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Unconditional What?

ULOne common example of the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say is cheaters’ disappointment that they were not loved “unconditionally.”

Apparently, they are capable of “unconditional love” and we, being irrationally angry, small-minded meanies, are not.

Unconditional love, from what I can tell, seems to be this perpetual state of Grace, where no matter what cheaters do, no matter how deliberate, or idiotic, or devastating, they shall not be held accountable. The cheater cannot be left. The cheater must not suffer consequences (because this pains them too!); and they get as many chances as they deem necessary to straighten up and fly right.

They might never straighten up and fly right, and that’s okay, because you have a love that is bigger than you both, which is God-like, and omnipresent! Your unconditional love will shine through as a beacon in the foggy darkness! Yes it’s Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer! Would you be so cruel as to stop Santa from delivering his presents? Would you put an end to Christmas?

And chumps if they fall for it, are left feeling more inadequate than ever. Wow, my love just isn’t that powerful to get over this. Why can’t I love unconditionally?

Unicorns, of the smug reconciling sort, may tsk-tsk their divorcing brethren. “Well, I guess they do not know what it means to Love Unconditionally.”

Look chumps, before you try to Rise Above and love the broken sad sausage in your life, let’s examine this catch phrase “unconditional love.”

Often it’s discussed in the context of child-rearing. Bobby is very upset because his mother only smiles at him when he gets As on his report card. Otherwise she is indifferent. She does not love Bobby unconditionally. Her love is on the condition of his good grades.

Okay, that’s wrong. You should love your child regardless of his or her GPA.

Now, what if Bobby is sick in the head? He is prone to rages and attacks his mother Martha with carving knives. He hurls abuse at her, and steals money from her wallet. Bobby has put a hit out on his mother to collect his inheritance.

It’s a little harder to love your child unconditionally then. You feel sorry for Bobby’s mother Martha, because she probably still does love her child, but love is beside the point. She needs to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM BOBBY.

A couple points: a) Bobby is Martha’s child. b) If the relationship is toxic, Martha’s love for Bobby is not relevant to her personal safety.

Now, apply this logic to infidelity.

Grown up love comes with conditions. Cheaters are not our children. (Although they may act like it.) Our spouses are not entitled to unconditional love. Adult love comes with conditions (also known as boundaries), conditions like “you may not abuse me,” or “you may not steal from me.” We don’t have to accept any sort of behavior because we love someone.

If someone cheats on you, and repeatedly puts you in harms way, you’ve got a toxic situation. You very well may still love this person, but your love is beside the point. You need to GET THE HELL AWAY and save yourself.

Now then to the superior cheaters who demand unconditional love:

Really? Did YOU love unconditionally? Apparently there are a shitload of conditions to win your love, beginning with performing the Pick Me Dance. Chumps hear these conditions all the time — you grew old, you got fat, you spend too much time with the children, you make stewed tomatoes wrong, your socks aren’t in the hamper, the curtains were too long, you don’t play board games. (All of these can be found on Stupid Shit Cheaters Say.)

Failure to abide by cheater conditions ensures you will be cheated on. (And the conditions always change, so you can pretty much guarantee you are not abiding by them.)

How’s that for fair?

When cheaters want “unconditional love” what they are really saying is that they’d like a lopsided, unreciprocated situation. You invest kibbles in me, (don’t stop!) and I shall do whatever I please. Because you love me. And if you stop giving me kibbles, I’ll make the problem you. You don’t love me enough.

Unconditional love —  blameshifting by another name.


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  • Cl, this is an outstanding reminder for all of us chumps. My cheater (now X) used to say that my lack of unconditional love for him was abusive, that he couldn’t cope with someone who couldn’t “get over it” and support him in his own pain and search for meaning in his life He used to lament that while he dealt with his issues, he needed a wife who was totally loving and committed to him, rather than one who couldn’t support the situation.

    Seriously, “unconditional love” is more about the cheater continuing to manipulate and create his or her own sense of reality….and when we chumps fall for that, we just hurt ourselves more. Thanks for the reminder, CL!

  • My ex told me that he had affairs because I never made him feel loved. And he told this to friends and family, who then subscribed to the “we don’t know what went on behind their closed doors” line of thought, because it was always pretty obvious that I adored him. When I told my daughter what he said, her response was, “Please tell me he did not say that.” And I couldn’t, because he did. For about ten minutes, I was inconsolable, thinking that I’d brought this misery on myself because I was so flawed that I couldn’t convey to my husband that I adored him. But, I thankfully couldn’t truly buy this particular package of gas lighting bullshit. I know that my love for him oozed out of my pores. It was written all over me and everything that I did. And so I had to rest on the thought that if he didn’t feel my love, something was wrong with him and I couldn’t fix that. Ultimately, however, I came to understand that he was just gas lighting me. It felt better to him to blame me for what he did. And now I know that he absolutely knew I loved him. He just didn’t care. My discovery of his duplicity and betrayal upset the emotional power balance in our marriage and he just didn’t have it in him to live like that. To continue in that marriage I would have had to agree that I drove him to cheat. It’s pretty sad.

    • Yeah. BTDT. This was a good reminder. I divorced my husband because he didn’t love me. He wanted unconditional love, but could never give it. The insane imbalance of such crap. I adored mine too. He wasn’t worth it. And yet I still, in trigger moments, question myself. Grr…

      • same with me. i actually did love mine unconditionally. i knew all his weaknesses, triggers, FOO issues, bad choices, etc etc and i loved him anyway…

        it STILL did not matter to him. it was not enough.

    • Carol, That is a well written description of how many of these stories transpired “behind closed doors” – your story is, I believe, common to what goes on. The betrayed usually isn’t some withdrawn, sex-denying, selfish emotional vacuum, but quite the opposite. The cheater just takes it all for granted and feels entitle to more.

      • When I first began reading this article I thought “oh, this one’s not describing my ex”, however my view has now changed.

        I was blindsided and left about a year ago. The devastation resulting from this had me pedalling around with “whys” in my mind, but I somehow new not to bother to ask him. Somehow, I had already worked out that it would be a waste of time.

        The blameshift is now what is just so obvious to me. I’d only just given birth to my third less than one year before and the other two under school age. And I didn’t have sex with him enough. His reasoning and his words to me, that night. Simple as that. I didn’t have enough sex with him and I didn’t pursue him enough. I was always tired and going to bed (before offering him a blow job on the couch), always using my precious one or two hours per week away from the kids doing the household shopping alone (rather than going to the gym to get more buff, for his visual pleasure). It actually doesn’t matter what the truth of the matter was… he would look for any crack that he could claw right open. And then blame ten years of it on me. What a friggen ass wipe.

        He is an opportunist, plain and simple. His OW has no kids, goes to the gym daily and as far as I can tell, is happy to play sub to his dom role play in their place. He was often an opportunist in our life together too, now that I can plainly see with hindsight. And so utterly desperate for kibbles. Utterly, utterly desperate….

        Now, when he picks up and drops off the kids, it is obvious to me that he wants this from them. He gets none of it from my boys, however my daughter (eldest child, now 5) gives it in buckets. I’m gonna hafta work on that one with her, to not give her love to simply feed the beast and keep it happy… because I can see that happening when they’re older.

        Also, his FOO issues clearly resonate with him on a subconscious level too. Never having a good father – figure (distant provider, distant emotionally, highly critical) and never developing true resiliency. He didn’t attempt his driver licence for 14 years because his father got upset that he had a minor bump in the car with a pole at the age of 16 as a learner. I ended up teaching him at age 30. Not a bounce – back kind of guy, my ex.

        I, on the other hand, after a time, got over the shock of his announcement and haven’t looked back. At first, I wasn’t allowed to (by him), but then realised that I’d been highly anxious for some time and providing kibbles for ages and ages in the hope that he would change his blame shifting habit. That would be insane, maintaining the hope that he’d realise and that he’d change.

    • Carol, you said: ” And now I know that he absolutely knew I loved him. He just didn’t care.” Yes, a thousand times yes, he knew. the very reason why the affair had to be secret.

    • First XW claimed she did not feel “connection”, hence it was my fault she cheated. Guess working, taking care of the kids, being nice to her etc did not cause connection to occur ( wonder how “connected she was to the strangers she was picking up in assorted places ((like the aging hippy lounge karaoke singer she met while we were on vacation with the kids.

      • Yeah – I struggled with this one too – I can list hundreds of intimate, sentimental, provisional, care-taking, healing, improvement, repair actions I took throughout the marriage (with her and the kids), and this resulted in “no connection, no passion” and yet the AP cuts and pastes some Bob Dylan lyrics into a text message and that is the truest, mystical connection ever.

        Causes me to weep to think about it.

        • Yep. No matter how good you are to them, it’s never enough, or you didn’t provide what they REALLY needed from the marriage.

          I have come to believe that cheaters are cheaters no matter what, and they are going to do exactly what they want to do. “The connection is no longer there”, “The passion and excitement are gone”, etc. etc. are simply window dressing and ways to control the narrative.

