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The Good Advice Chumps Won’t Take… Now

inert_chumpSince the Ashley Madison hack broke, a lot of folks have emailed me to ask — hey, did you get a huge swell of numbers on your site? Are you awash with new chumps over there? Well, the numbers did go up by a couple thousand views per day, but it wasn’t outside the normal spikes the site sometimes gets. As far as I know, I’m not signing up legions of new chumps. There’s steady growth (the blog is closing in on 7 million page views), but it’s not like readership doubled thanks to Ashley Madison.

I would like nothing better than for the newly chumped to “leave a cheater, gain a life” — but that’s rarely the case in the beginning. If anyone is experiencing a surge in membership, IMO, it’s the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. And that makes perfect sense if you’ve ever been betrayed.

Commentators assume that these revelations will result in divorce. Oh, divorce lawyers are having a field day! Maybe it was divorce lawyers who were responsible for the hack! The New York Times went so far as to predict how the surge in divorce would affect the economy. I think these are naive assumptions from the un-chumped who assume that when confronted with years of shady dating profiles, of course you would end the marriage.

No, first you spackle. You grasp for any plausible excuse. “Market research. Yes, well, okay that makes sense.” Hey, people do market research. Just because your spouse happens to do air condition repair for a living doesn’t make that a lie.

Does it? Next, you run those lies through your head at 2 a.m. and try to get everything to match up. It doesn’t match up.

Next, you get hyper vigilant and check all their social media and cell phone bills. Does something not add up? Repeat spackle. Repeat 2 a.m.

Then you confront your alleged cheater: “HEY! THIS SHIT DOESN’T ADD UP!”

They fail to understand your hostility and get defensive. They Said They Were SORRY. About that thing they didn’t do, that you are unreasonably upset about. Let It Go.

The alleged cheater cycles through the three channels — Rage = it’s your fault, dance prettier. Self pity = it’s your fault and why don’t you make them a nice cup of tea until they feel better? Charm = how could you stay mad at one so winsome? You want to lose THIS? You, with your crazy accusations and paranoias? You don’t deserve their fabulousness.

Next, you Google and find a dozen unicorn sites that spoon-feed you hopium that yes, this is your fault, and yes, you CAN save this by improving yourself (aka “your marriage”) singlehandedly! Cheater not on board? Hey, they’re in a fog/have low self-esteem/are timid forest creatures/are merely guilty of market research, but take this opportunity to Make Your Marriage Stronger! You follow up the sites with a dozen books from Amazon with the same Save Your Marriage message.

You’ll stay in the unicorn morass for months, maybe years.

Until one day you recognize that all your efforts at self improvement, that Will Make The Marriage Stronger, don’t seem to be having any effect on the cheater. If anything, it’s actually emboldened them.

Spackle. 2 a.m. Confront. Repeat.

Finally, you realize this unicorn shit is not working and you start to think about yourself for once. I deserve better. I demand better.

That process takes ages, if it happens at all.

And all the good advice you fling at chumps — all nearly 500 comments of advice for newbies that we just gave — usually does not permeate chump skulls at first. It didn’t permeate mine, and that is exactly why there is a Chump Lady — to save you all from doing the stupid chumpy things I did.

So why do the majority of chumps not lawyer up and protect themselves from the get-go?

It’s the old Dr. Simon axiom “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

Chumps disagree with the notion that their cheater really IS a person who doesn’t give a shit about them. Who wants to connect those dreadful dots and arrive at that conclusion?

Chumps disagree with the idea that they must start over. Start the marriage over for the better? Okay! No, like REALLY start over. All those sunk costs? All those years? All that shared history and money? Custody of your children? Yeah, start THAT over. Let go of THAT and save yourself.

Unh-uh. No way. That’s terrifying.

Spackle. 2 a.m. Confrontation. Repeat.

Chumps disagree with the idea that they’re chumps. This is all a misunderstanding! A bump in the marital road! I don’t need to see a lawyer or an accountant, because there are things my spouse Would Never Do. Sure, they might have had a one-night stand/late hours Bible study/workplace flirtation but they would NEVER ransack my retirement accounts/put my health at risk/endanger our children.

They love me too much!

I love them too much!

See, I’m DIFFERENT, because I LOVE.

Until the day you can’t stuff it down another second. 2 a.m. isn’t cutting it. The doubt and sedition is 24/7.

That’s when people find Chump Lady. That’s when they read all the good advice you just gave them, because you’ve been there and did that. That’s when it all sinks in. Leave a cheater, gain a life.

Groundswell of chumps last week? No.

An incoming tide in the months and years to come? Yes.

 

 

 

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      • I agree too. I spackled over the abuse of the devaluation. I honestly believed it was stress over his job. He wasn’t taking me away for my birthday that year because if he lost his job money would be tight. He’d do something about his “intimacy problems”. He was embarrassed to talk about it or see a doctor. They were really “just friends” and after all, she was married. And the ultimate: maybe I really was a horrible wife. On an on until they were going to meet to “work out” together. Just him and her. He wouldn’t “work out” with me in more ways than one. (He saw a doctor real quick before he left. Pretty sure it was for the little blue pill.)

        I put my foot down then. No they weren’t going to “work out” together and I think that’s when he decided to walk. And after all, he was entitled to go. I was no fun because I was grieving daily over the slow deterioration of my Dad from Alzheimer’s.

        First I spent months on Runaway Husbands. A poster brought up Chumplady. I came here but I wasn’t ready. Then I came back and found my people. It was so hard. The crushing realisation that he hated and resented me because I wasn’t “her”. That he didn’t and never had really loved me. I was also seeing a therapist but got more insight and better therapy here.

        I’m still healing. It is a very long and slow process. My mind is still trying to come to terms with everything after two years alone. The loneliness is crushing but I have CN behind me.

        • Oh, I also briefly tried the 180 after reading an online article of how someone got her husband back that way.

          He came by once after leaving and my hopes soared. I’d act the 180 and he’d be back. All he came for is to try to trick me into signing the cable bill (that his friend’s wife illegally notorized before I’d signed it) over to me. The only good thing about it was that I didn’t let him see me crushed and sobbing.

          • Lina- he didn’t love you because he doesn’t know how to love people. He doesn’t love the new woman, he’s obsessed with the new supply she offers. Once that life becomes more real with her with life’s tough struggles like a parent with Alzheimer’s that too will become too difficult for him. Cheaters don’t understand the beauty and integrity of humanity and compassion. You deserve so much more than that loser. Hugs to you.

              • Lina – if he is anything like my STBX he doesnt love himself either. Mine is all about getting that feel good boost from other woman. I see that finally. He screws up crashes down and never has acknowledged his failure to himself. So we reconciled, then a couple years later it all cycled again. It isnt you, and without these wayward spouses getting to the heart of why/how they act as they do, IMO they are doomed to repeat this over and over. Be glad it is not with you! I know you have the ability to love yourself. Nuture every part of your being and you will be OK:-) 🙂

              • “they are doomed to repeat this over and over. Be glad it is not with you!” Well said freefall and great to see you back on CL. I’m sending you good thoughts every time I meditate!

                It took time for me to internalize this, and thanks to Beth, I got access to a podcast about Cluster B relationship cycle that was super helpful – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/relational-harm-reduction/2014/10/24/after-a-pathological-love-relationship-hes-moved-on-and-is-with-someone-new

              • Hah, I was just thinking that Beth’s podcast would be perfect for Lina!

                Lina–mine did the ol’ “I’m going to go work out with [yet another woman from work.]” I begged him not to, and he loved that I begged him not to.

                I’m sorry that this happened. On the other hand I’m glad that you know now. It takes the cheating to finally reveal who they really are–and then you finally see the systemic abuse and emotional neglect that they perpetrated over the years, and you get to have a life apart from it.

                You will be happier. One day at a time, through the fire, to the other side. It really gets better.

        • Oh, Lina “I honestly believed it was stress over his job”… I’m sure a lot of us believed this 🙁 I did too, he got a notice from work, was afraid of being fired… But the reality is that he could not stand the workplace, he could not stand the home (that includes me), he just wanted to be abroad with OW… 🙁

            • I think in hindsight mine was afraid of being transferred to another location or losing his job because he worked with OW and it would separate them.

              The 180 is when you act all okay with the cheater leaving and pretend to be happily going on with your life. It’s supposed to (I guess) wake them up to what they’re losing. They talk about it on all the reconciliation sites.

              • What Lina said about the 180, it’s you becoming fake like your cheater, I couldn’t do it for long, my anger took over and led me back to deal with his shit.

              • Ah, so the 180 is the reverse pick me dance…Yes, until everything was finalized I was in 180 mode with a little piece of me thinking – will he come to his senses and change? Do the 360? But I think it was because I felt so abandoned and was hanging on by a thread to feel validated…

                When the long term damage is done it’s next to impossible – and change will never return the relationship to a place before it was shattered. But in those shattered pieces are both the good and the bad. -And I have to let go of both in order to move on. So, in a way what’s so difficult is letting go of that good part of my part in the relationship, too.

              • The only effective strategy involving numbers you should use with a cheater is a 2 x 4.

              • Ha! And well yes, I have some of those 2x4s left over from the renovation!

                I gotta say since going no contact some of my dreams have been so vivid with me yelling and screaming and chasing the monsters away with 2x4s, I wake up going whoa! Amazing what is suppressed under all that Spackle.

            • Lina- It is so disheartening sometimes, to find out that someone you loved and thought loved you back would seek out someone else when you are in the very vulnerable place of trying to be there for an aging parent. To me, these things which I have also experienced tell me more than the actual affair. The loneliness is crushing but it has revealed to me just how lonely I was in my relationship with a man I now question on every level.

              ChumpFromF – I think the 180 is the full throttle pick me dance.

              I found CL / CN after the break-up – so glad I did. I read something here every day that gives me strength. I agree this is better than therapy – and it’s got the power of great group therapy.

              The Ashley Mad breach just tells me that we are in a sad state of affairs. (no pun intended) But, WE ARE! -It is raining blooming narcissists… Don’t people have better things to do like save the world?

              I think the internet has exposed and exacerbated a very destructive facet of humanity. I mean when I go on a date someday, will I be wondering…. sooooo what’s the deal? I just feel sad about it. -It’s like a loss of innocence.

              • I agree. The affair is just a symptom of other things wrong with them. If he could stand there and coldly tell me that when my Dad dies I can rent out his apartment like it was something for me to be happy about and a good thing…. Just wow.

                And I still struggle with trusting he sucks. I must be crazy.

              • Lina – That’s terrible, so cold. Wow, we only have our parents for so long in our lives. – I went through my mom’s passing feeling very alone but convinced myself that my ex’s presence in my life was support enough. My real support came from others, family & friends.

                For me, It warped my world the emotions were so suppressed, not even considered in the last few years. I realize I really compromised what I thought love, compassion and care were all about – and how I had been living my own suppressed duality with Spackle Man. -He could always talk a good game, come off as the nicest person, which always created self doubt, but he was disingenuous too, .

                These are the big pearls of seeing self-delusion and betrayal, love and true blue friendships for what they are..

          • My first therapist was compassionate but I disagreed with many things she said, particularly my being co-dependant. She also said once that I thought my pain was worse than anyone else’s (insulting) and actually yelled at me when I said I was against no fault divorce. She apologised but I was done with her after that. I used to leave her office feeling worse most of the time.

            • My cheater saw our marriage Councillor alone first for one session, then the two of us together for the second on, that was back in Jan 2014, I could tell she sided with him and all she wanted to talk about was my drinking! I got up and said “Fuck it”, and told them both I’ll go to an AA meeting instead and never went back. Her parting words to me were, you are just to fragile to discuss the infidelity at this time, I looked at her and said, NO, AA is a program of honesty, you only recover by talking about Truth, it’s dishonesty that led me to drink!!!!!

            • Any relationship, and I mean ANY, where you end up feeling worse about yourself, needs to end pronto (wish I’d followed my own advice three, no four, no five….times).

            • Lina

              After years of giving and not having our needs met, the last thing we need is to have anyone minimize our pain. Having to care for a parent you love with Alzheimer’s alone is crushing in many ways. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve been through it. Then in our greatest time of need, poof they discard us. Your father raised a wonderful loving daughter. Do something nice for yourself this week. You deserve it.

            • Wow, Lina! Glad you had the sense to get out of a bad “therapy” session!! Think about it–you had the sense to not take abuse and confusion from her! Well done!

        • Lina

          Knowing X never loved me helped me in a way. The sorting through every ounce if bulkshit was traumatic as I put the pieces together.

          There was a post in the private forum differentiating between attachment and bonding that hit home for me. I recently listened to this and I know X never bonded with me or his children. It explains how they can maintain long term relationships. It helped me move on just a little bit more.

          They can no more bond with the OW than an eggplant. They love no one. X’s OW called me a hoarder because I have things I keep that have sentimental value of my mothers and grandmothers. I’m not a hoarder. They can walk away without their childhood pictures. Nothing has meaning to them.

          Right now I would rather have my wishing machine than the eggplant lover. The bond that held us together was onesided. It’s finally gone.

          • Thank you Donna. X

            I totally agree that they can’t love anyone. I believe absolutely that he really hates himself deep down inside. That’s why it’s hard for me to believe he’s a narc. I really don’t know what is wrong with him.

            • Thank you Freefall. X

              Tempest: 🙂

              Thank you everyone. I’m really emotional right now about my Dad and it’s brings up all these issues again.

              • Lina; I’m sorry your father is poorly, and we always start to remember the bad when we are sleeping badly or worried. Just overwrite your X’s bullshit criticisms with what your dear father would say about you. Make little post it notes for your mirror to remind yourself that a quality person–your father–thinks the world of you.

            • “I believe absolutely that he really hates himself deep down inside. That’s why it’s hard for me to believe he’s a narc. ” – this is WHY they are a narc though. This is the definition of narcissism.
              You see, for a narcissist to show vulnerability enough to say ‘sorry’ is for them to say ‘I am the worst human being on this planet.
              Narcissists cannot love themselves and believe in themselves enough to bear the discomfort of vulnerability/owning their faults. That is why they are so hooked on ‘outside solutions’ and will savagely attack anyone who reminds them of ‘inside frailty’. They have it all back to front. They have no or shrivelled inner life, inner feelings but a big grandiose show. Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.

              So you have described a narcissist perfectly.

              • Patsy, -Really good further description of the narcissist.

                As I look back with some ‘take no prisoners honesty’ a part of me always knew something was missing re: “the Inner Life”. -The times I looked into his eyes and saw no light. For a long time I thought it was a repressed upbringing / emotions of a little boy but what I see so much more clearly now is how vanity and grandiosity (the outward solutions) are the veneers- And how fearlessness, confidence, success in business can all mask the empty shell. And yes, a key piece is an explosive temper if you get too close to the underbelly of human frailty & faults.

                I never would have thought I could fall for a narcissist but I sure was blindsided by one. –Big four yr. affair w/ MOW confession, just after celebrating holidays with his family. I had no idea. Wow, all that secrecy… It was a scorched earth, crazy-making, take-down & exit. Yes, narcissists do have an expiration date – I just had the longest shelf life so far… -Ugh…

                I do believe there is a deep seated self-loathing at the center of this capacity to be cruel. -And, the ability to cut off any reminder of that cruelty (no remorse) and carry on with the good life as if nothing ever happened. Going NC has been essential for me because I know the truth about him — I will never make this ‘ok’ for him. .

          • “Nothing has meaning to them.”

            THIS ^^^ is absolutely true!! @ Donna… you are so right!!!

            I recently noticed that X-hole asked for zero sentimental possessions. He complained that I took everything of value, which was untrue, I took what I felt entitled to after what he did. I took nothing of his. That said….he did not ask for ONE pic of our son or any of the photos I’ve taken in the past 8 years, never asks about school pics…even when he paid for them.

            Now that I look back…something was ALWAYS not quite right about “us” but I NEVER in a million years would have thought anyone could or would fake it SO well. Now it all makes sense….the farther away you get the more the pieces begin to fall into place. I know deep down that he doesn’t love anyone because he isn’t capable. It was a devastating revelation for me, realizing it was never real for him but on the flip side I smile on the inside when I think of what is in store for the troll down the road.

