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Interview with Dr. David Ley, author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction”

mythbookToday we’re speaking with Dr. David Ley, a clinical psychologist and author of The Myth of Sex Addiction. Dr. Ley is an outspoken opponent of the pseudo-science and hype surrounding “sex addiction.”

As many of the readers here had cheaters who were diagnosed SAs (and probably have the thousands of wasted therapy dollars to prove it), I thought you would appreciate Dr. Ley’s sex positive but own-your-shit perspective.

CL: Do “sex addiction” therapists have to have any particular sort of licensing? Who can call themselves a sex addiction specialist?

DL: Sex addiction “treatment” is an unlicensed, unregulated industry. Some sex addiction therapists are licensed mental health professionals, such as counselors or social workers. Mental health licensing boards have not yet come down on these therapists for practicing an “experimental,” unsupported, undiagnosed treatment, but they might. Especially as many such therapists are engaged in treating “same sex attractions” as a form of addiction.

In other words, some of these patients’ sexual behaviors include homosexual activity, in video stores, etc. Sex addiction therapists often characterize such homosexual desires as a form of illness, and work to suppress it. This is a form of conversion or reparative therapy, banned by most professional associations. Licensed therapists doing this are likely to start seeing licensing complaints and malpractice suits.

But, most sex addiction treatment occurs in unlicensed settings, from:

  • “Coaches” who are former sex addicts who have embraced the model of sex addiction treatment to help themselves, and now sell that service to others, often online. There is no regulation of these folks. They often have no liability insurance, supervision, and have no requirements to protect confidentiality or treat people ethically.
  • 12-step groups – including SA, SLA, SAA, etc. There’s a proliferation of these. These are peer-led. There’s no regulation or monitoring of them. Each varies significantly, in theory and practice. Some ban anything except heterosexual monogamy, including masturbation. Other groups are more “flexible” about what constitutes unhealthy sexual behaviors.
  • Residential treatments – these are residential recovery centers, which charge cash for sex addiction treatment. They often claim to bill insurance, but because sex addiction is not a recognized disorder, such treatments aren’t covered by insurance. Such centers are rarely closely regulated. Recent exposes about such rehab facilities are proliferating in the media, for good reason. Typically, they provide 12-step based treatments.

It’s incredibly important to know that there is absolutely NO evidence that any of these sex addiction treatments are effective, in reducing sexual behavior problems, improving relationships, etc. So, it’s unethical in my opinion for any of these folks to provide or charge people for such services, without making it clear to the patient that these treatments are unsupported by literature or medicine. They are “experimental” and frankly, comparable to treatments such as homeopathy. These treatment providers are usually well-intended, and genuinely are trying to be helpful. But that doesn’t prevent them from causing therapeutic harm. 

CL: Is there a connection between sex addiction and personality disorder? Instead of I’m a poor sausage who is a slave to his urges, how about I’m an entitled horndog who is fully cognizant of what he’s doing and lacks empathy for his partners?

DL: There’s a really strong connection here, in two ways:

  • Substantial research has demonstrated that as many as 30-70% of alleged sex addicts may have a diagnosable personality disorder such as Narcissistic PD, Antisocial, or Borderline. You can imagine how such problems could have a sexual component, in a variety of ways. It raises the very real problem of diagnosing/treating sexuality as the problem, when the reality is, the problem is the person themselves. These people don’t behave selfishly just in sex. They have lots of other problems. Diagnosing sex addiction in such cases is the equivalent of diagnosing “sneezing disorder” in someone who has a cold. It’s dangerous, and distracting, and reflects our society’s fear and mistrust and obsession with sex.
  • Secondly, it’s important to know some of the numbers here. Roughly 90% of sex addicts are males. About half of these males in treatment are white men who make over $85k a year. What does that mean? It implies the strong possibility that in these men, what we are seeing is a form of sexual privilege. Wealthy, powerful men have always had the privilege to engage in infidelity, have a harem, etc. But, starting in the 80’s we started applying the same rules to men as we do for women, as a result of the feminist revolution. And suddenly, we have a “disorder” that explains and excuses these selfish sexual misbehaviors.

CL: Does it matter what flavor of fucked up it is? If someone is behaving this destructively and risking your health and emotional well-being, isn’t the healthy thing to get away from it? Does it need a name? (Or does giving it a “syndrome” keep partners stuck?) 

DL: I’ve heard from many wives and partners who stayed with spouses who treated them dishonestly around sex, in part because the wives bought into the sex addiction excuse. One woman told me, “it was easier to believe he had a disease, than to believe he was merely treating and my safety in such selfish ways.” I’ve seen countless other women who told me that the “sex addiction identity” became their husband’s justification and explanation for all their sexual choices, and that it became impossible to get their husbands to assume responsibility for their behaviors or their consequences.

However, and this is the one caveat I will really give to the sex addiction model – it does give people who are struggling some sense of peace, resolution or mastery, to be able to “name their problem.” For some people, saying “aha, that’s my problem, I’m addicted to sex,” gives them a way to begin working on their behaviors or problems. Unfortunately, in my view, it’s a deceptive and not very effective strategy, that depends on externalizing one’s sexual desires, rather than increasing one’s personal understanding and acceptance.

CL: Let’s say SA is an addiction — then why doesn’t the same advice apply to partners of other addictions? In addiction literature, you are taught the 3 C’s — didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it. But partners of sex addicts are encouraged (guilted?) into owning their part (“colluding”) and supporting the SA through expensive therapy. Why is that?

DL: Well, few things I’ll say:

  • There is NO evidence that such men cannot control their sexual behaviors. In fact, there’s a wealth of research showing that they have as much self-control as any other person, even though they often believe they have difficulty controlling themselves. I think this is evidence of a disturbing self-fulfilling prophecy. They present themselves as people who have difficulty controlling their impulses and desires, but there’s no evidence that they actually do.
  • There’s a radical difference between “choosing not to exert self-control,” and “being out of control.” Most sex addicts appear to be people who choose not to exert control over their sexual behaviors. I believe that’s a problem of personal responsibility and understanding of one’s sexual desires/needs, not an addictive disorder.
  • Much research indicates that so-called sex or porn addiction is most often an indicator of high libido. Sex/porn addicts “look” just like high libido people in much of the good experimental research. But, many of these self-identified addicts also have moral/religious/family/social conflicts about sexuality. So, they are people who grew up in an environment where sexuality is shamed and suppressed, but they are a person who responds strongly to sex. It makes sense that they would identify and understand that as an addiction, because they haven’t been taught to understand and accept their own sexuality. (As said before, they are often also bisexual men, who treat their homosexual desires as an addictive impulse to be suppressed.)
  • This libido mismatch/conflict appears to often be at root of wives labelling their husband as a sex addict. I saw one man who was married three times. First two wives, and the couples’ therapists they saw, all labelled him as a sex addict. He really, really wanted to be a swinger. His first two wives refused, and said his obsessive interest was an addiction. Third wife cured him. How? She was a swinger. So, the point is, “too much sex” is a relative term, which varies by social and relational context.
  • Finally, there is a group who advocate for something they call “Sex Addiction Induced Trauma” where they are literally trying to diagnose PTSD in the wives of these men who’ve been treating. While I understand and empathize with the devastation and emotional pain that comes from such a revelation and the dishonesty of one’s partner, calling this trauma, or a disorder, is disturbing. So, now, a person with a fictional disorder has created another fictional disorder in other people, as a result of their behaviors. Where does this stop? We don’t get to just make up a disorder to label every problem out there, especially when there are already really good explanations and labels out there.
  • I encourage husbands and wives to sit down and have a really good discussion about infidelity, sexual desires, libido, etc. Unfortunately, in our heteronormative, monogamy-idealizing society, these people with high libido have no real room to say, “Hey, I’ve got a high libido, and sometimes sex with one person might not be enough for me. Is that something we can deal with?” This is where porn, open relationships, fantasy, role play, etc., can all come into play, to help partners resolve these issues from a place of understanding, mutual respect, compromise and personal responsibility. Personally, I think that’s a lot better than saying, “It’s not my fault, my sexual desires are an addiction and I can’t control them.”

CL: PTSD is a real thing, isn’t it? It seems to be recognized by therapists as a legitimate reaction to discovering infidelity. Having experienced the discovery of a disordered person’s double life I had the shakes, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, vomiting, triggers. Honestly, I don’t know many people who discover infidelity that don’t experience major trauma from it for months. I can’t speak to SAIT, but it would stand to reason these people do a lot of damage to their spouses and then they’re encouraged to stay with them and take more abuse. 

Why do you think their partners don’t have PTSD? My advice would be, whatever its label, recognize the situation isn’t good for you. If staying with this person makes you physically sick? Get far away from it. 

DL: PTSD is defined as trauma and lasting impact (over 3-6 months) from a life-threatening situation, rape, death, etc. The emotional devastation from infidelity is real. But it’s not a disorder. As hard as it is, it’s a normal reaction to an awful situation, just like grief is a normal reaction to a normal, but devastating loss. We shouldn’t medicalize this.

I think we’re mostly in agreement on the character issue. I believe that character and personal responsibility comes from acceptance and understanding of one’s own needs, including sexual, and treating others with respect — not treating others as though their needs matter less than our own.

But, I often point out that the character/moral issue of infidelity is one that is heavily influenced by social standards. In the US, we’ve identified infidelity as an overriding moral/character issue. Once a person cheats, it becomes the overriding variable regarding their morality. Other cultures take different views of infidelity. Some ignore it, some don’t like it, but accept it as one of the many human flaws. The big point for me here though, is these are moral issues, not medical ones. Society and morality can oppose infidelity, and define it as overriding. That’s fine, I’m not arguing it. But they shouldn’t be allowed to pretend that these moral issues are actually medical issues.

On that – there are many religious groups, like the LDS, the XXX Church, Focus on the Family, who use addiction language to masquerade their moral attacks against porn, masturbation, and homosexuality. It conceals their true intentions, and conveys a sense of altruism and beneficence, and confuses people into thinking they are getting healthcare, when actually they are getting moral preaching.

CL: I think we are in complete agreement on personal responsibility and communicating your sexual needs. Especially the “I can’t do monogamy” talk.  

However, you’re making an argument a lot of people make on infidelity, that it is a “monogamy” problem or a high sex drive problem. I argue cheating is a character problem. It’s an entitlement problem. 

Swingers get cheated on too. Every arrangement has boundaries. The whole “he married a swinger and everything was fine” narrative might work for that guy, but it ignores the major problem with cheaters — they violate agreed upon rules

By your own writing, you say 40-70 percent of SAs are personality disorders. These are people who get high off deceit. They PREFER the un-level playing field. 

I fear we do great damage to chumps when we focus on the sex drive and monogamy issue, and avoid the character problem. If the chump stays stuck on upping their bedroom skills or winning back the cheater by “improving” their “inadequacies,” they’re playing a rigged game. 

DL: Relationship issues involved in infidelity, around honesty, communication, respect, boundaries and negotiation are absolutely real, important issues. I wouldn’t like to be cheated on, deceived, or treated as though my feelings or needs don’t matter. I see such people in therapy and support them in dealing with it. But, those feelings aren’t inherently a disorder, and the “bad actors” in these situations aren’t necessarily mentally ill. I think at some point the mental health profession has to stop labeling as a disorder all the things that hurt and cause problems. Pain is a normal part of life. Getting rid of pain leaves people more vulnerable. The pain of being cheated on and hurt, teaches people to try to avoid that in the future, with that person or others. If we treat this as a disorder, we’re saying that pain is abnormal, and we should get rid of it. A life without pain sounds ideal, until you realize that getting there involves some dystopian science-fiction story, where we all take “Soma” and live numb and placid lives. Unfortunately, medicine and mental health become the “arm” of society enforcing moral rules. This is how homosexuality was called a disease, and women who liked sex as much as men, were called nymphomaniacs. Bad things happen, people get hurt, when we let morality dictate medical treatment. 

CL: How do people complain about sex addiction “treatments”? To what authority would you report a quack experience? 

DL: Complaints should go to: state licensing boards if they are licensed clinicians; also to groups like IITAP if they are a “Certified Sexual Addiction Counselor” or SASH if they’re a member of that (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health — they used to be the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity and renamed themselves in a pretty transparent ploy to pretend they are something they’re not.) It’s a problem that there is no oversight of many of these sex addiction coaches and 12-Step groups.

* * *

Dr. David Ley is a clinical psychologist in practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the author of The Myth of Sex Addiction. He is the Executive Director of New Mexico Solutions, a large outpatient mental health and substance abuse program in Albuquerque, NM.

Dr. Ley has been treating sexuality issues throughout his career. He first began treating perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse, but expanded his approach to include the fostering and promotion of healthy sexuality, and awareness of the wide range of normative sexual behaviors. The Myth of Sex Addiction challenges the concept of sexual addiction and exploring a different model of male sexuality. Since it was released, The Myth of Sex Addiction has triggered a firestorm of debate, allowing people to finally challenge the media hype of this pseudo-disorder.

Dr. Ley is on Twitter, at @DrDavidLey

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  • Oh, yay! Finally! This “I can’t help myself” shit is so destructive. My sister in law was “so hurt” by her childhood that she wrecked a good man and damaged her children. Wonder what the MH community could label her to let her off the hook?
    I don’t believe is SA. I think some people have such poor moorings that something as simple as honesty in marriage is too much trouble.
    There is a blog being written by a wife of a successful man who found out he has cheated for most of their marriage. Now they are both knee deep in “recovery”. It breaks my heart to read how she strains to buy into the bull shit. He had many partners, including a long term mistress, but, hey, let’s call it an addiction. Works for him. In the meantime she is in agony.