          I wonder if anyone on this board has ever had the cheater really, truly own his or her decisions and actions? Show true remorse? Real CL defined remorse as opposed to naugahyde? I seriously doubt it.

          • Missed my mind reading classes, I guess. And, of course, she was so incredibly exciting and spiritual herself, that I , of course, felt all so special and connected ( whatever the fuck that means).
            ever notice they use these amorphous terms like “connection” so that you cannot defend against it? What type of argument can you make that she was, in fact, connected, when you have no idea what she even means by it?
            Passion gone? Well, duh? We have been married twelve years and I am working full time and caring for the kids and house by myself while you are out galavanting . If she was ever around long enough to have a decent conversation, perhaps we could have “connected”.
            hard to “connect” to someone who is never around and chasing strange dick while drinking and smoking up a storm. Classic NPD/ Sociopath.
            I often wish I could just get my XW to look at our disabled son’s medical records. They note , each time, which parent accompanies the child. I was leaving work several times a week to take him to the doctor. I would take him and his brother to swim lessons, all alone, while other couples were there together taking care of one child between them. I had two, one severely disabled. to take care of.
            My arms were ripped as the result of carrying my son who could not even stand up until he was three. Try carrying two toddlers through airports alone with your bags because their mom will not accompany them on family vacations.
            Then, arrive home after a week on vacation alone and hear the complaints about how stressed she was and needed to go out and “Jounalise” ( find strange men in bars) about her upbringing.
            The Narcissism in my XW is amazing. And, she has no clue that she is a monster. Leaves a trail of destruction in her wake and is oblivious. Folks hate her after a while.

            • WOW.. what a bitch… Arnold.. hang in there buddy.. lots of women out there would appreciate YOU.

            • Arnold,

              You deserved so much better than what you got. Your children were so fortunate to have someone like you.

            • Arnold – those sweet kids of yours, loved by an awesome father, will likewise hate her after awhile. Keep on keeping on. You rock, brother.

            • Their complete lack of self-censure is astounding!! You’re children are so lucky to have such a loving father Arnold. Kudos to you for being awesome. Being chumped and devastated sucks….. I’d take being me ANY day over being one of these selfish disordered fucks.

          • I knew we were doomed when my STBX started critiquing my pick me dance overtures. I upped the sex content.. then he complained it was in the morning and he was too tired. I failed to make meatloaf for dinner… I didn’t work out with him at night.. I hate treadmills.. so sue me!

            I spent months doing the pick me dance and it did absolutely NO good. He was so poisoned on me.. it didn’t matter what I did, he even interpreted things wildly to make them FIT into something bad. Like I put little gifts on his car seat each day the week of valentine’s day and he said.. they are candy.. what are you trying to do, keep me fat???


            • “He was so poisoned on didn’t matter what I did”…..

              The contempt my X had grown to have for me was so obvious, nothing I ever did was good enough. He wanted to justify leaving and he turned everything into something I did wrong. I actually told him “your contempt for me is astounding… the way you behave one would think I was the one who cheated and walked out and not the other way around.”

              • the stupida$$ i married actually couldnt come up with anything recent. so he was trying to compare HIS going out to bars and friends houses, getting drunk and God knows what, drunken fights with his boss and coworkers not coming home at all, staying out all night, not answering my phone calls or texts, or any kind of response at all to my worrying about where, what and who he was doing, plus i was practically begging him to please stop not coming home, i hated him not being home, and asking him repeatedly what i was doing wrong that kept him from coming home……………. to the time when i would go out with my bff every friday night 12 YEARS AGO!!!

                of course the difference is:
                1. i did not stay out all night, i usually came home at 11 or 12 because i had to go to work at 9 the next day, the worse i did was come home @ 2 and i felt so badly for it that it never happened again. i would get off work at 9, her house was close to my work,
                2. i would call him on the way to her house to check if kids were ok, he was ok. everyone was ok and in bed BEFORE i got to her house.
                3. i would answer the phone every single stupid time he called, and i would respond to his texts every stupid time he texted while i was at my bff for the 2 to 3 hours i was there. yes, sometimes (very rarely) we would go to the bar but it was the same as if i went to her house.
                4. i NEVER NEVER got drunk. yes, i had a drink or two but that was my limit. i am a responsible adult. i made sure i could drive the 30 miles home. i made sure i wasnt drunk to get into fights with whoever was there. most of the time we just talked and relaxed.
                5….AND MOST IMPORTANTLY as soon as my husband started bitching about how much he hated me going out every friday to my bff, when he started worrying that i might be meeting single men at her house, when he started thinking i cared more for her then him……i just up and stopped going to her house after work. it was that easy because i cared more for him then i did going out.

                but he STILL tried to rationalize his behavior by saying “why is it wrong when i do it when your mother did it with her bff” ….yes folks he was using this excuse to OUR CHILDREN!!!

                SMDH….no more crazy sandwiches for me please. i had my fill.

            • “He was so poisoned on me”–that hits home. I could do no right, for years. It sucked. Oh, the crap we endured, being made to feel crazy, learning we are not crazy….it’s been a ride of a lifetime!

            • “He was so poisoned on me” was my story too. I would make his favorite gourmet dinners night after night and it was ifnI g but complaints and ridicule. Nothing I did was acceptable. XH made me feel like shit and his servant. He was constantly trying to start fights with our daughter at the dinner table – the only time we saw him. So glad to be free of his mind fucking. My daughter and I used to joke and call him King to his face when he was in a particularly ordering around mood – little did we realize he thought it was true.

            • “He was so poisoned on didn’t matter what I did”…..

              Ditto for me. I listened to one of the reconciliation industry gurus and bought XH several presents, including a couple of jazz CDs. His response? “It’s a bit contrived, and by the way, I already HAVE that CD. Take it back and get me another.”

              He LOVED the “pick me” dance – especially the part where, after jumping through every hoop he had, he’d get tp stand back and tell me all the spots I missed.

              Looking back, I realize how many spots HE missed during our entire marriage. As one old flame (who lost out to XH) told me a few years ago, “You’re divorced? I’m not surprised. I knew he’d never be able to hang on to you…”


              • Truly unbelievable. Isn’t it too bad there’s not, like, some rebate form you can fill out to exchange these cheating assholes and get our time and money back? Wouldn’t it be the awesomest thing ever to march into customer service and say, “Well, he was a bit contrived, and by the way, I already HAD that asshole,” and then walk out with either a normal loving spouse or just completely single?

          • Chumpguy, I think my husband has demonstrated real genuine remorse, complete with actions to back it up. That’s not to say all is rainbows and puppies in our marriage today, 4 years later. We have reconciled after a separation, and spent lots of time in MC and IC. I won’t go into all of the details here, as I have done that before. Bottom line, while we are happy for the most part, there is definitely scar tissue in this marriage, and I have made it abundantly explicitly clear that the only people in my life who have a claim on my unconditional love are our 3 children. No one else, and certainly not him. We had more than one MC session devoted to this topic. Respect, love, and my continuation in this marriage are totally conditional and must be earned. And it goes both ways too, of course. I hold myself to the same standard, but then I don’t have a history of betrayal either.

            • Still A Chump

              A clear sign they have NOT changed is when they cannot meet your emotional needs. As you go forward beware of the times you need him the most. When I was at my most vulnerable and had needs he cheated. It was a pattern I never recognized. When you feel off balance it’s a sure sign. X was with me all the time and gave the appearance we were a close family.

            • Mine also showed true remorse. He kept saying that nothing is off the table and that I could ask him anything. But once I did all hell broke lose. His words and actions don’t match. I keep questioning my sanity and am left with confusion. It’s been close to 2 years since DDay and we have tried reconciling so many times that I have lost count. Every time I get the strength to leave and start over I weaken and take him back. I am creating this craziness and I just can’t get out of it. 23 years of marriage, or more rightly called, mental abuse, is so hard to break away from. I am in therapy and she is helping me find my voice. This is going to be a very slow process but I am trying everyday.

              • I’m not sure how “showed true remorse” is consistent with “all hell broke loose.”

                Once the trust is gone, it’s so difficult to know if the remorse is true or not.

                Plus, they are good at believing their own lies.

                I’m not judging you – I understand all this far too well and am going through the same thing.

      • Arnold
        Their wiring is on permanent disconnect. Picking up strangers and thinking it’s the answer to their dreams is beyond anything I can imagine. The real criteria was if they would sleep with him. It was that simple. Yet they professed their love to each other and moved in together within weeks of getting a hotel. No conditions and no looking back. And I was so untouchable no one would ever want me according to mr nice guy. We know the truth Arnold. It’s all on them yet we suffer at the hands of the disordered couple of fuck whomever is willing. My love for him was blindsided by repeated lies and toxic discard over and over. Not only are they opportunist they are contortionists. I see it fully now. It wasn’t enough to leave, the exit was calculated to break me and to discard me like trash. X wanted me to feel the maximum amount if pain in the grand finally. X thoroughly ENJOYED dumping his toxic self loathing on to me knowing the impact it would have on my soul . But I have come out of this stronger.