            • Yep. Mine never wanted to look at pictures. I asked where his parents got married and he didn’t know. I thought it was a guy thing but now I think it was just weird.

              It blows my mind when you guys with kids say they never wanted pics of them, gifts they made them, etc. Lowest of the low!

              That’s why I don’t buy the whole “fell out of love” excuse. Do they “fall out of love” with their kids too? No. They just can’t love or bond.

              • Chump4Bolero, that was the cruelest thing he said of many. I was so stunned I couldn’t say anything. I think I was in shock.

                I’m so sorry for what you went through when your Mom passed. (((hugs)))

                When my Mom passed I thought he’d been there for me but I’ve realised since it was only when it was convienient for him. Everyone in the immediate family and my cousin were at the hospital when she passed but him. He “had to stay home and get some sleep”. He came after the fact. He used that damn having to get some sleep excuse (he worked graveyard) for everything. It wasn’t like her death that day wasn’t expected either. He took that night off anyway.

              • Lina – (((Hugs))) to you too. -My father is still alive so I send you doubly ((hugs)).

                – My father is in his 80’s and I dread the day I will lose him. I know something will change when I don’t have him around – when I have to carry the torch as the “next generation”. I was, and am close to my parents.

                if you were abandoned in that moment when you needed your husband the most, I don’t think “trust that they suck” is a strong enough phrase.

                As I look back (my mom passed in 2008) I was so focused on the care of her in the end that I had no time, or emotional reserve. My mom was everything to me. I found myself minimizing my worry. .After she died, my Ex said, if you need some Valium let me know. WTF? I needed someone to hold my hand, and I had to ask.

                Should I have known that he sucks? – In my hour of grief?

                Your post today resonates for me as I am dealing with some family (care-giving) problems with my stepmother (Alzheimer) and my father who is on the brink of collapse caring for her. I am not a chump child but I am a child of divorce (40 years ago) – really complex family but we love each other,..

                Now, I find that my sadness and worry is unimpeded, it is entirely my own, and I am so grateful for that. -I am free to journey on in this next phase of my life without the baggage of OMG, “keep the home fires burning”, “trust that he sucks”, “Spackle Man” to think about. “Me first, you next”.

                Life is so short, really, and just know that the fact that you were there for your father is more “divine” than anything else in that moment. It’s all that matters. – Blessings to you.

            • Ditto–my X refused to even take a beautiful wooden statue of a stork that his mother gave him (and his mother passed away 2 years ago). No sentimentality at all.

              • Miss Sunshine, I did listen to that podcast Beth posted. Some of it was very helpful to me, particularly the explanation of the discard. I’m not sure if he’s a Cluster B though. He doesn’t fit some of the criteria. I don’t know what he is. (Ha!) if he’s a narc he’s a covert one. My therapist said “He’s kind of crazy.”

                Tempest’s post (from a different thread I think) about them being one choking death from being Ted Bundy hit home to me. During the discard he’d start driving crazy when we’d get close to home like he couldn’t wait to get me out of the car. He’d dump me out at the house like a sack of crap and take off “to get us take away food” So I could feed the animals. We had always had stopped to eat on the way home before. Anyway, he’s disordered in some way. He accused me of being violent because I threw our wedding album on the floor at his feet and said it was the ultimate joke. He said I was throwing things at him.

                He also called me a spoiled brat over something (can’t remember what now) when my mother was in dying and in intensive care.

                Thank you again everyone. Sorry if I’ve over posted today. I feel like I hijacked this thread.

              • OMG, this reminds me!! Ex professed to adore his father, who passed away in 2000. (In fact, I overlooked a lot of signs of cheating because I believed he was mourning his father). After he died, our daughter made a beautiful sketch of her grandfather’s face and wrote his obituary below it.

                On D-Day, ex left with hardly even his clothes. Shortly after, I asked him if he would like me to find and make sure to send that sketch to him. His response? — “oh no, don’t worry about it. My dad is with me ‘everyday.'”

                First of all, he and his dad barely saw or spoke to each other, though we only lived 5 miles apart. Second, this was a sketch his supposedly beloved daughter made of his supposedly beloved father.

                So I threw it away instead.

          • “They can no more bond with the OW than an eggplant.”

            Right Lina. It was astonishing to see not only how little ex had actually apparently bonded with me after 25 years of marriage, but how in the end he had no true bond or connection with our 3 children. He does not check in or talk to them at all now, 3 1/2 years post D-Day. He does not see them, ask how they are, know whether they are well or not, or even what they even look like now (in particular, my youngest son, who was 12 when his dad left and will soon be 16 ). Ex has not laid eyes on him in all that time, not once.

            I remember thinking how odd it was that ex never even asked me for a photograph of any of the children, not one, not in all these years, despite leaving with only some of his clothes and his golf clubs.

            Now I understand more fully about cluster B personalities and sociopaths in particular. There is no there there.

      • Most people at Ashley Madison were using fake emails, burner phone numbers, that are not traceable, and disposable credit cards bought with cash and using a fake name.

        Perhaps only a few chumpy cheaters were dumb enough to use their real data.

        That is likely why you have not seen an uptick in betrayed spouses.

        The hackers used a lot of added emails stolen from the web because they are angry at Ashley Madison and to create stir. They are likely disgruntled employees rather that people who are opposed to cheating.

        • To Add:

          If you notice, the public appears to be more concerned with prosecuting the hackers and not the cheaters.

          I doubt you will see less acceptance of cheating over the years. You will most likely see an increase in curiosity and interest about extra marital affairs. I predict you will see more cheaters do to this, not less. They will simply become ever more crafty and far far less likely to get caught. Websites like this one are a training ground for cheaters because people tell in vivid details exactly how they caught their spouse with his or her panties down around their ankles. Just a prediction that I am quite certain based on odds will come true.

          • Right. And this is why people are instigating divorces worldwide, because the hackers ‘made up’ data, right? Get real.
            The only reason people have need to cheat is when they are an entitled prick. Given the age of entitlement these days you’re probably right – but fuck if anyone like that is going to ever be in my life, or anyone here!
            Cheaters come here to ‘refine their craft’ – they’ll still get caught.

          • Also, the public are a majority of cheaters anyway, or politically correct.
            I’ll say it bluntly: Seeing a bunch of lying deceptive arseholes get their just desserts is delicious schadenfreude – and I’d like to give the hackers a medal for it.

        • Many would be using fake names ON the site and throwaway email accounts plus phones. However, the dump includes the name, address and last four digits of the credit card used to pay for the account and most cheaters would have used their own, kind of difficult not to. OTH, that data is on darknet every time someone puts a site up where you can search that file by name it gets taken down almost instantly.

    • Holy shit. Pardon my poor articulation of the best Chump Lady article I have ever read in a lot of years of reading. Believe it when they show you who they are… the first time. In fact, pay more attention to the red flags. They don’t know how to love… “love” is their weapon. They lack a real sense of self so they come in with bullshit romance and take your life as their own and they can keep the charade up for years until they’ve taken all you are… but before they discard you, they make it a priority to set up the next supplier. Don’t be fooled. Once the vow is broken, it is over. Don’t lie to yourself… You deserve more than that. If you don’t chose you, they will take whatever is left. Chose you.

    • CL, this is so accurate it gave me goosebumps. This site rocks and cheaters suck. Often literally. Welcome to those who find this months or even years into the future. It is not too late. I found this site almost a year and a half after my Dday because I had reached a very low point and nothing was working.

      Within 4 months of finding the site, I realized I could never get over all my husband has done enough to stay with him (nor should I), that I would have to police him for the rest of our lives and I had no interest in doing that (nor should I), I got smart, separated, filed for divorce, and I am on my own and so so so happy and grateful for leaving every single day.

  • So true, so true. I was one of those really thick headed chumps. I was absolutely terrified to leave a 24 year marriage. So I speckled, Amazoned myself into a RIC coma and waited 3 more years for “him to work on the marriage. ”

    That’s okay. 27 years is far easier to walk away from than 24! (insert sarcasm font here) I was stubborn in the beginning though and this site might have scared me if I wasn’t ready to read the message.

    I envy those chumps that acted decisively and dumped their cheater immediately. Better late than never.

  • You are right CL!
    I hung on for 10 years while x went back to school and lived ON HIS OWN for the first 3 years with out us, 3 hours away.

    He took the money from our assets for his education while I worked to put a roof over my families head and live in poverty.

    But I spackled through his 7 years of education. Even when the Dean called Cheater Pants and Miss Piggy out on their affair, I worked harder to keep things together.

    I did this crazy one sided marriage pick me dance until I couldn’t. He got angry and abussive and threatening and I woke up!

    Needless to say, I got the hell out and got a life. But it was not an over night thing.

    One step at a time is the best any of us can hope for. Finding chump lady sure does help too. Wish she had been around a decade ago !

  • Marriage is never the same once a person cheats.They will not do the difficult work required to fix a relationship and even if they do there is still no guarantee that they won’t cheat.Leave a cheater gain a life.

    • That’s why I say that marriage is dead when a spouse cheats. You can’t go back. It takes a miracle–which are extremely rare by definition–to bring a relationship back to life. It is NOT the norm. Death is. Not resurrection. Regardless, the innocence is lost forever.

      • The innocence is lost forever. There has to be a new creation, and it requires remorse and repentance, along with humility from the cheater and massive amounts of grace and mercy from the betrayed.

        • Agreed – For me, the loss of innocence is still the greatest sadness, and miracles are rare, I think most are grieving something that started out as wonderful. And then, it died a shocking death – And after that, remorse, repentance, humility, and mercy are equally rare.

  • I wondered more about how many would find out and do their best to rugsweep it. I distinctly remember those first few days after I found out– I was desperate to fix things (fortunately, not for long) and wanted to pretend that the cheating wasn’t “as bad” as I knew in my heart that it was, but I also distinctly remember feeling trapped. I wondered how *I* could stay married to him; I didn’t even want him to touch me. I thought about all the years we had ahead of us and how I wouldn’t really be a wife– I’d be playing a role on the outside, but I’d be seething and resentful of him on the inside. But, at first, I tried to stuff those feelings down, primarily “for the children.”

    It’s so frightening at the beginning. Though I left my cheater fairly quickly, I understand why people try so hard to stay at first, despite the fact that it’s a completely lost cause. Let’s hope that the newly-cheated upon find CL sooner rather than later. Any time I felt the tiniest bit of doubt, reading here reaffirmed what my gut was telling me and kept me from changing my mind and running back to ex-cheater. This has been borne out by the fact that I found out my ex had been on AM far longer than he had previously told me (surprise, surprise). He is a remorseless scoundrel, and I am glad to be rid of him.

  • Another brilliant column CL! I only hope that all these newly-minted chumps find this site and trust and believe in what you and all the other chumps are saying. This advice doesn’t come from a place of smugness, nor does it come from a place of bitterness, we all know because we have been there! We are comrades in this war and we will help each other through it. CL I can’t thank you enough for writing this blog, you are a voice of sense in the quagmire of infidelity and reconciliation. Even for those of us like myself who are in reconciliation you have given me the tools to recognise the truth of my cheaters sorry and the strength to know exactly what to do if I don’t get the treatment I deserve! You are MIGHTY, and thanks to your site now so am I!!

  • Good morning Tracey! I did all of that too, 2AM – 3AM ugh, many nights, I get exhausted thinking about it, then confronting him so many times when I found something new. I just did’nt want to believe he could do the things he had done, but he did and my life started to make sense when I finally realized it and what was wrong with me over the last years and our marriage. It seems we have to keep running into brick walls over and over and over again before we finally accept that they suck, only then are we ready for the advice from CL and CN. Then I had to keep reading here all the time to stay the course and follow through to escape crazy land. Tomorrow is court day finally btw, the divorce proceedings start!

  • This is a fantastic post, CL. It totally fits with something that occurred to me yesterday for the first time ever.

    While I was moping around for the last few days, unsure of what to do with myself, I realized I used to get my purpose from trying to make my marriage work. Those 2 a.m. moments, being an Amazon chump, the spackling, the therapy… it all made me feel like I was doing something very important and profound.

    But it was all an illusion. It was no more profound that putting a pot on my head, banging it with a spoon, then wondering why I had a headache.

    I danced the pick me dance for a decade and got nowhere. I had been fooled all that time thinking I was doing something meaningful by trying to singlehandedly save my marriage. But it was 100% false.

    I don’t think I could have realized that until I left, though. The world feels like a very cold place without the comfort of that sick, soothing, repetitive behaviour – the pick me dance – to calm my nerves. I guess now it’s incumbent upon me to build my own life.

    • Yes SiS,

      Working on my marriage became a full time endeavor…and I was going to triumph in it and WE were going to be THAT couple. Oh yes, we would be the couple who ran marriage retreats to teach others how to grow together and heal.

      Except that he was no where near on board with any of it, I was living in a dream world.

      I dont think he was a lying cheat when we first got married (he was a selfish asshole but not a lying cheat selfish asshole) and based on a few moments early in our marriage, I was SURE (absolutely 100% sure) that I could tell if he was lying. I told my RIC friends that I could “read him like a book”.

      Except I was wrong

      Somewhere along the way, he fell WAY WAY off the path and became a serial cheater and a proficient liar and the change was well hidden from me. I dont know if it was 5 years in or 15…I know there were at least 3 affairs but there could have been 13 (why stop at 3?)

      and I never left. I never even made any serious “cage rattling” sounds of threatening to leave. He assured me that he had one “emotional affair” and that is what he held steady to until his last breath. I put on a Jones NY black dress and a string of fine pearls he bought me and gave him a send-off worthy of the best faithful loving husband ever…there was so much talk of what a good guy he was.

      until I started finding shit in my house…photos, hotel receipts, gifts (from places he told me they had never visited together)

      I asked his mentor if he struggled with telling me the truth, did he agonize over telling me and his answer was more than I ever imagined “his pride prevented him from ever telling you…the first affairs were just about sex, it was the last one that he couldnt let go of”

      well chumpity chump chump…THAT was my life and I didnt know it. I was married to a huge liar. Fuck.

      and now it was too late to even scream at him and throw his ass out

      I did draft a letter (I will never send) to the 2 whores I did identify offering them my burial spot next to him since I no longer want it. I said that if they get cremated, there might be room for all of them. Assholes all of them …I wont be anywhere near them.

      I cant undo all the years I wasted but I CAN live great now and I am. Married a great guy last month and were planning our second trip to Europe (my 3rd since he died). Im gonna eat wonderful pastries and drink wonderful coffee and have meaningful monogamous sex.

    • Sad in Seattle, that was well said and captures how I feel. I went from a lifetime of trying to make my mother happy to trying to make my ex happy. My romantic relationship seemed like paradise; it was only after it was over that I realized that it felt great because it was better than what I was used to. Better doesn’t equal good, but knowing that does little to mend my wounds.

      I wish you luck in finding your purpose. I feel like the name of a chapter in a self-help book I’m reading: there’s a hole in my bucket. Filling this emptiness is slow going.

    • SadinSeattle, I am right there with you. I have to say it is very scary to be in charge of my life, to count solely on me, to create whatever I want. I think this is a worthy topic for this site because as you so aptly described, a lot of us focus on them for so long (and raising kids too) that that becomes the meaning in our lives. To transition to focusing on ourselves is difficult and I admit scary. Who am I if I’m not the chump trying to make my family work? I know I can do anything but that looks daunting at times. Does anyone else struggle with this?

      • I think many of us here have spent time doing for others even when it was not in my own best interests. I know I did and, at the time, I thought it was what I was supposed to do. That is one of the reasons I enjoy being alone. I never what to be in a relationship where someone else’s needs and wants are more important than mine. My new attitude has suprised alot of people because I am not the people pleaser I once was. I no longer feel selfish for taking my needs into account. I still consider other people’s feelings,etc., just not at the expense of my own well-being. Whether I will ever choose to be in another “romantic” relationship remains to be seen, but if so, it will be with the understanding that I matter, too.

        • Hi Violet, I utterly love the peace of being by myself. I lives as a shadow human with Dr Demento, Not any more… the other thing that has changed about me is that I will no longer censor myself when people say things that don’t add up. I will try not be rude (no guarantee) but those comments are no longer passing with me. Going to call you on your shit, if you don’t like it, find someone else to hang with.

