Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, How do I fix my picker?

pickerDear Chump Lady,

I have a question for the New Year — as we’re all thinking about new beginnings. It’s a simple question but I’m sure the answer is not so simple:

Do you have any advice on how to fix a broken picker?

I’m nowhere near ready to date yet. Not even close. But in all that I read, the message is very clear: chumps should go out, find a life, enjoy and grow ourselves. And this clearly will take some time. I’m okay with that. But what I’m not sure about is whether having a full life is enough to actually fix our bad bias when it comes to choosing a partner. I worry that no matter how happy I am with life, I’ll still avoid the good guys and be lured in by the enchanting dark temptation of the disordered.

I want to spend 2016 finding my feet and fixing my picker. Any advice warmly welcomed. 


Dear Caroline,

This is a big topic, but I’ll hit the highlights and I hope Chump Nation will fill in with their experiences too. Fixing your picker really just comes down to fixing yourself and learning to have better boundaries.

Fact is, freaks are out there. I can’t give you a 100 percent guarantee that your life will never intersect with another disordered freak. You don’t control that, but what you do control is YOU. Where you were once a chump, now you’re mighty. Where you once ate shit sandwiches, now you know what a deal breaker is. Where you once spackled and tolerated abuse, now you know how to enforce a boundary — and what happens when you do not. (More abuse.)  Moreover, you know that you’ve survived infidelity. You stared that motherfucker down and you won.

This is powerful knowledge that you take forward with you.

So you want to “fix your picker”?

A) Start small. Forget finding the love of your life right now and dating. Look at your circle of friends. Are you being a chump with them too? Are you keeping Switzerland jerks in your life who are neutral about infidelity or your ex? Are you eating shit sandwiches of “shared history” and tolerating disrespect? Jettison crappy people from your life. Cherish the people who show up, who reciprocate, who get you, and bring out your best self. When you master friendship and keep healthy people in your life, and you know how to be a friend? Then I grant you permission to date.

The best relationships aren’t based on just lust or status, they’re based on shared values. Think of a relationship as a very long conversation. Can you sustain interest in this person and they in you? You want a partner you wouldn’t mind being trapped in a small room with for the next 30 years.

B) Know what you want. It’s okay to want the dream — a loving, committed partner who cherishes you. There is nothing wrong with you for wanting that. Not one damn thing. I swear we’re all afraid to own up to this, like it’s a flaw, like people will sniff the neediness out on us or something. I mean, WTF with the “hook up” generation? If you don’t want to be a friend with benefits, DON’T BE. No judgment on FWBs, a person needs to get laid sometimes, I get it. But never confuse this with a relationship. It’s okay to hold out for the real deal and dump people who don’t measure up.

If someone keeps you around as an option and you want their full attention? Quit wasting your time. DUMP.

If after ages and ages of dating, this person can’t “define the relationship” — let me define it for you — it’s dead. You’re kibbles. Go find a real monkey.

Healthy relationships build organically and slowly. (Only the disordered instantly Love you!) But they move in the direction of increasing intimacy and connection. If your relationship is going in circles and you’re getting mixed messages? Mixed messages are actually a message that say “DUMP ME.”

C) Know what you want, but don’t want it so bad that you’ll tolerate crap. It’s okay to want the dream — a loving, committed partner who cherishes you. It’s not okay to accept shit thinking your abject humility and unconditional understanding will make it happen.

If it’s not happening? Dream a new dream.

D) Look for reciprocity. The best indication I can give you that you’re in a healthy relationship is that the other person wants to DO for you. Effort is sexy. Good people remember what you said and care how you feel. If you do for them, they want to do for you. There is no scorecard, no begrudging attitude, and no snark about your vulnerabilities. Good people are open for relationships and they communicate that with interest and availability. Pay attention.

E) Avoid the sparkly. If you like Bad Boys and Girls, that’s on you. Other people do not confer sparkle status on you. They don’t complete you. Quit being a kibble dispenser and start being your own person. If you need the extra frisson of dangerous sparkles to be coupled, examine that. Do you like the adrenaline rush of the pick me dance? Do you thrill to the competition? Do you have a little latent narcissism yourself? (The sparkly person LIKES me! I am MAGNIFICENT to be in their circle!) Stand up for who you are. If you aren’t anyone and are just a inchoate blob of potential — go be something. Then real people will be attracted to you for YOU. Not for what you can do for them, buy them, or kibble dispense at them.

And chumps, that’s all you want really — real people, not fakes. When you’re authentic (a steady diet of chumpy shit sandwiches does not make you authentic, it makes you resentful and phony), then you’re ready to be a healthy partner and friend.

Get out there, Caroline! Happy New Year.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hallelujah.
    Looking back all 20 years I realize all the red flags that I pushed to the side. It wasn’t so much a broken picker as I OVERODE my picker in desperation. He was cute, handy and appeared to love me. Maybe I just thought I couldn’t do better.
    In the future I am really paying attention to my gut.

    • Nailed it, Finally Awake! My picker was working, too-I went to extraordinary lengths to ignore it. Working with a therapist to figure out why, and learn how to not do THAT again.

      • Hi there twin!! Love that there are two of us “Chumptastic”s on here. Let’s hope we’d give the same advice/comments or someone may think we’re bipolartastic instead.

    • I did the same thing. My gut was screaming at me to not trust Fat Bastard after catching him the second time and I over rode it. Partially due to being in a custody battle and partially because he started love bombing again.

      Never again. If my gut starts screaming I start running. That is, when I’m ready to date, which won’t be for quite some time!

    • Agreed, Finally Awake. Hindsight has been a motherfucker, because I can see so clearly all the stuff I believed to be true about him, when in truth it was qualities I WANTED him to have – so I assigned them to him. On the surface he was nearly perfect. Underneath he was a festering sore.

      I just got rid of a guy I had been flirting with because he was saying some things that I thought rude, petty, and pretty obnoxious. At first I was saying to him that I found his comments rude. He became condensing and tried to turn it around on me. I started to argue my point and then realised, nope, not doing this. I said what I thought, he didn’t take that onboard in any way, so bye bye.

      I think I’m ready to date. 🙂

    • So true! I look back and see that when his words and actions didn’t match, I just took the liberty of choosing which version suited me best and let him slide on the other one. Never again! I will hold myself just as accountable as I hold some future partner.

      • I used to correctly interpret Hannibal’s poor behavior, call him out on it, and then he would pull the Mr. Vulnerability/sad sausage and I would spackle over it. He was so good at the “poor me” routine that he kept me in a marriage for almost 2 decades thinking I would be the one to make him a better person.

        I’m scared my man-picker is set to “asshole,” (yup, three narcs before I married Hannibal).

        Know which of my pickers is excellent, though? My Book picker. I can head to the bargain section of Barnes & Nobles and find at least one or two hidden gems at $5.99 a pop. Total enjoyment, and no mindfuckery. Sticking with books for now.

        • I haven’t been reading chump lady for about a month because of being entangled with divorce from jack ass ( I’m going to post about his latest bullshit in the forums .. Need some advice) but so glad I’m back on and read this . I think I’m at the point where I know exactly what I want and don’t want from a relationship. Stbx asked me if I was looking for a sugar daddy I told him no I would date a janitor, sanitation worker, etc who was a kind and decent human being over a clusterfuck disordered moneybags bullshiting cheat. Speaking of books tempest, I love love to read and my son of a bitch stbx hated that about me. Who ridicules someone for loving to read?? Then again he ridiculed everything I loved.
          If I’m meant to be partnered up with someone again it will happen and if it doesn’t I’m fine by myself. Anything is better than living with a soul sucking monster.

          • KMALoser–your reading books took time away from worshiping Cheaterpants, that’s why he didn’t like it (ask how I know). Give me a shelf of classics over a Cluster B anyday.

            • oh dang. My ex said that to me also at the very beginning of our marriage….now it makes sense. Never once did he look over and think “she looks so cute snuggled up on the couch with her book”. Nope.

          • I told myself (when still married to Major Cheaterpants) that I would prefer a kind burn patient who lost his face over a partner who was unkind. My new husband is very kind to me (and he’s cute too)

          • I don’t care what someone does for a living (as long as it’s not illegal or unethical) or what he looks like, as long as he’s kind, trustworthy and loyal at a minimum…my new mantra for dating, assuming I am eventually ready for that. 😉

        • What is it with the sad face? Mine always did/does that. A defeated, poor poor me little baby face. Must kick in the maternal instinct or something. Never want to see that again from a grown man.

    • Finally Awake, I agree with you: “I realize all the red flags that I pushed to the side.” I can’t believe some of the things I put up with and ignored. And all it did was convince my STBX that I “deserved” to be treated like shit. Which he proceeded to do.

      I just spoke to him for the first time in two months (and I called him…) and I was thunderstruck by all the markers for narcissism that showed up in our brief conversation – details I never noticed before CL and CN opened my eyes:

      He “understands” my anger but can’t listen to me express it because he “doesn’t feel safe.”
      (You know who doesn’t feel safe? Vulnerable girls forced into the international sex trade to service fat, middle aged, entitled pricks like you.)

      We “both” failed the marriage. (Ummm…nah…you were the one who unilaterally decided to spend $20k on your hand and dick, fuck strangers and prostitutes, advertise yourself on Craigslist…)

      He has changed the narrative of our life together – a new story for his new life. I can’t get far away from him fast enough.

      • ” I can’t believe some of the things I put up with and ignored. And all it did was convince my STBX that I “deserved” to be treated like shit. Which he proceeded to do.”

        Bingo. Its a vicious cycle. The more we put up with the more they push and the less respect they have for us. My Shitbox told me one of our issues was my low self esteem. If I had good self esteem I would have kicked his ass to the curb long ago.

        • Oh wow, FinallyAwake — my ex hated my low self-esteem too. When we first got together I had terrific self-esteem. Of course he had nothing to do with the lowering of said self-esteem and he kept telling me I needed professional help. I finally did hire a professional – to divorce his ass.

        • Yeah, and then he chose what? Someone with such low self-esteem that they would fuck a married man? These cheaters always have some “reason” why we deserved to be cheated on. Good riddance.

          • Yes, low self esteem would fuck a married man on the first meeting! Slut and whore. I’ve always had a hard time trusting people and asswipe hurt me more than everyone all put together in my life. I keep my trust circle very very small.

          • In the setting I uncovered she actually mentioned he low self esteem and how he was so sweet to boost her up. It’s what opened my eyes to what a predator he actually is.

      • Oh Roaring, my ex used the “I don’t feel safe” line whenever I tried to tell him something he didn’t want to hear, too. He even called me a “violent communicator” once when I said I wasn’t going to stay married to him while he dated around. Me expressing a contrary opinion = violence.

