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Dear Chump Lady, How can I stay the course?

ecardHi Chump Lady,

My name is Nellie, I’m a 23 year old from South Africa and am now also a chump. Honestly, I’ve been a chump for little over 3 months now when I found out my boyfriend of 5 years has been cheating on me for months, and before that regularly with other girls too. It broke my heart… (It’s still broken). I didn’t expect him to do this to me. Problem is when I found out, I tried to sort through everything very quickly and work things out. So I “forgave” him as he acted out the part of being remorseful and we even went on a holiday to try work things through.

Needless to say, nothing I did or tried has worked because I realise now that he doesn’t care. I’ve decided I don’t want to live like this anymore, but I also fear my life will be empty without him. (He took up a big part of my world). I DON’T want to backslide either, because I know now that he can never love me fully because he’s busy loving himself.

Any concise advice on how I can stay the course?


Dear Nellie,

Your life won’t be empty without him. Your life will be SANE without him.

What you’ve got here is the classic “Trust that they suck” issue. You’re only three months in. You’ve been with this jerk since you were 18. You are grieving who you thought he was and what you thought your life was going to be with him. Grief just has to be slogged through. I’m sorry. As I say here a lot, infidelity hurts like a motherfucker — but the pain is finite.

Think with your business brain. Do the cost/benefit analysis, Nellie. If you take him back, you’re in for MORE pain. You can either believe his baseless apology or believe his actions — he’s been cheating “regularly.”

He didn’t have a character transplant — he was caught. So, your choices are to pretend he’s a different person and carry on with soul-killing superficiality, (see “Holidays with Cheaters”), or dump him.

I vote dump him.

If you take him back, or go snorkeling in Aruba with him, or pretend you’re “friends” (with or without benefits) you’re sending him the message that you’ll continue to be his chump. Your actions are saying what he didn’t wasn’t That Bad that you won’t continue to have him in your life.

So Nellie, this is about you and YOUR values. When you flounder and miss him, ask yourself — who are you? What does Nellie stand for?

For starters, don’t confer your forgiveness so easily, especially when he has done nothing whatsoever to make amends. Aren’t you worth more than a holiday?

If you want to forgive him, regardless of whether he’s done the work to earn it, forgive him at a great distance, after years of no contact, when your heart has healed. (We call that “meh” around here, and you can achieve meh just fine without forgiving him. The point is simply to be indifferent to him and not wish him dead.)

But that’s all for the advanced class, Nellie. You’re in the just found out stage. Your job now is to stay NO CONTACT and take good care of yourself.

Let’s start with that “empty” life. You’re 23. Your life is bursting with possibilities. If it isn’t? Get on that. Finish a degree, work a job, have fun with your friends, travel, read, volunteer, adopt a puppy, go see more of that beautiful country you live in (say hi to Cape Town for me, and Hillbrow, and the ocean, and the protea). Go figure out who Nellie is and what Nellie enjoys doing.

Honey, I’m old enough to be your mom, and if you were my daughter, I’d give you a big hug and tell you that this man-child doesn’t deserve your heart. He doesn’t deserve the best of you. There are a billion people on this planet and a bunch of them are GOOD people. Devote yourself to people who are are worthy of you, folks who do reciprocity and respect. The minute a potential mate doesn’t prove himself worthy, don’t be afraid to dump him, because remember there are a BILLION other people.

And you’re a very busy young woman with a very full life. No time for losers.

((Hugs)) Nellie. Know your worth.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • And another reason to not keep a cheater in South Africa — the country has one of the highest AIDs rates in the world. He’s a freaking health risk. Get an STD screening pronto, Nellie!

  • Nellie,

    The unknown is scary is what I hear in your comments concerning an empty life following cutting your cheating boyfriend loose for good. As many can attest here, the unknown can bring forth amazing new beginnings and is much better than the known life of continuing in such a contempt-filled relationship. I say “contempt-filled relationship” because he obviously does not respect you enough to stop his behavior. That’s utter contempt for you as a human being. You can do better in another guy (if you choose as you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to have a fulfilling life).

    Write down your reasons for leaving him. When you feel weak, these may help you “Trust that he sucks” as CL puts it. And CL is right about the STD test, please do it.


  • Most of what you telling me, I’ve heard before but never really HEARD it. Thank you for the very specific advice. I plan to stay very busy, I’ve just completed an honours degree despite what happened and I’m looking for a job. I just have this feeling of anxiety everytime I think about this mess, it paralyses me. I want to get over it though and get moving with my life so I’m going to push past the anxiety and do just that!