      • chumpB,

        You are not alone. I’m 4 yrs out, but only separated m. H still takes care of everything financially, etc. It is still daunting to me the thoughts of going it alone completely…scared to really to let go.

    • There is evidence that if people FEEL they are doing something that might affect an outcome (even if it doesn’t *really* affect the outcome), they feel less stressed. For example, people receiving mild shocks who thought that pressing a button would terminate the shock (but it didn’t) reported less stress. We hate to feel powerless, which is why we work so hard at an impossible marriage, or at reconciliation. What is necessary to move on is the opposite–to embrace that we are powerless to fix the marriage. That is a hard thing for humans to accept.

      • “What is necessary to move on is the opposite–to embrace that we are powerless to fix the marriage. That is a hard thing for humans to accept”

        Beautifully said Tempest. It is bad enough to live in a failing marriage, but not being able to fix it was worse.

        It is a pivotal moment when you accept “this can’t be fixed!” For me, this acceptance was extremely hard. But I finally did and I it feels good. No, it feels great!!

  • That’s exactly how it happened for me. I spackled for five more years. After the first year of being Sam Spade the detective and him letting me keep finding his “land minds” as I called them like his Ashley Madison account I realized that I couldn’t stay in the marriage as a SAHM without finishing my degree to protect myself in case he did it again. The next two years we stayed in unicorn land with me in school and not thinking about what he had done, was up to now or what he might do in the future. The last two years after finishing my degree I just started to self destruct by numbing with alcohol because I was trying to stay asleep because waking up meant that this marriage was over and I couldn’t do it anymore. We were divorced last month and I am now taking baby steps into my new cheater free life. I tell myself that every decision affects my life either good or bad and try to make decisions accordingly. Move on new chumps now because paranoia, denial, and numbness don’t make for a good five years of your life.

    • Well done Sketchyokgirl! Baby steps is all you need. Before you know it those steps will have taken you far away from him!

  • Even if you are not ready to leave when you find out about hie/her infidelity, there are steps you can take to change the current dynamics of your marriage.

    Yes you are flawed, we all are, but none of your flaws warrant his/her entitled abuse of your trust.

    Read “why does he do that” by Bancroft and the “betrayal bond” by Carnes when you can’t make sense of his/her actions.

    Start your own savings account by wiring 1/2 liquid assets to an account under your name only.

    Find ways to find a job or a better job so you can change the financial power of your couple dynamics.

    Focus on you and your children, invest your time on your kids and yourself. If your spouse is really sorry they will see these changes in you as a positive contribution to the family and to your mutual growth.

    If your spouse resents those changes, you remind yourself that these are positive choices to show your kids what a good parent and responsible adult looks like.

    No matter what, start therapy, not with your cheater, but on your own. Trauma therapy or with someone specialized in narcissist recovery.

    One step at a time, reclaim your power, to model what a good life looks like for your kids.

  • Exactly, and perfectly stated.

    Very few of us (I’d wager in the low single-digit percentages) filed for divorce at the first obvious sign of cheating…or even the tenth obvious sign.

    This all takes time, unfortunately. We all have to travel down the rabbit hole before coming to a point at which we ask ourselves why we’re doing it in the first place.

    Good luck to all the new chumps out there, it’s an emotionally exhausting ride that messes with your perception of reality. But you do come out better in the end!

    • This was my first thought as I read some of the first posts from the previous topic. There is NO way I would have left. In fact, I’m still trying to wrestle my way out after 4 years. I’m almost to the finish line, but I remember the previous years well; the depression, the shock, the confusion, wondering “what if”, and hoping for a miraculous come-back. Its a horrible, sick situation to get through, but JC is right. You do com out better in the end.

    • Want to try reconciliation? Fine, but remove most kibbles from the cheater and see if they actually step up to the plate. No sex, no dates, no extra perks (gifts, special meals). Stop investing in the relationship except for discussions and basic civility. If your cheater is TRULY remorseful, and willing to make the effort to make the relationship work, he/she will start making Herculean efforts to save the marriage.

      If he/she doesn’t? Then you have your answer, and you haven’t lost anything but time. Let the cheater show his/her true colors.

      That worked for me–found out about the infidelity, moved into the guest bedroom, no marital relations. Cheater made half-hearted attempts at reconciliation–verbal protestations of love and pain over what he had done, but very little behavioral evidence of remorse (even once he stopped blaming me for causing him to be so unhappy he ad to cheat). I could leave with a clear conscience because I gave him a chance to make things right, and he couldn’t. Narcs can’t “do” therapy or remorse, nor can they compensate for the huge wrong they have done to us. I wasn’t putting out much effort, he couldn’t bear not getting his kibbles, and showed his true colors. Two months later, I filed and didn’t look back.

      Continuing to have sex with, caress, express your undying love for the cheater keeps you invested and allows the cheater to delay the inevitable.

      • Tempest – agreed!

        I kicked cheater out of the house and told him it was up to him to make things right again. He of course vowed he would and that’s when I learned the hard way to pay attention to the difference between their words and actions. He said the right things but had every excuse in the world for not doing the right things. As you said, his true colors showed and being apart from him allowed me to really see them. It took me about six months to walk away but I’m also in a state where you have to wait a full year to file so that played into it, along with other things that were revealed during that time apart.

        I also knew that I had to do what I could to work through things with him before I could walk away, if that was what was needed. Because of that, I have no real regrets – except that I was oblivious for so long. Lesson learned – the hard way!

        I’ll also add that I’m two years past DDay, divorce was final in June, marital house is under contract and I’m in the process of buying a townhouse. LOTS going on. Sale of the house is the final financial connection (still have our daughter but she is in college now). I am so excited about my new cheater-free life! Chumps, it does get better over time. I’m sure I will have some set backs but that’s ok cause I can get through them (and you can too!).

      • Sex with Asshat = ew!

        D-Day, after bedtime, we had a heated, whispered (bc Little Elf has radar) conversation. Lasted maybe 90 minutes. He asked if he could sleep in our bed. I asked if he was fucking stupid. He dragged his feet down the guest room where he slept most of the time anyway! I found lots of shitty reconciliation sites that night and also CL. I admit I thought, Who would call themselves chumps? Um, me! We only really discussed the affair and why it was all his fault on and off for a couple of weeks. He assumed I was letting it go and asked what I was going to do to make the marriage better. I said i would think about and haven’t ever gotten back to him on it.

        I knew that first night that he was a needy ass liar. I assumed he would have to perform some sort of miracle for me to stay. He is too self centered and lazy for that sort of work.

        Hopefully, those new AM chumps come sooner than later!

        • He assumed I was letting it go and asked what I was going to do to make the marriage better. I said i would think about and haven’t ever gotten back to him on it. THIS!

        • ChumpyElf, I LOVE it! A chump who does not spackle:

          “We only really discussed the affair and why it was all his fault on and off for a couple of weeks. He assumed I was letting it go and asked what I was going to do to make the marriage better. I said i would think about and haven’t ever gotten back to him on it.”

          I guess he’s STILL waiting on it. Crickets. You’re my chump role model 🙂

  • The difference in the timeline is changing CL. The Reconcilliation sites may see an increase initially yet there wasn’t CL or CN for many who spent years with that bullshit previously. I believe chumps want the truth and when in their desperate search they will find their way here sooner. Perhaps as an observer at first until they have the courage to share. They will see they are not alone sooner than later.

    My thoughts on chumps not wanting to leave a cheater has a lot to do with not having the support they need to leave. It was never the fear of being alone that kept me stuck. It was being alone in my plight to leave. They will trickle in and see the support and recognize the similarities. They will gain the strength sooner.

    • I hope you’re right. 🙂 But I also think it’s human to want to try and work it out, at least for awhile. Which is decency and chumpdom and bargaining stage of grief all in play.

      • I was caught up in the Reconciliation Complex and you were there too, Tracy. And I noticed it when you were gone. You were the lone voice of sanity there and when they gave you the boot, I felt strangely disoriented, like I was alone in a pit of madness. I messaged someone and asked where you went. They said, “I think she got kicked off for making fun of XX members on her personal blog.” (Funny how speaking the truth about cheaters and chumps was seen as “making fun of members.”) A few months later, I got kicked off for “not being supportive of reconciling members.” (I told a reconciling member that she needed to quit whining about how pitiful her life was because the OW was all up in it, and actually do something about it, like refuse to fraternize with her, get a divorce, SOMETHING!) Anyways, I googled your old screen name from that site and eventually I found CL. I think the previous poster is right. You are a part of the infidelity picture now. It will be easier to find you. Hopefully the timeline for recovery will be shorter for new chumps. It took me forever to get my head on straight enough to function. I’m still working on it and it will be 10 years in September, since D-Day and the day he left.

    • Donna, I wish this was true. There are so many blogs by bs. They get hostile if I suggest CL. They only want positive support to “hang in there”. Tracy is right. Even the sanest of us become delusional when we confront scary truths. Also, in some cases “winning” back the cheater takes over. The only ones who “get it” are those who have been left for the AP. My brother was abandoned. He was the most devoted husband but he quickly lawyered up, got a divorce and moved on.

    • You are so right Donna! After my DDay I went looking for answers on the internet and all found was the rec sites and blogs of women trying to salvage their marriage after adultery! So I thought to myself- Really??? I’m supposed to stay and make this marriage work??? And I actually tried to set my mind to that because I knew from the very beginning I wanted out! I couldn’t change my mind tho and thank God I found CL because I was starting to feel so guilty for wanting a divorce! This site is a life saver!!!

      • Somuchhurt

        When I think back over X’s years of excuses, blame shifting, and cheating there was NO one who said “leave him”. I saw two therapists who tiptoed around the fact that I was with an abusive asshole. There was NO one. It certainly felt like I was bathing in shit.

        You were fortunate to find CL and compare notes so to speak. It was a lifesaver to put and end to the toxic abuse.

        So happy you filed!!

  • Once again Chump Lady you have fully explained in great detail what happened to me during the first D-day and sadly other D-days I had. Your wisdom has helped so many of us!!!!!

    Plus I just didn’t have the knowledge about Cluster B Personality Disorders like I do now. If the new chumps come here from Ashley Madison or not my heart goes out to them. It is clear abuse what these cheaters and AP do to us. These cheaters and AP are not good people at all. Pure evil.

  • The Ashley Madison stuff is pretty cut and dried. Sometimes it isn’t and you have a weird gut feeling that all’s not well but there’s no hard evidence. Narcboy gave every indication of being single; active dating profile on line, didn’t do social media, didn’t keep his phone around all the time and his job justified being away for long periods of time. Couldn’t “spy” on him even if I’d wanted to. He played a part very well for a long time and would’ve still been doing so had the hidden woman hadn’t showed up due to a death in his family. However, there was baffling hot/cold behavior, (baffling to me anyway) which seemed to be on the increase. Never any lies I could detect, treated me attentively and respectfully, then would ignore me next day. Didn’t stick around though once it became clear what was what and confronted him with his behavior which was pretty much ignored followed by four long years of uneasy detente at work.

    • Copper,
      My OW was well hidden too. She told me in a horrible email after D-day that she had been pressuring him for a year or more to leave me, but he always had an excuse to stay. Her email I guess was her way of celebrating victory. She has since proven to be totally disordered…She said she stalked me on my work website, on social media, printed off my photo and threw darts at it, then got really bold and started staying overnight at my house when I was away. She wore my clothes, stole jewellery and other keepsakes, bascially pretended she was ME, living in my home. Although never proven, I am now quite convinced it was her who convinced cheater to start poisoning me gradually. I had absolutely no idea until one of his work colleagues heard her bragging and busted cheater by telling me what was up with the little affair. Fortunately, the poisoning had only been going on for a short while and I was able to get the right treatment.

      My advice: be suspicious if your SO starts wanting to prepare all the food you eat!

      In retrospect: so glad the two cretins found each other.

      My only regret: not sending them to prison when I had the chance. (Afraid of it affecting my employment)

        • OMG – this horrifies me. X started cooking for me madly on the BBQ. I hated smoked food and couldn’t eat anyway. I had NO idea where his sudden idea came from to start cooking meals. I was usually the cook.

      • Marci

        God, make him suffer please. This is what I pray when I think about him poisoning you. Ther should have been consequences. It is sickening he got away with this.

      • OMG Marci, I have the chills. I just realized as I was reading your post that in my last year with narc abuser, he started cooking. Now this was a man who seriously asked how to boil water and in 25 years of marriage, cooked top ramen a handful of times. Strange. Just strange that he started cooking stir fries and buying sauces and even got a special pan to make some pretty good meals. It really makes me wonder. I rarely ate anything he cooked because I was so repulsed by him. That last year was brutal hell.

        • OMG ChumpB – I’m seeing a pattern here! H started cooking for me all the time..This scares me and I watch a lot of Forensic tv (my one weakness) Thank God infidelity diet was well in place. Puked up everything he fed me.

          • OMG I too got the master chef all of the sudden. Didnt think about him poisoning the food…should I engage in some exteme sports, bit on the conservative side. I had told him it looked sketchy…he blew me off. Well he almost killed me! And he laughed it off like I was just a big baby. I didn’t want seem paranoid…but looking back, he really put me in extreme danger, and the fact he laughed about speaks volumes. Ugh what an asshole…thanks chumps for reminding me I am not alone in this crazy world. You all are MIGHTY!!:-)

      • Holy s@#$!!!! You should’ve put them in jail; sounds like arsenic or one of the heavy metals was used. Good thing I am a chump, and an ethical one, rather than a cheater. Waaay too much knowledge of toxicology. Narcboy would like to have me erased from the workplace, maybe killed in an avalanche or something outdoorsy now that he’s married Latest Conquest. He too can barely boil water which is probably why LC and her predecessor was in his life. Wanted me for conversation and attention, them to meet his cooking/laundry/adult life needs. They were and are much more June Cleaverish than yrs truly who can cook but would rather be outside. One odd thing; he never (and couldn’t) cooked for me but often, ONLY after the breakup, he always said he wanted to do other stuff for me. Part of it was curiosity. I have a weird passive solar house, a small farm, and do all my own work. Built a cordwood building; he made an excuse to see it to the point of insisting on borrowing a headlamp to do so. I’d put on gatherings for select colleagues/community members, he’d show up uninvited. Found out I was short of wood or my car was stuck; insisted he’d bring wood/haul me outta the snowbank yet never showed up. A lot of these insist then not show up things to the point that I’d ignore him and get on. Kept insisting that “we” need to have a celebration of my late dads life here. Never happened; I did ceremony and scattered my dads ashes on a mountain alone. The last time was last year when I’d shipped my late dads stuff to work in a bunch of boxes; he saw them and hauled them over to my house, helped unpack totally unbidden. He may’ve been trying to”prove” he was a better person than he is but I really think he found out I’d rebuilt my kitchen cabinets and wanted to see. All the while he’s doing this he’s seeing LC. Thought he wanted to talk, clear the air, but it never happened. Weird. Glad it stopped. So much nicer to not talk to him at all, ever. At least poison wasn’t involved.

  • I wish there was a way to grab each and every new chump and show them the light. I wish I could show them their future of constant worry, abuse and neglect and finally the next DDay or being left all together for the newest, shiny OW. I wish I could tell them that it is okay with God to leave someone that cares so little for you and your family that he/she would hurt you so badly. But I too speckled, held on, prayed, bought books, went to seminars met with a new MC each year, because the old one gave up on my marriage as I should have done. It is a journey of discovery, discovering your own worth and stregnth, and some of us have a longer road than others, but we are all on the same path. Give them hugs and love and advice when they ask but let them walk their path.

  • True Donna, I also think it’s a process we need to go through, we Chumps are notorious for wanting to see the best in people or potential in them, we stick around believing they’ll change. It’s when we realize it’s not happening, we can let go finally and end it.

  • Bravo. I also spackled for some time and while it was painful and nearly killed me, I don’t think I could have done it any other way. It was the only way I could be sure. It was a process. I think we all wish we could save future chumps the pain by telling them about the DESTINATION where we arrived but sometimes the process getting to the destination is necessary.

    You don’t unstick at once, you can’t turn off love like a spigot. Especially really long relationships, it takes time to unwind the feelings.