      • Roaring, I’m having one of those, “OMG… So you were married to the same Fat Bastard I was married to!” Moments!

        You told my exact story.

        I know I’m over the jerk because it makes me giggle to read what he was like now. What a sad,sick bastard. Luckily for me we had no kids, settlement happened last July, and I have had the luxury of being completely no contact ever since, and will never have to be in contact with him again in this lifetime!

        More to the point of this post, only a year out from D-Day I reconnected with an acquaintance from my high school from 30 years ago. His actions match his words. We both look forward to the prospect of, as CL put it, spending time together in a very small room for the next 30 years, and are ecstatic about it! We are getting married this year. I thought I would struggle more with trust issues, but the dynamic between us, and his actual actions and interactions with me are entirely different from the Fat Bastard, so there are no worries.

        Like others, what I learned is that my picker was never broken. I just wasn’t listening. I encourage you all to get out there and meet people. When you find one of the good ones, you realize the difference between them and the narcs is so obvious that you don’t have to worry about trust.

    • “Maybe I just thought I couldn’t do better.”

      Ding ding ding! Story of my life. Despite the fact that I have a lot going for me, I seem to be willing to accept “less than.” Being flattered by a guy who eventually poofed on me (thankfully) showed me this past year that I’m still in that mindset. Time to figure out how to stop that.

  • Oh my god. Eye opener! Thanks Tracy. My ex was a lot and none of these. All the wring ones none of the right. All women are to him is useful til they are not. Damn I feel a bit better today!

  • My picker is staying in the box, at the back of the closet , under some old momentos. I hear it calling my name every now and then… But much like the cookies in the pantry I have to ask… Am I bored or really hungry? And if I am really hungry… Should I be eating cookies?
    I have never been alone. I have always been attached to someone in some fashion and I never realized how much of me I have lost. I remember opportunities, trips and events passed on because the lastest dipstick in my life didnt approve or want to partake in. Not anymore.
    Yes, I am lonely sometimes. But am I really lonely? Or bored? Am I willing to satisfy that urge or fill that need with empty calories/ relationship or wait it out ?
    I am done self medicating with empty calories, empty relationships and empty people.

    • I’m clapping, alone in my living room. You put it very well, TheClip.
      “opportunities, trips and events passed on because the lastest dipstick in my life didnt approve”… this !!!
      I refused an engineering position at NASA in my twenties because of my boyfriend in France. The sparkly medicine student, who cheated on me and married the OW eventually.

      • My father was an engineer for NASA back in the day (JPL), Pure cerebral Narc. Place is probably full of them. Just imagine you dodged a bullet.

    • I think now I miss stbx most when I am bored. Working on finding things I enjoy to fill that time. Surely there are things I will enjoy more than pick me dancing!

    • I am exactly where you are, Clip, with no desire to pursue any type of romantic relationship. Want to be my friend, go to dinner, movies, coffee. Great, what time? But I am happy, dare I say joyous to be alone. Do I get lonely at times? Hell, yes, but not so lonely that I want to bring a significant other into my life. Like you, I have spent my entire life doing for others, putting their needs before my own. As I approach 60, I am finally putting my needs first. I cannot express how much more at peace I am, coming home to a quiet house, with my only concern being how I want I spend my off time. I feel freer than I have in my life and I have no intention of giving my hard gained freedom away! I recognize my lifestyle choice is not for everyone, but it suits me just fine.

      • Violet, I feel much the same as you. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to please other people that I didn’t even know how to please myself! Even though I’m dating someone, I don’t want to give up my freedom to do the things that bring me happiness and joy. I just don’t have it in me to worry about pleasing other people any more. It amazes me that the crippling anxiety I’ve had for most of my life is gone! Sometimes I do feel lonely, but not as lonely as when I was married to someone who wanted to be with someone else. What I really wish I had was a good traveling partner! LOL

        • I flew solo for several years post-divorce, and they were wonderful years. I spent time with family and friends, traveled with family and friends, and had a great time. I also feasted on solitude. Read a library worth of books. Hit the movie theater for those films no one else had any interest in. Worked in the garden. I think part of the process is to get yourself back in the driver’s seat and decide where you’re going to go and who you’re going to be. It’s well worth the time.

        • LYN!!! I wanna go!!! 😀

          …can Beau go with us? He loves to ride!

          I feel the same as the rest of you. I am happy to be alone, I now know I do not need to be in a couple. I am awesome all by myself. 😀

          And I too have noticed HAPPILY I have also lost the crippling anxiety I have labored under my whole life! I am so grateful for that!!!! I’m not sure if facing satan full on and slaying that evil bastard (read leave and take my fork with me) cured it or the fact that I have successfully navigated this ‘alone’ life and am actually thriving and no longer just surviving…whatever the cure was I am so happy to be free of it!!!


    • TheClip, thanks for this brilliant analogy. I’ve been feeling so lonely lately and now I have to ask myself if I’m just bored. Thanks!

  • I gotta admit, I am so happy being single and I really don’t ever want to date. My disfunctions start with my parents who are terribly selfish people, my siblings are selfish and my friends are selfish. I do try and stay away from my family but the kind of company you keep and the boundaries you set are so important.

    Because my parents never showed me unconditional love, I would take acceptance wherever I could find it. That’s a setup for a lot of problems. I still haven’t learned my lesson.

    I did drop two good friends from high school this past year because they are both cheaters. I tell you, it was harder to let my friends go than to let my cheating husband go. I still really struggle and am sad over losing my friends. I know my two friends don’t care that I am not in their life. To them, I am a bitter and scorned woman who should not judge them on their cheating ways. Taking a step back. They are entitle rich bitches who are only feeling good about themselves when they are receiving kibbles. I meant nothing to them, really.

    Boundaries are difficult because rejection is difficult. It definitely comes with practice. I must admit, saying, “no” to an ill behaved person is very theraputic.

    It’s been hard for me to find the line of overlooking some behaviors because no one is perfect and I am always looking for flaws – (or a reason to find flaws) and accepting no one is perfect. I try to be aware of what I am getting out of the relationship. Am I doing all the work? Am I being used? Is it a one-sided relationship, friendship?

    Bottom line, it’s important to know your boundaries and have some established. Be able to walk away and grieve. Be able to be okay being alone and enjoy being alone. Most of us spent years being alone while with someone so it’s hard not to keep living the same way.

    Ramble, ramble……..typing in the dark. 🙂

    • “I know my two friends don’t care that I am not in their life.”

      If they don’t care if you’re not in their lives, they’re not your friends. They’re acquaintances you shared some history with.

      Friends truly care if you’re in their life or not.

      • That was the sad and hard realization I came to. I always had referred to them both as MY best friends. It was a sad picture of myself and my self worth. My children choose their friends very wisely and I have learned many things from my own children.

        • One of the most common misconceptions I read over and over again…. “That action was so out of character for me”. The reality is: actions are never out of character, they reveal character underpinning deeper beliefs and values. I often read, “my partner changed from the day we married.” Regrettably, this is also commonly false. We marry partners as the bearers of our projections before the opportunity to objectively evaluate character. This is the nature of “Love is Blind”. And thanks in part to Tracy’s courage, the blinders are off and we finally see. The view is beautiful, share it with someone that reciprocates love, honor and respect. Kindest Regards-

          • jung-admirer – “We marry partners as the bearers of our projections before the opportunity to objectively evaluate character. ”

            Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – how true that is.

            I married my first husband because I saw him as reliable, responsible, hard-working, trustworthy, intelligent, quietly humerous. In actual fact I was seeing myself.
            In reality he was moody, lazy, sarcastic, duplicitous, cold and controlling.
            When reality dawned and I made it clear I wasn’t going to take his BS anymore he started looking for another option.

            The girl he picked was a younger version of me (except she was a slut who was prepared to sleep with a married man !) naiive, trusting, hard-working, unassuming and devoted.
            They’ve been together 15 years now, so either she hasn’t woken up, has a great capacity for self-delusion or has decided that it’s the best she’ll get.

            I’m glad he’s no longer my problem.

    • I hear you. My father was, I now see a pure narc, my mother codependent at least and I was always cast as the scapegoat, outcast child who was supposed to fulfil my fathers grandiose fantasies.
      I was bullied in school, had few friends when young and ran from nice boys who liked me thinking they were making fun of me while obsessing about the unobtainable.
      I pretty much went no contact with my parents from 18 on.
      Needless to say I have some self esteem issues. I’ve found a therapist and I am working on all of this. She noted that my internal voice is brutally judgemental. I hadn’t even realized, everything is so deeply ingrained in my psyche.

      So first step is to fix me. I need it not only for relationships but also professionally where I’ve self sabotaged for years. It’s easy to blame my husband for derailing my career but I made the choice to follow him. I could have said no.

      This is going to be the decade of me. I’m going to learn to set boundaries, learn to stick up for myself and find my place in the world before I become old and bitter.

      • CL, this is a wonderful topic, and the posts here really resonate with me. I’m in therapy and now realize that my narc step-dad, my co-dependent mom and bullying siblings helped me install some sort of tractor beam to attract the disordered. As I’m working on performing a tractor-beamectomy on my mind, heart and soul, I relish being unattached. Fortunately, I have dear friends who would go to hell and back for me, as I would for them, and I’m fine living single. My friends, dog, harp, and advocate work, and I’m good to go for now – while looking forward to going back to school! Thank you Chump Lady and Chump Nation, for helping me get to this point. Hugs to all!

        • Narc parents are a real bitch to heal from. But at this point, I realize it’s my only option.

          It’s like that line from ‘The Martian’, “I am NOT going to die here!!”

          This hostile planet that my child landed me in? Not staying here. I’m just not doing it anymore.

          I’m looking at everything objectively, like, ‘is this reality or more of that childhood crap?’.

          And am coming to the conclusion that it’s mostly childhood crap.

          And if you think about it, what healthy person would date that with a ten foot pole?

  • I feel the same way sometime. I fell in love with a woman who became a monster. I don’t think we ever discussed what our feelings were about infidelity. I am very afraid about dating because of the person any future wife would become, but at the same time, there were subtle things I saw while we were dating: a dysfunctional family, a crazy best friend, some fighting but great makeup sex. After we married, I saw how she would rage at people, and then after about 10 years of marriage, she started on me. Then, she started screwing out neighbor and destroyed both our marriages, and the rest is history.

    • My husband moaned and moaned against adultery. Bad mouthed his dad about his infidelities constantly. (And his dad was a bas***d). Would tear up at a commercial of stepmom (Julia Roberts) Now my husband has literally abandoned me and my daughters (5 & 8) for the past 15 months. He’d go 4 months at a time with no contact. We “couldn’t know” where he was. Missed his kids birthdays, holidays etc. Which of course was at another coworker house. Trying to make others think I was cheating instead of him. Going on about how I’d betrayed HIM. blah blah blah. All of it was my fault of course. I don’t know how you find a good one.