        • I hear you, Donna. They repeatedly reject you. I lived like a monk, and I was a pretty decent looking guy. I gave up trying to initiate any form of physical affection as being rebuffed and ridiculed repeatedly was to much to deal with.
          I remember the last time I tried. We were on vacation, one of the few she went on and the same one where she met the lounge singer.
          I broached the possibility of being intimate once our kids fell asleep ( I was in charge of laying down with them and reading etc all the time).
          She scoffed at me, waved her hand dismissively at me, and said “Ha, you are so different.” ( what did she mean by that?).
          Then, I came to our bedroom after the kids fell asleep, and she was gone, down to the bar to hook up with the gray ponytailed aging hippy lounge singer.
          Apparently, they made arrangements for her to continually come up to the resort and see him on ensuing weekends ( she was heading North to ” see the foliage”.)
          Hell, I was so dumb. I believed she was.
          Interesting thing about this, and my recollection of all the other times she did stuff like this: If I ever brought it up now, despite her never admitting anything let alone apologizing, she would turn things around on me and ridicule or deride me for being so petty and un-evolved that it still bothers me. See, the highly evolved spiritual elite simply move on and grow from this and do not need petty things like apologies. Peasants and the low creatures dwell on these things while the elite rise above them blah, blah.
          My first XW is a spiritual director of an upscale CD treatment center here. She runs the women’s program and the whole thing is supposed to be based on the 12 steps.
          Yet, she , herself, has never done the 8th or 9th step and atoned and apologized. What a hypocrite.

          • “I lived like a monk, and I was a pretty decent looking guy”. Arnold, I hope you understand that looks don’t play any part in us being rejected and abandoned? At least I hope so. I was a beautiful looking girl and I thought I was ugly because my mother made sure I thought I was. When I look at photos of my younger self now, I get quite sad. Pity I never saw then, what I see now. My point is, physical beauty is not enough to hold a cheater. In fact, I am not sure what it takes to hold them. Certainly not being decent, hard working, honest, loyal, truthful, reliable. I could go on but I think you see my point?

          • Arnold

            Our cheaters were a special breed. Picking up the OW/OM while they were in our company!! X bragged about where he met his slut. It was on our 36 anniversary and we were together. The ridicule and lack of intamacy was was cruel. X stated during the divorce that I showed him no affection. It’s impossible to please the disordered. Without a doubt I believe he is a sociopath. I didn’t see it for the 41 years we were together. At least I don’t have to be in his company ever again.

            • Donna, you are so right, no matter what we do and I like how you said it, “It’s impossible to please the disordered.” To describe it as frustrating, maddening, mindfuckupedness, disturbing, are still words that don’t capture the insanity.

  • Wow! I got this in spades from my cheater. He even gave me a list of things I needed to do to keep “the wonderfulness that was him”. Chumpy me did the list with gusto and still “his” love was conditional and I could never earn it. Parent/child love is really the only totally unconditional love, yet as you pointed out, even that doesn’t mean you have to take abuse.

    Love this column!

  • I was going to suggest a cheater translation cheat sheet, in the form of

    “Unconditional love” = “I have a character flaw.”

    But then I realized that every cheater blame shifting statement means “I have a character flaw” so I guess the translation page isn’t necessary.

    F–k them 🙂

    • “unconditional love” is another phrase for “forgive and forget” in my mind. Just a way for them have their flaws overlooked while holding us to a higher standard.

  • Great start here and much needed. Thank you CN and CL. Great reminders. I really believed I could love the narc right out of my ex. What a chump.

  • More “entitlement” bullshit. My stbxh of 31 years is in utter shock that I have had enough. I’ll admit I never really fell for the unconditional love crap coming from HIM. My kids maybe but not his cheater butt. Its amazing how they alway minimize the sheer HELL they put us through and then say THIS.

    When I made the decision to get the hell OUT, I told him he never loved ME. He quickly answered, “I did love you……too”. WTF so its ok to lump his beautiful faithful loving wife (ok loving isn’t true, lol) mother of his children with the porn, hoes, strip club whores, affair partners and double life. God only knows what else he is hiding. Im so lucky I’m loved TOO! He still has not taken responsibility, its all MY FAULT. I am not loving him unconditionally (what have I been doing for 31 years). I think this unconditional crap starts with their parents, moves to the church and then to the marriage. They THINK everyone is OK with their behavior as long as you either don’t know, or they say IM SORRRRRRRY. blah

    • Fuck. 31 years? My God, it is a wonder you are not insane by now. Hell, I wish I’d heard of personality disorders 31 years ago, when I first got married. The signs were all there.

    • I love Gone with the Wind when at the end Rhett is leaving Scarlet and Scarlet is crying and saying she’s sorry. He says to her that she’s such a child, to think all her wrongs can be forgotten with the words “I’m sorry.”

  • The absence of consequences for actions does not equal love. One can love someone, and still allow consequences to follow for their actions. When it comes to divorcing an adulteress/adulterer, I say this is a matter of refusing to enable such abusive and sinful behavior. Actions have consequences. The cheater doesn’t want the consequence…then they should have thought about that before cheating in the first place. That’s the funny things about copious lies and treacherous betrayals…they destroy relationships and often times, the destruction is permanent.

    • Well said, DM. Great column! I didn’t get any gaslighting, mindfucking, cake eating etc. Stbx was your classic stone cold abandonment cheater who walked away with absolutely no warning. Although I did get the classic, “I love you as the mother of my child, but I don’t love you the way you love me.” Translation: I’m so narc and screwed up, I’m incapable of real love.” Good luck OW.

      • SoSG, I did get the gas lighting, m’fing, cake eating etc and I also got the cold, stone cold abandonment from the cheater ex who walked away after 37 years of marriage without so much as a glance back over his shoulder. You see he sent our son who at the time was 28 years old, to come in and tell me I was leaving and what I would be getting money wise. Some time later the ex had the cheek to tell me in an email that he “still, loved me to bits” but us being together was no longer an option. I know now that my ex is not capable of loving anyone and that includes our 2 adult kids. To him sex is love. He has never grown up and never will.

    • I was about to write what DM already covered -uunconditional love DOESN’T mean we will accept anything. When my now-ex was ranting and raving, he was emotionally about 2 years old. Do we sit back and let toddlers do and have anything they want? Heck no! We have lines (boundaries) that they can’t cross without consequence delivered by a loving parent. Same with a spouse – if I let him stay in an affair with no consequence, up to and including divorce, I’m actually NOT loving him.

    • DM–Well said.

      STBX hasn’t tried the “unconditional love” line, but the ironic thing in light of your comments is that STBX is a huge fan of harsh legal treatment. If I had a nickel for every time he said that if the punishment for X was Y, then people would think twice before they did X.

      Of course, my state doesn’t “punish” adultery per se, but we do have the 50/50 split upon divorce When STBX got the settlement proposal which proposed such a split, he and his girlfriend were both very unhappy.

      He chose not to think about the consequences of his adultery on our marriage and his retirement.

      • Big on harsh legal punishment, eh? Sounds very familiar. My XW was incensed when I took the position that a woman who had been raped and locked in a closet for days by her captors should not be punished when she accompanied them on a bank robbery ( this was a Law and Order show loosely based on the Patty Hearst case and Stockholm Syndrome). I got the silent treatment for not agreeing she should be imprisoned.
        Guess I should have expected this, as her mom, one time, discussed how she felt that Nicole Brown Simpson got what she deserved because she should have foreseen OJ was like he is.
        I am serious. She really said this and meant it.

  • Spot on.

    I got the
    – I didn’t feel LOVED by you
    – I didn’t feel you desired me
    – My emotional need weren’t being met
    – The passion was gone

    And a summary of how he seduced her by providing all these things and she fell for it, and she now knows it was perhaps just a fantasy. And then I get the

    – I fucked up, but all along, I loved you and wanted to be with you
    – You’re the one I want to grow old with

    But based on other things she said, and what I found during my discovery phase, I’m pretty sure the truth is that while she wants a stable family and marriage, she thinks of me as just a friend and is still madly in love with the other guy, even though he was a fellow lying bs’ing narc.

    And the truth all along is that I did my best to always be fully engaged and intimately connected to her, and she withdrew from and neglected me, not the other way around.

    So really, all her bullet points above are just lies to keep me around because she doesn’t want to lose her family.

    • – I didn’t feel LOVED by you
      – I didn’t feel you desired me
      – My emotional need weren’t being met
      – The passion was gone

      Buddy, I got that SAME EXACT list from the XH.

    • I heard all about how the special guy was driving her around in the city in his convertible in January with the top down and stopped and bought her flowers from a street corner vendor. And how he sat across the table at the piano bar with tears running down his face and told her he was crying because he just loved her so, so much.

      Funny, when I gave her a huge bouquet of flowers the response was “Thanks, they’re really pretty, but don’t be spending this kind of money on this.”