    That said, we should keep telling new chumps the stuff they don’t want to hear. Maybe in some cases it will sink in, or at least let them know it’s NOT them, has NOTHING to do with anything they did, and maybe plant the “trust they suck” seed. Eventually, they come around. I know I did.

    • newchumpatl, I went through every grief stage on CN, certain posts resonating with me as I needed them. I was in the anger stage the longest btw, today I’m finally at the acceptance (relief stage) and starting to “Get a Life” stage! It is a process for sure and there is advice on everything you need right here and I’m so grateful for this place, it’s changed my life for the better.

    • NewChumpAtl, yes, THIS! It is very much “a process!” My wonderful daughter-in-law went through an extremely painful marriage chock full of cheating, illegal activity by her “loving spouse” that nearly ruined HER career for three years! She was a Godsend to me even if at the time I was’nt fully appreciative of her candor and her seemingly psychic ability to see what my cheater would do next! She knew the whole playbook of a cheater and called each shitty move he made spot on! I was amazed! But she also made me, through a series of easy questions, examine what I actually had as far as my marriage was concerned and helped me see different outcomes depending on my decisions. She never pushed me to do anything I wasn’t ready for. She was firm and honest, but she knew what the outcome would eventually be. Her gentle guidance was a product of her own experience with her cheating Ex and it was invaluable to me. Once all was said and done I asked her why she just didn’t make me skip all the BS and just tell me to dump him and run? Her answer: it’s a process and you have to unfortunately go through this awful ordeal until YOU yourself realize a cheater is worthless! If that process is interrupted then you just can never heal! You will live the rest of your life believing you lost a “great” person and you’ll never thrive! She’s right! I know a lot of the chumps here say, “oh I should have just kicked him out and filed. I played the pick me dance too long!” No, not really. You had to finally see that Fucktard for what he really is and then YOU DISCARD THEM!! You don’t want to sleep with your garbage can next to you, do you? Same thing for me if I had ended up with my cheater! I’m at peace, I know I lost NOTHING! But I gained a whole lot!

      • @Roberta—

        “You don’t want to sleep with your garbage can next to you, do you?”

        That’s about as concise as it can get. Thank you for that.

        Now every night as I try to fall asleep and am thinking of how I miss him next to me, I will use this.

        Thank you for this thunderbolt of clarity.

        (((hugs))

        • You are welcome! It helped me immensely. I put sent the “garbage” where it belonged. To the dump (Schmoopie’s condo) since the stench they both gave off didn’t seem to bother either one of them’

      • She’s a wise woman that daughter in law of yours. I’m glad to see you have someone you can talk to who understands what you are going through. I was out with a friend this past weekend and she kind-of told me the same thing. In my own time, I will figure out what an asshole he was (although I already knew, but I still held on!) and how horribly he treated me. It took me awhile to find CL too and like many readers, when I googled infidelity, it brought me to like Marriage Builders and shit like that. I’m glad I found this site and am thankful for all my new friends here in Chump Nation!

        • Gonna sneak this in about ‘si’ – somebody mentioned ‘chumplady’ there today for a guy that really need us, and the Admins didn’t pick it up. HAH! He didn’t link, so they missed it. Let’s hope we see this fellow over here soon.

    • Yes…as much as Im mortified that I spackled as long and hard as I did, knowing me, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

      I had no idea how abusive my life with him was until it was over…and I may process this (likely to a lesser degree) for the rest of my life.

  • I suspect that many people would not dream their spouses would be on Ashley Madison and thus never look…

    • I think this too. Unless you’re titillated by the news, or were a chump, the AM hack probably has nothing to do with you and will pass into another news cycle. I’m sure there are unknowing chumps who would never think to look. What Does That Story Have to Do With Me?

      • I wonder if the cheater’s affair partners (the one’s that leave the chump for the affair partners) will look at this information?

      • If there is a site where all the released AM addresses are sorted into domain names, a lot more people will get discovered. I live in a very small place and would be interested to know who is on there. it would help with deciding who I associate with.

      • I’m rather popular on FB because I like to post funny things, of my own writing. When I posted the link to AM, not a word, not a like, not a nuthin. Odd for me and my ‘friends’.

    • And of course the chumps who would have no clue what email address their cheater used. Most of them don’t use their real names. Some pay through paypal, which is hard to check. I am thinking back on all my STBX’s dubious pay pal deductions.

  • Don’t I wish I bought stock in spackle!
    Would have made up for 33 years and swallowing one shit sandwich after another and finding that he really could do all the nasty things I swore he wouldn’t!

  • Chump Lady, you are MIGHTY. Thank you for outlining my own journey – and forgiving me for it in making sense of the whole process. Accepting that he does not give a shit about you, that my life is over and that I have to start again is THE most painful thing that has ever happened to me.

    Until I did start again! Then, its not too bad. But the process has to be got through. Awesome writing.

  • Kate

    I too agree it’s a process. There’s something to be said for that feeling we have in our gut we ignore initially. What we have in common is our search for answers.

    At least now chumps HAVE something other than the Reconcilliation sites.

  • I am hoping that with all of the search words CL put in her post today, AM chumps will get here sooner than later and not waste as many months or years as most of us have. If there is anyone doing a social service for the masses it is CL! And just something I realized from the AM statistics is that the in every country, the majority of subscribers (80% – 90%) are men, then that means most AM chumps will be women. It also means that assuming that if all AM suscribers are heterosexual, it is the AM female cheaters that are getting all the action, and most of the men were being conned by AM because it is statistically impossible that there were enought female partners for all those men. This does not excuse the men because it still a show of their character to have even signed up for the site, but it does show what a deceiving business AM is running. AM cheated on 36 million cheaters!!! Awesome!

    But my story is similar to those above though on the last Dday in January 2014, I acted immediately, kicked Cheater out, got a lawyer, and went into this divorce obsession that took over a year and a half. I only found CL half way through, but reading CL EVERYDAY made it possible that I go through the whole thing even when I had moments of doubt that my Cheater was “different” and couldn´t be as terrible as the ones described by other chumps. I was so proud of myself that I acted so quickly, but then it hit me: I had been doing the pick me dance for eight years after i discovered a one night stand (so I thought) and forgave him for it thinking that it had been a “mistake” and a moment of bad choices when he was drunk with his colleague. I thought the discovery had made him vaccinated against further cheating, and the more things we built together and the older our daughters were would surely make him think twice before doing anything similar again. I also thought a one night stand could happen to anyone, and I was taking care of our toddler and a baby at that time while working full time, so I blamed myself on how exhausted I felt and looked. Though we did MC therapy together, I ended up in therapy by myself for “post partum depression.” And of course, how could I divorce him for an “incident” when it was all my fault that I “let myself go” in the looks department! The next eight years were spent with the Amazon books, looking for ways to “communicate ” better with my husband (he always blamed me for not being a good communicator, even though the only person I have ever had problems communicating with was him), organizing date nights, trips, special birthdays and anniversaries, etc, etc but the intuitive side of me knew that something was off because I would sometimes google for signs of infidelity (and then ignore them when they matched stuff he was doing), cry myself to sleep for so many nights when he wouldn´t come to bed with me because I go to sleep to early and he is a late-night person (I have to wake up at 5 am to get my kids ready for school). The last stupid thing I did when things were really weird at the end was to blame myself for Adult Attention Disorder (ADD) and I even bought a book about how ADD affects marriages and made him read it with me so I he could help me cope and we could improve the marriage taking into account my self- diagnosed dissability!!! Final Dday was two months later and then it immediately clicked that this guy was an asshole and he had been fooling and abusing me emotionally all these years.

    When I look back at those lost years, I can´t believe my train of thought and I am an overeducated women with a cosmopilitan life that gives advice to many friends on love issues!!! So please Ashley Madison victims, don´t think you are a special or smarter chump and don´t think that your spouse is special either.

    • Maybe the women on the site on high volume providers like my soon to be XW. I had already moved out because I caught her giving oral to her boss and her confession of another ONS years ago. Well I got curious and checked her email addresses and she was on there. I confronted her about it because I all wanted was the truth. One guy or one thousand guys the divorce was happening. She tried to deny at first because of this delusional belief that I would reconcile with her. And then she admitted to having been with thirty guys off AM in eight years. Not counting all the videos and pictures of herself she sent.

        • I did and I’m on my third week of a eight week prescription of Cipro. AM is the gift that keeps on giving. Funny thing is my SxW never got tested and now is accusing me of cheating. Because all the guys she was with were clean and weren’t the type to get an STD. Only thing I’m dreading is the second HIV test in five months.

          • Clean and weren’t ‘the type!’ OMG – glad you are divorcing this horrible bitch. And accusing you of cheating? Ya – that’s normal. I’ve heard it all too how I cheated therefore it justified his cheating. Dumbasses.

            • She’s a nutter for sure. She still thinks I’ll change my mind or we’ll get remarried once I even the score because of our kids. And yes I had a paternity test done and they’re mine. I asked her in twenty years if our sons told her that their wife had done the same thing to them as she did to me. What would her advice be. Her response she’d tell them to divorce but our situation is different. Completely off her rocker.

              • Sorry, Fiddler. What a piece of work your X/STBX is. I’m glad you’re on the road to sanity.

              • Dude, Fiddler, that is some seriously sick shiz. Thank the stars you are getting away from that craziness!

                I can commiserate with the cheater accusing the betrayed of cheating (I got that, too, no evidence whatsoever, of course) and giving crap responses when asking how she’d counsel the kid if they had a spouse eventually cheat on them (I got silence, followed by “you are trying to manipulate me”).

                I am drinking sparkling wine toasting your freedom, Fiddler!

      • Fiddler, I am so sorry for what you and your kids are going through….I hope you can get back what it costs for her to be on AM for 8 years! What an asshole woman…Cheating really should be considered a crime not because of the morality, but because these people steal from you, put your health (and sometimes your life) in risk, ruin your present and future economic and emotional stability, destroy families, etc….that all sounds criminal to me.

        • Thanks. I know it sounds weird but I’m over it. She gave me two wonderful boys and a step daughter that I consider my own. In some ways I feel bad for her I’m thirty two and she’s six years older than me. I don’t know if she’ll ever find happiness really and I want that only for the kids sake when they’re with her. But she has tons of baggage I don’t. The funny thing is all her friends warned her about getting married to a younger man because I’d lose interest as she got older. Funny thing is I thought she was sexier than ever. Strange how things work out.

    • The best thing to come out of that AM story is the bait tossed out there to bait the cheaters into giving up all their money. A site that promises affairs but there are So few women even signed up. A site that charges you extra to “guarantee you will have an affair”. What a SPECIALsite it was! Can’t you just imagine the Cheater eyes sparkling about guarantee of getting some strange. “Oh… Goody! I am SO smart!” they thought. ” I am going to get LAID”, said the foolish cheater. Baa !!!HAA HAA!!!!!!!

  • And then, the first months post breakup/divorce.
    [Begin loop]
    {
    – Day when you’re in peace, happy with your work and happy to have the house all to yourself
    – Day when you hate your work and go home early and resent the fact that it’s silent and don’t think you’ll be able to stand this decor for much longer; maybe sell the house and move to Germany ?
    – Day when you can’t sit down, feel an urge to go out and meet people, and register to (way too many) activities
    – Day when you go swimming by yourself and come back and walk the dogs and enjoy it
    – Day when you wake up really sad and miss your cheater so much, maybe you should have swept their infidelities under the rug, maybe it wasn’t that bad, maybe you’re too sensitive and intolerant ?
    – Day when you meet new people and have a blast, and your cheater seems like a bad memory of the past (missing my cheater ? Hell no, what was I thinking ?!!)
    – Day when you’re tired and all you try to do fails, so you do nothing but rest
    – Day when every member of the opposite sex seems oddly attractive (although usually it’s 1 out of 60)
    – Day when you suddenly grasp the extent of opportunities around you (low-cost flights, free concerts, snorkeling …), and you wonder how your world became so tiny while you were with your cheater
    }
    [End loop] <– repeat while [not in a serious relationship] or [not at meh]

    • Yes ChumFromF! I’m in that loop now! It’s like “Groundhog Day”. I know I won’t move forward until I work it all out in my head. I did read something recently that said that in the long run we “chumps” are better off because we work through the feelings while the WS is stuck. I guess it is like most things – you have to do the work to get the reward.

    • ChumpfromF

      And the day you stop thinking about them. I just spent a few days with my children. There were no thoughts of X.

      And all that pain I pray he receives? Mine is dwindling. That has become more important. Not that I won’t smile as he crumbles. It’s just dawning on me how little he matters anymore.

  • I have only ever watched one horror movie where one of the characters didnt open the door. Lights went out and green smoke started oozing from the cracks in the frame. She took one look and said ‘ Oh Hell No, Oh Hell No! ‘ shook her finger at the door turned on her heels and walked out the front door.
    When you are a chump… You know that something is wrong… But u ignore the signs and u open the door. Your head gets eaten off and your corpse left in the living room. Monster didnt mean it. He was doing what monsters do!
    Chumps are easy prey. They do what is expected of them. They follow the script and dont mess with the plot.
    When the chump walks away … Doesnt take the bait… There is no more entertainment. The monster needs to find a new victim to keep the movie rolling along.
    Dont open the door.

  • Tracy is right, it will take time, but CN will be here to catch new chumps when they finally need us.

    I was a chump for a long time before I discovered CL. I managed to dig into my own emotional resources and kick the cheaters to the curb, but I genuinely felt ashamed of getting myself into those messes in the first place…I should have been able to spot a cheater, and sure as hell was not going to confide in friends or colleagues. I spent countless hours on false reconciliation advice sites, buying books, trying to figure out what was wrong with ME that my partner would cheat. There is a huge common belief out there about blaming the victim.

    Then one day by chance I stumbled across CL, and was astonished to read of so many people in similar situations. In fact, now I recall the link to CL was posted on vibrant nation. Thank you to whoever posted it.

    It was a turning point for me. I gave up the dance, the detective work, and just accepted it was best to move on and enjoy MYSELF. It also involved accepting that I may never find another good partner. But once I relaxed, my old confidence and good nature resurfacedmand I feel I can now once again be a moral, giving person…but never again a sucker.

    And my best source of chuckles believe it or not…are The Cheater and OW Show!

    • Marci

      I had almost forgotten about all the detective work. No one knew the amount of time and effort that went into just that aspect of living through multiple affairs. Before coming here I thought I was the only one who had to do this.

      • Donna, I too thought I was the only one in the world dealing with this crappy kind of marriage. I was even embarrassed to share with the many therapist I went to, all the BS I had put up with. Thanks CN, I read all the postings, laugh and cry and always feel stronger 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks for the timely reminder. I need to thank whoever it was on psychopathfree.com for recommending the Lady. The Chump Lady that is. I luckily only did the ‘pick me dance’ for a few months. Once I discovered the Lady and her Nation, my eyes were wide open, my fog cleared and I painfully made the first step to freedom. Thank you all for saving my life.

  • Ain’t it the truth? It must be the ”fog’ that’s driving these cheaters to do what they’re doing. Yes, that’s the ticket!

    When I read infidelity boards, I’m actually embarrassed for so many of these pitifully desperate women. They’re willing to settle for SUCH garbage treatment and the rest of the sheep are right there encouraging them to do so – giving them <<>>> and telling each other to ‘breathe’ and ‘drink water.’ It’s like a damned kool-aid cult or something.

    Yup, I’m seeing tons of chumps in the Reconciliation world right now getting ready to take yet another bite of the shit sandwich they all can’t seem to get enough of.

