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Dear Chump Lady, How do you confront a cheater?

How_to_leave_a_cheaterDear Chump Lady,

When you discover cheating, how do you break the news?

I’m a strong person. I help domestic violence victims, I have an answer for everything. I don’t know left from right today.

Today I’m rereading emails my other half sent to a woman he believed was a Craigslist honey wanting to get naughty with him. ( I made an email address and messaged the Craigslist ad I suspected was him and low and behold….)

I took the opportunity to gently quiz him about his past with Craigslist, so “I know what to expect when we meet and am waiting to hear back what his sexual limits for the meeting will be” and he described other sexual adventures he ran off on while I was sitting at home 2 years ago pregnant and thinking I had this great future ahead of me with him.

The above mentioned time period is where I used to reflect back, to remind myself that he once loved me when I don’t understand why he’s indifferent and withdrawn. He’s withdrawn because he’s focused on porking pigs.

I am braced for the retaliation and epic smear campaign that is going to happen when I approach him. I’m just not sure how to break the newsflash to him.

Thank you for all your writings. They have helped me wrap my brain around this situation and lace up my F.U. combat boots.


Dear Jenn,

Oh hey, why don’t you “break the news” to him in the kind, gentle way in which he broke it to you?

Sucker punch him.

Line up your ducks and see a lawyer, so you can hit him hard and fast on your way out the door. Unfortunately, that means being a very good actress for a little while.

The first thing you must do is disabuse yourself of the notion that you’re going to have a nice chat about his Craigslist adventures, and he’ll see sense and recommit to his marriage and family. That’s not going to happen. (And on the very small chance you could have a unicorn, it’s not going to happen without severe consequences.)  Start lining up the consequences and PROTECT YOURSELF.

You already seem to know what you’re dealing with if you think he’ll react with a “smear campaign.” All the more reason to prepare carefully.

Here’s a refresher course on How To Leave a Cheater. (Also, shameless plug for the new book — the first chapter is on rookie mistakes and how to avoid them.)

A) Don’t confront him. He will just take his affairs underground. He’s demonstrated how deceptive he is. All the Reconciliation Industrial Complex advice aside, having an “honest conversation” about his extracurriculars, “Hey honey, tell me how your needs for stranger sex weren’t being met…” — is setting yourself up for MORE manipulation.

Manipulation has been his strategy all along. Why would he change tactics now when so much is at stake? His goal has been cake — his affairs and his chump. He will cycle through the three channels — rage, self-pity, and charm — to keep you in your place.

B) Know your deal-breakers and grieve later. Don’t get caught up in who you thought he was, or who he could be — deal with WHO HE IS — a man who is brazenly cheating on you, and risking your health. (And who risked your health while you were pregnant.) It’s normal that you’ll still feel some love for him and raw emotion that your family life, as you thought it was, has died. Don’t let those feelings paralyze you or get in the way of you protecting yourself. It’s time to be a field marshall. You can fall apart later, in safety.

C) Get your finances in order. While you’re lining things up, make copies of all your financial documents. Run a credit report. Figure out your debts and your income. Do some sleuthing if you suspect he’s been siphoning off funds for his double life. Sadly, financial abuse often goes hand in hand with infidelity. These are monies you can ask for back in a divorce. Check out Vickie Adam’s blog My Divorce Financial Planner for more guidance.

D) Get a support network. You are dealing with a monumental shock and you need all kinds of support now. You can find online support with Chump Nation here in the forums. But also get some IRL support too — your own therapist to help you enforce your boundaries (not a marriage counselor), a trusted friend or family member(s), a church community, if you’re religious — it’s okay to lean on others now. That’s how you get through crises. Do NOT, however, lean on your husband. You will fight an overwhelming urge to seek comfort from the person who hurt you — resist those feelings. They make you vulnerable to more manipulation, the consequences of which could be very costly.

E) Get STD testing. Cheaters live in a magical reality. Don’t trust a cheater to have safe sex.

F) Be the Sane Parent. When the going gets tough, focus on being strong for your kid(s) right now. Model self respect and resiliency to them. Don’t model codependent chumpdom. Their dad is checked out of family life — you can’t afford to be. They need you to have your wits about you.

Jenn, I’m sure Chump Nation will weigh in with more suggestions. But, for now, I hope these help you lace up those Fuck You boots and march forward into a new, cheater-free life. ((Big HUGS))


Ask Chump Lady

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  • Jenn, you’re right. You are strong. I am already in awe of you for holding back and thinking.

    Please listen to CL and do all of your groundwork, all of your preparation before you make a visible move. Even in those moments where you might argue or be resentful and be tempted to let something slip. Use this time to lay the foundations for you & the children to move forward.

    Don’t be like me. I found out when ShiTBoX was at work. What did I do? I called him at work at confronted him. Didn’t see a lawyer for 3 weeks and even then it took me another 4 weeks to actually pursue action.

    You are strong, Jenn.

    And can I say well done on the super-sleuthing. Why did you suspect he was on the ads in the first place?

  • Jenn, treat a cheating spouse the way you’d treat a rattlesnake in your living room: no sudden movements, back away until you’re out of striking distance, then leave the area for a place free of rattlesnakes. You have made a good (quiet and thoughtful) start. Good luck!!

    • I like this analogy as well. Reminds me of the story of a guy who who took in a snake and nursed it back to health. They spent some years together and all was well until one day the snake bit him. As he was dying he asked the snake why. The snake simply responded, “Well, I’m a snake.”

      As hard as it might be to comprehend right now, this person is NOT your friend. He’s already shown you what he’s capable of and exactly what he thinks about you. Don’t buy his sob stories or his cheater script (because they all say the same stuff), or his blame-shifting. You didn’t cause this. Protect yourself and plan on separating ASAP. Once you get away then you can start to heal.

    • nomar,

      I was reading a couple of your posts from the archives this weekend. Dude, you’re hilarious. There was this one UBT where a “co-dependent” wife wrote in about how she cheated on her “narcissist” husband. You complimented her on her amazing “victim-brag.” I Googled “victim-brag.” That’s a thing now. Go, you.


      If you have the resources, consider visiting the best lawyers in town for a consultation. Even if it requires a fee. “Conflicting out” lawyers is a way to tilt the scales in your favor. It’s a bit devious, but he’s already shown how devious he is.

      See this Forbes article for more information on “conflicting out” lawyers.

  • I would add…

    Make sure you have physical copies of all documentation you can find, hide it well, and make sure there is a second copy of every shred of it saved somewhere he can’t get to it. Repeat the process for each new thing you learn/find.

    Get a small storage unit if you can, pay cash, and squirrel things he won’t notice that are legitimately only yours that really matter (photos, car title, memory box, jewelry, etc.) Into it. You can add other things, too, like starter sets of dishes, tableware, kitchenware, and sheets, etc. from the thrift store and maybe something like camp foam and pillows and blankets. That way if he leaves you high and dry to be vindictive, he can’t leave you helpless, even for a day.

    When you get that heartbeat in your ears feeling, breathe as slowly and deeply as you can.

    I am so sorry. Strength to you.

    • Oh, yeah, and don’t tip your hand to know, either, just yet. If you have one trusted friend who is primarily your friend and doesn’t have to interact with him much, that’s a good choice. If several people know, they won’t be able to hide that something is brewing and he will notice. He is better at this than you.

      And you could tell him you have bacterial vaginosis or something to avoid requests for sex. 🙂

    • I too recommend getting a place you can store things. For me it was my office at work. One of the first people I told was my boss who was very understanding that my lunch hours would be taken up by attorney meetings and other errands. He was also very understanding of the box after box of stuff that piled up in my office including personal papers, boxes of personal items, boxes of food, and the things I needed for my cheater free life that I found at a deep discount…. new dishes, flatware, sheets etc.

      So glad you have your wits about you! I was able to find an attorney and get all the financials copied and stored in a week before I confronted Narkles the Clown. I admit it was satisfying to have my facts all checked and life in order before breaking the news to him that I knew about him and the Flying Whore, much more so than the screaming and crying that I imagine would have fed his narcissism. No Kibbles!

    • This is such important advice–you don’t want your grandmother’s heirloom china to be set on some AP’s table. Even if you end up staying in same house, think about it as if you were remodeling and wanted valuables out of the way. And if you have a friend with space in the basement or attic, that works as well as a storage center, so long as you absolutely know that person has your back. I’ve stored things for several people and was glad to do so.

      • Excellent advice. I know from experience how unhinged personality disorders become when confronted. I ended up calling the police on mine and he wouldn’t leave the home so I did. I lawyered up fast and got him out in 3 weeks. My lawyer said, “settle now. He won’t remember your name in 2 months” – so I did and he was correct, my cheater had a new girlfriend within 6 weeks. Sick fucker.

        Be as stealth as you can be. Get a lawyer, your cheater is not your friend. Stay the course and be sure you know your financial situation. And yes keep the good stuff. I let him have what had very little meaning to me. I kept the lions share of things. And got a very decent settlement mostly because he wanted to look like a “decent guy” to the powerful lawyer he happened to also know professionally.

        Be safe and do what needs to be done to get rid of your cheater. Best to you.

