I chose to abandon ship. I decided I’d rather take my chances in the water than live with a shark.

            I know this is duplicitous, but X’s cheating finally freed me from a lifetime of feeling I deserved to be treated as worthless. His ultimate “fuck you you’re nothing to me” was my “get out of jail” card. I’ll never forgive, and I’ll never thank the bimbo for freeing me from a loser. What I will do is move FORWARD to a life that no longer demands I settle for anything less than what I deserve. I know now that I deserve to be happy. It took 53 years, but for this knowledge about myself, I am thankful.

          • Yep. That’s what I thought too Nord. It was strange. It was my first post that Tracy posted as a chump letter that she emailed me about. The ladies on that site are tough. I hated to see new people post and get so ripped up they apologised and faded away, or just outright left. I’ve seen many newbies post here, and the people who have been here the longest give great advice and just the right amount of Chump slap ya upside the head! I really have come to rely on ya’ll and I feel a true kinship here. It’s awesome. 🙂

            • Irish–I’m really curious why people would verbally assault other people who had been abused? Was a Reconciliation site where the other posters jumped down your throat if you mentioned the possibility of NOT reconciling? Or for refusing to admit that your cheater’s behavior was because you were a bad spouse? Or for using bad language (thank goodness that’s not true here or many of us would have been blocked ages ago!)?

              Most of the reconciliation sites I visited before happening on CL were supportive, even though everyone seemed unhappy even years after reconciliation (which is what finally tripped me over to the “lose a cheater, gain a life” perspective). I can’t imagine why a victim of infidelity would attack another victim of infidelity for any reason whatsoever.

              • Tempest, it was more along the lines of if you did not do what they suggested, and still complained about your situation, or, if you were with a cheater and did not file right away, or kick them out,you would get flamed. I am not against some colorful language 🙂 but they took it to the extreme. If you posted something that pissed the group off, then they would kick you off for a while and have a vote to see if you were allowed back. I was kicked off for a while, because my husband managed to see something that I had posted. It was my BAD, he showed up unexpectedly, and I had minimized the site, but he clicked on my post while ”downloading some pictures for 4H” I was standing right there, and had my back turned. He clicked on my site, and read my post. I know because my son saw him do it. So, I posted on that site that he had seen my post. What followed was ”how could you be so fucking stupid!!?!?!” ”Do you have any idea what you’ve done??? You have compromised our whole site!” ” nobody is sare anymore because of YOU, you stupid stupid woman!!!”I was suspended until they had a vote. I was allowed to stay, but it was never the same. I felt very unsafe and hurt. So I just faded away. There were some nice people on there, but the clique was ruthless. New posters would come on , post, get flamed by the knowing ones and then they were gone. It was a very bitter site. Here it is so different. I really floundered after that, and was feeling so isolated. And I’m no shrinking violet. But I was looking for support and encouragement. The day I found Chumplady and posted my story, was the day stbx broke into my house and was violent towards me. He went to jail. I found Chumplady. God is good. I needed you all.

                I dont know why the site is so bitter. It just is. I am glad I’m not a part of it anymore. Them kicking me off was a blessing. 🙂

              • Tempest, I don’t know if you will see this but I feel like I have to respond. I am a member of the site Irish is referring to which is the Sisterhood of Support. She is, of course, entitled to her opinion but my experience there is completely different from what she described. It is a site for women only and ones who have been in relationships with “sex addicts” (not that we believe it’s really an addiction but the term is used so women can easily find it). They literally saved my life. I found my here to Chump Nation because they recommend this site to newbies over and over again. Many of the members of that site post here, some you probably know well. It is not a public site as this one is, it is a members only, highly secured site which is done for the protection of the members many of whom have extremely abusive partners. Security for our members is of utmost importance. When someone carelessly lets a SA see the site where he potentially has access to names and other personal information the members get very upset and scared. It is posted in various places on the web site that it is against the rules and cause for termination of membership if anything other than your own posts is shared with an SA.

                I’m not going to address Irish’s personal experience on the site although I remember it well, because I’m sure I would be accused of flaming her (again). I know that she was well liked there and I think she misinterpreted concern for disdain. Whatever, I wish her well. We did what we could to help her in a tough situation but she obviously sees it differently. As far as insisting that women must divorce immediately? Totally not true. I’ve been on the site for over two years and just recently filed for divorce. A number of women (just like here) are still with their partners for various reasons. Again, Irish is entitled to her opinion but I wanted to give another viewpoint because the Sisterhood is so important to me.

              • Thank you, Daisy, for letting me know about the Sisterhood site; we all need as many sources for healing as we can. My case is a little different from most people’s on CL as I’m not dealing with a current affair or the “pick me” dance. My husband’s affair was 8 years ago (I just found out about it as it was a professor-grad student relationship, and I found the notes he prepared to talk to the sexual harassment officer when someone told the university that a previous student had left the program many years ago after my H broke up with her. In his field, many cases of sexual harassment, even years out, are being investigated because of a recent high-profile case in Florida). My H may have had other dalliances, but no other affairs have come to light. I am divorcing him both because infidelity is a deal breaker for me (even 8 years ago, though my pain at its discovery is very fresh & raw), but also because of long-term, sporadic emotionally abusive behavior. Thus, my trauma has been chronic rather than acute, and I am so grateful for the support, and even friendship, received on the CL site. I will keep the other site in mind should I need it.

                Hugs your way!

              • What site are we talking about? And as far as the cliques on sites – it’s all very high school and I see it everywhere. Just ignore and move on, although that’s hard when you’re already falling apart and looking for any kind of support you can find.

                I do know one site where they get very irritated by swearing. I think I ripped out a really legendary string of naughty words and one point and was severely reprimanded, mainly because I was so bloody clever that I didn’t trip the censor. A proud moment in my internet history. 🙂

              • Hi Tempest, I’m glad you saw my post! I totally understand about the long-term but sporadic emotional abuse you mentioned. It’s very subtlety is what makes it so abusive. I’m glad you’re getting out. My first DDay was in 2008 when I found out about an affair. After DDay #2 I found out that the progression was porn-strippers (or maybe hookers)-affair-affair #2 (the one I found out about)-more strippers-affair #3 WITH a stripper. I’m still trying to absorb the concept that my entire 32 years with this man was an illusion. It’s very strange. When it’s time to move on and heal yourself, the pain is always acute, regardless of when the damage was done.

                Hugs to you too!

              • I know, Daisy, it’s like you wake up one day to discover you’ve been residing with one of those pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers–they look like the person you married, but it turns out they are empty and devoid of the good will and morals you thought they had. That you had to deal with strippers/hookers is a sordid deal; I’m sorry (and hope you emerged STD-free).

                I have been a basket case sporadically throughout this period (panic attacks, long crying spells), but also pretty determined since D-day. He helped me by failing every task I set up for him, as if he was programmed for Imitation Naugahyde Remorse. I just let the final ball drop today by saying I would get the settlement to him in January after the holidays, and didn’t leave any room for further engagement (after 2 weeks of NC, I think he thought I would calm down about the infidelity and he could come back home for Christmas). I still wake in the middle of the night, and images of his infidelity are the first thing that pop into my head. Let’s hope they are replaced with visions of sugar plums soon!

        • Irish, I think I may have been following your former blog. Same here… too harsh, and no room for Chumps in limbo. I agree with you about this blog. I’m not at the same place as most Chumps, but getting there… baby steps. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m insecure. I was married at 18 and have never been with anybody besides my husband. I only have 3 years until my last child is out of high school, and I’m desperately trying to “find myself” (although I hope to leave before then). I truly appreciate all the chumps and CL for cheering on the sidelines without casting judgement.

          • Hear! Hear! Its a Journey. This is a safe haven for our hurting hearts and shattered lives. And very, very helpful to all who ask for advice.

            • I do not discuss what happened to me with many people. I am, by nature, a private person and my X’s cheating was very publicly exposed and garnered a stupid amount of media attention, which was extremely hurtful to me and my children. Because of my public work, I have never been able to truly express the pain I have been through or how I have (mostly) made it through to meh. This place has helped me so much; just the knowledge that I am not alone is a comfort. People don’t always agree here, nor should they. But everyone is kind and respectful and I feel that I am among people who truly care. CL has allowed me to share my feelings without fear of ridicule or embarassment. Perhaps the best LW can do in this situation is tell her friend she loves her, she cares about what happens to her and that she will help her leave the abusive relationship if asked… the rest isn’t in LW’s control.

          • If you are awake and alive and on the road to making your own life a happy one, you get to set your own pace. The dangers for chumps living with a cheater are hopium, spackle and genuine naugahyde remorse (which leads to hopium and spackle).

            I would say that the first year out of high school for your youngest,is not going to be an easier time for him for him to deal with parents separating or divorcing than it would be right now; whether they go to college, trade school or get a full-time job, that is a big transition year. There’s never going to be an “easy” year for your kids, even if they are near adults. So I hope you don’t put “youngest finishing HS” as a reason to wait three more years if you are unhappy. You can do what you need to do to make a happy life, one step at a time. You will get there!

  • I used to ask the question “Is his dick really all that good to put up with his crap?” You can actually observe the cogs in the brain start moving.

  • There is an article written that helped me quite a bit when I was going through something similar with a family member who was making poor decisions, and wouldn’t listen to well meaning advice. it is called ” I don’t care” by Martha Beck. Basically, it says – I love you, but I don’t care what you do – it sounds harsh& maybe it is – but I found the article (given to me by my therapist) very helpful to my mental state. I hope it helps you too! It was published in July 2011 of the oprah magazine !

      • I read it, and while I agree with detach with love, the fact is, I think it’s asking you to be inauthentic. The chump/victim feels disrespected because you’re judging their destructive choices? Well a) I don’t respect you for making those choices and b) Yes, I judge you.

        Sure, I can still care about you — but honestly, I do care what happens to people I love. I just realize I’ve got jack little control over it.