      Agh, water under the bridge.

      • Exactly. While I don’t discount the need for chumps to look in the mirror and don’t discount the need for self-improvement, the RIC will recommend things like “You need to read The 5 Love Languages and learn her love language” which presupposes that us chumps haven’t been trying to figure out how to connect with our spouses all along.

        Your cheater’s love languages might have been gifts and flowers, and you got her gifts and flowers, but she was like ‘whatever’ but when the ‘special guy’ did the same, it was true passion.

        I call it true bullshit.

        • I think that some counselors recommend things that might work for normal people/couples, but don’t work with disordered personality types. I find the Myers Briggs Personality type test helpful in many work situations — but not infallible because the truly disordered don’t even take a test honestly. The Five love languages might be helpful for a pre-marriage class to try to get people to understand marriage is not easy — but it is not helpful, in fact nothing is helpful, if you don’t speak Narc. It is sad for an empathetic person to just totally give up on a person, and walk away, to accept that someone is never going to change, or get better. It goes against our nature.

          I remember reading the 5 languages — naturally we were not on the same page, or maybe even the same planet — but what was left out was that EVEN IF I TRANSLATED EVERYTHING INTO HIS LANGUAGE, and lost my native language trying to please him — HE WOULD NEVER RECIPROCATE. He would not attempt to learn my language, unless he felt he could manipulate me in some way to do something he wanted me to do. Then he would suddenly forget all about it, again.

          These exercises in reconciliation are an exercise in futility if you are the only one who wants to get fit. The disordered just want what they want when they want it and NEVER want to do something for anyone unless they think it will work toward their benefit. Who can accept that kind of unconditional BS?

  • “You should exhibit unconditional love for me” in cheaterspeak means, “I can run rampant boinking 1/8th of the town and university without fear of reprisal. Oh, and I don’t have to tell you ‘cuz I hope you won’t find out.”

  • It Is, same thing with me. I got a list too, during the discard. I was trying to tick off the list while still staying true to myself. It was hell. And no matter what I checked off on the list there’d be something else. I was also supposed to read his mind. I repeatedly heard I didn’t appreciate him.

    The day he walked out he calmly listed off all the solutions he’d come up with to help me cope after he left. When I told him it all sounded good to him because he wanted to leave but I still loved him he said “I know”. I thought I didn’t according to him. Or did I love him but not appreciate him? The mind fuck! All bullshit. He absolutely knew I loved him and how he was hurting me.

    Chumps, if I know all this why do I keep crying?

    • Lina, you are crying because you have been abused. It’s a natural, healthy reaction. Remember, you get to wake up free from your ex, but your ex will never be able to wake up free from himself. Sounds to me like you are getting the better deal, by far.

      • I was just going to say the EXACT same thing to Lina Sephage. “Lina, you are crying because you have been abused!” You have been abused emotionally and verbally and probably financially. I too still cry – not as often as I used to, but it still hurts. Like someone said on here a while ago – that asshole took our story away and now we have to re-write it. I feel your pain, all of us do. I am sorry for what you have gone through.

          • I was crying watching things like peanut butter commercials or commercials for soap. Weird things would evoke crying.
            You are exactly right, their abuse starts to destroy your sense of self.
            People like me. I have many friends. My coworkers like me.
            My XW had me feeling like i was hated and a monster. The abuse is relentless and they have unlimited energy, it seems, for conflict. It wears you down over time.

    • Lina, I hear your pain. The crying gets less and less you’ll see. Your feelings for him WILL die. Hang in there! You deserve so much better. Real love that doesn’t cheat. I still cry sometimes over the loss of the marriage, wedding, what I thought future would look like but my love for stbx is gone. What you “know” will move from your head to your heart. Tuesday’s coming! Hugs!!!

      • Thank you guys. X

        I still wake up crying every day. It feels like I’ll never heal. I’ve just been diagnosed with very HBP. I feel pathetic.

        • Me too. Be comforted by the fact that crying is a natural part of the grieving and healing process, and will actually speed up your journey to meh. I found a great article about this – here is the link:

 (“The Ten Things to do When Your Life Falls Apart” by Daphne Rose Kingma.

          Hope it helps. Take good care!

        • I know the hell Lina. The lack of compassion hurts so much.
          Here are my tricks: go running in the evening, breathe, an adopted dog is a good sports coach, and he loves you. Stop the dialogue inside the head as soon as it starts: words and thoughts that have been exchanged, always the same subject. Always the same dialogue. It’s useless: he sucks, no reason to elaborate ! The internal dialogue messes with your brain, gives headaches, and makes you oblivious to the external world. Stop the dialogue and notice the colour of the sky, the sweet smell of flowers, or the smell after the rain, or the smell of freshly cooked buns coming out of the pastry shop, be thankful for everything you like in your environment. If your man was still nice and was still present, this moment would be the exact same moment, so why spoil it with a negative internal narrative ? Focus on the external world, on the present moment, always be thankful for what you have. (A French priest wrote a book about getting rid of obsessive negative thoughts, he suggests a short prayer, to be repeated mentally every time the dreaded internal dialogue rears its ugly head). Another love is on the horizon, but you don’t need it as much as magazines want you to need it. Take care of yourself in the meantime. Do all these things that your STBX’s nasty presence have so often prevented you from doing. Enjoy the moment, all for yourself. I hope this helps a bit.

          • Lina,

            My cheater wife also cried every day – over the loss of the AP.


            You describe many of the techniques my cheater wife employed – to try to get over her AP.

            She obsessed over how the AP treated her and how he didn’t leave his wife and wisk her off to the fantasy land they both deserved since they had the deepest, “truest” love.

            Not one tear for destroying me though.

            But I’m expected to pay for the therapy, the break down in her health, and support her since she’s too depressed to work.


            • Buddy, my cheater had no technique when he mourned the loss of his OW. He obsessed freely in my presence, and left the bed in the middle of the night to go to our bungalow and text her, and re-read her messages. I did my best to get over him using all the stuff that I just mentioned and it kind of worked. Them expecting us to witness they sorrow is adding insult to injury.

        • You have to cry Lina. It helps repair you.

          In the beginning of my mess, I cried all over the place. In the shower, all over my dog, sitting in traffic, loading the washer. The worst was in the morning right when I woke up. I think your brain almost forgets the awfulness that happened and then BAM, you remember it all over again.

          It passes though, you’ll see.

        • Lina
          You are just finally allowing what you have had to choke down for years… Come out. Cry and cry some more. Purge. Its not weakness. Its not attachment. U are allowing yrself to feel… Probably the first time in a long time…. Genuine feelings and they are yr feelings. Take the time that u need to heal…. Even its one tear at a time. Undont owe anybody an explanantion.
          This too shall pass.

      • Startof… I was told “Real love doesn’t require two phone lines….” Such a simple explination/comment from my cousin really put things into perspective for me.

        • I love that. “Real love doesn’t require two phone lines …”

          My cheater wife had a burner phone I eventually discovered via a secret icloud account. A new icloud account can only be created from an iphone or ipad, but my wife’s main iphone was not used to create this icloud account, therefore there must have been a different iphone used to create the secret icloud account, and I eventually found it.

          • Our son found assholes secret phone….in his jacket pocket! Our son read all the sexts between my stbx jerkoff and whore he was sexting. So – at least that is SOME (I hope for much much more) of assholes Karma. His son knowing what a piece of shit he is :-). The bad thing was – my son having to tell me about it…..

            • Yeah, somehow the cheater-apologists tend to leave out the actual abuses that occur when a spouse cheats. They forget to mention that sometimes kids witness this crap. That is truly a horrible story.

    • Hey Lina, 10 months past DDay and I still need to cry from time to time. My STBXH gave me the house. I put it on the market. 13 days later I got an offer, a good one. I screamed with joy when my agent called with the news. Two days later, I sat at the kitchen bar and cried for hours. It was another event in the ending of my marriage and the life I had so much invested in. I find that the crying is necessary to my grieving and being able to move on. I allow myself to feel that sadness so I can move on. I know that if I ignore the pain, it’ll get worse and I will carry it with me longer. Giving myself permission to feel sad is self care. It’s me taking care of me. And I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.

      • I’ve cried bathtubs full of tears since dday almost two years ago but it feels good to get it out. Sometimes I cry everyday. I say cry until ya can’t anymore it sometimes makes my children uncomfortable and they try to get me to stop. My sister in law tells them to leave me be part of the healing process. Unlike the x who is stoic like a stone his head will blow off one day me I will be healed. I say get it out feels like the toxins leave my body when I cry.

  • Uh huh. I was supposed to go along with my X’s “need” for an “employee”. Really, someone he “had” to pay off the books. And what was wrong with me that I couldn’t *accept* that….?

    My X’s version of repaying someone he (we) owed money to? Pay them some of it back, then, just continue to do stuff for them and without saying anything to them, expect them to “accept” that as repayment. They had no say in it.

    So. I’m cheerfully supposed to fuck that? What’s wrong with me? LOL !!!