    • Wow, Let go… you must think I am some kind of idiot, huh? Even if you aren’t talking about me in your last paragraph there, it sure sounds a lot like me. Do you have this same hatred for Alcoholics Anonymous? When talking about recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, do you put “recovery” in quote marks? Is this what you are calling “the work you have done?” Do you realize how difficult it is to be judged by people like you who do not share anything about why you are out commenting on others’ blogs giving out advice and speaking in sweeping generalizations? We are not “just calling it an addiction.” We are dealing with professionals with the same credentials as Mr. what’s his name up there. Who is also, by the way, making loads of money off people with “sexuality issues.” Call it whatever you want, sexual addiction, sexual compulsivity, promotion of healthy sexuality, whatever, as long as they are getting help for their wounds and living the life they want to live. Why trash one person’s recovery over another? My question is, where do you come off judging people? What are your credentials. I realize you are not slamming me above, but you are insinuating I am being duped. As you know, this is a very short reply for me. I will be continuing the discussion on my own blog with a proper entry about my feelings, which at this point are far from “agony.”

    • I just want it known: (yes, a little late in the game as I am re-reading posts), one can develop PTSD from infidelity IF symptoms last for more than one month. That is technically PTSD, according to the DSM. Trauma is now viewed as Big T and Little t. Big T is sexual assault, experience of war, domestic violence, and more. Little t can be a dog bite, relocating, and yes, infidelity. The only reason they are differentiated is because BOTH can potentially produce the same outcomes: PTSD. The very definition of PTSD is when we are overwhelmed by trauma and the event gets “stuck” in our brain causing the symptoms. I wish the clinical psychologist could have verified that above. It’s very important that if your sxs are not resolving to see a Licensed Mental Health Professional.

  • I’m so glad I’m divorcing my cheater soon I will be able to say ex.All this talk about SA and personality disorder is making my head spin. I’m so glad I know he will never be better for anyone else.I have seen to much time to get off the cheater merry go round.I would rather spend a second of my life with a honest,faithful man with moral fibre than a lifetime with man that loves his penis more than his kids.These Cheaters are all the same.Re-package it any way.The **** is all same.

    • Grace – That is it in a nutshell! – “a man that loves his penis more than his kids”. Their needs weren’t being met, so they had to go out find someone else to play with their penis. It’s all about the penis! They throw away a beautiful loving family for sex. Cheaters suck!

  • Interesting interview. I have to disagree with him on the PTSD though. we have lasting trauma as he describes: lasting more than 3-6 months, includes disruption of daily life, nightmares, lack of concentration, appetite change, depression, anxiety/panic attack and more hallmark symptoms. Indeed it should be medicalized. And infidelity is a form of a life threatening situation. Our lives as we knew it was irrevocably damaged. obliterated. devastated. gone. Our subconscience and conscience perceives this as life threatening danger. as an assault. there is no safety. we are not safe. our lymbic system takes over and its in survival mode. Why? because we have PTSD

    • Me too Willow. I have been basically incapacitated with these symptoms for about two years. I’ve been told I have PTSD. My health is suffering. I have just been put on high blood pressure medication as it was sky high. I am close to losing my home business because I just can’t care.

      I lost my beloved Mom to cancer in 1993 and went through ovarian cancer myself a few years after. Neither experience was anything like this. I’m not healing.

    • Totally agree with you Willow! That was the one part of the interview that left me shaking my head. I endured 5 years of lies. Not to mention, waking him to him strangling me in the night (he had nightmares as he was military). I’m pretty sure that is life threatening.

      I felt like I was walking on eggshells because I couldn’t make him happy. It took over 2 years from dday for me to stop crying at random times. I was diagnosed with depression. Because of my knowledge of ptsd, I got myself into counseling and healed quicker than I would have on my own.

      You said it perfectly. Thank you!

      • I agree. He minimizes the trauma. I bet he has not been a victim of infidelity. Just because he is trained and makes good points about SA being bogus, does not mean he understands the trauma. Intellectually, he may. But, just like everyone else who has not been through it, he fails to understand that it is a very severe trauma that incapacitates a lot of people.
        I have been the victim of childhood sexual assault and the trauma of being betrayed was much worse for me.

        • I still have triggers 3 years later. Even my own mother last night said “it’s been 3 years, you should be over it.” I’m sorry, but it’s hard to get over being deceived in a 36 year relationship that basically encompassed my whole adult life. It’s something that I’ll carry with me forever but will learn to cope with, sort of like having a leg amputated. You learn to walk again but there are days you still miss being whole.

          • Honestly, my anecdotal experience is this varies by person.

            More empirically, just looking at long term following studies involving grief and resilience, most people will recover within 6 months to 2 years and return to their happiness set point. And the subjects in some of these studies survived genocides where their entire families were murdered, wives raped in the process and watch limbs hacked off their babies, etc.

            About 5% of them had not returned to their happiness set point more than 3 years out. For that 5%, there may be a therapeutic option out there (not that well read on the optios, but…?).

            From a personal point of view and operating only on my own intuition and only drawing on my own experiences and, therefore, prone to my own bias, I suspect how you normally focus on things matters. For example, if you’re a person who thinks a lot about family traditions, memories and past-oriented things more of the time, that’s all fine and well until something really terrible happens, and then the whole “keeper of traditions and family memories” thing might be a burden.

            When were initially traumatized, I think it’s normal to be unable to look forward, to make plans, and to even appreciate the simple things in the moment. At some point, though, most folks rebound, they begin to re-experience daily life in real-time, they begin to make plans.

            I remember wondering if that would ever happen (about 3 months in). Then I read this book called the “Power of Habit”, and I decided I needed some new habits. One that really stuck was walking my two dogs. I have worn the soles off of 4 pairs of shoes since I started doing that.

            Another thing that really stuck was a hobby. And I sort of back into that one.

            Now between the dogs, work, and the hobby and doing things like paying bills and shopping for food, I feel like there isn’t enough time in the week to get everything done. My focus has definitely shifted to now and the future, and not the past so much.

            Anyway, that’s my story. Your mileage may vary.

            • I like the idea of new habits as a way to heal. As I’ve written here before, I took up welding after I left a cheater and it was freaking awesome. Also, it’s something that can kill you if you screw up, so it does make you feel more attentively In The Now.

              • My sister took up skydiving—which many years down the road nearly did kill her. Then she took up golf. We were very happy for her. I’m looking for my all-attention-needed hobby.

            • I agree that new habits help, and I don’t sit around thinking about the past 24/7. But there are still triggers, memories that come back, regrets that surface, and times I really miss my family being together (especially holidays). I spend a lot of time alone now, although I’m not as lonely as I was at times in my marriage. I know people return to a level of functioning within 6 month to 2 years, but does that mean they’re “over it?” Or have they just learned to function in spite of it?

              • For me personally? That whole cheating ex thing is just something that happened that has no relevance at all to what I am doing now 99.999999% of the time. It doesn’t change what I am going to do, it doesn’t affect my outlook, and because there is zero interaction, that means it doesn’t even ever affect my plans.

                It just is something that happened a while ago that has nothing to do with me or what I am doing or what I am going to do, so it doesn’t bother me at all.

                The lone exception to that is interacting with people here.

          • I also think he minimises the trauma. Either I am plumb crazy with a personality disorder of my own, or the shock of discovering that the person I loved dearly is a stranger and that every aspect of my life from my sense of reality to my children’s security to my address and tax bracket has been ripped apart, has been the most painful thing that has EVER happened to me.
            And I have lived through a civil war and witnessed murder.
            It has taken me years to get to equilibrium and accept the pain as he advocates. Years.

    • I was diagnosed with complex trauma. D-day triggered every trauma I’ve ever experienced into a chain reaction mindfu*k. My medical doctor had to put me on propranolol to stop the “fight or flight” response that kept my pulse rate at 116 for months after. For anyone to say that there is no physical/ medical consequence to being gas lighted and having your world yanked out from under you is being shortsighted at best. I would love to lose the auto-response that triggers anxiety in the most absurd situations. I now live with what seems to be the lasting physical effects of having my psych ripped in two: My eyes water and my scalp bursts into streaming sweat, without any conscious thought, when I meet new people or walk in to an unknown environment. I don’t trust anyone anymore. I thought my marriage and my life were were wonderful. My husband was kind, helpful and a great friend – until he turned out to be an impostor. If the mental shock triggers chemical reactions that can effect your system in such profound ways, then it’s physical and PTSD, or rather RTSD (Relationship Traumatic Stress Disorder), are real. It’s been 4 years since d-day and 1 since my divorce and I’m still dealing with this stuff. The reconciliation complex only prolonged my agony. Chump Lady was the catalyst for healing.

      • Danette–I agree; infidelity and emotional/physical abuse alters the circuitry long-term in many people to the point where it qualifies as PTSD. It may not be long-term in most of us (I doubt there are many viable studies on this point), but it is irresponsible of Ley to dismiss it outright.

        I do not have long-term PTSD (though I had all the usual symptoms up to 4 months after D-day), but my X still induces a strong limbic system response of “Danger! danger!” whenever I have to interact with him in person. Thankfully, NC has kept that at bay.

      • Dannette- same for me. My body went into freaked out overdrive and after 2 years on his bullshit I ended up in the hospital told I’m in heart failure. They hope it’s reversible, but losing the stress is a must. It pisses me off for people to minimize what I’m going through. It was obviously traumatizing because I’m 47, a long time runner and I eat well. Healthy, except for that pesky heart in grief overdrive. My bp was essentially normal, but my pulse rate stayed over 100 I think probably for the better part of the two years. But because everything else about me seemed healthy, nobody worried about it too much. Until I had a mini stroke last month and they found that my heart function was severely impaired. So, I don’t take it well when people tell me to get over it or ain’t it about time? WTFEVER. If I could have walked out on that shit sooner I would have you naïve nose knuckler. I didn’t ask for this. It’s shitty and I’m moving on as best I can. I’m two years out and my happiness level is hardly normal and I’m no whiny baby. Being cheated on and lied to for my whole marriage pissed me off. I had two kids and a crafty manipulator. Plus I like many, wanted to hope and put the pieces back together. I just compare me to me. I’m doing as damn good as I possible can be TODAY and I look forward to tomorrow and hope it’s even better. I’d even say I got to my Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a few fucking nasty Mondays.

    • Well said, willowchumpx30. Very interesting point.
      In my case, I notice something strange. I haven’t gone No Contact yet, so the comparison is possible, of moments when he is present and moments when he is gone. When he is away, my mind reviews events and dialogues endlessly, it seems it can’t stop. I have no control, it goes on automatic enquiry mode, reviews words, images, attitudes, wakes me up at night to resume, until it reaches a point where the situation appears extremely dramatic, gloomy and dreadful. But then, when STBX is present, I can’t even understand how the fucktard could have such importance, he is a bit annoying, obsessive, careless. He feels empowered, and recently he has even developed a form of cruelty. Most often than not, when he is here, I want him away. How does this work ? Could it be the inconscious that deeply suffers the abandonment and betrayal, while the conscious is perfectly aware that he is a shitty excuse for a partner, and wants to get rid of him ? My mind disconnects from reality in his absence !

      • I find that when I’m around my cheater my anxiety busts out despite the meds, full alert, no relaxing, not able to eat, shaky hands, irritable, unable to accomplish anything, plus my IQ drops 30 points. When he’s not around things are so peaceful, I can accomplish so much. I mourn being stuck in the first state for so long (honeymoon cheater) though it ramped up by orders of magnitude following the most recent affair and D-day.

        If it’s not PTSD it sure is something analogous. Less the fear of physical death more fear of the death of your trust, beliefs, everything you loved and life as you know it.

        • Thats it! less the fear of physical death, more the fear of the death of your trust, beliefs, all we loved and life as we know it. the visceral depth of betrayal.
          I cannot tell you how many times I said it would have been so much easier had he died! sounds horrible but true.

        • I lived with my cheater for a year, as he refused to leave during the divorce process. The first 3-4 months I feel that I suffered from PTSD. I mentally worked to pull myself together. However, tonight, after a year, he moved out yesterday, and tonight is his first overnight with my kids. I’m definitely a bit unmoored. But holding. I do believe that how I reframe this experience will have huge bearings on my happiness in a year…

      • ChumpfromF–that’s absolutely the case; the automatic emotional response is pure limbic system watching out for your survival (physical and emotional); the “what an annoying git” is prefrontal cortex. Sometimes the prefrontal cortex can inhibit the limbic system, unless the trauma has been too severe or too recent.

    • The TRAUMA is real. I get very upset when others minimize the trauma from infidelity. It is an extreme form of emotional abuse. The person you trusted most in the world, suddenly dislocates your entire life. You cannot tell if you are living in reality or not. You cannot trust that your whole relationship, whole marriage were not a total illusion. It is simply the worst, most intimate violation one can experience.

      We would not minimize the victim or a violent mugging and that is exactly what adultery is–except it is being done by the person you love and trust.

      Oh, and you know what this country needs more of? MORE moralizing, not less. Infidelity is the most thoughtless, destructive act one can perpetrate on another. If we have people shouting from the rooftops that it shouldn’t be happening, then GOOD.

      Fail on the part of Dr. Ley.

      • I completely agree. Although I give credit to Dr. Ley for debunking SA, he doesn’t get the seriousness of infidelity but then again I don’t think I got it until it happened to me. As Divorce Minister always says, infidelity is soul rape and that is why I think we could easily have PTSD.

    • I disagree on the PTSD as well. It’s been nearly four years and it took me a good 3+ to really recover a semblance of a normal life – and even now I have moments. I think the good doctor discounts that this can actually be life-threatening, or at the very least highly destructive. I nearly ended up homeless and unable to support myself or my children, due to circumstances. I lost major hair, my weight was all over the place, I developed skin issues, I didn’t sleep properly for several years and I still have nightmares at times. And don’t get me started on the anxiety that continues to plague me, something I never experienced ever in my life, other than fleeting moments before a big test in school or similar.

      I think the good doctor should do a bit more research into this area because he is way, way, way off base on this one.

      • “Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack. In broken heart syndrome, there’s a temporary disruption of your heart’s normal pumping function, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.