    • Yes. Copy all docs and get as much info as you can. It’s ok to snoop at this point! That’s the one smart thing I did. I waited until he went to work and copied everything. Silly thing I did do was not getting a lawyer. I tried to be ‘let’s work this out amicably’…and laid it all out in an email. He transferred $400,000 out of the country. Took months to get it back. Trust he sucks and don’t weaken an inch x

    • Add cash to every purchase, $40, whatever & hide in storage unit, or somewhere. Our lawyers asked outright if there was a safe deposit box the other party was unaware of, so that won’t work.

      Never, ever lie once legal proceedings start…but squirrel away cash. You’ll need it.

  • Just don’t do what I did. I confronted when I suspected and did not have hard evidence. Got gaslighted and went into marital counseling (where he lied). But I thought all was good… We nipped the drifting apart in the bud, etc. so…. When he acted the same way a decade later and I confronted ex about a suspicious relationship with a coworker… I was gaslighted again because since I truly was convinced there had not been cheating the first time, the odd behavior again meant it was a relationship issue between us.

    I also failed to get things together financially. While I am content with the divorce asset splitting (there was not much!), I wonder how much of my/our money was spent on dinners and resort visits with OW, etc.

    You are truly mighty. You have the needed evidence, just line up those ducks.

  • If you’re already worried about retaliation and an epic smear campaign and you haven’t even confronted him yet, then it’s pretty clear that you know you’re married to a low-life creep and he hasn’t been treating you well for a while.

    Follow CL’s advice to the letter and get out.

  • Get everything organised and move out. Do not trust him.

    Initially I did all the right things. Got my ducks in a row, prepared to move out, spoke to a lawyer, let my friends know etc. But it was at the end of a long dark road for me and I couldn’t believe she was a bad person – there had a to be a reason. So I confronted her and caved. Took me another 6mths of abuse to break free after that. Don’t do that too yourself – the damage is huge!

    As CL said be strong and move on. Fall apart later not in front of your cheater.

  • Send him The Pins Colada Song via your Craigslist account. It’s an old 80s song about a cheater who places a personal ad in the paper, and the person who answers it is his “own lovely lady”. They both find this extremely Romantic and live happily ever after. Bleccchhh. It would be fun to see his reaction. Then go no contact and file for divorce.

    Cheaters are all nasty but I put the ones who do Craigslist (any online whore site meetups, prostitutes, sex for money, multiple affairs, in the especially heinous and disgusting category.

    You actually might develop feelings for an ex, or co worker, or friend or something without intending to. You shouldn’t act on it, but the pursuit of sex partners online, etc. Is never unplanned.

    • Except when they meet online for a decent reason. My cheater was there to learn a language, I am the one who introduced him to the site. I had no idea that some of the speakers were there to catch a future husband. She slowly lured him to more than language learning. He could have stopped there, I agree.

  • Jenn, my heart goes out to you. When I started suspecting my ex of being unfaithful I never did confront him. I waited for him to fess up, which he never did, and then he walked out to live with her, leaving me financially devastated. Can’t go back, but if I could, I would’ve protected myself.

  • I second the comment on following the money trail.

    If you are smart enough to find him on Craigslist, then you can also find any hidden accounts or credit cards. The amount isn’t as significant to a court/judge as much as the fact that he has been hiding anything.

    Get that credit report and get digging. The credit check will be the first step on your yellow brick road.

    Get the toughest lawyer you can afford. Once they have cheated, it is no longer about being fair but about protecting you and your child. College comes faster than you will ever believe.

    Get support NOW! Support you can trust.

    And, yes, there will be more than enough time for the massive mourning. But, not now – now is for FU boots only.

  • I agree with everything CL has said. You are miles ahead of the game because not only do you have solid evidence, you have kept it to yourself and are weighing your options.

    Cheaters love the thrill of having “one up” on their little chumps. Play a game he understands. Do more investigating while he is unaware.

    I would check all of your financials at this time and start putting money aside in a separate account for a rainy day.
    If you want to be sneaky, do cash back every time you grocery shop or use your debit card. $20 here and there ads up!

    I found that mine had racked up a lot of credit card debit. It was astounding!!!
    I don’t have or use a card, so I just couldn’t believe the amounts.

    Sadly with some good detective work other things will come to light.

    But you have a great window of opportunity while he doesn’t know that he’s been caught.

    Good luck. Kick his ass for me!!!

  • Apply for all credit cards in your name only. If you have credit cards in both of your names get printed versions of all purchases instead of paperless. Go through all bank statements of purchases, this is where I found the hotels he paid for with credit cards. You would be surprised at the fact they put receipts in the garbage. Do not let him know how you found out about his infidelity as he will put a spin on it guaranteed. If you receive a tax refund use it to pay down joint debt or your car. Keep all documentation in another location. Consult with a few top lawyers prior to letting him know you are divorcing. Have all mail sent to a PO box in your name. In your case I would hire a PI to document his infidelity. Cheaters usually smear the faithful partner and given your profession you need to protect yourself.

    Do you love where you live? If not relocate to a place you prefer to live prior to showing your hand. I was a mess each and every time and I regret all the mistakes I made. You have the upper hand in having time to prepare. Take advantage of this to save cash without his knowledge and to control you life and needs.

    • Hah! Mine kept his receipts in his wallet, and then would put them in the recycling! I’d just fish them out. This is how I found out about the car payments he made for her, the bank account transfers, etc.

  • Yes cl is right line up your ducks first dont be like me and wait way too damn long.

  • For some reason us chumps tend to believe that once caught the cheater will automatically change their ways!!! After all they are at risk of losing “the love of their life” !! Lmao!! No dosent work that way! We just want to believe we are more important to them than we really are! Hurts like hell to be knocked down off the pedestal WE THOUGHT we were on! All the DISGUSTING actions it takes to be a cheater in the first place, CONTINUE with a vengeance!!! People don’t change overnight just because they were caught!!! Do your homework, think before you react and you’ll get better results! Manipulation you either have it in you or not and they have an abundance of it!! Time to stop thinking like the loyal good person and think like they do!!!

    • Michele, I have another twist on this. I was sure he was a shitty husband, but still hoped he was going to be a decent father during our divorce proceedings.

      It took me a long time and a whole bunch of 2x4s to finally put the “good father” hopium pipe down and really internalize that he was a cheating lying coward through and through, and in all his relationships, he just could hide it less and less as he is aging.

      Quite a few Switzerland friends and mental health “professionals” tried to make me believe that his cheating and lying was a private choice between him and me, that he would act differently when our kiddo was involved. But no, his actions are warped and self-centered all around, and the consequences of his Cluster B traits permanently and negatively impact the life of everyone around him (at home and at work).

      Jenn, super mighty Jenn, I am in awe of your strength and hope you will keep posting updates as you prepare for your exit.

      I agree with all of CL and CN’s advice. I would add that you need to take good care of yourself. Get a massage, time alone, and get an IC that understands NPD recovery so you can reward yourself for being so mighty as you forge on to Meh!

      • Chumptitude: I suspect your situation is more the norm than the bad-cheater-but-good-parent scenario.

        And yet juries in custody cases are explicitly told to NOT take into account the infidelity when deciding custody splits. Where is the evidence that you can be a crappy, selfish, entitled spouse, and yet Mother/Father of the year? I have access to psych journals and I sure can’t find justification for those jury instructions. In fact, most current research is starting to link cheating with personality traits that are found in narcissism, which affects all relationships a person has.

        • Yep. Judges and legal scholars are explicitly moving toward minimizing or altogether excluding evidence of adultery in divorce and custody cases.

          I read a disturbing article by a Standford law professor Deborah L. Rhode over the weekend enititled, “Adultery: an agenda for legal reform.” Rhode also has a book on adultery that came out this month. I sent Rhode a long message deconstructing some of her arguments. No word yet. I don’t expect to hear from her.

          Even in fault divorce states and locales where adultery is a crime, it’s not being enforced. The RIC wins again.

          • and that is why they have Amazon reviews. I’ll do it if you do it (assuming I can find a way to read the book without paying for it as I don’t want to line the pockets of someone trying to minimize adultery, legally or otherwise).

          • Ian + Tempest –

            Remember Pope Jean-Paul II’s persistence in forbidding Christians from using condoms despite the clear scientific evidence of their key role in HIV/AIDS and STD prevention?

            Rhode’s article and arguments sound like that to me. She reviews the evidence from court decisions that were made by judges and court staff that are woefully uninformed and under-educated about personality disorders and their impact on personal and professional relationships.

            It is very sad, but at the same time, it is a very important reminder for chumps. Given how ineffective family courts are, pre-nups or post-nups with iron-clad consequences for adultery are the only modern way to protect current and future chumps against nasty cheater surprises.

            • Yes, that missive on the part of the Pope was disturbing, to say the least.

              If Rhodes is a true scholar, then she should relish an evidence-based debate about her ideas. She will get such a debate, since her view flies in the face of public opinion:

              Societal attitudes towards infidelity are hardening:

              In a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, 88% of Americans said adultery was immoral — a higher number than for any other of 10 unsavory behaviors they were asked about.

              In a 2009 Gallup Poll, only 6% of Americans believe extramarital sex is morally acceptable.
              According to the GSS, Americans are becoming less tolerant of extramarital relationships over time:

              In 2006, 80.6 percent of Americans said that infidelity is always wrong – up from 73.4 percent in 1991. (Another 14.6 percent in 2006 said that infidelity is “almost always wrong.”)