        • Hi Chump Lady – you had me at Winterthur in your previous column this week. Used to guide there on weekends for extra cash along with rearin’ the kids when we had no $$$.

          Now he’s got tons and won’t share. Settlement is still not complete. In the meantime, he spends like a fire hose pouring out at full throttle. On mistress, her adult children and my adult children, grandkids til the flood of gifts, trips and entertainment is flooding while I’m awash in debt.

          I too believe completely, that adult mature love is condional. There is a moral right and wrong on how to behave and handle ourselves. It’s called healthy maturity. Therefore, why do we play nice and eat shit sandwiches when if these people have lied cheated and stole, we don’t just call it out instead of being inauthentic and smilin’ through broken hearts? We’ve identified cheaters as vile defective muck -ups. They hurt, wrecked, destroyed. Why are we expected to be ok with the fact that our children have relationships with these hideously disordered people? Why would they want to continue such a dangerous liaison? Ugh. I’m frustrated that we have so much to bear and must also accept and even support our kids still having a relationship of any kind with liars and manipulaters! Isn’t that inauthentic? Blechhh. Just can’t get this last step on way to meh.

          • I also don’t believe you can love without caring. To love, is to care. When I stop caring about people; for me, that means I don’t love them anymore. I may like them, be ambivalent about them, or dislike them, but I definitely don’t love them.

        • “Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” These are words I was raised on and saw demonstrated by my parent’s marriage which was fraught with problems. They endured for 50+ years. I believed that love doesn’t give up! I was still quoting those words to my ex after he left and after I read his journal detailing his love for OW. It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that a core tenet of my belief system was flawed. I still think they are beautiful words, but I now think they might be referring to divine love instead of human love. I no longer believe we are expected to endure abuse. The Christian religion is always telling you to sacrifice yourself for others, so that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. The woman in this story is clearly not valuing or loving herself first. She’s terrified of being alone because she doesn’t know who she is.

          • i used to believe the same way. And it still is a good way to believe but it only works IF both of you believe that way.

            while i believe you dont give up on someone you love, even if they are making bad choices. HE believed that if you are not happy, then you can do what the fuck ever you want to do and it doesnt matter if it is wrong and hurts your partner and your children. THAT is something i could not logically get thru my head and so even thou i loved him with all my heart, i could not stop him from running off to those little hood rats that supported his stupid decisions and made him feel better for being a loser. (while i was trying to get him to see his mistakes and fix them to be a better person, silly me). i got so tired, emotional, physically, mentally, tired of having to chase after him and remind him what a good man is suppose to do, to remind him that his wife and children love and need him at home, to remind him that this too shall pass and we will be ok. it was like dealing with a child and having to explain over and over what the difference between good and bad is.

          • Lynn & MrsVain,

            Your comments inspired me to write out my own thoughts on that passage. Short version…I Corinthians 13 is not to be used to justify tolerating adultery. The Apostle Paul already told the Corinthians to expel a sexually immoral brother as well as instructed them to not even eat with a Christian in serious sin. He clearly was not talking about tolerating adultery just eight chapters later in the same letter.

            Here’s the link:

            • THank you. i dont know the bible as well as i should. i still believe that both people are needed to make the marriage work.

              i am catholic and was struggling with divorce. my priest actually told me that catholics are not against divorce, especially if the man is cheating and not holding his end of the bargain. only we can not remarry….sigh

        • When people speak of unconditional love, the onus seems to always be placed on the victim. The cheater’s love was obviously conditional – we were no long Of Use so they took their ‘love’ elsewhere. Even marriage vows set conditions – I promise this, you promise that and that will keep our love alive.

          I think unconditional love should be reserved for innocents. For children making bad decisions, for a sibling being self-destructive. Smartenup can love her friend and despise what she’s doing to herself. But continuing to love someone who has put forth a concerted effort in destroying your life and the lives of your children? That’s not love – that desperation.

      • And sometimes it’s not possible to “detach with love.” Anger evolved for a reason–to propel us to act when we are in danger, whether the danger is physical or emotional.

        Look where being reasonable and trying to forgive has led a lot of chumps–to an additional decade of emotional abuse and chumpdom. My profound anger allowed me to stop relations with my cheater immediately upon discovery, and file within 2 months. Considerably more adaptive than sitting out another few years with depression and self-loathing.

        I think anger gets a bad rap. It can be used wisely.

        • I should add that “detaching with love,” might work for normal breakups, with reasonable people–if you leave someone, of course, you should be as tactful as possible. But what works with reasonable people does not work with cheaters or people with entitlement issues.

        • Agreed. Though I think there is a third way, detaching with neither love nor anger. Perhaps, “detach with a sense of urgency from feeling threatened and creeped out.” Similar to the way you’d approach cancer surgery. I would not detach with love from my tumor, nor with anger. I’d just want to get it the hell away from me.

          Yeah, my cheating ex was like a tumor.

          • True, Nomar, that “detach with urgency but not anger” is a good place to be in for the last stage of breakup. But I’ll bet there is not a chump in the history of humankind who didn’t go through anger before they got to clinical detachment.

            The difference is that we assign intention to other people in a way we don’t to the tumor or inanimate objects. A vase falls on my head, I hurt but I’m not angry at the vase. Someone suffers a seizure & drops a vase & it falls on my head–same, I’m hurt but not angry; but if a person deliberately smashes said vase on my head, now I’m angry. I think it would be unnatural to be otherwise, and we’d have to think of cheaters as having the agency of inanimate objects to clinically detach without any anger.

            Perhaps better people than me can manage that, but I think it’s a natural response to having been the victim of a great wrong.

            • “The difference is that we assign intention to other people in a way we don’t to the tumor or inanimate objects.”

              I guess I’m an outlier in that I tend not to do this so much toward my ex. I can’t really assign intention to her because I really have no f*cking clue what she could have been thinking. It really is almost like she’s an inanimate object, or a non-sentient object, like a tumor. Or perhaps to be generous like a cat when it sees a bird or a shark when it tastes blood in the water. That is, something very low on the brain stem.

              I think sometimes we chumps project thought and intention on cheater when it isn’t truly warranted.

              • I understand that sentiment!! But I’m not willing to let my cheater off the hook with, “He couldn’t help himself; he loves p***y the way the shark loves blood.” Cheater has a frontal cortex.

              • I appreciate what both of you are saying nomar and Tempest. Anger has been my dominant emotion since D-day. I agree that cheater is accountable, unlike a shark who lives primarily by instinct.

                BTW: There is a good film about sharks at the American Museum of Natural History in NY that I saw with my son recently. The ‘take home’ message was that sharks don’t attack if they are being watched, so people can get very close to them safely if they maintain eye contact. A good analogy can be made here about cheaters and their bullshit, recognize their bullshit and you won’t be ambushed, which is why CL is so important.

                But getting back to the issue of justified anger, I realized through this debate that for me, Tempest and my sense of injustice is what feels correct, however, my anger does hold me back and connects me to cheater.

                More recently I have been thinking, so okay, he gets hit by a bus and I am really free of having to deal with him, he can no longer harm and he gets what I think he deserves—but perhaps I don’t know what real justice means in his particular life. Maybe I can protect myself and my child and do not need the anger to justify that he deserves a fate worse than death. He just does no matter how I feel.

                The anger has been eating away at ME. My anger is justified but it does not keep him accountable. He lives his life as he does and my anger makes no difference to him. So, letting go of the anger does not get him off. Thinking about him as a cancer or shark helps to realize that he is not changing or suddenly able to be different, so any explanation or contact is more pain for me. My anger will not make HIM understand that he is a shit. He thinks he’s great, so WTF does my anger do? I know the truth, he will not. No one else besides for all of you really give a shit. People want me to move on already, even the people that truly understand. Only you folks get it and online communication goes only so far. I can’t change the justice system that does not criminalize cheater deception and gaslighting as domestic violence. I can’t make a judge give me full custody if he is not dreadfully neglectful in a way I can prove–right now. So where am I with this rage I feel at being played (Oh my God, if I got an STD perhaps I would commit violence….not suggesting that at all but if I were a judge that chump would get off)

                Just thinking out loud here. Trying to get to nomar’s meh with the same feelings of “hey, he has a brain and is responsible for being human just like the rest of us” that Tempest describes, knowing that the anger is keeping me stuck by holding out for justice that is not coming in the way I can recognize.

                Letting go a bit more each day. His karma is still there, he can’t escape himself, but I can.

              • Very eloquent, Goodmazel. Yes, anger is clearly maladaptive if it is a predominant emotion from months or years after an insult. It does keep one “stuck” because it keeps you engaged with the person who harmed you, and constant high-arousal can have a very damaging effect on one’s health. But anger directly after the harm, and for as long as you need to propel yourself away, can be positive. I would be worried if someone was NOT angry at finding out about deception–it indicates a level of learned helplessness/depression that is heavily pathological.

                I cycle between anger, righteous indignation, and “he’s a loser” dismissal at/of my cheater. The anger keeps me on track getting things to my lawyer and maintaining no contact. After things are finalized, I’m hoping the more clinical view [“loser” is a diagnosis in the DSM, right? ; )] takes over as it has done with nomar.

              • FWIW, I’m not letting my cheating ex off the hook. I still think she’s a truly awful person, and I believe that despite her fucked up wiring there was an element of choice involved in her actions. It’s just that I can’t imagine the mental processes she went through, so I can’t really sustain anything like anger or hatred. Instead of having intense negative feelings toward her I just have an intense wish that I’d never met her and an intense hope that the damage she’s done to our children can one day be outgrown.

              • I fully understand what you’re saying, and am using you as my role model for getting to “meh.” (too soon for that, though, esp. as I’m expecting a settlement battle.)

                What I struggle with is the “wish I’d never met him.” In one sense that’s true, but then I wouldn’t have had the children I now have, nor probably moved to this city that I adore above all others, nor visited Venice, etc. How to enjoy the good that derived from meeting/marrying him, while realizing I was emotionally (and irreparably) damaged by the marriage is one of those quandaries worthy of a Sliding Doors-style movie, where you get to see the two different trajectories someone’s life takes on the basis of some random event.