  • It amazes me how we react when we found out about the cheating. I know that I always said if I ever found out you were cheating I would…….blankety blank blank you. I didn’t. I got books…read them. Did the Christian Love Dare…. I spackled…danced….twirled…baked his favorite pies….. and did it well. For 20 years. What I said I would do…I didn’t have the guts. But….now…now I am stronger than he ever imagined. My husband had me jailed…. see he planned my demise long before I suspected anything. He was able to take out a protection from abuse order PFA and evict me…have me jailed for coming into my house…have me jailed for confronting him at MY church for bringing his whore…. oh he did things I could not have imagined. But he failed to remember that I came from nothing….built my own life….and I had a support network that would stand behind me for the last 3 years. I came out of jail like Martha Stewart in her Freedom Poncho..I rocked it. This woman he is divorcing is nothing like the meek good Christian wife.he was married to. I have sat in jail cells with drug dealers…prostitutes….and child abusers. I have gone nose to nose with a.woman who pistol whipped a pregnant woman in a home invasion ……I don’t take shit or eat shit sandwiches anymore. Suzy Homemaker has left the building. I am not even pissed about the jail stay…. it gave me more than it took. That was a gift he gave that he has no idea what it will do for me in the end. I just saw him and his little whore this weekend. He couldn’t even look.at me. I spoke to mutual friends…they didn’t even recognize me….I look soooo damn fabulous. He….he looks warn down…old…56 with a 30 year old with 3 small kids will do that to you. October 29 is our trial….. Happy Hunger Games…May the Odds be in MY favor.

  • This column is perfect timing for me. My BD was last November, although I could see it coming for a year. That year was filled with counseling and me dancing all over the place. So when the day came I knew that I was supposed to kick him out and file for divorce and get on with my life. Everyone around me encouraged us to divorce. It wasn’t working, we deserved better. I actually have mixed emotions about that because I know they wanted the best for me but more often than not I wish he was still MY husband. I went through all of the steps and it went as smoothly as possible and now I am here on the other side. Every day I think about our relationship. It makes me crazy.

    I realize that he is no longer MY husband. Suddenly, no longer being married, his actions aren’t supposed to affect me because he isn’t MY husband. I’ve had to ask myself, what was I getting out of our relationship that made me be willing to stay? I know what I was getting. Firstly, he was MY husband. At the end of the day he was committed to me. I was number one, his best friend. I was also getting support. Emotional support. While I managed nearly everything, every day, I had his emotional support. He was someone who shared the same viewpoints, who I could trust with my opinion on things. Even though I have a few close friends who care and will listen, it isn’t the same. Where I am now is a very lonely place. I don’t want to run out and find someone to distract me for a few reasons – I am trying to finish my degree and I don’t have time, I am still raising our daughter, and I don’t want to engage with someone new until I figure out who I am. All of that takes time and until then I am on my own. I finally decided to go back to my counselor to get the support I need and to work through all of this stuff going through my head.

    I am betting that Tracy is right and that I will gain a life. I have had similar experiences in my life where I have had to recover and I know that time will heal but I have no idea how long it takes to heal from 30 years. Reading this blog is like having a cheerleader who reminds me why I decided to divorce my XH. What I am experiencing now (only divorced since May) is bad but at least I can hope that these feelings will pass. The shit sandwich I was eating before, it was never-ending.

    • You so accurately describe the initial post-divorce phase! It’s like waking up from canser surgery; the tumor is now gone, but the stitches still hurt like hell.

    • Yes, this is a very raw period – Things were finalized in May for me as well, and final, final in June with the house. And that makes it really final. Since then, no contact. The sadness is overwhelming at times – there are definite good and bad days, and I feel at a loss of purpose. I tell myself to try to embrace the empty – for the empty vessel needs time to fill up with ideas, direction, and love again. And I pray it will lift. There was a certain faith I had when I was younger that it will all be ok… A person who violates trust and love steals that faith and takes the pieces of their loved one, and throws it in the trash – It is that which is lost that needs to be taken back. Gathering those pieces is what needs to be returned to the empty vessel, because I really miss my former self, my happy self. I know it takes time – but I am just hoping too, that these feelings will pass. But boy, it is the mother-load of challenges to steady the ship through these waters.

      Phoebenix – Like you, my ex was someone who I was very intellectually compatible with – and someone who I thought emotionally supported only me until I found out otherwise…(long term affair) You sound very grounded, even though I know well the thoughts just don’t turn off like a spigot. I also feel for me that now is not the time for distractions as tempting as that is – I know I wouldn’t be able to tell what is real or not, right now. As I hear about MEH, it is the place of balance that comes with indifference whether one is on their own or finds a partner again. – I like that – and also to know that coming from a place of strength is true power. –I agree, in reading this blog, the very best cheerleaders are right here on CL/CN!!!

    • Phoebenix

      It took some time to figure out it was all an illusion. Best friends don’t lie and cheat. Being married didn’t have the same meaning to him as it did to me. X went through all the motions of being a husband and father. Yet, he led a double life. There is so much trauma associated with detatching from what you thought you had. Therapy is a good idea. It has helped me see who he was and what he is. It does get better.

  • I agree whole heartedly. One of my closest friends sent me a link to CL in my first week after dday. But I was numb and didn’t want to believe I really would have to start over because my husband did all that. But he did. All. That. And more. It took me 6 months of RIC and pick me dancing before I was in the mindset to look at CL for real. And even if it takes chumps that long, or longer, I think that is actually OK. Discovering the horrific betrayal of cheating turned my world on its head and shook it until everything was broken. Its not like the movies.. Find out, throw things on the lawn, fall into the arms with the underdog character.. And I honestly believe that until you process it just that little bit, whether it takes a week or 10yrs, you aren’t in the right place to understand or accept the advice you need to move on. In some ways I wish I found CL earlier. But I know it was just the path I had to go on to get here. I feel for all the newly minted chumps who aren’t in that position yet.

    • You are exactly right. It is nothing like the movies. And, in the afternmath of this AM thing, I have heard several radio talk show hosts justify cheating as they , simply, have no idea of the extent of the trauma. Their understanding of what this is like for the betrayed seems to come exclusively from watching how betrayal like this is portayed in films and TV shows.

  • I am uncertain if I would have attempted to spackle. I think both my XWs, however, just know mwe too well to beleive that I would ever accept what they had done. So, wisely, the exited almost immediately upon discovery.
    Weird thing is that, normally, I am pretty forgiving. I accept apologies and do not hold grudges , although i do view peole who have wronged me differently.
    But, this type of abuse is unforgiveable to me and i just know i would hold onto the resentment forever.
    I think I might have , initally, been willing to try counseling or something, but having been abused and played for a fool like i was would have , eventually, eaten me alive. I would have felt that my wife got over on me and took advantage of my trusting nature and love for her. I could not stomach going through life knowing I was played for a fool and abused. I would be paying her back all the time, I fear.
    And, who wants to go through life like that? I expect the siituation would have been intolerable for both of us.
    My XWs were smart enough to realize they had gone too far and had crossed the Rubicon. So, they got right to the divorce as soon as I found out.
    I always wonder why on earth they had to wait until discovery if they were so unhappy and i was such a bad husband. We have kids together. Why set up this type of dynamic for future interactions with all the attendent resentment? Why humiliate someone with an affair and then bad motuh them to justify it , especially when you ahve to deal with one another for years to come due to the kids? Makes no sense to me.

    • Arnold, they didn’t file for divorce because they are cake eaters! And they “bad mouth” us because they believe it “justifies” their shitty behavior! Some hang around and deceive you to “feather their new nest!” They are just assholes!

    • Arnold, you are awesome. I like reading your comments, because so many of them relate to my fun. Why, why, why. I ask the same things, do I really want to get insider her head and have it poison me to think the way she does.
      I’m 8 months past D-day, lots of interesting people, conversations and lessons. We need to keep our head up and walk tall. CN thank you for all of this, I’m sure my boss doesn’t appreciate me reading this at work, but at least I’m not a total zombie anymore.
      Just e-mailed lawyer today to ask her lawyer what is taking so long. Feel sorta like an ass hole doing it, but that’s the chump part. I read in some states people are divorced in 3 months, I haven’t officially received a separation agreement (Canada 12 month wait sucks and cheater won’t sign the adultery admission) in that time. It’s time for some bigger steps forward and away from unicornland.

      • Yeah, you do not want to get into a disordered cheaters head, LaughingSquirrel. I do not thin we are capable of understanding how their minds work.
        Just thinking about the things that would trigger them mystifies me. The odd reactions, the rages out of nowhere, the complete lack of empathy- all just unfathomable.
        I have been researching this stuff, especially the Cluster B stuff , for about a decade , now. It all started with a remark by my attorney who had been a social worker before we went to law school. I had never heard of BPD or any of the cluster B’s. When I would describe my XW’s behavior to my attorney, she would tell me I was dealing with a borderline.
        Then, after reading up on it, I started thingking about my first marriage, which lasted 12 years before the infidelity came to light. NPD seemed to fit my first wife to a T.
        Weird thing about these two women is that now, they call me a fair amount to engage in conversations about our children and they seem to like me. They are pleasant and joking with me all the time.

      • Feel free to harass the lawyer. The sooner you can make your legal escape, the better. (In the meantime, would a few hundred dollars on a PI to catch your cheater speed up the process?)

  • I was lucky. I didn’t go through this part. I knew right off the bat on D-day that I had to get out of my marriage. I had been going through a really frightening health scare (everything turned out fine) in the months leading up to my finding out about his affair. When he confessed to his cheating I knew instantly that I couldn’t stay with a man who would do that during a time when I needed him more than at any other time in our 27 years together. In the following weeks and months, I came up with the mantra “don’t forget” which I would say to myself anytime I doubted (or even questioned) that I should leave him. It meant “don’t forget that while you were scared for your life, he was out fucking another woman”. Looking back, the health scare was a blessing and helped me to not get caught up in reconciliation, pick me, or getting tangled in the skien of fuckedupness.

  • Spot on as always CL. The denial is such bitch. So hard to wrap your head around the reality. You can’t force it, and you can’t make anyone else see it. Yes. We NEED to believe it was all real when it wasn’t, not for them. Once the mask slips you enter the Twilight Zone. If you are lucky…you find your way here.

    This week is the one year anniversary of my final DDay. There was no wreckonciliation this last time. Just a few months of torture while he continued with his AP while rubbing my nose in it and SWEARING (because HE would never LIE, *cough *cough) that they were just friends, tons of gaslighting and blameshifting and of course stonewalling. Such a dickhead.

    This past weekend was his weekend, asshole called last week and said “the kids have been invited down to the farm for the weekend”. My response? “Absofuckinglutely NOT” Already told him she will not have any contact with my son until I am forced by law. Fuck them both. Fortunately for me the immoral troll lives 4 hours from our city, while she has filed for divorce (yep double destruction) it isn’t final and they haven’t made anything permanent.

    I had a friend very nicely tell me this weekend “I don’t want this to come across wrong…but I think you reading CL just keeps you focused on him.” I said “Reading CL everyday helps me navigate the INSANITY, it reminds me that I’m not alone and reinforces my healing process, validates that these disordered assholes are everywhere and they all have the same shitty core.”

    Unless you have been through this…you will never, ever understand.

    I am ever so grateful for all of you, we share our pain our stories and our lives. I think we grow and heal through it, and sometimes we are damn funny at it.

    Hugs to all. Here’s to Tuesday!! XOXO

    • Good point, though. I, too, have been wondering whether reading CL every day keeps me focused on the negative, when focusing on new positive subjects is necessary. But I reached the same conclusion as you did.

  • Ironically, my first D-day was today, Aug 24th in 2006. Yep, nine years ago. I spent the next three years trying to reconcile. Even when you think you’re doing 100% of the effort, it doesn’t work out. But you have to try because ending a 27 year marriage is too frightening! After lots of back and forth and WOW you would be astonished at my Pick Me Dance moves, he left in Aug 2009. Not that it’s a competition, but I probably am the biggest Amazon consumer on books about affairs, relationships, making your marriage work, depression, etc. Most of which I skimmed. The money would have been better spent on a divorce lawyer. I filed several times for divorce but the final time was Aug 2012, right after I found out about the other affairs, and found Chump Lady and her wisdom. I never looked back after that. The divorce was final in Oct 2013. Seven years of bad luck was finally over. The most difficult emotion for me to overcome was ANGUISH. It took as long as it took.

  • For me , another factor was all the cruelty leading up to discovery.
    Again, I am so puzzled by why when cheating , the cheater has to really crank up the abuse of the betrayed spouse. I was subject to silent treaments, disdain, derision, and a tone of abuse outside of the cheating.
    I do not get it. They are cheating and happy, right? They know they are abusing you, yet they crank it up even higher.
    I understand the theory, the cognitive dissonace deal and the fact that they view you as an impedimment to their conection to their soulmate. But, why not simply be upfront and respectful and divorce?
    My XWs were incredibly mean to me while they were cheating and I will never , ever forget that. I mean they did some really awful stuff.

    • As I look back, yes, when they have one foot out the door they start nitpicking, being mean, actively picking fights.

      That should be your first clue that, if they haven’t already, they are working up enough resentment of you to cheat.

      It is crystal clear to me now. I wish I hadn’t dismissed it as a “bad day” back then. “Bad days” turning to bad weeks, months and even years.

      They want out. They want you to get fed up and kick them out so they don’t have to make a decision to leave. Then, forever, they can blame you for all of it.

      They are cowards.

      • Yes my cheater nitpicked and was being horrible towards me before his trip. When he got back he pulled a 360 was being so nice. Some people have such horrible communication skills that cheating is their only way of releasing their pent up anger. Too bad for him I found out about the cheating after he got his “cleanse” and was happy again. I was always in the dark. No clue what he was thinking.

        • How to date a cheater:
          – Be a mind reader
          – Have no needs
          – Make sure your life revolves around them
          – Walk on egg shells
          – Never ask anything of them
          – Constantly praise them

          Just follow these easy steps and your cheater may or may not cheat on you! (But they probably still will)

    • No doubt…. they cant just cheat. They have to seek and destroy you while screwing around. Its amazing to see how bad I was in almost every conversation she had with anyone who would listen…… and her boy toy too of course…..

    • I wonder if the criticism, cruelty and contempt afterwards is because the cheater realizes they duped us. They think, “Stupid chump! Look what I did to him/her and he/she did NOTHING! Worse than that, they appeared vulnerable. Loser! I have utter contempt for the chump for being so gullible, and will treat them accordingly.”

      I got the same cruelty during & after X’s affairs (including an appallingly cruel letter after affair #1 detailing what I had to do to win him back).

      • Tempest – it’s because the criticism and contempt otherwise would need to be reflected back onto them and their actions, which is not an option for remorseless assholes.

      • Oh, that’s priceless, Tempest.

        Demands, eh?

        I do think xH was cruel because he felt so powerful–it gave him such a rise to know that he could fool me. He hated me. He feared me. He resented my virtues. So he fucked me over behind my back, and it made him feel potent.

        Sadly, that’s the coward’s way. Kick ’em when they’re down. What a MAN. Except that we know the truth.

    • Yes Arnold….I learned about the actual cheating years after it was over and he was dead…the sex act stuff seemed pedestrian compared with the soul ripping cruelty he treated me with.

      When I got the BD, he was SO mean..told me he was leaving because I was a bad wife…biting criticism, told me he was ashamed to be seen in public with me, told me I deserved to be beaten …acted like he was single and resented his family. Once OW was discovered, he told me how much better than me she was and how he wanted a “trophy wife”.

      Of the many examples I sat through was him telling me that OW was better than me because she eats vegetables for breakfast. I like chocolate and pastries and pumpkin pie for breakfast and fuck her if she eats bird food for breakfast, it doesn’t make her “better”.

      • OMG, pumpkin pie for breakfast is the ABSOLUTE BEST!! Who knew I wasn’t the only weird one on the planet. Cold pizza is damned good too – don’t heat it up though, then it becomes lunch or supper!

        • Yes, KarenE!!–both pumpkin pie & cold pizza are my personal breakfast favorites, plus cold corn-on-the-cob.

    • Arnold.

      They crank it up for many reasons. I believe many cheaters despise women or men in your case. X hated me. Of this I am sure. There is no love for the OW/OM. They can’t love. When found out they loose power and control, the essence of their being. Divorce? Well they don’t want us and the ultimate control is to be sure they suffocate us with their toxic words. Think about their parting words. It’s always about being inadequate sexually, as a husband/wife, and whatever vulnerabilities they are aware of. It’s “If I can’t have you no one will”. They don’t want us to move on. It’s control. This is why I had to stop dwelling on what HE said. HE is a serial cheating prick who inhales air and exhales venom. No one will ever want me. False.

      They also do it because to meet others they have to down us. Then they have to live the lie. And they are soulless mates by the way. Their life sucks. We get to move on. We know the truth.

