I got a really nice letter from a really nice reader “Chump Chap.” He wrote to me after he realized that he’d just gotten a non-apology apology from his cheating ex. But he didn’t realize it was a fake apology until later. And then it was GAH! She’s wasn’t sorry was she? Chumped again!
The non-apology apology is a whole separate post. What I wanted to write about was the grievous chumpy mistake Chump Chap committed — he sought out his cheater to ask her why.
It’s idiotic, but we all do this, Chump Chap. You aren’t alone wanting “closure” from your cheater.
Oh why oh why oh why did you do this to me? WHY?!
Logically, you direct this question to the person who fucked you over — the cheater.
Except it isn’t logical! They don’t have a good reason. And every reason they give you, I promise chumps, is going to piss you OFF.
“I dunno. Got bored I suppose.”
“He had a nice ass.”
It’s worse if they’ve spent any time on infidelity boards. Now they have a whole new vocabulary to mindfuck you with.
“I was broken from my FOO issues. It was the toxic shame borne of hand bell choir and that ugly sweater my aunt knit that my mother INSISTED I wear — I couldn’t bear my uncoolness, and I needed external validation. Lots and lots of validation. So I learned very early to lie to get what I wanted. (A Somalian refugee stole the sweater. I’m allergic to hand bells.) I guess I never stopped. Fucking those strangers on Craigslist was a coping mechanism. But I never stopped loving you, Chump Chap. I suppose a part of me will always love you. But I’m involved with Nigel now — and it’s complicated.”
Why would you stick your head in that blender?
Ask a cheater why they cheated, the worst of them are going to blame you. “I cheated because you’re fat” or “You weren’t meeting my needs.” Or they’re going to wax poetic about their affair partner. “What Tiffany and I have is real. God, she’s so good for me. Look, it’s all for the best! We’re both in better places now!”
Resist the urge for closure, chumps. Relationship autopsies do not bring relationships back to life. And thank God, because imagine the Walking Dead nightmare that would be. (Actually, anyone who has experienced false reconciliation has lived exactly that nightmare.) These things are better left DEAD.
Because when you ask your cheater why — especially after they are your ex — what you’re really trying to do is keep the relationship alive. You need sparkles. Gimme a hit on the crack pipe of hope. You want validation from this person that they Really Didn’t Mean It and have a very good reason for putting you through this hell. You want validation from the very person who just invalidated you. Was I so bad?
Look, cheaters cop to needing “closure” all the time. “I just have to meet her at that hotel in New Mexico… for closure. It just isn’t right to dump her with a no contact letter. What we had, well, I owe it to her to do it in person.” We know what closure means — it means they can’t quit the kibbles.
With chumps though — it’s like we can’t quit feeding the kibbles. Because seeking them out, demanding an answer, is kibbles to the cheater. We are reinforcing their centrality in our lives. It is the opposite of meh.
We may think we’re seeking closure to shame them, or demand accountability. They don’t see it that way. They see it as kibbles. “Isn’t that sweet? Chump can’t get over me. They’re so broken up. God, I’m fabulous. I’m sorry there isn’t enough of me to go around. Well really, I offered you a piece but you wanted the whole thing. Too bad, so sad.”
Closure doesn’t exist. Well, not in the sense that they’re going to give you a reason that will make the heavens part and confer enlightenment. You do the hard work to heal yourself over time and find acceptance. It’s probably never going to make sense to you why they betrayed you. If you’re a good person, it shouldn’t make sense.
Why did they cheat? Because they could. Because they gave themselves permission to do it. They didn’t care about how it would hurt you. Not enough.
Ouch. There’s your closure.
This column ran previously. (People, I just finished the FINAL EDITS on the book and my brain is FRIED.) Feel free to comment!