                I do know that I’d go through the whole experience again to have my 2 daughters, even though I count my husband’s infidelity as the single most painful thing I have ever encountered (and my life has not been all Ozzie and Harriet, I can assure you). This is probably best considered after a margarita or two–how someone with whom you can no longer relate can deliver the best (children) and the worst (infidelity) in your life.

              • “What I struggle with is the “wish I’d never met him.” In one sense that’s true, but then I wouldn’t have had the children I now have, . . .”

                I’ve concluded that my kids are gifts from God (gag gifts it seems sometimes with teenagers and young adults, but gifts) and my ex had little to do with their existence or essential make up. They would have been in my life somehow even if I’d never met my cheating ex. Not the most logical thinking, perhaps. But it feels deeply true, in the way that poetry sometimes seems “truer” than algebra.

              • I read a book many years ago about childhood trauma, I think. It had to do with accountability. Anyway, the message I got is that all of the cheaters, my sister-in-law included, got away with cheating. There is nothing any of us can do to change that. No one got arrested for adultery. If they don’t pay child support many times you have no recourse. I think after the actual cheating the fact that they have gone on with their lives is the most maddening. When they spend even a minute thinking about the family they destroyed the pain they left behind is just considered collateral damage and everyone should just get over it. Tell that to my brother’s kids.
                The idea that you married a narcissist who played you for years holds no sway with the courts. That is where my anger is.
                My ex-SIL has tried for years to friend me on Facebook. Why in the hell she thinks I want one thing to do with her is beyond me! These people are so disordered that your sadness, anger, thoughts of suicide just do not make a dent. See, you don’t count in their minds so the Tuesday you get to meh is the day they don’t count in yours. I am never getting to meh about my SIL. She was like a disease that ripped through our family.

              • Tempest wrote: “[“loser” is a diagnosis in the DSM, right? ; )]”

                I think “loser” was a disorder in DSM-IV, but it was removed in DSM-5 when the APA realized, sadly, that it’s no longer an abnormal part of the human condition. I believe they’ve replaced it with “poor misunderstood sausage syndrome” in which losers turn into cheaters because their partners just don’t understand them and their APs miraculously do. 🙂

              • I agree with the assessment that Cheaters are inherently lacking something, which “normal” whole people have, and which leads them to their fucked up decisions and poor crap life skills. On the flip side it is their uncanny ability to spin the narrative and their “sparkliness” that first engages us Chumps (because we ascribe good intentions to everyone and are intentionally looking and working for “happily ever after.”). But while we are consciously working at it, the disordered are not. They are ping pong balls on the ocean of life. So to the woman now pregnant who believes that her partner will ever be the husband or father he should…No, he will not. It will look that way but you will always feel like you are missing out. Your best times together will be tainted. You will always feel disposable. He will be disengaged and that will never improve. I lived this for twenty eight years. I had a great marriage because I did all the work. Then, one day, he left. Not before blowing up his entire family. And I discovered my life together with him was a lie. You, and your beautiful babies, deserve better.

          • Yes, anger is misunderstood for all the reasons stated…and more!

            In reality it is a protector emotion from our bio-evolutionary origins. It is our inner tiger. Girls and women in most cultures are socialized to “be nice” and deny this normal.human.emotion. and then seen as a “bitch” or “moody” when expressed. Aka ” Bad Chump”…

            I like to think of anger as a full tank of high octane gas. I can use it to run my car over someone, drive myself over a cliff, or get from where I am to where I really want – and need – to be.

        • I always like what the 14th Dalai Lama said about anger (my paraphrase):

          Anger wants you to do something. It’s an emotion that wants you to act.
          The key is to not act thoughtlessly but try to understand why you are angry.

          If you let your dishes pile up in the sink, and you are made at yourself for letting dishes pile up, beating yourself up won’t help, but washing the dishes will.

      • I also am not convinced about the idea of unconditional love – it always felt to me like a ‘feel good hippy 70’s bullshit cop out’ – it actually reeks of high moral ground …you are not a better person if you allow people to treat you as though you don’t matter or your needs are substandard to theirs and still claim you love them regardless????? that just feels to me like you are prepared to place your own needs very low on your priority list to maintain a relationship and we should believe we are better partners for doing this ?????
        Perhaps this is easier to think of in terms of how we love our children. Of course we love our them unconditionally and with all our hearts and we guide them towards the correct way to behave by example and education …but would we suggest for example to our children that when they grow into capable and emotionally mature adults they would or should partner with someone who disregards their important needs and to ignores or disrespect their values ??? I kind of feel that this is actually setting them up for failing at or maintaining damaging relationships. In fact they should also have it made clear to them that they will probably not find someone with any self respect that allows themselves to be treated poorly because their love is ‘unconditional’. My husband was a cheater his father was a cheater his sister was a cheater … My beautiful mother-in-law believed in unconditional love – by remaining in her abusive relationship with the father of her children until he eventually walked out on her at 56 she showed her children that no matter how badly their father treated her or disregarded her needs she would remain in that marriage and love him…. what a terrible lesson she taught her children this act of subjugating her own need to be loved and respected was what true love and commitment was. My children will learn from me that when we love someone we love them compassionately, tenderly, respectfully and emphatically but never, never never unconditionally.

        • Kristil: I’m with you–my mother was as devoutly Catholic as they come, and even she started to view the “turn the other cheek” adage with disdain after 20 years marriage to my narcissistic, domineering father.

          My H pulled that “I love unconditionally” BS on me when I wouldn’t forgive him his affair. Right–that’s why you criticized me so often that I ended up with clinical depression. Some conditional love.

          And I think I could have gotten him to admit (before we went NC) that if he had beat me senseless & broken my ribs that I should no longer love him unconditionally. Well, that is what he did to me emotionally, as all our cheating spouses did.

          • @Tempest my mother-in-law was also devout Catholic – that unconditional love bullshit was they bleated about nonstop in the church and at ‘marriage encounter’ weekends at that time – her alcoholic husband broke her arm in a fit of rage in front of her children, he frequently disrespected her, he used her and cast her aside when he was ready to move on, she was a beautiful soul ….. I think my cheating husband thought he was a ‘good’ husband because he never resorted to violence…..WTF.

  • Smartenupalready–Again, CL is on-target with great advice.

    I would suggest you don’t give up on your friend entirely yet, but present your case & use the tools CL recommended, then retreat for your own sanity until your friend starts to be more receptive. At a minimum, convince her to delay the wedding to give fate a time to take its course (“Have the babies first–you’ll be able to get a much prettier wedding dress if you’re not pregnant!!–whatever is necessary so she doesn’t marry the jerk).

    It takes a long time for people to wrap their heads around the idea that they have been cheated on, and have been suffering from years of emotional abuse. See if she starts to show signs of dawning awareness (though it won’t come all at once). There are stories on this blog of people who took a long time to finally realize their spouse wasn’t going to change, but the seeds are planted and the idea slowly grows over time that cheater-pants is not worth keeping.

    If your friend has been emotionally abused, she’s been in this roller coaster of hurting, and then having the person who hurt her MAKE HER FEEL BETTER with love-bombing, apologies, sobbing, etc. This is a vicious cycle, and one that is hard to break (in lab experiments, rats exposed to intermittent reinforcement are the ones MOST likely to keep pressing the bar to get food even after reinforcement has stopped–they think, “well, reinforcement has been unpredictable, so maybe this next press, or this next press, or this next press….” Same psychology that keeps people pouring quarters into slot machines). She is going to have to hurt enough that it is less painful to leave, and that can take a long time.

    If your friend agrees to read CL posts & columns, that will help plant & water the seed. See if she starts to show any awareness. If so, foster it. If not, you may need to wait in the wings for her to contact you for help (and you may not want to be her friend by that point, but presumably could help steer her toward a therapist or women’s shelter where she could get the help she needs to stop being a victim).

    • I’ve read about abused children in the ER who cried out for their mothers, even though their mothers were the ones that put them there. Same dynamic.

        • No one seems to be taking into account the stepchild the poor chump has raised… if I knew I was going to have to walk away from a child I had raised, that would add another entire level to the situation. She has no rights with the daughter.

    • I hate to admit it, but after many years of abuse (“You are my ball and chain” etc.)…
      I still would have stayed if he hadn’t kicked me out.
      One morning a month later, clear as day, a feeling came over me that there was no hope for him.
      His heart is pure corruption.
      So, what would I say to me four or five years ago to resteer my life?
      He will trample you, rape your daughter to hurt you, throw you in jail three times, and turn your own mother against you. He will stop at nothing.
      I wish there were less I could say, but the list goes on. Did I see it coming? No. And Samson had no clue Delilah would betray him (time after time ) .
      The movie, “Death of the Heart” reminds me of my prior blindness.

  • Beautiful response and questions CL.

    Smart, I really appreciate your kindness to your friend. It is really a good thing that you care enough to tell her the truth and to write here for advice. That is being a friend. I wish I had someone like you when cheaters was publicly known to be a cheater by people close to and directly involved with me (childcare provider, doula, friends). In my case they were all complicit, gossiping about me and theorizing about my marriage while holding themselves in the “tough” position of knowing something about STBX that I did not. Very sick and mean.

    When I moved away from these “friends” I had gone back to visit (I am working on a PhD in their hometown). I took them out for dinner and one of the friends spoke about how her husband disrespected her. I said that we should figure out together what she can do to get herself out of this abusive situation. She then said, “Oh, D, don’t worry about it” My childcare provider/ friend said, “I don’t try to solve my friend’s problems.” I was shocked by her statement and did not understand it. I did not know that the subtext was my cheating lying asshole of a husband.

    What they did was to further the abusive gaslighting and protect their OW “friend.” I had no idea they disrespected me that much until I found out what they were hiding.

