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Dear Chump Lady, I wish I didn’t care

lovemonkeyDear Chump Lady,

I thank you for your blog it gives me some comfort. I am not sure I can claim to be “cheated on” but I feel like it fits.

My “partner” protected himself under the ridiculous “friends with benefits” clause. You see he was my boyfriend for five years, we even lived together. Then we broke up as I was aware he had cheated. We saw each other sporadically over the next few years, the last year spending approximately four nights a week together. The other three, he as free to see his friend I affectionately refer to as “crack whore.” Yes, I am completely stupid, and worried for my health.

No, he was never my husband, but I did love him. There were times I could swear he loved me back.
So now that I just can’t take this anymore, how do I stop caring? I have a nineteen-year old son (not cheater’s son) with high functioning autism, who needs his mother to make good, rational decisions. I can see that I was seriously deluded to think there was any kind of future for the two of us with this tragically flawed character. But knowing that and moving on are two different things. You must understand, you are remarried, moved on and still blogging. How do I stop wishing he loved me the way I loved him? The sooner the better. I managed to let go of my son’s father, this has to be possible too. Is there a pill, or a witch’s spell that will make me care less?


Dear Jen,

Your problem isn’t to learn to stop caring. The problem is directing your love and attention to someone wholly undeserving of it. You want to care for someone, to be intimate with them, and you want them to care about you. So the “friends with benefits” option was never going to work for you. You’ve wanted more from the start — and that’s OKAY. You were just barking up the wrong tree.

I’m not sure from your letter if the relationship was always FWB or he was your boyfriend, he cheated, and then you had the FWB relationship. In any case, after you learned he cheated, or after you spent so much time with a man who would not publicly acknowledge you as his girlfriend, you needed to end it. Everything after that was the pick me dance and settling for scraps. Jen, never, ever devalue yourself that way again, please.

The trick isn’t to learn to stop caring — it’s to know your worth. When you truly know your worth, there is no price on your dignity. You’ll find yourself in one of these mismatches and say “I don’t need it that bad.” I don’t need companionship so bad that I’ll accept being cheated on. I don’t need sex so bad that I’ll be with someone who risks my health. I don’t need the appearance of coupledom so bad that I’ll tolerate verbal abuse.

You have to quit bargaining for kibble starvation rations and start drawing lines in earth about what you will and will not tolerate. Oh no! But then I’ll have NO kibbles! No faux-love! No warm body!

You can do without, because you’re worth more than that. And I really do believe you will not be alone forever unless you want to be. Not everyone sucks. The world is full of decent people and you only need ONE to be a partner.

Oh, easy for me to say from my lofty perch of the Married and Moved On. What do I know of the loneliness and sexlessness of the single life? A LOT. I lived it for years. The smugness of intact families at school functions. Being the Lone Single Mom. The Only Divorced 30-Something In Her Demographic. The awkward odd number at the dinner party. The single person at the wedding. Lived it. Did it. Survived it. You can too.

Being single isn’t a disease or a life sentence. It’s a choice. I CHOSE to be single. I divorced my first husband (mental illness) and then (God help me) I divorced the second as well (serial cheater). I needed to get to a point — and I very painfully got there — where I was truly content if I never paired up again. I had my kid, my house, my garden, my job, my friends. It filled my days. I remember planting oriental lilies in my garden and looking at the sky over the Susquehanna river and thinking, “This is enough. I’m happy. I could die here.”

So when I met my husband, I had a LOT to give up. He had to be someone to really knock my socks off and be worthy of me and my son, because I wasn’t leaving paradise for just anyone, you know? (Especially not to move to a place like Texas, a conservative state the color of dead grass.)

Now, I know I sound like the insufferable people who spout to the single: “Oh you’ll find someone when you’re not looking.”

You might not find someone. Point is to make your life as full as you can anyway. Be happy in yourself.

Fuck that noise! I want someone to love me!

I get it. We aren’t meant to be celibate. Well, then you’re doing the delicate dating balancing act of weighing sex against long-term potential. Let that go, okay? You might find someone to have a fling with and that person does NOT have to be your pseudo boyfriend for the next 7 years. Some shoes don’t fit. Accept it and move on.

Part of dating life is learning to dump and be dumped. If rejection scares you, get past that. It’s simply a matter again of knowing your worth. You dumped? This person wasn’t a good fit, wasn’t worthy of you. You got dumped? You weren’t a match for them. Your values aren’t aligned. Good to know. Onward and upward.

You don’t think you can do that? Sure you can. If you’ve been cheated on, you’ve already survived the worst humiliation and rejection life can dish out. Dating should be a cake walk after that. (Especially when you don’t have 20 years, two kids, and a mortgage invested.)

Be kind to yourself. You’re taking care of a special needs kid. You must give a lot of yourself. You deserve some tenderness. Surround yourself with people who support you, who bring out your best. Being a single parent is a position that naturally makes us vulnerable. It’s hard, hard work. So that’s why we have to be extra vigilant to be strong. Disordered people prey on folks like us — givers, responsible boot-strappers.

You don’t have a lot of extra kibble to spare, you know? So don’t settle.



Ask Chump Lady

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  • Jen, listen to Tracy. This is spot on. I “chose” to live with a serial cheater for over 20 years. Notice I used the word “chose” because it was a choice. Yes, it was based on fear, pain and ignorance but it was still my choice. And you know why? Because I did not know my worth. My ex valued his BMW more than he valued me. Heck, he valued his skis more than me. My gut kept telling me it was no way to live but I kept on ignoring that voice within and decided instead that a life of desperation with a serial cheater was better than not being with him. As I type that now, I am sad for that person that used to be me but grateful I am out of that mess. Whatever was I thinking? I put all my energies in pleasing the cheater and saving my marriage when I should have put those on myself. Not in a narcissistic manner but rather looking into why I accepted scraps, and why I thought the cheater deserved better than I did. He didn’t and never did.

    You learn to let go when you know your worth as Tracy wonderfully captured in her response. See, right now, your world is crowded by your partner. There’s no room for you. I bet you think about him all the time, how much you care for him, how you can make him love you, how happy you will be if he just said or did certain things. All cheater centered. Cheater crowded. Think of a room in your house that may have a ton of stuff. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? What if you decide that you will remove one item at a time? This chair doesn’t belong here. Off to Goodwill it goes. These clothes? They don’t fit me anymore. Gone. Pretty soon there will be space for new things. That new thing is you. Start today, Jen.

    • I agree Uniquelyme- about choosing to stay and then learning to let go. The relationship with our exes is mental junk now- stuff we don’t need anymore which we need to ditch. I even think there is a link between getting over the cheater and streamlining your (new) life. I’ve just discovered www. A Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis was what got author Courtney Carver to simplify her life (get rid of stuff) but cheating is as good a crisis as any to get down to the things that matter.

      And the letting go, like decluttering is a process. Even today I was getting rid of a piece of furniture I’ve been a bit reluctant to let go (made by the XH) but it’s out of the house now and that’s a bit more space in my home, in my head and in my heart for something new. I came across a quote which helps me understand the process bit –“I’m not where I thought I’d be but I’m not where I was.” As long as we’re looking forward and not back, we’ll all be ok.

    • I loved your post UniquelyMe! It is always so comforting to read when someone is able to put into words so well what I feel but don’t have the words for!
      Thank you for the poem too. Both posts brought comfort and validation.

    • “I “chose” to live with a serial cheater for over 20 years. Notice I used the word “chose” because it was a choice. Yes, it was based on fear, pain and ignorance but it was still my choice. And you know why? Because I did not know my worth. My ex valued his BMW more than he valued me. Heck, he valued his skis more than me. My gut kept telling me it was no way to live but I kept on ignoring that voice within and decided instead that a life of desperation with a serial cheater was better than not being with him.”

      I love you Uniquelyme! That so sums up my 25 plus years marriage to the STBX. You have articulated the sum total of my years with him. I no longer totally regret the relationship because I am so grateful for my children. However, I stayed entirely too long with someone who never cared about, honored or respected me the way in which I deserved. However, if I had honored and respected myself the way in which I deserved, I never would have put up with his treatment and benign neglect.

      Thank you Uniquelyme for your post.

    • Uniquely……oh, so the BMW was valued over you? Well, the BMW in my situation was also valued over me, along with his other ‘toy’s’ including his strippers. I was ALWAYS at the bottom of the list. Actually, I really don’t think I even made it to a list.

  • I forgot to add this poem by Derek Walcott:

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    • Exactly- I love those lines:”Take down the love letters from the bookshelf/the photographs, the desperate notes”- that’s what I was saying above about the ‘mental junk’

    • Thanks for posting the poem, Uniquelyme. It’s perfect: “You will love again the stranger who was your self.” That’s a jewel for all of Chump Nation on the Sunday.

  • Jen,
    One step to moving on is accepting that you have no control over another person.
    Letting go is actually easier than holding on.
    Good luck!

  • “The trick isn’t to learn to stop caring — it’s to know your worth. When you truly know your worth, there is no price on your dignity. You’ll find yourself in one of these mismatches and say “I don’t need it that bad.” I don’t need companionship so bad that I’ll accept being cheated on. I don’t need sex so bad that I’ll be with someone who risks my health. I don’t need the appearance of coupledom so bad that I’ll tolerate verbal abuse”….

    How did you get so wise CL? Your reply as always answered a question I have been asking myself for a couple of weeks now… ‘Why do I still care about a Sociopath?’
    I could have written Jen’s story!… Except my story was far worse.. I was much more of a chump as I spent 13 years married to my cheater but was treated like a FWB… whom he “came back home too” after 13 years of sleeping with everyone but me his wife. I felt like the “mistress” or the OW in my own home.
    As hard as the process of divorce is, as heart wrenching the loneliness is.. It still beats hands down the constant humiliation and pain of living with a serial emotionally absent and abusive cheat.
    Hugs to you Jen, like. CL said- “OUR problem isn’t to learn to stop caring. The problem is directing your love and attention to someone wholly undeserving”
    Best wishes.

    • 13yearchump,
      At times, I, the wife, felt like the OW. At other times, I felt like the back up kibble dispense when Cheater was too lazy, too cheap, too whatever to meet one of his affair partners or prostitutes.

      • RockStarWife,
        Thank God we finally had the courage to leave that misery of a life behind… I say courage because been treated as the OW in YOUR marriage has a way of seriously denting your self esteem & self respect.

  • Thank all of you for telling me what I knew, but was ignoring for the last year. I am so glad I found this blog.

    It occurs to me that my sister and I are vulnerable to the “pick me” dance because we were forced into a whacked “dancing with the stars” by our parents. My sister was favored by my mother, and I by my father. It was so confusing for us. I always wanted my mom to like me and I’m guessing she wanted my dad to like her.

    But none of that is important if it’s not what I want. I don’t want to be with someone who plays this game. I have never enjoyed this game.

    • Our FOO (Family of Origin) issues probably set us up for valuing others more that ourselves. It might be worth it to find a good therapist to work on how to clear up that old programming. If you are aware of that old dynamic, you can put it to rest in your life so you aren’t unconsciously recreating it. For me it took getting chomped by a full-out narcissist to see the my picker was set on “narcissist.” Reading here helped me put that final piece of the puzzle together. Fix that picker!

      • Absolutely LAJ. People in our FOO have programmed us to engage in future narcissistic relationship dynamics, where we are the submissive partner. I’ll wager that most of us grew up with either a narcissistic mother or father or both. We were unconsciously groomed as innocent children to repeat the pathological dynamic of loving a character disordered person because the dynamic felt comfortable, familiar and was firmly engrained in our psyches. We didn’t know any better and why should we?

        Our narcissistic cheaters devalued us – we need to devalue them. In turn, we need to value ourselves. Learn to love yourself and be content even in your loneliness.