  • My case is more desperate than that, more difficult to diagnose. I have never found solid marriage material. Maybe marriage is for “normal” people and I am not “normal” ? 🙁 Sigh…
    I dated a sparkly guy only once, he was handsome and brilliant from a much poorer background, we lived together 4 years, he cheated on me, became cruel, married the OW.
    The rebound reliationship was an American geek, who followed the Dating Guidelines step by step – by the way he had an illustrated Guidelines book for sex too, a total turnout. And he was an authoritarian wimp. He is the only one who proposed, a foreigner.
    From then onwards, I lowered the bar to the quiet loner with good looks who has a lot of books and enjoys them.
    Some of these introverts never had a girlfriend before me. I would have expected them to be grateful somehow, that they went from no girlfriend to an attractive lady engineer and artist who can cook and clean for them. It did not happen, they got entitled instead. The relationship remained in limbo, year after year, until he cheated or walked out. Could it be me ? Yet I have done countless workshops to improve myself. Some of these men found someone that they married quickly afterwards, so they were marriage material after all. When it’s me, it seems impossible, it gets nowhere, and ends up in a catastrophe.

    • ChumpfromF, thank you for saying what I was thinking….”it did not happen, they got entitled instead.” I know that all too well.

    • Pffft, ‘normal’ is bullshit anyway – theres no such thing as a ‘normal’ person when you think about it.
      Fuck the status quo!

    • Seem pretty normal for here. Maybe instead of lowering the bar you should be raising it. You deserve much much better. Rather than trying to improve yourself you may need to believe in yourself more. I do know how hard that is though. Wishing you all the best b

      • My ex-husband actually told me I was not normal. I was thinking the same thing Finally Awake said.

        I’ve had some problems where I felt like I just couldn’t make my life work. Due to the economy, I had to change jobs several times after getting divorced. Due to lack of hours, high health insurance premiums, and making less than I should have for having a bachelor’s degree and years of experience, I couldn’t afford to live on my own and lived with my parents for years.I feel like part of my problem is lack of confidence and aiming too low. I’m happy with the job I have now, but I asked for $1 less an hour than I really wanted as a minimum and luckily, it is salary, and the salary amounted to about the maximum end of the range I asked for. Lucky for me, I can now afford to live on my own. Could have probably done it sooner, had I aimed way higher.

    • With my husband I wanted to “help” him. He had suffered so in his life and I wanted to make it better for him. But then I felt like he should have been grateful for me helping him but wasn’t, I began to realize that nobody could do enough for him. Seriously he complained that people didn’t do enough for him. It always mystified me, but I took it at face value and wanted to help or “do” more for him. Life is hard but we all have things for which to be thankful. My next person (if there is one) I want to have a thankful attitude. I have to work on being thankful too though.

  • I was desperate and ate shit sandwiches my entire dating history from age 15 on. Not one was worthy of gracing my front porch. Picked the same man over and over. Didn’t matter that I got a degree. Didn’t matter that I was self supporting. Didn’t matter that I stopped dating for over 5 years. I was clueless. My last relationship was with my first ex husband. It had been over 20 years since we split and the years we dated I was vetting him. The day I moved in was the day he started reverting back to the guy I divorced. As far as I knew he had not ever cheated on me. I lasted 6 months but the crazy got to me. Give myself kudos for sticking up for myself by leaving. I still kept the door open thinking he would pull his head out of his ass. He really showed his true colors. Yep, he was another cheater. All those “quirks” I now know are classic signs of a personality disorder. Thank God I found this place! Not interested in dating at this time. Not really up for kissing a bunch of toads to get to a prince. When I am ready I will be much more knowledgeable and won’t hesitate to kick em to the curb and not internalize it. Thanks for today’s post.

  • Here’s two of my own

    E.2) Part of “avoiding the sparkly” is fleeing from “love bombs” ( If a guy is sending flowers to your office after a first date, talking about marriage and kids after a month, or blowing up your phone with “I love yous!” when you barely know each other, run for the hills. This is a hard trap to avoid when you’re feeling lonely, but guys who fall in love quickly fall out of love just as quickly, or, worse, are trying to distract you from from their shortcomings and obscure abusive behaviors by grand gestures of romance.

    F) If you see red flags, run away from them… not toward them like a bull in an arena.

    The easiest way to achieve this is to not ignore or excuse bad behavior. If he’s late all the time, don’t say to yourself, “Oh his job is stressful.” If she’s rude to a waiter, don’t say to yourself, “Oh she must’ve just had a bad day.” If he makes a nasty comment, don’t wonder “Did I hear him right?”

    Accept that those behaviors are demonstrations who the person is and not temporary problems you can fix.

    • So well said on everything, Lulu.

      I dated a guy for about 3 months this year. Yellow flags began lining up for me: made less money than I did but claimed he wanted his wife to be a stay-at-home mother, had declared bankruptcy recently, kept vaguely referring to health problems and using them as excuses but refused to explain them, would post stupid memes on his FB wall about how women need to dress more modestly but would pressure me to send him naked pictures (no, I did not), etc. At one point, I spent a weekend introducing him to everyone as my boyfriend (with not a single objection from him) only to have him tell me, a few weeks later and when he got mad at me, that he had never agreed to be my boyfriend, “you just started telling people that’s what we were and I didn’t say anything.”

      I tried salvaging the relationship by raising my concerns with him, and that’s when I learned he was a blameshifter extraordinaire. I couldn’t bring up anything that was bothering me without it being spun around into being at least partially my fault. He kept on saying, “Well, I have to defend myself from your attacks!” No, you don’t, you have to acknowledge that these are problems and agree to work on them…

      Things came to a head when he called me “bitchy.” I said applying any version of the b-word to me was absolutely unacceptable and he needed to apologize and agree not to do it again. He insisted he had nothing to apologize for because it was how he really felt. Upon breaking up with him, I got:

      – “But I’m trying to send you an ‘in a relationship’ request on Facebook” (after I had blocked him)
      – “I love you” (for the first time)
      – “Great, so I’ll just tell my mother that she doesn’t need to buy you gifts for Christmas”
      – “I’ve already begun saving for the engagement ring. I thought I was going to marry you.”
      – A long mansplanation to the effect of how me getting upset at him for calling me “bitchy” was really a matter of “reverse gender discrimination” because I am the one who assumed he meant it in the hating-and-disparaging-women sense rather than the neutral sense of “irate” or “moody” that he intended it as

      It finally became clear to me that immaturity, manipulation, blameshifting, and arrogance were all part of who he really is, and not temporary problems that could be fixed. There was nothing to work with, so I got out.

      To top it all off, he repeatedly accused me of infidelity when I broke up with him, this in spite of knowing what my XH did to me and how I feel about infidelity. It was like he just could not accept that he was at fault for the demise of the relationship, so there had to be someone else.

      Do I need to get better at kicking jerks like this to the curb faster? Yup. But a younger version of me would have spackled the hell out of the situation and put up with it for much, much longer than three months and might have even married the loser. I am getting much better at enforcing boundaries and saying, “This is not acceptable to me in a relationship.” I thank CN and my experience with infidelity for that.

      • Rarity—“Mansplanation”–thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

        Lol–love it! That goes into our lexicon!

      • “how me getting upset at him for calling me “bitchy” was really a matter of “reverse gender discrimination” because I am the one who assumed he meant it in the hating-and-disparaging-women sense rather than the neutral sense of “irate” or “moody” that he intended it as”

        Wow, what a mindfuck, gaslighting pile of BS! Glad you saw through that one.

    • So right about this! People “who fall in love quickly fall out of love just as quickly,” I sure learned that one the hard way!

  • Ohhhh Dating.

    I dated while going through my divorce. I know some people say that’s a big no-no but I told myself I’d take a year, a full year, to just casually date. I met and began dating my exWH when I was 18 in college and so I had no proper dating experience. I was excited that at age 30 I would finally get a chance to go on a real date or two. (Or hundred, as it turned out.) I’m very good at setting my mind to something so I set out to have my year of dating experiences, date a huge variety of men, and figure out what it was that I was looking for. I was always up front about my situation (just out of a 12 year relationship, dating multiple people, etc) and a few times it was an issue and we parted ways. Some appreciated my situation and also dated around. I made sure to check in with my feelings of jealousy, they were very minimal. I feel like I should clarify that I dated multiple men at a time, some for as long as 6 months, but most were for about 2-3 months.

    I did have a tendency to fall for the aloof, emotionally unavailable type. The type that I have to chase a little bit. But I also learned that they always bite me in the ass. (And not in the good kinky way!)

    Everybody got one shot to screw up or cancel on me, I know life gets in the way. But if somebody was always unsure of their schedule or wanted to make last minute plans or tried to booty call me I cut them loose. Always politely, but I let them know that we were looking for different things and my time was too valuable to be wasted. It is shocking how many men would try this passive aggressive crap to see how much they could get away with. Turns out with me the answer is “not much.”

    I had a few mantras this year one was “don’t let anybody treat you like a yellow starburst, you are a red starburst.” The other one was “Fuck yes or no.” (there is an article, google it, changed my life!)

    After a year of dating casually and learning I started to get more serious. One thing I thought before I started dating was “I’m 30! I’m old! And I have a baby! And I have stretchmarks! Who is ever going to want meeeee???” And guess what? Turns out just about every man wanted me. I had no idea there were so many options out there. That helped me tremendously because I knew I could afford to take my time, be choosy. I didn’t have to settle for crap treatment from somebody because I knew that there were tons of options. And about 6 months after I decided to start taking dating more seriously I met somebody and after about 6 weeks of dating we decided to be exclusive. I just met his parents this weekend. Things are going really well and communication is excellent between us.

    Dating has been great. The year of casual dating was incredible. I have some amazing stories, both funny, awkward, and I’ve met some cool men and some that have become great friends. I’ve accidentally gone out with married men (thankfully I’m pretty sure none of the men I slept with were married) but when I found out I gave them shit and told them what scumbags they were.

    • THIS. 10000% THIS! I waited 1.5 yrs after my divorce was final, but I did the same thing. That 1.5 years was used to clean up my friend list–something that made a huge difference for me, and it helped me to establish excellent boundaries in relationships. But this is exactly how it’s done, Kim. You put the initial dating experience after chumpdom into words perfectly!

    • I loved the Fuck Yes Or No article.

      Before the snake, I was in a relationship that was forever poisoned by the feeling he just settled for me. It look a very long time for him to agree to be exclusive, and even longer for him to say he loved me. It was hard to feel like he was ever that into me. Felt like he chose me because I was into him. I just never had a real sense of security with him.