    All this to say, you are a beautiful person. It is true that you ultimately do not have any control over what your friend does. But you do have the ethical responsibility to be honest. You may find that it is too frustrating and painful to see your friend abused this way. You may want to end the friendship or step away and not have much contact with her. That makes sense. You can always send her links to CL or a reminder every now and then that you are there for her when she is ready. Protect yourself so that her blindness (all the issues CL explained) does not drive you crazy, but not through dishonesty. That is not friendship. So glad there are people like you in the world.

    • Goodmazel–so wait, one of the friends you took out for dinner was your husband’s OW, and the other was protecting her? Brings new meaning to “frenemy” if that’s true.

      • Oh Tempest, these shit situations are so hard to explain let alone follow. OW was the president of the board of Bloomington Area Birth Services in 2009-2011. I was a client. I met these friends from the organization. They were friends with her. She was not at the dinner. But stbx brought her to my home for me to serve many a time. She was his “colleague” on the board. I still want to puke thinking about it.

        • My D-day was May 24 2013. 5 years of intense gaslighting for me. Thanks to those “friends” See, here is where rage comes in.

          • Goodmazel–the rage is justified. What a bunch of fuckwads. You deserve better friends (and I hope that you have now found them).

          • I’m so sorry that your acquaintances (those women were never your friends) did not choose to the right thing and protect you from your husbands mistreatment Goodmazel.

            • Thank you Tempest and kristil, they were never friends. I have thought about their responsibility a lot. If you have information someone needs about their lives to make decisions and you use it to discuss and hide it is a form of domination. These poor excuses loved using the information to feel sick power. They did it all the time with others, it was simply my turn. I observed this but never gave my feelings walking power. They could not protect me, but they had a human obligation to inform me. They acted inhumanely because they are mean girls who think they are wonderful. I choose friends very differently now. No one but select few get emotional and physical access to me and my son. I use my gut, my heart and mind before inviting anyone into my life.

  • There’s nothing you can say because she wouldn’t agree anyway if she is still addicted to the relationship. I was completely in the dark about my Ex’s cheating (that I later found out was happneing from day One, for 16 years we were together), BUT I most certainly did know he was an abuser. Three people really close to me – my own grown daughter, my brother, and my best friend of over 20 years, each separately took me aside and gently suggested that he was abusive (verbally, psychologically – insane narc rages in front of my kids and the rest of my family, financial abuse in the form of freeloading); BUT I WOULDN’T LISTEN. My own brother even told me I was abused and gave me links to get help but I defended the abuser and stopped speaking to my own brother for 4 whole years. I was addicted and codependent and the perfect Chump so I should not have been surprised to catch him cheating, but I was. So Chumpy and a master spackler, and so in denial, for 16 whole years.

    I feel for you but there isn’t anything you can do for your friend except tell her that you will be there for her when she is ready. You can still be there along the way, to listen and give her support, but only she can save herself. She is lucky to have you as a friend.

    • So true, Margaret. My entire family disliked my STBX the moment they met him for the simple reason that when they asked what he does for a living had no answer. I ended up spackling for him almost from the very beginning and kept it up for eight long years as he used up every penny I had. I was such a terrible chump that even when my last cent was gone I thought to myself, “Well, now we’re equal. Now we’ll rise out of this mess together.” But I was so wrong. He immediately found someone new, blamed me for everything, and kicked me out of our house. Some of us are terribly, terribly thick.

      I’m just happy that when the truth finally hit me, my family were still there for me. I’m a lucky woman.

  • Whenever I read a post like this one, it immediately brings to mind the song “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics back in the 80s. The chorus goes:
    Some of them want to use you,
    Some of them want to get used by you.
    Some of them want to abuse you,
    Some of them want to be abused.

    There is a another reason chumps sometimes stay with blatant cheater/abusers, which is that they are disordered themselves. These are the people who complain like crazy about the marriage, or about the spouse, but are unwilling to take any advice or any steps to end things. They actually seem to thrive on the attention and drama, using friends and family as audience for their real-life soap opera.

    I’m not talking about the usual attempts at reconciliation that most of us went through before realizing it was pointless. Nor am I talking about chumps temporarily trapped by their own FOO issues, or fear or lack of resources. I’m talking about those people who go through huge blow ups, dramatic reconciliations, endless complaining and drama, and then repeat the cycle over and over. I know people who have been in marriages like this for decades.

    I don’t know if the friend described here is this type of chump, but it sort of sounds like she might be. If so, there isn’t really anything that will help her, because she probably does not want to be helped.

    At any rate, nothing will change unless the chump friend decides she wants change.

    “Hold your head up — movin’ on, keep your head up — movin’ on”

    • GIO, really good point there. I think I’m one of those disordered people. My fear and insecurities kept me with my abusive husband for far too long. Even now, the only reason we’re not together is because HE threw me out. I didn’t have what it took to leave even while I knew I should. He did me a favor, although I’ll never tell him that.

      • ML–isn’t it startling what we come to be grateful for (such as your H throwing you out)? On Thanksgiving, when I pondered what I was thankful for, my husband’s affair actually popped into my head. It propelled me to finally end a sporadically emotionally abusive relationship. Without the affair, I probably would have left and then tried to reconcile with him, wasting another year of my life. So while I’m not technically glad he had an affair (who would choose that pain), I got to the point where I could see the silver lining in it.

        • It is startling, Tempest. The growth I’ve had this year and what I’ve learned about myself since d-day is really priceless. Like you, I’m not sure I’d willingly have taken on that pain knowing how disabling it was, but I truly am glad for the opportunity to change myself in order to live the life I want to live. Silver linings, indeed!

          • Seriously. Going through this particular brand of hell is like taking a medicine that makes your hair fall out and causes intense pain. Nobody would choose that. But the pain passes, your hair grows back, the disease is wiped out, and you’re left stronger for having experienced it.

            That said, knowing all the horrible side effects, who wouldn’t be afraid to take their medicine?

            • Oh, LilyBart, I hope I emerge stronger from this. Smarter, yes, but there are cracks in the pottery now that I feel will never disappear (and which make that pottery more fragile, despite my public bravado).

              How far out are you from D-day? Divorced or waiting to be? Knowing a year or two out that people ARE stronger will help (I’m only 3 months from d-day).

              • I am more than 5 years out from D-Day #1, separated with no contact for a couple of years, waiting for my divorce papers to come in the mail. And hell, I’m still working on myself. But yes, it really does get better. Each step in the process has brought me closer to peace and getting myself back. I stuck around and endured the ongoing affair for 2.5 years after D-Day, so I totally understand people like the LW’s friend who get stuck.

                Good luck, Tempest. If you’re here 3 months after D-Day, then you are totally on the right track and probably a bad-ass (in a good way). I tried to stick around and avoid reality for a while, unfortunately. Chumplady didn’t exist at the time, and I’m not sure I would have been ready for it, honestly. I was stuck and afraid and hating myself.

                The process of leaving that marriage sucked, and it was the hardest thing I ever did, but yes — I can definitely say that I am glad I did, and that I am wiser and happier for it. And I keep getting better. 😉

              • Tempest, you are getting stronger. You don’t know it yet. You are still a baby in the gravy from DD. There is nothing wrong with being fragile. We all are. Feeling fragile is a very normal emotion after getting stomped on.

                You will become stronger and appreciate you are fragile, too. It makes you human.

                Fuck the bastard who tried to murder your soul. He was abusive. I swear it’s because they want you to feel as dead and soulless as they do.

                I swear one day you will want to give the AP chocolates for taking the shithead out of your life.

              • Thank you, CalamityJ, for the perfect mix of encouragement and anger-sharing with me (the exact antidote I need!). I am still a baby to this, and worry about feeling fragile for a long time. Perhaps the cracked-vase analogy should be replaced with a “new seam” analogy, which is stronger than the old.

                And you’re right–my cheater, emotionally-abusive husband tried to murder my soul. He took a vibrant young me and diminished me, then claimed he found his AP perky and alive, hence the appeal. May he suffer locusts and pestilence.

                I actually thought on Thanksgiving Day that I was grateful for his affair as it was the strong event I needed to finally break free of him. (If I think back to the extreme pain & panic attacks I had after D-day, that thought is not as strong, but I do worry how bad my psychological state would have become if I hadn’t had the discovery of his affair to jolt me out of my intertia).

                Hugs your way!

              • Tempest, you will survive…beautifully.

                His sorry ass bullshit life with the sorry ass bullshit OW, his sorry ass thinks is the answer to his sorry ass bullshit, is finite.

                Cess pools have walls.

                The universe is at your door looking for your presence. And, it has been there waiting for you the whole time.

                Welcome to the other side.

              • NorthernLight–Kintsugi, what a wonderful idea. Filling the cracks with gold dust so that the broken pottery is now even more alluring and interesting than before. Kind of like what CL has done with her trials of infidelity, I guess. And I loved the Tiffany glass column.

                I’m now going to think of you and all the supportive people on this site as the gold-dust that will allow me (& all of us) to heal, and be better than before. Hugs your way!

            • Thanks, LilyB, it does help to hear one cycles through emotions, but that it does get better. I hope I’m stronger for this; if I am, it will be because I have forged new friendships (including these on-line CL friends!), and have developed closer relationships with my daughters & existing friends/relatives because I’m no longer under the pressure of having to please a husband who could never fully be pleased.

              I’m a bad-ass in one way, in that I don’t (and didn’t) take abuse quietly, but I still stayed, didn’t I? Should have been more of a bad-ass. What I have learned is to not only pay attention to the warning signs, but run when I see them.

              Hugs to you for your encouraging words!