    Thank you again

    • Nellie, you will get over it but stay no contact. As Tracy said, the pain is finite. It is. Exercise extreme self-care and that means working on being your best friend. If this happened to your best friend, what would you advise her? Do that. You can stay the course. You’re only three months out. I can guarantee you, it will get better. Focus on you. Enjoy yourself. You are 23. You have the world ahead of you.

      He doesn’t deserve you and you deserve someone a lot better than that cheating ex. Does he have good qualities? I’m sure he does but cheating is a deal breaker. You will come to a point that you will know in your heart that he sucks. It will take time and give yourself permission to grieve that. We all want to feel better immediately; it’s human nature. Just acknowledge that you are anxious but don’t give it a story. Honor the feeling but don’t go running to the lie, “I will feel better if we’re still together.” Because you know you won’t during your saner moments. Don’t give in to the lie. Stay strong. Chump Nation is here for you.

      • Nellie, I started my relationship with my soon to be ex husband when I was only 19 and he was 27. I forgave him a one night stand 3 years after we were married, then another one maybe a year later. We went to counciling, he was remorseful, I thought we were through all that and had put it behind us. Fast forward 3 decades, I find out he’s been cheating on me for over a year! After I file for divorce, I began to connect the dots, and realize there have propably been 10 other women during the course of our 36 year marriage. He is a big time serial cheater! I had no idea. He cheats in business too and we are in lawsuits because of it. He has implicated me in his bad business dealings, and I realize too late that I was just used by him, without any knowledge of his actions or that I was in any way liable. I sincerely wish I had had the courage to leave him after the first time he cheated. They just get way better at hiding it. He has clearly shown you who he is, and he’s not going to change. By forgiving him and staying, you are showing him there are no consequences. Why should he stop? SAVE YOURSELF! LEAVE HIM NOW AND DON’T LOOK BACK!!! I am now 58 years old, my options are very limited. You are very young and have your whole life in front of you to spend with someone worth your trust and love. Trust that he sucks!!!! I wish you the strength and courage you need to set yourself free.

        • Amen to that Chump Change!!! They just get better at hiding it. TRUTH. And the longer the relationship, the more shenanigans financial and otherwise will be put on you. Ask me how I know 🙂

          Nellie. Go and never look back. I’m old enough to be your mother also, and like chumplady, I would give you a hard hug and say you are beautiful, smart and have your WHOLE life ahead of you. Do not give your precious life to a lowlife cheater. Once they show you who they are believe them!! Your pain will go away eventually (here we say on Tuesday). But the pain this assclown is promising you gets worse every time. Trust that he SUCKS! Keep coming here for support, you’ll not find more caring or helpful people than we have here anywhere else. Hugs and good luck 🙂

        • Nellie, staying the course with a man who does not respect you is the most degrading experience imaginable. Like Chump Change I was married to a serial cheating man who lived a double life for 36 years. Narcissists are charming and cunning and forgiveness has a different meaning for disturbed individuals. They easily manipulate their partner and their victims. What he did to you will get worse if you stay the course. HAVE NO CONTACT. Yes, it sucks to be betrayed. The pain is devastating when you realize the person you love has been sleeping with multiple partners. That is NOT acceptable, it is a deal breaker. You will live better.

    • it sounds to and forgive me if i am wrong but you are putting YOUR happiness in his hands. you feel empty because the man you want is not giving VALUE to your worth. you want him to validate your goodness. i know the feeling i am awesome. i have plenty of people telling me that but the only person i needed it from was my man. i never got it from him. he never saw it in me and did not appreciate me. it hurt like crazy. i felt worthless.

      it took me a long long time to figure out the damage was not with me. i could not have done anything more to show him how much i valued him. but it wasnt me or my love that was in question. it was HIS. he did not. could not love me the way i needed to be love. no matter what i did he didnt care.

      i had to learn that my happiness. my fulfillment can not come from him. my happiness and fullfillment is only on me. you can not control him. i can not force him to love me and treat me good (beleieve me i wasted YEARS trying). i couldnt make him feel i was worth loving. i could however control my reactions to his actions. i still have much love for him but he didnt want it. so now he is with a married slut and has forgotten all the years i loved him and supported him. yes it hurts but believe me it hurts more when he took me for grated and kept treating me badly and kept hurting me with his choices.

      you have to decide if you want to live a shadowed and painful life with this man who doesnt love enough to stop hurting you. or to let him go and find know you live a true and honest living. he will only continue to treat you this way as long as you are letting him. dont keep asking why he keeps hurting you. instead ask yourself why you keep letting him hurt you.

      wishing you a happy life. find yourself. and never let a man devalue your worth.

      • I bought into that lie, too, mrsvain. The greatest gift I gave myself is to get out of that relationship. It never had a chance.

      • Nicely said, MrsVain.

        I take the following points that apply to my case

        – he could not love you (why? UtSoF)
        – no matter what, he didn’t care (lack of empathy)
        – he took me for granted and treated me badly and kept hurting me (selfish)
        – why do you keep letting him hurt you? (a chance for learning, healing, and growth)

  • Nellie, you are so lucky that this happened to you at 23 with no kids or financial ties with your cheater and with all your beauty and strength still with you AND with CL and Chump Nation to advise you. If many of us who are twice your age and older have survived cheaters and have hope for a peaceful future after so many attachments that are formed during marriage and decades of being together, you will surely thrive very quickly! Look at this way: you are now acquiring the tools for self-love that will allow you to pick better in the future and to open your heart for a person who truly respects and appreciates you and with whom you can grow with.

    I promise you “the Best is Yet to Come” …only worry about your mental and physical health and go No Contact immediately. You will do great!

  • Nellie, I forgot to add that I have been thinking about the men that I used to attract before I married my cheater at age 37. The ones I was most passionate about and who broke my heart were like my cheater husband: intelligent, good looking but NARCISSISTS cheaters. The ones I dumped and let go away were the really good guys, also intelligent and charming but they did not seem as exciting as the narcissists.The moral of the story is that if I had known what you will learn now at your age, I would have avoided twenty years of a bad marriage with a horrible ending. I am grateful for my fantastic children, and I now know that was the reason that I had to marry the jerk, but you can skip that part and go straight to learning to surround yourself with awesome, people who love and respect you and to never accept anything less.

    • Yes, Nellie!! Examine why you were attracted to a cheater, and then start choosing more wisely–solid, moral men, without the flash (perhaps) of your cheater, but without the heartbreak, too.

      • Nellie,
        I agree with Tempest about associating with and choosing moral men.
        Almost a year past D-Day, as a nearly 50-year-old single mother of young children, I found a moral man (chump) who is just as appealing physically and a thousand times more appealing emotionally than the cheater who abused me for nearly a decade. In many ways, for chumps, the grass on the other side of the fence IS greener.

        • Rockstarwife, the grass is certainly greener. My EX would always say it wasn’t when he cheated and I took him back. I am happy to know there are chumps finding bliss after leaving a cheater.

  • All good advice. Your life may feel empty without the cheater, but that is because he’s forced everything but himself out of your life. Like a vampire, he’s sucked your life away. Take it back! Put yourself first for a while and see how your life opens up. Do things that YOU want to do. You will laugh again. One day you will laugh at him. Trust that he sucks.

  • Howzit Nellie,

    When I was about your age I had more or less the same mindset: what or who am I without this boyfriend? I rather stayed in a toxic relationship than being alone. I never learned to rely on my own strength or got to know my true identity by going through life’s good but also the painful, hard times. This went on until I married this intelligent, stunning guy at 36. Not because he was so respectful towards me or loving; I was 36 and my tie was running out; I didn’t want to be ‘left behind’. Now, almost 8 dreadful years later, in the middle of a divorce, I do no longer have a choice but to finally face myself: what is my worth, what are my values? And for that Nellie, you only need yourself. Don’t waste precious time like I did. Take care, you can do it!!

    (((((Hugs from a fellow South African chump)))).

  • Honey, I’m old enough to be your mom, and if you were my daughter, I’d give you a big hug and tell you that this man-child doesn’t deserve your heart. He doesn’t deserve the best of you. There are a billion people on this planet and a bunch of them are GOOD people. Devote yourself to people who are are worthy of you, folks who do reciprocity and respect. The minute a potential mate doesn’t prove himself worthy, don’t be afraid to dump him, because remember there are a BILLION other people.

    If only my mother had told me this… but she did not. What she said was if you would be a nicer person, this would not happen to you…but I was not telling her the full extent of what was happening to me…and he hadn’t even started to cheat… her answer btw was not different when she learned he was cheating…

    So please take this motherly advice from CL and from the rest of your mothers here at CN… Run away from this guy…he is a mess. Start to read everything you can about messed up guys. They have a play book. There are themes that run through all of them. Once you learn to see them, they will pop out at you like a 3D movie, you can’t unsee them. You will see that is family is crazy… that he treats his friends badly or they are similarly wackjobs. Birds of a feather flock together like pigeons… rats with wings…but always looking for a bluebird or cardinal to suck into their vortex so they don’t look quite so ratty. You are the bluebird… the pretty one, the honorable… they want your beauty to cover their soulessness.

    23… finish your degree… get your bestie and go and travel for about 4 months… then when someone says his name, you will scratch your head and say… oh yeah that guy.


    Thank God you found out NOW rather than several children later! Then you would be “stuck” for the next umpteen years having to relive the pain over and over again (each time you HAVE to lay eyes on him because of HIS parental rights) AND sharing your children with another women half the time. Right now, what is yours is still YOURS alone. Take yourself BACK! Let some other sad unsuspecting chump navigate who he is…Do NOT ignore what you already KNOW while you have began the process of breaking free…it is a process. Allow yourself to go through the emotional loss of what you thought you had (but did not). Embrace the pain and look towards the future. Pain fades in time and with better opportunities and is your temporary friend. Pain tells us that something is NOT good for us.

    This is an opportunity to get it right…one that is a gift from God in my opinion. If ONLY most of US here could have a “do over” such as what you have! Sigh………….

  • Trust that all this is true Nellie…we are all speaking the truth – it doesn’t get better with these guys they just get better at hiding it. Time after time…you don’t want that in your life. RUN AWAY FROM THAT HELLISH EXISTENCE! I wish I had…and my Mother did try to tell me at first…she told me he was ‘dirty’…she didn’t mean not bathed…she knew he was no good…I wish I had listened…

  • Nellie,
    Be proud of yourself for realizing this is not a way to live. Past actions and behavior predict the future.
    I could be also be your mother. I started dating my ex husband at 18 as well. We attended different universities, but stayed together and married at 23. Less than 5 years later I had my first Dday, I accused him of cheating with a fellow graduate student, but he denied, blameshifted, etc. and chump that I am, I believed him. Who can believe that the person they love, and entrust their lives with, could do something so harmful and hurtful??

    Fast forward…. divorced after 18 years, 23 years together! Two kids, three DDays, and who knows what else I do not know about.

    The one thing I am proud of (besides my kids) is that I never did anything I did not want to, not really. Yes, I made some compromises for the family, but I do not regret that. I purposefully chose a university away from home, as I wanted to fully experience college. Boyfriend/fiance came to visit me there, but I am glad he did not attend with me. I would have not done half of what I did if he had been there.

    My point here– you are young! Go to university! travel! You have tons to do, and plenty of time to do it.
    I really like the song that is playing on the radio here in the United States : “I lived” by OneRepublic.
    go read the lyrics if you do not know the song… let this person be you, live life to the fullest, no worries about falling in love and having it hurt so bad– that’s ok, because it is better to live and have no regrets!

    No not regret the past. Time to move forward, and be watchful that the past is not repeated.

    Jedi hugs

  • Nellie,
    This is a poem by Emily Dickinson

    I like it. To me it speaks about your right to exclude people from your “inner circle” and the power to choose your company with the attention you give to others:

    The Soul selects her own Society —
    Then — shuts the Door —
    To her divine Majority —
    Present no more —

    Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
    At her low Gate —
    Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
    Upon her Mat —

    I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
    Choose One —
    Then — close the Valves of her attention —
    Like Stone —

  • I can’t really say anything better than what Chump Lady said. I was only going to suggest that the space of emptiness is not a bad thing. It’s space. It gives you the opportunity to fill your life with things that are important and valuable to you.

    Right now, you have a giant hole sucking the life out of you.

    It is not going to be a bowl of cherries once you move on. But that’s okay. I use to say, “Even at my worst, I am better than him at his best.”

    Chump Lady said, “When you flounder and miss him, ask yourself — who are you? What does Nellie stand for?” One of my dearest friends always said to me, “Do what is best for Dr. Chump.”

    So do what is best for Nellie.

  • Nellie, one of my biggest regrets in life (and I am old enough to be your mother and then some) is that I let men be the end all and be all for me. I never knew my own worth until I was OLD!
    I was raised to believe that women were nothing without a man and therefore I must have one at any cost. I remember as a child dreaming big dreams out loud to my parents and their words of ‘wisdom’ to me were “You had better marry a rich man.” No one ever told me I could get anything on my own, that somehow I needed a man to succeed.

    Fast forward many years and my own daughter would dream big dreams out loud and I would tell her “Then you had better go to college and get an education where you can always support yourself.”
    I grew up in a far different era.

    Fortunately after my first divorce twenty years ago I went back to college and got that degree when I was 40 years old and I’ve never regretted it. What I do regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I could have my Doctorate’s by now teaching at a prestigious college. But what I did with those years when I could have been doing that…I spent on trying to make unhappy men happy. Guess what? It didn’t work.

    You are 23 and as people have said here, you have your whole life ahead of you. Thank God you never had children with this man child. He absolutely doesn’t deserve you. Go no contact and stay away from him. Keep in mind though once the cake is gone he’s going to throw every whiney tantrum in the world to hook you back in. Forget it. He had his chance.

    Get your degree and travel with your bestie. Great advice here! You have YEARS to figure out the rest. Good luck honey.

    • Great advice!
      Nellie, listen to Syringa and the others. Leave him today. He has shown you who he is. Leave and never look back.

  • This reliance on men for self worth was not a message that ever resonated with me. I was in my teens and early twenties post-first wave of feminism, and despite growing up in a household with a farming father, a SAHM and two younger brothers, I NEVER felt the need for a man, I was encouraged to be everything I could be – by myself and for myself – so I find these dependent relationships so sad, and somewhat confusing. I am forever thankful for that SAHM and even my otherwise deeply dysfunctional father for those strong female messages.

    Nellie, you sound like a wonderful person, an Honours degree despite an obviously narc and self-serving BF – go you! Just keep feeding your need to stay away from him, and men like him, using Chump Nation as your support if you have none from friends and family. Be thankful he showed you who he is now, and not in ten, twenty, thirty, forty plus years. I know that sounds hollow to someone with a broken heart at 23, but it is truth, and the further out from today you get, the louder that truth will scream THANK YOU FOR STAYING AWAY FROM HIM to you. Hang in there, it hurts like a MOFO, but you already know you can do this – that is why you wrote to Tracy in the first place xxx.

    • Have you seen those schmoopie things??? LOL!! They are so funny! My dick is perfect! LOL!!! Too funny!

  • I’m dependent no more. I have a lovely home that I take care of myself and a fabulous job that I love. I have lots of friends and family who I adore. I didn’t stay with my cheater and ‘try to make it work.’ He’d be back in my life tomorrow if I wanted him. No thanks. The sun is shining today and life is good!~

    • I have little wobbly moments… but this pretty much describes my life too syringa. I never, ever thought I could live such a peaceful and happy life. I never thought… I thought I had been born under a dark star… I am sitting here with a dog in each side, watching my favorite telly program. So glad Dr Demento has left the house.

  • Nellie,
    You’ve got a lot of life ahead of you and you don’t want to waste that on a creep that you’ll inevitably end up breaking up with/divorcing anyways. I met my STBX when I was your age, we were together for 6 years total. I’m now 31, a single mom with a daughter he and I had together before I knew who he truly is (loving being a single mom, btw), 15 months out of my DDay & separation from him and not too far away from divorce. For me, infidelity was the turd cherry on top of a shit sundae of a marriage. No excuses, I deserve better. And know that if a person is willing to do something so heinous to you, he’s got MUCH bigger issues under the surface that you just haven’t seen yet. Get out now.

    Trust this, you don’t need this crap in your life. The world is your oyster and you should be HAVING FUN right now. This is the time to be unattached, live freely, go out with friends, make some mistakes & learn from them. This is your YOU time. Please enjoy it. And enjoy it without a cheater dragging you down.

    You’ve got this, Nellie!

  • Nellie,
    When I was 23, I had my first and only baby whom I love very much. He is almost 20 now and has an autistic spectrum disorder. His father is a very disordered person who has done the best he could, but really isnt capable of loving me or his son the way a father should.

    So dear, please, spare yourself this pain. You are a person worthy of love, and it may take some time to find that. In the meantime, learn about yourself and all that you are capable of. If this man is meant to be, he will rise up. In the meantime, you may find other interests. You certainly do not need to lock it down now. Give yourself a chance.

  • BetterJamie Oh you called it… I wonder how many of us have lived this. “Infidelity was the turd cherry on top of a shit sundae of a marriage.” Yup, that described mine.

  • I really wish I had learned this painful lesson when I had the opportunity. At 19, I was charmed by a guy who made me feel special at first and the sex was quite good – a new powerful experience to me. I was coming off of a breakup from my first sexual relationship when I met him. We had little in common and our friendship was superficial. After nearly 2 years he dumped me for someone more in tune with his frequent drug use and there was undoubtedly some overlap. I was devastated and went on to start dating the next narcissist who paid me a compliment. Sigh.
    As Chumplady says: get to know yourself and KNOW YOUR WORTH! Don’t waste any more time with selfish people. You can get through this. Love and healing to you.

  • Ahh, to be 23 again…

    First off, I’m sorry for your pain. Betrayal is devastating at any age. As CL said, the only way out is through. But good for you for dumping this guy who doesn’t have your back. You can do better. You WILL do better.

    I’m hardly successful in the romance department (so far), but here are some of the things that I’ve done since I was 23 years old (I turned 50 about 3 months ago):
    – moved out of my home state to chase a job, without knowing anyone in the place I moved to;
    – worked at a wildlife park (volunteer) where I met a lot of cool people, fell in love a couple of times, and got to hang out with a pack of wolves, some bison, a couple of coyotes, and adopted a puppy who became one of the greatest loves of my life (so far);
    – went to graduate school, again moving to a place where I knew no one;
    – graduated from vet school — had a couple of fun little flings;
    – moved to Alaska where (you guessed it) I knew no one;
    – saw the Northern Lights, lived in temperatures 50-below zero, saw the Aurora Borealis over & over again, saw moose & bears & lynx in the wild (not a zoo);
    – ran a marathon
    – traveled the world, to Paris (many times), around France, around Italy, around Spain, to Istanbul & Austria & Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Tahiti, Central America, ….

    (I suppose I should also include a marriage of 16 years, but we all know how that ended or I wouldn’t be on this website, but, still, I had some really good times with that guy before he lost his fucking mind & ran off with a 25 year old waitress — whattaya gonna do?)

    … And part of the reason I was able to do these things is because I never wanted to have to rely on a man, and now I’m SO glad I didn’t! Because I always wanted to CHOOSE to be in a relationship instead of HAVING to be in a relationship where the man controls the pursestrings, I have options I might not have otherwise had. (if i’d’ve listened to my mom, I’d’ve been totally dependent on XH and 100% fucked by the divorce, though it could be argued without my money he might not have had the money — who’m I kidding, he would’ve NEVER had the money — to buy the business where he got his big head and met his Schmoopie…)

    OK, the point is: Nellie, you have your whole life ahead of you. And you’re off to a good start by trimming off that diseased tissue that was your ex-boyfriend. Yes, it hurts. Of course, you love(d) him. That’s natural. But, wow, 23…. Man, did I have some great times in my life after 23…. Not saying it doesn’t hurt, but, man, you’re gonna be great.

  • Howzit Nellie

    I am also a South African Chump. Keep reading this website as many times as necessary and Trust that he sucks! This place will give you the sanity to carry on, and eventually smile again. hugs to you

  • Nellie, take his infidelities at FACE VALUE. Those other relationships he’s had, while in a committed, exclusive relationship with you, are a declaration that he is a liar, manipulative, selfish, and sneaky. He is a skilled actor, a fake, a fraud. He WILL use you and take advantage of the beautiful love and trust you have/had for him. It’s what he’s clearly demonstrated. He WILL do what feels good to HIM…what he deems to be in his OWN best interest… without regard for you or your feelings. You are not valued or respected. You are replaceable…disposable. He has no loyalties to you. HE chose, and was happy to risk, losing you. You are right, he doesn’t care. You have learned the truth about him and the truth about your relationship. Neither were what you believed them to be. You’ve been tricked. The good man and the good relationship you probably believe you had in/with him…was all smoke and mirrors. He has shown you WHO he is….believe him. No matter how remorseful he may be; no matter how ‘right’ he tries to make things with you, you will always wonder IF his gestures of love, interest, and care are even real. Cause, after all, all the years you spent with him, he presented the same way: as an invested, committed, loyal, protective boyfriend. You thought ‘it’ was real then. How will you know what is real…fake…a manipulation…or deception? How will you tell? Because he SEEMS genuine? Because he SEEMS sincere? Because he bought you something or took you on a nice vacation? What good are his promises..what good is his ‘word’ now? I am sorry to be so harsh, but I have lived the emotional, mental chronic turmoil, pain, and distress of staying with a cheater of grand magnitude like yours. ‘This’ won’t ever ‘go away’. I’ve been reading infidelity forums for years and can tell you that, even for couples who allegedly reconcile, it comes a quite a price to the faithful spouse. You are way too young…and without the complications of children/house/building an entire life together…to risk your mind, heart, soul, and body in staying with a man you will never fully trust again. Please go NO CONTACT as others have suggested. Move on with YOUR life. You have a huge blank slate on which to create a good life….a life without this kind of bs, abuse, and pain.