        Broken heart syndrome may be caused by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones. The condition may also be called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy by doctors.

        The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in about a week. ” (article by Mayo Clinic)

        this is real and can lead to heart attack. Stress hormones wreak havoc on our bodies. just one more reason to medicalize the infidelity PTSD. all scientific data points to it being a real disorder that can lead to serious physical and/or mental health issues that may need treatment. How many of us needed anxiety and/or bp meds? antidepressants? how many actually had to be hospitalized? thats hard fact. not opinion or conjecture. Dr Ley sounds like he is giving a well educated point of view. his. but can he prove with scientific data and surveys that it is not a disorder? and there for no medicalization is necessary? no diagnosis? cause thats the crux of it. we need a diagnosis. (BTW some are already diagnosing it as Inter-relational PTSD.) then new laws. ( sorry- this has become a hot button for me)

        • Definitely had a strong burning sensation in my heart those first weeks, felt like my heart was going to burst into flames.

          • I thought I was going to die. Had heartburn (I have a hiatal hernia ), diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, visual issues, crying jags, panic attacks…yep, it sucked big time!

    • Yeah….just because the diagnosis is fake doesn’t mean the damage is. The fact that he slept with someone else (well, lots of them) isn’t what incapacitated me for two years, it was the emotional abuse he had to shovel out to keep the deceit going.

      It’s WAY more serious than situational sadness. It’s debilitating and crippling….for a long, long time.

      • Yes, there’s a high correlation between adultery and domestic abuse, per studies by the WHO. The perpetrators should have to pay their targets’ health care for life….in addition to extra for pain and suffering. The damage to the kids is high too, for many reasons.

  • “I encourage husbands and wives to sit down and have a really good discussion about infidelity, sexual desires, libido, etc. Unfortunately, in our heteronormative, monogamy-idealizing society, these people with high libido have no real room to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a high libido, and sometimes sex with one person might not be enough for me. Is that something we can deal with?’”

    The time for that discussion is before marriage, maybe even in the early stages of dating. But that discussion doesn’t happen because the dishonesty and manipulation are part of the thrill. As Chumplady says, they are cake eaters. They marry for the comforts of it and for the purpose of covering their secret lives up with someone else’s honest, respectable life.

    I’m all for people engaging in whatever consensual activities they want to engage in. But partners are left out of the consensual part when we don’t have all the information. I’d have never consented to sex if I’d known my husband was cruising Craigslist for anonymous encounters.

    Also, PTSD symptoms are by definition normal reactions to an abnormal situation. The partners of these so-called “sex addicts” DO feel that their lives, their children’s lives and livelihood, and their futures have been put at risk. Many get lifelong or life-altering STD’s that lead to hysterectomies or cancer. Many, myself included, say the discovery feels like–or worse than–rape. As for symptoms lasting “over 3-6 months,” that’s laughable. It takes some partners that long just to achieve some sort of normal functioning. It takes years to fully recover.

    • I think if you have these honest talks with someone who is inclined to cheat (such as my serial cheating ex) they’ll say what they think you want to hear in order to keep the kibbles coming, but still do whatever they feel like as far as screwing around outside the marriage. The doctor seems to think that people will be honest when in reality, people who cheat – and particularly serial cheaters – are inherently dishonest.

      • True–Ley needs to pick up George Simon’s books to realize not everyone operates on a level playing field; some people tip the scales totally in their favor and have no qualms about doing so.

    • Excellent points, Tania. I especially like: “…that discussion doesn’t happen because the dishonesty and manipulation are part of the thrill.”

    • I laughed when I read the part of the interview about having that conversation. I agree that conversation should happen during dating or they should just never get married. I think that kind of conversation is way too mature for the types of people who are cheaters. I wished my stbx would have had that conversation with me before we married. I would have known to walk away right then and there. But let’s face it, they are not capable of these types of grown up conversations and probably will never be. I think Dr. Ley is pretty naive about this.

      • But then our cheaters could not have taken us for a ride, right?

        Also, as I have mentioned before, despite being uptight about sex, after she started having an affair, my ex-wife tried to talk me into an open relationship and threesomes with other men.

      • Definitely, the conversation is too mature for cheaters early in the relationship. mY cheater abhorred that his father cheated on his mother for years. It was a conversation that made me love him even more in the early stages of our lives. However, as years went by, he became his father. Cruelty and all. Clearly the narrative changes…

        • Me too OutWest. My husband’s father had a long term affair that nearly destroyed the family. He assured me that because of this, he would never cheat. What the hell happened? I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • True it is a trauma one that I would never wish on my worse enemy.The effects are far reaching.Even kids are affected by infidelity.I guess only when you experience it then you have more insight into.

    • Yep, no one is going to tell me that my kids, particularly my older one, did not experience severe and lasting trauma in the wake of their father’s double life being exposed. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever been through, seeing the damage visited upon them. Doc needs to get out more and really look at what happens in these situations and how people behave and react.

  • Just adding to the chorus here that I think the author underplays the damage done by infidelity. Interesting that he offers the label of grief as opposed to PTSD but does not also point out this is complicated grief at the minimum.

    And is it really “just” a morality question? That seems to underestimate the reality of how cheating destroys relationships and trust. I thought healthy attachment was in the mental health wheelhouse. Or maybe I am ascribing morality to that?

    Finally, I have no problem calling bad character, bad character. I am a pastor, after all. Cheating IS morally wrong. And I think adultery is soul rape. Maybe someday the mental health world will catch up with that ancient spiritual truth.

    • I found it interesting that he said a disorder, by definition I presume, only applies to abnormal behaviors or reactions. Ergo, since it is normal to be traumatized by infidelity, it isn’t abnormal, and thus not, technically, PTSD. But isn’t it also normal to be traumatized by witnessing a fellow soldier blown up by an road side IED? And we do call that PTSD. Maybe in the IED cases, there is normal trauma, that lasts less than six months, and abnormal trauma that lasts longer than six months.

      But regardless of how you label it, we all know its severity and we know no service is done when folks underplay the damage done.

        • Doing the civil war it was called “a soldier’s heart”, then battle fatigue, then shell shock, then posttraumatic stress disorder. What it is is the lingering effects of life long trauma to something so devastating it cannot be overcome. What I am reading in all these posts and what I saw in my own family makes me think it could be called “a betrayed’s heart”.

      • Buddy, resilience is an interesting thing. Not every veteran experiences PTSD. I think the highest rate was Vietnam

        I can’t speak for Dr. Ley, but what I think he was saying is that grief and trauma are part of life and need not be a “syndrome.” Some people bounce back from the very worst things and some people do not. Which, IMO, is NOT to minimize the trauma of the event.

        I think infidelity is very traumatic. I also believe you can heal from it and take your power back, thus this blog.

        • I also think most people — including mental health professionals — underestimate how damaging it is, unless they’ve experienced that level of betrayal personally.

          • Yes CL! Yes!!! Experiencing it is key to understanding this kind of abuse. They won’t get it if they haven’t walked in our shoes.

          • That’s because people that haven’t been through it see the problem as the sex-act itself, as if the only emotion to recover from is sexual jealousy. The truth is that the jealousy part is such a minor emotion in the sea of despair that it never gets past 10th billing.

            It’s being betrayed by a person you believed in with all your heart. Finding out that your life, as you knew it, was a lie. Finding out you had no value as a person. As empathetic as people think they are, those are the things people fail to consider.

            When somebody says, “I know how you must feel”, I say, “no….you really don’t.”

          • I am a newly minted mental health professional, completing my degree as this shit went down. I do feel that resilience is variable. Some “bounce back” quickly and some take more time. However it looks on the surface, I would be interested in looking at longer term effects; say five to seven years after infidelity…perhaps we level off?

            • I know in children in high-risk situations, resilience appears to be (a) personality-based, and (b) tied to having at least one significant figure in the child’s life to whom he/she can turn & depend on. I suspect resilience after a trauma, including infidelity, is also tied to some combination of personality and social support.

          • In my situation …I felt as though my ex husband and his mistress were conspiring to kill me! This is the ultimate replacement that a narcissist chooses! He loses nothing and the no one discovers his inadequaciees! Mine was stealing financially for 36 years, he stole my children’s college funds, furniture, all household appliances, threatened to sue me for even the silverware! Spent to long years fighting to divorce him! He dated his mistress openly, turned my kids against me, ripped and bleached my work clothes, locked me out of all the bedrooms, basement and attic! Erased a phone call that my mother was in a terrible car accident and was being transpired to a hospital for treatment of a stroke! Blamed me and disrespected me with lies about our 35 years of marraige to the lawyers! The lawyers gave him 75 Percent of our assests! I am out $30,000 dollars in monies out put on our home for him to retire…$25,000 in court fees, parental alienation…I have gone NoContact and have not been this happy in 35 years!!!He was a seridl cheater and gave me STDs!!! I only wished I left him earlier! If he did this to a neighbor he would be in prison! It’s ok to commit crimes against your family:(

            • Gail, I am so sorry. Tragic. You’re absolutely right – if he’d done this to a neighbor, he’d be in jail. Can you still sue him for the STDs? They bank on injuring their targets so severely…and bringing them to bankruptcy…that the targets will have no little energy and even less money left to seek justice. I’m so very sorry.

        • It is true that we all respond differently to trauma. But being cheated on by a partner is still a trauma no matter your cultural norms (because it wouldn’t be called cheating if it was the norm in the marriage arrangement, btw!) Some people may not develop a disorder by such a betrayal or evidence issues of complicated grief from it. But some might.

          I regularly work in a field dealing with grief (hospice work). From my professional experience and training, I can tell you that infidelity and the lies surrounding it complicate the grief process. DL ought to have known better than to treat these issues as simple issues of grief or trauma. Deception and abusive actions certainly cause issues in grieving the loss of a partner.

          DL’s responses are part of the reason I have issues trusting mental health professionals generally (there are some good ones, I will add, though). He missed these very significant issues and downplayed the damage done to faithfuls spouses by infidelity. His comments almost come across as “suck it up” and “we all have pain and that’s just life” advice.

          Well, I have to say that surviving adultery is not a chosen pain and not everyone experiences it, thankfully. And it helps to have someone walk with you through the pain as it is EXTREMELY disorienting for even the most level-headed chump. Does that mean it is a disorder? Probably not. But part of our healthcare system here in the US requires a diagnosis to get the help; so, I suggest maybe having a diagnosis to be helped isn’t always a bad thing.

        • I have been curious if those severely impacted by infidelity could be helped by the same therapeutic techniques offers to soldiers suffering from PTSD. The VA has a good site on PTSD, which includes a “Is it PTSD?” section and more.

          My own therapist, when I try to self diagnose myself with PTSD, ADD, depression, etc, says, “First let’s remove the stressors from your life (i.e. complete the divorce and create a stable household with her out of my life) then see how you are doing before worrying about PTSD and ADD”

      • I’m just so glad that the people on this site understand the PTSD/trauma. Most of the outside world doesn’t get it, and being told you should be over the trauma by family members is hard. My sister’s ex is dead, she’s been divorced for 15 years, and is remarried. She said she still has triggers from her first husband’s betrayal and abrupt discard of her and her daughter.

    • I’m another one who disagrees with the opinion of DL regarding PTSD. Chumps have a good possibility of struggling with PTSD. I have been diagnosed with PTSD by a clinical Psychologist. I was raped when I was 26. I didn’t report it then because it was the 80’s and, since I knew my assailant (the term “date rape” wasn’t even a blip on the cultural radar at the time), I believed I would be victimized again by the legal system. I have undergone two risky brain surgeries to try to correct a congenital defect. Those incidents were absolutely terrifying. However, nothing, and I mean nothing, was as damaging to my psyche and soul as the discovery that my new husband was leading a double life (and had been for decades – long before I met him).

      Sandra Brown, MA, has written a book that resonated with me: Women Who Love Psychopaths. As a young woman, her father was murdered by a Psychopath.

      Sandra completed her education and specialized in trying to work with people diagnosed with Cluster B Personality Disorders. However, she soon learned that treatment for her clients was not working, because it would be later discovered that those disorders don’t have a notable cure rate. She then turned her focus on the victims of those damaged by encounters with Cluster B’s, and founded the Institute For Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. Sandra states that she also suffers from PTSD.

      Here’s a link to one of her interviews:

      Sounds like big-hearted, faithful, loving, devoted Chumps to me!

      Though she is focusing on women in a lot of her writings and interviews, she recognizes that men are victimized as well.

      Would she be a good one for an interview, CL?

      • I agree Boudica, I’ve been through some doozies in my life as well (things I don’t think most people could have handled) and nothing brought me to my knees the way that did, for as long as it did.

        There’s no way that people who haven’t experienced can ever understand how devastating it is on so many fundamental levels.

  • My piece of shit husband gave me HPV and Herpes- how does that NOT count as being traumatized?! I disgree with Dr Ley on that one! He shouldn’t make blank generalized statements about the partners/victims of these cheaters unless he knows their personal stories. Otherwise I agree these cheaters feel entitled to whatever they can get & it’s not an addiction! It’s a money making scheme invented by the “recovering sex addicts” themselves.

    • renee62–How disturbing and what a creepy jerk your husband is. yes that is abuse and it is traumatizing and in the long run it can be life threatening!!!! Your post has an important bit of information for anyone with a partner that has had sex of any kind out side of the marriage.
      My gyno just told me that she is having more and more women in their old age that have suddenly come up with HPV even though many of them had tested negative previously and many had also not had sex for 20 years. She then told me that these women do develop cervical and related cancers at a much higher rate after this… . She then informed me that I needed to be tested every few years for HPV from now own for the rest of my life because HPV can remain dormant and then become active. Then she very respectfully pointed out that because my x h was having anal sex with strippers and prostitutes and sexual tryst with men too that I am very lucky to not have any known STD. and she said she considers me a high risk for HPV at some point in my life.. I am so angry that this man indifferently made these life threatening choices for me knowingly against my will!!! I agree with everything you have said here,

  • My ex not only cheated on me but blew my life up financially as well. For a long time I thought he cared…. Five years out and I still can not get him to cooperate with the terms of our MSA. Those last years of my marriage were hell right up until the day he asked for a divorce. That was the moment I understood that all his crazy financial and personal choices made sense. It’s nice to know that what I attributed to crap life skills was actually the truth. The fucktard was knee deep in an affair and just wanted to get rid of his family. His home. Anything that meant he had a life with me. These people are unhealthy period. Whatever he has, it doesn’t change the fact that he destroyed everything I worked hard for, including my happy kids.