              • if you were like me, you really didnt see that it was abuse. i mean i knew some (most) of the things he did was messed up. but i kept thinking it was just that once. (he actually never did the same thing over after i yelled, complained or talked to him about it…..except the cheating which i wasnt aware was going on untill later on in the marriage)

                it was this one thing. and then that one thing. and then yet another one thing. throw in a sprinkle of good times, actual moments where he wasnt an asshole. and i never connected the dots. in fact i was on another site trying to save my marriage and was venting about yet another thing he did. i knew i was justified in my hurt and anger. which most of the responders additional justified for me. but i got the shock of my life when one guy called me a doormat. me! a DOORMAT!!! when the fuck did that happen? i am not a doormat. i am strong, independent, honest. loyal, fierce. i handle shit. i fix problems head on. i do not shy away from things…..wait, shit. i am a doormat. i was HIS doormat. i still have a hard time seeing that. those love colored glasses prevented me from seeing the full picture.

                i was so busy putting out one small fire after another, i never saw that the whole damn forest was blazing.

      • “My fear and insecurities kept me with my abusive husband for far too long”

        Moving, I totally understand because my situation is the same. But what I was describing ISN’T staying in an abusive relationship because of fear or FOO damage, it’s staying in a horrible relationship because the person actually gets a perverse enjoyment/benefit out of staying. Usually that benefit is attention, pity, drama and a “woe is poor little me” outlook on life. These people, IMHO, are disordered.

        You can tell the difference because a person sticking it out due to fear or FOO generally either keeps totally quiet about the marriage’s difficulties, or spackles beyond belief to pretend it’s all good. Those sticking it out because they are disordered, IME, are loud and proud about all they’ve suffered, constantly complain about the marriage/spouse and frequently threaten to leave, but they never do. They just like drama. I’ve know several people like this, and they are tiring to be around, because they suck energy out of others.

        Anyway, I don’t know that the friend in the original post is this type of cheater, but the marrying/pregnancy immediately after Dday made me think of it, along with the fact that the letter writer seems to know a lot of details, implying that the friend shares all of the relationship problems. I could, of course, be totally wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.

        • Glad: There is nothing scarier than a marriage between two disordered people. I have witnessed this situation first hand in my close family. One disordered partner stays in the horrible marriage for all the reasons you suggest; attention, pity, drama, victimhood. The other disordered partner doesn’t know whether to leave or wind his watch – mostly his own disordered personality keeps him in a permanent state of chaos. Neither would cheat on the other – they enjoy the perverse excitement of their own relationship drama. On the other hand, both know full well that no one “normal” would have them.

            • Mrs. Vain–the “reply” button was missing from your entry above. Unlike you, I knew I was in an abusive relationship, at least sporadically abusive. I did not take it lying down; anytime he made me feel crappy, I pointed it out, called him out on sh*t all the time, and did succeed in improving him over time. I even got him to have 2 children which he clearly did not want, but I always only had real power when I was threatening to leave (yes, for both children, I told him I was done unless I could get pregnant). It was an endless cycle of power games, battle of wits (which I proudly won most of the time), and sense of helplessness/depression. All of our friends said I was so good for him, that I made him more compassionate and human, but I grew tired of it. That’s not what a healthy relationship looks like, and the snide criticism wore me down over time. Want to know how he justified the affair? Because I collected too many things and so the upstairs was too messy (downstairs always looks like a magazine cover). WTF?

              I realized what he wanted was one of those realistic sex dolls programmed with a computer chip to ask him about himself (a lot!!), and discuss movies, academic subjects, etc. with him. He didn’t want a real human. And he has cheated on every adult relationship he’s ever had–since no one is perfect, he can always find an excuse as to why he is unhappy and justified in cheating.

              I created a warm family for him to come home to, and he screwed it up. I hate him, and am counting the days to meh.

              • yes, yes,….every time he did something hateful to me also i spoke up. i yell. i point out the obvious in the most sarcastic ways, and then i calm down and talk. i explained why i thought it was disrespectful that he did, said those things, why it hurt me and i even would tell him what to do in the future when the situation should arise again. (mostly just tell me, talk to me so i that i can be aware of it). so i also did not take it laying down or quietly. i never thought if it as abuse but i did think of is as being really fucked up and NOT the way you treated the person you say you loved.

                i knew i was the stronger one in the relationship. i knew i wore the pants and made the decisions. i knew i had the power. although i never threw it in his face or even pointed it out that i had bigger balls then he did. i never even had to ask his permission for anything. but i tried to be as fair as possible just to make sure i never crashed his fragile ego. i made him feel like a man even when he was acting like a little bitch girl.

                everyone always said i was good for him too. that i kept him in line. he told me the summer before last that i was his anchor. that his life was fucked up without me (ya, cuz i fixed all his fuck ups) and he didnt have anything when he wasnt with me (yep, and right now he doesnt have shit). i never threw any punches or took advantage of his stupidity (well i did on the divorce papers). i never did anything that wasnt for him and this family. he was the center of my world, the center of the family. i made him head of household and gave him more credit then he deserved.

                but like you i got tired. emotionally, physically, mentally tired. all the passive aggressiveness, all the put downs when it was me who kept it afloat (he once threw it in my face that his credit score was 880 while mine was 600, i dont know how he thought his credit score got that high, dumbass. another time he told me that my problem was that i thought i was the “shit” and i wasnt, how nice huh) but if i hadnt been going thru my own personal hell and struggling with the pain of losing my daughter. i would have keep going. like the energizer fucking bunny…..

                i also gave him a warm happy home and family. when i met him, NONE of his family was around. he was all alone. he wanted a family, i gave him one. 2 boys and my other children called him dad and all my extended family treated him like one of our own. my parents were so good to him. my family was who he called when he was broke down on the side of the road, not any of his fucked up family. he wanted a home so i gave him one. in fact the house we are in is the one HE wanted. i made sure to make it a home and not just a house. i worked hard to make sure he felt like it was his and he belonged here.

                like someone else said, when stressed my XH turned to drinking (and cheating) instead of putting in the extra work to fix it. the only reason we made it this far is because of the hard work i put into it.

                i guess that is why it was such a disappointment in the end. i invested so much into my husband, my marriage, my family and my house. and in the end, it just didnt matter.

                now looking back i can see just how abusive he really was in very subtle ways, is all that i meant. i never added it all together.

          • Regarding 2 disordered people not cheating–it can also be just like a regular cheater relationship. Remember that narcissists are not choosy about kibble type; an explosively angry and reactive spouse, especially if the narcissist is a provoker, provides tasty kibble, just as “worship” does. The Jackass was in a long term married to another disordered cheater, and even their divorce and post-divorce parenting was explosive. But old Jackass would show up at her house and park his boots on the coffee table. Centrality. And he stayed in the marriage for years even after his doctor said it was killing him.

            • And both of them cheated and played the line between physical and emotional affairs. Lots of drama! Big triangles!

        • Interestingly enough, I see enough of my STBX’s relationship with OW to see that she’s really disordered. I am not sure that STBX is, but he certainly has FOO issues. If he is disordered, I’d figure BPD instead of NPD, though there’s an element of the narc in the BPD person.

          But OW is filled with drama. I’ve seen texts pushed through to his cell where she’s berating him for his lousy treatment of her (and I also saw the closing statement from one account where he transferred the balance to her only days before she berated him!). Less than 4 days later, he’s with her while her medically fragile grown child undergoes surgery. He drops everything to be with her. All is lovey-dovey.

          Frankly, if STBX yelled at me to tell me I treated him horribly one day, but made up all nicey-nicey the next, I’d never have married him. I have to think that STBX likes that kind of drama.

          And that brings me back to Smartenup.

          Smart, at some level you will want to detach from your friend. You can be there at some level, so she’s not cut off from all support, but also realize that at this point, she doesn’t want to believe he sucks and may be making bad choices to keep him (breeding with a fucktard is just bad news for everyone). I have a friend at work whose marriage is to a real narc, but she has baby fever. She already has one child by this man, and wants another. She thinks she can’t do better for a sperm donor. This means that she complains about the marriage, yet refuses to take the necessary step to get out. She already suggested counseling, but he refuses because he has a PhD in Psychology.

          I sympathize and support my friend, but I cannot get caught up emotionally in her situation because she does not want to consider the obvious solution.

          Similarly, your friend doesn’t want to consider leaving him. Instead, she’s more interested in the “pick-me” dance. Hey! I’m pregnant! Now he will Pick Me!!!! And he has Proposed! I win!!!

          This is sad because, in fact, what they won was a bowl of turds and whey.

          So, sympathize, bring the situation back to her (“do you deserve this?” “is this what you think of when you think of a good relationship?”), but don’t get caught up in her bit of crazy.

    • And all this time I thought that song was about BDSM…I mean she’s wearing black gloves and has a cane and well, the lyrics…heh

    • “I’m talking about those people who go through huge blow ups, dramatic reconciliations, endless complaining and drama, and then repeat the cycle over and over. I know people who have been in marriages like this for decades.”–My mother ( a narcissist) was one of these people. Never a happy minute in her marriage, but she clung to it like it was her only source of oxygen.

  • I’ve quietly let friendships die because my friends stayed in chumpy relationships. It was not the fact they were in a relationship with a cheater who demonstrated no class, but continued to complain about the circumstances and do nothing about it. The friendship started to only center around the cheater, and while that may have been acceptable in their lives, I was not going to be sucked into that. I always ask what someone gets out of a situation and it seemed to be attention and sympathy. I recently ran into one; she is divorcing and basically lost everything. I gave her back my ear then.

  • Please read Lundy Bancroft’s work, starting with the book Why Does He Do That?, which is recommended in CL’s resource list (and buy a copy of that book for your friend). I think Bancroft also has a book specifically written for friends who want to help a woman who is being abused.

    You will also find this post helpful (from Captain Awkward): “My friend is dating someone terrible, or, Secrets of The Darth Vader Boyfriend”.

    Please, please, do not give up on your friend. You can see (as can we) that she is making a choice (and a piss poor one at that), but SHE DOES NOT YET REALIZE THAT. And the fault of that lies with her abuser: HE HAS BRAINWASHED HER. Years of emotional and psychological abuse wear a person down. Her response is not unusual or pathetic: THIS IS THE NORM. This is how human beings respond to slowly escalating abuse. Sadly, it is very hard to break free.