      Unfortunately, that set me up for the snake moving in way too fast.

      If I ever date again, I will need to find a happy medium.

      It’s unlikely I’ll date again, more because I’m not a social butterfly out meeting people everywhere. To win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket, and I won’t be shopping in places tickets are sold. I’d pretty much need to stumble across the winning ticket in a parking lot or something….

      I hope I’d be enough of an optimist to pick up the ticket and check the numbers, instead of just letting it blow away in the wind though.

      • I thought dating would be hard, and that as an introvert whose hobby is knitting I would be pretty much the most boring person ever to date. Turns out that getting myself out there, getting out of my comfort zone, trying to say yes to things I used to say no to has really changed me. I’m a lot more interesting than I realized. My exWH really killed my self esteem and I felt really badly about myself. I’m a catch. I bet you are too.

        And online dating isn’t that hard, I promise.

        • Kim, thanks for saying this. I feel really boring myself, that no one would want to date me because I basically work, take care of my dog, go running, and in my spare time I caption videos, read, do a little sewing, and plunk badly on an old bass guitar. Hey, I think I just wrote my online profile. Maybe I should post it and see if anyone goes for that description, ha! Anyway, you do sound like a catch!

          • You sound more interesting than you realize! I think that there are tons of runners/dog lovers who would enjoy your company.

            If you ever see me running you should probably run too because there is going to be something really scary chasing after me.

      • LOL!! “I’d pretty much need to stumble across the winning ticket in a parking lot”.

        SnakebitNoMore, you are brilliant. And funny! And a survivor. That has to be a magnet for the same!

    • Kim, once I found out my ex was a cheater I filed. I started dating during my divorce when it was clear I had to be away from her to be a healthy me, and she was a screwed up disordered psychopath. So I dated while still married, but divorcing. And once the divorce was final, kept going…dated several very nice women, had nothing but good times, and met my current GF…been dating two years. It did take a while for me to be healthy in my head again, but at the same time, I just had a lot of fun. I think once the cheating happens, if you file the divorce papers, it’s all over. The only clock is your own, not what anyone says in regards to the technicality at that point. Sounds like you had a good time, did it your way, tried on more than one pair of slippers. That’s the way to do it.

    • Kim, very cool. I salute you! Not sure if I can pull this off at my age, but maybe a variant of it!! Dream on, Virago!

    • You have to be kidding me, OLD at 30? No, your 30s are the prime of your life, don’t let the shit culture we live in cause you to believe otherwise. Glad you are in a good relationship!

    • About the article “Fuck yes or no.” (what an awful name)… I read ‘The Rules’ and noted that if the lady sticks by the rules, and the man applies the “Fuck yes or no.” strategy, nothing is going to happen, even if both are interested.
      The woman is going to play busy / hard to get, to activate the supposedly male drive to chase, and the man is going to conclude that she’s not that much into him, and will abandon the prospect.
      Besides, even if the guy is charming, and you are enthusiastic, you may not want to undress quickly and hop into bed if you are a divorced person over 50… I guess…
      Well I am confused now.

      • “The Rules” is bullshit. It implies that women have to play a game to get a man to want them. It’s sexist and manipulative.

        Fuck Yes or No isn’t about having sex, it’s about being enthusiastic about the other person. it’s about what a person saying to you matching up with their actions. If you like a person, you are clear about that, doesn’t have to be by having sex or love bombing, but being available, setting aside time for them. I may only have one night a week for a guy, but he knows that when I commit to spend that evening with him I’m not going to bail out if a better offer comes along. I’m going to give him my attention when we are together. And he’s going to also show the same level of enthusiasm. He will make a reservation, or tell me that he had a few ideas for where we could go. When you are enthusiastic about a person you share an article or funny picture if it made you think of them. Fuck yes or no is about trusting your instincts when you are unsure of where you stand with a person. it’s about being authentic with your own feelings towards a person and having the self confidence to say I deserve more that the crumbs of attention you are throwing to keep me satisfied.

  • One thing I’ve noticed, that my bad relationships have in common, is that I didn’t pick them, THEY PICKED ME. I guess I bought into the whole love at first sight fairytale horse shit that I was brought up with. From now on, I will be like ” it’s our second date, no I don’t want to meet your mother, move in together, get married, etc. “. If they can fall in love with you in two days, they can fall out of love just as quick.

  • Thank you for this Tracy.

    Maybe I’m crazy. I can’t wait to be done at least a year of celibacy after my divorce so I can splash back into the cesspool looking for a non jerk. Why? Because I’m awesome. I know I’m awesome and I am tired of feeling like a peice of shit because you don’t have to pay me for sex. Nope! I’m tired of thinking I didn’t do enough because I didn’t get the cleaning and laundry and cat chores and grocery and bookkeeping done on my own in one day. I’m awesome- and I will have a heck of an easier time when I don’t have his shit to do too… I am going to go out there and step away from the shit heads and say ‘NOooPEeee’ to the people who act like I don’t matter. Because I do. I am a catch. We…. All of us…. Are a catch. I don’t know how I will find a new fella, I just know I love sex and having a companion and that I make an awesome partner. I’m not going to hide that and let him win AGAIN. but I won’t go down the same roads, I won’t fold within myself to make someone feel validated. I will be mighty and I will probably not want to get married, potentially ever.

    I want to be Matt Fucking Damon in Good Will Hunting…. I’m gonna put Minnie Drivers number up to the proverbial window and say “world- I am an awesome partner. How you like them apples”

    Mic drop.

      • I drank the crazy kool-aid for way too long. I’m here for the mighty kind, where the drug of choice is ME, and you and your CN compatriots are my examples. Thank you for inspiring me.

  • Thank you Tracey for this. I am not even near ready to date, but this gives me an outline to figure out what I am looking for. STBXW told me pretty early on she knew I was the one when we met. God told her that. I thought I was flawed because I didn’t immediately love her. Just like most, the signs were there not to stay with her. In the beginning I choose to believe people could change. I gave her the benefit of the dought. Gave her trust she didn’t earn. Didn’t dump her because I felt sorry for her. Yeah, I had no boundaries. I have gone through and processed all of this since we separated. I have owned up to my failings and still think about what mistakes I made. I don’t want to ever make them again. I know what my values are and I won’t accept less ever again. I will listen to my gut instincts and not overlook actions. Actions define who you really are not words. I think healthy people know that. I am working on being healthy first and foremost. For the first time in my life, I am saying no to others when I don’t want to do something I am asked to do. I am going to be true to me. If that upsets them, then they are not a friend. I am a generous person, but now I have limits. I have a lot of work to do in 2016 and I am determined to live a life that is fulfilling for me. I wish you all a great 2016!

  • I decided I needed to be comfortable with the possibility of remaining alone for the rest of my life first. This meant accepting and loving the person God made me to be. I had to be willing to walk away from a relationship before I was ready to engage in the dating world. Deal-breakers are a must!

    This time around I used eHarmony because I wanted to learn more about myself and appreciated the business’s use of psychological/sociological matching tools. While not perfect (had some interesting dating stories from there), it helped narrow the field.

    In the end, I found a real awesome gal, Mrs. Feistypants! Shared values, good friendship potential, and loyalty (she demonstrated this early and strongly) were big for me.

  • Best advice from everybody here is not to just fix your picker but “set your boundaries with everybody”.

    -do not try to be somebody other than your authentic self for another person
    -culture friendships that have a natural give and take
    -if you feel taken advantage stop it
    -don’t look for a knight in shining armour to rescue you; be your own knight

  • This!!! I had dated some before my divorce was final. Did Met some nice men but I was looking for The Love Of My Life. No good. Met a couple of men who wanted to marry me within a month. I am vulnerable to Sparkly men. But not friends. I have the most excellent friends.

    The last one really did me in. Sparkly and disordered. It was over in 3 months. He dropped me like a hot potato after all the “I love you’s” and “I want to marry you” blah blah blah. It was THE wake up call I needed to know that I am not ready to date. So I have accepted that. And a month later, I am finally at peace with that reality.

    I feel like I need to establish my OWN routine. Do life on my terms. Be present with my son and not obsessed with my phone because some crazy dude is blowing it up. NO. I want peace and contentment. Happiness. And a garden! And time to color! And watch movies I like! And time out with my girlfriends! And running! And biking with my son! Woot! And whatever else I come up with! I want to be MIGHTY!

  • And for God’s sake, if a guy starts talking about how he is “too nice” or that ” nobody wants a good guy ” run for the fucking hills. As fast as you can. Never look back ! They have White Knight Syndrome. The Nice Things they do are expected to be repaid with a piece of ass.

    • Chump Nation is gold, I tell you, gold. These tips and experiences are all so helpful. I’ve met that “too nice” guy, Anita, I married one who kept talking about how he’d tried being nasty on purpose once because nice guys never seemed to win, but he just couldn’t pull it off for more than a day because it felt unnatural. Who would fall for that crap? Me, that’s who.

  • Yes!! I’m definitely not ready to date again, but I’m bookmarking this post for when I am! Part of my learning from the terrible relationship I just ended has been the painful realization that my picker really sucks ass and probably always has. And I spackle, like it’s my JOB.

    As part of my new years resolutions, I’ve written myself this little reference guide for all relationships, friends and otherwise. It’s like a quick summary of key things that I’ve learned from reading CL. This is to smack myself in the face if I start spackling!

    1) Nice is as nice does.
    2) Integrity is where words and actions meet.
    3) Truth, not truthiness.
    4) Values don’t talk, they act.

    If anyone has any simple rules to add, I’d love to hear them! Happy new year!

    • SurferChump, I like this! It follows the KISS principle!
      SO glad CL reminded us of Colbert’s ‘truthiness’ (can’t say the word without smiling!). God bless good comedians.

      I’ll add my 2 cents:

      a) Strong boundaries are sexy
      b) Red flags and gut feelings are an excellent compass
      c) It must be an obvious “Fuck, yes!” for both

      d) People always show who they are
      e) Best to cultivate an interesting life and maintain it.

  • So many of these posts ring true. After putting my life on hold for so long I’m content with friendship and using my time to enjoy single life.

    A family friend said I should do everything by myself and that being single has advantages. It took a while for this to sink however accurate.

    When my therapist said I wouldn’t be able to date for at least two years I felt so alone and angry because the Limited had a new life. Time gives us insight and growth to become comfortable with depending on ourselves. With that comes strength and healing.

    My picker focuses on MY needs. I’ve never known intamacy in a relationship. My magical fixer ability and selflessness make me vulnerable. These qualities inspired two men I dated immediately. Evidently I motivated them to change. WTF. A relationship is not a job where there is a waiting period where I’m in a holding pattern waiting for someone to gain life skills at my cost.