  • Again I am so astounding at how they all follow the same playbook. My XH wanted TOTAL unconditional love and if I couldn’t get over his infidelities then my love wasn’t unconditional and what kind of marriage did we have anyway. Also, he said, he could be faithful if only he got regular sex (unconditional sex that is) from me – and the MC fell for this without a hesitation – i.e. if something happens (sickness, kids, his purposeful pulling away to be with his male prostitutes) and we can’t engage in regular sex then his continued unfaithfulness was warranted.

    • Your phrase “what kind of marriage did we have anyway” reminds me of another usage of this phrase by cheater-apologists. If a betrayed spouse says they looked at the cheater’s phone or computer, it’s common for the cheater-apologists to proclaim, “if it’s come to you invading their privacy, what kind of marriage do you have anyway. If my spouse was spying on me, violating my privacy, there is no trust, and I’d divorce them for that alone.”

      • It’s always lose-lose with these cheaters. That’s why NC is the only way to clear one’s head of the sewerage.

  • // , Our excuse for a culture could learn from more attention to the vernacular use of “Unconditional”.

    It’s a study, in a single word, of religion perverted to serve narcissism.

  • If a cheater wants unconditional love why is it that only the cheater is allowed to set out conditions?
    Most unfaithful partners are just spoiled immature people. Like toddlers who haven’t quite grasped that there is a world outside of themselves.

    Poor cheaters lament “Love me unconditionally but how dare you overstep some boundary only I the great and wonderful partner am allowed to set down. Then I get to lie, cheat and disrespect. So there!”

  • It is so unbelievable how unoriginal these cheaters are. My STBX was never “appreciated” and I never was a good wife. He felt “pressured” into marrying me (Uhm… we were together 6 years before he proposed… real pressure there)! I went through a year of intense fertility treatments to try to have another baby, gained weight during that period and became withdrawn and depressed… pretty typical when you are shooting yourself up with needles every day and being treated like a lab rat. Had surgery to help the process and then the POOF sudden UNHAPPINESS popped up…and then POOF OW downgrade just “happened” but still our divorce has NOTHING to do with her! It was our marriage… I still did the pick me dance for 9 months and finally had enough and out he went. It is funny now I look back and think of all the things in our marriage that HE did that I couldn’t stand but looked over because he was my husband, father of my son and who I thought was the love of my life! That is real love! Not when your wife needs you to step up because she is going through a hard time… you instead step out to some 23 year old HOmewrecker. Like the second I didn’t make it all about him, makes me such a terrible wife! Good riddance you weak weak man!

    • Yep, cheater steps out when you need them, it’s all good if you take care of them for years, don’t you dare have needs yourself

    • I had a life threatening injury, my x missed the Dr. telling me not to sleep alone ‘least I stroke out” in my sleep and our young kids find me….my x said “you are only saying this because you don’t want me to go on my trip”. WTF? Who says this kind of shit? I could go on…but why give him my energy?

  • Unconditional love to a cheater is their “free pass” to entitlement.

    They personally have NO CLUE what true “unconditional love” means. It’s just another word to them in their playbook to keep the chump in check.

  • Thanks, CL. Wrapping my head around the fact that I did not owe my spouse “unconditional love” and was not obligated to demonstrate my “unconditional love” or any other kind of love by putting up with various forms of verbal, emotional, and financial abuse was one of the obstacles I had the most trouble with in leaving him.

    I just don’t apply that phrase to anyone but minor children any more. And I don’t believe those who claim to apply it–I just think they are probably lucky and naive about how claims to unconditional love can be abused.

  • Unconditional love is not the same as unconditional relationship. Unfortunately for myself, the trauma of being betrayed has not magically made me stop loving him. I do not, however, have to continue a relationship. My relationships ARE conditional. I choose not to engage in unhealthy relationships regardless of how much I love or care about someone.

  • Since he is younger than me, makes less money, speaks less languages, drives not well, and is generally unable to use tools for home maintenance, it felt really weird when all of a sudden, after D-Day, he started behaving like he was some precious superior being. Cheating on me really made him feel powerful ! So weird. To me he did not sound stronger, he just sounded crazy and entitled.
    He did not grace me with a wishlist, actually he wrote that he did not want me to change… but his demands got increasingly hard to accept. So I guess it’s as bad as a wishlist. 1 – He wanted his own appartment next to his workplace. 2 – He wanted that we travel around every weekend, no more staying at home (no more rest for me). 3- He wanted pictures of cities to publish on the internet (even boring places) 4- He wanted the freedom to communicate with a bunch of women on line. 4 – He wanted a platonic two-week vacation organized by him, with one of these women – that’s when I exploded and he had to leave for good. “But I didn’t do anything” ! he said. “You never really gave me a chance”.

    • ChumpfromF—this drivel sounds like some of the moronic crap the XBF tried to float past me. Absolute nonsensical delusionally self entitled ‘thinking’ on their part.

  • They want unconditional love but they can’t give it.With every action that my stbxh took to destroy our marriage I realise that he can’t love me and our kids the way he should.What do narcissists know about love.They have unconditional love for themselves.They are Gods in their own eyes.Narcissists will never find anything wrong with their behaviour but these wicked people will make up stuff to justify cheating.Whatever comes up in their evil minds.Engaging with a narcissists is like trying to handle a snake.They will bite you.The poison from a snake and a narcissists are dangerous.PSTD for betrayed spouse and kids,sexually transmitted diseases,being homeless,financially devastated,etc.For anyone reading that’s still with a serial cheater you need unconditional love not the person who is abusing you because you have already given them all you have and they have not found that you are worth changing for.They can’t love.They lack empathy.They will never change because you have taught them that they can do anything and you will still take them back.

  • Unconditional Love is such a crock of shit. The only person I can imagine loving NO MATTER WHAT is my daughter. I might be hurt, disappointed, mad, etc at her some point in the future but I just can’t imagine not loving her. Ever.

    As far as lying. cheating Whore Monger goes, no love, unconditional or otherwise. I’m teaching my daughter not to love any lying cheating piece of shit. I don’t expect anyone to love me no matter what I do, everyone should be accountable. There’s no free ride here. You want unconditional love, call your whore.

  • Great column, and applicable to all entitled assholes, not just the Cheaters.

    One of my friends is married to a man who yells at her, and often he’ll tell her that they ought to get divorced, and that they should get divorced, and why the hell don’t they get divorced.

    Something broke in her a couple of weeks ago after the latest rage, so she served him divorce papers.

    He was shocked. She told him that since he’s been yelling at her for years that they ought to get divorced, she was finally taking him at his word.

    His response? “People say things they don’t mean when they get angry.”

    Now he’s pulling a Poor Sad Sausage, telling her that he loves her and that he’ll go to counseling, yadda yadda yadda.

    Personally, I think she’ll take him back, but I know those of us here in Chump Nation know that this is just part of the ploy to escape consequences.

    • Yeah for your friend! I wish I’d divorced my critical and emotionally abusive X before the cheating started.

      • That is what happened when I was married to my X. After 2 & 1/2 years I did the same.and got the tears and sad sausage routine. 30 years later I found out he was a cheater. Hope she has the good sense not to take him back.

        • “People say things they don’t mean when they get angry.”

          Bullshit. That bully said what he thought would win the argument or render her speechless, which for him was the same thing. Someone should explain to him that you should never draw a weapon unless you are prepared to use it.

          • Pre-phone line knowledge (that is how I refer to ‘D-Day’ Pre/Post Phone Line) asshole was out checking the oil in my car. He dropped the plug into the oil container, but assumed it had fallen onto the floor. He was yelling at me (I was in the house) to get him a bucket cuz oil was running everywhere. I did. He explained harshly what happened. I said “Is the plug on the floor somewhere?” (With the intention of helping him find it) and he ABSOLUTELY SCREAMED at me. “Of course it is on the fucking floor! Where else would the fucking plug be?” I looked at him and said you have no business talking to me like that and I walked back into the house. Fuck you asshole – find the fucking plug yourself.
            A few minutes later he comes in the house all chipper. “You wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “That plug actually fell into the container! What are the odds that plug would fall perfectly into that container?” I looked at him and said “So it wasn’t on THE FUCKING FLOOR?” He chuckled and said – no.
            I’m lookin at him like – UMMMM excuse me asswipe you owe ME a HUGE apology. Rather than saying “I’m sorry I am an asshole,” he says “Oh – you know me. You know how I am…. I got a little upset.” OHHHHH – so since “I know you” you can SCREAM at me like that? Similar to the time I told him I didn’t appreciate him smoking weed in front of our kid. His response “Ah – Nick knows I smoke.” SOOOOOO I guess that makes it OK.
            This was probably a month before I found out about the phone line. He had been treating me very harshly a few months prior to me finding out. Probably because my son had already found the phone and dipshit knew it was only a matter of time before my son ratted him out. The cruelness/bullying from that dickwad was crazy. I started a journal because things were just getting out of hand the way he was treating me and accusing me of all kinds of crap. Once I found out about his secret phone – things started to make sense.
            What an asshole.