  • Dear Nellie,

    I was with my wife for 16 years and recently learnt that she cheated on me (with somebody she barely knew). We have now separated and only have to meet to exchange children. Just like you I never believed my wife would cheat (she often expressed disgust at anyone who cheated). Believe me I know the pain you are going through but NO CONTACT is the only way!! I only have to see my cheating ex for about 10 minutes a week which is fine by me. It works and as Tracey has said on another thread – DON’T LET THEM STEAL ANYMORE OF YOUR SOUL. WIse words from a very wise woman.

  • Hello Nellie,
    I echo what the Chump Nation has said…. You are young and free… Dont waste it on a sack of shit.
    I know creating a bucket list has become a little cliche and a pinterest pinners wet dream… In all seriousness…start scratching things off that list. No one can take those experiences from you.
    I had my first child at 35… Prior to that i was one wild and crazy girl. Never owned a stick of furniture…but ask me how many continents i have been on. Ask me how many oceans I have dipped myself in.
    No one can take that from me.
    Life Traveler, I wish you well on your journey. Now go.

  • Nellie – I watched a silly movie this weekend that may actually be helpful to you ( and the rest of us chumps).

    “He’s just not that into you” has good acting which makes some of the predictable plot more tolerable. The best part, to me, is how it handles infidelity. It shows the cheating husband and OW very accurately. Watching Bradley Cooper ( cheater) lie straight faced and so convincingly helped validate my decision to move on – at age 55!

    The other part of the movie that will be helpful to you is that the main characters are in their twenties, so the theme of wanting to find “the one” are prevalent. The best part? The movie delivers the reality that we are sufficient alone (alone does not mean lonely!) We are important and can have a full life without a partner. We do not need to “settle” for someone who does not respect us or who cannot be faithful.

    The movie is probably available on Hulu or Netflciks. Enjoy it – and enjoy your cheater free life!

  • Nellie, CL wants to give you a big hug. I want to kick you in the butt. Seriously. Just as I would kick the 23-year-old me if I could go back.

    You write, “I also fear my life will be empty without him. (He took up a big part of my world).” Here’s the thing. No other person (short of a dependent infant) should “take up a big part of [your] world.” Babies and toddlers are totally dependent on their parents, and for that little while, even healthy adults need to put their safety and development front and center in the adults’ lives. Even then, however, healthy people will carve out time for themselves, even if it is just a few minutes to read or even just to walk in the sun with baby in the stroller. The other people in our lives are separate from us; their presence isn’t a reason to sign over our own Self. Over and over in my life, I have become involved with men. I’ve sold houses to be with them, bought houses for them, lived in remodeling hell because they wanted to start a business, put my own grief on hold, and in one ridiculous moment, drove home from the hospital where my mother was about 5 hours from being put in hospice to plate up a Thanksgiving dinner for my husband, his son and daughter-in-law, and her son. Not one of them thought about coming to the hospital to support me at that moment of horror and despair in my own life. Looking back, I gave up the responsibility of taking care of my own happiness and standing up for what I wanted and needed in order to keep some man who was “taking up a big part of my world.” From the outside, I had achieved so much–advanced degrees, a great job, good salary, good friends. But none of it was built on the strong foundation of knowing who I am at bedrock and knowing my own worth.

    If a man loves you, he will reciprocate. You will be a big part of his world, but not his whole world. He will encourage you to be your best self and figure out your own life path. The biggest favor you can do for yourself and your future happy partner is to make yourself into a woman who would never put up with a cheater because she only lets the best people into her own great big life.

  • Hi Nellie,
    You sound like me a long time ago. I fell in love at 18 and moved from my Dad’s house into a home with my boyfriend. I was never on my own, just me until I was 30. WOW, living on your own, learning who you are and pleasing only yourself. Being responsible for your own decisions with no compromise and no one to hold your hand. Doing and learning to be alone is important to growing and becoming a whole person.

    Do not take this situation as the most terrible thing that ever happened. See it rather, as a sign and a new path. A chance to live with yourself and find out what you want and who you are without compromise. Spend a few years doing that and you will be surprised at how happy you are with YOU. I know it hurts now, throw yourself into living and it will fade. You will look back and realize heartbreak was a new beginning, a better life for you. Jedi Hugs!