    My picker is patient and inflexible. It’s selfish with boundaries to eliminate the spectrum of cheaters. There will be no fixer uppers.

    The day my life was forever altered I thought I was broken. The gift I gave myself was freedom and peace.

    • “A relationship is not a job where there is a waiting period where I’m in a holding pattern waiting for someone to gain life skills at my cost.”

      I am going to print this and stick it to the refrigerator. Thank you.

      • I think we can’t really fix our pickers, just be vigilant and cautious. I married my one great love and we had a pretty decent life for 27 years until he met the ho and bang!, has tried to destroy me. Believe me, I trust he sucks but I also realized he doesn’t know how or what real love means. He doesn’t even love himself. He needs some therapy big time but of course nothing is wrong with him just everyone else has a problem. Definitely watch out for huge giant egos.

  • I have many great new and childhood friends. I was dumped by all of the joint friends. I have no idea what the SA told them. I don’t care. Fini.

    My picker is completely broken. I am going to be corny, but my boyfriend is Jesus. Kind, gentle, understanding, loving, forgiving, safe and wants what is good for me.

    If He hands be off, I know it will be the right one. If He wants me to stay in his stable, I will become a great nun.

    Sister Calamity Jane. It has a great ring to it.

    • CalamityJane, Jesus is the one of the main reasons that I am where I am today. He is the best focus for me right now. I am not ready to date and Jesus is a good person to spend my time with.

    • Same here Calamity Jane. Looking to The One to bring comfort, a sense of belonging and love. I bought a great kind of devotional book called “When a woman meets Jesus”. I bought when I decided that dating is just not for me right now. And I realize it may never be. I mean, that could happen. My heart’s desire is to have a True Love here on Earth. That is my ideal. But I have to think that what ever God has planned for me is even greater than anything I could imagine! So I accept that.

          • CalamityJane, it’s not corny at all! The knowledge I had that I was indeed a child of God who truly loves me and will protect me from my enemies brought me through some pretty awful days! Also, not everyday was terrible. During my divorce I went through a devastating cancer and was miraculously cured, I came into an inheritance from my uncle who had never married and left me in his will and I had no idea! I always was able to stay afloat because I knew and believed God would take the evil my enemies were throwing out and turn it to good and that trust in Him and praying has certainly paid off! If that’s corny then I’m cornier than anyone and proud of it! I’ve had better days in some respects than I EVER did in my 41 year sham of a marriage!!

            • Every morning I drink from a cup that says, “Keep Calm and Trust God”.

              Then, I go for it. He has me on the most magnificent journey. Up, down, over, round, inside out, upside down and I love it.

              I feel like Rocket Woman in her protected suit.

    • Mine too. Jesus is my homeboy. I am far from perfect, so it helps that He is. He is also fine with the stretchmarks.

  • One more thing to avoid: guys in their late 30s and up who have no significant “relationship history.”. At least not one they care to share. This means they are holding their options open to pursue a whore from the past, the true love, the one that got away. Not sure why they can’t do this while single, and avoid wasting your time. I would have dumped him and let him chase the Dream Whore straight away , I don’t care to compete for you, trust me.

    • Lord yes. The Sparkly disordered one that just broke up with me was this guy. Mid-30’s, had a fiance but she left him because her parents promised her new boobs to leave him (Huh?). I spackled…I guess. I hate admitting that. I overlooked a few things…. Anyway. That one relationship is the only long term one he’s had from what he told me. Other than her, relationships never seemed to last more than 3 months. And he also never had sex in 4 years. Until me. But I was special. Right.

  • I agree with everything that Chump Lady says, and the way I implement it in my own life is by saying “no” and meaning it. I used to give people multiple chances, and would let them use a little bit of sparkle to spackle over their poor choices. Now I just say no. For example, I was dating a man who “forgot” our plans for the weekend when I confirmed a few days ahead of time. He told me he had already bought hockey tickets but maybe we could meet up for a drink after the game and go out of town another weekend? I said no, and then I said goodbye and held firm through his apologies and protests and attempts to sweet talk me. A year later, I just started dating a man who was “too busy” to spend more time with me until he finished remodeling his house. I said I understood if he was too busy to date, but that I would not wait around until he had free time. He disappeared for 6 weeks and then came back around asking for a date, and was quite rude when I reminded him of what I said.

    A big part of fixing my picker has been fixing my willingness and ability to say no.

    • Bingo. A lot of my friends act like “this is the last penis on the earth! I must be ready to accept his penis whenever it is offered to me!” Believe me, there are lots of other penises and they all want you. And a lot of them are attached to men who will actually make nice conversation and treat you like a human being before being whipped out.

  • My picker has never been broken, I just chose to ignore it to my detriment. A few years back I thought I had met a charming, educated widower who is 66 years old and I thought of him as a nice friend only. He had a successful marriage of 35 years but then again my marriage was longer but flawed, very flawed. Slowly over the past 2 years he has shown his true colours and it disappoints me but as he isn’t anything to me, I realise he has been playing a game but has been found out. I am not prepared to tolerate any rot from anyone going forward. My friend knew that I am a great platonic friend but he wasn’t prepared to put up with that. This ‘nice’ friend kept me as option B without my knowledge to begin with. Once I found out about that I cut him off immediately. His option A who is about 10 years younger than me and she mixes in a particular ‘circle’ of high achievers and she has dumped him only recently and he looks so miserable but I avoid him now when I see him as we live in the same complex. I was my ex husband’s option B for over 40 years and I think I knew it but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. It won’t happen ever again, NEVER.

      • Thanks Virago. Finally it is good to be me, just plain old me!! Happy New Year to you and all of CN and CL. Slightly off topic, my baby will be 33 years old tomorrow morning and whilst he doesn’t speak to me any more, I remember giving birth to him like it was yesterday, so I will raise a glass of pink bubbles in his honour tomorrow at some point. Whilst my marriage was a complete and utter failure as well as the way I raised my 2 kids, they are still my best achievements. Here is to a great 2016 one and all.

  • After I filed, I was very aware of the fact that I hadn’t had sex in six years, and set out to remedy my situation. And this is why I had a Summer Boyfriend.

    On our first date, I learned that SB had been chumped 10 years ago, and was left to raise his two daughters alone after his wife left him for an internet hookup. Add in the facts that he was educated, attractive, considerate and interesting. He opened doors for me and pulled out my chair in restaurants! He was punctual on date night! He took pride in his cooking. He pursued many interests from yoga to kayaking. It seemed to me that someone who had been down Chump Highway and managed to put his life back together so solidly was a suitable companion to help Stella get her groove back. He was a great dancer, a great kisser, and as I eventually found out, a caring lover.

    Tuesdays became our official date night, and Sunday mornings we would meet to hike forest trails and then enjoy long brunches. The nights spent together were an intoxicating mix of romance and lust, and went a long way toward reaffirming that I was not the undesirable troll that I had been led to believe myself to be. His active lifestyle the rest of the week took up his time, but that was ideal, because it left me the freedom to pursue my own life. Our text sessions on those nights were epic; we covered everything from Schrodinger’s cat to quantum theory to the best recipe for barbecue rub. Except for Thursdays, when he was too exhausted from hot vinyasa to do more than go home and shower and fall into bed. Understandable, since he was 62, after all.

    The first red flag was the Tuesday he went ghost. No good morning text, no communication all day. Very unusual, but Wednesday’s good morning text came like clockwork. Then Thursday, an after-work text saying he was blowing off yoga class and would like company. When I explained that I had made other plans, it was not well received, but we agreed that we would still be going to a concert on Saturday, with dinner at my house beforehand. We never made it to that concert.

    He arrived late, even though he had never been late before. We ate. We drank. And he disclosed that he had been involved in a relationship for several years with a woman who was half his age, and who two years ago had moved to Scotland to follow her dreams. She was never coming back, but he was never going to stop loving her and hoping against hope that she would change her mind. He still paid for her phone, and Thursdays was their official Skype night. Never mind that she was living with another man. Never mind that she was less than 10 years older than his oldest daughter. He would always be available for her whenever she needed him, and nothing would change that.

    Had I been less lucky, I would not have found Chump Nation and the healing to be found here. Had I been less healed, I might have launched into full Pick-me Dance mode. Instead, I wrapped up the leftovers from our dinner and sent them home with him. Summer was wonderful, but seasons end.

    Here’s to 2016, Chumps – cheater free, with no leftovers!

    • So elegant and poignant, WiserToday. Thank you.

      I see a movie called “No Leftovers”. Considering Sean Penn & Marissa Tomei.

      Or Cate Blanchett and Vince Vaughn. Your server at brunch is Jennifer Aniston.

      • Wisertoday,
        I had a Winter BF that evolved in a similar fashion. Once the admission about the “long term unavailable other woman with whom he was still in love” happened, I gave it a few bittersweet days together, then after one particularly wonderful spring day with him, I just kissed him, got in my car, and never contacted him again. I knew I had to leave the old cheater, but it wasn’t until my heart felt as if it would burst that I knew I must end it or it would kill me.

        Yes, it is a sad fact that some former chumps do go on to cheat. It is despicable behaviour, for they know exactly what damage they inflict.

  • The best thing the man child Ex ever did for me during the whole nightmare was start “fake” marriage counseling while he was cheating, while I was still under the “sudden unhappiness” cloud he threw at me. I was able to find a wonderful counselor I already liked and trusted from even before DDay 1. Once his cheating came to light, she referred him to an individual counselor (she suggested male because she spotted his mommy issues a mile away) and she offered to keep me on as my individual counselor or refer me to someone else. I kept her and I shudder to think where my head would be without her. She helped me realize it wasn’t that my picker was broken but my eyes were shut to all things I was willing to just “look past”. She helped me reinforce my boundaries while I was trying to be the sparkliest of the unicorns and then when I was finally done dancing she rolled her sleeves up and got to work! I started dating too soon after he moved out and my neediness stunk up the place for miles! I had the FWB which was fun for a time because we were both on the same page and all the feelings weren’t there. But one day when I was perfectly fine being single and perfectly fine enjoying my life socially and navigated the waters of being a kick ass single mom, I got asked out. Didn’t work out but was fun for a time (he was the epitome of too much too fast), but then I got asked out again (most wretched first date ever but GREAT wine night story for the girls) and got asked out again.. The attention, although flattering, is not necessary in my life. It was nice to feel wanted but not necessary for my confidence which had been restored prior to any of that! I’ve recently gone out with a guy a few times, who is the first one to give me any of the real “feels” but he is a single dad chump himself so taking it slow is great for both of us. If it works out great, if it doesn’t then it was another fun learning experience to add to this new single life book that is being written! It wasn’t that my picker was broken, it just wasn’t pointing in the right direction. I took the time necessary to pick myself over and over again. To remind myself how blessed I am that I picked the best friends I could have and to thank God for picking the most amazing family for me. Pick yourself first and POOF you will see your picker pointing back in the right direction again!