            • LadyStrange–Yes!! After I had thrown Hannibal Lecher out of the house a month after D-day, I ran across a journal where I had started keeping track of awful moments the summer prior to see if I was going crazy or not. Nope, I was not–I think HL had started another affair or set of hookups that summer and the devaluing had begun (again).

    • I’m going to come at this from the opposite side.

      I grew up in a home where anger wasn’t permitted. Problems were never really worked through so much as results were dictated and adhered to. I never learned a healthy way to argue.

      A few times in our relationship during disagreements I suggested to my ex that she might be happier if she left. I never told her I wanted her to, just that I thought I wasn’t making her happy. What I didn’t realize until after she really did leave was that I was saying that so that she’d tell me that she wasn’t going to. I needed reassured that she wasn’t going anywhere because I equated her being displeased about something with her leaving me. That’s not to say people don’t throw that out for manipulative purposes. And I can see now that I was being manipulative when I said it, even though I didn’t realize it. I was trying to manipulate her into reassuring me of her love, when what I should have done was explained how arguments affected me and then worked on a healthier mature way to argue. YMMV.

  • My X (ah, so nice to say that!) played the “I’m not appreciated” angle during out last round of MC. He didn’t appreciate or respond to my email when I said I would follow his lead and not look at him, not talk to him outside of counseling once a week, and not expect anything from him but fall over grateful when he decided to grace us with his presence. I think I knew the entire last 1.5 year of our marriage we were done and his actions during that time made it pretty easy for me to walk away after “knowing” him 21 years. I didn’t appreciate the gas lighting and cheating!

  • My first thought was that Martha should Flay Bobby.

    But seriously, my ex would sign every card, “All My Love.” Which I would read as “All My Love, if any.” Narcs don’t know love. They can’t feel love. They feel entitled to make the rules and change them at will, without notice. Plenty of conditions there. And they fully expect their chumps’ unrelenting worshipful devotion no matter how atrocious their behavior. CL is spot on. Love doesn’t mean you have to tolerate abuse.

  • Excellent post, CL! This is so relevant right now as I take my final bow and exit, stage left. It makes me recall a very hurtful thing my STBXH’s close cousin said to me when I discovered the first of his five affairs during our marriage. I was young, confused, hopelessly naive and deeply in love with whom I thought was my soulmate and love of my life. In a desperate attempt at understanding, or untangling the skein (love this!) I asked his cousin how STBxH SOB could do this to ME – who had been with him through everything and truly loved him unconditionally. And do you know what he responded, without much thought because he is a cheater too, “it’s that no one has ever loved him like that before. That is hard to let go of.” WTF???!!! No one? Are you fucking serious? So the previous ten years I was only a little bit loving? Holy shit that fucking hurt and all the more because it clearly came from the asshole’s own mouth in his ramblings to his cousin. And yet I stayed for another 10 years and 4 more affairs, but no more! I’m done – moving out first week of July, don’t want a damn thing but my fucking sanity back.

    Thank you, CL – you have literally saved me from certain hell. Much love from a fellow chump.

  • “I agree that I cheated on you and hurt you, repeatedly. I just thought the foundation of our marriage was strong enough that we would work through it.”


    JC, I acknowledge that I ripped your heart out, and through lies and deceit sha* on it…over and over again…because I prioritized my personal sexual gratification with a relative stranger and chronic womanizer above the emotional commitment you made to me for the rest of our lives. And I acknowledge that I showed no signs of stopping, after cheating for six months (that you know of…winking emoticon!). But, I thought that therapist-speak “foundation of our marriage” was strong enough to handle it!

    Read between the lines, JC! I’m not-so-subtly implying that you didn’t do your part in maintaining our marital “foundation,” which involves loving me unconditionally. I thought we had a “foundation” capable of dealing with my whoring, JC. I thought our love was stronger than my terrible decision-making, which of course would be interminably temporary, and in no way reflects on my inherent character as a person.

    In short…I thought you loved me. Looks like I was wrong. I’m quite disappointed in you for not living up to my expectations. Frowny-face emoticon!

  • My stbx goes around the community driving his BMW without a care in the world.I used to be so hurt that he could throw us away like we were garbage but now all I see is a FOOL without a family.He gets to see all his cheater friends still with their wives.Guess my love wasn’t unconditional.I would never have been able to look at myself in the mirror if I stayed or did the pick me dance.I would have felt so fake and stupid to carry on as if his curious private parts were not an issue.I life with a serial cheater is a gut wrenching,soul destroying and a pathetic form of existence.

  • Before I KNEW that he was cheating and we were talking, he started to make a comment about what *I* was at blame for and then he stopped and said, “It’s me, not you”. No truer words were ever uttered. Of course, when I did find out and confronted him with the evidence, his story changed.
    -“We’re just friends! We talk about work!”
    -You never sat on the couch with me
    -sex was really just “going through the motions” (this from a man who would not allow me to pleasure him)

    I think he went through two scenarios in his mind before DDay:
    -Stay and lie for as long as I can. Kibbles and I think he felt powerful in lying to me and getting away with it.
    -Tell Conniered I am leaving. Now.

    I do not believe he ever considered talking to me to tell me that he was unhappy. Or that he stopped loving me. Or, or, or…..He went to counseling for himself after DDay but I was never invited and he never discussed his counseling with me.

    CL is so right, loving someone and maintaining boundaries (expectations). I don’t believe adults don’t love unconditionally. I believe young children love unconditionally. But once a person hits their teen years, that changes. I do believe in loving someone completely but that even includes boundaries. I do feel abused by my STBXH. I feel betrayed and discarded. That is unacceptable. I still grieve when I need to. I let the tears fall. And then I move on again.

    What angers me the most is other people’s view that it WAS me. That i drove him to cheat. Like his parents. What???? He chose me! YOU thought I was awesome!! Until he decided to discard me. So….what….*I* have the ability to suddenly change into a person worthy to cheat on but HE doesn’t’ have the ability to suddenly change and decide to cheat??? I am THAT powerful and he is not?? That is some kind of logic there people. There’s a term for that. It’s called DENIAL.

    • conniered – ***GREAT*** comment.

      I think the first thing to point out is that your excellent comment summarizes the experience and feelings of many, many betrayed spouses.

  • Thanks for this post! This was a particularly difficult lesson for me to learn because we’re taught that true love is unconditional….and one of the reasons for staying in a marriage after the first D-day.

    But what I know now (and repeat regularly) — you can love someone but that doesn’t mean you can make a life with someone.

    Usually this kind of unconditional love nonsense bashing comes from people who are self absorbed infants. And you have to ask them — do you want a life partner or a parent?

  • My cheating ex-wife was all about living a life free of annoying conditions. She wanted unconditional love all the time from everyone. Why should I, her husband, put conditions on my love for her? Why should our creditors put conditions on what we owed them and when we paid it? Why should her car put conditions on how much maintenance it needed to keep running? Why should her workplace put conditions on her relationship with her boss (e.g., don’t blow him in the parking lot at lunch)? It was all very small-minded and tiresome to her way of thinking. In the end she despised me and my need for faithfulness much the way she despised past due notices, dead car batteries, and “below standards” job performance evaluations.

    Conditional love is just a way of saying there will be consequences if the conditions aren’t met. And we all know cheaters hate consequences more than Rachel Dolezal hates her blond hair and freckles.

    • I can see her resume now …

      * Searching for a position where blowing one’s boss in the parking lot is not against company rules

      I do hate how the loyal responsible spouse (i.e. chump) comes to represent life’s hardships to the cheater. I think that in part is what makes the AP so attractive – the AP represents the fantasy life where there aren’t responsibilities and consequences and the cheater can just be immersed in their well-deserved bliss.

  • CL, a few months ago you had a post that contained the following gem:

    “Grown up love is CONDITIONAL love. Get that through your noggin. The conditions are — you don’t treat me like shit. You don’t disrespect me. You don’t expose me to harm. You do those things? GAME OVER. I’m done with you.”

    I loved that so much that I printed it out and made it into a laminated bookmarker, and I also put it on my corkboard at work. That way I’m sure to get several daily doses of exactly what I need to remind me of why I’ve put the kibosh on all toxic relationships in my life. THANK YOU

  • Love this post! I too got the unconditional vs conditional, added in with, “I love you more than you love me!”
    We were married almost close to 30 yrs and he cheats. He really believed I loved him so much that we would get thurough it, as, “the years speak for them self.” ((As we had a good marriage,or I thought…

    Sadly, it was this very attitude that kept it apart afterwards.