  • Yes, the person you are with cheated.
    No, you didn’t do anything to make that happen.
    Yes, they are convincing so you think they are genuine and would never hurt you.
    No, it isn’t a mistake or one time thing, this is a CHOICE they made.
    Yes, you are a good person and you can’t believe this is going on because you would never do this to someone else.
    No, they really don’t care that they hurt you. They will keep on cheating. They already resent you so that will grow and their behaviors will become more obvious. No, they really don’t care that they hurt you.

    Yes, they will hurt you again.

    Unfortunately you got involved with the wrong person in the first place.

    listen careful….

    THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. This is their character flaw. This is their lack of integrity. This is their brokenness, not yours.

    For whatever reason they really don’t care – not about you, not about the relationship, not about the kids or finances or anything else. They just want out, but are too cowardly to say it.

    They do what they do so that you will kick them out/leave them or because you will buy into the RIC and they can continue to fuck around on the side while telling you they aren’t. Yes, they are that horrible.

    You have been played, duped, abused, fucked over. Yes, the person you committed to is, in fact, doing this BY CHOICE. This has NOTHING to do with you.

    The fact is there is no way you could have seen this coming or predicted this because they are that accomplished at lying and hiding and using people. You didn’t see it coming because your brain doesn’t work that way. You would never do this to another person. It is outside the scope of your understanding. That means you are a good person. They suck.

    None of this is your fault. Get out as soon as you can. If you stay this will just repeat or they will go further underground with it. They will never change and you can’t change them.

    Save yourself.

    • Sam ^^^ great post ^^^ every word you write is real truth. it is almost like a different language for the chump brain and heart to understand. especially a new chump brain.

    • Great post Sam. I wish I had read that about 5 years ago. It would have saved a lot of time and anguish. I also wish I would have found CL and CN earlier than I did. But I’m here now, doing my best at moving towards meh.

  • I *did* find ChumpLady pretty early on (XH left 3/2012, CL started blog around 6/2012) but I couldn’t accept what she was saying. I did the 180, the online save your marriage without your spouse classes, followed the women who “stood by” their husbands during midlife crises, I did everything but CL. I also had every possible kind of issue with my kids, so that muddied the waters even more. It took me a solid year to be able to absorb what’s written here. And then another year to get my spoons together enough to go to the forums.

    It takes as long as it takes for each chump. And that’s okay.

  • Great post.

    I think there may also be some biological aspect to it. I think out brain neurons physically need to rewire to accommodate the new knowledge and that process takes time. That rewriting of your personal history is indescribably painful.

    I kicked him out and lawyer-ed up really quickly, but it took my heart years to catch up with my head. Eight years out.

    • To clarify. It didn’t take me eight years to recover, but the experience was eight years ago.

      The experience changes you.

  • Great posts lately in wake of A.M. (morning wake up call?). i was on vacation without cell/wifi. wow, the walls can come tumbling down quickly.

    echoing all comments yesterday about the heartache and PTSD for new chumps. (((hugs))) and hang i there, life is better without a cheater. i agree with all the posts saying it takes the time it takes to start reclaiming a real life. the length of time varies.

    my advice to new chumps is to start believing that PEOPLE LIE. people we love and trusted with our lives can and will lie. especially when caught.

    so keep remembering that people lie, even when on their knees begging for forgiveness or sitting across from you in marriage therapy looking so broken and lost. they still lie.

    realizing people lie starts cracking the code. it may be THE code. it was for me.. well, that and CN & CL

  • This is so true. When I discovered XH’s affair, all I was Googling was things like “save my marriage after infidelity.” I wasn’t Googling “how to divorce a cheater.” It took me months to realize that doing the pick-me dance wasn’t working and then a few months of no-contact (thanks to Marriage Builders) to start seeing things in a new light, which is when I discovered you, Chump Lady (saw a link to your post on cake-eating on Marriage Advocates) and thought you made a lot of sense. I don’t think I would have been open to your viewpoint in the immediate wake of discovering the affair. And it’s really hard to come to the realization that your spouse didn’t give much of a sh*t about you (I still sometimes struggle with this a couple of years later). I always admire the chumps who have the strength and insight to kick the cheater to the curb immediately upon discovery.

    CL. if you could somehow have your website show up in response to searches like “save my marriage after affair,” I think that would help a lot of chumps find your way here.

  • I asked for a divorce after I found out about his cheating but this was after a “trial” separation where he lied to me, therapists and just about every other living creature about his cheating/double life. I had had enough.

    Still, at the beginning even when I knew he cheated, I spackeled. I thought, “well, people cheat and it sucks but we have to co-parent.” Blah, blah, blah. I was still in such denial about the abuse that he had done and was capable of doing, thank goodness I had an excellent attorney. My cheater got worse, threatened to take full custody of our daughter and hooked up with a vulnerable woman within weeks (probably she was waiting in the wings or another woman he cheated with.) He showed everyone his true colours. It was a year (or two) of hell and back.

    Now, a few years out I can honestly say that without a doubt the single most helpful thing in my recovery and new life has been Chumplady and the lovely people who post and share their stories. I get inspiration every day. My cheater? He’s single again, still drinking and has few friends. Seriously I can’t imagine the sad life I would have had had I bought the myth of reconciliation.

    It was not easy to divorce my cheater because I still loved him with my stupid chumpy heart. However, without a doubt I am much healthier now emotionally and physically than I was when I was with him. The emotional abuse took it’s toll on me and I often wondered why I was so “unwell.” Now, I have a much better understanding. Cheating is not a single act of abuse, it’s the final act of a whole series of subtle and not so subtle abusive and dismissive behaviours. I know this now.

    I’m so grateful to everyone here and I hope that the newly chumped eventually find their way to Chumplady.

    • “Cheating is not a single act of abuse, it’s the final act of a whole series of subtle and not so subtle abusive and dismissive behaviours”

      well said, Thensome!! the dismissiveness was a main feature of XH who was more of a covert narc (more like eeyore than a king).

      i have vivid memories of confronting him on this dismissiveness before and after our 25 year marriage. it took so much work (dialogue, not giving up) to get him to admit his subtle abuse. the result? he masked over this part of his disorders with fake compliance. when it all came out, he even admitted his charade. but when i filed and went no contact, he revised our long life together with his justification blame-shifted history, tied with a sparkly bow of living with his Twu wuvver now.

      this past (solo) vacation i started focusing on all i am grateful for since the divorce. i did not cry or grieve over past family vacations or all that i have lost. it was a good vacation!! 2 years post divorce and 1 year post CL. life just keeps getting better without a cheater and being with my lovely self

      • “Cheating is not a single act of abuse, it’s the final act of a whole series of subtle and not so subtle abusive and dismissive behaviours. I know this now.”

        This is absolute gold. After leaving my cheater I thought “Daphne, he disrespected you and didn’t think of your needs when you WERE there… what makes you think he would think of you when you WEREN’T there”.

      • “i have vivid memories of confronting him on this dismissiveness before and after our 25 year marriage. it took so much work (dialogue, not giving up) to get him to admit his subtle abuse. the result? he masked over this part of his disorders with fake compliance. when it all came out, he even admitted his charade”

        Chumpette, this fits my experience so well! About a year prior to Affair #2/my kicking him out, I decided I needed to leave the narc, because he was just so negative, critical and dismissing. I had been beating my head on that well, trying to explain to him why this was hurtful and harmful to me, to our kids, and detrimental to himself as well. I had finally realized he wasn’t going to change. So I told him I wanted out.

        THEN he suddenly said he didn’t want us to separate, and he’d make a real effort to treat us better. And he did! The kids and I could see it it, and we expressed our appreciation to him many times. I became hopeful about our relationship for the first time in years!

        So, fast forward, affair, kick out, months later at some point he’s trying to convince me to take him back, I ask him about that. If we were doing better, and we were so appreciative of his treating us better, and it was improving his relationship with me (including our sex life!) and the kids, WHY would he THEN cheat? That’s when he admitted that he had continued thinking all the same negative, critical, dismissive things about us and others, he’d just been holding his tongue. His being nicer, more respectful, less negative, less crabby …. all a charade.

        Sick sick sick puppies. And it’s better to know now, who he actually is.

        • KarenE….my STBX had given me real hope too. He really made an effort to control his temper with the kids and me. He showed compassion when I told him I couldnt talk, I just needed to cry. Then the narc in him had to start pointing out his nice gestures. At first I thought – no big deal and patted him on the back. Then it hit me. Um thats how people are suppose to act, no pat on the back necessary. I am talking about everyday normal things. It was so freakin awkward…yippy you didn’t cuss the kids out while hanging a picture, well get the man a gold star!! I feel like such a bitch, but I have no more patience for BS. Before the ultimate grand finale affair discovery I used to deal with his temper and moodiness. After the grand Dday I would always think…did he act like a jackass with those woman too? I asked him a couple times (insert blank stare -dead silence) . Ya I am sure he was mister cool guy while whoring it up. But I got the angry,depressed, irresponsible, guilt trip, boohoo don’t leave me, person. Wow I got the good stuff. NOT!

      • <>

        Yes, I was familiar with cluster B personality disorders but he was covert – and a huge depressive Eeyore..for years he acted humble in the world and just narced at me. As he got older he started to act snooty in general.

        His cheating was a culmination of thousands of moments of discounting and blaming me…Im sure he forgot I was a person (if he ever thought of me as one at any point).

        My new husband is an ever happy Tigger…culture shock.

  • You nailed the process on this post, Tracy. It’s nice to know that I wasn’t alone in chasing a unicorn. I chased it for four years after D day #1. Finding the EXACT same escort site on his phone four years later was my magic moment. I stood in the bathroom with his phone and thought, “I can NOT grow old with a person like this”. Without even confirming that he had physically acted out again, I told him I was done, was filing for divorce, and that he needed to be out of the house for good that night. Him just looking at that kind of site again was enough push for me to end things for good.

    I still find myself doing chumpy thinking and not trusting that he sucks as hugely as he does. Every month that he continues to still not pay his court ordered maintenance, cancels the kids’ health insurance, etc., I am surprised. Surely he loved the kids and I enough to at least pay his court ordered responsibilities? Apparently not. It’s still hard for me to get that through my chumpy head. Your “trust that he sucks” line has helped immensely.

    Starting over…..yuck and scary! Cheater made a lot of money, and our plan was to retire this past May. Instead, I’m having to plan on how to start a career after being a stay at home mom for 23 years. I have a 23 year old dusty degree in the filing cabinet, but am considering going back to school. It’s a little funny, since my youngest is also starting college. I’m trying to embrace the starting over with positive thoughts like, “I GET to have been a stay at home mom AND have a career!” It’s terrifying though, and not what I had planned. On the positive side, what would retirement have looked like with Cheater? Traveling the world with him sneaking off with hookers giving me diseases? Doesn’t sound fulfilling to me. I’ll take starting over any day over that.

    While a huge part of me wishes that I had found Chump Nation immediately, I also feel grateful that I didn’t. Trying to “wreckoncile” led me to an amazing woman’s group with women dealing with the same issues. In that group I have found understanding and friendship beyond what I ever would have otherwise. I also can look in the mirror and know that I did everything I could to save my family.

    My heart is aching for the spouses making Ashley Madison discoveries. I’ve chosen not to look, as it would just open up more pain. I may have my attorney look, however, in case his home address is listed. That way we could finally serve him with contempt.

    Thanks again for the awesome post.

  • Hey, if you want to change the conversation, the Associated Press is looking for people who were chumped and how it affected the children.

    Name: Leanne Italie Associated Press

    Category: General

    Email: query-52ql@helpareporter.net

    Media Outlet: Associated Press

    Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 26 August

    Query:

    In search of legal and family therapy experts to shed light on
    how messing around as grounds for divorce differs in terms of
    the impact on a family. Also looking for people who have
    personally been through it to talk about how they dealt with
    their kids in the aftermath.

    • I’m going to pass this information to my son’s counselor. As I have shared before, my son became suicidal and bed ridden for 17 days after his dad revealed he was a sex addict. I did not leave his side for months and only showered when he was sound asleep. I had to do a medical withdraw from school his junior year of high school. After a lot of amazing counseling, he is doing much better. He has gone no contact, by his choice, with his dad. He went back to high school and graduated with his class in May. He is currently applying to be on the 2016 2Xtreme Dream Team. It is a program run by his counselor, where 10 boys who have faced intense obstacles, train to climb a mountain. The program motto is “conquer a mountain, conquer your life”. If chosen, it will be a huge accomplishment…. going from being in bed and not wanting to live, to standing on top of a 22,000 peak in Bolivia. A documentary crew is filming the expedition. I have prayed continuously through this journey that his story would save lives. I’m grateful that this journalist is beginning a conversation about the effect that cheating has on the kids.

      • You are such a mighty Mama Bear, my.walls.will.sing, I am in awe. I know you’ve been through absolute hell and back and as the mother of a son who went through similar trials as my marriage disintegrated, I know it can be hard to fully let your guard down even after they come through to the other side (mine is now in his mid-twenties and thriving in the military, but he chose a highly dangerous speciality that he loves and is very good at. Much better than the worries he used to give me, but still). Thank you for sharing your story, it raised my spirits to read it.

        • Thank you, Other Kat. It’s so encouraging to hear your son is doing well and made it through the trauma of divorce and a cheating dad. I totally get the fear you must face daily with him in a high risk position, but my guess is that you’re proud beyond words!

      • Mywallswillsing

        Your walls are singing. What an amazing Mom you are! Hooray for your son. You are both mighty.

        • Thank you, donna! My walls have moments when they sing, but many moments when they still just feel sad and hard. Your support, and all of the support and stories at Chump Nation, are so valuable to me!

          • Your love for your son, who was shattered, and who is courageously rebuilding with your immense support, is so beautiful.

            Your story made me cry.

            I’m so happy he’s doing better. What a precious life he has in front of him. He will know incredible compassion, as you have modeled for him.

            • Thank you, Miss Sunshine –

              I’ll keep you and the rest of Chump Nation updated if he makes the team. The interview with the council is this Thursday. I think what was really hard this week was seeing my son’s story on paper, written in black and white. My brother and a great friend of mine (that I met through chump group) wrote letters of recommendation for my son. They outlined the struggles he has faced and the courage he has faced these struggles with. It ripped my heart out seeing my son’s story in writing. All of us at Chump Nation have similar stories. Maybe we should write letters for each other outlining our struggles and how far we’ve come? Thanks for the encouraging words and support.

  • yeesh… I think back to those first days, weeks, months – and I WISH I was spackling. I was out of my freaking mind – I couldn’t hold a thought, couldn’t eat, would burst into uncontrollable sobbing with almost no warning… I was like a zombie – a zombie prone to spontaneous outbursts of emotion. I truly hate what I allowed that bullshit to do to me.

  • This post actually makes me sad, because it hits the nail on the head.

    “Until one day you recognize that all your efforts at self improvement, that Will Make The Marriage Stronger, don’t seem to be having any effect on the cheater. If anything, it’s actually emboldened them.”

    Or until you really recognise that what they were doing and saying is EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE and manipulative and they are well aware that they are being manipulative.

    George Simon really helps with that light bulb.

  • If your spouse is on Ashely Madison, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It wasn’t a joke, or “just looking” , or just one mistake. The iceberg is deep and scary and will remain mostly unknown and unseen, since cheaters tend to only admit what you already know about.

    But, yes….the first instinct is to spackle, deny, and then “fix” it ourselves.

    Here at CN we’ve talked about the odd things that we chumps have done in the peak of denial/spackling….things like meticulously clean the house, or tend rose buses in parch-dry Texas, or suddenly adopt 8 high-maintenance toucans. Things we do to fill our world and our time so our brains can’t think about the fact that our marriage just “doesn’t add up.” I bet the next few years (due to the AM leak) we will see a lot more of this odd behavior as spouses go through the same stage many of us did.

  • The majority of chumps who discover their spouse is trolling AM are going to stay with that spouse, at least for quite some time. They are eating the shit sandwich and believing the spin. If any spikes are being seen anywhere, it’s most likely florist shops providing bouquets to cheaters pretending to be sorry.

  • Interestingly, like most here, I followed almost exactly the same path; however, I got there a very different way.