    • Drew,
      My life mirrors yours to a T – the cheating, the financial hell and the devastation. The POS destroyed his amazing kids (and wonders why they don’t want to see him). I’m trying to get the SA finalized but suffer through periods of total paralysis (just sitting and crying). It is not “just grief”. The bastard led a double life and pulled the rug out from under myself and the kids without even a backward glance – 17 fucking years – poof – “just grief” huh?

      • Yeah just greif …????
        Bullshit dr Ley. I’ve landed in hospital severely dehydrated from dry retching can’t tolerate even water !!! And first incident flatlined twice in hospital…. Almost three years out and a random trigger sends me into a spin and back to hospital I go and now averaging 3-4 times a year. This doesn’t include the daily breaks I take at work to breathe into a brown paper bag to calm myself and basically simply function… Notwithstanding the anti anxiety anti depressant meds I am on. Yes, three years out and I am slowly healing but bullshit this isn’t PTSD. No one can convince me otherwise. Don’t buy into this crap learn to trust we KNOW our experiences are REAL and too are the PHYSIOLOGICAL responses to this type of trauma. YOU BET ITS LIFE THREATENING!!!!!!

        • Sara and Mia, I totally get this! I know one thing for sure life is better without the disordered! My kids and I now practice what is best for us too! We get as far away from fucktard and his new life as we can possibly get. In time it does get better (but the “paralysis” hits at times, just his emails piss me off, entitled POS for sure!) the ol’ cliche is true though, “get being living!” I am enjoying being single and going back to school!

  • If it will make Dr. Ley feel better, he doesn’t have to call my post-traumatic stress a “disorder” .

  • Again, I am not sure he has seen many victims of infidelity. Clearly, there are lasting physical and emotional manifestations of this type of betrayal. I am not sure why he would label it simply grief.
    I bet we all have lost loved ones or had other tragedies that did not involve a loved one betraying us. So, we know what normal grief is. This is qualitatively and quantitatively different.
    I think to those who have not been through it, it sounds as if you are exaggerating and being dramatic. I think the general public has been desensitized to what cheating is really like.
    Hell, in many TV shows and movies, the cheater is the protagonist. The betrayed is , often , portrayed as so mean, cruel, deficient, etc that the audience is in complete agreement with the choice to cheat.
    And, in some shows I have seen, the betrayed is a decent but “uninteresting” person ( i.e. Bridges of Madison County). Even that seems to be justification for cheating.
    Also, in many of these shows, the betrayed bounces right back, in short order, all ready to get in a new relationship. No lasting effects.
    So, when folks see a betrayed in real life suffering, they cannot understand why that person lacks the gumption displayed by the folks on their favorite soap.
    But, I realized that it is futile trying to make the non-initiated understand. Even those folks who love me cannot fathom how painful and incapacitating this was for me. I think they feel like one decides to wallow and use it as an excuse. No sense trying to make them believe, as it just makes you look worse.

    • Yes! No one understands except those who’ve been through it themselves. Some people even try to blame the person who was cheated on. You must’ve driven him to cheating because you’re too boring in bed, gained too much weight, are too busy to pamper him etc. So you don’t get the support you seek unless you’re with other chumps! I don’t believe Dr. Ley has first hand chump experience to help him gain the insight that he needs to treat us chumps. So hopefully more chumps will take up counseling careers to help us deal with this “trauma disorder”.

    • I used to be one of those people who simply did not understand the pain of infidelity. Would that I was still so naive. Over the years as I’ve learned about cheating in other relationships I’ve felt sad because of friends’ pain and the end of their relationships but really had no clue. I’m not sure there is a way to comprehend what hell’s all about until you’ve gotten off on that bus stop yourself.

      • Ca-chump– I think you are right. it is truly an experience we don’t appreciate until we live it Luckily for us, we are then able to give authentic support to others who have to live this experience….

    • The single best scene about infidelity disclosure is probably in the Sopranos, when Carmella finds out Tony has been screwing a Russian woman. The sheer horror, grief, panic, etc. that we all experiences is portrayed in a haunting way (and is probably the scene that cemented Edie Falco’s Emmy that year).

      • Hence my screen name……
        I refer to my husband’s entitled serial cheating as Tony Soprano syndrome. There’s a syndrome for you.

  • I definitely agree, I have complex PTSD even though it’s not an official DX in the icd 10 or whatever the equivalent for mental DX is. I have to give it to RIC on this one. Went to a psychoanalyst who never suggested this, even after hearing my history of abandonment, physical abuse, etc. I read an article on a ric forum and said Oh my God, this is me, and what’s wrong with me. I can’t seem to shake it though. Maybe one day.

    I don’t think people realize new trauma builds on old trauma. I certainly didn’t .

    • Not Juliet, Susan Anderson’s book, The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, talks about why some folks, due to early childhood trauma/abandonment, are more affected by betrayal than others.
      I was wondering if chumps, by virtue of the fact that we were fooled by disordered folks in many cases in getting involved with them might not be more highly represented among children who experienced trauma and abandonment.
      From what I have read, the disordered, either by design or instinct, target people who may have had this type of childhood trauma as they are more vulnerable to the manipulation used by the disordered in getting into a relationship.

      • Arnold, I have read the book by Susan Anderson and I recommend it. I also agree with the rest of your comment.

        • Me too, thanks Arnold. Also fwiw, this is what my therapist says. She recommends Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child, which is not (as the title suggests) about “gifted” children, but about the children of narcissistic parents who are selected to cater to the parental needs. It sets us up to be chumps in later life as well, and I find this in work life as well as my former marriage.

          • Here is another thing I think folks dealing with the disordered struggle with: a lot of the literature suggests that the disordered, often, have had traumatic childhoods, as well. And, a person coming out of a relationship with a disordered person frequently is having doubts about whether he or she, not the abuser, has the disorder.
            Ths is, usually due to the relentless messages the abuser is giving one to convince one that the problem is entirely his or hers.
            so,when an abused person who has fallen into the hands of an abuser , perhaps due to vulnerability stemming from childhood abuse, hears about childhood trauma being a factor in creating a cluster b,that person may have further doubts about whether it is him or her that has the disorder. ( Wow. What a run on sentence.)
            i had never heard of personality disorders before i consulted a lawyer after discovering the infidelity. They are the worst things i have ever encountered.

          • Count me in too, Arnold. For some reason I first left home at 13, then again at 14, 15, and by 16, I was gone. I never thought I had a story, but looking back, I guess I do. I resonated how this hit home about being sort of ignored as a kid. Youngest of 5, very athletic and did plays in drama. Back then, I don’t think many parents attended these things in the mid 70’s. My folks never even went to parent-teacher interviews, let alone my athletic events and I majored in 5 track events twice…(maybe too busy swapping car keys at parties…lol) We were left on our own totally, I hitchhiked across the country, wound up in San Francisco for 8 wks. Came to no harm, thankfully. And, here surviving what life has to throw at me. I guess I’m street smart and always have been. I related to this because yes, I totally thought the X was my lord and master. LOL – I mean. Partner. That is quickly going away as I am finding myself more through this process. The freeing part of this is losing his influence on me. And, I’m realizing it quicker every day. He is becoming nothing in my new life..

      • I don’t think disordered people have super powers when it comes to ferreting out potential targets (people with FOO issues). I think it’s that people with FOO issues spend their formative years making the best of a bad situation – I know I did, because I was a kid and I didn’t have any other options.

        Growing up like that, I was more inclined than most to be more tolerant of sketchy behavior, and I was used to hanging in there, trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear. What we have is an unhealthy amount of perseverance when it comes to our emotional life. Riding it out with difficult people is second nature, and we’re very good at it.

        On the other hand, I did finally wise up and walk away. If he had any special powers for targeting, he would have picked someone who would put up with it indefinitely.

        • good point Einstein. If we grow up with dysfunction we end up in a dysfunctional relationship unless we do the hard work to fix that shit. OTH, I did to the work, I negotiated my last relationship carefully and still ended up with an asshole because you can’t have an authentic and honest reciprocal relationship with someone who lies to you from day one. With someone who can mimic human empathy and act loving for years before showing their truth. I don’t know how to protect myself from that, and that is what happened to me AFTER I learned to care for me, AFTER I learned to set boundaries. And all that was beaten down so slowly and surely over long years. I begin to think that every school should teach emotional health

  • I think there are some people who just practice obsessive behavior. You can call it high libido if you want to, but if you cannot get thru a day without masturbating several times or having sex several times, each and every day — I call that obsessive behavior. Even when I was younger and more interested, I had so many things to do that I didn’t have time to do that kind of stuff. I was making a living, and keeping my home, and buying food and preparing it and taking care of my children. There was a time and place for that type of fun — but it wasn’t frequent, or daily, for me.

    I think people who are obsessive have trouble controlling their impulses in more ways than one. They may also gamble, or have an eating disorder, or they become a fanatic of some type with regard to religion or television or sports or work or something else. I don’t think they cannot control their impulses, I think they do not wish to control their impulses.

    When I first heard of “sex addiction” I was interested in finding out what it was because I was still seeking an answer for my husband’s behavior. I still had not accepted that he was just an entitled self indulgent jerk. I don’t believe it is an illness in the same sense that cancer is an illness. I do believe that using sex as a self medication to make the pain, or the boredom, or the stress go away is like turning a bottomless pouch of morphine and a morphine pump over to a person who is in pain. They feel so much better when they ease the pain that they start hitting the button if they even anticipate they may have pain, and soon they have to hit the button all the time to keep the flow of “no pain” running through their system. And their body builds up a resistance so they need more, and more. Then someone wants to take away their bottomless pouch? How does anyone dare to do that? They are ENTITLED to no pain. Porn certainly works in the same manner, and obsessive sex does, as far as I’m concerned.

    I think the question of why we want to believe in sex addiction, or why we put up with their behavior, or whether we get PTSD or anything else we do or wonder about once we discover we have been betrayed has nothing directly to do with them. Sure, their behavior triggers our reaction, and if they were doing what we feel they should have been doing none of the resulting trauma would have happened to us. However, how we deal with our own reaction to this type of behavior is entirely on us. We are responsible for dealing with our own pain, and making decisions about how we will live. We have to examine the evidence, and ask ourselves what is real and what is not. We have to decide what course of action to take to save ourselves, and if we have them, our children.

    One thing I learned going thru this experience is that you cannot depend on an entitled self indulgent jerk to do the right thing. Wasting time thinking the jerk will ever care about anyone else is futile.

    • I could be wrong, but I think with PTSD your emotional trauma actually manifests itself physically. It’s in your cells or whatever, so your mind isn’t actually triggering it, your body is. That’s just my understanding of it.

      • I had PTSD so bad that I was physically sick! I was diagnosed with Shingles after my 4th Dday!
        I was physically in pain from the shingles for almost two months.

      • The thing with PTSD is that whether or not you have PTSD, and the symptoms you have as opposed to another person who has it or not, vary. So somehow your individual emotional make-up chooses to deal with whatever the trauma was, in this particular way. It must be frustrating to diagnose and treat and it only makes sense that the recovery would also vary from person to person because of variables like what type of trauma caused it, were there underlying FOO issues, your general health, and on and on.

        I have always suspected that emotional/ mental trauma/troubles triggers a response in the immune system. Perhaps our body is better prepared to deal with a physical injury like scraping your knee, than it is an emotional injury like discovering you have been living with a complete stranger who was impersonating the man you met and married and thought you knew. Scraping you knee may cause you to cry, but you know you will get better with some ointment, a band-aide and a relatively short time. Recovery from emotional abuse and shock doesn’t have as definitive a time table and recovery is not as certain.

        • Interesting read, CL. I wonder what he and Dr Simon would make of each other.

          I don’t think the interviewee is minimizing, just trying to be more precise. It’s tomaeto/tomahto. It all boils down to one of my favorite sayings-“Where there is a will, there are always two ways.”

          Agree totally. PTSD or ‘adjustment reaction’ is, like the revelation of adultery, something which causes a total paradigm shift. Your past reality isn’t what you thought it was, your future reality is likewise gone, so your present is one of panic. It is like abuse itself. Physical abuse is the more prosecuted, and ‘regular’ PTSD is precipitated by a physical event, such as being blown up or apart in the physical plane. Emotional abuse is less recognized, and what I am choosing to call PANTS (Post Asshole Narcissist Trickster Syndrome) is also less recognized, because that paradigm shift is internal, and internalized. So you can’t see it. It becomes your word against theirs. Emotional rape survivors get as much support as survivors of physical rape, i.e. feckall.

          There is also a lot of mileage in past traumas (which play out in codependent/spackling behavior) making you more vulnerable to predatory narcissists. As Larkin says, “they fuck you up, your Mom and Dad…..” It would be interesting to know how many of us are from thermonuclear families.

          Took a while to deal with dealing with Mr Fab pretty much turning into my Dad, and yes, the denial that enabled it, but ultimately, that recognition is what helped me turn the corner. And yes, emotional education for self and DD. It is paying off. DD just left a relationship, heartbroken, yes, but reported a few red flags. He went pretty nasty on her, but her integrity shines out. Two years ago, she’d be self-harming. Right now, she is playing guitar and singing in her room. Okay, so it’s all navel gazing emo stuff, but we all had to have our Allanis Morisette/Rage Against the Machine moments, right?