    • YES!!!!!! – Pick yourself first and POOF you will see your picker pointing back in the right direction again!

  • Great Post. Excellent Advice. If you are recently coming from a separation and divorce, my suggestion is to relax, take your time and focus on what is fun. See those red flags and then adjust accordingly. The more times that you can say ‘thanks but no thanks’ the easier it gets.

    • I’d like to echo Great Post, Excellent Advice. I’m long past the end of the crazy and a solid survivor of the crazy, but I read ChumpLady just to tap my internal compass and make sure it’s still pointing True North.

      This might be controversial on a comment board, but after reading so many of your stories, could I add a suggestion that puts **social media enthusiast** into the possible red flag box? It seems to me that anyone over the age of 20 who is in complete thrall to their smartphone, facebook, snapchat, twitter, all that crap, hour-to-hour, is not interested in enjoying the company of the person who’s in the room with them. They’re into image management, they’re into secret communications, they’re into building and maintaining ‘maybe’ piles, and they’re into control. They are more interested in continuing to put their awesomeness out there, like chumming a bucket of fish guts off the back of the boat, to see who else might turn up and give ’em a nibble.

      I can’t tell you how refreshing it is having a loving partner now who (like me) has never had a facebook account and isn’t interested in signing up for any of that soul-sucking insanity.

      • YES! My ShiTBoX would spend every available minute on his phone and on social media. Used to boast how many followers he had on Twitter. Most pictures he’d post had him in them (LOVES a selfie – even his phone wallpaper was a pic of himself), or were arty, farty ‘look at my skills with a generic filter’ bullshit. We’d watch a movie together and afterwards, rather than discussing it with me, he’d sit there in silence and get his phone out. I’d later discover he’d posted on social media that he’d watched the film, apparently hoping to encourage discussion. “Well hello!”, says I, frantically waving, “Your wife here, sitting next to you, eager to do just that!” I was invisible. Not enough kibbles.

        • Thank you for pointing that out, HopeandGloria. You described my STBXH and his social media habits to a “t.”

          • These ‘social media habits’ sound very dangerous for a marriage, or any other kind of social relationships that don’t involve the spouse.
            I use mine for my hobby, and that is all.
            Dog showing…and yes, sometimes I get into discussions but I try not to overlap them with my real life.
            If I’m reading a book on my computer (or phone), it’s just the way I read books.
            But, it could look like I’m just playing on the computer….I dunno.
            Then, there are guys, mostly, I think, who play computer games in whatever form and don’t outgrow it.
            That sounds rather unhealthy for relationships but I know it’s an escape for some folks.
            Like Football, or Basketball season. = Escape.

            I think the internet, especially FB is blamed a little too much for the choices people make. To use it as just another tool for distraction away from the family. Before FB, there was IRC. Before IRC, there was AOL. Before that, there were General Delivery addresses to the local post office. People have been doing this for ever. It’s just waay easier to get caught now. And, far too many children who see nasty things their parents are up to, by accident. (Cue – the Weiner on the cover off all the magazines). I’m rambling – I have no answers.

            Except, I do feel a little guilty that maybe we didn’t spend enough time on the couch snuggling.
            He would watch James Bone on a big t.v. that would blast all over the house, and I’d hide behind a pair of earbuds watching my own quiet, Indie movie..

            • Offthecrazytrain – I didn’t direct my comment at you at all. To post on social media about watching a movie together and wanting to discuss it with ‘strangers’ basically, rather than you, totally crosses a line. I always loved discussing movies. It’s just that we never liked the same ones, or something.

      • I know this is an old post, but I totally agree with you, Off The Crazy Train. My STBXH was obsessed with all that social media stuff. He was definitely an attention-seeking, drama-loving narc that needed to get his online “fix.” When we met, I explained that I was not into this and that I have seen this destroy relationships/marriage (or at least a tool that makes it easier, I should say), and he said he would get off it. Needless to say, he couldn’t stay off it and used it to find new sources of narc supply which ultimately lead to the demise of our marriage, so that is definitely a dating red flag for me, moving forward.

  • Unless he/she has no family then spend time with them. You will see the dynamics between family members the more you are around them. If they are estranged from their foo this is a giant red flag. If they are the “golden child” be very wary. If they have kids they need to be hands on parents…….every day. Have they got a good work history/ethic, long term employment, small debt, lots of good friends……..not drinking buddies? Do they keep a death grip on their phone, laptop? I have never believed in the right to secrets in a marriage. ( Do I gripe about my husband? Yep, by phone. No texting. He can read anything I write.) Are they where they say they are? The people who love us should be open books.

    My brother’s ex kept such good secrets that she is one of those disappearing spouses. You usually read about men completely deserting families but she did it and it nearly destroyed her kids.

    • My ex’s two daughters weren’t talking to him at all and his son was on-again, off-again, but always trouble. Big red flag that I ignored.

    • I don’t know. I’m estranged from most of my FOO. I am close to one aunt and 3 of my sisters, but my parents, the rest of my aunts and uncles, no. I grew up in an abusive family with lots of personality disorders with a smattering of addiction. I made the decision when I was pregnant with my daughter to protect her. It took years of therapy to get okay with the decision and I know it was the right one. If somebody thought poorly of me because of that, well, I don’t even know what I would think. But it would hurt a lot.

    • Being estranged from family isn’t always a red flag. In fact, I’d find it to be a red flag if they weren’t estranged and said people were disordered. Its about observing the family dynamic and seeing what boundaries are being put up, thats important.

      • You’re right, being estranged from family isn’t always a red flag. In my ex’s case it was. Two of the kids were in and out of rehab and/or jail. The daughter has multiple children from different fathers. He never ever acknowledged that he might have been a less than perfect father, blamed his kids on his ex-wife. And the rest of his family was pretty dysfunctional as well, their get-togethers were loud, belligerent drunken affairs. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But I bought his line that he was the injured party in his former marriage and with his kids. Actually now that I’m typing this, I’m realizing the estrangement wasn’t the red flag. It was where he placed the blame. That’s what I should have paid attention to. Ding ding ding!

        • Being estranged from foo is healthy if they are toxic. Therapy can move mountains. My ex s-i-l had a very toxic foo and took that all into her marriage to my brother. I still think it helps to know where your future partner comes from. I know a couple that recognized how terrible their childhoods had been and vowed to be good parents. They worked together to make sure they were.. They married right out of high school,but were fortunate enough to find great support in each other. Very mature thinking.
          I so wish this blog could be available as a college course. It would save so many people too young to recognize red flags.

          • Problem is though, disordered people would use this site to further refine their cruelty and abuse – and it’d be overall harder to pick out the red flags. Its why therapy rarely works for true personality disorders – they use it to further abuse others, and justify said abuse with therapy-talk.

  • My two rules are the reciprocity one, and TAKE IT SLOW!!! My two exes (the smart, charming, loving, great in bed … alcoholic, and the cheater narc) both rushed me into big involvement really fast. I didn’t actually know who they were, but made commitments and invested a ton of my time, energy and emotion. I can’t blame myself a lot for the first one – I was 17, after all. But really, for the cheater narc, I should have been smarter. Despite his mirroring my values and goals, he gave me lots of clues as to who he was. I just wanted so much for it to work that I spackled like a champ.

    Now I have a time-line in my head; it takes 3 months to start to see who someone really is (well, except the ones who can’t hide the disorderedness even the length of a first date!). And it takes 2 years to know whether this is someone you can spend the rest of your life with. I’ve also learned to stop periodically and ask myself; if it stays like this, is that ok? That one question could have saved me SO much heartache.

  • Dating a fellow chump instead of Mr/Ms Sparkles worked for me… Remarried 13 years and counting. Past failed relationships are a huge clue. If they don’t want to discuss those, or were narc leavers, a huge red flag for me personally.

  • The differences between my ex-cheater husband and current husband are as wide as the sea.

    In my first marriage with cheater-ex, I accepted “fake” adoration, love and attention with no depth, I thought that because he said it, that meant he was doing or feeling it. I ignored my gut and presumed that no one would live a double life of lies and deception when they professed to want to be with me and our children every single day. In effect, I fell for the sparkles and looked at words and not deeds. And I did not trust or believe in myself enough. I willed it to be something more, and I was stunned when it was not.

    When I started dating my current-husband, I was astounded by the differences. They were so very obvious, yet somehow very simple. How did I miss this the first time around? Within a few dates, my current-husband was asking me how I felt, what I thought, about issues great and small. And he was sharing his views and experiences. We were able to talk and talk….and talk. And he thought that was NORMAL. It was so…..different somehow, yet so wonderful. And it built over time, and came naturally. Nothing was forced, no one wanted more than the other–whether it was time together or commitment to each other.

    How did I miss this the first time around? Youth? Naivete? Sparkles? Wanting it to be so? And current-husband never disappointed me in those great and small ways my ex had done but I could never quite put my finger on–> not caring when I cried, inexplicably failing to contact me when he should have, inability to have deep or meaningful conversations, no ability for introspection, the willingness to make the cruel cutting comment or go too far in the fight. My ex pretended to value me, it left me uncomfortable and feeling something was “off,” but without the ability to truly put my finger on the source of my discomfort. I know that my current-husband truly values me, but I had to get out and away from my ex, and I had to stop looking for and believing in sparkles. My ex was tall and handsome, extremely polite (not only opening doors for me but practically throwing his coat over a puddle when we walked), had a hilarious and quick wit and was the life of the party, was smart as hell….and he was a sociopath. My current husband may not be quite as sparkly (and his jokes are, quite frankly, adorably corny), but I love him deeply and I know he truly loves me.

    The differences are obvious once you get out of the shadow of the disordered. Your ability to know if you are connecting with a real human being who has the ability to love, empathize and feel will be easier once you get truly away. Trust and believe in yourself and you will see Caroline, and it will be better than you ever could have imagined.

    Happy 2016.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! It’s so great to hear that many people do find true love after leaving a cheater/liar/sociopath, etc. Gives a newly awakened chump like me some hope for the future. 🙂

    • Kelly, you explained it all perfectly. My therapist told me after DDay that once I found a “normal” relationship, the difference would be like night and day. Emotionally healthy couples don’t keep secrets or hide email accounts and passwords, they don’t need to because there’s simply nothing to hide. He always knew what mine were but I didn’t have anything to hide. I’m an open book and just trusted that he was too although I knew deep down something was way off. My head and my gut knew that a normal married couple doesn’t go without sex for years without a reason and his addiction to porn along with his withholding sex was our main and really our only contention. We were good rommates. He would say all the right things, but his actions just never matched the flowery words. It was my heart that just didn’t want to believe this man who once seemed to love me so much really didn’t. If it wasn’t for this site I don’t know where I would have ended up. He broke me…bad. But I know that one day I will heal and maybe, just maybe there will be a man out there who will love me for me…and I’ll be enough.