  • Nelli,
    I too had a boyfriend of seven years, we were engaged to be married, and I was 23. He had an affair during our engagement, I found out, and forgave him (at least I said I did, and opted for marriage, big house, affluence).. We went ahead and got married and had two kids

    Fast forward 29 years. Nelli, I left him, finally. After years of subtle mistrust, resentment, more cheating, ignoring my needs, belittling me, and so on. He was, at his core, an egotistical jerk and I was the side dish.

    Now that this guy has killed your trust, you will not get it back. Do as I dearly wish I had done and seek out a better man. They do exist. You just have to enforce your standards and be OK with being alone when someone jerks you around. As CL says, “value yourself”. Love yourself first and tell yourself that every day.

  • Hi Nellie,

    I never thought I would find myself on this site, but here I am! I am a 29 year old that had truly believed I had met the love of my life! Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. One week after my 29th birthday, I walked in on my live in boyfriend of 2 years in my personal bed with another girl. He proceeded to yell get the fuck out in my face as the girl laid in my bed laughing in my face. He was pushing me to the ground as he yelled that I didn’t live there (he bought the house) and telling me to get the fuck out. She continued to lay there and laugh. I went back later that day to move out all of my stuff and all of my belongings and things that represented us as a couple were hidden all over the house…in bowls, hampers, under beds, his shirts covering my clothes in the dresser, etc.. None of it was hidden well. To make matters worse, some of her stuff had taken my place. I guess I should mention that I thought our house was being “bug bombed” which is why I was not there. I never heard from him again and he never even let me say goodbye to the dog, whom I cared for and spent so much time with. Come to find out through others, this had been going on for at least 2 months behind my back and the girl knew the whole time. She also has a daughter and allowed him to spend time with her when he went to visit them where they live 4 hours away. I was home taking care of the house and the dog thinking he was helping his fellow cop friends (whom cheat on their wives) move. I even asked him then if he was cheating on me and I was met with no, never, I love you, etc. He made me feel like I was going crazy for 2 months. I heard that he has told his family and friends we broke up because we were too serious, yet they publicize their new “family” all over social media. And to be honest, we never broke up. I walked in on him with someone else-there’s a difference. The past 5 months have been surreal-a real life lifetime movie. It has been pure hell. I have blamed myself, been so scared that I will never love again, etc. However, I can tell you that it does get better…slowly. I have my own apartment, adopted my own dog, and have taken 2 trips to places I chose to go to. You will find out who your true friends are and just what you are made of. If you haven’t, listen to Ella Henderson’s Ghost. It is has been helpful to me. You are definitely in my thoughts and prayers, and please know you are not alone in what you are feeling. My best friend/brother was murdered when I was 22 and I think the pain I experienced through this is just as bad. Don’t be afraid to feel the pain and muddle through it…honor your pain, but keep going!! Lots of love!!!

  • Nellie, most of us mature chumps who met our cheaters when young saw what we wanted to see back then. The signs were there all along but we ignored them or “tried” – they were lying then too and we knew their stories were shaky but we wanted to believe so we did.
    Many of us have had multiple DDays and wasted our best years in mental anguish.
    At 23 there are so many amazing things you could be doing and so many men you have yet to meet. If I could turn back the clock I would shed not a single tear over a lying cheat…easier said than done I know.
    But listen, you will be 25, then 30 will be looming and 40, 50 and beyond will come much faster than you think. Look down the years and see the woman who will be you. Is she fulfilled and cherished? Is she full of anger and regret? It gets harder.
    I am well over 50 and in a relationship where there is trust instead of suspicion, laughter instead of pain, and far more sex than I was having at 23. I hope you learn faster than I did.

    • Way to go Mary! I hope Nellie listens to your wise counsel!

      And I hope I get to be where you are soon!

      Awesome Mary! Way to go!

    • And Nellie! I walked the same path as Mary! It is painful and you LOSE YOURSELF … your self esteem and these kinds of people do not respect you! You can be the most wonderful person alive that doesn’t matter to them…they are all that matters…them and what they want IN WHATEVER MOMENT! Take Mary’s advice and go NO CONTACT and have an awesome life without the hologram!!!!

  • Thank you all so much for sharing your stories with me and your wisdom, believe me I drink it all in. What I am starting to realise though is that this man that I love is not who I thought he was- he’s a real bad guy! I think that is what I just COULD NOT believe all this time, how did I get it so wrong?

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