          So maybe I can break this cycle of generational abuse. Or she can. Either way, strolling toward Meh.

          love to all Chump Nation. And Happy Tuesday.


  • “But, I often point out that the character/moral issue of infidelity is one that is heavily influenced by social standards. In the US, we’ve identified infidelity as an overriding moral/character issue. Once a person cheats, it becomes the overriding variable regarding their morality. Other cultures take different views of infidelity.”

    You can say this about beheadings. You could make this argument about the beating of women and children. It may because Dr. Ley’s area of specialization is sexuality, his viewpoint toward infidelity and its effects is very reductionist. As a psychologist who’s specialization is in sexuality, he would tend toward the acceptance and non-demonization of people’s sexual practices and preferences and about the non-suppression and acceptance of their needs and desires. I understand that. However, for him to extrapolate that to infidelity and to come to the conclusion that while infidelity can be upsetting it is not necessarily the cause of a diagnosable disorder is short-sighted and could be his own form of confirmation bias to support his own personal belief system. While we would like for people in certain professions to be as objective as possible, we all know it doesn’t happen that way.

    Reducing infidelity to simple sexual incompatability or to something inherently “just” sexual is to ignore the role infidelity plays in a larger pattern of abusive behavior. Inherent in the act of infidelity itself is abuse – the lying, scheming, gaslighting, blameshifting – those are all psychological patterns of abusive behavior. Many of us were subjected to these behaviors over years – 10, 15, 20 or more, by a person in whom we had put complete faith and trust. We were emotional prisoners of a war that we didn’t even know was being fought. We all know that in many cases there were other psychological and emotionally abusive behaviors as well. Someone on this forum (Dat maybe?) once described it as having war declared on you without your knowledge, leaving you defenseless with no weapon with which to fight and no covering with which to protect yourself. Psychological warfare is just as, if not more, trauma-inducing as physical warfare.

    While we might be able to respect Dr. Ley’s knowledge regarding human sexuality and his requisite research and conclusions regarding sex addiction, he might want to rethink positioning himself as any type of authority regarding infidelity and its implications for the people who are affected by it.

    • “Reducing infidelity to simple sexual incompatability or to something inherently “just” sexual is to ignore the role infidelity plays in a larger pattern of abusive behavior. ”

      This! Yep.

    • I love this Chump Princess. It IS so much more than the sexual aspect that is so completely damaging to the betrayed. It is abuse behavior to lie, gaslight, blameshift…that behavior is a very calculated means of being devious and secretive. My STBXH absolutely did NOT want me to find out so he took measures to make sure it lasted as long as possible. There was not a single consideration made for my feelings or even my ability to say “no. this is unacceptable to me”. Because he absolutely knew I would say that,

    • That was excellent, Chump Princess. I know for myself, and in talking to many others, the infidelity itself was just the tip of the iceberg of the abuse that was done. Many of these cheaters lie in all types of other areas, are financially abusive, and just terrible asshole abusers in all sorts of ways.
      I feel blessed that my XWs cheating finally was discovered. It was a bright line , get out card.
      But, before that , their abuse was relentless. Sometimes subtle ( eye rolling, derision, condescension, feigned jokes (like dousing me with freezing cold water multiple times). I was being worn down to a nub, working three jobs to try to keep up with the spending.

      • OMG! Yes, THIS! It is not just that they crawled into someone else’s bed! I told my ex that I could have handled if it were “just sex”! But the whole deceit, sneaking around, the “in your face” smart ass OW who was relentless! The lies, gaslighting, the silent treatment, the back and forth cause he was “confused” shit! It was a well organized campaign to drive me literally crazy! The Armed Forces would have been envious of their covert operations and out and out frontal attacks! It was horrific! And as for PTSD? You bet! Did it trigger illness? Oh yes! I had been obnoxiously healthy, only to the Dr. For yearly checkups. But once he dropped the bomb on me I was a total wreck right down to a diagnosis of cancer, loss of weight (from 146 lbs. to 96 lbs. on a 5′ 6″ frame) I thought I was going to die! With all due respect to the good doctor that was interviewed, I have a different point of view! I still struggle with gaining weight and I always tended to be in the 130 to 140 range! Cheaters suck!

        • Yes. I agree. The sex was the least of it. The future faking, the isolating me, the lying, the gas-lighting, the lack of real bonding, the being a jerk, the abuse. The lack of engagement. All traumatizing.

        • Roberta,
          I was recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer – almost a year to the day of discovering his 2nd known affair causing the subsequent implosion of my 32 year marriage. Did/do I have PTSD? absolutely. I am glad to be rid of the asshole, but I can’t help but believe that the stress of dealing with it over the last year may have provided an opportunity for this cancer to surface. Hugs to you and please keep me in your prayers for recovery.

    • “Other cultures take different views of infidelity.”

      That statement by Ley is so irritating. There are cultures where the spouse has little recourse to do anything about infidelity, but that doesn’t mean the betrayed spouse doesn’t suffer.

      And we have plenty of chumps on this site from cultures traditionally thought to accept & tolerate infidelity (France & Italy spring to mind), and they still HURT. Why? Because it’s evolutionarily programmed into most of us to feel betrayal at a deep level of pain, and culture is going to have minimal impact on that.

      Taken to its logical extreme, cultural relativism permits mercy killings, female (and male) genital mutilation, child brides, animal cruelty, etc. “Hey, it’s just their culture!” Calling BS on that.

      • Agree entirely. Plus, uh, I didn’t get married or live in France or marry a French person. I married someone from my religion in my state and my country who made a public vow to uphold the marriage vows as I understood them. She didn’t have a “different cultural understanding” of marriage. She just lied.

        Reminds me of the drunk who pours a drink at noon but rationalizes, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

        Meaning, “Somewhere, somebody has an excuse to cheat. So I should be able to cheat, too!”

    • “Inherent in the act of infidelity itself is abuse – the lying, scheming, gaslighting, blameshifting – those are all psychological patterns of abusive behavior.”

      Yes, thats exactly it!
      I don’t believe the good doctor has any real understanding of this at all.

      In my particular case, while the sexual infidelity was it’s own mindfuck, the realization that Dexter also “got off” on the psychological abuse is what really did me in.
      (I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from two separate therapists. One psychologist and one psychiatrist).

      I had been in a horrendously physically abusive relationship prior to Dexter (which is WHY he looked like such a decent guy on the surface… he never touched me).

      I told anyone that would listen that I would gladly go back to asshole #1’s damage than deal with what Dexter accomplished with the psychological and financial abuse.
      I EXPECTED the abuse from that first psychopath, but damage that you don’t even see coming from someone you TRUST?

      Yes, Dr Ley doesn’t seem to get that at all.

    • Chump Princess, that was a very thoughtful response and well argued. For the record, although I could have said that, I didn’t – rather more poetic than I usually get. I’ll bet it was Glad or Portia, they have that flair for words.

    • Chump Princess, being an emotional prisoner of war was my life for so many years. This is why I being here is so important. Knowing someone else can so eloquently describe the way I have felt for so many years comforts me as I rebuild my life. Thank you for this.

      • Thanks guys for all your kind words, but really, my own story and all of your stories were in that comment. Every time I read one of your stories, I see my own or aspects of my own. So many times people on here have expressed feelings that gave a name and voice to feelings for which I did not have the words. I love you guys. I particularly love that we can disagree like family, but still care for and lift up each other (Dat and Arnold, I’m looking at you – LOLOL!). I find that trait is the expressed inherent beauty that made us Chumps and it is actually something to be valued – when you’re not coupled with a freak.

  • Sex addict… what BS!!! Most guys have high sex drive…. but people with morals and character control urges! Plain and simple its entitlement and self centered behavior. They just dont care!

  • Interesting interview, and I generally agree that we have over-medicalized personality and character and bad choices.

    I would however take issue with one statement:

    “A life without pain sounds ideal, until you realize that getting there involves some dystopian science-fiction story, where we all take ‘Soma’ and live numb and placid lives.”

    This is a straw man argument. No one is demanding “a life without pain.” Advocates for greater accountability for infidelity (e.g., placing more weight on it in divorce and child custody matters) aren’t expecting “a life without pain.” Most, like me, understand that even a good marriage, like that of my parents (married now almost 60 years) involves a great deal of pain. From illness, from unemployment, from natural disasters, etc. But the devastating, traumatic, and totally unnecessary pain caused by infidelity? Yes, we want a life without that. And it is wrong to suggest that such a goal requires “some dystopian science-fiction story.” All it requires is honesty, personal responsibility, and consequences.

    • Life is hard and marriage is hard, but that is one reason we chose to get married and chose the person we chose – we thought that together as a team, we could meet this challenges and with love get through any pain thrown our way.

      How naive I was to think just love was enough – you also have to have character, the ability for empathy, and not have an excessive amount of entitlement.

      • The only people I know who support infidelity are the character disordered. They are really weak individuals and self promoting at that. There are so many layers of justification, one of which is pure stupidity. Ok, yes I pity you Janick. Taunting victims of abuse with your sloppy sex life is boring. Basking in your own glory of fucking is quite weird. There must be a word to describe yourself. It’s at the tip of tongue.

  • “But, I often point out that the character/moral issue of infidelity is one that is heavily influenced by social standards. In the US, we’ve identified infidelity as an overriding moral/character issue. Once a person cheats, it becomes the overriding variable regarding their morality. Other cultures take different views of infidelity. Some ignore it, some don’t like it, but accept it as one of the many human flaws. The big point for me here though, is these are moral issues, not medical ones. Society and morality can oppose infidelity, and define it as overriding. That’s fine, I’m not arguing it. But they shouldn’t be allowed to pretend that these moral issues are actually medical issues.”

    Exactly. The doctor’s above quote says it all. Moral issues are plastic they morph and evolve over time and in different cultures. I think chump lady is an American and that is why she is so rigid in her beliefs. Americans have always been peculiarly puritanical about sex in general and having sex with someone other than a marriage partner is encouraged to be a death knell of a marriage rather than a wake up call or oh my perhaps even a normal human reaction to being too long with one sex partner. Oh my such a terrible desire to experience sexual variety. 😉
    In addition, marriages become stale sometimes and an affair can help keep things fresh and that thought is supported in many cultures other than America. In other cultures this desire for sexual variety is recognized as normal. I think if the Americans who have been cheated on would agree to go out and fine their own sexual variety, then there would be no lying and deceit. In America a person who has a high libido and is married to a person with a low libido is punished, even if they love their spouse and do not wish a divorce. If he or she seeks extra marital sex to salve their libido they are considered abnormal by some people, mostly layman, or religious types, not psychologists. You can love someone and crave sexual variety. In fact in many cultures other than America it is considered a normal human trait to crave sexual variety. I think if the Americans where less puritanical and moralistic about extra marital relationships, there would be less lying and deceiving. In the US you HAVE to lie and deceive your partner because cheating by puritanical americans is considered not moral and the person is falsely labeled with a character disorder. In other countries the desire for sexual variety is considered normal.

    If your spouse leaves you for another that is a different thing, but that typically only happens in America. The cheating spouse has to leave because they are so shamed by their spouse and society that they have to justify the affair by marrying their affair partner.

    In other countries, this would not happen.

    • It’s an international audience here, and I assure you the pain of infidelity isn’t limited to the U.S.

      If you want sexual novelty — fine. Do it openly (open marriage) or stay single.

      There’s no excuse for deceiving people. Advocating for honesty and personal responsibility make me a “Puritan.” WTFever.

      • CL — I got an off the wall comment about my point of view being “American” and an implication that I was looking for a wealthy husband because I said I had looked for a successful one the other day. Although I pointed out my definition of success did not equal wealth, alone, but had many other factors in it — I did not get a response. I also pointed out America is a huge land with vastly different individuals in it and any one of them could not represent the entire nation’s point of view. Apparently if you live in the the magic land this observer inhabits, they are all exactly alike. In ALL “the “other countries” of the world.

        Do you think perhaps a troll has crossed the international borders and entered the US blog space? I welcome all opinions, but I do not like to be judged as “just like all Americans.” I don’t think that it is even possible for even one quality to be exactly the same “for all Americans.”

        Why can’t a person just express a point of view without having to include an insult? I can respect an opposing point of view, as long as I am not being disrespected as a person.

        • Amen, Portia. That was my response as well. In a non-homogenous population such as the US, how the hell do you even begin to identify, much less describe, a cultural norm? Which Americans are we talking about here? There’s too great a conflation of other factors (religion, ethnicity, first language, age, education, politics, etc. etc.). Somehow 300 million people are expected to come to the same conclusion about infidelity? Have the same values and priorities? I presume you’ve heard of Hugh Heffner and Larry Flynt? Not exactly Puritans, yet somehow quintessentially American.

        • Yeah. And the arrogance and grandiosity is hugely narc in nature. Gonna single handedly change our POV, just because his POV is valid and ours is not.

        • I’m not American, my ex is another nationality again, and we lived in a third country, several third countries actually. Through the nearly two years that I’ve been navigating this shit, I’ve encountered chumps and cheaters, firsthand, from all manner of origins, including: French, Italian, Portuguese, Swiss, German, Finnish, Swedish, English, Mexican, Peruvian, Dutch, Nigerian, Scottish, Irish, Thai, Kiwi, Moroccan, Japanese, Indian, and Chinese.

          This shit is universal.

          Playing the racial differences in morality really doesn’t apply in contemporary times, 99% of the time.

          Ignorant opinionated people really shit me.

      • Once , again, the analysis of why having an affair is okay leaves out a critical component: the lying and theft of time.
        I am not terribly bright, but leaving this out of the analysis seems so obtuse.
        If you make a contract, abide by it or , at least, notify the other party of your intent to breach, so the damage can be mitigated. I know many of us were in our prime, sexually, physical attractiveness-wise, etc. when these years were stolen from as we relied on the contract.
        Had I been informed of my first wife’s excursions when she first started, I had many, many options to live my life differently. But, by the time I found out what she had been doing, I was past my prime and with way fewer options (even then ,t hey were better than remaining with an abusive wife).

        • I know what you mean. Lets not even mention how much the agony and despair age you. Since I’m not even remotely interesting in pursuing another relationship, I’m okay with it, but it still crosses my mind. The chances for happiness that he robbed me of with his fake reconciliations. As it turned out, he didn’t even care that much.

        • YES. I married my ex when I was 25, and I was 45 when we separated. Wasted another year on bogus reconciliation. I feel like I threw away my entire prime on that horrid man. Plus, I believe the unbelievable stress at the end aged me considerably.

    • “Moral issues are plastic they morph and evolve over time and in different cultures.”

      No. Gross overstatement, this. Virtually all modern cultures agree that sexual infidelity and lying are morally wrong. How we deal with that wrong might differ somewhat from one culture to another, but that’s a very different issue. And even in supposedly “permissive” cultures, like, say France, have their share of divorce and violence and murder over infidelity.

      You think this is too “rigid” a view? Then go live in one of those imaginary countries where cheating and lying is considered moral behavior and marry someone like you who isn’t “puritanical and moralistic.”


      • “Dumbass”

        Nomar: That is so rude and so disrespectful of someone who has shared an opinion. You can disagree without using words like dumpass? No? Yes? Are you always so rude and testy?

        • ” I think chump lady is an American and that is why she is so rigid in her beliefs.”

          This is your idea of a respectful dialogue?

        • This is an infidelity survival site. And you come here and advocate–without evidence–in favor of infidelity and blame the victims of infidelity for the dishonesty of the spouses of betrayed them. For example, you wrote (to thousands of victims of infidelity here at this site):

          “In addition, marriages become stale sometimes and an affair can help keep things fresh and that thought is supported in many cultures other than America. In other cultures this desire for sexual variety is recognized as normal. I think if the Americans who have been cheated on would agree to go out and fine their own sexual variety, then there would be no lying and deceit.”

          Cheating “keeps things fresh?” And cheaters wouldn’t be forced to lie if only betrayed spouses would “fine [sic] their own sexual variety?” The remedy you suggest for the problem of cheating is . . . more cheating?

          I only use the word dumbass to refer to people who are saying dumb things and making asses of themselves. Yeah, dude, you qualify.

      • Plus, if you really think “permissive” countries like France are oh-so-cool with infidelity, you might Google “france cheating murder” and see how many hits you get. I got a little over 15,000,000. Including for example this interesting 2014 news report titled, “FRENCH MAYOR CASTRATED, KILLED BY MAN WHO ACCUSED HIM OF HAVING AFFAIR WITH HIS WIFE.”

        Soooooo, yeah. I don’t think everyone in France is as cool with the cheating as some may think. But if you’re inclined the cheat, Janick, may I recommend you try it in Bretteville-le-Rabet in Normandy?

    • I think American cheaters get off too lightly. There are plenty of countries where they get body parts chopped off and stoned to death. Perhaps you have not heard of them?

      • If extra marital liasons are not an issue for you and your spouse, then why would you visit a site like Chump Lady? Did “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life” not clue you in regarding the topic? I am “very sad” for you that you have so much time on your hands that you come to a site that should not hold any interest for you, international philosopher that you are, and waste your precious time with the petty “Americans” who seem “so bitter and unhappy” and “bored in with sex” to you. Please visit another site where you can make condescending statements to another audience, and see if your ability to criticize others is more welcome there.

    • “If your spouse leaves you for another that is a different thing, but that typically only happens in America.” Are you serious? Spouses don’t leave each other in other countries?

      • You, sir, are what we call a troll around here. Now shew, go away and let us bitter, unhappy people get back to talking about reality. You can go back to the delusional, loose moral rock you crawled out from.

    • Janick is a troll–he posted similar drivel on yesterday’s post earlier this morning. Janick–I suspect the only “sexual variety” you encounter is when you switch from your left to your right hand.

    • “In other countries, this would not happen.” ? Merci de citer les pays en question, ducon !

    • As I recall, my spouse, nobly seeking out sexual variety, didn’t suggest I do the same, so I was unable to agree to it. Instead, she suggested I take care of the kids while she was out fucking around, that I support her financially while she lent two thirds of an inheritance to her boss/boyfriend, that I do freelance work for her boyfriend, that I attend a course taught by him, and that I plan and largely finance a trip to Italy, all while being kept in the dark about the nature of her relationship with her employer.

    • You don’t have to lie and deceive your partner. If one person isn’t enough, don’t get married to a person who expects monogamy. Forsaking all others is quite unambiguous. Don’t get married under false pretenses. Marry someone who shares your value system.

    • Gosh darn Americans:

      In cases of this sort, let’s us say adultery, rightness and wrongness do not depend on committing it with the right woman at the right time and in the right manner, but the mere fact of committing such action at all is to do wrong. Aristotle, Nichomachaen Ethics

      Whoever has illicit affairs with the wives of his relatives or friends, either by force or through mutual consent, he is to be known as an outcast. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata

      Approach not adultery: for it is a shameful deed and an evil, opening the road to other evils. Islam. Qur’an

      When a family declines, ancient traditions are destroyed. With them are lost the spiritual foundations for life, and the family loses its sense of unity. Social chaos is hell for the family and for those who have destroyed the family as well. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita

      Thou shalt not commit adultery. Judaism, Old Testament, Ten Commandments

      Do not approach thy neighbor’s wife or maids. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way

      A man should not think incontinently of another’s wife, much less address her to that end; for such a man will be reborn in a future life as a creeping insect. He who commits adultery is punished both here and hereafter; for his days in this world are cut short, and when dead he falls into hell. Hinduism. Vishnu Purana

      for the record — I vote for reborn as a creeping insect and hell.

      • Cheryl: That was awe-inspiring! Standing ovation.

        I, too, vote for rebirth as a creeping insect (large Texas cockroach) + hell.

    • Ah, another one of those narrow-minded pricks, is it?
      I’ll bite.
      I’m not American – I’m European by heritage, and I don’t condone the mindfuck which is infidelity. So you can piss off with your ‘Lots of cultures not American tolerate infidelity’ crap. This cesspool of fuckwittery is universal, and is a component of shit behaviour by shittier people. Period.
      I’m sure in your ‘oh so enlightened’ mind its perfectly okay for someone to make choices about your physical and mental health and maybe even your life (if the person is disordered enough), right?
      Lets cue the crickets, because I’m betting you’re saying “No that wouldn’t be ok” or narc-raging.
      I suggest you fuck off.

  • This is the kind of post I have been waiting a long time for, and I read Dr. Ley’s comments with interest. While I agree with most of what he said, I’m pretty disappointed in the comments about reactions to infidelity not qualifying as PTSD or a medical issue. Most of us have gone through half a year or more of sleepwalking through our daily lives, with multiple psychiatrists, counselors and support groups. Add in antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds and sleeping pills. How is that not a medical issue? When you’ve got 5 or 6 prescriptions just to get through your day, how is that not medical?

  • (sorry about the caps. Within the limits of this system, it’s the only way to differentiate between quotes and my comments)

    WHEN DR. LEY SAYS “ PTSD is defined as trauma and lasting impact (over 3-6 months) from a life-threatening situation, rape, death, etc. The emotional devastation from infidelity is real. But it’s not a disorder. As hard as it is, it’s a normal reaction to an awful situation, just like grief is a normal reaction to a normal, but devastating loss. We shouldn’t medicalize this.” HE IS STRANDING ON RULES AND GOING WITH THE “LETTER OF THE LAW, RATHER THAN THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW”. YES, IT’S TRUE THAT THE DIAGNOSTIC MANUAL FOR PSYCHIATRY/PSYCHOLOGY (DSM-5) DEFINES PTSD AS:

    A. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:
    1. Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).
    2. Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others.
    3. Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend. In cases of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the event(s) must have been violent or accidental.
    4. Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s) (e.g., first responders collecting human remains; police officers repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse).


    B. Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:
    1. Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s).
    2. Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).
    3. Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring. (Such reactions may occur on a continuum, with the most extreme expression being a complete loss of awareness of present surroundings.)
    4. Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).
    5. Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).

    C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:
    1. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
    2. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).

    D. Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:
    1. Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event(s) (typically due to dissociative amnesia and not to other factors such as head injury, alcohol, or drugs).
    2. Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous,” “My whole nervous system is permanently ruined”).
    3. Persistent, distorted cognitions about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s) that lead the individual to blame himself/herself or others.
    4. Persistent negative emotional state (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).
    5. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.
    6. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.
    7. Persistent inability to experience positive emotions (e.g., inability to experience happiness, satisfaction, or loving feelings).

    E. Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:
    1. Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects.
    2. Reckless or self-destructive behavior.
    3. Hypervigilance.
    4. Exaggerated startle response.
    5. Problems with concentration.
    6. Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep).

    F. Duration of the disturbance (Criteria B, C, D, and E) is more than 1 month.

    G. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    H. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition.

    WHEN LEY SAYS “ we shouldn’t medicalize such experiences” and “while I understand and empathize with the devastation and emotional pain that comes from such a revelation and the dishonesty of one’s partner, calling this trauma, or a disorder, is disturbing.” HE’S INSULTING CHUMPS EVERYWHERE — ‘OH, I KNOW YOU THINK YOUR LIFE IS DESTROYED BUT, SORRY, YOU DON’T MEET THE CRITERIA FOR AN ACTUAL CONDITION.’ CHUMPS ARE FAMILIAR WITH GASLIGHTING, MINIMIZING AND BLAME-SHIFTING.




    • As far as I’m concerned – cheaters are committing an act of sexual violence upon their chumps – by having sex with them whilst fucking someone else.
      We won’t even mention the ‘serious injury’ part, because that occurs in a huge number of these relationships too.
      So yes, this would even ‘qualify’ as PTSD in that regard – though being cheated on can/does cause PTSD even if you exclude that.

  • It doesn’t seem to me that Dr. Ley is discounting the pain of infidelity, or of grief (which he compares it to) at all. He calls both “devastating”. That’s pretty strong language. All Ley is saying that the pain one experiences as a result does not constitute a “medical disorder”. I guess you can disagree with that idea, but that doesn’t mean he’s minimizing the pain of grief or infidelity.

    Pink eye is a diagnosable medical disorder. Grief after trauma generally is not. I’d rather have pink eye a million times over. I feel much more empathy with people who are experiencing grief. I think Dr. Ley would say the same. Saying something is a medical disorder doesn’t necessarily mean it is a worse or more real problem or something that demands more attention or sympathy. There isn’t a hierarchy of pain with “medical disorder” at the top. In fact, the expectation that problems need to be medical disorders to be seen as real may be part of the overmedicalization that Dr. Ley’s book is decrying.

    Thanks for posting this interview.

    • Well put, Rococo. I agree with you. Dr.Ley is just saying that while it’s terrible, it’s situational – the source of the issues is clearly the life situation.

    • Coco, it’s relative to experience. Living with a character disordered serial cheating narcissist was a living hell. First, they do not seek treatment and therefore never change. Cheaters rarely take medication because that would require the ability to have insight into the fact that THEY are the problem. No such luck. And I don’t expect sympathy, empathy was lacking. STDS are considered medical and require medication. That is if they are treatable. Minimizing adultery and the pain it inflicts on victims is an identifiable shit sandwich.

    • And yes let’s sit down with the fucker who communicates with his limp dick with multiple whores and compromise. Oh honey thank you for letting me know your attracted to sleazy ugly whores who call you daddy and say fuck me repeatedly in a raspy bar slut voice. There is NO compromise. Divorce is the answer.

    • rococo, I agree with you. Dr Ley was not minimizing the trauma betrayed spouses experience, I believe he was trying to differentiate between expected situational neurosis resulting from the trauma and grief from the disorder that is PTSD. I am a bit taken aback at how many chumps wish to embrace a diagnosis that indicates a problem vs embracing the thought that depression, anxiety and other symptoms result from the situation and can be overcome more easily. I fought my own PTSD diagnosis hard, I thought I was too resilient to be that person. My PTSD was not a result of the cheating, it was a result of the escalation of abuse that occurred when I attempted to leave the cheater. I do believe many chumps end up with this issue due to their cheater escalating to abuse that goes far beyond cheating. This isn’t about sex with other people.

        • I was a wreck long before the cheating was discovered. I have lots of horror stories that predate discovery.
          cheating adn cluster b disorders go hand in hand. I doubt I have PTSD but i was a physical and emotional wreck due to the relentless emotiona, abuse.
          life is peaceful and fun now. Good riddance to my NPD wives. I can, finally, spot these folks a mile away. My girlfriend is such a change. She never treats me poorly and we have such a good time together.

  • C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:
    1. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
    2. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).

    — Completely relate to this!

  • “It was not the extra marital sex that killed the marriage. It was other issues.”
    I agree, since I tried to get over the extramarital sex part… we Dutch people are so open minded. Too bad the other issues, like being lied to, stolen from and exposed to STDs, killed the marriage before I could really give it a go.

  • My MC (also a sex therapist) also had the view that sex addiction didn’t exist and took the opinion (what she clearly thought was professionally higher ground over sex addiction) that it’s all about communication and being able to ask for what you want sexually. Moral relativism is quite ‘in’ amongst psychological professionals at the moment. ‘Cheating, Gaslighting, lieing, deceit are all alright as long as no one is bothered by it. ‘.

    It has been my experience that the ‘professionals’ had the worse understanding of the situation and the worse advice. It is like their training put blinkers on them from seeing what was in front of their eyes.

  • PTSD is a literal and real occurrence in partners that have been deceived, violated, and cunningly and covertly used and abused by persons with well hidden narcissistic traits and or personality disorders. These types of personality disorders dominate how a person relates to others and to the world and personality disorders and character disturbances are a serious problem in all arenas of human relationship not just marriage or romantic ones. Narcissistic and personality disturbed and disordered people are often severely lacking in things like the capacity for empathy and a conscience. They are often dissociated, splintered and live highly compartmentalized inauthentic shallow lives built on lies and deceit. SA= someone that falls somewhere rather high on the personality disorder spectrum. And people that fall on the personality disordered spectrum are often misdiagnosed or never diagnosed at all.