    Do not give up on your friend. Maintain whatever boundaries you need to keep your own sanity, but don’t abandon her. I assure you, one of the lies is that HE IS TELLING HER SHE CAN’T COUNT ON ANYONE ELSE. Isolation is standard in abuse.

    I have lived this situation myself! I only recently escaped an abusive relationship. I am smart and strong and independent, and very successful in my professional life, but the abuse had left me completely confused and hopeless. I eventually believed his lies that I was mentally unstable. And I bought hook, line, and sinker the (crazy!! but quixotic) line that I was Doing the Right Thing by loving him unconditionally and keeping the family together. It took a long time for me to see the light.

    Please, tell your friend the truth (how horrible her situation really is), but then love her patiently: show her that you believe she is strong and capable of making good decisions, and that she can count on you for support.

    • Psyche you are right about the brainwashing. It happened with me. And Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?” is also a life saver. They choose to abuse. This book showed me that. They also choose to cheat, despite all the lame lines from the cheater script-book about it just ‘happening’ out of thin air. Lies. They chose it. Because they didn’t care and felt entitled.

    • I read the book after my own D-Day, but I hadn’t seen this blog before and the “Darth Vader Boyfriend” thing. Wonderful find – thank you for sharing!

    • what Psyche said! I am a survivor but the slow roll into abuse was imperceptible until it was horrific. Don’t give up on your friend. I was almost completely isolated when my ex escalated to the hellish. I am not stupid, I am not weak and I got fucked up by a master manipulator. I wish the Lundy book and Gift of Fear were REQUIRED reading in 8th grade or something. Those two books are priceless.

      I wish I could write a book about the slow rolling abuser, the one that crosses your boundaries by trickles and sand bits. Who isolates you by his “caring” not by forbidding, not enough is written or said about the abuser who does things without forbidding you anything, the poor broken man who uses your empathy. I’m not ready yet, I intend to write it, one day.

      • Oh, I hope you will, datdamwuf! ChumpLady can add it to her resource section and we will all help market it for you 🙂

  • Well CL…..this post is also perfect for me! You see, my mom has been gone now for many years and today happens to be her birthday and I know what CL said, my own mom would have said to me! All the points, 1-4, that CL says is how I’ve felt all my life! No idea why, but just do. I am now out from under the cheater but I’m not sure that I would have left if he didn’t really just turn his back and walk away! I probably would have spackled the heck out of everything he said, well, because I did already! This scares me for any potential future I may have with someone else! But actually sad to say that I don’t think I will have a future with anyone else since cheater gave me an STD! Would love to love and be loved but not lookin good…….

    • i completely feel you. i am not sure that i would have left my XH if he didnt just turn his back and walk away. the only validation i have is that i DID kick him out (again) on news years eve because he didnt come home again. but i think i probably would have spackled all of it and took him back if he would have just kept hiding his MOW. like i did so many times before….i didnt even know about her until he took her to met with me to pick up another box of his shit, which i was using as an excuse to see him and talk to him. the time before that. i thought we were really talking good. we kissed and he told me he loved me and agreed to marriage counseling. so i thought we were on the path to fixing so many times before….i guess when he told her that, she put her foot down and made sure she came with him the next time i met with him….he was also pretty hateful on the phone in between those times which i was super confused about. must have been because she was sitting right next to him. and he had his brave on.

    • IHaveHate–do not prevent yourself from seeking out love because of an STD. I know it must feel HORRIFIC to even think of having to admit that to someone, but there are loving, caring people out there who will overlook that once they get to know you (and many new drugs can minimize symptoms). I know a few people who have gone on to marriages after intractable STDs.

      And if I recall correctly, you never actually yelled at your X, keeping it bottled inside? Wow, if that’s correct. So many of you are SO self-disciplined and self-controlled in the face of horrible events, I’m feeling quite inadequate. If CL is descended from Velda, I am descended from Amazon Warriors, and would find it hard not to physically emasculate someone who gave me an STD. May your X suffer many painful torments.

      • Yes, and I am named after a great aunt murdered in a Nazi death camp. May your ex be pursued by his evil actions for all eternity. May he suffer a fate worse than Job. May he rot as a carcass while still alive. I understand your hate. God why do remain silent! Okay, yes, your ex brings out my rage. What a horror from hell.

        • Oh dear, I meant why does God remain silent, not you I have hate. Apologies if that was not clear. You are a saint not to stab that fucker.

          • Goodmazel…….WOW!!! I like your style girl!!! haha. I burst out laughing when I read your post! My same sentiment too! He’s NO GOOD! Just like all the rest of the cheaters.

      • Tempest, thank you for your kind words. It is like a death, really, feeling life is over with my ‘gift’. And I am very impressed with your excellent memory! Yes, I am the one who never let it out to him. Still reeling about that…..hence, my name…….IHaveHate! 🙂

        • IHaveHate: I may start to sound like a broken record, but write a letter to your cheater. Use every swear word known to humankind, plus make some up. Unload the full extent of your feelings, berate him endlessly, and tell him that he is an air thief and should simply die to allow others to use his oxygen.

          Then burn the letter. Repeat as necessary. You can trick your mind into thinking that you really did say those things to him, at least enough to feel some closure (and perhaps those bad vibes will pass through the atmosphere and cause him momentary sense of psychic panic). It will help, trust me.

          • Tempest -“Use every swear word known to humankind, plus make some up. Unload the full extent of your feelings, berate him endlessly, and tell him that he is an air thief and should simply die to allow others to use his oxygen.”

            Love this so much that I actually did it.
            Not once, not twice, but probably over a dozen times – and SENT them all.
            I’m not sure why I’d want to write them, then delete them, when I wanted him to know exactly what I thought of him.

            He turned out to be a pretty good punching bag because he never much said anything back other than to politely ask me to quit sending him “NastyGrams’, which I’m sure he laughed over with his g/f.

            So, maybe I’m odd. But, I’m sure the hell not throwing 36 dedicated years away for some useless slut, without any remorse on his part – leaving the dogs (family) behind – our entire extended families and friends – so much damage! …It really is a crime and I will always know it as that.

            We’ve been divorced 2 mos now and I’m trying to sell our house. He pissed me off so I sent off 3 really mean emails to him about his selfishness, entitlement, his lousy choice of whores, and basically – said everything I wanted to say before I can move on.

            Did I feel good about it? No. But, it helped me to get over the deep-freeze I was in about putting our beloved home on the market and trying to move my dogs to some other city or place that I haven’t a clue where yet. I didn’t deserve this shit. He deserved one last morsel of my wrath. (err…3 of them)

            My name could easily be – IHaveHate too.
            Anyway, I do see the value in writing it down, then destroying. Tempest has wise words.
            Just wasn’t my case.

            • I’m with you SheChump–I said almost everything I wanted to say to cheater in person or in text or in email, and it was not nice. Unlike you, though, I did feel better for it.

              The problem is that IHaveHate never got to vent, and is in No Contact with her X, so sending the letters now would be problematic. There’s some work by psychologist Jamie Pennebaker showing that writing about a trauma can have a therapeutic effect. Had I not been able to chastise my cheater, and had to keep it bottled up, I would not be in a healthy place right now (and I”m not entirely healthy only 3 months out from D-day, but I’m making progress).

              • Tempest….for 3 months out, I’d say you’re doing fantastic! Good for you!! Also, I have writeen a semi hate email to him in Oct and and much more hate email in Nov. I want to write one finale’ letter before the end of the year and be done with it! He’s a chicken shit coward and will never give me any type of closure. I’m just anxious for the hate to go bye bye. Thank you again for the advice. Every bit of anything helpful is great!

        • IHaveHate, I too was gifted and feel so destroyed by it. Not enough my ex cut me off from sex for years, he insisted on having sex when he came begging me to take him back. He took away the freedom in casual sex, I hate him for that too.

          • Datdamwuf….I soooo feel your pain. My friend tries to convince me that someone who is kind and compassionate will be ok with it. I say bullshit! I have it and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who has it if I didn’t! I dunno. Right now I just need to chill and let things be as they come. It angers me so much in that I never wanted to be alone in life and now I’m older (53) and this jackoff fuck has dramatically decreased my ability of having someone in my life in the future with the “gift” he gave me. While he runs around screwing every young girl and not telling them either! Very sad; I feel for these girls and all the masses they will pass it on to as well when he’s done with them. I’d like to rally up these girls and sue the bastard! Wishful thinking. Excuse my language but I feel I can really let loose on this site and it FEELS GOOD!! 🙂

    • oh and the other validation i have is that as soon as i found out he had yet another hoodrat meth head girlfriend (4th that i know of. the first 3 were all admitted to at once 2 years prior. i am sure there is more then that thou) i filed the divorce papers the next day…

      i mean i could handle the alcoholism, the not coming home, the not helping me pay bills, the half ass help he would do to shut me up, the hiding/sneaking/lying, the mood swings, the unconscious sabotage every time we were doing good, the FOO, the having to ask me for every single minor and major decision, the sulking, the borderline personality and passive aggressiveness, the constant childish fuck ups and decisions, the glass half empty attitude, the selfishness…..(wow, and i know that is not all. kind of shocked as i write this)…. i was getting damn tired of it but i could handle it.

      but the second i found out he had a girlfriend AGAIN i was done. yes, i rode the hopium ride for a long time. yes, even after i filed some days i second guessed myself. yes, apparently i was still dancing the pick me dance after i filed. (unconsciously, i actually mistakenly thought he would pick the boys over her), oh my lord and how i cried. how i missed him. still do actually. the good times with him really were good, he just cant keep it up for long periods of time. and of course i forgave him for all the bad times. still hard to get over while he is off in happy land with his foo mow.

      but at least i have some pride. and can feel good about divorcing him even if all those other feelings fuck with my head. i still say the only reason i divorced him was because he cheated (he doesnt think he cheated on me because we were always “broken up” when he was with another woman…if you can call them that) again. although i had plenty of other reasons i could have divorced him. i am still not sure i would have ever done it if it wasnt for that. thank god my daddy taught me pride (which the XH would always put down and act like it was a bad thing) and thank god (i guess, havent really reached that point yet) that SHE sunk her claws into him and keeps him on a short lease.