    A little over two years ago, I discovered my STBXW had accumulated something like $100K in secret debt / penalties / tax penalties / etc. I basically laid into her and more or less wanted out of the marriage, but my daughter (around five at the time) told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t want the family broken up. Cue STBXW acting the repentant part, but secretly doing the same shit and secretly resenting me for calling her out on her family-destroying behavior and demanding that she own her own shit. I became a bit of a righteous asshole because of all of that, and the cycle of dysfunction between me and STBXW began in earnest.

    October last year, out of the blue she says she wants out (insert all the ILYBINILWY bullshit here, I got it all, along with the litany of my crimes/issues/etc. – I am an uncaring, selfish, verbally-abusive prick, yada-yada-bullshit-yada).

    Feeling genuinely despondent that I let her down, I asked for MC (during which he lied her ass off, of course). Yes, her affair was in full swing then, I just didn’t know it.

    Once I uncovered the affair a month later, I was totally pissed off and that day was ready to kick her out. Daughter, about 7 at the time, says No, she wants me to try to work it out. So I do. IC, Amazon chumpiness, anything to try to give the STBXW multiple opportunities to own it and reconcile, so I can give my little girl what she wanted.

    No dice. After about two days of “owning” her shit, STBXW goes into full-on blame-shifting mode. Two months of despondency for me follows (ever done Christmas and birthdays with a live-in cheater? holy NO-FARKING-WAY-EVER-AGAIN), after which I start to engage in some secrets of my own:

    1) A class on divorce in my state, specifically geared to men,
    2) Changing beneficiaries on everything in my name,
    3) Uncovering more of her secret debt and bullshit, gathering evidence, etc.
    4) Focusing my IC on divorce instead of on “fixing” my issues to STBXW’s standards
    5) Drafting an ultimatum of choosing post-nup, getting the hell out of the house, or paying me 50% of all the bills until she does get the hell out of the house.

    No response to the ultimatum, so I lawyered up and filed; I made good on the ultimatum (which to STBXW, was simply more “proof” that I am a horrid, manipulative jerk).

    But her bullshit has thankfully had little And since I waited until I was 100% sure I could look into my daughter’s eyes and truthfully tell her that I gave mommy every chance possible to reconcile, I have ZERO doubt that I’ve done the right thing (STBXW moved out about a month later, in secret while I was traveling, taking whatever she wanted without discussing any property division with me). And have been in NC ever since (as much as possible with 50% custody), not even answering questions that she asks me face to face. Just no answer whatsoever, no talking whatsoever, unless it’s in writing.

    No idea how long it will take to finalize divorce, but I’m not in a huge hurry since almost all of the debt is in her name and 99% of the assets are in mine. But I’d say that I went from almost-discovery to kicking her out in about six months, oscillating between righteous, justified anger motivating me to get out, and hopium.

    So… did I Pick Me Dance? I suppose I did about 2-3 months of that. And I endured abusive hell for the months that STBXW was still under the same roof with me after DDay; every kind word rebuffed, every genuine display of sadness or anger on my part treated as being a manipulative ploy, every genuine move I made to improve my character dismissed. 100% pure hell, served from concentrate.

    I wouldn’t wish that shit on my worst enemy; but I don’t regret it. I needed to do right by my daughter, and after STBXW left I have mostly slept like a baby knowing that I did; I trudged through hell for that kid, and I am almost on the other side.

    So don’t beat yourselves up over the Pick Me dancing, chumps! Your path was almost certainly one of you trying to do right by you and your family. Let the cheaters walk away, because fuck them, and fuck their loser APs which whom they baloney-pony-danced; they can live with their shitty character and lies, and we will move on to the land of grown-ups who actually view honesty and integrity as real and important values.

    • Thanks, HH, I appreciate the support.

      I’m only posting so much here today in the hopes that it helps some other newly-minted chump to know that s/he is NOT as alone as they might otherwise think. It’s sad that so many people have to go through this. Hey, I was a jerk, so I am fine divorcing because of that, but I’m NOT so fine for divorcing due to cheating, and am assuming NO responsibility for the cheater’s actions (nor should any chump do so). I suppose that I should add that there was minimizing, gaslighting, deflection, and everything else coming from my STBXW, but she also had NO interest in staying married after I discovered the affair. She is sticking to her (mostly false) narrative – so it’s even a bit worse actually than I mentioned above.

      CN has helped me a great deal; I found the site early, but was too far into the brief hopium fog to really process it. Since then, this site and most especially the CN community have helped me immensely!

      • Lots of cheating women try to play the “abusive jerk justificatiin card”. Ironicalky, these women are, usually,, vicious abusers, themselves. They lie about their husbands being abusive. Some people believe them. Not much one can do about it, as fighting their smear campaign seems to validate their claims to tge naive or prejudiced audience.

    • Thanks for repeating your story, Sephage. It is a public service to save a newly-minted chump from even one additional day with a cheater. Your saga also points out the financial dangers of staying tied to them–they can increase the marital debt (and both partners are responsible for it unless you can tie it to affair debts), and then leave taking a lot of objects or money with them.

      • Yeah, and I think it demonstrates that financial infidelity is a HUGE RED FLAG for what will most certainly be eventual sexual infidelity if it isn’t occurring concurrently.

        You had every right to be angry with her for financially abusing you. One form of abuse is really never the only abuse, either, is it?

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–you men really have made such an important contribution to the site. You’ve opened my eyes to the fact that cheating, lying, stealing is equal opportunity. There are a lot of good men out there.

        You did right by your daughter. Jesus. At least she gets to spend 50% of her time away from that woman.

  • I found a site that showed #s of AM subscribers by zip code. (not identifying info, just raw data). In the article that accompanied the map, it discussed the fact that the largest numbers were found in areas that really didn’t have much residential housing. In other words, business districts. I check my suburban town zip vs the commercial area (large) zip. And the difference was startling. So, as the article indicates, in all likelihood folks weren’t using credit cards tied to their residences and so they probably were using fake email addresses.

    I am guessing that a huge percentage of folks whose spouses are in the dump, even if they check, can’t find their SO. Not all cheaters are dumb, in fact many are quite careful. They don’t want to be discovered, they don’t want their marriages to end, etc etc etc.

  • Have not had a chance to review all the post here…. but just saw an article first two suicides related to AM info dump.

    • As of now, there are 3 suicides…One was of a police captain here in San Antonio….he took his life last Thursday.

      From what his comrades say in their tributes to him, he was an exemplary officer. May he rest in peace.

  • DavidB, was it the AM cheater or the Chump? I’m going to go with the poor chump! Cheaters find them selves to wonderful to actually commit suicide!!

      • I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, but I would be extremely sad! Seems the chumps always get the raw end of the deal. It’s a pure Hell to find out your “wonderful” life was nothing more than a figment of your vivid imagination!

      • Well… I am inclined to think that the Police Captain was The Cheater- NOT the Chump. Police officers are notorious for cheating- it’s really pretty bad. I am imagining a scenario where he was climbing the ranks, got found out and was pretty worried about all they would find out. The short timing between the data dump and this suicide makes me believe this is likely the case.

        Eleven years ago, our local Police Chief went berzerk after his wife filed for divorce and cited domestic violence in her petition for a restraining order. Additionally he was trying to get her involved in a threesome with a female officer in his department. Our local paper was all over it. Within weeks of the divorce filing he confronted her in a store parking lot, made her get into his car, shot her and then killed himself. Her kids witnessed the shooting. She died after being removed from life support.

    • Cheaters tend to have crap coping skills and cowardly character. The AM was not a “cause” of anyone’s suicide. Years of deliberate selfish and hurtful choices were at fault. AM is only a consequence.

      If you use a gun to rob a bank and carjack a family during your escape, your death is not the “fault’ of the SWAT sniper who takes you out.

  • Yep! To a proverbial “t”. Just now starting to see the real reason for the chumps game….not living my life, not knowing real love from the one I chose, always putting my energy and attention on his needs and making him ‘feel better’ so he will love me again. Doesn’t happen but its very hard to believe that it won’t. And yep, your right, it takes months usually years to see it and really move on. Its sadly been almost 12 yrs for this chumpster to see the light. The only real advantage is my children are grown now and can make their own life decisions. I feel sad for the newly chumped. So much heart ache and confusion coming their way for way too long.

    • all the names, addresses, last four digits of credit cards and profiles are on darknet, however any time someone posts them bright side the site goes down very quickly. To get that data you have to risk getting a virus or trojan. You also have to have tech savvy in order to search the data, it’s not in a simple file.

  • Not on topic but I can add that I had never heard of AM until an attorney I was getting brought it up. As in, “Does your cheating husband have an AM account?” I had to ask what it was. That was two yrs ago.

  • I found this website and IHG about 6 months thru, among the bazillion others I was searching madly – but everything was just sort of lost in the noise then and I didn’t really understand any of it. I waded thru all of it.
    It took another 4-5 months before I found my way back here with a heart and mind prepared to deal with reality. It IS hard advice to take. The truth DOES hurt. None of this makes any damn sense until it does. I had to cycle thru every other option before I could accept the fact that my marriage was over. And then the leap required to act upon that knowledge!
    The title of the post today made me think about how hard it is to sort thru all the advice and noise and expectations, and figure out what is true and real. How long it takes for everything to change overnight. How unpredictable it all feels even when you can read all about the cheater handbook right here. How shocking it is to find out how common it all is.
    The good advice I see sometimes here and get often from well meaning friends and family that I am finding the hardest to follow right now is to not take it personally. That just doesn’t compute with me at all right now! How is it not personal?!? I get the part that it has everything to do with his disordered character and its not my fault, but how am I not supposed to take it personally? It must be an aspect of meh I can’t see yet…

    • ‘How is it not personal?!?’

      I know what you’re saying. (Then again, I take the weather personally.)

      Knowing that the person you gave your love and future to saw you as a commodity to be used and discarded is a horrible insult, horrible. But feeling that this person actually did see you as who you are, and did these things anyway, to YOU, is even more horrible, IMO. .So I guess we have to pick what hurts less, for the sake of our sanity.

      I’m sure Tracy or Portia or Tempest (or so many others) can say it better, but that’s my take.

    • Arlo, well said. ‘None of this makes any sense until it does’ and ‘how long it takes for everything to change overnight.’ I didn’t find CL until after STBX walked out. When I read the post and comments, I was shocked and relieved. Shocked that others had the same bizarre behavior from their spouse, and relieved that I wasn’t crazy.

      The truth is that if it were left up to me, we’d still be together. I was caught in this crazy world of “he’s depressed, having a rough go of it, it will pass, you don’t run when things get hard” and “marriage police, trying to figure out what in the hell was going on.” It was the absolute worst. I was scared. I’m in his home town, thousands of miles from home, how am I going to do this? He worked from home, rarely leaving the house, his cheating was online. Webcams, sexting, even his own porn sites. That’s a thing of the past now that he’s injecting uber amounts of testosterone. He left the house and the state to get laid. He’s been my son’s father for 14 years, and now? He manages a text once a month.

      I learned here about Narcissism, and it enabled me to let go. I didn’t have to figure it out anymore and that has brought me some peace.

    • Arlo, it my mind, it’s not personal because the narc cheater didn’t treat YOU that way because you’re you. They would treat ANY partner that way (and they prefer their partners chumpy).

      When I would start sounding all whiny to myself, getting into that self-pity mode of ‘I didn’t want my life to change so much, now everything is so much harder, now I have to raise the kids alone, manage on less money, postpone retiring ….’, I’d remind myself that it’s NOT personal. It’s as if there had been a hurricane or earthquake that only hit my house. It turns your life upside down, costs you a ton of cash, and changes everything. But it’s not like the hurricane was out to get YOU.

      It was actually liberating to understand that my ex’s incredibly stupid, selfish choices had little to nothing to do with me. It helped that I knew he had treated a previous 10 yr girlfriend similarly, and cheated on her more than once, too. (Of course I didn’t find this out until many years into the relationship.) And that he is a faded carbon-copy of his dad, who cheated on and was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive to his two wives, and to his kids. (I say faded copy because my ex cheated LESS and was LESS violent, although the emotional abuse at one point was very high, until I started setting boundaries. The only reason he was less of an asshole, I figure, was that times have changed and guys can’t get away with as much now as they could 40 years ago.)

      I figure the kids and I were Lego figurines in his pretend life, and now he’s switched us out for new ones. That’s incredibly painful, but it’s not personal.

      • KE, what you said about your ex’s dad really rings a bell. My FIL was such a rotten mean old bastard until the day he died, and my husband seemed to start expressing more and more of those traits as he got older. It’s one of the things that got me really questioning what my future would look like with him. My MIL, same way. Ugh I’m so done with him and his whole effed up family!

      • Very well-put, KarenE. What they did to us is NOT personal (after all, most of these serial cheaters will be serial cheaters in multiple relationships). But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t FEEL personal–after all, they did it to us.

    • arlo,

      You’re probably struggling with the “it’s not personal” because vampires disguise themselves as human beings. Dracula always seduced his victims in order to suck their blood. One virgin’s blood was as good as the next. The tricky part for a vampire is that he (she) cannot come into your dwelling unless you “invite” them in – thus the seductive nature of their interactions. If they originally appeared to you with their fangs exposed and their bloodshot eyes showing, it would be difficult for them to fulfill their bloodlust. Thus, the “charm” and the “romance.” They don’t want you – they want blood. The innocent victim doesn’t know that they’re dealing with a vampire until it is too late. And each night, the victim leaves their window open allowing the vampire in to slowly drain their life’s blood. If the victim is lucky, they happen upon someone who discovers the fang marks and says, “Hey! You’ve been bitten by a vampire. You need to keep your window closed, put some garlic and a cross around your neck and drive a stake through the chest of that motherfucker.” That would be finding CL and CN, listening to the advice and getting a kick ass attorney. In the meantime, while the victim is trying to catch the vampire and drive a stake through it, the vampire is still out there sucking blood. It can’t survive otherwise.

      Predators seek prey, not love and companionship. That’s why it isn’t personal.

      • CP, you are so right (and scary!). I am really struggling to understand how I didn’t see him for who he really was for so long. How did I talk myself into all this!?!
        “What is this Spackle I keep hearing about? Whose trowel and bucket am I holding? What is this crumbly plaster stuff everywhere? Where am I anyway?”
        Sigh…I am such a dingbat

      • Chump Princess, I like your vampire analogy to cheaters. That is correct. The vampire looks like a man in his mysterious and stately surroundings. We sense something isn’t quite right, but we think, “Oh, he’s from another world. ” He’s interesting, charming, and he flatters me so.” Think Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows. So, the cheater/vampire stares into our eyes and we become mezmorized. We are in the Vampire’s trance and he calls to us to come to him. In our trance we come, like those young women in Dark Shadows. We walk across the tidelands, barefoot, stepping over sharp rocks and getting our feet cut in the process. The vampire calls us, stares at us and we keep coming to him and crawl up to his mansion. Then he sucks our blood, leaves us drained. We wake-up but then it happens again. Now remember that if a vampire bites you three times- you’re officially dead-you then turn into a vampire yourself. In the cheater scenario, I think women/men who step outside of their relationships into extramarital affairs become the new vampires- ready to suck the blood out of their new victim.

    • I feel it is personal. Even if they would have done it to others, it is a personal attack, and they make sure you know it is personal by blaming you.
      I think every act of infidelity stems from the cheaters hatred or dislike of their partner. They resent us and devalue us. Thye feel we are inferior to them and to their affair partners.
      At the bottom of every affair is resentment and contempt for the spouse, IMO. That is personal.

    • My mother-in-law said to me, “This isn’t about you, or even about her. He has to get right with God and deal with his issues. You have to take care of yourself. See your doctor, talk to a lawyer.”

      • Working It Out- Wow! You got lucky and sounds like you had an awesome mother-in-law. I had a mother-in-law that I really liked very much. My sister-in-law commented that whenever my STBXH ever said anything negative about me, their mother would speak up and really defend me. She liked me because I would actually sit down and talk with her during visits while her own kids would dash off to the beach or go do something fun. She also liked me because she knew how much I loved and sacrificed for her grandkids.