    What Patrick Carnes was doing with labeling female partners of so called SA, co-sex addicts is nothing but disturbingly creepy misogynistic abuse of female partners of these men that feel entitled to use and deceive others to meat their narcissistic needs. This official seeming diagnosis of co-sa further harms and confuses these female partners of so called “SA” profoundly. This is therapeutic abuse on top of relational abuse.

    This is why Dr. Barbara Steffens, PhD’s work of challenging Carnes and to highlight the C- PTSD that is often found in partners of SA, has been so important; it says “NO” to this very common practice of automatically co blaming the partners of these men. Labeling and diagnosing the partners of “SA” as being Co SA has been the standard and accepted model of treatment for this fantasy based junk psychology for a long time now. What I found disturbing in Steffens’s work was that after she calls this out she still goes back and uses all the other SA standards of treatment; she still seemed to follow Carnes and other “SA” specialist as if their treatment models and the science behind them were factual and helpful protocols to follow. She even plugs the idea to the partners of SA that these people can recover from SA and that SA is a true disorder that recovery and relationship reconciliation can happen.

    It was clear to me after 23 years of marriage to a so called SA and several months in the SA therapy cult like circus that in reality SA is nothing other than one way that NPD or other personality disturbances and disorders play out and it needs to be treated as such. Personality disorders and disturbed people are not good candidates for any type of relationship and trying to reconcile a marriage with a PD person is not likely ever going to work out well for the partner of this person.
    C-PTSD is real and it is something that persons that have been in relationships with personality disordered person experience and the longer you are in the relationship the more embedded the trauma and its manifest symptoms that occur are and they do occur. It is life altering, disabling, and limiting in profoundly significant ways,

    It is also clear that personality disorders occur on a spectrum and most narcissist and personality disordered person are excellent liars, frauds and con-persons. One of the most disturbing and traumatizing aspects of the relationship with a PD person is the confusion and shattering of what we know as real and not real in our reality, and the cognitive dissonance that occurs regarding who you believe the person you are in a relationship with is in comparison to the reality of who they really are. This shatters a person’s sense of reality and safety in the world in profoundly harmful and disorienting ways and this is true for both men and women that are in these relationships. Narcissistic abuse also causes all sorts of flight fight or freeze response, memory problems, inability to move forward with life, a loss of a sense of self or a shattering of the sense self and a shattering of one’s sense of reality.

    The narcissistic abuse itself is also often chronic, diabolically subtle and may have been causing trauma and harm on very covert subtle levels for years or even decades. It is like a slow kill type of destruction so subtle and confusing that a person does not even know what’s happened until a lot of very significant damage has already occurred. C-PTSD does occur in these relationally abusive situations and labeling abuse and PD as SA is a very dangerous and deluded pseudo-science label with many problems that pretends to be medically and scientifically accurate and factual for a profit. It gives the PD person license to continue on with the destructive abusive games in a whole new venue of the therapeutic setting. . SA most likely includes some form of personality disorder and a serious lack of character and these are real and psychologically significant issues that are not likely to ever change in any significant way and need to be treated and managed for what they really are. Dangerous and harmful.

    • It’s clear David Ley has zero awareness about complex trauma.

      NPD = Prolonged abusive relationship = Complex trauma

      Complex trauma is regarded by trauma experts as more extensive and difficult to treat than classic PTSD (single-event trauma).

      Also it’s important to add, in many of these PD abusive relationships there is sexual abuse. However, it rarely gets named or acknowledged.

      • I agree. The longterm , relentless abuse seems more damaging than a one time traumatic event . At least for me, the sexual assaults in childhood , while messing me up a lot, seemed less severe than daily derision and berating.

  • Rocco – you wrote “All Ley is saying that the pain one experiences as a result does not constitute a “medical disorder”.
    I agree that you’re correctly representing what Ley said (“The emotional devastation from infidelity is real. But it’s not a disorder. As hard as it is, it’s a normal reaction to an awful situation, just like grief is a normal reaction to a normal, but devastating loss. We shouldn’t medicalize this.”)

    But here’s my problem – the behaviors listed in the DSM as responses to trauma that qualify the condition as medical, not normal are all the same responses that victims of infidelity have that are considered normal, not medical. So how are they different? Wouldn’t it be ‘normal’ for someone who has experienced a trauma to have those reactions? Why are they (and their relative who didn’t actually experience the trauma themselves) worthy of a diagnosis? This topic has real-life implications. If you don’t have a diagnosis, insurance doesn’t pay for treatment.

    On a broader scale, psychiatry & psychology come under a lot of criticism for over-diagnosing and being too free with labels. Well, they can clean up their act somewhere else, not on the backs of chumps.

    • Cheryl, actually you don’t need a diagnosis for insurance to pay for therapy unless it is very long term. I know because I refused to BE diagnosed for a long time.

      I agree with Ley as far as he goes, problem is he is looking at this as simple a physical sex act, that what? happens once or twice? That is naive. The issue is that most people here didn’t just experience an act of infidelity. Many were betrayed at a deeper level. Some were betrayed after living with their spouse for 10-30 years, that is deep. And it is that deep seated betrayal that can trigger issues greater than situational depression and anxiety, etc. It depends upon many factors, including the resilience of the chump. Mine apparently was lost when ex got me arrested, terrorized me in my own home and ultimately pulled a gun. For others the act of leaving you after 30 years could trigger PTSD, there are so many variables that determine how you react. And I’m sorry but psychology is still more art than science so it’s not like you can just get a blood test to find out. The point is that it is considered a disordered reaction to trauma, while short term grief, depression, anxiety are not. When my father died I was seriously depressed for a year and a half, many think that was too long, others would say it’s normal. What it was is situational, I wasn’t clinically depressed forever. PTSD sucks and I would not wish that on anyone, it interferes with functioning in life at all levels, I’m still dealing with it, whenever I think it’s finally gone, it’s not. I hope most of my fellow chumps are not dealing with PTSD.

      • All valid points. Circumstances are always complex and everyone handles it in their own way. But Chump Lady promises us Tuesday. 🙂

      • Dat– yup, very much so.

        I came to realize that I was dealing with PTSD when (a) my psychiatrist diagnosed me that way…I see him a few times a year for depression & meds; he is truly wonderful, one of the good guys, empathetic and caring. I trust him.

        And, (b) when I took an inventory of my uncontrollable, mostly physical symptoms (nightmares; sweats; shaking & tremors; insomnia; rapid pulse; shallow & rapid breathing; nausea; anxiety beyond anything I ever experienced; agoraphobia ditto…etc.) Basically generalized fear at the terror level, and anxiety at the paralyzing level. Thankfully, much of the worst has subsided, but I’m still left with a general sense of dread, serious memory loss, and some other stuff that I gather can be a permanent consequence of deep psychological trauma.

        And yeah, I used to be a super-competent, get ‘er done, smarty-pants, uber-reliable kind of gal. Now, I just wilt.

  • An interesting interview and I agree with Dr Ley about SA being nonsense. SA men could control their behavior if they wanted to, the problem is, they choose not to.

    But I was very disappointed when I read CL’s question regarding character disorder, and the doctor basically blew off the question and did not answer it at all. Just some mumbo jumbo about how no one likes pain, but getting rid of it would be bad and we shouldn’t label things as disorder. He totally ignored the question of a link between cheating/SA and character disorder, or simple bad character. That, plus his dismissal of PTSD, tells me that Dr Ley might really know his stuff when it comes to SA, but he doesn’t know so much about personality disorder and its effects on those unfortunate enough to be closely involved with such a person.

    • “Experts” are sometimes only experts in a very limited subfield. I agree with you, GIO. Ley needs to branch out on his reading.

  • Not sure why anyone would come here expecting to see stories of successful reconciliations. There are plenty of sites for that.

  • I would like to see an interview of Susan Anderson and her research on abandonment in regards it’s physical and emotional effects on the person who’s left. If I understand her research correctly, there are neurological changes in the brain as a result of being abandoned. I’d be curious to hear her thoughts on PTSD resulting from betrayal and abandonment.

  • Getting rid of pain leaves people more vulnerable. The pain of being cheated on and hurt, teaches people to try to avoid that in the future, with that person or others.

    I don’t understand the above. PTSD to some degree is a good thing. People need to be more careful and less trusting. I am thankful, for example, that I identified the relationship problems of EAs and in appropriate opposite sex friendships.

    I feel less vulnerable not more due to developing strategies and standards to avoid those kinds of problems.

    • PTSD is not a good thing in any “degree”. It is a disorder, it impacts one’s ability to function in daily life, it impacts your social capabilities, every aspect of your life. What you are talking about is learning from a painful experience and that makes sense, that is what Dr Ley was saying, it’s exactly what he meant. Jedi Hugs.

  • Well, I guess I’ll way in. My D day was over 20 years ago. We were doomed from the start. I knew we had some serious issues, so, in an effort to believe I had some control, I took the issues on myself, and decided I needed to get some help with probable alcoholism. So ala 4rth step, I had to take a look at myself, and I couldn’t have a resentment because it had the power to kill me. This added to the trauma. But also gave me a background of 12 step programs, and a knowledge about addiction.
    Fast forward about 16 years, and I still feel the effects of trauma. I have been an ardent internet research freak for the last seven years, googling terms such as “psychopathy”,” Narcissism”, “BPD”, “sexual addiction”, the partners of sex addicts, trauma theory, trauma bonding, betral bonding, intimacy disorders, erotic haze, affair fog, the down low, closeted homosexuality, and I can tell you that there is SOOOOOO much overlap with ALL these issues. Cluster B PD’s are knownl for entitlement, lack of empathy and lack of remorse, and that explains a lot about the cheaters motives,,,,but, I haven’t ruled out that these disordered folks are actually sexually addicted. Not sure about that. I’ve read about the Chemical cocktail of the erotic haze (and seen it on my husbands face as he checked out of reality and into the dream}. I’ve read about attachment disorders and intimacy disorders. It all makes sense to me, and puts all the puzzle pieces together. And secrecy, and shame are a part of it, too. Yes, I know this model can keep an empathetic partner in denial, and on hopium. It may trigger their compassion and desire to help. What’s missing is the virtual impossibility of curing the underlying personality disorder. JM2C.

  • Oh and let me add, that I think Dr. Lea may have a dog in the fight. He may be one of those advocates for closeted gays coming out of the closet. Nothing wrong with that. But there’s a big debate about the sex addiction thing leading to MMSM issue. and whether there is even anything like bi-sexuality, or if all MSM are actually gay.

  • The only person who truly understands what it feels like to be a chump, is a chump.

    I’m so glad I discovered CL a few months after I discovered my ex’s cheating. Unlike many who have shared experiences on CL (looking back now) nearly 8 months in I am grateful my almost 13 year relationship ended the day I confronted him last October. He started packing his shit that day, put it into storage and moved in with his parents that weekend until he found somewhere else to live. No pick me dance from this mother fucking chump thank you. We didn’t have children or a mortgage either thankfully, so that made it easier and quicker to make a clean physical break. Thanks to what I’ve read on CL I soon learned that going NC was essential to my well being and sanity. Trying to understand the what’s, where’s and why’s of a cheater leads to even more chump mind fuckery. I will elaborate more I’m sure in time as I don’t wish my first post to be war and peace but what I wanted to share today was the complete and utter devastation I experienced when I learned he had been fucking someone else for nearly a year. I don’t wish to sanitise it calling it an affair.

    I was 39 when my mum died in February 2011 and my dad died 3 years later in July 2014. I had friends and family who had experienced the loss of a parent, but I did not have slightest fucking clue how it ACTUALLY felt until it happened to me. Much like cheating.

    Within a week of my splitting from my ex my life as I knew felt like it was completely and utterly shattered into tiny irrecoverable pieces. He had detonated the bomb, made a quick exit and had left me to pick my life out of the rubble and carnage that was left behind. I felt like I was having an out of body experience trying to come to terms with dealing with what was unfolding right before my eyes. Both my parents had died and now had my relationship. In a nutshell I ended up in hospital for 2 days completely out of it because I had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and anti depressants. I didn’t want to live anymore. I was found unconscious half naked on my bedroom floor by my sister, her friend who’d driven her to my house, my ex, his dad who had driven him to the house and the police. The only reason my ex was at the house was because my sister got hold of him as he still had his set of keys at the time and the police were about to break in the front door as I wasn’t responding. Words cannot express how grateful I am to be alive today and making good progress on the road to meh. Losing my parents totally fucked me up, I never really understood what grief was until I experienced it myself. As heart wrenchingly painful as it was and still is at times to come to terms with losing my mum, then my dad I didn’t try to end my life because of it.

    Anyone who glamorises fucking anyone who isn’t their partner without their knowledge can FUCK OFF!! IMO. Same goes for anyone who thinks a chump should get over it already.

    I am from the UK and chump experiences are globally uniting us for the better thanks to CL.

    Keep up the fight fellow chumps. Keep the focus on your recovery and your children’s if you have them. FUCK cheating low life’s. They NEVER deserved us and life is so much better without them in it. Much love, respect and well wishes to each and every one of us!!! X

    • Deloris, your post touched my heart. Glad you are here with us chumps….gaining a life worth living without a cheater (yes, I’m in agreement there are several names that would define my ex other than cheater) but like CL promotes just getting away from the disordered is the best start for a new life. I was married 27 years and divorced 2 yrs and life is getting closer to meh. Not there yet but mehbound.

      • Thank you Mehbound and Datdamwuf. CL is priceless. Anyone I know who has been chumped has been directed here. When chumps leave a cheater and start treating themselves with the love, care and attention they deserve, life is transformed from a dark place to somewhere worth every ounce of the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.