  • Unconditional love to cheaters means don’t ask me where I’m going,what I’m doing,who my friends are,where I disappeared to,don’t ask to see my password protected phone,why I’m manscaping,why I don’t wear my wedding ring,don’t ask me to spend money on bils,don’t ask me for affection,don’t ask me for sex,don’t ask me to spend time with the kids,don’t ask me to fix things in the house,don’t ask me to take out the garbage,etc BUT I THAT CANNOT BE PLEASED, THAT WILL ALWAYS FINDS FAULT EVEN IF THAT MEANS MAKING STUFF UP AND PUTTING DEMANDS THAT I KNOW CAN NEVER BE MET MUST SPOIL ME ROTTEN-pay the bills,buy me gifts,do my laundry,nurse me when sick,etc.What this means is that I must put him on a pedestal and not ask him to take any responsibility and he wants me to behave like I don’t exist.He wants to be the main actor in his own movie while I must go and play the part of an extra.I don’t think so.

    • Grace,

      Were you married to my satanic any-minute-now ex-husband? OMG!!! There has got to be a manual that gets passed around once you have achieved a certain level in lying and cheating (like the levels in Scientology) to which these cheater freaks refer. Unbelievable.

    • Another great comment. I love the “behave like I don’t exist”.

      While trying to spoil my stbxw rotten, I did become aware of some covert contracts: if I am nice to you, then you will love me in return. Still it was such a non-reciprocating one-way road, so yeah, it is OK if there are some overt or covert contracts in a marriage based on common sense, respect, and shared interest.

      At the same time, it’s not in my nature to suddenly one day proclaim prior to D-Day “Wow, you are one selfish, fucked up piece of work. I’m taking the kids and we are out of here.” But perhaps that is what I should have done.

      I was definitely the Extra, the Plan B. I likened myself to the floor – sure I may have been a nice Brazilian hardwood cherry floor, but my wife just assumed that floor would always be there to walk out to keep her out of the dirt, but she, with each step, wasn’t concerned with the fact that the floor was supporting her – it never entered her consciousness.

  • Mr. Cheaterpants tried to justify his acquistion of his shiny new girlfriend on my conditional love….I have this sneaking suspicion that Shiny New Girlfriend was helping him write the script: “I have been happy this last three months. Partly because I have come to accept your priorities (that our relationship has conditions) and partly because I have chosen to enjoy my life day to day as best I can despite the uncertainty of where I will be next month.” The enjoyment of course, was drinking, gambling and screwing his shiny new girlfriend every day after work. Thank you Chump Lady. I called Bullshit on Mr. Cheaterpants at the time of his e-mail, and somehow its comforting to know that its all a part of the script.

  • You know, I think these fucks really are shocked when you no longer play their game. The more chances you give them, the more brazen they become. In my situation, my ex didn’t suffer the appropriate consequences for his first bout of whoring around so he kept it up, the whole We’re Friends, You are Jealous. Insecure, etc horseshit.

    He never took me seriously cause I always let his ass slide. I knew I didn’t forgive him and never would but I had convinced myself I ‘loved ” him. I now see that for the delusion it was. I had spells of feeling nothing but hatred and rage for him. Those were my true feelings but I just kept trying to love this turd. Anyway, the ratio of love vs. Hate/rage,,/indifference finally choked out any remainder of love and I just see him for the creep he is, and I guess always was. Have at it ow whore. What a couple of prizes.

    • That is so true. We are JUST FRIENDS. BAHHAHAHAHAH. Yeah right, you and hobag are the first just friends situation in the history of the world!!!! I don’t know why they say that, it’s so phoney!

  • So true Not Juliet.I think my ex is also shocked that I’m divorcing him.He started growing very bold in his affair.I also gave my ex a second chance.The first time he cheated I was pregnant with first child.He blamed it on alcohol I believed him though I didn’t trust his story completely but he was my first and I was having his baby so I decided to move past it.Then when I was pregnant with second child he did it again.I know now that I’m dealing with a serial cheater.They are not people to have families with.I know I would have also been like you I would never be able to love him like when we first met or trust him completely.Trust is not negotiable in a relationship.

  • This post could not be more timely. As I finally divorce my bipolar cheating wife, I am getting this constant gas lighting, “You do not know how to love unconditionally”, and my personally favorite of blame avoidance, I did not cheat on you, bipolar cheated on you.” Granted , “bipolar” was conscious enough to lie for 11 months, gaslight the shit out of me to near personal insanity and self-doubt.

    Now, I am heartless, “selfish bastard who is willfully destroying our family”. Yep that is me!

    Thank you ChumpLady! Saving one chump at a time.

  • @Chumpguy.I haven’t met any cheater that ever showed remorse.Mine told me that when I accept responsibility for his cheating then he would too.He said that women are built to handle adultery and forgive.He said that a wife didn’t need to know everything.He said that I drove him to cheat.He said that I knew he was going to cheat but I didn’t change the things he wanted me to change.When I asked what things he said he shouldn’t have to tell me I should already know.He told me that their affair wasn’t the reason the marriage is ending that it was already over but he was still sleeping with me.He said so much crap and lies whatever.Basically he gets to sleep around and I must just sit like a dog waiting for crumbs from master.Everything a cheater says and does is without merit because it is done to discredit us,ease their warped perception of themselves,image control,damage control and made up fabrications.

    • Standing ovation, Grace!! Perfect characterization of cheater mindset/behavior.

      “Mine told me that when I accept responsibility for his cheating then he would too.” 2 days after D-day, mine told me I should stop obsessing about his affair and start obsessing about why he had been unhappy with me at the time. That is the moment I knew we were over, even though it took 8 more weeks to fully play out.

  • Thanks LadyStrange.Oh forgot to add that he said OW got a better heart than me even though she said and did hurtful things that helped destroy our family.I asked him if a woman that sleeps with a married man with 2 kids can have a good heart he said YES.This used to hurt me until I realised that any women that worshipped him and hung on to his every word he would consider to have a good heart.These cheaters anyone that disagrees with them and calls them on their crap is considered hateful because in their minds following their own happiness is not hurting anyone and is a right their entitled to.

  • Amen. I apparently was not loving enough. Despite my nearly 2 decades of marriage to him, support of his ups and downs.. bearing two children for him (losing two pregnancies along the way), raising said kids, working a job, being home virtually every night, cooking meals, shuffing kids, doing laundry, handling the home affairs, managing his money(well I might add, I am not a big spender)… but apparently, none of these things were love enough. It wasn’t passionate enough, exciting enough, we didn’t DO enough, we didn’t EXPERIENCE enough.. MOW is childless and has plenty of time and desire apparently (separated now) to dispense endless kibbles. My kibbles just weren’t good enough.

    And now his angry that his continued contact with MOW and lies are not something my love can overcome. I am over it and no longer doing the pick me dance.. Cake store closed and he is MAAADDD about it.

  • First, of all, I did not have a chance yesterday CL to tell you what a gorgeous, gorgeous child you have. OMG that was just the cutest baby ever!

    Today’s post almost knocked me off of my chair as I am currently dealing with this (or a mild variation thereof) attempted mindfuck.

    I was recently told that the reason he was frustrated in the marriage, had to cheat and get a divorce was that “I didn’t fully understand his love language.” Apparently, according to him, we had four of the most important components and that was great, but I had not been able to master the most critical fifth component (CL’s famous “you missed a spot”). Of course, he spoke that from his mouth while at the same time speaking through his neck, “I felt victimized in the marriage.” I don’t know if it has come through in my comments, but this Donkey’s Asshole was and is an extremely psychologically and emotionally abusive POS. So imagine my suprise when, after accusing me of “seeming to claim to be a victim,” he declared himself the victim. The most ridiculous part of the conversation was his implication that if I mastered the missing fifth component, he and I could have a warmer and friendlier relationship. He was telling me I still had an opportunity to prove myself worthy of him. In other words, as we round third base headed to home in the finalization of the divorce, he extended an invitation to me to put on my tap shoes and start dancing. Hurricane Katrina was a tropical storm as compared to the overwhelming entitlement inherent in that offer.

    This is what “unconditional” love looks like to these freaks. No matter what trangressions they commit against you, no matter how much contempt they show for you and how much they abuse you, you should always be ready to be there for them for whatever they need you to do and/or be. Unconditional love for them is a one-way ride, always headed in their direction. They have no responsibility to earn it and no accountability in order to hold on to it, and absolutely no willingness or real ability to return it. Fuck these freaks.

    • ChumpPrincess–listening to any rationale from these cheaters is a trip down the rabbit hole. Climb back up, Quikcrete the opening and let them scream while no one listens.

  • @ Chump Princess.These people are scary.They are delusional.They make stuff up and rewrite history.They want a consequence free life and to be treated like kings.You must just sit in the corner like a slave and cater to his whims.Ask no questions,throw all your dreams away,don’t have feelings,don’t hold him accountable.Just sit and listen to the ramblings of a disordered cheater.They like to see how much they can get away with.

    • I agree with rewriting history, and they’re good at selling it to themselves. They are less good at connecting the dots of cause and effect.

      Yep, they want unconditional love, and really think they are entitled to forgiveness every time they cheat.

  • Approximately a year after tossing him to the curb, I had a meeting with the XBF. I asked him point blank why he did his repeated whore mongering and in a VERY RARE moment of clarity and truth telling, he said “it was just a game and I wanted to see what I could get away with”.