              In the 2008 Gallup Values and Beliefs poll, Americans as a group found extramarital affairs morally worse than polygamy, human cloning, and suicide.

              However, only 50 or 60 percent of Americans say that adultery would be an automatic deal breaker for their marriage.


              • That’s great news about the statistics, Tempest. I think one thing is that is so harmful about adultery is that it involves so many different sleezy activities. You not only become a whore, you become a liar, and a thief, etc as well. It’s like the seven deadly sins all rolled into one. And you infect everyone else with your sinful nature. I know ex ‘s whoring caused me to do some horrible things. They were justified but still bad. It’s just a soul sucking shitshow.

          • Thanks, Blessing! Teaching parenting next in one of my classes; the Star article may just be required reading.

  • I agree with CL and many others writing above. I was so angry and shell shocked when I learned of my exes abhorrent behavior that I let my emotions take over. DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE. Get everything in order. I know it will be hard, but force yourself to do it. Gather the evidence, hard evidence. Get a lawyer. Get your finances in order. Get that support system in place. Let your RATIONAL MIND make the decisions. You CAN do this. You are strong and capable. Remember, you will thank yourself on the back end that you did all this prep work. Hang in there. Sending lots of support.

    • I got super lucky that the weekend I got the bombshell that made me decide I needed to get divorced NOW was a weekend that he was out of town. I had more than 24 hours on my own to go through documents, lock down accounts, and in general compose myself. I accepted an invitation to be at a friend’s place when he got home from the airport, and he was essentially asleep when I got home. I had a solid 48 hours to process, and then as luck would have it, I was traveling alone for Xmas a few days later. By the time I actually had to face him I had changed my direct deposit, spoke to my parents in person, made an informational appointment with a lawyer and… well.. essentially reset myself back to my calm, cool, and collected self. If that is not possible, minimize the time you spend alone around him and only discuss with a trusted friend or counselor.

  • I wish I had seen this October 2014. I have done everything wrong and now I’m trapped.

    I hope others find it far quicker than me.

    • No Worries Pauline,
      I discovered my cheater (wife) the same time. I did it all wrong as well! I wish I had gone about it differently, but I did what I thought was right by my daughters at the time.

      Things got a whole lot better when I found CL/Chump Nation and began to take the advice and followed it! My live is beginning to change!!!

      Yours will too, and so will Jenn’s!

    • It’s never to late to start copying documents, squirreling away money, and planning your exit.

  • My Father pulled something unusual. He bought a million dollar house to live in with his stanky mistress while he was still married to my mother. I wonder how he pulled this off? This was way before they were actually divorced.

    • My EX did this as well. He told me it was an investment property.

      • Ditto. Some investment. Never rented it out in 3 years, and OW supplied the mattress.

    • He pulled it off because your mother was not paying attention to finances and probably not part of decision making. And if there was a million dollars to spend on a house for the mistress, chances are she was told it was “too complicated” to understand or “this is an investment.” Many cheaters, at bottom, are con artists, who thrive on misdirection and misplaced trust.

      • Most likely. To top that off, the disordered idiot eventually married his mistress behind his adult children’s backs. It’s truly a match made in heaven, let me assure you….LOL

      • When mine asked for a divorce (WITHOUT LAYWERS) and had his 28 year lump sum retirement form out while telling me he wanted me to move out of our 2700 square foot home on 16 acres! My lawyer who I quickly obtained told me that men frequently by another home elsewhere when the wife is unaware especially when the marital residence is paid causing the marital home to be used to pay for the new home when assets are split in a divorce! I literally divorced mine when he was in the process of liquidating all are 36 years of assets! The financial abuse is the most hurtful and destructive part of the infidelity !

    • After my X’s main affair (that I didn’t know about yet), he decided to stay married but frequent adult web sites for hookups. He bought a second house downtown without my knowledge. Jackass claimed it was to “surprise me” because I would like living in the city on weekends, but it was really so that he had a fuckpad close to work for his hookups.

  • Go into stealth mode and get everything lined up. This post reminded me of the account I had forgotten about. I found it years ago before all the other stuff started. I logged on and contacted his profile but didn’t think to ask him questions about previous experience. At that point I was still heavily smoking the hopium pipe and divorce/separation hadn’t entered my brain because we were different. We were going to make it. Ha! 22 years later he is a swinger and has fuckbuddies up and down the state unbeknownst to me. When I found out a year ago I quietly began planning. Now planning on moving out when he isn’t home this week. Good luck. This shit is hard but you are mighty. Hugs to you.

  • Dear Jenn
    Glad to hear you are wearing combat boots…you will need these to wade thru the miles of bullshit. Keep them laced tight so you can also kick his sorry ass on the way out. Get your shit together now…cry later. Bronze the combat boots.

  • Wow, are you mighty. I admire like crazy that you’re able to keep a cool head and think rather than react out of red-hot emotion like I did.

    If your Craigslist cheater is anything like The Entitled One, when you confront, he will swear it’s all fantasy. He never would go through with any of that! All the tales he told about previous adventures? That was just to enhance the fantasy. He knows it was wrong and he’s really sorry, but he was just so lonely because you weren’t meeting his needs.

    Those needs you weren’t meeting will be sexual, emotional, or whatever your vulnerable point is. He’ll pick something with some truth to it so the blame-shifting attack slips into your heart like a poisoned knife and you start to doubt yourself and wonder if you drove him to it. And maybe you don’t accept all the blame, but you accept enough to keep him in cake for a good long while.

    And when you catch him at it again, he’ll repeat the same fantasy story. And when you catch him spending time with actual women, that’s fantasy too — they’re just friends, nothing happened, but he wanted to feel special for once.

    My advice is to be very clear about your deal-breakers. After the first two D-Days, I thought I shouldn’t tank my marriage over some online “fantasies.” But even if it was only “fantasy” (which I don’t believe), he was still taking time away from our marriage to pursue a secret life, his Craigslist habit and porn habit were a release valve he used for the problems in our marriage instead of solving them with me, and he began treating me like crap, the same way your cheater is doing to you. So now, for me, any kind of emotional affair is a deal-breaker even if I don’t have photographic evidence of a physical affair. Plus lying — that basic dishonesty of cheaters of all stripes — is a big, fat deal-breaker.

    Best of luck to you! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!!!

    • Oh My God, Better Days! That was EXACTLY what my STBX said – exactly!!! – when uncovered his Craigslist responses! It was all fantasy, he’s never – would never go through with it. He was feeling no love at home… What a crock of shit.

  • I agree with the comments here. Stay quiet until you have the proof you need and copies of all your financial records. Find a good attorney and plan your exit strategy.

    My sister was my trusted confidante from the day I discovered his affair. I spent 4 months in stealth mode, gathering evidence, documentation, and copies of email and text exchanges. I didn’t know what gaslighting was at the time but I knew that he would deny and make me out to be crazy so I had to have good evidence. Once I had it, my attorney helped me kick his butt out. He begged for wreckconciliation and I said yes but of course, he did very little, made excuses, blamed me, and continued cheating. But I did it for me so I knew when I was done, I was really done because I had made every effort I could.

    You are strong – believe in yourself and trust your gut through this process. Know that it’s going to hurt like hell every.step.of. the. way.

  • I didn’t confront my husband. He was either going to lie, show indifference, or become an unstable creep quicker than he did. None of those reactions were helpful or satisfactory. I had nothing to say anymore… Except through a lawyer.

    He created enough problems. You don’t need the added crap show of a confrontation. What’s the point?

  • I have a unique situation. Three years prior to leaving STBX I caught him cheating. He was unemployed and refused to leave. I really loved him, and we’d been living like roommates for years. So I took partial responsibility for being a shitty wife and worked hard on being a loving and good wife. 18 months later he tells me on NYE he wants a separation. I tell my sister, who finds CLN website. We go into ‘getting my ducks in a row’ mode. For 4 months I made copies of everything, document his coming and goings with dates, and saved every penny I had. I made a plan and while he was gone for a weekend away with OW I moved out on his ass. For weeks I started ‘cleaning’ house, putting things in their proper location, so that when I packed up(in only 10 hours) I had everything I needed. The moving truck arrived, I hired 2 guys from the Home Depots parking lot and with in 3 hrs I was out of there with half in storage and enough to live in a rented room with my daughter and I. Planning was the best thing I could have ever done. Wish I could of seen his face when he thought I would still there! Bahahaha

  • To your point about being strong for the kids: I know it’s deeply ingrained in our culture but it strikes me as so counter-intuitive that the RIC peddles the idea of “staying together for the kids,” when the kids are the exact reason why you need to make a point of modeling self-respect and self-love. Your kids are growing up in a hard world, and they’re going to have hard times. Better that they can rely on themselves and their family as they’re going through life, instead of depending on small doses of self-worth prescribed by an abuser. Kids learn from your example, and I would think that having your child suffer silently under a narcissist’s thumb would be the *opposite* of what you’d want for their future. So if you don’t want it for them, don’t show them that it’s okay to put up with that kind of treatment. When I looked at my child sitting there, taking all of of this in, that was what made it easier to tell my ex to get lost. I don’t want my kid to grow up thinking this kind of serial-cheating, resource-stealing, gaslighting garbage is acceptable.

    • Totally agree chump-tastic, this is the main reason why I left, I could not let our kiddo grow up in a home where cheating and lying were condoned.

      • Same for me; every time I felt weak, I thought about what it would mean to my kids to see him continuing to be selfish and nasty (even if they didn’t know about the cheating) and for me to keep putting up with it. What it would mean to them to see me losing my self-respect. What it would mean to them to grow up in a home where one parent is taking advantage, and the other is letting them. This kept me strong!

        • Kids do not benefit from growing up in a household where one parent is somewhat defeated because he/she has been the victim of infidelity but has stuck around.

  • I didn’t confront my EX. I waited, gathered evidence and hired a lawyer…do the same! You won’t regret it. Keep your cool and go into stealth planning mode. You are already mighty!

    • I “observed” the ex for a long time, probably several months during reconciliation. I thought I still love him at the time, unfortunately. But I hated him at the same time.

      I don’t think there’s anything creepier than having one of these mother f’ers lying directly to your face, knowing it, and then pretending not to know, saying I love you, blah, blah. Blah. His dumb ass really didn’t suspect I knew. I should receive an Oscar for my performance.

  • Don’t put anything in writing without seeing a lawyer or legal aid.

    Don’t trust him/her … be aware he or she can be tapping your computer or your phone or setting up a voice recorder in the house. Try to assume the worst without being paranoid. Don’t trust what he says. He’s not friend material.

    Get support, but keep the circle small and mighty of those you trust. If you’re having trouble being on time with bills, tell the companies it’s a family crisis … it is amazing how some places understand and will mark on your file your intention to pay when the crisis clears. It prevents them from considering you as delinquent. Affairs are not, and shouldn’t be, a taboo subject. It’s actually abuse. So say, “I’ve suddenly found myself on my own now, and I’m having trouble paying.”

    Do not move out of the house unless you are at risk, or you have a better place to go. Mine actually suggested that since I drove him to the affair, I should move out. I may have spent the next 2 years playing pick-me, but I at least had the knowledge at the outset to say, “NO!” and stayed put. He moved out. Some people think it will help to give them space … no, they can find their own damned space.

    Really, really concentrate on your job, your family, your money, your life. It is not worth it to waste all that time on the cheater. It just isn’t. It is so hard to concentrate, so try some simple Bach flower remedies or B-Complex and D vitamins first (if you can) before you resort to stronger stuff. Eat healthy. Drink water. Go for a walk. Spend a few minutes in the garden. Hug your kid, pat your pet. Redecorate something.

    Go ahead and fix yourself and take ownership of the next part of your life, but do it for you … he won’t notice, and he won’t care. But you will eventually. If you have been so strung out with the toxic environment, but you didn’t know why, that is why … you’ve been living with “bad air”. Open the windows and breathe. Look at your face in the mirror now, at your worst, and vow that you will look better the next time you look.

    CL is right … get your ducks in a row, and yes, you will grieve and wonder and need to know, but do the ducks first. You will always have the opportunity to wonder why, but you won’t always have the opportunity to salvage a neglected job, family, or your own body because you were concentrating on a fucktard instead. The longer you spend thinking of “him”, the longer it takes to recoup your losses.

    Always be smarter than the cheater.

    • Great list. I like the advice not to focus on the cheater. That’s what I struggled with for a long time, but the kind of strategies you suggest really worked for me. Exercise, meditation, yoga, healthy food, music, gardens, remodeling your own life. All of those things helped me.

  • When you file get temporary orders for everything. Child support, spousal support, sole use of the home and car. Child visitation too. Open your own bank account the day you file and take only half of everything and put it in there. Do not close anything or cancel and card.

  • I wish I had the wisdom to not confront and hire a lawyer. But he knew something was up, I think he left his secret facebook page open on our home computer on purpose now.

    So he knew I knew, we had some scary fights and I still stayed with him another two years! He lived in another room in the house, but I let him stay. I had to pretend in front of kids, family, the church. Inside I was dying. I could not stand to be around him.

    In the end, had a nasty court fight, lost money and half of everything. Big mistake to confront. Gives them time to make up excuses, play the victim and basically steal from you. Get a lawyer, get a restraining order. Get him out!

  • Jenn,

    You are mighty already. Leaps and bounds above where I was when I found out. I saw the emails on his phone and whipped said phone at his slumbering head. The kerplunk it made hitting the head board (not his head…too bad) was only momentarily satisfying. What would’ve been much, much better was if I stayed in stealth mode, sat back and collected evidence while observing his utterly shitty behavior towards me through a different set of eyes.

    Pay attention to how he’s treating you because 99 times out of a 100 a cheater in an active affair(s) treats their spouse like the dirt on the bottom of their shoe. I spackled like a true chump over this crappy behavior and summed it all up to “work stress”, “his buddies being laid off” yada, yada ad nauseum nada.

    The day after the crackberry throwing incident I got fake cheater remorse, complete with crocodile tears which made me feel really bad. Epic chump here. That’s all you have to look forward to if you confront him. Fake tears, fake apologies, more lying and more cheating. Don’t waste your time. You’re on the right path. Please follow Chump Lady’s advice to the letter. Keep your knowledge underground until your ducks are lined up.

    Fake being ill, fake a yeast infection, fake whatever you have to fake to keep him from exposing you to any more STIs and get tested yourself. Then get out of dodge and have him served.

    You got this girl. You are so far ahead of the game! Keep checking in and let us know how it’s going.

    • Cheaterssuck, you are so right about watching them “with a different set of eyes”. It made all the difference to me, I spent my time with him after I knew he was a cheater watching his shitty behavior, and it was a total eye opener. I finally saw him for what he really was, I was able to lose my feelings for him, and get the hell away with no regrets over the relationship. He was a fraud. Pure and simple.

  • Jenn WOW!!! I wish I had just walked away without confronting satan too!!! Wow! I am in awe of you and the other chumps here that had to good sense to do so. They are all right about not confronting…it is just more pain for you later when the circular thinking starts. And the second guessing yourself, ughh!!!! Just don’t do it at all! I have learned that once you have to start wondering what the hell is going on your marriage / relationship is down the tubes anyway – hard to come back from that. The double takes required to keep a unicorn in view just give one whiplash! And the hopium pipe just makes one an addict. Ugh! Stay mighty and keep on keepin on!

    You are awesome!!! 😀

  • Jenn,

    “I made an email address and messaged the Craigslist ad I suspected was him and low and behold”

    That is what’s called BEING A BAD-ASS!

    You are handling this LIKE A BOSS! Whenever you feel weak, go back to that moment; THAT is how you need to be implementing CL’s and CN’s advice. Let a part of you get angry enough to take determined action and let the part drive, for now (your heart **will** catch up, the entire CN can attest to that).

    As good as my outcome has been so far, in every aspect of my current divorce from cheating STBXW where the outcome has been less-than-optimal, it’s been because I forgot about employing my BAD-ASS-NESS. Don’t forget it; YOU ARE BAD-ASS and you are supported. Put those shit-kickers on and metaphorically shove them a few inches up into your cheating spouse’s posterior when it comes to freeing yourself.

    You ROCK. You have this. Let a part of you fight for and help yourself in the same manner that you fight for and help domestic violence victims, and you will OWN this forced hand sending you into what will undoubtedly be a better life.

  • Lace up your Fuck You boots, put on your GoToHell Jacket, get your LawyerUp pants, and slip on your SuckerPunch gloves.

  • You can expect a response from him like this:
    – nope it wasn’t me (Denial)
    – is outraged and says you are cheating because of the proof you just gave him – be careful of this one (Projection)
    – he cries and says he is so sorry & doesn’t know why he did it (he isn’t sorry, cools it for a while & eventually continues the cheating)

    There is no remorse. There is no personal responsibility. It is like dealing with a little kid. Seriously!

    You are so tar ahead because you’ve answered a very key question for yourself — Do I want to stay married to someone who gets sex partners from Craigslist?

    Listen it sucks. He changed the rules. So, start your plan for your new life. CL and the CN has some excellent advice – please listen to it and do it all. I would also suggest you also have a plan in place when you tell him you want a divorce. So that might be enlisting a number of friends who physically there/nearby. Narcissists/sociopaths/etc can be pretty darn nasty when their world is turned up side down and they lose control. Stay safe.

    • and Blameshifting–cheater will say he cheated because you weren’t fulfilling his needs.

      • To add to what has already been so succinctly and eloquently said, be prepared to hear outrageous lies. My STBX told our kids that I filed for divorce when court records clearly show that he filed (the first day he publicly and falsely accused me of molesting one of our children and attempting to rape him). That lie was just the tip of the iceberg. His lying and abuse will not end until his heart stops beating, which sadly, will probably not occur for a long, long time (as he takes excellent care of his physique).

  • One thing I learned after the fact was that confronting a cheater is a useless activity. I wanted Jackass to confess. I wanted detail and explanations. I wanted answers. And I tried to get them, although he is the one who went “no contact,” almost certainly because he knew I would ask questions and would no longer accept his bullshit answers. But the effort to confront him was pointless. He lies. He cheats. He minimizes. He blameshifts and gaslights. Why would a discussion focused on his bad behavior be any different? I got the rage channel 24/7. Not sure it’s any worse than the self-pity and the charm channels, which he had worn out with me. Jenn, you’ll get far more answers by reading about personality disorders and about the experiences of other chumps. It’s hard to believe now, but there will come a time when what he has to say just doesn’t matter. At all. Not even a little bit.

    • I moved into the guest room after D-day, but let cheater stay in the house for a few weeks, largely so that I could get answers to my questions as I thought of them. At the time, I thought it helped me process the infidelity.

      Turns out every single answer he gave me was a lie–from EA only, to the length of time of the affair, to whether she was still in the profession, to how many people knew, to…you get the picture. Every.single.answer.was.a.lie. No point confronting them.

  • I confronted him and oh dear lord was it brutal and truly gave him the upper hand. While I was in shock and crawled up in a ball in pain, he got his ducks in a row. And that time period of having to hear what he had to say at all added to my now healing process.

    If I had to do it over, the dust I left behind would tell him all he needed to know.

    • If ever there was a time to let our actions speak, it’s in leaving (or kicking out) a cheater.

  • Yep Yep Yep…. don’t confront. I did, does no good. You wont feel any better. They will lie and cast blame. A total waste of time. Hell I had definitive proof. Text about what they were going to do to each other and what they had already done. I was yelled at and told No I did not I have morals!…….. Just prepare and be ready on your time.

  • Oh and when I say I documented everything I mean even his sexual desires AKA his sex toys, and sex books he bought. But the best thing that I documented was his social security number and his driver’s license number. You will need these later in life. I took photos of everything, all on my cell phone that he still happens to pat the bill.

  • I like the idea of getting everything ready. Then set him up on a Craig’s list date and when he goes to meet the woman, she serves him the divorce papers.

    (different Anne than above)

  • Really pay attention to your priorities. Where do you want to be in five years? You and your lawyer will need to focus on the settlement. Financial info is key as the disordered are entitled. My POS ex went to a lot of trouble to hide assets and what he couldn’t hide, he spent. The courts are overwhelmed with scum and will not protect you if you don’t have documentation. I did not pay one cent on those credit cards, his whores were an expense I did not condone. Ex had dissipated most assets and walked out on the mortgage in the two years it took my crap family court to “handle” the divorce. So the faster you can get a fair settlement and on with your better future is the way to go.

    • Ex had dissipated most assets and walked out on the mortgage in the two years it took my crap family court to “handle” the divorce. So the faster you can get a fair settlement and on with your better future is the way to go.
      I am in the same situation as Drew. Judas dissipated most money away and was actually quite proud of it. Seriously sent an email to my lawyer telling her he was and alcoholic and had a gambling problem, therefore he has NO money (although just prior to me filing for divorce his bank account held over $10,000). I filed in March 2014 and we finally went to trial last Friday. 2 years of the bullshit! Now we just wait for the judge’s decision. Then I’m sure Judas will have X amount of days before he has to refinance the house unless we have to put it up for sale….so it might be finally over by 2017.

      • I, too, have been financially cleaned out. As I did not know about the adultery and other nefarious behavior of my STBX until he informed me, I had virtually no time to prepare for the crises that were about to ensue. The ‘legal system’ and my STBX have wiped out the kids and me. I wish you luck!

  • Jenn,

    “I don’t know left from right.”

    When I read all the advice it makes sence in hindsight. We are not overlooking the paralysis and horror you are experiencing. Emotionally, it contradicts years of believing in an illusion. Holding it together especially when you councel abuse victims adds more insult to injury. Please do not be hard on yourself or doubt your abilities. See a therapist because you will need this moving forward. Personally, I was so depleted emotionally. I couldn’t have made it without CN, medication, my good friend, my daughters, and therapist. I thought I knew about and understood domestic abuse growing up with a narcissist father. Covert narcissists are charmers and you never see it coming.

    • Wow donna! We lived the same life!

      I always thought satan was just like my Mom (both are Virgos for one thing) – kind, loving, caring – NOPE! satan is just like my narc father!!! …and I never saw it coming either.

      • Jeep
        He had my mother fooled. She always said what a NICE guy he was. He was cheating when i needed him the most as she declined and I knew it was her last Christmas and last birthday.

        Coverts fake empathy very well and are slimy as can be. The can easily live a double life right under our nose.

        • You nailed it again donna! My mom died also…satan said that was one of the reasons he had to go to another woman – I just wouldn’t stop cryin bout my mom.

          heartless, soulless…

    • Yep, mine was a major Covert Narcissist. I had no clue until she dropped the bomb on me. Neither did most of her family. They deserve an Oscar.

  • Jen–First off, you are MIGHTY for establishing a Craigslist identity to trap your cheater. You’re even mightier for keeping your cool while doing so.

    Now for the big question: what do you gain by confronting him? What do you hope will happen?

    Your domestic violence experience has already shown you that people who betray their spouses feel entitled to do so. They don’t see themselves as being “wrong” or “bad people.” They claim they were unhappy, or that they made a mistake, or that somehow they were entitled because you didn’t make time for them when you were balancing being pregnant with having a toddler, so you were tired all the time. Oh, and you let yourself “go.”

    Instead, they’ll gaslight you while they go empty the bank accounts and hide the money.

    Line your ducks up in a row. Follow the financial advice given above. Put away a good stash of cash for the retainer fee. Get a kick-ass lawyer who’ll help you craft a good settlement. Check out Vicki’s blog for things to consider from a divorce financial analyst’s perspective (and if you have the wherewithal to have a divorce financial analyst, it’ll be money well-spent!). Get your support network lined up–especially if your STBX is likely to have a smear campaign (which suggests he’s high on some sort of local totem pole, if he needs to engage in image management). If you live in a fault state, get a PI to tail him. You might want a PI anyway,as even if you’re in a no-fault state, since if he’s concerned about image management, the last thing he’ll want is to have any actual admissible evidence be disclosed in a court hearing.

    You can either confront him when you file or you can have him served (one Chump arranged service when her Cheater was meeting up with his Schmoopie). If you opt to confront him when you file, I advise keeping cool and rehearsing what you’ll say ahead of time. “Cheater, I know that you’re trolling for hookers on craigslist. That’s a deal-breaker for me, so I’m filing for divorce.” Stick with the script, and don’t get down in the mud.

    Stay mighty! You’re doing great so far!

  • Jenn, i can only say I got an enormous sense of satisfaction from staying quiet after discovering the cheating. I didnt tell a soul…I had no one to tell, sadly. However, when MY day came (I secretly named it off-with-his-head day) he was SO surprised, shocked, that he was out on his sorry ass, he even had the OW write to me to say how wicked I was! I wrote back and asked her to not send him back. Mwahahahaha.

    Now, three years later I am absolutely sure she regrets taking the loser. I count my blessings each day and even though the loss of the relationship I thought I had was wrenching, still glad its over.

    As a domestic violence counsellor, you will know that confronting a cheater is dangerous. Even mild mannered guys can react violently when cornered. Mine did and he was the biggest wimp ever.

    • Marci, your post is so inspiring. Just like he didn’t tell you that he was cheating on you, why give him the benefit of a confrontation. And look at how the poor chap was shocked when you threw him out without any warning. His shock probably doesn’t even come close to the shock you felt when you found out about his affair. And then go whine to the OW that you are wicked. Nevermind that he’s evil cheating on you. What a wimp. And I burst out laughing when you wrote back telling her not to send him back. Hee hee! You’re da bomb!

      • Second that Kellia!!! MIGHTY Marci!!! 😀 Wish I’d had the chance to tell kroger ho to keep satan and not send him back!!!! What a flippin riot!!! LOVE IT!!!

        • I should also add, although it’s not something I wish to,dredge up on this lovely day, i distinctly recall the OW calling my phone and hissing various things at me about how she had been “fucking him for a year or more”. I sat silent, my heart pounding, then had a brainwave. .i said to OW in my best pathetic little girl voice “can I just ask you one last favour?” Totally suckered her in…she said yes of course hun in her patronising scouser accent. So I said “please take care of him, and never ever ever …be tempted to send him back just as I said in my email!”

          I heard a roar of disgust on the other end and then a click. I laughed like a madwoman and went a poured myself a beer. Nothing like a dose of good healthy anger to get over the creep.

          By the way, he has bopped her three times now and they have three children under three. I heard the other day that they can’t cope and that one of their kids has been sent to live with her parents. They are living on benefits and she’s still selling her naked photos online for beer money. How did he ever choose such a perfect partner! I know this about them because she blogs their every move.

          • Marci – That’s hysterical. Imagine how much of a wimp he must have been, where he complained to her so much about you that she called you to do his dirty work. So pathetic on all counts. And I LOVE your response about her doing you a favor and not ever sending him back to you. It’s a classic!! And honestly, they are both low-lives and vermin, living on benefits, her selling nude photos of herself for beer, and then shipping off their own child under 3 to be taken care of by her parents. It’s so trashy, they belong on Jerry Springer! You my dear, can sit back and relax knowing you are so fabulous!

          • Marci!!! PERFECT!!!! ROTFLMAO!!!! Oh that is just priceless!!! Too FUNNY! I feel sorry for their kids but CONSEQUENCES!!! Sayin!!!!

            Oh I just cannot quit laughin!!!!

            satan’s kroger ho dumped him as soon as I filed apparently. I met with him once at his request – he wanted to move home (!!!!! WHA???!!!!!) and asked him why he didn’t just go live with her…he raged and yelled (we were in Red Lobster – CROWDED!) ‘She is a WHORE! Just like the REST OF THEM!’

            ??? WHA?

            Lol!!!! Cheaters HATE CONSEQUENCES!!!!!

            • Awesome Marci I forgot to tell you 🙂 I went and ‘looked’ at kroger ho and one of the other satan hook ups…wow…just wow! I felt only pity for both of them and didn’t bother going to see any others… And I called the kroger ho and asked her why she felt she needed to sleep with married men – namely satan – and she said, ‘I do not talk about myself like that!’ Wha??? HUH????

              …yeah…these creatures are exactly what AWESOME Kar marie calls them POD PEOPLE! …probably couldn’t create a real human emotion if they put all their brains together and tried real hard!!! 😀

          • OW in my situation also blogs…omg, those blogs are truly the gift that keeps on giving 😉

            • Mosie,
              I forget about them for months at a stretch then go back to her blog and catch up on another episode of their train wreck of a domestic life. It is always a warm fuzzy feeling of schadenfreude to know he is suffering sleepless nights (at 44) with 3 kids under 3 and the bitch blaming him for all her troubles. She lays out every detail of their pathetic life on a public blog. I have always thought of cheaters as attention whores – they are classic.

              He had the perfect life with me, no kids, luxury travel, nice home, but no, for some shits and giggles on the side he slept with the office ho. Then she got pregnant. Claims the next two were “his fault”. LOL. Sorry for the kids…they’ll all be in foster care and then turn out like the old man.

              Big mystery how I ever got involved with such a Stupid Man. Oh, and they’ve already done the Kyle show (I think they get a fee for that).

  • Jenn, it may sound a bit hyperbolic to say get yourself checked for STDs, but I wanted to add something I learned over the years about men who cheat and the women they cheat with. On the whole… there are exceptions, but… a typical garden variety Cheater-Man is stupid and vain enough to believe that he is the only D that his Cheater-Affair-Partner-Woman is getting. More. Fool. Him.

    Society stupidly conditions people to believe that without exception all women ever want is just one man and one man only, so a cheater blithely assumes he’s going to benefit from that myth, thinking the women he’s nailing are (ironically) ‘faithful’ to him somehow. He thinks he’s the ‘one man’ for the spouse as well as whatever succession of OWs he has. He sees himself as a silverback with a harem, because who ever heard of a harem made up of women who each have secret male harems of their very own, right? He won’t have fully realised any of this. He won’t get it that the woman who is so eager and willing to cheat with him will be cheating on him. What’s more, it doesn’t cross his mind that a woman who is so eager and willing to fuck married men can probably, if she wants to, swim through a tsunami of D. That kind of woman is typically likely to be running a ‘portfolio’ of men, of which he is just one ignorant member — as a simple matter of supply and demand. Or as a simple matter of her not putting all her eggs in one basket, or a bit like taking out several insurance policies.

    Despite showing himself to have Craigslist-quality standards, if he even bothered to consider the likelihood of STDs, his estimation would have been completely blind to all that, ridiculously low, and staggeringly out of line with reality.

    • Good point. Stbx cheated with work colleague who got caught out for stealing and decided she was not going down alone . she confessed she had been sleeping with at least three other men at work besides stbx. She was also living with a man at the time. Stbx was livid and wanted to get back at her.

    • HopeAndGloria- everything you write is HILARIOUS and dead-on! I have encountered a few men who think THEY have carte blanche to hook up all over, but the women must be faithful, and would never want more than their half-hearted connection! (my X is one of these types). What on earth? Are they really that full of themselves?
      I hope I get to see the day when society accepts that women are sensual and love sex too, and that being with one partner is the coolest thing, because you can get very deep, and close. Just my dream…

  • Definitely document and get everything lined up quietly. However, I see value in eventually confronting the cheater. This is something I did with my (now) ex-wife. We met in a Panera, and a friend of mine was in the background as a witness. So, it was public with a backup that she did not know. Another possibility is to do the confrontation with a pastor or counselor who is completely on board with not tolerating cheating. The point is to ensure you are safe if you decide to do it.

    I see the confrontation (after getting solid documentation of the financials and cheating) as beneficial for a couple of reasons. It gave me some sense of completion. I gave her a shot to come clean, and she lied plus blame-shifted. Second, it confirmed that nothing was left for me in this marriage. It took months before my ex-wife admitted to lying about her sexual infidelity in that confrontation. (Later she went back to denial of the adultery to which she finally confessed). I am glad that I ended up confronting her as it gave me peace going forward with my life knowing that “She sucks” and had no intention to act honorably with me even caught red-handed.

    Some people might not need this. They may have all the info that they need to go forward trusting he/she sucks. As a pastor, the confrontation also helped me understand that reconciliation was never in the offering as well since she was far from repentant.

    Do what you wish but please make sure whatever you do that you do it AFTER documenting his infidelity clearly!

  • Of course all the practical advice is spot on. I would offer a slightly different take on the concept of confronting the cheater. I just filed and served last week. During the lining things up phase I met with a lawyer and talked about all these bits and pieces of info that I had. She made the point that my goal was to get out of the marriage without ever discussing any of these things with him. The fact that I had read the banking statements, the fact that I had read is phone, the sums of money I saw disappearing. It’s all well and good to know about these things, but every issue that you bring up costs you time, money and emotional heartache. Work that out with your counselor, not with your cheater and the lawyer.

    In preparation for the serving of the papers, I rehearsed what I had to say and parsed it down to really six sentences. Had he asked me “Why?” I was prepared to simply say “You know why”.

    If you highly suspect that your cheater is going to be aggressive, start a smear campaign, lie and manipulate… well why would you even engage in that battle. No matter how justified you are in your decision, he is going to blameshift, deny, paint you as a psycho, etc. So just don’t. Don’t justify. Don’t argue, don’t make it about him and drama and cake. “Asshole, it will not surprise you to hear me say this, but this marriage is over. I have filed for divorce. Carl is here to give you some paperwork that you need.”

    If he asks why you just say “You know why” or “I don’t think I want to be married to you any more.” If he tries to argue, blameshift or otherwise engage… you just calmly take it. “Yes Asshole, you are right. I have not been the romantic partner you deserve. I’m glad to see you agree it is for the best that we both turn our eyes toward the future and move on.” or “Yes Asshole, I have neglected your needs in favor of the children. I cannot be the partner you need. I am glad we both agree that it is time to go our separate ways.”

    Threats of “not getting a penny” or “never seeing the children again” are calmly met with “We are fortunate that the law answers these questions for us so we don’t have to try and sort it out.” Then as you go through negotiations, you calmly ask for what you want, plus a little more so you have something to give up in negotiations. Then as you meet resistance, you start bringing out little issues to discuss. For example, I’m going to offer STBX a stipend to buy new household goods, rather than have him take half of the dishes or some BS. Maybe $3000. But then I’m going to turn around and point out that I need to get vaccinated against HPV since I’m now going to be single and he put me at risk since his HoWorker is HPV positive and he has to pay for it… which is $1000.

  • Jenn,
    My personal experience confirmed the statistics that leaving is the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship. I did NOT confront. I talked only to my parents who encouraged and paid for me to see a lawyer. Since my lying skills are poor, Asshole X knew something was up. He went through my stuff and found the contract I’d signed with the lawyer.
    My college sweetheart, father of our three kids, good Christian man had a narcissistic fit of rage so scarily violent it involved guns, the police, a protective order, a mandatory psych eval, anger management classes, domestic violence counseling, loss of custody and the house.

    I. Never. Saw. It. Coming.

    Why jeopardize your safety? Why risk your children? You know he’s going to retaliate – do everything you can to minimize the damage and maximize your chances of success. Please let us know what happens. As someone who made it through to the other side, I wish you the best!

    • Eve, very glad you made it through. Your warning is a good one. Even after D-Day, most of us don’t think of the cheater as violent, potentially murderous. But there are those who prefer to wipe out spouse and children rather than watch them leave.

      • Thank you, LAJ. My point is that I never, ever, EVER would have thought him capable of such violent actions and there’s a lot I left out. I know we all want new Chumps to learn from our experiences but I wouldn’t have believed anyone’s warnings. I was afraid to move out of the house because I thought I’d lose claim to it. I should have been afraid of the loaded handgun.

        • Eve, you make an important point.

          I am taking such strident positions because when I came to Chump Lady, those were the ones that hit me over the head with the two-by-four. Someone suggested her ploy for kibbles was actually an attempt to paint me as an abuser. That shook me up good. For the better.

          I was battered by MatchGirl. The most heinous act of hitting came after D-hour. Statistics show that women abusers ramp up the abuse with guns and weapons to make-up for any size differences. We had guns, and I’m not a fucking idiot. I am fighting her in the court of law. The court of public opinion is not my first concern.

          Again, I am pushing back here to make a point. Please know that I am not trying to impugn any one Chump’s decisions. Y’all are my family-of-choice (and trauma) on the Internet.

          MatchGirl is a violent Cheater. I spent almost every moment with her for 10 years. I myself was completely fooled. I never thought she was evil. She sucks.

        • Glad you posted that Eve. Saddam went from rages to violence after I said we were divorcing, he was smart about it though. Ian, I’m the one that said she might be setting you up for a DV charge. Saddam DID set me up for a charge, I spent a horrific night in jail, while I got the charge dismissed it will be on my record forever. AND when he pulled a gun it made it very difficult to get a protective order. Lying assholes will lie about anything that gives them an advantage.

  • The credit checks will show whether your spouse opened additional credit cards or loans without you knowing. In addition to the list of credit card and auto/mortgage loan accounts under his & your name, the reports will show the open balances on them. All three credit bureaus have updated information, current as of 30 to 60 days ago. Consumer law allows us to receive free annual credit reports from each credit reporting bureau (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax)

    BEWARE: There are many scam websites on the Internet offering “free” credit reports. Do not use Google search to find the right link. Scammers use similar url names and copy the credit bureau logos for their sites so it’s hard to tell which one is legitimate.

    Instead, go straight to the Federal Trade Commission’s government site to get the correct link: (it will point you to but read the helpful information on the FTC site first if you’re not familiar with the process).

  • Jenn, I’m so sorry you have to go through this awful mess. The advice and experience of CL and all of the wonderful people here is priceless. One thing that helped me a little during that whole punched-in-the-gut, world-slid-out-from-under-your-feet, great-gaping-chasm-of-pain stage was trying to imagine a future me and what she would want to look back on. Although I could barely breathe I kept on imagining what that strong, wise, future me would have done as she walked away in those damn fine combat boots. I am not yet that future me but I see her in all the comments and stories on this site.

  • When you discover cheating, how do you break the news?


    You never break the news.

    No-contact; no-contact; no-contact.

    I disagree with Divorce Minister’s advice if it’s a Cheater guy. Don’t confront him. Not ever. EVER. The likelihood of him killing you is too high.

    I don’t understand the suggestions here that she go into stealth mode. Perhaps 48 hours, but after that why stay? It’s just money. If she’s dead what good is that? Sure, get the financials. Get your prized possessions; get a moving truck and get what you can in eight hours. Install a keylogger on his computer. Get a lawer and a protective order. But then get the fuck out!!!

    No-contact; no-contact; no-contact!

    • It’s a tricky risk/benefit analysis, that can really depend on the specific situation. On the one hand… yes.. it’s only money. On the other hand… that money can be pretty darn important to getting your life on track and there is really no need to just let everything go because someone is a narcissistic asshole. But it depends on your particular brand of Cheater, the assets at play, the cost (both literally and figuratively) to protect those assets, and other options. My Cheater was served on Wednesday and we are co-existing very nicely. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am certain that he thinks he is being all clever and moving assets around and thinking he is going to get one up on me and that he is lying to me while smiling to my face (’cause that’s what he does). But no need for me to move out.

      • I respect your opinion and your decision to stay, CAGirl.

        I should have prefaced my comment by saying it was written specifically for the SAHM. However, I am more than willing to be proven wrong on this.

        Would you or LAJ counsel a woman to cohabitate with a man after he hit her? How is sexual abuse different?

        I am not advising to give up assets. I am advising physical distance from the Cheater man. There are likely battered-spouse shelters. Family or friends might house someone temporarily. The fight for the family home can be conducted after she is safe. She might move back in in a week or month. Divorce is a marathon not a sprint.

        Is it possible that you have absolutely no capacity to see the cheater for what he really is? He fooled you this long. Men do kill women more frequently than the reverse. I disagree with you and LAJ.

        It’s just money.

        • I had to go Ian…satan would have likely killed or crippled me. My son gave me an ultimatum…walk out or he would toss me over his shoulder and carry me out…either way he was taking me out of there.

          I am sure there are many situations that are ‘safe’ for the chump to stay…but…some are just horrifying and so damn dangerous. Hopefully it is easy to determine…but…you are right…most narcs have explosive tempers when they feel like they are backed into a corner. Safety first!

          • Jeep you have a great son! I love my two boys but they are pretty useless to me. Now my daughter she has balls and looks out for and counsels me. As much as she loves her dad she wanted me away from him from time of discovery. She loves her dad but knows an asshole when she sees one.

            • Your sons will be back 😀 Your x and his crappy ow will make sure of it!!!! LOL!!! Your boys will come in out of the fog, hopefully SOON!!!

              • They are not on his side jeep just not comforting at all. I guess they dont know what to say to me. And theyve been keeping their distance from both me and dad. Go figure right?

              • Dagone it! Sucks for the kids! Poor boys! My brothers were like that. They just turned a blind eye to what dad was doing…sucks when your primary role model abuses everyone like that. Its gotta be really uncomfortable for your boys. They know you are there for them though. Hopefully they will come to grips with it soon.

        • Oh absolutely – your results may vary and in this case in the OP, yes, she would do well to work as quickly as possible to separate herself from this person. FWIW I had experience small confrontations over the OW over the years and I knew that he doesn’t get upset or violent. I got remorse and tears and angst and promises. Now they were lies, but in my personal experience, my particular brand of asshole is docile (and super depressed and on so. many. drugs)… he’s a bigger threat to himself than he is to me (he’s threatened suicide numerous times). That was my biggest fear, killing himself and then I have a big mess to clean up. I think we hear the worst of the worst on this website. Heck even our beloved Chump Lady herself had to cohabitate with her Ex for like 6 months if I recall. Yes, people are killed. But most are not. Marriages break up everyday, people quickly and quietly divorce and manage to muddle through. I am fully aware of who he is (I have been married to him for 12 years after all). He’s not violent. He’s a liar and an asshole, but he’s not violent. That’s why it is all the more important to have a good support system in place to help you with your gut check and assessment of the situation. In my case, we have talked about getting divorced on numerous occasions and we both agreed it needed to be done. No one was shocked or particularly bothered by this.

          So I don’t disagree with you that she needs to be ready to throw an escape plan into action. But I also think that goes back to what we are all saying. Don’t confront, actions speak louder than words, and don’t get crazy trying to make him see the error of his ways. Stealth mode, be ready to support yourself and your kids, find a place to go, get advise from a lawyer about worst case scenarios in your state and create a plan.

        • Ian, of course women shouldn’t stay if there is abuse or that spidey sense that the cheater spouse/live-in is violent or dangerous. And it’s a good point that the moment of confrontation can be very dangerous. But confrontation can just light the fire of violence to come. Even temporary restraining orders or protection from abuse orders can backfire by actually triggering violence. (See Gavin de Becker’s “Gift of Fear” for a great discussion of the dangers of confrontation.) And many spouses who are murdered are killed after they leave. My point is not that women shouldn’t leave. My point is that women, especially, often perceive themselves to be trapped or that their circumstances (economic, geographic, and parental) make leaving difficult. And so many want to hold onto the home, either for the kids’ sake or because it was their own family home or purchased with help from her family, etc., and thus are advised by lawyers or family to stay put and file for divorce to make the spouse leave.

          My own advice? Couples getting married should spend a lot less on the wedding and honeymoon and more on putting aside emergency money for each of them; they should both add to that regularly, even $10 or 20 dollars at a time. Both parties should know how much money comes in, and what goes out. Both should nurture their friendships and kin connections so there is support if the worst happens. It’s not cynical to think this way; it’s realistic. In any good marriage, the partners should want to protect each other by encouraging transparency, a financial safety net, and a robust support network. That’s why loving partners make wills and buy insurance. If someone is married and gets resistance about financial transparence or putting aside money for a SAHP–huge red flags.

          • LovedAJackass,

            I always find something in your posts that improves my own writing. Your ability to focus on the issue is remarkable. And your style so effortlessly takes emotion out (as much as possible) from the argument. Can’t wait to see what you write next. Cheers!

    • I don’t disagree with your basic premise. But a SAHS with children and little or no income apart from the spouse, living paycheck to paycheck as so many do today, may not have the financial wherewithal to relocate children, who may be in school and have education interrupted with a move. Many attorneys counsel spouses not to leave the marital home if they hope to get the house in the settlement in order to keep the kids in a stable situation. So it’s complicated. Many people who go into stealth mode are not dithering or waffling or tolerating the cheating; they are putting their resources together so that they can come out with what they need to survive. Moreover, signing a lease involves a credit report; finding an apartment to take kids and pets or one that is simply affordable and safe isn’t always possible. I grew up in a mostly rural area. There would be no way in the world to get an apartment or a house without half the town knowing about it. And the nearest lawyer would be 30 miles away with no public transit. So for many, it’s not as easy as just finding an apartment down the road and moving.

      On the other hand, one huge danger of stealth mode is having the will to act erode because of the fear of the unknown. So if a chump needs to go into stealth mode, it might be very helpful to have a relative or friend or therapist who can provide not only support but some spine-stiffening. “Stealth mode” would work best with a well-thought out timeline for action.

      • Yeah when I was in stealth mode I had a very specific list of things I wanted to get done. I stopped just short of writing out a list (for fear of it being found). I spent my air travel time reading a book on divorce to give me some ideas, I took a few meetings, and then I just came up with a list and started knocking it off. Once I had all of those details in place, I sort of figured out approximately what day was should be serving day. FWIW, I was ready about 4 days before I actually filed, but I knew I wanted to do it on a Wednesday, so I had to hold out for a few more days.

        I was off by about two weeks ( I was held up by waiting on a few things which I could not control). I won’t say that I didn’t sometimes question myself while in a holding pattern, but I would find a way to remind myself that I had made a decision and I was going to stick to it. It helped a lot that I had been talking with my family about the CRAZY shit that I was finding. I said that had I backed out, my SIL would have flown across the country and pulled me by the hair to the courthouse. As I was in a holding pattern I started to feel like the “boy who cried wolf”. People would say “any news”, and I have to say “no, not yet.” I started to feel bad that all these people were rooting for me and I was starting to look like all talk and no action. It helped me to have people that I kind of had to be accountable to. I would say I was going to have a meeting, and my parents would call me and ask how it went. When I read his phone and was upset, my SIL reminded me I had a plan and I should not change course so close to the end. That’s where you support team really comes in. It sucks and is stressful and emotional. People that are definitely on your team, but are just a bit removed can be a great source of support.

    • I don’t think you should ever confront a cheater. On that point I agree but the stealth mode is to line up her ducks so she when the time does come to vacate it can be done with no confrontation at all. We don’t know what her family situation is; if she has people there to protect her when the time comes to move out. She needs temporary orders of support and potentially alimony. Those things generally take a little time and she might need to save up some money to do those things.

      I don’t think the “It’s just money” thing holds water when you’re trying to take care of kids.

    • Exactly this is a time of extreme danger and narcissist will kill if push comes to shove… ! Thier whole beings are geared on winning and that may mean you have to end up dead!

    • To be fair, I never suggested a confrontation in private alone with a cheater–male or female. That would be unwise considering how unstable they can be.

      However, if there is reason to believe he is that unstable, she ought to get out of there stat. A confrontation could happen if he uncovers her sleuthing. Safety first.

      With that understanding–safety first–I still stand by my position that a confrontation may have some value depending on one’s circumstances.

  • I agree. A confrontation is words at a time when actions are required. Although you will need a long time to process all these overwhelming feelings, you have to act now to protect yourself and your children. Cheaters have a story, excuse, justification, lie for everything. In a verbal confrontation you will never get the response you hope for. Respond to their actions with your actions. Accept that your life will never be the same but it can be so much better!

  • I second the “don’t confront” advice.

    I confronted my wife numerous times for “conversations,” each with pieces of evidence that proved emotional infidelity, but little else. This set her on manipulation overdrive, spinning every situation and hiding other aspects of her affair. It took me months to get back to reality and realize the key problem: my wife had destroyed trust and in no way intended to repair it.

    Actions get results. Conversations get delays.

  • on a slightly irrelevant note, just need to get it off my chest really…. my co-worker cheated on his girlfriend twice and is very proud of himself apparently. I overheard a conversation he was having with another co-worker about how he was young and she kept him on a short leash so he rebeled or something equally as ridiculous. I couldn’t helped myself and chimed in by saying cheating is a character issue and even though I didn’t get in any major argument with him, ever since this happened, he’s been trying to make my life miserable at work. He’s already an asshole, gossips like a school girl (he’s in his 40s), spreads rumors about me and when I confront him, he calls me paranoid. He knows I am sensitive and I’m guessing he’s trying to make me quit. I do wonder, given that you can’t reason or confront a narcissist without him blame-shifting, distorting the truth, splitting, and all that. would you quit your job if you were me or would you find some strategy to deal with him. He actually reminds me of my ex alot, because he has this amazing ability to SNOW the rest of my co-workers, which in teh end makes him look like a good guy, and of course, I’m the crazy one. Thoughts?

    • Good for you MB. And of course you can just imagine the crap he is telling his girlfriend about you…you know in case you decide to tell her what is going on in HER life…yeah…smear campaign.

      These idiots are all the same.

      Killing him with kindness isn’t going to work now…his morals are showing…yuck! His personal life shouldn’t be on the table at work. Its very unprofessional. What he does in his off hours should be left there not brought to work and spread around. Too bad his supervisor didn’t hear him.

      If you like your job don’t leave it. You shouldn’t have to. Can you just avoid him? …what’s wrong with your other coworkers that they would condone his behaviors? Towards his girlfriend and toward you???? Hummm…

    • Yeah I think you have to go with an “above the fray” approach. Folks like this tend to have someone in their sites at all time. It’s the pathological need to bully, eat cake and kibbles, and in general suck up all the attention. When you get worked up about his rumor mill or his drama-llama antics, he’s getting what he wants. You have to ignore him, keep your work above reproach, if you must work with him find ways to CYA (like always ask for things in writing or if he tries to talk to you one on one always be about to get on a call), if he won’t give you something you need to do your job, you take it to the supervisors or quietly find a work around. Eventually (and it may take a long time), he will get sick of you not really being bothered by him and move on to another victim. Don’t suck in your coworkers, don’t try to gang up on him, it’s going to be a long haul, but it will stop.

  • I just have to weigh in on cheaters who cheat while their spouse is pregnant. I am a physician, and my ex, Stupid, cheated on me while I was pregnant with child #2.

    If a woman unknowingly contracts herpes while pregnant, she can pass this on to her child and the baby can DIE from neonatal herpes. I have personally seen this happen. Plus, we all know about HIV.

    Make no mistake about it – cheaters do not care enough about their children, including unborn children, enough to keep them safe. They care about their egos more than about the safety of their spouses and children.

    And don’t even get me started on that “children are resilient” crap….

    • Thank you, Doctor.

      The legal article I mentioned by Deborah L. Rhode minimizes herpes as, “that ‘loathsome disease.'” In my letter to her, I pointed out HIV and the impact on women of HPV-related cancer. I didn’t know about the lethal consequences of herpes.

      Rhode is a feminist scholar, and a hero of mine. I had to bite my tongue to not outright accuse her of some Cheatersplain’ing. She’s dead wrong on this adultery issue. In fact, her feminist ideology is diametrically opposed to her position on adultery given the disparate impact of adultery committed against women and pregnant women in particular.

      The law should place adulterer-soon-to-be fathers at criminal risk for their potentially deadly behavior.

      Write Rhode at [email protected] if you’re as angry as I am.


    • Here’s a delightful article that clearly indicates that “children are NOT resilient”:
      A short excerpt:
      Myth #3. Children are resilient. They get over things. Au contraire. Children are not innately resilient to severe and chronic trauma. At the root of a great bulk of this nation’s chronic diseases — diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, autoimmune diseases — as well as depression, suicide, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence is severe trauma suffered in childhood. … The CDC’s ACE Study measure 10 types of childhood trauma — the five usual suspects (physical, sexual, verbal abuse plus emotional and physical neglect) and five types of household dysfunction (a parent with mental illness or drug addiction, a family member in jail, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, and loss of a parent through divorce or abandonment). (There are, of course, many other types of trauma, but the ACE Study measured only these.) If a child has three or four different types (an ACE score of 3 or 4), his or her risk of chronic illness skyrockets, as does the rest of the list above.

      • Blessing, please, please find out what knothead said children are resilient. The reason children need parents who protect them and guide them is BECAUSE THEY AREN’T RESILIENT!!! This stupid idea makes me grind my teeth. There too many “experts” writing this shit all over the Internet. If we, as adults, cannot make sense of the senseless how can children? I know someone who cheated and then left her husband. Her kids were teenagers when she left. When they were married with children of their own they told her just how much damage she did. Of course she was remorseful. Of course it was way too late. One child has blocked her. The others are a little more involved with her but not much. In this case she reaped what she had sown. Btw, her ex remarried, happily, and the kids love their step-mother.

        • Let go – I was responding to I’mWithStupid (above) who has obviously heard the “children are resilient” crap. I’m totally on board with “children AREN’T resilient.” The experts who spew the fact that children are resilient are not up-to-date with current research about the long-term effects of childhood stress and trauma on biopsychosocial outcomes. The quote I posted debunked the “myth” that children are resilient; children are resilient, to an extent, but our job as parents is to protect and nurture them, not subject them to unnecessary stress and trauma (like parental abuse/infidelity).

  • Fuck it. Don’t write Rhode. She knows my real identity, and I don’t want to out myself in the midst of my divorce.


    • Come on Tempest and donna and Kar marie and everyone…lets go take Ian out for a drink and a dance…he needs to chill for a bit 😀

  • Ian and Tempest you are the best. I’ll do that review too. And I’ll sign my big important credentials to it. Send me the freebie link if you find.

  • Great advice. In hindsight I wish I had found CL and her advice after D-Day1 — would have saved myself a lot of anguish.

    After D-Day2, when I changed the password on our former joint email address, home computer and bank account, my ex-wife accused me of not fostering trust. It was a “threatening behaviour” and made her “feel vulnerable”. So like a chump, high on hopium, I changed it back.

    I’m not quite sure how f*cking someone else, and continuing to see her affair partner during our false reconciliation was supposed to foster trust…

    And when you throw him out, buy yourself a new bed and mattress. I slept much better after I did that.

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