    • Jedi Hugs Deloris! I understand the devastation, my ex cheated on me as I was in deep depression and grief over my Mom dying. The one time I needed his strength he fucked me over. Glad you found CL!

  • People shouldn’t really compare grief, which is the normal healing response to an expected occurrence – namely death, as a rule, to the trauma experienced from an unexpected, unprovoked mental, emotional, financial, spiritual and physical attack by the person closest to you who has promised to protect you from the things which they perpetrate upon you.

    This is why people consistently say that experiencing infidelity is worse than the death of a loved one. However sad and painful, you expect and anticipate that people will die. You do not expect to be repeatedly and grievously harmed by the person to whom you have entrusted your financial, physical and emotional safety and who has promised to protect you from grievous harm.

    There have been studies on the brain which show that prolonged exposure to an abusive situation can cause chemical changes in the brain, and if the abuse is severe and prolonged enough, those changes can be irreversible. The underlying system of abuse that normally accompanies infidelity is many times just such a situation. For Dr. Ley to suggest that you can’t “medicalize” these effects is disingenious.

    Of course people are individuals, and depending on prior life circumstances, personality and coping mechanisms, people respond differently to trauma. But to deny it as being life-altering trauma is to insult those of us who have suffered abuse at the hands of others who lack, in many cases, character, integrity and basic human decency.

  • I am the President SASH. Recently Dr. Ley posted a blog about conversion therapy. SASH supports Dr Ley’s position regarding conversion therapy. Trained clinicians know how to tease out issues with sexual orientation, trauma, addiction, malingering, personality disorders and more.

    I am writing only to address his libelous remarks about SASH. A few weeks ago, Psychology Today posted an article by David Ley . where he arrogantly stated: ” It would be ethical and just for sex addiction therapy training groups such as IITAP and SASH to take a stand, and assert that homosexuality should not be treated as an addiction. This would demonstrate a commitment to the health of their clients, and to preventing harm by people who are using their concepts of sex addiction to hurt people.”

    Now there is another article by Dr Ley implying SASH does not support sexual health. He certainly does not know much about SASH and is near sited to make such blanket statements. He should know better to even imply that SASH does not take such a stand about treating sexual orientation as a pathology. If he went to SASH’s website, he would have found (with 2 clicks of a mouse under resources) the following statement:

    “Homosexuality and Addiction Sexual activities and relationships with members of one’s own sex, whether casual or intimate, are not considered signs or symptoms of sexual addiction. Sexual addiction is not defined by the type of sexual act or the gender of sexual partner. ….The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health acknowledges along with the APA, that homosexuality does not imply any pathology or mental illness. Unlike homosexuality, sexual addiction is seen as a disorder in need of treatment…. ”

    Dr Ley certainly did not do his research. Does he even realize that SASH has an openly gay president? That many past officers of the board and current members of SASH are also gay? SASH has spent years of trying to educate people about what sex addiction is and is not. Human sexuality is complicated and trained clinicians know better than make sweeping statements or rely on antidotal information to draw conclusions. Evidently Dr Ley was absent during those discussions. PT deleted ALL comments under the post, which included what SASH is/isn’t, and what we stand for. I recently have withdrawn my personal advertising with PT for encouraging slanderous interviews and censoring defensible responses..

    Dr. John Giugliano
    SASH President

    • Good to know you are willing to scam gay people as well as cis in your pursuit of money to “cure” sex addiction. I’m sure we are all overwhelmed that you dropped in to correct that error and announce your sham sex addiction services are offered to all without discrimination.

      • Yes, yes, and yes. And in his snit about not being homophobic he completely ignored the broader point about sex addiction being a convenient excuse for cheaters and a con for those who love them. Similarly, it’s my understanding that phrenology and mesmerism work equally well on straight and gay.

        • Doc Gugliano certainly has the credentials, good for him that he’s found a way to milk them for cash.

          Targeting the cluster B market by diagnosing their condition and offering narcs “help” must be incredibly lucrative, especially given they love spending and they love attention.

            • Muse, I initially wrote the same question yesterday and included other misspellings—-ie: ‘antidotal’ for anecdotal and the awkward phrase ‘censoring defensible responses’. I didn’t post it because I felt I would come across as being snarky but I definitely question his credentials.

  • I’ve been mulling this over this all day. First, I’m grateful for the post itself, which was certainly thought-provoking, along with all the comments.

    A couple things bug me. First, the DSM definition. Dr. Ley presents it as a fait accompli, but it’s not. The DSM is a living, breathing document, and can only be as current as the knowledge base and research it represents. We know that psychological diagnoses are not carved in stone, and neither are treatments. There is an element of social construction here which I think is hindering his argument. My question is: have there been any long-term studies of infidelity survivors using the parameters that he’s already decided don’t apply to us? If not, and there haven’t been any quantitative medically-based projects, than it’s not possible to rule it out as a medical condition on its face. It just hasn’t been proven to be one YET. I hope there will be researchers in this field who could take this on; certainly this blog proves how large a potential research sample there is. In the year-plus I’ve been on here, I’ve heard chump after chump tell the same story, accompanied by the same abusive treatment and with the same devastating and traumatic results, including medical impact. These stories transcend country and culture and socioeconomic status and sexual orientation, to name just a a few factors. At what point do we say it’s more than anecdotal? When does somebody say, hey, maybe this needs further research before we dismiss it? Also, just because Dr. Ley says that SA is a ‘fake diagnosis,’ it does not follow that the reactions to the devastation these people cause are also fake. It’s a false equivalency. Remember that wing nut a few years back who predicted that the world was going to end? Obviously he was wrong (fake), but that didn’t negate the devastating impact his belief system had on the people who followed him (very real loss of money, assets, emotional devastation, etc.). Finally, as Chump Princess said so beautifully, there is a difference between grief and trauma. There is a reason we call it D-day around here (notice the war imagery?) and not “the first day of my normal grieving from a sad event that I should reasonably have been able to anticipate, seeing as how we don’t live in a world without pain.”

    Dr. Ley said, “We don’t get to just make up a disorder to label every problem out there, especially when there are already really good explanations and labels out there.” I’d really like to know what he thinks those good explanations and labels are. Sorry, but ‘grief’ doesn’t cut it for me.

    (apologies in advance for typos. I’m typing in a mad rush here)

  • Re-read the interview, Dr. Ley did not define PTSD appropriately in his response. I imagine he didn’t realize the significance of his response in this context. However, PTSD is serious and should not be self diagnosed, in most cases resilient humans are capable of coming back from major trauma without ending up with this disorder. Depression, anxiety, insomnia and other temporary physical symptoms do not of themselves indicate PTSD. The DSM is pretty clear about events that trigger it and symptoms of PTSD, if you think they apply to you I hope you are getting help. If they don’t apply to you, please be grateful and happy about that fact. I am kind of wondering about so many chumps seeming to want to be diagnosed with a debilitating mental illness, I don’t get it, I fought this diagnosis. Betrayal is a huge trauma to us, that is clear, that doesn’t mean the majority of chumps are suffering from PTSD, depression and anxiety are bad enough. I’m going to leave it here as I’m too beat to completely elucidate my feelings tonight without starting a shit storm. Go ahead and self diagnose at the link, but if you tick the boxes? see a psychiatrist and therapist to confirm it and then get help;

    Jedi Hugs Chump Nation

    • Actually, I think I’m a pretty resilient person for the most part but I also think I do have PTSD. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, at least I hope not. I haven’t been officially diagnosed due to the $5,000 deductible on my insurance but I do know myself very well. So, yeah, I do Self Diagnose.

      Datdamwuf, (and I could be wrong, so please don’t be offended if I am) I get an idea from your comments that you think that this is a shameful thing or a personal weakness that a person can control, but I don’t see it that way. There are too many factors involved in this that aren’t even understood yet, like heredity, brain chemistry, and so on. I just know that my cheating second husband and his activities brought the physical/mental/emotional/ sexual abuse from my first alcoholic husband right back to me like they had just happened all over again. Even though the events were a decade apart, and I thought the past was the past. It all builds on the past and your brain/body says Enough.

      I did have fear for my life for a very long time and that changes you forever, I think. No support system cause I kept it all a secret, along with the adultery of second husband. Everybody thinks I’m a sweet, uncomplicated middle aged lady with a tendency to be a loner. They don’t see the nasty temper fits I keep hidden, or the way my heart races when something reminds me of this shit, or the really bizarre way that I NEVER cry anymore, ever, for several years now. But, enough about me. It could be better. It could be worse. Whatever label anyone puts on it, the reality is still the same.

  • Dr. Ley’s central tenet appears to rely on his world view rather than science. i actually agree with his idea that all poor behavior (“bad actors”) should not be labeled as mental illness. however he should update his knowledge about psychological trauma.

    There are two working classifications of trauma now. Capital “T” trauma and lower case “t” trauma. He only references the earlier definition of life threatening experiences and rape (“T”). Infidelity clearly falls into “t” trauma. And STD exposure and loss of health care due to divorce are added, we approach life threatening “T” trauma from infidelity.

    My knees literally went weak and i dropped to the floor and before dry heaving on DDay…followed by 10 pound weight loss, nightmares, sudden stuttering and memory confusion. These have stopped, thank God. Due to excellent therapy and prayer!

    I also recall a chump who wrote that her hair turned white for a while after discovery of her husband’s infidelity.

    Yes, intimate partner infidelity IS trauma, Dr. Ley. And many chumps have real PTSD.

    • That’s a good article, Lyn. Thanks for sharing. The author’s ex was a piece of work. How on earth does the new wife trust him after that? I bet he does it to her, too.

  • Thank you for presenting this article. On the PTSD diagnosis, I know my providers have always put it in terms of “experiencing symptoms” of PTSD. The label really doesn’t matter to me, just receiving the care I need to process the trauma and move myself toward health and healing.

    I think the same thing of this label “sex addiction.” I personally find it too broad a label that masks other more pertinent issues that need to be addressed, including a pathology of selfishness, lack of maturity and piss-poor choices. I am not going to argue with those who want to call it SA, but I don’t think anyone should be bullied into believing that SA is the problem and that a 12-step program is the only solution.

    I know there are those who are desperate to believe SA and 12-step are the end-all, be-all, and that is fine for them. But, for my husband, it was not SA, it was Selfish-Oppressive-Bastard (SOB) syndrome. I’ve coined it, I’m keeping it, because damn it, it fits and that is how we are addressing it.

    • SOB syndrome? That’s a label I can get behind. I vote for that in the next edition of the DSM. 🙂

      Totally agree. I think what I’ve been reacting to is not so much the label (or the lack thereof), but rather the lack of recognition of how debilitating chumpdom is. Thanks, TL.

  • Really enjoyed this post CL. (Just reading it now.)

    For me, this was a great way of talking about – what is healthy, what is mature, and what is moral.

    Unfortunately, having a conversation suggested by Dr Ley is something that only MATURE adults are capable of. Two people are open and agree to what they both want and need. How do we get to a society that can do that?

    After my DDay, I ended up in counseling – I needed to go there because I wasn’t coping. What helped me most was having a therapist who reassured me that what I was feeling/going through were normal reactions. In terms of my sexuality, I internalized so much and felt that I must be repulsive for the ExH to act that way….so much cheating….and the final one was someone 15 years younger than him.

    Importantly, through this process, I have learned what is healthy for me, what I need in a relationship, and where my boundaries are – and this includes my sexuality. And, guess what? I am not repulsive.

    Now, I know what a healthy relationship is — when it isn’t — like being someone who is disordered (narcissist, borderline personality disorder).

    I agree with Dr Ley on all points — except for the scope of the impact on the partners of the individuals.

    Thank you CL for all you do!

  • I also have to strongly disagree with Dr. Ley regarding PTSD. After I found out my loving, sweet, attentive husband of 12 years was actually a deeply dishonest, selfish, cruel, and via the usual trickle truth, sadistic user of every type of prostitute, friend and acquaintance, I was in a type of shock I didn’t even know I was capable of experiencing. I lost 33 lbs in 2 months, longed to commit suicide except I needed to be there for my sons, went from a kind and forgiving person to a raging, terrified, broken shell. I broke out sobbing multiple times a day, every day, for three years. Sometimes I knew what was triggering me, and sometimes it just hit. Nearly lost my job and certainly was put on the back burner for promotion. I am now four years out from D-Day, and still have a voice in my head every single night when I try to sleep saying ‘I’m sorry’ and part of me thinks it is wishful thinking that it would be his sorry words over and over, but mostly I think it is my inner self being sorry that I was accepting and forgiving and got my heart in this horrible mess. ‘

  • Over 4 years now, and I thought I had finally reached MEH. Boy, was I wrong. I haven’t gone completely no contact yet for financial reasons, the divorce isn’t final yet, so when I saw him on Facebook for hours the other night, everything came back! Shaking, investigating, speculating. Unable to sleep, cold sweat. I needed to feel safe. I needed to DO something because fight/flight/dissociate had kicked in hard. Ever since I moved out, I sleep with a knife because mister wonderful turned out to be a sadistic pig who I have no idea how far he will go. I feel exactly like those wives of serial killers – how could she not have known?? And given what I now DO know, he well could be one, and I live every day with that bit of terror. I can never speak my truth, because I still have to play nice for the crazy person. I am doing much better, but I haven’t been tested in another relationship yet, and am pretty sure my PTSD will come raging back if I ever try to deal with another man in my life.

  • I’m a month after d-day and the details just keep trickling in. Almost $20,000 spent on prostitutes and on-line porn; risky sex with strangers on business trips; sending thousands to a sex worker he’s never met from another country because “sex with her is divine” – sex with his hand, that is. And now I’m living out of a suitcase in my brother’s basement wondering how I spent twenty years next to this guy (who’s still in our house which he’s let go to hell). When he “confessed” he said, “This is hard – but harder for you” – it should have clued me in to what an egomaniac he is. Oh…and it’s all because I failed to initiate sex and he deserves to be intimate and valued. Who is this guy? Who am I?

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