  • When I found myself waiving on kicking him out I kept two things in mind:

    1.) Do not teach your son and daughter that it is appropriate to let your partner devalue/cheat/lie to you
    2.) Do not teach your son and daughter that it okay to accept this in any relationship

    If you do not value yourself and set an example to your children they will believe that this is okay. I never want to be responsible for teaching them that betrayal is acceptable. Those two thoughts kept me steady throughout this whole cluster fuck.

  • My biggest concern now is for those precious little Babies that will be arriving in the world soon. If my Chump friend didn’t have the strength & cojones to leave her Cheater BEFORE, I have no hope that she’ll be able to do so after those babes arrive. 

    She’s convinced herself that everything is like a fairy tale now because she’s been reading those articles and blogs, where people talk BS about how they came out “bigger, better, stronger, happier, sparklier” after infidelity… Hmmmm… I call Bullshit!!

    What’s gonna happen after those babies are born & everyone is sleep deprived, cranky, hormonal & financially strapped?? Not to mention the lack of sex he’ll get because GOD FORBID SHE’S EXHAUSTED! This is a guy whose ‘go to’ stress fix is to drink & cheat. Slowly but surely he’ll start coming home later & later from work & pulling the “Honey, I have to work on Sunday”, etc. etc…

    Sigh :(

    • Send her to the site below, where the woman articulately shows how gut-wrenching reconciliation can be, month by month. When at month 11 after D-day, she admitted she had had a week with more good days than bad, I gave up on thoughts of reconciliation and found Chumplady the next day [cue Handel’s Messiah].

      • I’ve read that blog, it breaks my heart to see the pain in the posts and comments. I keep wanting to post that folks should check out but I’m not sure the author would be tolerant of that.

        • Dat–I believe I did post a link to on one of the comments on the shattered… blog, but didn’t check back to see if had remained. I may try again, as the stories are heartbreaking–keylogging computers, checking spouse’s texts & email, worrying if they have to work late, viewing their wandering eye…who wants to live like that? (esp. given the multiple stories on CL about women who reconciled and are back in the same cheating place 2, 3, …10 years later). I’m not one to give up easily (per my 24 years in the relationship, despite its emotional undermining of me), but enough is enough.

          You do wonder if the people on the shattered.. site don’t fully realize there is an alternative.

  • This woman suspected this guy was cheating and stayed with him even though they weren’t married. All I can say is that if I see any signs of infidelity, I am going to back way, way off until I can see the whole picture. The last thing I would do is marry a guy who had been cheating on my for 1 1/2 years while I raised his kid and certainly I wouldn’t breed with him outside of marriage, given the long-term cheating and the disengagement from the first child. Reading about this woman makes me profoundly sad. She needs to sit down with a competent therapist and figure out why she puts so little value on her own life.

    Smartenup, it seems likely she will need to hit rock bottom when he leave or takes up in public with some other woman.

  • If she’s willing to see a therapist you can probably get your friend free sessions at the local women’s shelter, there might be groups you could go to with her. The books Psyche mentioned, give her the Lundy book, but only at your house, do not let her husband see it. Tell her you love her.

    You can’t save your friend, until she realizes she needs to save herself, there is little you can do.

    Except. Don’t give up on her, don’t forget her, talk to her, be there when she’s ready to leave.

  • “I think HIS “trap” to keep her from leaving was to propose and HER “trap” was to make him straighten up by getting pregnant. All of this has taken place since May.”

    Yikes. That sounds like a great way to move a relationship to the next stage: both of them trying to out-manipulate the other. If he’s physically abusive, please keep your eye out on the 9 year old involved. Chances are if he’s hurting one he’s also probably hurting the other. If you suspect, call CPS and you can do so anonymously. I think you can still call them if you see marks on her as the child would then be in a dangerous environment. They in turn decide whether or not to take any action based on what you report.

    There isn’t much you can do for your friend unfortunately, it’s out of your control. You have done what you can, she won’t listen. As much as you want to prevent it she’s the one standing in her way. Keep the boundaries you need to keep yourself healthy. If you need to keep a healthy distance while still being ready for if/when she finally hits her rock bottom, then do so. It sucks not being able to get the other person to see the light.

  • Hi smartenupalready,
    I’m sorry but I agree with others in that you can’t get your friend to do anything.

    People come to things in their own time and when they are hurting enough they will make a change.

    I would not let this drag you down, but be supportive if she asks you.

  • Smartenup, I was your friend for over 20 years. I know how she feels. Unfortunately, until she takes the steps to love and value herself, she will stay in that situation. I started individual therapy a couple of years before the final OW. By the time she rolled around, all I did was ask for the house keys from my ex and threw him out. I didn’t even know there was an OW until a month later. The minute he started telling me that he was unhappy, he was out. I knew then I had enough value not to deal with some smuck who seemed to be always unhappy and blamed me for it. When I found out about the final OW, it still hurt but I knew staying would hurt a lot more.

    I would definitely encourage your friend to come to Chump Lady but also seek individual counseling. Not about her relationship which stinks but why she is “choosing” to stay in a very unhealthy relationship. What is it that she believes about herself that this relationship is all she deserves? Ask her to show you a list of pros and cons by staying. I bet all the items are full of holes. I know the drill quite well because I got good at it. I was so good at it that I even convinced my friends to see why staying was the best option. Staying with a serial cheater is never the answer. I do know that staying with a cheater is the sure road to self destruction.

    Continue to be a great friend but realize that in the end, all you can do is be there for her. She still has to make the hard decisions.

  • Smartenup,

    As Uniquelyme so eloquently stated above, my thinking about my relationship with my STBX was very similar to your friend’s. Whenever one good thing happened, I clung to that as evidence that things really were the way I wanted to believe, instead of the way they actually were. Unfortunately for me, I was an excellent spackler and there wasn’t anyone outside of our front door who knew the every day truth of my life – the subtle and not so subtle control maneuvers, STBX’s dark moods and depression which would spring up seemingly out of nowhere, for which I was somehow always to blame – for either doing too much or not doing enough. Some days I was everything right, other days I was everything wrong. As time went on, those “I was everything wrong” days came to dominate.

    It is very hard when you are in the situation to see it for what it is – it becomes your normal. People with healthy self-esteem and a clear sense of their own value are normally not in relationships with people like the man with whom your friend is involved. I understand your frustration – it is so much easier to see any situation clearly when you are not actively participating – and your friend is an active participant in the dysfunction at this point. Mr. Magoo was a cartoon character from long ago who walked around all the time with his eyes closed, not seeing anything he didn’t want to see. As a child I thought he was stupid and couldn’t understand why he didn’t just open his eyes. After awhile, I stopped watching the cartoon because he frustrated me (as a child! I obviously was more astute as a child than as an adult). As an adult I realize he was an apt metaphor for how I lived within my marriage and how many people live their lives. Until your own personal Ms. Magoo is ready to open her eyes, there isn’t much you can do. Direct her here, suggest individual counseling – but ultimately it will be up to her to “open her eyes.”

    I’m a patient person when it is someone for whom I care, so I would probably remain her friend. However, I would probably not comment much more on her relationship with the pig with whom she is involved, and any comments would be neutral. The more you try to pull her away, the more she will cling to him. You’ve probably already told her what you think so she already knows. You’ve planted the seed. It will either eventually take root, or it won’t. You don’t control that. I hope for the sake of the 3 children who will be part of this mess, she eventually wises up. I don’t see much hope for the relationship whatever she does. If she doesn’t leave him, he will probably eventually leave her. Ask me how I know.

  • Oh Chump Princess it makes me so sad 🙁 thank you for sharing.. I’m afraid to ask, but if you want to share, then “How do you know?”

    • I don’t mind sharing at all, if it will help. When I dated my STBX, he cheated on me at least twice of which I am aware during the almost 2 years that we dated, each time convincing me that it was something that I was doing or not doing that “caused” him to cheat. We broke up at least twice, with him coming back and love bombing me. I was totally swept away by the “romance” of the “win.” Once we were married, there were frequent bouts of depression (many times, blamed on me or the relationship), poor behavior (blamed on some circumstance, situation or person, including me), porn and the women who were “just friends” (which I believed, as I trusted him). As the marriage progressed, his needs, wants and moods became the focal point of our lives and my needs and wants became almost non-existent. I spent the latter years of the marriage in service to his needs, wants and moods. They would have to invent a new word to describe the type of doormat I had become. We have four children. Once they were grown (no child support worries) and he had spent all the money I had, he cruelly discarded me for a childhood friend with an extravagant lifestyle on beachfront property who had been trying to lure him away for years.

      You see, he had shown me who and what he was when we were dating, but I could not or would not believe it. I cared more about the “relationship” than I did about myself. There was something in me that craved whatever it was I saw in him, however dysfunctional that was. My mother tried to warn me about STBX, but I refused to listen. I thought I knew better. And your friend bringing children into it? Children cannot mend a broken relationship – they only become collateral damage when it all goes to hell.

      I am not a drama junkie. In fact, I hate drama – it is exhausting. I do, however, understand the deficiency that exists in a person that would cause them to believe the necessity of remaining in this type of relationship. I have been in therapy for over 18 months and have become aware of what was lacking in me that caused me to accept so little for so long. It is a process and your friend has yet to admit that there is a problem. She is more comfortable with the devil that she knows, unfortunately. I fear that she may have to hit rock bottom at some point in order to seek help. I hope you will be there to support her when and if that happens.