    I could not look him in the face after that sickening response. I could not get out of his proximity fast enough. Though he asked and begged many times since that day, he’s never seen my face again–nor will he ever.

    Yes, I maintain strict no contact.

  • I’m trying to be hopeful with my life.Cheaters shouldn’t be able to steal our joy.One good thing that I take from being with a serial cheater is what to watch out for in future.If I were to meet someone I know to trust my gut,don’t overlook red flags,avoid love bombing,avoid jerks,avoid people who blame others for their mistakes,avoid serial cheaters too etc.I have become more strict with what I want.I don’t want somebody that won’t let me speak my mind or let me be myself.I want an equal partner.This business of offloading big responsibilities on one person is nonsense.

  • CN I need a UBT on a telephone call from my ex tonight. Yesterday I took advice from a senior divorce lawyer who specialises in police divorce, financial settlement and complex police pensions. She is a published author on divorce. She is guiding me through mediation with the option of taking over and sacking the mediator if I feel unhappy. She gave clear advice in plain language and told me what is likely to happen – better than I hoped!
    I texted ex to let him know that she is calling his lawyer to arrange an actuary who is an expert on police pensions and wants more details of my living expenses before advising me on a realistic settlement.
    The call went like this: Hi, how did it go? Very well thanks – that building is amazing and the view from the 20th floor was panoramic.
    Him (voice shrill) When do we resume the mediation – I thought we were going next week? Me ( calm) We are not. She is commissioning actuary reports and is coming up with figures for me after more research. After she gives the word we can discuss her findings in mediation. Him ( shrill and rising) I said I will be fair. What is the point of mediation if we have to do all this anyway. I thought we were ready to reach an agreement. I wont say yes to everything but I am fair. My lawyer might not agree with what you expect. Me – If you are unhappy please take legal advice on how to speed things up but I waited 3 months for your paperwork and it was incomplete. We can go to mediation if you really want and discuss options but I will not agree to anything without running it past my lawyer.
    I was calm and unruffled wheras he was agitated and frustrated . I said a polite goodbye to his rather pathetic parting shot that we need to be in touch more over all this – maybe even daily contact.
    He has promised to be fair – this is costing time and money – he feels misled. Translations ?

    • Don’t expect him to be fair. If he could deceive and lie, he can most certainly do it now. He made all these promises to make you drop your guard. Don’t give an inch.

    • Don’t expect ANYTHING from a cheater! Stand your ground! If we could trust them, we wouldn’t be where we are now!!!

    • Translation? “Your lawyer is a vewy, vewy scary lady, and now my panties are in a wad because i’m scared that I will be losing my shirt in this divorce. Consequences? Auuugggggh, I’m melting”

    • Mary,

      He is scared, that is good. He wants comfort from you, and he would love to have it out of your attorney’s hands. Don’t let him manipulate you. You have a very smart attorney and you do exactly what she says. Good luck!

    • In my case, “fair offer” = “1/4 the cash I will actually have to pay you”

      Let your lawyer handle it, cheaters only do “fair” when you have them by the short and curlies.

    • Mary – his ‘fair’ is probably a lot different than what you consider (and deserve) fair! I have the same situation as Tempest – ‘fair offer” = 1/4. Of course that being him getting 3/4 of the assets, me getting 1/4 and being ‘comfortable.’ Pricks

      • Comfortable – fair – ok – fine are all words that we have had used upon us and none of them mean a thing out of context. Our cheaters will stick to what they know and that is lying, manipulating and cheating the hell out of us while telling us whatever we want to hear just to keep us sweet while they do it.
        Our vocabulary should rely on words like legally binding – hard figures – joint lives – pension equatity – LAWYER. My dear old ex sounded like he was wriggling on the hook and probably had been schooled by OW on what to say to me. She has been divorced twice herself and her second husband was divorced from his first wife because of the affair he was having with her.
        I am done with emotion and shouting in this and am not the fool that they take me for.

    • Be very careful, you would be amazed at how often fire, corrections, and peace officers withhold information re pay, perks, and “their” pensions. They are not above bullying and threatening their blindsided Chumps either. My advice? Get a CDFA. Get as much info as possible re pay. Demand/subpoena salary info from personnel. My ex’s lawyer really fucked up the whole process of drafting the QDRO; My ex has no intention of sharing his pension. He got away with dumping the house who’s to stop him from fucking me over re the pension. The first thing they hired was an actuary, who could not do a damn thing with a client who had no intention of being forthcoming. Thing was I did not want a buyout, nor a seperation of accounts. I wanted what was rightfully mine, 50%, and I can wait till that POS retires.

      • Drew, I have hired the lawyer who advises the Police Federation in UK and who is well informed about police divorce. I have documented everything and froze the account that his big retirement check went into.
        He is enraged that I am not sticking with the mediator alone who advised him in front of me to stop paying and let me take him to court if he feels that he cannot keep up payments – I am not engaging in an argument anymore and told him to consult his own lawyer if he does not like it.
        Thank you CL and CN for giving me the courage and support.

    • Unconditional love exists for children. Children are not completely responsible or able to always make the ‘ right’ decision. Children act childishly. Sometimes selfishly. They push boundaries to learn. They are loved and guided thru these changes and choices and rarely held accountable for their immature responses. They are children and we loved them unconditionally until they know right from wrong and are accountable. Then they grow up and our love for them changes. Boundaries are created. …. And so are conditions.
      Cheaters know right from wrong. And if they havent been around the block ….They certainly have been up and down the street. They make choices and ignore the consequences.
      This aint a fucking Nicholas Sparks movie !!! And u arent a 15 year old girl.

  • STBX told me (after years of my attempting in every way I could come up with to let him know that I couldn’t live with his temper and fits and rage) that he always thought that our love meant that he could treat us any way and do anything he chose, and we would tolerate it.

    I told him that I thought our love meant that no matter how angry and frustrated we might be with one another, there were lines that would never be crossed, things that would never be said or done.

    I find myself really enjoying the posts that say, “He never thought I would actually leave him.”

  • First you must reject the trite notion that unconditional love is virtuous. It’s not.

    So when someone hurls an accusation at you, that you don’t love unconditionally, let it fall flat on the floor. Of COURSE you don’t love unconditionally! Of course not! What value would there be in love if it was without condition? Of what value would the recipient of such love be?

    REAL love is much too sacred–much too valuable, to be given indiscriminately. Anyone who says they love without condition does not know love at all.

  • My STBX told his son (who then told me) that he began to feel unhappy in our marriage, when my son , aged 17 at the time. had cancer and over two years life was extremely stressful!! he said he gave all he had to give, and got nothing back , except a loving hard working wife, a clean tidy home, sex when he wanted it, holidays, and i also took in his disabled child when he fell out with his mother and nursed him through two major ops, but apparently, i gave nothing….. i made him screw my own cousin while my sister was dying from a brain tumour because IM so selfish……. mmmmmmm!!!
    I loved my enough to do the “pick me dance ” for 9 months, i changed the things he said would make him happy, and i was flogging a dead horse…. my gut knew it, my heart didnt want to…
    This “man” (term used loosely) played me like a fiddle , and so did my cousin!!
    I dance to my tune now……..

    • The horse is dead… Time to get off. No more flogging. Been there… Done that. May u now dance to your own music and find freedom in that!

  • i don’t think there are enough blow jobs in a life time to keep people like these nasty bastards from causing hurt to the people who loved them, I’m waiting for my friend KARMA to do her job!! and i know she will, its inevitable that these two will crash and burn, as soon as the spot light goes off them and the sparkles are dulled … and his money runs out…..

  • I have a friend named KARMA too….I too am waiting for her to show up. Preferably in the form of cirrhosis, pancreatitis, renal failure, Gout, Gastritis, DUI….

  • I can’t believe I’m going to disagree with Chumplady here, but I’m going to disagree with Chumplady here. Marriage is a contract, so of course it’s conditional. Whether love is unconditional or not has nothing to do with being grown up or not. It’s more about being loving as a choice – and out of personal values and principles – rather than “following your heart” because you’re in lurve.

    And you can certainly love someone without putting up with their bullshit, especially infidelity bullshit or insane murderous Bobby bullshit. In fact, I would say that it would be unconditional love if Martha would put Bobby in the ground for his own good (and hers, and anybody else’s that Bobby might meet).

    • To be more specific about dealing with infidelity. I think it’s far more loving to call bullshit on a WS and kick them to the curb than to put both of you through unnecessary hell trying to recover something that clearly wasn’t ever there.

  • Yeah, my STBXH just told me again yesterday, “I gave up fighting for your attention from your computer!!!” Which is hilarious because of how he had spent just as much time with his phone or lap-top in front of his face every night!!!!…Plus, let us not forget the many A.W.O.L. nights he was out all night and all I had to keep me company was Candy Crush, Pet Rescue,and Facebook…SMDH!!!

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