      But I need to heal myself first before I’ll be able to trust my picker or another man with my heart again for awhile.

  • CL’s advice is spot on.

    The hard part following the “meeting someone with shared values” is to then accept their imperfections, to be flexible enough oneself while still not compromising one’s healthy boundaries, and to develop comminications skills / learn to disagree in a healthy way / have “hills to die on”.

    I have met someone with shared values and for the most part we agree on our boundaries. There are new challenges every day, extended family to deal with, step kids, life crises. Second relationships take a whole lot of work and continual tuning. I can well understand when a friend says “no more partnerships for me”.

    Most important …be financially independent if at all possible, and protect THAT with your life. It is the only way to guarantee your freedom.

  • What a great way to think about where we are at the end of another calendar year. (For many of us, DDay is still a way to mark the end of a “year”.) I’ve been “away” for a while, dealing first with a foster kid issue and then–ACK! Dating someone. I met this man during a team sports activity. My focus was almost totally on what I was doing and on the team as a whole, but I was aware of this person from the beginning. I had sort of sized him up and figured he was “safe” (not relationship material) because he wasn’t all that physically attractive. At first. But funny thing–we had so much in common. I was a “rookie” on the team and he spent time coaching and encouraging me. I pay a lot of attention to team dynamics and noticed things about other people: the young guy with the little mean streak, the narcissistic female who quit the team when no one paid special attention to her “needs,” the super-encouraging young women who are now my FB friends. So I wasn’t just paying attention to potential “dates”; I was paying attention to everyone in my orbit and to myself. To how I felt around people, to how I interacted with them, to my own patterns of feeling and response. By the end of the season, he offered to loan me a piece of power equipment. He showed me how to use it. He helped with a big project I had underway. He asked me for some help he needed. And things moved slowly over a couple of months, just getting together and doing stuff (cleaning, yard work, cooking meals, etc.) until it was sort of clear we were “dating,” although we hardly ever went anywhere. But as I write this, it occurs to me that maybe that’s why we like each other so much. We like to work together, accomplish something, improve our skills.

    My new friend is a smart guy but has not spent as much time in school as I have. On the other hand, he’s a guy who doesn’t lose his cool when I freak out driving in a snow storm. He never speaks ill of other people. What he says so far squares up with what he does. So far, when I draw a boundary, he respects it. And so far, he does the same. I can’t say that I ever want to live with another person. I certainly will never marry again. But even at age 64, with a trail of relationship debris in the rearview mirror, it’s possible to find someone who isn’t a raging narcissist to share as much of my life as I am ready to share. I wouldn’t have gotten this far, though, if I hadn’t decided to put my needs first and to find those parts of myself that were either lost early on (for example, the dream to play team sports that was “deferred” by the lack of pre-Title IX opportunities or training for girls). The happiest part of my summer and early fall was being part of a team, not meeting a new man. And as I go forward, I am determined to hold on to the life I am building–my “one wild and precious life.” I can’t say that I’ve fixed my picker; I can say that I’m fixing me, and my picker is part of me. Hope all of you are hanging in there over the holidays. May 2016 be a great year for all.

    • LAJ–thanks for sharing the fabulous reasons for your vacation from CL. I”m thrilled for your new happiness, and completely agree–the best strategy is to fulfill one’s self; sometimes that will put like-minded people in your orbit (and if not, at least you’ve grown through your own efforts).

    • Gonna rebuild my life far far away from this fuckhead who is still driving me nuts. For once in my fucking life damn it I’m gonna make me happy! If I date one day, fine, if I don’t I don’t. No more relationships ever! No marriage, no live ins, no living with. Fuck that noise. For the first time in my life at 60 its gonna be all about me and what I want! And fuckhead is sad about that don’t you want someone to take care of you? I said what for fucker in thirty years you never did. Fuck him fuck his ho fuck what he thinks. I wish he ends up crippled in a wheel chair and his dick falls off.

      • kar marie – HIGH FUCKING FIVE! I’m totally with you on everything you said. Fuck the noise. Fuck the relationships. I had a huge day of yelling all over the house, Fuck you Fuck you Fuck you. And, I sort of turned it into a song. Fuck Fuck Fuck YOUUUUUUUU~~

        umm…well, that sure felt good.

        Thanks for letting me get it out.

        (The x’s pecker didn’t fall off but he had to have his prostate removed during our divorce – poor guy, not sure if that killed some of his new dreams or not. And, that is mean, sorry)

  • Here’s the deal guys. Based on Human nature there is no concrete fool proof way to pick a guy or gal who you know for sure aint’ gonna cheat on you.

    I think if you think that way….I mean if you sincerely believe you were smart enough to pick someone who you know will never ever never ever cheat on you……..well than I can guarantee you are going to be cheated on.

    Why? Cause like millions of other gals or guys who thought they married a safe guy or a boy scout, or the perfect women and then ended up getting cheated on because they had their heads firmly tucked up their butt of denial, well then you are very likely to get cheated on.

    Now, The way to NOT get cheated on is to stay vigilant my friends. Trust but always verify. Mate guarding may sound stupid but heck the studies show it works. People who mate guard get cheated on far less than trusting folks.

    Today, too many people have separate lives. The guys go out with the guys and the gals go out with the gals.

    That type of married life is a breeding ground of opportunity for cheating.

    • I don’t want to babysit my partner. I want to like them enough that we stick around each other, and we have morals and character. I want to work on a relationship, not peeping Tom into their side of the house. If I wanted to be vigilant I would join the CDC or wreckoncile, or (perish the thought) have a kid.

    • Right. And then get cheated on because you’re ‘snooping’ into their life or ‘being too needy’.
      People will cheat irrespective of what you do or what you don’t do. Its a character thing. Not a marriage police dependent thing.
      You are correct though that being too separate = people lack boundaries = cheat. But this is a shitty character thing.
      And I myself know I would never cheat. Know why? Because I have boundaries. So why is it such a far cry to assume that there are others out there like myself?

    • uhhhh… and people kept in padded rooms tend to not get hurt. But that’s no way to live.

      • Bahahahaha can you imagine the gift registry for this marriage?
        The “I’m just helping you maintain your vows” KIT:
        -binoculars (night vision preferred)
        -GPS tracking tabs (not responsible for state or federal regulations)
        -fake lawn ornament ‘spy your hub’ Hide
        -tranquilizer gun (for emergency cheater intervention
        -“‘I’m just helping you maintain your vows’ I’m sorry I tranq’d you” cards
        – orange ‘hunting’ hat with “IJHYMYV” embroidered on the front
        -access codes for installing key tracker software and smart phone spyware
        There might be a bonus kit with diapers and wet ones in case your spouse is super dependant.

        • LOL – you are all very funny. I’d never heard of Mate-Checking before, but if it’s anything like a woman I know who ‘almost caught her hubby cheating’, I would call her a Mate-Checker. He has to follow her around like a puppy. (I seriously see an invisible fish hook in his ear she has attached to him) She won’t let him out of her sight. It’s pathetic really, and everybody sees it. The guy never says a word to anybody. He just wants to go back to racing his cars where she won’t let him go anymore. Sad, sick.

            • I’d rather live alone too. I’m planning on it. I don’t like living alone but I would rather. My daughter will come live with me after she finishes school she too doesn’t want to live close to her dad. He’s become a sputter ing mess of anger, rage, insults, everything pisses him off and is in a foul mood ninth percent of the time and now he’s back living with the whore of his dreams, she said once or twice a year visit is enough for her. My new place will be at least five hours away.

  • This year I did have a relationship with a man for 5 months – the first time since my husband dumped me just after my cancer diagnosis. I realised that this guy this year wasn’t a good person to be with so I broke up with him. In fact there were clear signs that he was potentially quite a serious abuser. He told me he hit his ex-wife and was starting to make ridiculous jealous accusations to me and be controlling, also he was not at all caring about my safety and welfare (after the cancer that’s a big deal for me), he showed a complete lack of gratitude for the many lovely things I did for him and finally he was trying to get me to commit car insurance fraud for him. All in all not a good experience. I’m thinking at the moment that I will just steer clear of relationships. I think CL’s advice about concentrating on friendships is spot on. On the plus side though I can say that I did for the first time in my life stick up for myself this year so I think although the picker is still in training it’s better than it was. I’d rather be on my own than with a bad guy, that’s for sure!

      • Yeah – good job for shutting that down. A guy that has no empathy for a serious disease will someday find out what it’s like to have one himself. That happened to me with the X of 35 yrs. Had breast cancer radiation for 8 wks and lived alone as the treatment center was too far away. It was terribly lonely but, of course, we talked on the phone a lot.

        I still wonder sometimes if he dumped me shortly after that for the trollop. Some guys see you as weak after a deadly disease survival.

        Anyway, he got his dose of full Prostate removal (which I earlier mentioned) so now knows what it’s like, I guess.

        And, whoa on the car insurance fraud.

        My point here, which is on the top of my head (bonehead style) is:


        Plead poverty everywhere you go, except on dates and then I’d pay for my own.
        No letting on you have a Picasso hidden in the vault.

        HA, I’m giving advice and I have no – absolutely NO – interest in ever having another romantic relationship in my life. Not even for play. I like my dogs and I’m exhausted by the demands of Men and just trying to make something work. If it didn’t work for me after so many years of what, I thought, was a great marriage, it ain’t gonna work for me at all.

        2016 = ME! (and my dogs, of course – I just adopted a starved rescue Great Dane! oh lord help me – that makes 3 again)

        Happy New Year Chump Nation and hang in there. It does get better and you do quit loving the bastard.

  • I am not interested at all in a relationship. I unknowingly abandoned myself while married to the cheater so this time around, all my time is to get to know me. I honestly don’t think I could do it if I were in a relationship. I really love the single life. A few men have shown interest, but I have politely made it clear that I am not interested.

  • Just read something on I’d like to share about what a red flag means, she answered someone’s question and her answer got another LW. It really is about shared values, knowing what you want, having self worth, and boundaries, definitely boundaries.

    So, based on your descriptions, I’m between a red flag and a yellow flag. (26/f). I know why- I’m extremely insecure etc…but, now that I am labeled as an orange flag, what am I supposed to do? Should I just expect to be dismissed based on my flag status?

    Okay. I’ve been getting a bunch of comments and submissions about the red flag answer, and I’ve come to realize that we all have very different ideas about what a red flag means.