      And thank you but don’t be sad. This has been an extremely painful experience (I deeply, deeply loved my STBX), but it has been one of extreme growth and self-knowledge that I might not have realized had this not happened. I hope that at the end of my life I will have managed to become an example for my children (and grandchildren) instead of a terrible warning.

      • Chump Princess, your story is so similar to mine, it’s scary. I didn’t know my ex was cheating on me before marriage until a few months ago when one of my dearest friends told me. There is indeed a pattern with these serial cheaters. I truly believe they are wired that way. “Mindsight” by Daniel Seigel is quite the read about how we can change our brains to behave differently. Of course, if the cheaters don’t think they are doing something wrong, why change? “Myths of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky is another interesting book. She’s been featured in a few podcasts that are very enlightening if you want to check her out. I kept on saying, “That’s it”. None of these books are cheater-specific but I learned so much. Understanding behavior, mine and others, is key to avoiding disordered people.

        • Uniquelyme, you know you are one of my Sheroes. I love the spirit of you that shines through in your posts. I will definitely check out the books you have recommended and thank you so much for suggesting them. Love to you.

      • Wow, Chump Princess, your story is almost the same as mine too! Right down to the 4 kids though mine are still very young so I am trying to line my ducks up to be able to take care of them once I leave. There were red flags and I only recently found out about the cheating and don’t know if it has been something that has been going on all along or not. The gradual increase in emotional abuse is insidious. Only recently, have I been paying attention to it because I had spent the bulk of the last 14 years chastising myself for being so thin skinned and feeling ridiculous for always feeling on edge, anxious, and angry after certain days. A few days ago when he was in one of his moods, I felt just awful by the end of the evening and I had not spent more than an hour with him. I quickly wrote down all the interactions I had experienced with him that evening and there were 10 times where he criticises me, shouted at the kids or at the dog, or complained about something…implying that I was supposed to just hop to it and fix it….ugh…he is like king tut and I am like a servant during those times. I react without much thought because that is what i am conditioned to do. The next two days were ok and did not have many of those negative interactions…then, 3 days later, another bad day. It is truly exhausting and I am only recently beginning to wake up to all of this. I just read in sheeps clothing and that was a very informative read. I think us chumps get so tripped up because we generously give people the benefit of the doubt because it is unthinkable to us that people could be so calloused and manipulative. I am slowly waking up but have a ways to go…this is a great site…thank you all!

        • SoUnreal–keep recording the criticisms and bad moods, etc. It will help fuel your motivation toward divorce and those notes can be re-read each time you start missing the cheater-jerk. I recently found my notes from June 2014, when I had started to document his bad behaviors to see if they were as frequent as I thought. Turns out they were MORE frequent than I thought. Realizing this propelled me toward leaving him; I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop (then what dropped was a 40-ton Mack truck instead–D-Day). I re-read that catalog of abuses every time I have a weak moment, and it reminds me of how there is no going back to that abusive relationship (even if there had not been infidelity).

          • Tempest, Thank you for the validation on that 🙂 When i record stuff, I just feel like I am being mean-spirited but I keep telling myself that I am trying to just record facts.. I guess I need to get over myself 🙂 It has helped me get to a more detached point. I want to get to the point where I can just kind of step out of the situation on those bad days and see it for what it is because I have been internalizing it for so long and didn’t really realize that my self esteem was taking that much of a hit from it Sticking with the cataloging is the difficult part for me, especially when the “good” days come around and I am far too easily placated into thinking everything is ok and will stay that way. Those good behavior days are almost like little tranquilizer darts 🙂 but I did make a general big list of crappy treatment and boy, I sure seem to have enjoyed eating those sh*!-sandwiches for years…what was I thinking!

  • You can’t (get her to wise up). Only she can do that. You can support her as much as you are able, but there will come a point in time, if she continues to resist–that you must realize that she is probably as disordered as he is. Happens all the time. There is no hard and fast rule that says that one party is “normal” and the other party “abnormal”. There are codependents, inverted narcissists (who crave being with narcissists only), covert narcissists, somatic and cerebral narcissists–your friend may be any one of them. You can only try and help and when that time comes that she won’t budge—you’ll know to cut your losses with her or be dragged down.

    She knows. Just like some others that I’ve met know, in the most blatant, in your face way. Sometimes it’s a pride thing or a competitive thing “I am not going to let HER/HIM win!” Win what? Just ask your friend that question. What is she winning by staying with this guy?

    If she can’t answer that intelligently, meaning, excluding that cop out “But I luuuuuuuuuuuuuv him” meme–then she wants to be right where she is, and you need to move on from this soul sucking friendship.

    Hate to be harsh, but there it is. No rule that says she has to be anywhere near mentally healthy to begin with.

  • This line really stuck with me: “She thinks love is jumping through flaming hoops for people in order to be found worthy.”

    I think I suffer from this. I have a long history of being told I was a loser by my parents which I believe has probably led to this belief within me. Funny thing is, once I ‘prove’ myself and ‘earn’ their love, I kick people like that to the curb. I resent them and their hoops for once I’ve proven myself to myself, I realize that they were wrong to have treated me that way all along.

  • The truth of the matter is that cheating on someone AND lying about it is abusive behavior. Specifically, the gaslighting, the emotional trauma of dealing with the cheating and the eventual humiliation, particularly over a long period of time, creates a domestic violence victim. A person who has been abused has been controlled and manipulated. Never doubt for a moment that a victim doesn’t want desperately to leave the relationship and to gain back her/his life. In fact, many attempt to leave and may not actually be successful until the 6th or 7th time. That’s why you may hear about what’s going on over and over, while you’re offering sensible advice, yet it seems as if the friend isn’t getting it. They’ve been manipulated for so long that they are almost paralyzed. emotionally. Many believe the person will change because that’s what has happened consistently. Others are afraid that they won’t have the financial stability needed to provide for themselves or the kids. Some feel as if they can change the abuser, which of course can never be done. That’s the reason we marry our abusers, stay in the relationship, protect the abuser or immediately get pregnant. Then there’s the issue of low self esteem, which can be crippling. It’s also not unusual for the narcissist to spread so many lies about the victim’s character, that no one believes his or her statements of what has really been going on in the home. In some instances, even where there has been no previous physical violence, once a person decides to no longer deal with the narcissistic behavior, that person may then become violent.

    Yes, as Chumplady and others have stated, we can’t “fix” the problem, and yes, seeing what is happening to a friend or family member that we love may cause frustration or downright anger because he/she won’t leave; but EVENTUALLY that person does gain the strength to move on. Something we say hits a nerve, an action happens that is truly heinous, they get the needed finances, a child is mistreated, there is a violent act, a message posted here from the awesome people on this fantastic Blog, therapy, or there is some other sudden epiphany. Something WILL happen to change the situation. We just have to be ready to offer support, guidance and love when it does.


    • Yes, i agree. I told my sister for ages to dump her loser and so did many of her friends. But it wasn’t until one moment when one friend said something that she was able to see it clearly. Had we given up on her, she might still be in that situation.

      • As the great author Lundy Bancroft writes, “Cheating is 100% the fault of the cheater”, yet the cheater will hurt or accuse, tell you it’s all your fault ,call you delusional, defame your character, keep cheating,and everything else so you feel bad, until your self-esteem is at an all time low. UniquelyMe: Wow! Wise words that are truly appreciated, and I really admire all who have been able to take the HUGE step of ending the relationship or getting a divorce. It’s never easy realizing that the person we loved so unconditionally didn’t mind stepping on our hearts so brutally. This site offers so much support and guidance so we can gain our lives back. Hugs…

    • “The truth of the matter is that cheating on someone AND lying about it is abusive behavior. Specifically, the gaslighting, the emotional trauma of dealing with the cheating and the eventual humiliation, particularly over a long period of time, creates a domestic violence victim.”

      Thank you so much for saying this Ro. For some reason this information is lacking/glossed over in the discussion of domestic abuse. I wish I knew how this concept could get incorporated into the discussion of domestic abuse and what it actually is. So much of the attention given abuse focuses on the physical. However, in what I know about abuse, by the time it becomes physical, emotional and verbal abuse has already been an ongoing component of the relationship.

      • Hey There Chump Princess: This is what is sad about abuse and you are so right. Domestic Violence is already a silent crime, yet being verbally abused by being humiliated in public, degraded, cheated on or lied to constantly is very misunderstood, and in many cases simply brushed under the carpet. What we hear frequently from victims/survivors, is this statement from the abuser “She’s crazy, I never hit her did I?” This then causes the victim to doubt her own sanity, and another reason she feels like she must deal with the cheating and/or other bad behavior because no one will believe her. Just like talking about the cheating, we continue to talk about the dangers of domestic violence in all its disguises. I think talking about it is key. Thank you so much for your very valuable feedback and BIG Hugs…

        • That’s what mine said when I told him he was a bully and emotionally abusive – “I didn’t hit you” like WTF is that??? Completely minimized it. Some are too clever to leave physical bruises which just shows they know what they are doing. A waste of organs is what a friend has said about him… of course the heart and brain are worthless anyway.

  • I am currently in the process of divorcing a narc. Yes, I played the pick-me-dance several times when the kids were young and I wanted to keep the dream of a happy family together. When the kids were out of the house and I found he cheated again, he was out that night.

    One of my friends recently found out her husband has been having an affair with someone since 2011 and has had a couple of one-night stands. This is still new and raw to her, but I’ve guided her towards this site. If anything, I hope she sees that once this behavior has happened, if they get back together, there is an incredibly strong chance she will be going through this again later down the line.

    Thank you, Chump Nation, for posting honestly about your lives and situations. I think once she starts reading, she will, like me, see how the narcs all use the same playbook and cutting the ties now and moving on will make her happier sooner. I know I am thrilled to have my STBX almost out of my life.

  • Thanks, Scorps! I will raise a glass to you at the end of January.

    You guys have all said it better than me, and I sincerely hope SmartenUp’s pal smartens up. Hoping that the Momma Bear sensibility kicks in after the babies arrive.

    Love to all Chump Nation.


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