        • So true. My mother was a narcissist, who had everybody fetching and carrying for her. I married a man very much like her and wasted 16 years of precious life before it all became clear to me. Find a good therapist, Jen, and start connecting the dots. You will thank yourself for the rest of your new and improved life.

          • Isn´t it weird when you discover that you married your mother (the narcissist) instead of your father (the passive chump)? I don´t think my mom was ever a cheater but she certainly is a narcissist and my father has lived his life by passively accepting it because he is committed to the marriage. But it is sad to see such a talented person wasting his gifts because his spouse always pressured him to have the “right job” according to how it would reflect on her status. I have only begun to recognize this as an adult because my own chumpy habits seem to have been modeled on his…but not any more! Consciousness is an incredible weapon against self-defeating habits (and a bad picker).

            • Chumpita, I married a man very much like my sweet father the second time around, after doing the hard work to understand how on earth I could have been such a chump. A pair of chumps = a cooperative caring marriage. Sadly, his (now adult) daughter has taken after her own narcissistic mom, so we enjoy living in peace thousands of miles away.

              • Indeed, a pair of chumps equals a cooperative caring marriage. I’m a chump and my second husband is also a chump. We have been happily married for 10 years . Our seven children (4 his, 3 mine) are grown now and have left home, but we maintain close relationships with all of them, and they with each other. The last ten years have been the best decade of my life – lots of hard work for both my husband and I to maintain our many relationships, while working full time and caring for aging parents, but when you have a loving marriage, with someone who is a true partner, it is possible to do.

                I so rarely think of my cheater ex who also married a cheater. I can only imagine what their marriage is like – a seeping cauldron of anger, jealousy, hostility, vindictiveness, isolation, frustration and paranoia. No thanks, I had enough of that toxic mix in my first marriage – so, so glad to be free of it.

              • tflan, my cheating ex is dead and gone now, and that gives me peace. My now formerly chump husband has been around for over 11 years. We’re married for over four years now. The hard times only involve his now 25 year old daughter who is a narcissist like her mom, and of course has her mom with her, moving from coast to coast to clean her toilets and such. I won’t fetch and carry properly, and the “child” reports my lack of servitude to her mom. So be it. I’ll say “No, you can’t invite another three people to stay with us. We have one guest room, suitable for two people.” “No, I asked you not to interrupt me today and you’ve interrupted me four times to serve you and your guests meals before the meal I planned. So if you want dinner to be on time, you can perhaps help me load the dishwasher.” Her response: “NO! I’M ON VACATION!” My response: “So am I. It just doesn’t feel that way.” She goes, HUFF, HUFF, HUFF. “Then YOU can buy me a hotel!” I say, “No. You need to behave like a gracious guest, just like we are behaving like gracious hosts.” Her response: “If YOU can’t get dinner done on time, just give us what you have done and we’ll start without you.”

                The gift that keeps giving is a narcissistic stepchild. We’ve agreed that we won’t be feeding that beast anymore. It’s easier to excuse that bad behavior when they are adolescents. In adulthood, they are exactly who they will always be. Bad people.

            • Yes. We aren’t children. We aren’t trapped in that dynamic. We can look at it for what it is and say, “It stops here, with me,” so that it doesn’t go on to the next generation, and the next.

  • I’m really struggling because I didn’t chose to be single. It was forced upon me out of the blue after 23 years. I was happy for most of my marriage, until the discard phase started. He refused counselling and walked out, filing within days. I had no say in anything. I was too shocked and traumatized to even pull myself together enough to get to the place of filing first. All I could do is fight for financial survival. Everyone is telling me it’s for the best but my self worth is in the toilet. I’m suffering severe depression and been suicidal. I don’t even know where to begin to rebuild a life that seems worth living. Sorry to be a downer. Not doing well.

    • You didn’t choose to be cheated on. None of us did. Your exe’s act resulted in you being single. Whether he divorced you or you divorced him, this shit is thrust upon us. (I certainly didn’t go into my second marriage expecting to be divorced again.) All you control is what you do next. You can let this crisis pull you into the undertow and drown or you can swim.

      Swim, Lina! You don’t have to know what the new life looks like. Your job now is just swim to the shore of something. Reach land. Move! That’s enough right now. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Now’s the time to just be kind to yourself.

      • Lina, CL is right – even when you don’t know where you are headed or what your new life will look like, you have to move forward.

        I am in the same boat, more or less, and watching my shithead STBX sail right on my as I feel I am drowning, to boot.

        I am just focusing on making each day tolerable, not the big-picture make a life stuff. For me that is daily exercise, and lots of creative nurturing: novels, art galleries, movies. When I can focus again I’m going to do a giant declutter. I have some good friends and am looking out for more. Being kind to deserving other people helps me be kind to myself.

        Jedi hugs, Lina

        • Lina- I was married 19 years and most of it was happy. Then the devalue phase started and it just got worse and worse until I was avoiding my husband all the time. Then, he had an emotional affair and I kicked him out of the house. I did not file for divorce, he did. Did I want him to turn back into the man I thought he once was? You bet! I prayed for that miracle but it did not happen and I know in my heart it is because God knew I deserved better, even when I couldn’t see that. You deserve so much better, you are like that stained glass window that CL posted yesterday. Your commitment and love for your husband and family is a very beautiful thing. You are so precious and worthy even if you don’t feel like it right now.

          On a practical note, consider having EMDR treatment. You probably have PTSD from your husband’s gut wrenching betrayal. EMDR can help you process the pain and anger much quicker. ((Hugs to you.))

          • Nicole,
            From things you’ve written previously Id already known our marriages and the ends of it had been similar and even more so every time you post….
            The duration of mine wasn’t as long but it was really good (at least to me, at that phase in my life) and when the devalue stage hit I was stunned. A year of that then the discard came so quickly. Although I kicked him out, I too prayed for the man I adored to come back. But he filed for divorce as easily as he deposits a check. Crazy to think.
            But hugs to all. We are surviving & thriving!

            • TheBetterJamie- Wow! My devaluing lasted just about a year too and then sudden discard. My huband showed some narcisstic traits sporadically during our marriage but once the devaluing started he became a monster to me and our kids. We used to be best friends and had many, many good times. My friends and family were shocked because he was such a devoted husband to me for so many years. It is SO difficult to understand. I’m betting you are feeling the same way. My heart goes out to you.

        • Lina – you deserve SOOO much better, and I have to agree with Nicole S. on her point abut praying for a miracle that didn’t happen. After deciding to file against my XCheater after 8 mos post DDay, I was still suffering PTSD and second-guessing if I made the right choice. Listen to CL! What I forgot was my value as a mighty woman who knows fierce loyalty to family and marriage. That f-tard serial XCheater of mine NEVER deserved me, and yours never has either!

          Since that time of filing, I have often gained glimmers of clarity in that my God put His hand on my marriage and said, “Enough. This is gonna hurt like hell, but you’re worth SO much more, and have so much love and loyalty to share, that I want it to be given to a worthy man; not this lying, scheming, adulterer.” So then, it’s up to me to walk this walk, re-discover and love myself for all the reasons I couldn’t understand why that cheater didn’t, and come to terms about losing 23 yrs and 8 mos of loyalty and life on an asshole. But because he sucks, I now GET to do this! You get to do this, too! But it’s just hour-by-hour. Day-by-day, and you’ll start to feel happiness creep back into your life. You’re who made things beautiful in your life, your home, and with your family; your cheater had NOTHING to do with that, and no, small instances that may have seemed like engagement don’t count against the lifetime you worked to make it happen. You (like me & all Chumps…) spackled to make it appear, or make yourself think, he was engaged with your family. Cheaters only engage in their cheating, and their whores.

          Lina – you’re stronger than it feels like right now. Just keep praying, learning, growing, and loving yourself and your kids. One-day-at-a-time, girl. That’s all any of us can do. No – we didn’t choose single life, but shift your perspective! Our cheaters get what now?? Other known cheaters, and we get our freedom and the world of options!! We’re not tied to a douchebag cheater by CHOICE anymore! Who cares how it happened at this point – we’re free! But most importantly, we can look at ourselves in the mirror with our dignity and integrity; we keep our vows, and our word and promises are unshaken. This is who we are. And look how God has blessed you with a cheater-free, douchebag-free life now! Our possibilities are endless, and our eyes are open now. I know it doesn’t feel like it at this moment, but seek out the bits of goodness in each day, and you’ll get there. We all will. (((hugs, Lina)))

          • That was beautiful, and exactly why my name here is FreeWoman!
            Viva a New Life! And doing whatever the Hell you want at last!

    • Hi Lina-just replying to you because I know being told it’s for the best doesn’t help with the pain. I always think that the divorce etc was like being told I had to have major surgery to save my life. Of course that’s ‘for the best’ but it doesn’t stop the fear or the pain of surgery. Or the long period of recuperation. It’s horrible- why should you like it? You have an emotional injury and you have to acknowledge that and treat yourself accordingly. That might mean doctors and medication, or therapy. Or going away to ‘convalesce’ ( but certainly keeping away from your STBX who has caused the injury). And we all understand the self worth stuff but you know from here that that does get better. Just hang in there.

    • Hugs to you Lina! Please please know that you are not alone, many of us here have been where you are exactly…some have passed through it and will tell you there is a happier life beyond the pain. Some are still processing the pain .

      Know it will end. Know that as painful and as depressed you feel right now, it beats living with someone who does not want you.

      Like CL said it is not your fault. your sense of worth foes not depend on him. Allow yourself to grieve but seek help. Don’t throw your life away for anyone and definitely not for someone who treated you like a worn object. Many of us here at one point thought death might be a better option but that is one of the biggest lie that exists!

      Come to these website all the previous posts of the ones that apply to you, join the forum, share your story, ask for help… You will meet the most empathetic wisest women & a few men I’ve ever come across.
      I felt exactly like you did and I did and I’m still doing all I’ve told you and it truly saved my life and my sanity.

    • Lina, you definitely did not choose to be cheated on. No one does. It’s an unfairness that is forced on us. “It’s for the best” is a line, though, insensitive, is uttered by those who don’t know what to say but have good intentions. Little do they know that a hug, a loving look and telling you “Let me know if there is anything I can do to alleviate your pain” is better than “It’s for the best.” Hang in there, Lina. You are still in the early days. I hope you are seeing a therapist. Please coming coming back here. We’ve been where you are right now. We’re here for you.

    • Jen,

      Listen to CL. No one deserves to be treated as you have been treated regardless of the exact history of the FWB situation. You are worth far more than to be treated as a “take it or leave it” commodity. As CL points out, it sounds like you are already aware of how this is not in harmony with your values. When we do things to violate our own values, then we experience misery from what I have known and been trained to see. Strengthen those values and convictions reminding yourself how this relationship is not in accordance with them. That will, hopefully, give you strength to move forward!!


      • So true, DM. I prayed and prayed for my marriage to work out. Then I understood when I came across this anonymous quote, “God only gives us three answers, ‘Yes, not yet, or no, I love you too much.’ ” I realized that the only solution for me to align with my values and convictions was to get out of the marriage.

        • “God only gives us three answers, ‘Yes, not yet, or no, I love you too much.’
          That one brought a tear to my eye. Beautiful.

    • Lina, hang in there! Do anything to get out of this depression phase (I promise, it is only a phase) even if it reading CL postings all day until you “get it”. You will soon see that your cheater is not worth the slightest deterioration of your health and especially loosing your sacred life over an idiot who did not respect and appreciate your commitment and love for him. As CL says, the best revenge (and therapy) is a life well lived.

    • Lina, this was my story, too. Sixteen years, never saw it coming. He announced his “decision,” first denying there was someone else then eventually copping to it. Though we weren’t perfect, I thought his sullen behavior was just working too much — in fact, when I asked him (before Dday) that’s exactly what he said, “It’s work.” Wellllll, it was SORTA work, since OW does indeed work FOR him…. I moved him out 10 days later. After 16 years…. still blows my mind.