        About 18 years ago during a visit I was talking with her and looking over some documents she pulled out when we were talking about her divorce. Low and behold- I discovered that she was never officially divorced! She was disabled, frugal and lived on a fixed income. I then proceeded to assist her contacting Social security immediately. As a result, Socially security adjusted her monthly benefit because she was entitled to an increase of about $200.00 a month. She was SO thankful to me! She passed away this past January. I miss her.

        Now, does my STBXH and his older brother miss their mother? Well after she fell and had to be moved to a group home they stepped it up hovering around her like vultures.

        During our 24 years of marriage I would sit through repetitive nauseating conversations about how much her property was worth. Seriously! They talked about this more than anything. They talked about the value of her home rather than encouraging her to take out a small reverse mortgage which might have enabled her to improve her home for comfort and her lifestyle or perhaps get her dental bridge repaired.

        Well, I think they are glad she is gone because her dying gave them substantial proceeds from her beach house property where she lived. Yeah…Pretty sad. My STBXH and his brother are so terrible with money that they only finally achieved something in their 60’s through inheritance- rather than their own careful planning, investing, saving or sacrificing. Sad…

        • I got a good mother-in-law twice. My SIL calls me her sister-in-love. While we were separated, my MIL called me at minimum weekly, and prayed for us daily. We are working on reconciliation, but I don’t think it is the path for everyone. With each day, I am amazed at the humility he exhibits. I put my trust in God and rely on the Spirit. And If it doesn’t work out, I will be fine and I know I will have the support of Chump Nation.

  • Yes, CL is exactly right about the process. Unfortunately most of us personally HAVE to go through The Last Ditch Effort in order to settle the conflict between our emotions and our logic. We have to reach our personal Breaking Point and have depleted all of our resources for trying to save The Dream before we finally are able to accept the painful truth and can move on to a better life without a cheater.

    I think, however, it might exponentially speed things up or new chumps who find Tracy’s website and can gain insight from everyone who posts their personal experiences and advice. It has helped me tremendously. Thank you, Chump Lady!!!

  • I pray there are some chumps out there as lucky as I was, lucky to find CN within the first 24 hours. If you did this site will make you mighty when you didn’t think you could be. Of course that’s true no matter when you find us, but the sooner the better. My DDay was just over three months ago. Because of the information and support I received here I have been strong enough to push my divorce case forward quite quickly. Mediation is tomorrow. Pray for me. Send out the good vibes. Embrace the Jedi-hugs! I would be nowhere without all of you here!

    • AllOutOfKibble, I’ll be praying and thinking about you and I wish you luck in mediation. I took this route also and REMEMBER, YOU have the power of NO! Be prepared, know what you need and want and DO NOT negotiate away anything you know you absolutely need! Throw the “low value” crap at them to bargain with! Good news is, mediation is so much more affordable than an all out court room drama. But, court is also an option if your turd isn’t cooperating! Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

      • Alloutofkibble, I am praying for you too. Listen to Roberta. YOU HAVE THE POWER TO SAY NO! I am in the first stages if this legal crap. Some days  I feel like exiting without alimony or childsupport, it sure would make things quick. But I keep a 2×4 handy to whack myself in the head. Duh, I, we chumps, have been through alot of hard things, we can do more hard things!! You can do this!! You are mighty!! Give yourself a huge hug – you have come a long way – dont give up!!:-) 🙂 🙂

      • And remember, they all try to wiggle out of alimony!! DO NOT let that happen! I don’t care if he has to work as a Walmart greeter at 100 years old! If I outlive him, then I want my damn alimony! Seems fitting for the 41 years I put up with his deceitful ass!!!!

  • I didn’t know Chump Lady data mined my brain? Yep, that was me alright. It took me over 20 years. Thanks to Chump Lady, it wasn’t 25.

  • I wish I had found this site sooner but better late than never. I too was so caught up in the “I’ve gotta save my marriage” bs. I also had well intentioned but useless advice from “old school” ladies like my mom, aunts and grandma. It was always the same… “Girl, is he beating you? Is he paying the bills? Well you don’t need to leave that good man!” “All men do that!” or the other excuse we make for our cheaters.. “Honey, if you don’t give your husband enough sex someone else will! “Make sure you look nice for your husband…no man wants to come home to a hag! And yada yada ad nauseum….. I guess choices were limited for that generation. But those answers never set well with me. And my ex got plenty of sex, attention, catering to and some! None of that shit mattered. He was just a droid. Or a fembot! He wasn’t capable of loving me or anyone else. I will never preach that shit to any of my kids or friends. The more you thrash? The more the shark attacks

    • Hey nutmegpixy, my STBXH looked at other women right in front of me our entire marriage, I was never good enough for him, not sure why he asked me to Marry him actually and why I was so dumb to say yes. Biggest mistake of my life is what he was, he did’nt love me at all.

      • Wowser Kate50! Glad u escaped. It is an awful hurting thing. But it does give me some comfort knowing that my ex “droid” was not and never will be capable of loving anyone. And while I’ve got no love for my replacement, I don’t have to wonder why she’s with him. She’s the old me! I’m sure she thinks the droid is the best man she can get and if she passes on him she won’t get another guy. Shame on it all! Hope it won’t take her 18 years to realize her worth. She has no idea about the demonic spirit she just unleased into her life. Well, better her than me!

        • 32 years I stayed in my marriage…all because my mother believed that shit and told it to me. NEVER EVER will I say anything so stupid to my daughers or son.

          • I heard that from my mother, too… She said to wail until the kids were grown since they hadn’t asked to be born and that their dad was a “good provider” for us and not beating me. She knew I was unhappy, but she didn’t know that he was verbally and emotionally abusing me. She thought he was immature and selfish… I was too embarrassed and scared to tell her.

      • Kate

        X was always looking. It never ended. I stopped going to do many places with him it was demeaning. So glad it’s over. Laughing still with what he ended up with.

    • I think the Guardian article is a joke, right? I mean, it’s basically advocating gaslighting… and other forms of BS. Funny to read though, especially the typical “monagamy is outdated” argument.

  • it’s such a painful experience for anyone to have to go through. i think all the dancing around, trying to fix things, blaming yourself etc is just a normal part of the process. i don’t think it’s normal to live for a long time in reconciliation mode, though. but i can understand why someone might be afraid of really ending things because it’s a miserable experience for quite a while.

  • “Chumps disagree with the notion that their cheater really IS a person who doesn’t give a shit about them. Who wants to connect those dreadful dots and arrive at that conclusion?”

    ^^^^ This just stuck with me today. On every level, it was too difficult to fathom that my xh didn’t give a shit. That is a soul destroying and mind blowing piece of information that was unbelievable in the beginning. Thankfully, I only jumped on the reconciliation train for 6 months but that was 6 months too long.

    But as I look back, I realize that no matter what my chumpy heart was feeling, my brain finally realized I would never be able to live knowing that he didn’t give a shit. He killed the marriage without a thought about me. Why would I want to live with that? I didn’t…it just took my brain time to convince my heart.

  • As I read some of these posts, I can honestly say, maybe I got lucky that my x left me. She came home and calmly asked me for a divorce and a few weeks to find an apartment to move. It took me a whole week to figure out that she was having an affair with a co-worker and ask her to get the hell out. It has been almost a year now and we are starting the mediation process. For someone so desperate to divorce, she did nothing for a whole year. I scheduled the mediation date and am paying for it. Mostly because it just needs to be over. It has been perfectly amicable, mostly because I refuse to bite when she throws out comments about how happy her and the OW are and how much our little ones love her. There has been an endless parade of vacations with the OW, at the expense of time missed with our toddler children. I go out of my way to steer conversations back to the children.

    There are days I wish I had known beforehand so I could have left her on my own terms. In reality, this was probably the best thing she ever did for me.

    • Beatrice, tonight as I have been reading these comments I thought again how thankful I am that my ex just abandoned me right after dday and went straight to OW. Yes, I was crushed he didn’t even enough to consider counseling or staying in the marriage…but with time I have come to see that that was probably his biggest gift to me. A clean cut. Brutal, but at least it was clear, and it let me start the steps of grieving/rebuilding sooner than I would have. And I found CL at 6 weeks post dday, and that has been a game(life!)-changer. Beatrice, good luck as you navigate mediation.

    • WTH…he said he was curious??? Curious is pulling up a site….yep thats the site. NOT REGISTERING ON A SITE!!
      And the word curious, so its safe to say he was curious about effing someone besides his wife. Didnt curiosity kill the cat??

      I want to barf…he sounded so much like my STBX. But he forgot the “it all meant nothing” phrase. Chumps get that one alot.

      • Yeah! I agree! Curiosity is looking, NOT registering! And he visited AM after registering about “84 times!” Now I’m going to be honest here….who the Hell would want to do ANYTHING with this old fool? Oh yeah, that’s right! He’s in Florida? So is my husband and his and his Schmoopie! SHE likes them old too! Better warn my EX that he has competition from this old coot! Ha! Ha! Ha!

  • I found out about a week and a half ago. This is the second time (that I know of). I figured out the password to his phone and found all sorts of incriminating texts that I have taken pics of. Get this: the woman he is cheating on me with is 66 f#$@ing years old! I am 42, and he is 47. I had to bite my tongue the other night when I wanted to ask “what’s it like to f$@k someone who is 6 years younger than your mom?”

    Anyway, he doesn’t know that I know. I need some advice from you wonderful chumps! I am seeing a lawyer tomorrow and bringing all the evidence with me. Can I kick him out? Do I have grounds to even though it’s technically his house?

    • You are so mighty keeping your mouth shut!! Your lawyer will be able to direct you on the house. Oh-if posible please see two or three lawyers, most give free consults, just make sure your legal assistance is good (I hired a dipshit my first attempt to divorce my POS).

      Money – make sure your accounts are safe. Change all your passwords and PINs.

      Emotions – save those for when you are alone in your car, scream your lungs out! But keep your cool when you are working the divorce so you dont forget important questions or important information 🙂

      YOU are fabulous – best of luck tomorrow. I am so sorry your life has entered this world – but I am certain you will be so much more happy when you get to the other side!!

    • I agree with Freefall – save the emotions and keep your cool. And, quietly, change all PWs and review your finances. Get the facts.

      -Alchy1, so many things depend on length of marriage and laws in your country or state. -I was with my Ex for 15 years, we were not married, but I found out I had rights based on our legal agreement regarding our house (in his name initially, changed to our name half way through our relationship because of my contribution to purchase and renovation) that could be brought forth in a court of law, if necessary- That threat alone (especially because he made the agreement in deception #1) got me what I needed, financially; ie: a new percentage on the buyout of (our) my house. It really WAS the least he could do. So, I bought him out.

      I was recommended a great lawyer from my concerned family and she guided me pro-bono. She was SO sweet and informed me that she had some amazing Pitt Bull tactics in the courtroom that would make my head spin, if necessary. I really felt I had someone in my court. The other really great piece of advice I got from her was the sooner you negotiate the more “guilt” over the devastation on his part is on the table. That proved to be so true.

      When I finally threatened him, it took an evening of back and forth hissy fits – but I was ready to expose him for the fraud that he is. And that was when he backed down – why? Because it would unravel the web of current lies, past wives supporting lies, and the other lies (?), and he just shrunk further into his seat, because, and I could see it clearly, he couldn’t handle the ultimate, uber, total, damage control if he didn’t comply.

      Now, he gets to be the good guy, and I am sure he is spinning it as he is the UBER good guy who was so generous to his Ex – But I say, who cares. Finances, if they become entangled emotionally, can be SO devastating.

      The irony is, I am not so happy in our once happy abode, but the bottom line is, I can change that when I recover from the emotional devastation. My mortgage lawyer said, so sell it in a year! These impartial voices in the midst of my emotional paralysis are a godsend.

    • Thank you all for your encouraging responses. I wasn’t too happy with what the lawyer told me. 5 years of alimony because we’ve been married for 10. She wasn’t sold on the texts either. They prove intent, but not actual sex. That’ll change next week. Hired a PI and I’m sure I’ll get something. He’s too narcissistic to pass up the opportunity when we are out of town.

      • Depending on where you live, alimony usually isn’t affected by proof of adultery. I know men who are paying alimony to their adulterous stay at home wives.

  • Yes, CL, the only thing the Ashley Madison did was to increase the work that many people (just like me, for decades) currently have to do to maintain their cognitive dissonance (Hey, I LIKE my cognitive dissonance, I NEED my cognitive dissonance, and NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE IT FROM ME). I say this as gently and sympathetically as possible. I was there for literally 13 years before my D-Day, believing and wanting to believe every lie, and tamping down every thing that whispered to me at 2 a.m. “there is something wrong with this picture.” And D-Day hit because I simply decided one day that I was ready, that something WAS wrong with this picture, and after so many years I was finally going to find it out. You cannot know until your heart and soul are ready… oh and your gut, because you need immense amounts of guts and determination to see it through once you decide that you’ve had enough.

  • Ok, this is along the theme of “trust that they suck”: So, I am watching the fluffy entertainment news wondering how certain celebrities are handling the alleged Ashley Madison leaks – And, I heard something interesting –

    -Some reality show gal said, ‘…men and women stray, and they say they are unhappy in their marriages but really they are unhappy with themselves, and they think something different will soothe their unhappiness.’

    Perceptive – I like that analogy because it is true- “Trust that they are unhappy with themselves”. For me, part of the recovery from betrayal is sorting through what is mine, and what is his. I look upon my circumstance as an opportunity to see why I was so blind and there are answers there – no doubt about it. BUT, it is also an opportunity to see the unacknowledged, unspoken doubts I had along the way and why I just stuffed it all somewhere deep into my soul. -And, omg, to see my extraordinary Spackling capabilities in the face of doubt is a revelation…

    Someday, when I sort this out, I hope to love myself enough to truly recognize it in someone else. -To remember to put the necessary blinders on to the sparkle people when needed, to remember that true love exists starting with self-love. It is a long journey back, baby stepping it along the way, but I am seeing and knowing some things that I couldn’t see, and didn’t know six months ago… There is hope…

  • I found this site through the Ashley Madison thing but not in the way a lot of people would expect. I was arguing with people who were defending cheating basically and I was trying to Google up an example of how a certain popular advice columnist has a tendency to defend cheaters. There have been so many people making excuses for cheating lately because of the Ashley Madison leak that it’s been making me sick and brining back a lot of trauma for me. People just don’t get it. Especially people my age (I was very young when I got married and wasted years I should have been in college being married to an abusive cheater.) think it’s no big deal and cheaters are totally innocent. It’s been a huge relief to find this site and see someone take infidelity seriously. Everything you just said in this post, Chump Lady, about the excuses people make and the idea that you have to Reconcile and Forgive because Love really hit home. That’s exactly where I was two years ago. Those are exactly the things he did. It was basically “Oh, you’re imagining it, me touching her right in front of you never happened, you’re crazy, you imagined that. But even if I DID cheat it would be your fault because you didn’t do enough for me and even if I WAS leaving you to be with her it would be your fault because you didn’t fight her for me.”

    I was so brainwashed. He had me fully convinced he was innocent even though I caught him in disgusting lies lots of times. You don’t really know how awful it is until it’s happened to you. Thank you for this site. D-Day for me was years ago and until I found this site I was feeling so alone and ashamed and hurt. I didn’t think anyone understood.

    • LadyChumpleton: You’re in terrific company. I’m sorry you had to suffer for so many years alone.

      We serve up Validation as the first course, followed by Mindfuckery-be-gone as the main entree.

  • Thanks for the article. Sadly, it is so true. I laughed when I read about the save your marriage books – I threw away all the self help books that I bought regarding marriage. Actually felt good! 🙂

  • Describes me perfectly, I made excuse after excuse for his distancing himself, his sudden interest in hiking “alone,” spending all afternoon in the library, well, he does like to read, his Mom was sick so he needed time alone to think, I could go on. I’m probably own the title of Queen of spackling, so humiliating.., when he did move out, I thought it would be temporary, I just knew it was a phase, his mother had passed away. He will come to his senses in a few weeks.., How many times did he tell me he was a man of integrity?? A family man? Surely he’s not the type to cheat. He many times he made a point to let me know me know how lucky I was to have someone so faithful unlike most men..,
    He never asked for photos of our son, when he left, he asked for photos of himself. That’s how much his son our marriage and family meant to the family man. I lived with an imposter. It took me far to long to come to terms and face the ugly truth.

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