I think chumps are often misunderstood as sore losers. People can be incredibly tone deaf about infidelity — she left you? Hey, it’s all for the best. She had to find happiness. Life is too short to be bitter. Get over it…
You guys know the drill.
Chumps themselves struggle with whether to own our feelings of injustice. Do I have a right to be angry? Maybe this is all my fault? Maybe I drove them to it? Some therapist will tell you it’s half your fault, or you weren’t meeting their emotional needs. Another expert will point to the midlife crisis, and yet another the unnaturalness of monogamy.
Who are we to judge? People drift apart, fall in and out of love. Shit happens!
And chumps are cast as the folks who Just Can’t Move On. The pathetic hanger on who just can’t acknowledge the relationship is over.
As if the problem was just sour grapes. Well, you’re just unhappy that he’s happier with someone else. You’re jealous.
The societal narrative about divorce after infidelity seems to have shifted from — what are our obligations to one another? — to the Pursuit of Happiness. Some idiot abandons their spouse and children and we shouldn’t judge. Don’t we have the right to end relationships?
Well of course we do. That really isn’t the point. I’m about the biggest cheerleader for divorce around, but there needs to be a set of ethics about how to leave, and how to be left. We do have obligations to one another. You can’t just wander away from your spouse like someone you got bored with at a cocktail party.
Nobody’s super power is rejection. Marital dissolution is usually a sad and traumatic event. No one wants to be jilted. What chumps object to is the dishonesty, disrespect and outright theft. Couldn’t my partner have told me they were unhappy? Did they have to spend our retirement savings on hookers? I have to single parent on a fraction of my former household income and you think your affair is MY fault? The injury is bad enough. Spare us the insults, thanks.
Cheaters — here is the proper way to leave a relationship.
1) Own your shit. You are responsible for your own happiness. That doesn’t mean, hey, you’ll take matters into your own hands and sign up for Ashley Madison. It means your life satisfaction is on you. No one “drives” you to unethical behavior.
2) Communicate. If you’re unhappy, say so. Listen to your partner too. Self reflect. See “own your shit” above.
3) Do the work. A marriage and shared family life is a huge investment. People’s lives and well-being hang in the balance, so before you get naked with a co-worker, do the work to salvage your marriage. Get therapy. Make time for each other. Appreciate. And if you just can’t hack it, then you owe it to everyone to make your exit with the least amount of harm. Be honest and above board. Manage expectations. Don’t be a fucking cake eater.
4) Don’t date until you’re at least legally separated. Don’t bring a new person into your existing relationship. It’s not fair to anyone. You’re just eating cake. Leave and be alone. Quit looking for a soft place to fall. It’s not okay to self medicate with other people.
5) Give a fair settlement. You’re bailing on a commitment, the least you can do is be fair. You want your freedom? Be generous with the people you leave behind, especially your children. If you’re not sticking around to raise those kids, you owe it to your ex to be exceptionally generous.
Of course, if you were the kind of person who could leave ethically, I wouldn’t be Chump Lady and I wouldn’t have this blog. Fact is, cheaters, if you aren’t outright abandoning chumps, you’re happily dating while married, stuffing your gob with cake.
The biggest insult of all is that chumps are usually the ones who have to leave the cheaters. Cake loss is so very tragic. But chumps, I would argue you aren’t leaving your marriages — you’re simply aligning reality. This person is already checked out. Your divorce is making manifest an abandonment they already initiated. (And before you point out that cheaters use this excuse all the time — my wife doesn’t understand me, we grew apart, I was divorced in my mind — let me state the obvious here — by filing for divorce you are being OPEN about ending the marriage. Unlike a cheater.)
Finally, chumps — there is an ethical way to be left as well. If you’re going to eat the shit sandwich, do it on Royal Doulton china with your pinky extended. Keep it classy.
1.) Let ’em GO. In the words of Madea, “If someone wants to walk out of your life? Let them GO.” You don’t need anyone so bad that you’ll trade your dignity and self respect. Never perform the pick me dance.
2.) Don’t retaliate. Don’t set fire to their car. Don’t post the sex videos their company website. Don’t cc their mothers. Take all your evidence and give it to an attorney. You’ll get the car. You’ll leverage the sexual harassment lawsuit into a better settlement. And thank God you don’t have to spend another holiday with their mothers. Take the long view, chumps.
3.) Be awesome. The best revenge is a life well lived. Go be awesome without them. Chances are, you were already awesome, you just needed to get free of this nightmare in order to shine. Well, now’s your opportunity.
Oh, and fuck anyone who thinks you’re a sore loser. Cheaters are the losers. You were just chumped — and that’s not a permanent condition.