      My point is, everyone’s story here is different. But we’ve all been deceived by our partners whom we loved and cherished, and most of us were either dumped abruptly or forced to dump them (by what little self-respect we had left). Either way, these are rarely the “typical” divorce of two people who slowly drift apart, which at least gives you some time to prepare, emotionally and financially. This is different, like an amputation without anesthetic.

      I’m about 8-9 months from Dday and I’d be lying if I said I’m doing super awesome great right now! But I am doing better than I was. I don’t think about suicide anymore. And I’m starting to see how he was never gonna stay, due to personality flaws in him, not me. And my pain — which he lacks — is because I do care and love deeply with all my heart. Deep roots are hard to rip out, leave a lot of damage when you do — His superficial attachment made it so easy to disconnect from me. How did I ever let myself believe he felt about me the way I felt about him? I may never know. But this pain now is penalty for having been a good caring person. And the world needs more people like you in it, so don’t go anywhere, OK?

      It does get better. Try to take care of yourself as you would do for a close friend: eat, sleep, exercise (even walking), get a therapist, write a journal, … and come here a lot. Your situation (sadly) is not unique. And knowing others have gone through it and come out even better than they started is inspiring to me. I hope it is to you, as well.

      (And read “Runaway Husbands” by Vikki Stark [as well as ChumpLady’s book, see above, of course!]… I just finished my third reading of it, helps get me back on track when I drift.)

      • Yes, amputation without anaesthetic. That’s a great way to put it. And it hurts like hell until we realize that what was removed was only a parasitic tumour draining us, and not the necessary limb we mistook it for. Once we relearn to use that limb, hard work though it may be, we heal.

  • Thank you all. I knew you’d understand. X

    I’m in therapy and will start EMDR treatment this week. I’ve tried meds but get bad reactions from them and am tiring of it. They’ve tried me on several but they make me more anxious.

    Right now I’m caring for my elderly Dad and pets as best I can.

    Thank you again with all my heart.

    • Hi Lina- I too am caring for my elderly Dad (my mum died last year) and my two cats! Both good things BUT you still have to look after yourself first. I know from dealing with my Dad- who is very frail- that although it’s good to care, it can also be a stressor- I’ve had to ask for help in this area too. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We’re not superhuman, just chumps that are trying to heal. x

      • Yes, caregivering is very stressful. He’s going to an adult day centre twice a week and I’m trying to get help which will allow him to go five days. He needs to be away from me as I’m no much fun to be around just now. It’s been ten years for me of caregiving and it takes it’s toll. Ex walked out when I needed him the most.

        Bless you in caring for your Dad and pets. X

    • Lina, hang in there! You are worth far more than you know. Just the fact that you care so deeply and a hurting means that you have a wonderful capacity for love. As for the meds, I finally tried some this week. I had a terrible physical reaction. I am afraid to try another one. Best wishes for you as you move forward.

      • Thank you. X

        The same thing with me and the meds.

        Best wishes to you too.

        Everyone here is so wise and kind. Bless you.

        • Hi Lina, please remember that Depression LIES! You will not always feel so low, I am so glad you are getting help. EMDR saved me – I hope it helps you as much. One place that helped me at my lowest point was the Bloggess site, Jenny is so brave and we are all a tribe of people who live the day, and we continue. come visit her and read her book! It will make you laugh, I promise!

          Jedi Hugs Lina, don’t go away – you are wanted and lovely.

  • Jen, I often share your confusion. The key for me is to remind myself what CL and many others have stated, “…don’t make someone a priority, who only makes you an option….”

    • Or from Oscar Wilde — ‘Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.’

      (or below ordinary, as these cheaters are wont to treat us)

      • Or as Judge Lynn Toler says–“never let a man tell you/show you that he doesn’t love you more than once”

      • I agree with the sentiment, but Oscar Wilde never said that

        If with the literate I am
        Impelled to try an epigram
        I never try to take the credit,
        We all assume that Oscar said it.

        – Dorothy Parker

    • SeeTheLight your comment struck a chord because I heard him advise his friend, “it’s good to have options”. So I sent him an email informing him that I was a person, not an option. Several months later things are now over for good. His back up “option” is most likely the only option now. Part of me wants him to realize what he lost in me, but I know that in order to move on, I can’t care about that.

      • You have your answer already, Jen. He has lost “an option.” Not the wonderful person he should treasure, but a provider of kibbles when his other supply is temporarily unavailable. Trust that he sucks.

      • Jen, that’s a very natural feeling (wanting him to realize what he lost), but it will fade out over time. That’s the really good news here: Although you can’t make yourself stop caring, if you focus on building a new life, over time you will stop caring. It will just happen naturally. Of course we wish we could accelerate it, but really the best you can do is focus on your new life, and allow the old wounds to heal. (The worst thing we can do is continue to pick at them – or re-injure ourselves by allowing further contact.)

        Captain Awkward has a great post about this, too: The Golden Retriever of Love. Basically, the lesson is that it takes us a while to stop loving because we are good people who love deeply. So, there’s no need or reason to beat ourselves up over it. Just treat yourself with patience and focus on a new life, and these old feelings will naturally fade away. (I know, they feel so intense right now that’s hard to believe – but trust me, they really do fade away. That’s meh!)

        • I don’t know if wanting the cheater to realize what they lost ever fades. I know mine is still as strong as ever. However, it has changed from wanting them back, to wanting the opportunity to laugh at them when they try to come back.

      • Jen, I don’t know if you are actually dealing with a narcissist. If he is one, it’s highly doubtful he will feel any regret about losing you. My XBF was a narc of the 10th degree. He opened up the chest of and shit on the hearts of every woman he had a relationship with.

        When he was with me, he was living the high life. He went from luxury to a homeless shelter. Does he regret that change of standard of living? I am sure he does. Does he regret that what he did to ME caused that change of standard of living?

        NO, he’s incapable of self introspection or remorse. He’s incapable of giving love or accepting love.

        Don’t waste your time hoping he’s regretful or remorseful or whatever you would like him to be feeling. Most likely he never will. I’ve been there and it got me nowhere. Even if narcs express regret or remorse or any other emotion, they are ‘parroting’ words that they think you want to hear–they don’t mean it.

      • Jen, if he is psychologically disordered, he will never realize. They aren’t wired the way we are, with a capacity for self-reflection and regret. They just hunt kibbles and tell themselves whatever story makes them come out OK. Understanding that reality is a big hurdle for most of us and I, at least, still find myself thinking he’s a regular person with insight into his behavior.

      • Jen, it must have been heartbreaking to overhear that conversation about his “options.” I wish I could reassure you that he will someday realize what he lost. But from my experience, they feel we are an obstacle to their happiness, we are crashing their fantasy, and we are no longer of use to them.

  • Gosh, where to begin?
    Lina, I am just one of many here, but I am happy to say that I am passing through it, have passed many milestones now and am finally divorced from my asswipe. I have LEARNED SO MUCH from this site, not just about who the person I thought I married really is, but ABOUT MYSELF.

    NO ONE is worth giving our self worth to, but that is what I did. I am taking it back and CL articulated it so well today, I needed to read this because I finally am seeing that is why I ended up marrying him in the first place.

    You must be reeling from what happened, it sounds like it happened so quickly, and you barely had time to process before having to take action. Remember you are rebuilding a life FOR YOU!! You are the one who is important here.

    For me it took quite awhile to internalize that HE TRULY SUCKS, what he did is NO REFLECTION on my self worth, and I am worthy and deserving of so much more! You are taking your power back, you have unlimited resources within you, just take it day by day. You have the strength, you really do.

    • Thank you. X

      I have having a hard time trusting he sucks. He played a role really well I guess. I never saw it coming. He lied and finally dropped the bomb. It has been a nightmare.

      • Yes, its hard to realize that people like this exist, and look for people like us who are responsible and are natural “givers.” It was so, so hard knowing my XH used me. It still makes me sad. But, then I remember that he is just using someone else now (someone who actually deserves whatever she is going to get) and everything he shows to people, is just a mirage. And then I remember I AM FREE OF HIM! The day of my divorce I felt such relief. It is still early for you but I am telling you this because you can get here too, it just takes time. Trust that you can get there and it will happen. Best wishes to you!

  • Geez Lina, I’m wondering if an antidepressant is warranted. For both of us. I actually went through this before, with the same man (I know, fool me once blah, blah). Anyway, I did get on an antidepressant last time an it made a huge difference. I actually went on with my life, enjoyed my job, kid, and being single. For whatever reason I backslid and let him back in. I came off the antidepressant for him due to the “sexual side effects”. I am not sure how to approach this “relapse” for myself, but if you are feeling suicidal, I would definately see someone with the ability to write a prescription. Lexapro made such a difference for me last time. I think it helps people stop ruminating on scenarios they can’t control.
    Being single in of itself isn’t horrible. Being with someone who abuses you is.

    • Lina, you are smart to try EMDR. That works for a lot of people. And that shows your fighting spirit! You are looking for what you need. Many years ago, my therapist put me on an anti-depressant that made me far worse. On the second try, he gave me one called Desyrel that worked for me. I’m not an expert, but I do know that those drugs work on a spectrum of emotional states like depression and anxiety, so in some people the response is not what we hope for. You, like me, may be very sensitive to that kind of stuff. You may need to ask your primary care doctor to help you find a psychiatrist (trained in choosing meds) to help you find the right drug for the time being. All doctors are better at some thing than others. I wear multi-focal contact lenses, and I’ve found that many eye doctors can’t get my prescription just right, so I trek downtown to the guy who can. But here’s hoping EMDR helps.

      But don’t overlook some very significant ways you can help your own “mood,” the most powerful being exercise. Walk. Walk the dogs. Walk in the park. Walk around a track. Walk till you sweat. Walk in the snow. If you need to do it to music to silence the thoughts in your head, walk in a very safe location or at a local track. Or go to the gym and get on the elliptical machine, the rower, and/or a bike. Paint the walls. Shovel snow if you are healthy enough. Scrub floors. When the weather gets better, garden. Do as our chump friend Moving Liquid does and swim. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is a natural anti-depressant. It’s probably nature’s way to reward us for working hard back in the day when survival depended on what our bodies could produce. And be careful what you eat and drink. The cleaner the diet, the better you will feel.

      And Jen, you said it all: “I actually went on with my life, enjoyed my job, kid, and being single. For whatever reason I backslid and let him back in. I came off the antidepressant for him due to the ‘sexual side effects’.” You were happy, you let him back in, and poof! Right back to the misery of being with a cheater. You did it once, and you can do it again. You’ve got your own back!

      • Thank you LAJ. I’m in the northeast and boy have I been shoveling snow. 🙂

        Sorry I hijacked my way into this thread. I’m not thinking very well lately.

        Thank you again. X

        • Hey, that’s what a thread is for, the back and forth based on where we all are at the moment and how CL’s latest entry hits us. Bless you and good luck with getting back on track. You can do it but we all know how hard it is. And how brave you need to be.

      • Letting someone back in – you almost feel the evil cloud of malevolence and the anxiety associated with it.
        Its sometimes this, rather than anything else, which snaps you out of wanting to be in contact with them anymore.

  • Jen, I have tried several meds. It seems like my body is rejecting them. Funny thing is I took anxiety meds years ago (I’ve always had generalised anxiety disorder) and they worked wonders for me at that time. It is hard to find someone to prescribe. My PC doesn’t want to prescribe meds for anxiety/depression and the meds councelor I see isn’t very good. I’ve tried finding someone else but no one is taking new patients.

    I would try the meds again if I were you. If you find the right one they can work wonders.


    • I have a nurse practitioner who would write me a prescription for heroin if I wanted it, (Of course I don’t). I think antidepressants would help, but I am trying to lift myself from my own accord this time. The one thing meds do is they make you forget how to cope when you don’t have them. Alcohol is similar, and my former FWB and I were indulging in that too frequently.

      Lina, I am just concerned you mentioned suicide. As pissed/depressed as I am, I know ending my life over this asshole would be such a waste. It’s not like he would blame himself, or say, “so sorry I treated her that way”.

      I know you are sad, and that is an understatement. I feel that way as well. Whether we find meds or just time passes, I think it is going to get easier. If it doesn’t I’m gonna go Carrie Underwood on his vehicle. 😉

      • Thank you Jen. I’m no longer suicidal but still very depressed. I do fear falling into the black hole and the night terrors again so I avoid any triggers. And there are so many triggers. Hopefully EMDR will help me with that.

        • Lina,

          as so many others have stated in these comments – we have all been there.

          I remember during a work week I would awake with those feelings at 11pm.

          I would go run at that hour.

          Then, these feelings were so intense so soon after the discovery of the infidelity, that even after that 11pm run, I would awaken again at 4am and go run.

          I did this until the feelings were not so intense.

          Exercise is cheap, confidence and self-esteem building, and I see the results ever day and every moment.

        • Lina and Jen, I urge you to use meds only as a last resort and try other methods first. Being experimented on by doctors trying to find the right med is a kind of depression in itself. For me, cleaning up my diet was MUCH more effective than any anti-depressant I was ever on. I didn’t realize it, but wheat, sugar and dairy make me depressed, and probably have most of my adult life. Eliminating them was the best thing I ever did to climb out of my dark hole. And Tony is right, exercise is critically important, probably the best medicine of all. The shock of having your life blow up is a physical shock to the body as well as the mind, which brings with it devastating depression and grief that depletes the body of nutrients, and what the body needs is great nutrition and healthy exercise so it can repair itself. It’s astonishing how much this helps repair the mind too.

          • I am certain there are chemical reasons why exercise helps us get out of depression and deal with thing, I can say spiritually exercise helped me because I really let myself go during the latter stages of my toxic relationship, and when I started running again I could not run a mile without stopping.

            So when I was able to run my first mile without stopping again I knew it was a start, and that I had built it – I made it.

            It was my first accomplishment. To be able to run again.

            I built that and my health is something that I built again, and I take great pride and confidence in it.

            • Tony,
              I was never able to run a mile ever. Not even in high school, for the Presidents Physical Fitness Test. I know that my lack of muscle tone (which doesn’t mean I’m fat) has a lot to do with my tendency towards depression. And type 1 Diabetes is rampant on my father’s side of my family.

              I would like to clean up my diet and turn that around, but that will take an extreme amount of effort. I am 42. I agree it should be done, but it’s going to take a horrible sugar/carbohydrate withdrawal. This is particular to those prone to diabetes. It actually is harder for us cause we get a high from sugar.

              So I may get on the antidepressant before I attempt this. When you have never had muscle it is hard to build it overnight. I do think this is probably way better than medication, but I quite frankly am scared of coping without my vices.

              • Hey, Jen, I understand, and I am not going to judge.

                I still suggest walking though, I know going for walks in the beginning helped me to clear my head whenever I could not take sitting still and I needed to move.

                Just know that becoming healthy is part of the journey to recovery, and you will build something for yourself that will be precious to you because you made every bit of it.

      • Lina (in response to Jen’s comments about how cheater would feel about chump’s suicide),
        If I committed suicide, my cheater would probably tell everyone, “See. She really was crazy. Now you know why I was driven to find another partner [even while married to her]” and then he’d get our kids 100% of the time! Under no circumstances do I want these things to happen. I know what it’s like to face several tragedies (infidelity by one’s spouse, abuse, divorce, death of relatives, caregiving for ill relatives, unemployment, etc.) I often feel numb. I try to be mindful of the pain (as well as fleeting moments of joy and tranquility) and figure that I’ll write a book (or at least an article about my experience (which has been lived by others in some form) some day. To write the book about what it’s like to go through this ordeal, I need to stay alive to know the (natural) ending. We chumps will someday guide others through trauma or may prevent others from experiencing trauma. The world needs us around to ‘dilute’ the concentration of cheaters on the planet.

  • Something tells me that you have romanticized this whole situation. You call him a “tragically flawed character.” You accepted a “FWB” relationship, which is a shit sandwich wrapped in a cliche wrapper.

    But there is nothing good about being abused and devalued. It’s shitty.

    He’s just an asshole. Simply and truthfully put, that’s it.

    I like your understanding that you need to be strong and focus on your kid. But you also need to focus on YOU, as well. You do need to find out who you are–what are your hobbies? What is your passion? What do you want in your life that YOU can control? (You only control YOU.)

    Realization is the first step You can do this.

  • Jen, you ask the question all chumps ask–“How do I stop wishing he loved me the way I loved him?” CL tells you that you are “barking up the wrong tree,” a great old phrase about hunting dogs that alert the hunter the prey is up a tree by barking at it. In this case, the dog is barking at an empty tree. There is nothing there.

    My version of this question was “why doesn’t he love me any more?” because his particular con was that I was the love of his life, the woman he had waited for forever (etc.). And then one day Schmoopie sent him a letter and he was done with me. That fast.

    The deal here is that I wasn’t just barking up the wrong tree as I mourned the loss after DDay. I was barking up the wrong tree from the first time I believed his con. And I was vulnerable to that because I wasn’t doing the work of loving my own life. CL is so smart about this stuff. You need to have a great life first. You need to create meaning in your life. You have a son you love so you have a powerful foundation there to build on, but of course, we always have to be ready to allow even special needs kids to move beyond mom and dad into the wider world (even if they still live at home).

    The magic pill is giving your heart to what you have right now. Being grateful for what you have right now (everything from life itself to health to a paycheck to a Sunday morning in bed). Figure out WHAT YOU LOVE and make that a bigger part of your life. Photography, cooking, making doll clothes. What do you love?

    I am on the coaching staff of a sports team. We are having a bad season, lots of struggles. I was sitting in the bleachers with the team, waiting for our game to start. We’re all a little crazy because losing sucks. But I sat there and thought, “So what?” Here we all are, together. I love these kids and I know going through this experience is hard but we are doing it together. They still manage to be smart and funny and kind. Ed Sheeran’s love song, “Thinking Out Loud” has a great line, if you think of it the right way and not the “romantic” way: “We found love right where we are.” The world is full of people and things to love. The ticket is to value ourselves and what we have to offer so much that we don’t throw away our precious lives on those who don’t value us. You can find love right where you are, right now–you and your badass since self.

    • *single, not since. Sorry–autocorrect hell. And there’s a reason why my nom du Chump is past tense. “Loved,” not “loves.”

      • “The world is full of people and things to love.” LAJ, I loved your comment. Just the pep talk I need right now, six months post-D-day, when I’m still trying to figure out where to go from here.

        BTW, I wondered how one would translate “chump” into French for the nom de plume. I thought maybe “chumpe” but I see that’s the Spanish word for “turkey.” That applies to cheaters, not chumps!

      • LAJ, you’ve hit on something, especially for those of us who have been much too willing to give up parts of our self for someone else:

        The better, richer, more authentically YOUR OWN your life is, the higher you raise the bar for someone who comes along wanting to be part of that life. If I’m sitting here longing for a man to come and save me from the drudgery that is my life, then almost any man will do. I’ll probably take the first man who shows interest. And, in fact, I have. More than once.

        But if my life is happy, engaging, courageous and filled with self-love, then any man who comes along is going to have to offer something pretty special to be worth my while. Exactly like Chump Lady described.

        This is a “water seeks its own level” kind of truth. And as much as you might want it not to be true, nobody else can raise your level. It’s one of those things you always have to do yourself, if you want it to be a real measure.

        • Amen, Rally Squirrel. I am so busy creating a life I love that I will only entertain a romantic relationship if it adds value to my life.

          • The coolest thing I’ve discovered, Uniquelyme, is how great it feels to have this good new life that I created myself.

            I have zero interest right now in a romantic relationship. I’ve realized that throughout my marriage I was trying to partner with someone whose interests and values were not remotely aligned with mine. His big personality (Type A, huge ego) overshadowed mine. I didn’t insist on a fair balance of the things I enjoyed doing — right down to what kind of music we listened to in the car. It just wasn’t worth the conflict to me then. I submerged parts of myself for years.

            Now, divorced from a long-term cheater and liar, I’m finding my old self coming back to life. It feels indescribably joyful. I walk around sometimes grinning like a woman with a delicious secret. Just think: I get to do whatever I damn well please now. And it’s become so clear to me that I am the beautiful artisan loaf to his Wonderbread.

            • Rally Squirrel, I know exactly how you feel. The first thing I say to mayself when II wake up each morning and smile (From Thich Nhat Hahn), “Waking up, I smile. I have been given 24 hours to live today. I vow to live them deeply, and try to look at everyone around me with the eyes of compassion.” After years of wasting my life with a cheater, I refuse to give the past a hold in my present. People at work keep on telling me how happy and joyful I look.

            • Rally Squirrel,

              I’m with you. I have a long way to go for sure, and I see simply having financial and legal closure with the unfaithful w as summitting a huge, shining hill on the horizon. But I think I’m headed there little by little. I get glimpses (hanging out with my son, grabbing dinner with a friend, when the house is quiet and I’m alone for the night, when I’m wrapped up in a project for my business, when I’m solving Tiger Woods’ issues with a friend after a round of a golf over a beer, many things) of what my future can be.

              I/we want to get there and I think it is a process, with the speed depending on many different circumstances. Trying to enjoy the journey as best I can, while keeping my eye on the prize.

        • Rally Squirrel, you put 40 years of my life in one sentence: “If I’m sitting here longing for a man to come and save me from the drudgery that is my life, then almost any man will do.”

          That will never happen again. Ever.

    • LAJ, Love that song and your interpretation of the line, “We found love….” Even better, “The ticket is to value ourselves and what we have to offer so much that we don’t throw away our precious lives on those who don’t value us.”

  • Jen,
    I can relate to the spell you feel yourself under, I was hopelessly devoted to a guy who wanted no more than FWB and he went to great lengths to define our relationship in whatever words he thought would keep me interested. He too was sexy, good looking, fun…but he too, hid behind the FWB clause.

    You ask, how can you get past him. Well, the only way I’ve found is to start hating him, a little at first, then giving some hard thought to why it’s better without him. I remember watching mine walk out the door one day in an arrogant little snit, and it occurred to me that he had an ugly butt and walked duck toed…I always think of him that way now. And I don’t have to listen to his whiny voice … or look at his ugly toes, or watch him pick his teeth… All those things I spackled in the name of love and devotion.

    Hey Jen. This guy doesn’t love you so why on earth does he deserve your love? He deserves your contempt.

  • “Now, I know I sound like the insufferable people who spout to the single: “Oh you’ll find someone when you’re not looking.””

    I met my (second) husband when I was looking. Not that I was obvious about it with other people.

    But the activities I chose to engage in to meet new people were very consciously chosen for the type of people I might meet there.

    Finding the right partner when you’re not looking is as much a myth as that old nugget that women dress only to impress other women. (Hogwash!)

  • Jen, I was in a situation quite similar to yours but it only lasted 18 months before I kicked him to the curb. I have found the this tactic works well when I start pining for or reminiscing about the ‘good times’ or whatever about him that was so compelling–I just call to mind one of the many heinous acts of deceit/discard/despair making that he pulled. My XBF was a master of plotting some of the most incredibly callous and painful for me but pleasurable for him kibble grabs. If I recount some of them, listeners cannot believe he was capable of thinking them up much less putting them into action.

    I used to hate him but I find it’s not worth the effort to expend that much emotion on him. I now have contempt for him—just as he showed such contempt for me.

    • I don’t have to hate him,. I just need to see him as he really is. I remember the smirk on his face when he came to my house, no doubt straight from a FB message session with his MOW. And I tell myself the truth about him. He is a liar. A con artist. A cheater. He has devastated the lives of other women, not just me. He had low standards as a father. He was callously indifferent to my suffering. He represents himself as more talented and knowledgeable than he actually is. And he stole my money. I trust that he sucks.

      Then I remind myself that I not only chose him, I had a reaction to the “discard” that approximated getting off heroin. I trust that I am not looking for a “man drug” any more.

  • Over the past 36 years I stayed with a man who devalued me so much that I accepted responsibility for his actions. I was so distracted by working three part time jobs, being lunch mom, helping my son three hours a night with his homework, getting a degree, and cleaning houses to buy food that each time he cheated I reconciled. These cheaters replace the idea in our heads that we are truly mighty with, I will have to work harder on myself. I was a caretaker. He was a selfish asshole. He got prostate cancer and was unable to have sex. I didn’t mind. I loved him. I went through years of loving him despite my own needs. I was loyal. He had two surgeries to have a prosthesis installed with a pump. I thought we were waiting to finally have sex again, however on the weekend of his ‘go ahead’ by his Dr. to have sex, he informed me he was dating and wanted a divorce. When I checked his phone records, he was indeed dating three women. Another pick me dance followed and we once again reconciled. This pattern continued for the next four years until he found a very needy, angry, abusive woman who would accept his behavior, believing he was a worthy partner. I can actually see why she fell for it as he fooled me for forty one years total. This time I finally had the strength to move on with my life. I always wondered why I stayed with this prick of a loser. Many people told me I never wanted to be alone. Wrong! I did everything alone. I never wanted to go through the pain of losing the husband I imagined in my life. This is what blame shifting does to us after many years of abuse. I bonded with a horrific abuser and still loved him no matter what shit he dished out. At first I thought this was the worst year of my life. That pain I had avoided put me in such despair, until I started seeing a therapist, took medication for depression, and found chump lady. I was reluctant to file for a divorce at first however after waiting for three months, I finally had the courage. I literally cried while talking to my lawyer because this was so hard to accept. It made me stronger. The outrage I felt when he moved in with his OW within a few weeks of discard was unimaginable. I gathered all the evidence I needed to convince myself and then had to stop. The hard drive to his computer, the poems, bank statement, receipts, safety deposit box, and the amount of money he spent taking her on trips will help me in court, but not in my life. I know that deep within me there is a mighty woman who will return over time. I imagine the narcissistic serial cheaters walking through life with their shoes on the wrong feet feeling comfortable. I am moving forward barefoot with my feet moving through the warming sand.

    • You will find you again Donna, I hear it in your text. Your spouse is a heartless asshole, obviously very manipulative. To hang onto you until his surgery was done and he could test it is so fucked up.

      Jedi Hugs!

    • That mighty woman has already shone through in the fact you’re claiming what’s rightfully yours by nailing him to the wall, with the evidence he’s been funding his whore with that money.

  • Life can be a bit of a mess sometimes. I think when it makes us unhappy, when what we are doing, and who we are doing it with “conflicts with our values” -DM :)- and when something just doesn’t feel right, we need to act. I was not happy in my marriage and always felt as if something were missing. My ex was crap-disengaged, entitled, and living a life quite apart from mine. When his affair imploded our marriage it was my wake up call and a blessing in disguise. It was not all in my head. Hard, yes. Painful, yes. Heartbreaking, yes. But I knew if I didn’t move forward I would always feel badly. Life passes by so quickly and I want that fairy tale…whatever that will be for me. I like being single, I was alone for a long time in my marriage. That said… Baby steps, Jen (and Lina). Once you are NOT defined by others you begin to understand your worth. Reflect on what you want. What makes you happy? (Spending time with a cheater never made me happy…) Address health issues-explore alternatives-but after that I highly recommend activity. Do one thing every day that is beneficial to you. Go for a walk (I am never unhappy after working out!), listen to music, join friends, eat out, take a class, clean out a closet, play tourist in your hometown, volunteer, paint furniture. When I stay busy it helps…although some days you just need to slow down and be kind to yourself. Watch tv, take a bath, open up a good book, sit out on the patio. If nothing else watch something funny. My current favorite is The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and his lip sync battle with Emma Stone (YouTube). Looking back, my ex had many qualities I admired, and one I didn’t. I would not be the person I am today without all the challenges I lived through and I have three beautiful children. Celebrate the good, Chumps, but recognize it’s those small steps forward every day that will define you, give you peace, and carve out the legacy you are meant to leave behind.

    • Drew, I too was so alone in my marriage for many years. I love being single!! I have the respect of my three adult children, my granddaughter, and friends. I look forward to simple things like knowing that when I open my front door I can finally relax and do the things you suggested. I can lay in bed and sleep peacefully knowing I never have to share a bed with an imposter. I can go out and enjoy having a drink and having conversation without having to be his designated driver. The most amazing thing is that I can make a plan and follow through without dragging a complaining bore of a man along for the disappointment. Once I shifted my attention and devotion to my own happiness my health improved, I stand taller, and I enjoy my life!! There is a better life!!!!

    • I like how you mention getting healthy. All chumps need to realize that having lived with an abuser, we need to heal our minds, bodies, and spirits. N0 cheater goes from “decent loving husband” one day to “narcissistic cheater” the next; there must have been all kinds of abuse–overt or covert devaluing or gaslighting or perhaps a giant con that made the whole life a lie. And we all know the toll that DDay takes on our appetites, our ability to sleep, and our mental state.

      So we need to heal our bodies–good food, sleep and exercise. We need to heal our minds–therapy, reading here, studying narcissism, taking in books and movies that are uplifting, re-framing our experience by writing about it, etc. We need to heal our spirits–music, church, meditation, yoga, walks in nature, connecting with friends. Once past the worst of the DDay fallout, it’s a good idea to evaluate all aspects of our lives and start to heal places that are broken or have been neglected or have been devastated by life with a cheater.

      I love the Emma Stone lip synch battle because she is just so fierce as a competitor. She brings it. And that is what I felt I needed to learn to do again. Just bring it to every part of my life.

  • Am I the only one wondering if the “crack whore” referred to in the OP knows that she has been sharing Mr. Wonderful with Jen for the last year?

    Meh, maybe it’s just me.

    • I was unwittingly and unwillingly forced into ‘sharing’….

      Both women who my XBF was squiring and screwing knew he lived with me—-I found out about each of them and contacted them and graciously filled them in. They claimed disgust at his behavior. Did they drop him like the steaming hot turd he is? NO. They went further underground and continued to accept and encourage his attention.

      Before I wised up, there was one week where he took out “Duck face” on Thursday, we went out on Friday night (where people were literally coming up to us in the club expressing what an amazing ‘obviously in love’ couple we were) and he was at ‘Tree Stump Leg’s” house on Saturday.

      Oh, the details of how he managed to be away from me on those nights. Man, was I clueless and trusting.

    • Yes, she knows. She only called on the days I wasn’t there. It was about drugs, but I’d have to be the world’s biggest idiot to not infer the sex. And I read her emails. The man can’t figure out how to delete an email or voicemail from is phone.

      I am withdrawing my “dance card”. This was too much to put up with.

      • Yes, Jen. Life is so much better when you get rid of the junk and the cobwebs. An uncomplicated life is a gift you give to yourself.

      • Jen, as someone who was married to an alcoholic (not a cheater, or at least I don’t know about it if he was) I can tell you that the drugs ALONE are a reason to walk away and stay away. Drug abusers and alcohol abusers are NOT AVAILABLE for healthy relationships. They are only available for their drug of choice. That is their primary relationship. Guys who drink and use drugs are not “bad boys.” They are people who have opted out of life by self-medicating and building a life on numbing emotions and avoiding emotional responsibility. The OW, as a drug user, shares that life style with him. As my XH got older, he spent all his time either with his drinking buddies or his grandchildren. I might as well have been a potted plant for all the connection he had to me because I don’t drink.

        So you have three reasons to trust that he sucks. He cheats; he abuses drugs; he prefers the company of other drug abusers. And finally, you want to keep guys like that away from your son.

        • To Lovedajackass, I knew he had problems with drugs in his past. At one point he said to me, “you were supposed to stop me”. Well, if I could I would, but I don’t think that is possible. It wasn’t possible at the time, because he was hiding it from me. And I know him well enough to know that if I had attempted to come between him and his “partying” I would’ve lost. This woman is bonded to him through drug use, but if it wasn’t her it would be someone else. And if he wanted to stop he would.
          I do miss him, but I know he isn’t even capable of caring for me the way I did for him. It’s so sad for both of us. I am going to let her have him. I have my son, who is still somewhat childlike at 19 because of his autism. He can’t afford for me to lose myself dealing with this drama.

          • Ahh, the good ol’ blameshift and incite into the pick me dance.
            Its not possible to stop a person from being a drug addict – because you cannot control other people.
            What a fuckwit.

  • The smugness of intact families at school functions. Being the Lone Single Mom. The Only Divorced 30-Something In Her Demographic. The awkward odd number at the dinner party. The single person at the wedding. Lived it. Did it. Survived it. You can too.

    I’m living that now, but in my 40’s. Life’s a trip. You just take it in and feel it. You see how brave you can be. You stop taking everything for granted. You realize it’s a privilege to be alive, but that to be alive, you have to participate, even when it might be a little painful. And you’re grateful for feelings and resilience and people who reach out with kindness, and that you’re not as ugly as those who are mean.

    Truth is, as karma is a bitch, I was once one of those smug moms from an “intact” family. I was confident that divorce happened to other people–people who’d made bad choices, people not like me. Now I know better. And that makes me better. I’m grateful for that, too.

    Life is bitter, life is sweet.

  • Jen, I’m one of those over 20 years together when I discovered his cheating. I am in the midst of divorcing him and what a pain in the butt that’s been. However, as I grieved the loss of my marriage I’ve come to realize that cheaters are assholes plain and simple. I guess we can dress them up with personality disorders, adjustment disorders and all other kinds of reasons they do these things, but at the end of the day they are selfish assholes.

    Everybody has the right to stay with a selfish asshole if that’s what they want to do. But Chumplady and others here choose to say “No. No more,” and that’s not an easy thing to do. It’s hard to walk away from someone you still love even when you know they did something so hurtful. It takes a huge amount of courage and strength of character. I’m always impressed by the folks who post here and how amazing they are in their struggle to rebuild their lives with dignity. Keep coming here for help and strength. You have it in you.

    You can do this too. I can’t imagine a life with a cheater. I really can’t. I can’t imagine the shit I’d need to eat, the denial I’d need to live in and what it would be like to share my life with someone who so blatantly did not have my back. And I bet you can’t either. Get away from that mess of a human being, find your own life, move forward and find the good people who get you. Good luck.

  • “OUR problem isn’t to learn to stop caring. The problem is directing your love and attention to someone wholly undeserving”….

    that was me. i cared so much, too much. i had enough caring for the both of us. because he did not care at all. even after my divorce i cared about my Xh. i cared about his happiness. i cared about his burning the bridges with his little boys. i cared about his increasing alcohol use. i cared that he was making bad decisions and was ruining his life. i cared so much and he didnt even cared that i cared. i love him. i did not want a divorce. i knew he was weak, shallow, indecisive, a follower, undependable, untrustworthy. but i loved him anyway. i loved him unconditionally even when he didnt love me.

    today at church was about marriage and family. as the priest sat there saying how important marriage was, how to better your marriage and not give up. how when you said your vows you gave your vows forever, not just when it was good. and how a man was to honor and sacrifice for his wife and children. how a man was to support and take care of his wife and family.. . . . . . all i could think is i hope God knows how hard i tried. but when the man doesnt want to do anything for the family, when the man doesnt want or love his wife anymore. when the man walks out on his family what was i suppose to do. church kills me because it was the place we always went as a family. seeing other familys in church kills me. i used to cry every sunday. i have gotten better but today i was crying again. i know God has a plan for me. i believe that my XH allowed the devil into his heart, mind and soul. i do not believe God wanted me to stay with someone who let the devil get to him. i have to protect my family, my children. but damn it, it is so hard to do by yourself.

    i have learned that i can not control what my XH does. i can not FORCE him to be responsible and loving to me or the kids. that is HIS choice. my choice is to live better then that. i did not want to live that kind of life, where i had to chase my husband down all the time and remind him of his duties and responsibilities toward the family. when i had to fight another womans affections for him to make him come home, having to tell the mOW that he was MY HUSBAND and we have kids and are married is the hardest thing you have to do. and then to have to do it over and over, to have to remind your husband that you love him and his place should be in YOUR bed, not this MOW bed? i did not want to live like that for the rest of my life. i would have forgiven my husband of anything, his drug use. his hiding, his not coming home, his not paying bills, but i couldnt forgive for seeking comfort in another womans arms AGAIN…..just becuase things were difficult at home.

    i know my worth. i am sad, very sad that he did not. and never appreciated my worth. but that is on him. i gave my best to him. he just didnt want it.

    • mrsvain, you’ve earned your way out of that marriage. God knows fully well that you did your best. You couldn’t do any more. I did, too. I, too, really cared for my cheater but he didn’t value me. Now that I’m at meh, I can look back and say that I really tried everything to save my marriage. It just wasn’t salvageable. It will get better, it truly will.

    • Mrs. Vain

      I am not a religious person, but it is very simple – even in a strict catholic faith one can terminate the marriage due to adultery.

      I have to come to feel that God made the Ten Commandments for a very good reason, and that if one were to think about it, all of them involve malfeasance that involves deliberation and follow through.

      A one night stand is not adultery. Adultery is adultery.

      If someone breaks the Ten Commandments by committing adultery then the betrayed spouse has every religious right to terminate the marriage in the eyes of God. Further, forgiveness of the adulterer is not for humans but for God.

      You did the right thing by jettisoning him.

      • Thank you so much for that Uniquelyme and tony. i know the catholic church says you can divorce because of adultery. in fact i went to my priest because that was the one thing that was holding me back and my priest told me that i should divorce him. he told me that the catholic church was not against divorce only remarrying. *sigh* so in the catholic church i can not remarry or it is a sin. great! the way the church promotes marriages and family i feel stuck. i feel bad. because i gave everything to save my marriage. i did everything right. and now i am stuck. sometime in the future i will file for an annulment but i am not strong enough yet. maybe one day the time will come for it but not right now. i am doing okay just cleaning up my life and struggling to pay bills. Blessed time will heal.

        • mrsvain, I got my annulment from the Catholic Church. It’s quite the process and lengthy, but it gave me peace. It took about a year and a half.

        • *** le sigh ***

          Mrs Vain, I was raised Catholic, and there are so many things I find beautiful about the Catholic faith. I put certain priests on a pedestal – like the ones that were assassinated in Central America in the seventies and eighties because they sided with the peasants.

          Or Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of concentration camp victims, who volunteered to be executed in the place of a stranger who had a family.

          My point is that these people live the tenets of true Catholicism: humility, respect, sacrifice unto death for a truly righteous cause.

          What your priest is advising regarding you remarrying has nothing to do with these noble actions.

          My point is that you can be Catholic and seek the happiness in life in other relationships and your priest does not get a vote in this regard.

          • Sweetheart, you can indeed remarry if you can get your mind wrapped around what the Holy Bible actually teaches regarding adultery. Adultery severs the relationship both spiritually and physically and puts you back at “Start” as far as God is concerned…and HE is the one who we have to please ultimately. The ONLY stipulation given in the Bible for remarriage (after being a victum of adultery) is that a new spouse MUST be “in the Lord”…meaning a TRUE believer/follower in Christ…and their ACTIONS would show this over time. You cannot marry a man who has himself committed adultery or a man who does not truly love God.

        • mrsvain, a marriage requires two people. You can’t do your part and his as well. I too am Catholic but I don’t worry myself about what the Church or anyone else says. I know I live by my faith. The Jackass sat beside me in Church, all pious and devout. He hooked up with MOW at a memorial service for her brother held in a Church. Cheaters may pretend to be religious but no one, no priest, no pope, not even God, is the boss of them.

          Your pain and sadness shows how genuine your love and commitment were, how the loss of your marriage was a real loss. Sending hugs your way.

        • MrsVain, I am not Catholic even a little bit (Buddhist) but I love your new pope. When you are strong enough, get an annulment but trust that this pope is starting to put Christ’s love above hidebound church doctrine. Annullment or change in the Church, have faith that when you find the right love, the way will open for you.

          • May I add, mrsvain, that if I wasn’t granted my annulment, I would not let a bunch of men who’ve never been married dictate to me if I found someone worthy of me.

              • Mrs. Vain: I’m a Catholic, divorced and re-married to my present husband who is also Catholic and divorced. No, divorcees are not allowed to re-marry in the Catholic church, so we had a civil ceremony. I do not feel less married because there wasn’t a priest presiding over our marriage. My cheater ex was also Catholic and we had a beautiful, huge Catholic wedding many years ago when we were young and foolish. My second, small, informal wedding presided over by a justice of the peace, in the presence of our 7 children, was more spiritual than any high brow religious ceremony the Catholic church could offer.

        • Mrsvain, I also both divorced and had my marriage annulled in the catholic church. It took about a year. I would say get it started asap. Once you do the bit at the start there is very little you have to do through the process, just wait. The priests were so kind to me and completely understood my situation. Of course there is no guarantee the annullment will be granted but it is better to know one way or the other. God knows how much you tried to save your marriage and loves you very much. My experience has been that God has stepped in and He has truly looked after me in the most amazing ways since I was abandoned shortly after my cancer diagnosis. You can rely on God 100%.

          • Not a Catholic here, but close. In the Episcopal (Anglican) Church, my mom had to wait a long time for an annulment back so many years ago that she only got it five years after her fourth child was born in her second marriage. It’s a good thing. In the interim, the lot of us kids were baptized and all that must have been on the assumption that we would be legitimate one day. I don’t believe that church people are bad, but the laws back then were harsh.

        • Mrsvain – just offering a bit of into, as well. I’m a Confirmed craddle Catholic. The douchebag cheater XH started attending church with me at age 16. You’d think 23 years and even converting to our faith would have one understand what they are doing. But, no. Turns out just like taking vows of marriage to me, his converting and becoming Confirmed and taking those vows and promises didn’t mean jack-crap to him either.

          My DDay was Oct 2013. Starting that day, I was at my church daily, and made a weekly confession to keep my anger and heart in-check regardless of whatI chose to do about it. I didn’t file or “kick him out” for 8 mos. Wish I hadn’t wasted that time on his dumbass now, but it can’t ever be said I make decisions based on emotion or my selfish motives.

          During this time of extreme suffering and PTSD, I also had weekly open dialogue with my priest about the reality of what adultery was doing to me, and our kids, and to my extended family. I also shared what I HAD to accept, which was that my cheater engaged in lifelong emotional adultery and quite possibly sexual adultery in our marriage. He finally abandoned me and our daughter essentially after I busted him and the whore-worker.

          So, here’s what it came down to:
          – With the civil divorce, I am still considered “married” in the Catholic Church.
          – Since I’ve been in continual favor in the church (confession), I may continue to receive all Sacrements, regardless of the civil divorce.
          – Because of the circumstances involved in my case (cheater’s lifelong breaking of vows, adultery, abandonment, even his sacrelidge by taking Communion during his year of adultery before I busted him), my priest feels I should pursue an annulment.
          – If I don’t pursue an annulment, I’ll always remain “married” in the Catholic Church’s eyes.
          – If no annulment, and if I choose to re-marry, I would only be able to have a civil marriage.
          – A civil marriage without an annulment would put me “out of favor” with my Church (since still “married” to cheater), and therefore I could not receive Communion.

          I certainly do hope changes happen in our faith on this, and especially freeing the loyal spouse where adultery, abandonment, and emotional abuse is concerned. Forcing loyal spouses to remain “tied” to the person who knowingly and willfully schemed against us, destroyed our marriages and our families is – I feel – just as psychologically abusive to us as the adultery and emotional abuse was from the cheaters. It never mattered to me until now. Guess that’s how it usually works. =(

          Here is a resource for divorced Catholics:

          Good luck to all of you. I just turned 40, so I’m going for the annulment. Surely my God has more planned for me than an existance removed from my faith because I MIGHT want to marry a worthy man later. No. I don’t believe that at all.

          That asswipe always cheated, and NEVER meant “till death” or “to love, honor and cherish.” Nah. Cheaters are forever justified in their lies. To f-tards like him, if he meant it in the actual SECOND he said it, then it was legit. What a douche.

    • Caring and giving are two amazing things we should share in a healthy relationship. Sometimes we are willing to overlook our spouses addictions and abusive behavior thinking as a caregiver. Once we take on the role of fixing a spouse we take on something we have control over. I believe if you read the fine print under your vows it states: I will not tolerate a drug using alcoholic cheating abusive husband and father.

      • Thank you so much. We had to take care of my father growing up. He lost his kidneys, legs and eyesight to diabetes. We had to do peritoneal (sp?) dialysis in the home four times a day before he died.
        In a million years my father would never have treated my mother or his family the way I have been treated by my ex. Why did I put up with it? Because I have been conditioned to care. But this is ridiculous. I am going to care about me and my son for a change.

  • Synchronicity, but Will Powers’ ‘Opportunity’ came on the iTunes. I forgot, it features a chump, Ellen…

    “I’m Ellen, originally from Lubbock. Jim and I married fresh outta high school and I started havin’ babies right off. Jim studied and became a veterinarian, only to run off with a nineteen year old horse trainer. I was left with three kids, no money and no skills. Things got so bad, I didn’t want to live anymore, until someone slipped a card under our front door – it said “Will Powers”. I turned it over, it said, “The greater your problem, the greater your opportunity”. Somethin’ clicked between my heart and my mind. Today my kids attend the best private school in Dallas, while I run 95 day care centers throughout the great state of Texas. Incidentally I got a lot of boyfriends.”

    ‘Be thankful for your problem
    It’s a gift in disguise
    It’s your chance to change’

    Here’s the vid (hopefully) for those of you too young to know the Will Powers Dancing for Mental Health album (1983!!!)

  • All, I think I need some help as there is something that I cannot move past, and thus the topic of this post is apt.

    First, I cannot think ya’ll enough, particularly Tracy Schorn for this website, as there was so much bullshit out there essentially positing that I should try harder to save my marriage, and try to figure out what I had done wrong with me and the relationship, and fix it. This seemed fundamentally wrong to me, but again, there is so much out there that Tracy’s website is something one has to reach after traversing all of those bullshit websites.

    I am approaching six months after my divorce was finalized, and I am recovering very well. I am already back into physical shape, I am in better mental condition after I removed that soul-sucking pestilence from my life, and I am reconnecting with friends and gradually making new ones.

    I must thank ya’ll immensely for what ya’ll have done speeding my recovery by the discovery of this website. Analytically, I believe my recovery time has been reduced by half, and thus through the people here and Tracy, I have been given the most precious gift of all – time; time that I lost by throwing it away on my twenty-five year old wife who did not care for me and did not love me, and initiated an affair with her fifty-five year old co-worker – without a condom.

    I did not know it at the time, but my gut, head, friends and family took over when I discovered her affair, as she still had my heart and soul, and I did everything right instinctually: I threw her out that weekend, I filed for divorce the next week, I gave her a chance at reconciliation if she did what I asked, namely quitting her job and apologizing to my family, told a few key people, including her mother, the details before she could malign my character, and finalized the divorce after the mandatory sixty day waiting period was over.

    The only way that I could describe the pain was like standing chest deep in an ocean of pain, with successive waves of pain washing over my head, nearly drowning me each time, and me knowing that one wave of pain followed the other unto infinity it seemed.

    I am over this, her, the relationship and am thankful for how lucky I am, as we were only in a relationship for five years, not even married a year, and no property, assets and kids.

    However, this one aspect I am having a great difficulty moving past, and I would truly appreciate any perspective in this regard:

    I am thirty-one. My ex-wife was twenty-four when we married and twenty-five when we divorced. I have heard a few of my friends, and a some of our female mutual friends explain to me essentially that my ex-wife was too young to know what she was doing, and that she should be given a pass due to her youth and that I should move on and not be bitter.

    I respond that it is evident that I am moving on, by my excelling career, my physical shape, and my not drowning my woes in alcohol or drugs, but I remain adamant that my ex-wife should not be condoned for her actions for any reason, as she knew what she was doing by leading a double life for months.

    I insist there is right and wrong, and that what she did was wrong; however, I keep seeing this dumbfounded expression on people’s faces when I talk about right and wrong, and how it such things exist. It is like I am speaking Chinese or something.

    I must have missed the memo that people in their twenties are not to be held responsible for their actions because they are in their twenties, and some people have even implied that I am partially to blame for the affair because I should not have expected someone in their mid-twenties to remain faithful.

    I realize that people here believe as I do – that there is right and wrong, and that promises and vows mean something, but I feel like I am truly tilting windmills when I speak with people about my age and younger about right and wrong, and that my ex-wife did was completely wrong.

    I know that I should continue focusing on myself and building myself. I get that and I am doing it; however, what is extremely disconcerting is the prevalence of this ambiguous moral attitude in so many.

    Thanks again for read thus far, but my questions are this: Is this what the future holds? A world where people feel they can do whatever they want because they can? A world where might makes right, where in an intimate relationship someone has a power over the trusting partner, and that power is abused at just the moment when it is most advantageous, and the world collectively shrugs its shoulders?

    If this is the water in which we all must swim, and my views of right and wrong seem so outdated incongruent to the culture today, how do I continue forward someday to trust another deeply?


    • Tony, it has nothing to do with age: it’s all about character. I married when I was 21. I stayed faithful to my husband the entire time we were together – almost 20 years. I’d just file that excuse under all the excuses people make up to find a reason for why something inexplicable happened. The reason is that your ex-wife was selfish and heartless. But don’t worry – there are many good people in this world. This is your chance to find them: not just a new partner, but also true friends. It’s quite an effective sifting tool.

    • Tony, I have been troubled by this same phenomena (XH was in his 60s…same kind of tolerating at that age as well). I kept waiting for the ref to blow a whistle and shout FOUL. I was mystified by good friends who saw it as basically OK. Then I realized that their lack of support for right/wrong about infidelity was calling forth my own stance. I had to develop and claim it for myself. No one could give that to me.

      Also, I found Tracy’s blog post about judgment two weeks ago to be very validating. Check it out. And if you do not get the feedback you are seeking about right/wrong in today’s thread, try posting again on the forum.

      Glad you found your mightiness and are moving on.

    • Tony, I was 24 once and I never cheated. Even when I was 16 and supposedly young and stupid, cheating never occurred to me. Cheating is wrong. Period. My cheater is now in his late 50’s and he’s still a cheater. I guess growing older and “wiser” didn’t fix that character defect. Imagine that. Do not lower your standards unless you want to be in the same mess before. You are very fortunate you got out while you were young and no children.

      Cheaters have a certain mindset, Tony. There are safe and unsafe people out there. Know how to tell the difference. Those that defend your ex wife’s cheating ways probably condone cheating. My son is 24. He has gone NC with his dad. When he finds out a “friend” is cheating on their partner, he cuts off the friendship. He says he doesn’t need shitty people in his life. And neither do you. Hold out for the best because being alone and happy is so much better than being coupled and miserable.

      • Uniquelyme,

        I agree; however, what I am most disconcerted by the prevalence of this attitude that what my ex-wife did can be attributed to her youth.

        I then respond: At what age must one be to take responsibility for their actions? I often get the same look of incomprehension.

        This seemingly predominant morally ambiguous attitude in so many is what is disconcerting to me and something that I am having difficulty moving past as I am not a hermit, and thus must be around people, many of whom who seem to have this attitude.

        • Stick with the old adage, “Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right.” Allow people to have their own opinions and beliefs, but don’t make a lifelong commitment with someone who has values that conflict with yours. You owe that to yourself. I find that people tend to take a certain attitude to have a sense of belonging, or simply out of ignorance. Once they’ve been chumped, I have a strong feeling their views will dramatically change.

          • True, Uniquelyme, but look at how popular the television show Scandal is.

            I view it as a show of raging, murderous, adulterous sociopaths and their glorification by achieving what they want by being evil.

            I get what you are saying, and I know the beautiful people on this website share my sentiments EXACTLY – something which has sped my healing – but outside of ya’ll, and the “good” people, it seems that this celebration of narcissism is a dominant feature of our culture and something which I have directly or tangentially encountered and this is of great concern to me, particularly when I espouse my views on right and wrong and people look at me like I am Old Man Winter or something.

            • Start hanging out with a different crowd, Tony. I am fortunate that I am surrounded by people who think my ex was a sorry excuse for a husband. You’ll find someone who will value you because you know what you’re worth. You truly are in a great place. Pretty soon, you’ll be replacing those pro cheaters with friends that share your values. Be patient because good people are out there.

            • Tony, I think people do cut a little more slack on a lot of stuff, because young adults can be immature and impulsive. BUT there are lots of signs here that this was not the problem; your ex was not that young, she chose to make the big commitment of marriage, and her cheating went on for a long time, which shows intent, planning, and a high level of comfort w/lying to you. It wasn’t some moment of immature impulsiveness.
              But lots of people do underestimate how serious cheating is, both in how much devastation it causes, and what it shows of the cheater’s character.

              • Agreed.

                I have explained these very things to people as to why what she did was completely wrong, and it is the incomprehension, or the looking at me like me I am some kind of preachy old man lecturing people on right and wrong is what drove me to finally post on this website after silently reading pretty much every article and all of the related comments.

                So, KarenE, I appreciate your response, but please address what is in my initial post – why is that so many people seem unable to comprehend how wrong it was what she did?

        • Tony I just wanted to say that I understand completely what you are pointing out. Nowadays it is very common to justify ANY behavior if it brings personal “happiness” regardless of how much this behavior harms other people. It is hard for me to comprehend too. Abandon your children? LIe to your spouse? Abandon your partner? as long as it makes you feel “fulfilled” it seems like it is okay. People also look at me like I am an anachronistic dinosaur when I point out that abandoning ones family is not a desirable behavior.

          • Thank you.

            As I posted initially – it is this reaction that has so disturbed me.

            What happened between me and my ex-wife I get and I am dealing with and have dealt pretty well with all things considered.

            It is this apathy towards commitment and vows, spouse and children in the pursuit of some sort of Eat Pray Love selfishness is disconcerting.

            Why bother getting married then? Why make promises and commitments in the first place?

            Perhaps the answer is so that people can con and manipulate, and if so that is a hell of a world in which we live.

            I know by reading this website and the people who comment on it that I am not alone – which has saved my sanity.

      • Tony,
        Even a 7 yr old would freak out if he/she saw one of their parents sexually engaged with someone else. A. Seven. Year. Old.

        So ignore the shallow morality in this present age and stick to what you KNOW is right, dont allow others to do the mindf*** on your sensibilities…your wife was older than seven yes?

        • Yes, on both accounts.

          And thanks, again, I am coming out the end of this in regards to my divorce, but I am grappling now with the next stage and that is the callousness of the world, and the anything goes attitude.

          I know the answer is that I cannot change the world, and to work on myself, and create a circle of people around me that are good and decent, but it has still been quite a shock to see with what little regard people hold promises and commitments.

          I guess the other question I have is why even bother going to weddings if people don’t take the wedding vows seriously.

    • Your XW is an entitled idiot. Those people who claim she was too young to know what she was doing are RATIONALIZING her crappy behavior.

      Listen Tony, I have four kids. You bet your ass they have learned the difference between right and wrong. To OWN their behavior and choices, good and bad, AND to accept the consequences of their choices. People who prance through life not giving two shits about how their actions impact those around them were never taught this basic idea.

      People learn empathy. If that opportunity is missed during childhood development, guess what? You’ve just bred a compassionless, un empathetic asshole. Sometimes lack of this basic lesson breeds sociopathy and narcissism. I know my asshole cheater was NEVER disciplined for his shitty behavior. Instead he was always told he was great, etc…

      Your friends are offering you excuses for your crappy cheating X. Don’t accept it. And good for you! Your epic mightiness! Enjoy your alone time. Never settle for what you want in a partner. You’ll be fine.

    • Tony, your brain is fully formed by 25. Yes, she knew exactly what she was doing. It’s about her character. FWIW, my ex-cheater was a cheater his entire life. Started at 16, said his sister. To live a double life — it takes some serious ability to fake regard for another and live without empathy.

      • Thanks, Tracy, for the comment to my comment.

        Further, as I stated in my initial comment, I cannot thank you enough for what you have done in aiding my recovery because there is so much apathetic to encouraging infidelity bullshit out there that even though I knew instinctually I was correct in believing that what my ex-wife did was unconscionable and inexcusable, your website is the one place that I have found that affirms this unequivocally.

        But we seem to be a small community of people who believe in right and wrong, and when so many think this is something that does not concern them, or even that people should use the power they have over other people to their advantage when it suits them, this is my great concern at this point.

        • People make excuses for that sort of behaviour because they either don’t understand just how AWFUL it is to be cheated on, or they believe themselves capable of cheating.

          Cheating is glamourized these days, along with pursuing one’s own happiness.

          Find people who believe as you do, and drop the other friendships.

    • Tony–the prefrontal cortex is fully developed by the early 20s. This is the part that inhibits impulses, allows us to plan ahead, make long-term decisions, reason morally and practically. Sorry–no pass for your wife at 24 or 25 (and women typically mature faster than men, so DEFINITELY no pass for cheater-wife).

      You can throw the neuropsych as the cheater apologists you encounter (see p. 2, the Biology and Behavior section–quote at the end):

    • Tony, it does seem that there are lots of people out there that have little or no use for right and wrong, until the shit hits the fan for them. It’s all about character or lack there of. Stay clear of those people who seem to think that a 25yo shouldn’t know right from wrong. Sorry you’re with us here, but proud of you for getting out so quickly and decisively. Keep the faith that you will finally meet up with people with character and integrity.

      • I would agree that it is not about age. I would never do this to someone else. Some people can and will. It’s like John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank when he admits the CIA scouted him to become an assassin because he had a “certain moral flexibility”.

        I guess chumps do not have that flexibility. And I like me the way I am.

        • CIA. Ha! I interviewed with them to be a “Field Analyst”. They really liked me. Kept sending me stuff. After I had the initial interview (BEST interview question was, ” How do you define ‘treason'”?)’ and talked with some other recently hired analysts, I couldn’t do it. Not enough Moral Flexibility, I guess!

    • tony,I see CL filled you in on brain development, which is considered complete by 25 or 26. Individual maturity varies from person to person, but I know many women in their early 20s who got married, had children, and are totally faithful, devoted, loving wives. And even teenagers know that “cheating” on a steady bf or gf is wrong.

      I take issue with so-called friends who want to co-opt my feelings or nudge my boundaries to correlate with their opinions. You get to decide who is in your life, and you smartly chose not to stay with a cheating spouse. A friend of mine told me about 7 or 8 weeks after DDay that I needed to get over it and start seeing other people. I set her straight and started noticing how she picked at many decisions I made–how she wants understanding about her own often self-destructive behaviors and then can’t tolerate it when I say that something she wants to do isn’t for me. I’ve always known she is a narcissist but now I seen how that impact relationships. When I stopped tolerating abuse in friendships, too, I started to really fix my picker.

    • Personal example: I’m a 20-something year old woman, and I believe the same mindset as you do. You’re certainly not alone, and there are certainly other women who don’t subscribe to the entitlement mentality trash that is rampant in society these days. In fact, I refuse to watch any film, read any book or listen to anything or anyone which enables entitlement, abuse or cheating. Don’t subscribe to all that ‘popular culture’ shit either – and I live a full and healthy life (well, enough that I enjoy what I do, hah!) – I have culled more than my fair share of people who bleat about that crap and believe in it.
      tony, not every woman around your age is a narcissistic vapid moron.
      Also, even from day 1 I knew that cheating was utterly and completely wrong.
      So no, she doesn’t get a free pass to be a liar and a cheat, and put your health and safety at risk.

  • In addition to knowing your worth (preciousness!) and all the posts about finding opportunity in a problem ( love Mikky’s post), I think it is important to learn to be alone.

    Being alone in prayer, intentional meditation, or nature can reveal our deep connection to Love..and all people. i realize that may sound a bit woo woo, but it is what i have discovered. The “still small voice” that speaks to us requires us to be still. and alone.

    Cheating boyfriends and husbands cannot provide true companionship or love. in fact, even when we are in a healthy relationship, we must still honor time to be alone. So go towards it, rather than away.

    Our energy follows our attention. If you start focusing on your friendships, nutrition & exercise, mentoring other single moms of children with autism, and other parts of your life, you will care much less about HIM because your attention is on YOU. This is not selfish. This is self care.

    After 27 years of what i thought was a good marriage with my best friend and lover, i am now single and 56 years old. i have grieved, managed PTSD, sold our beautiful home, relocated and started all over. no boyfriend or remarriage. am open to it. but meanwhile, i am enjoying the solitude.

    simply put, if i can do it, so can you. ((hug))

    • I never thought I would love my single life today. My dysfunctional married life seemed to be a permanent state that I could not even imagine something better. Boy, I’m so glad I was dead wrong.

  • Jen,
    I’m new to this blog too. After 20 years in an abusive relationship, I’m finally on my way to freedom. I’ve had the same thoughts as well and have wondered why I have felt so strongly about someone who has always treated me with disdain. Well after a lot of conversations with my awesome counselor and a few years in a support group, and now finding this blog, I know I stayed because I took vows “for better or worse” but also really did care about stbxh. I’m a kind hearted person with high personal standards; only now am I understanding the importance of caring for myself and my elderly Mom, and my pets. I have discovered who my friends are and how much they care about me. I’m still in survival mode (stbxh is undiagnosed Disordered person) who told our counselor nothing was standing in his way of happiness. Yes, that means I need to slways consider my safety. Now that we are in the legal process of divorce, I am taking extra precautions. But I will survive. I know that. I didn’t always believe it. But I do now. And I bought a gun.

    I encourage you to take baby steps into a different life. Do for yourself, Take care of your son, read this blog, find a counselor and/or support group, and know that you will ssurvive. You have a lot more peace and happiness when you get through this. Never forget you deserve peace and happiness! Take care and I will watch for your comments!

  • What exactly is the gun for? I do not think it will help. We are all going to be okay, we just need to pick better next time or decide that we can go it alone. I had an awesome dog the last time I went through this. She was half lab half German Shepard and she worshipped the ground I walked. When people knocked on my door she went crazy barking. I think a dog maybe way better than a gun.

    • I think she means that his “nothing will stand in the way of his happiness” statement is an implicit threat, as some men prefer to be rid of their spouses through violence rather than divorce. I take it that freely is saying she is prepared to defend herself. That’s my take on it but–as always–I could be wrong. 🙂

    • Dog is a great alert…but after a man bypasses the dog…then what? I wear a concealed .38 from the time I take a shower and dress to the time I put it on my nightstand at bedtime, and feel much better. If someone follows me even to my car, well, bad choice. Oh, and do NOT advertise that you have a weapon…just appear to be all sweet and innocent and vulnerable LOL!

  • Yes, the gun is only for protection against him. I hate guns and violence, but I feel I need to be realistic and ready. It is scary. At some point, I will move far away. But I will always be aware.

    Maybe beach front property …. you all are invited!!!

    • Go to a shooting range and learn how to properly use it…and get a laser grip installed so that you dont miss in a panic…the little red laser beam is where the bullet WILL hit. Getting a dog (big or small does not matter) will give you the first alert, especially if the Ex never met/bonded with it.

      • That is exactly what I did after my remaining son told me that if anything happened to me, he was going to go after cheater ex’s brothers. I also am anti violence and don’t particularly like guns…..


        Cheater ex’s family are all sociopaths who believe in revenge above all. One brother is an active alcoholic, and the other an avid gun collector and hunter. Between cheater ex and his family they managed to take everything in life I cherished….. my youngest son, my home, my pets…everything had to my name. My eldest son was all I had left and I was not going to let that bunch of psychos have even a chance of hurting him…..which meant it was time for me to get proactive. I rebuilt my house with an eye to making it much harder to break into. I got a big dog and a .357 magnum……and I took a gun safety class. Some of my family think I’ve gone round the bend, but then they have no idea what it is like to have a whole family of ruthless, amoral sociopaths gunning for you.

        So, yep….I am also armed, and I plan to stay that way.They have long memories and I like to continue to breathe… here we are.

  • Tony, and others, I had a psychologist explain human “nature” to me one time and it helped me tremendously in my job. All personalities are on a continuum. Sociopathic murderers with no conscience at one end to Mother Teresa types on the other end. If you are reasonably healthy emotionally you might have a little narcissism in your personality but that is a good thing. It means you are going to look after yourself. Too much of it and you make a terrible spouse because you can never feel true empathy for others. He told me that when a therapist sees a diagnosis of that or other personality disorders they recognize the therapy will not be successful. The only one that stands even a modest chance of success is BPD and that is a crap shoot.
    What alarms me is what young people are inundated with every time they get anywhere near social media, tv or other entertainment media. We are all influenced by others. We talk about individualism but the truth is we follow trends without being aware of it and often times accept cruelty as normal behavior. I cannot imagine owning another person but our country had slavery for generations and many accepted it. So my point is that your friends are mirroring what they see and hear. If you see and hear it often enough it becomes the norm. Get new friends and stand your ground. Your morals might have a profound impact on someone by you being a decent person,

  • The love, support and wisdom coming from Chump Nation today is inspiring today! Jen and Lina, you are in good hands.

  • Tony, it also troubles me very much that there are so many people around who are accepting of adultery. I have come across that mindset at many ages. I feel that in past times there was at least a general consensus that adultery was wrong, even if people still did it. But nowadays the attitude is that anything is acceptable if you are ‘in love’ and cheaters are glamorised. I even had a counsellor in the months after my husband abandoned me during my cancer treatment who basically responded to my pain by telling me that ‘the true love story was actually Charles and Camilla’ and about how DH Lawrence fell madly in love with a married woman who abandoned her family and they lived happily ever after (which isn’t quite true I discovered because the woman in question was a serial cheater who lost her children through her abandonment of them and was broken hearted for the rest of her life, but my counsellor saw what she wanted to see). I came to the conclusion in fact that my counsellor had herself cheated or had an affair with a married man. I also know another woman who works as a counsellor and has just been abandoned by a cheating partner but as it turns out that relationship started when he was married to someone else and she was having an affair with him. She is now absolutely devastated and filled with rage at what he has done to her but can’t seem to connect the dots that she did something even worse in destroying his family. Again, unbelievably she is a counsellor, supposedly helping others with their problems.

    • M

      Thank you.

      I got lucky and did the right things by all accounts because I was in a relationship with my ex-wife for four years and was not even married a year and I am getting over it.

      As to society and its mores, I guess I have to let go.

      To me it has been a two step-process: First, the getting over the betrayal, which through friends and family and this website I have come a long way.

      The second thing, which I feel I am coming to, is the environment that creates adulterers. Of course my ex-wife felt entitled to her actions when so many people simply shrug their shoulders at what she did.

      I asked her: “You obviously don’t care about me and my people, but what about your people? What about what the time and money and belief they put into us?”

      Her response: “They’ll get over it.”

      I will never forget that, “they’ll get over it.” In the end, I guess she is right because life does go on, but I will never forgive her what she did to me because I know she knew it was wrong and did it anyway.

      Yet many people seem incapable of saying that what she did was completely wrong, and if many people feel this way, when does this stop?

      I guess your point, M, is that people have been doing this the whole time, even when the penalties were severe.

      My point is this – I want the truth. If someone thinks adultery is okay and people have reasons to cheat, then they should tell people that. My ex-wife was the COMPLETE opposite of this, and told me she had been cheated on and would get incensed at shows and movies where people were committing adultery and cheating.

      I am probably tilting windmills, but if she and others fool people by seeming to not be okay with cheating, and then she does commit adultery, I do not understand why people cannot seem to conclude that what she did was completely wrong and she is most likely a bad person.

      It seems logical to me and a few others, but to so many – and this has been the disturbing aspect – this is not something they conclude. Instead they look at me when I try to explain why it is wrong what she did like I am some kind of fiery evangelist preacher trying to tell them how to live.

      I realize also this is a great way to filter people out and that I will find someone who will love me, but I am concerned by the scale of this rampant entitlement and narcissism that is screaming through our society.

      • Hello Tony.
        It’s certainly true that adultery is nothing new. People having been hurting each other for a looooong time.

        One thing I’ve learned from my ordeal is to pay far more attention to what people do rather than what they say. So, it was entirely in your wife’s interests to say she disapproved of adultery when you were with her. It was part of how she got what she wanted. It wasn’t necessarily sincere. It may not have actually been consciously insincere either, it just suited her purposes to say that at the time. When it no longer suited her she could easily change because it wasn’t a deeply held value. My husband was very good at doing this too – saying the right thing to get what he wanted. He could really play ‘sincere’ very well. I understand your frustration but the problem is that, by definition, the people capable of adultery are not truthful.

        I don’t think you can get a real picture of someone’s character until they are under some pressure. Also, people tend to be super nice when they want something or it is in their interests. It’s when they are not getting what they want or the incentive is removed that you often see a different side. I think that is when you see the more accurate side of them. But it is really difficult to judge character when you are dating, especially when you are younger as you don’t have their history to go on. It’s a tricky business! I’m learning to be more discerning. An example: recently I went out on a date and the guy was very charming but I decided I didn’t want to see him again. Boy did I see a different side of him then! I then got literally two months of sulking, moodiness, pestering, refusing to take no for an answer and so on. I was so freaked out I ended up on a stalking advice website! But I only saw that side of him when I turned him down. Interesting. I wouldn’t go near him now, needless to say.


      • Hi Tony,

        You may want to read In Sheep’s Clothing by Dr. George Simon. It talks about how society is moving to a more permissive frame of mind that leads to more disordered people in our world and how that will ultimately leads to our downfall as a whole. Dr. Simon is obviously concerned about this trend and tells us more morally upright folks how to handle these people. The book is very enlightening. I don’t see people the same way after going through betrayal and reading this book

  • I am finding myself slow but sure. The emotional ups and downs are hard but they are toward healing, not putting up with his shit!! It is so much better!

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