    Speaking from personal experience, a red flag isn’t that big of a deal. It’s merely a warning, something to notice as a potential problem. Everyone I’ve ever dated has had multiple red flags, and I personally am a walking collection of red flags. Most of us are.

    In fact, it’s impossible to not have at least one red flag, because If I meet someone who doesn’t have any red flags, that’s a red flag.

    See what I’m getting at? Red flags aren’t a penalty or a punishment. They’re just indicators. By themselves, they aren’t cause for dismissal, and they don’t disqualify you from anything.

  • I totally disagree that the Red Flag isn’t a big deal.
    You have green, orange, yellow and the, HEY – RED RED RED – flashing RED.
    Danger zone.

    I’d say just ONE Red Flag is a reason to run as far and fast as you can.

    We all have our zones and boundaries, or whatever.
    We can deal with yellow, orange and definitely green flags.
    Most of us have all those, no doubt.

    But, if it’s Red – it’s time to pack up your picnic lunch and head home.

    In all due respect, I don’t think I have any Red Flags attached to me – yet.
    But, again, I don’t care. I’m not interested in anything a man thinks of me.

    If he likes big dogs, maybe he’d be a good dog running partner, but that’s it.
    And, I would be very very careful that he didn’t go any further.

    I am paranoid about stalkers now that I’m moving into my new little house alone…

    Silly, with 3 Great Danes. lol

  • and Adenment to the above: I have met too many creepy guys during the remodel of my house. Thank God my dogs have scared most of them away. Some are super hunky (Gad, if only..) and others were very weird.

    Be very wary of anybody knowing your house!

    And, my opinion – well, if it’s not mine, who’s is it? IS:
    Get a dog if you fear for your safety.

    1) They are great companions if you pick the right breed.

    2) They get you out of the house = exercise

    3) Improve mood just by unconditional love. They are known to automatically lower blood pressure..

    4) And, pretty much every single breed is a great protector in your new home, and of your kids too. If you pick the right breed.

    Ok, off my soap box 🙂

  • Next CL post could be… how to write an online dating profile. 🙂

    I don’t know how to do it properly. I wrote something shy and very common. As a result, they just clicked because they liked the picture. I ended up with too many messages of terrible looking grandpas and a few jerks. Finally, I took down the account.

    Some of us probably found success and could give a few tips.

    • I saw this today too and thought exactly the same thing! He’s on a kibble hunt! Reading the comments bigging up him, and the ‘cool’ lady was enough to make me log off.

  • Thank you for this timely post CL!!!

    I have always been one of those people who don’t do anything half assed ( I prefer to use my whole ass ) and I approached dating in this manner.

    I had 32 bad coffee dates in 2015. One of these men managed to stay in my life long enough to hit on a married friend at a pool party that I invited him to. Within the first 5 minutes. It was socially awkward and I was mortified ( as was the husband ). I asked him to leave.
    Others were either married ( run far far away), broken and looking for distraction, insidious or just looking for hook ups.

    I finally met a great guy through one of my sporting events and we clicked

    He kept me at a great arm’s length at first and I was ok with it. He said it takes a while to get to know somebody and that sounded reasonable to me.

    6 months in l ended things. He was emotionally unavailable and he kept score. He could be mean and petty ( at other times he was generous and kind – but mostly on his own terms ).

    He would show up late for dates, forget plans or not commit to anything in advance. Why this lasted as long as it did is my own fault and I am doing some “me” work again.

    Here’s to working on my Picker in 2016!!!! I am proud that I ended this relationship – in the past I would have dragged it out until he dumped me.

    It’s a process. It’s hard and sometimes it hurts ( I land on my ego all too often ).
    But I am learning.

    And in the end I am happy with myself and don’t need somebody else to complete me. If I find a partner it’s just a bonus from this point onwards!!!

    • I’ve never had a good coffee date. I don’t find it to be a good setting, too quiet, feel self conscious that other patrons are listening into our conversation. And if it does hypothetically go well then I don’t know how to extend the date, get another coffee? One is enough for me thanks. I find bars and parks to be better. Go get some ice cream and walk through the park or even better, go get a beer or cocktail in a dimly lit bar with lots of background noise so I feel like I can have a decent conversation without everybody listening in.

      But I agree, you should have cut that shit out sooner instead of letting it drag on. You teach people how to treat you by what you put up with. You let him treat you like backup plans and not a priority, so he ran with it. We hope that people would just be kinder, but unfortunately us chumps often attract those types who want to take advantage of us and give us as little as possible in return.

    • Wow, 32 bad coffee dates in one year .. what STAMINA you have!

      I’ve had to say “No” to so many situations (bad bosses, not-friends, awful dates, etc.) and I still get into trouble despite setting limits or having to leave. When I lamented about this to a counselor, he said, “Well, you just have to say “No” some more.” Not what I wanted to hear but I understand the reality out there. It’s really a lot about LUCK when it comes to meeting that right,wonderful partner (or perfect anything) — something I don’t have much control over but I try to not take it personally. All I can do is stay open and keep trying.

      Thanks, everyone, for this terrific discussion. I laughed and learned while reading your comments. Happy new year and may we all get to experience reciprocal kindness and love.

  • This CL post is actually kind of terrifying to me. I realize that I have NEVER been in a healthy reciprocal relationship, and might not recognize one if even it bit me in the ass. I have never had a working picker! Is this something that develops as you heal and become mighty(er)?

    It feels so sad and pathetic to me that I was married for 23 years, and am two-thirds of the way done with my life, but have never been loved by a partner. I would really like to experience that. I just can’t see it ever happening, given my own level of broken and the rarity of decent men in the world.

    This is a post I will need to file away and read later. Much, much later…

  • Kristen, I’m with you! I am anxious just thinking about dating. All I can think of was how my Soon to be X would go on coffee “dates” for 4 years during our marriage. He meet this nice divorcees on Craig’s list or Plenty of Fish. So online dating is OUT for me!

    I know I have FOO issues from growing up with a narc dad and doormat mom. I thought you marry a DR. and he’s not nasty or a player and your set. I overlooked that he never said I love you on his own or asked what I thought about things. He was a socially awkward nerd and I felt sorry for. I thought he truely loved me but couldn’t show it. I will never settle for that again.

    I would love to have a partner someday who is openly affectionate, and actually compliments me without prodding. I have to have hope there are some decent guys out there that are divorced by no fault of their own. Maybe a widower or a fellow chump? I mean we of the Chump Nation are mighty, fun, AND have integrity so there must be partners out there who are like us!

  • “Fact is, freaks are out there. I can’t give you a 100 percent guarantee that your life will never intersect with another disordered freak. You don’t control that, but what you do control is YOU.”

    Tracy – thank you for this. I’m really sick and tired of reading articles about how something damaging must have happened to me as a child that made me want to get with a narc/sociopath. I’m not buying it. I had a normal childhood with wonderful, loving parents, and lets face it…sometimes shit just happens and some are REALLY good at hiding who they really are.

  • EMDR helps re write the underlying unconscious blind spots. These blind spots are automatic responses that make a person vulnerable to predatory disordered people.

  • Practice.

    Date a little without expectations of finding your next spouse/partner. Don’t be afraid to use Tinder or Match to see what’s out there and learn to use your picker without having to meet people in person.

    Choose men/women who don’t jack up your infatuation chemistry right away. It’s easier to see the red flags when your seratonin levels aren’t on high boil. And, you never know, the dopey, nerdy ones often turn out to be sexy when you give them time.


    Listen to your gut. If you think it’s telling you something, listen. If you think it’s telling you something, but you’re not sure, ask a trusted friend.

    Be OK with being alone. For now.


  • I think my Chumpness did come from a lack of self-respect and boundaries with consequences. I loved my ShiTBoX and I was spackling for him even when he wasn’t cheating. I would have worked on our relationship until the cows came home. I now see that yes as I always believed, relationships DO take work, and that is the right thing to do, but only when it comes from both sides. It has to be reciprocal. Finding out about his affair set me free. He crossed a boundary I could not spackle for. In a way, I’m thankful for his affair, as it has given me the impetus to leave a poor relationship.

    I think my picker was broken because I believed you work at relationships no matter what, even if it’s one-sided. Also because I was desperate for the dream – the husband, the children, the home. But every time I imagined my future with ShiTBoX, I felt apprehensive. We had no shared goals. He didn’t know, or wouldn’t share what his were. Every time I needed him he let me down. I dreaded what would happen as we aged and I got a serious illness. Deep down I knew I couldn’t rely on him. Now I’ve been set free to become more self-reliant, to strengthen my bonds with my friends and family, and to be free if maybe, one day, I meet someone who loves me for me.

    My dream has been crushed, but I genuinely would rather be where I am now than spend any more of precious life with him.

    Thank you for your advice, CL. And thank you to ShiTBoX for finally making me set boundaries. I’m not scared of being single anymore.

    2015 was the year that good things came into my life (my baby daughter), and bad things left my life (ShiTBoX). As staggeringly simple as that is, it’s true and it’s the right way around.

    Happy New Year and happy new beginnings. Xxx

  • This would be a good article for my STBX’s new girlfriend. She has 2 ex husbands. The first took her 4 kids hostage in Mexico and the second she was briefly married to for a year and not sure why they divorced but he never visits their 12 year old daughter. She then meets my STBX and after 3 months she wants to move in with him and thinks I want him back cause he’s so amazing. Sadly she doesn’t know he cheated on me for 12 years and slept with at least 60 women behind my back and had at least 2 affairs. All she knows is that he cheated but not the details or maybe she does and buys that I was so judgmental that I drove him to do it. My point is ladies and gents. Avoid anyone who admits they cheated on their ex. You might be getting my shiny ex with his dark secrets and that is scary.

    • Also sounds like my stbx,s AP … Married and divorced 2 times had a fiancée when she set her eye on the prize my serial cheating abusive narc. Who he only went running to after I kicked him out. And who he has already cheated on. Stupid stupid woman. Stupid stupid man. Hell mates for sure. I hope they get married.

      • I would have zero sympathy for his girlfriend if she were one of his affair partners but no this woman thinks she’s met an amazing man and the one to safely give her heart to (his words to me) and she has no idea what he’s capable of. I’m one to talk with my broken picker as I fell for the same man to. I wish a bird could tell her but at the same time it’s not my place.
        My boyfriend laughs at me that every time I meet a friend or family member of his I ask if he’s a good guy. I told him I have to because I can’t trust my picker. If only STBX’s girlfriend could do the same except he doesn’t talk to his family and got all new friends. Actually another thing to look out for…beware of anyone who is not close with their family and has no life long friends.

        • Mighty1 – you r right these twits deserve zero sympathy. shame on me but I will enjoy it when that relationship implodes. Hope your new boyfriend is a good one! ?

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: