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Surely You Must’ve Known

Are your powers of premonition pretty lousy? Me too. I have no idea who is going to win the election or what the stock market is going to do next quarter.

But when it comes to infidelity, you would’ve thought that everyone is clairvoyant and that particular super power skipped you. Because after you discover your spouse was cheating on you, there will be folks out there shaking their heads saying surely you “must have known.”

One of the worst things about being cheated on is others’ wrongheaded notion that somehow you were in on the deal. That you knowingly turned a blind eye. Perhaps you and your cheating spouse had an “arrangement,” wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  The unspoken assumption is that you kind of deserve infidelity for being such an oblivious idiot.

Of course this is a way for the smug to distance themselves from the pain and humiliation of betrayal. Just like some folks think cancer and other sorts of misfortune are contagious, it’s easier to think we have control over Bad Things That Happen. It must be because you failed (unlike me). Blaming the victim is a nice little voodoo smug people do to protect themselves from the scary uncertainty that they too could be played.

Perhaps you were smug once too, safe in the knowledge that infidelity would never happen to you.

I know I was. I thought cheating is what happened when you had a sexless marriage, or let yourself go, or married some obvious Lothario. (The Lothario of my imagination being some cross between Austin Powers and a skeevy sales and marketing rep.) My  husband loved me! My husband pursued me! My husband and I had sex! I was safe.

Insomuch as I thought of infidelity at all, I thought it happened to Other People. People with either really, sad pathetic marriages, (see sexless and ugly above) or glamorous Bohemian people who were swept up torrid affairs, helpless against the inevitability of their fated love. Solid, dull Midwesterners don’t do drama, I thought. I was immune.

We all see the world from our own moral lens. And if you have a particularly good set of morals (and assume everyone else does too), that makes you a good mark. If you’ve never experienced infidelity before and you know that you wouldn’t cheat on your spouse — you stumble around the planet with a certain naivety. You wouldn’t have done such a thing and therefore you can’t imagine a world in which the person you are most intimate with daily would do such a thing either.

That’s why infidelity is so shattering. It completely up-ends your view of the world, your sense of reality, of who you can trust. When it happened to me, it was like that scene in the Twilight Zone where the “normal” people suddenly rip off their masks and reveal that they are pig-snouted aliens. I was shocked to my core. The world has PIG-SNOUTED ALIENS?! WTF?! No one TOLD ME!

It’s not pathological to trust your spouse. It’s what normal, loving people do. And that is why betrayal and manipulation are so very ugly. Because abusers take that trust — that social glue that binds us together — and they turn it on you. Use your loving “benefit of the doubt” against you.

And as if that shit isn’t painful enough — it’s that much more painful to have the Peanut gallery out there gawking and pointing and saying you were somehow party to your own abuse.

You can only be in denial about something you know. Betrayed spouses beat themselves up for being chumps. The deception is humiliating. In retrospect the deceit looks so obvious (he never answered his cell phone, she was a sudden aficionado of Brazilian waxes…) And of course, you probably had gut feelings that things were off. But your cheater told you, no, everything was fine. Or no, actually you were the problem. And you believed that. Until you couldn’t any more.

After you know you’ve been cheated on, it’s pretty normal to go through the stages of grief. Denial is one of those stages, as is bargaining. (Pig-snouted spouse… okay… maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe I can work with this…) Once you know, however, that knowledge is a gift. It doesn’t feel that way, of course. It feels like death. Like someone bulldozed your soul, and shoveled its remains into one of those radioactive waste containers, never to be touched again like Chernobyl. But really, knowledge is power. The worse part is not knowing.

Surely you knew? No. You didn’t. But now you do. The rest of your life is up to you. If you ask me? I think you should run as fast as you can from the pig snouted aliens. God speed.

This column ran previously. Feel free to comment. Photo stills are from the Twilight Zone. 

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  • After the infidelity was revealed, I told him, “I was so sure that you’d never ever cheat. My friends and I were discussing infidelity and I said, ‘not my husband, not in a million years.’ ” My now-ex was INSULTED when I told him this, like I didn’t think he was man enough to cheat. In fact he wasn’t man enough to not cheat.

      • This exactly! Not man enough not to cheat. Yet brags about being a man of honor integrity doing the right thing and keeping his word. Just not faithful, bastard.

        • Egads yes. Always the lectures about honor, respect and loyalty to/defending of family. Except for when you can fuck strange on the side like a proper rockstar. (he wishes) He wants others to give that to him…He forgets that first he must EARN the respect. As far as I know, he still touts all of that. *eye roll*

        • Same thing I heard kmarie, and Anewoman, I knew something was “off” with X after he had been cheating, there was always something different about him afterwards that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. A few times I came out and asked if he had been cheating or had been with anyone.., X had a couple different answers, with a chuckle, Chump, “you have quite the imagination, have you thought about writing novels” another was, “do I look like that kind of guy to you”?
          my intuition told me otherwise, I foolishly ignored my gut feelings.
          after all, he was constantly reminding me of his integrity, and very judgmental, he was so rigid and critical of anyone who didn’t follow the rules, or his rigid code of conduct, for example if someone took more than one sample at Costco, he couldn’t let it go, it would become a topic of conversation on our way home, or when our neighbor told us she took a towel from a hotel, he was horrified that anyone would be so dishonest.. Anyone who would never dare exceed the one sample per customer rule at Coscto would never fuck around on his wife.

          • Learning to trust my gut again was really hard because I’d spackled for so long. In fact, my intuition once spoke out loud to me, like a voice that I “heard.” It happened when I opened the door to welcome him home after a business trip. There was something in his eyes, and he wouldn’t look me in the face. That’s when I heard a voice clearly say “there’s someone else.” It was so loud I looked around the room to see who said it. That’s how frustrated my intuition was from being ignored!

            Even my counselor asked me how I didn’t see it for so long. She told me “you are intelligent, but you couldn’t psychically see it.” No, I couldn’t because my husband was having an affair with a woman he worked with, who was married and had kids. He didn’t tell me what he was doing, and I never had any hard evidence. Any time I mentioned my concern he explained it away. My mottos were “unless I have hard evidence of wrongdoing, I have to trust him,” and “The problem is mine, I’m too insecure.”

            I told my counselor I wasn’t the only one he fooled. Both my kids said they believed he was a loyal “family man,” although my oldest later told me the thought had crossed his mind that his dad might be having an affair when he was younger. “But I didn’t want to believe that of my dad,” he said, and I agreed that “I didn’t want to believe it of my husband.”

            But where does the responsibility lie? With the person who’s being lied to, or the liar? I believe it’s with the liar, no matter what my counselor says.

            • Same here. I was so trusting because he lead me on, taking full advantage of that trust. His job requires hours of time, sometimes late at night, editing, where he couldn’t answer his phone. I knew all of the people he worked with and they always acted normally during that whole 1.5yrs he was in an affair with his co-worker. He slept with me every night, we went everywhere together when he wasn’t at work. Any “off” feelings of him being distracted were always explained away as work-related stress. His family and I were close, we were in the same big group of friends before he and I got romantic, and none of them said anything to me although apparently he’d been out with some of them with his OW. There was no way I could have known without going through his phone or checking receipts or hiring a PI, which before all of this was NOT anywhere in my mind because I thought he and ZI were on the same page as far as loving only each other. He acted like my best friend. Well, now we all know that things aren’t always what they seem. I just wish that people could be trusted. Living the rest of my life knowing that I’ll never have that feeling of fully trusting anyone doesn’t feel so good. Sucks.

              • This. “Living the rest of my life knowing that I’ll never have that feeling of fully trusting anyone doesn’t feel so good. Sucks.”

                I want to look forward to a future with a better partner, but I can’t imagine ever fully trusting again. I think I’ll always wonder if he’s got a secret life.

              • UnderConstruction – We were married to the same guy!

                He was so good at covering things up, finding our about his affair pulverized my ability to trust. It has been a long, sisyphean task to divorce his ass, but that was a walk in the park compared to what it will take to trust anyone intimately again.

              • Yeah, losing the option of fully trusting people has been one of the hardest losses in this whole mess. Sorry to you both. 🙁 I hope all of us honest ones can find another love this lifetime. A real, genuine love.

        • Definitely–honor and integrity are missing. I recall a few times being totally exasperated and telling the XBF “BE A MAN!!!” and his idiotic reply was

          ‘teach me how to be a man’. I thought my head was going to pop off my neck. Especially considering he was dumb enough to use that line more than once.

          Sorry, Fuckstick, that’s not my job . That was the job of your parents…..oh, yeah, that didn’t happen, did it? Your dad was a serial cheater with an entire second family that you all were to accept as being a normal situation and your mom was his doormat.

    • I wish I had run from the pig snouted narc begged to stay but continued the affair and ramped up the abuse we even had a fake re-‘wedding in central park -ewwww! Fast forward 4 years- I now cannot retire due to the financial abuse and he discarded me for ANOTHER OW. What a total chump. Good bye and good riddance Mr pig snouted alien

      • Oh, the financial abuse is HORRIBLE. I wish all of us had known- hire a PI and have the sucker followed. There, you know if your gut was right, and you can proceed to protect yourself!
        I have a bankruptcy, and lost my home of 18 years, thanks to Cheater. Thankfully, I don’t mind working, I kind of like how it takes my mind off of things, and I’ll be working into my 70’s.

      • Stealing financial assets after 36 years of saving and doing without tore my heart out! Mine also lied about putting away loads of college bonds for the kids! When they gre up there was peanuts in the accounts! Mine repeatedly raped our finances and refused to let me have any control of even my own! For this he will rot in hell!

    • X is an airline pilot and I was asked the question “do you ever think X would cheat,”? or “Pilots are known for cheating, do you think X would ever”? especially when the book “The Pilot’s Wife” became popular,
      I felt a little insulted that anyone would question my X’s fidelity, couldn’t they tell by looking at my Mr. Integrity, John Boy Walton?
      My reply, X loves his family and me too much to ever think about cheating. X is devoted to his family.
      Silly me, I came home and told X about the questions, and mentioned the book ‘The Pilot’s Wife,”
      he told me not to read the book, it was trash, again silly me, although I was interested in reading it, I didn’t because X said it was trash, again silly me.

      The female judge in our divorce told the court and me, “you knew for a long time your marriage was over,”

      • The JUDGE said that? Wow.

        My marriage was over? You mean we met in DIVORCE COURT before, Judge?

        • The two most hurtful statements I received during WrecKconciliation were from PHD Therapists, Both of whom should be thanking God each day for the mercy I showed them. The first said to me: ” You seem to be angry?” I said: wouldn’t you…she was with another man for 7 years. He said. “Yes I would be angry to…but I want you to learn something from the man your wife was with, something positive” After stating WTF several times and showing him the window that I felt inclined to throw him out of…I left. The next therapist said: ” Why are you still verbally abusing your wife” I said: What do you mean? He said: “You keep mentioning the part about your wife fucking another man” I said: What verbal abuse, Brother…She Did…for 7 years and the last 2 years in my Bed! He Said: ” Please understand that my job is to help her to not do it again…your language is not helping – even if your marriage doesn’t work out…I need her to become better for her next relationship”. I said. WOW – You really are – let me see – how do you say,,,A Piece of Shit! – then again exited stage left, reminding him as I was walking out the door – that If he charged my wife for a session…He was not only a Piece of Shit…He was a Criminal!. LOL 🙂 Oh yes the experts and the peanut gallery…WTF. All I can say now in hind sight is – Thanks for the great material. Truth is Stranger than Fiction – Ironwarrior a.k.a The World’s Strongest Chump. lol 🙂

          • My MC tried to make me understand that I had to listen to my husbands needs. Listen to him first! I was WTF??? Were listening to me first! She then told me I should be thankful for him still being here and wanting the marriage back ! It was disgusting the MC’s I went to…. That one you went to sure hit it on the head, they are out for the ww not to do it again… Wow, lucky us….

          • That is appalling on both counts, ironwarrior. I’m sorry you were subjected to two bad therapists in a row. There are some good ones (both my daughter & I got them), but plenty of bad ones, I’m afraid.

            • Hey Tempest,

              Is this a good journal? “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin”

              I came across this article that from the upcoming March issue: “Narcissists of a Feather Flock Together.”


              Beside yourself ? who are the experts on narcissism and the Dark Triad?(spooky)

              I think this article might suggest that us Chumps have strong narcissistic tendencies too? Or are we typically just supply? Or is that too simplistic?

              • Ian:
                Yes, it’s an excellent journal. However, the research is on similarity of narcissism among one’s friends, rather than partners (who would subscribe more to Sandra Brown’s research on “super traits” among people who stay with psychopaths, not narcissism). I’ll have to read the whole article, but my case with Hannibal certainly supports that article–his 3/4 closest friends are narcissists and cheaters themselves.

              • Same with satan and friends Tempest and Ian…narcs and cheaters…birds of a feather and all that. Yep.

              • Ian, I have some narc qualities. I’ve worked in a competitive field where if you don’t believe in yourself, there are 100 people right behind you ready to knock you down and steal your job opportunities. There’s a certain amount of chest-puffing required. The thing I feel is different about me and some of the people also in my field of work is that I would not ever step on anyone or spread negative information about any of the competition in order to get the jobs. Many others do just that, behind each other’s backs. Face to face they’re all “friends”. Rotten stuff. I also notice a lack of empathy among many narcs. Most of us here are highly empathetic, just from reading our posts to each other. I don’t know a ton about narcissism but from what I understand, most people do have some narc qualities and that it’s healthy. Hopefully that’s true! Lol.

              • Thanks KRKing911,

                He is funny. The five-minute clip on grey rock is good.

                I think I have narcissistic traits so it’s pretty much a rhetorical question!

                And not a homework assignment for Tempest!

          • That is so ridiculous! Sorry you had to endure this. Some shrinks are just quacks!

          • Ironwarrior, I was told through his lawyer to mine I wasn’t allowed to verbally abuse him. My emails had things in it like you’re a f*×#ing liar and cheater and your gal is a whore who is married as well. I asked my attourney where in those statements is there abuse? He is a liar and a cheater and she is a whore. Just because it’s truth speckled with cuss words doesn’t make it abuse. Like those two have cheaters and have never cussed. Puhhhhlease!! Are we in kindergarten and need to tattle?

          • ironwarrior,

            She sucks. They suck. Fuck the WrecKonciliation-industrial complex. It’s scary when murder starts to look like a viable option. I admire your strength. Your humor gives me courage and hope that I too can survive this without any casualties. ?

          • So sorry ironwarrior that you had to go through this with 2 therapists :(!!!

            My first IC post-DDay tried to take a spin on shared responsibility at the start of our 4th session. She back tracked as she saw me whip up my check book, and pay for a full session. I told her we could not work together if that was her approach, paid for a full session and left without a look back.

            Thank goodness I found another IC through my employer. He helped me through the rough patches of my divorce before my benefits ran out.

            I have since found another IC that has been a good match for me.

            New chumps, don’t settle for any therapist, infidelity is a shattering trauma, really interview potential IC about their approach to infidelity and Cluster B personality disorders before spending any of you precious money further damaging your mental health!

          • // , It might be worth getting a list of “chump compatible” therapists. I imagine that these two gummy bears wouldn’t maoe such a list.

      • That stupid bitch was probably getting cheated on by her own husband so she had to be an unprofessional ass where she felt most in control, her courtroom!

      • Brit,
        Wow! Mines an airline pilot too. Married almost 30 yrs. Had an affair w FA, and I would drop him off at the airport and tell him to “have a great trip ! ”

        I was clueless, but now I see things like when held call and tell me his room number…??? Then explain ‘”incase I needed it.”

        What ‘s the worst part, I beileved in him & our marriage unconditioally, often defended the “the airline way of life” so many times, that now I feel so foolish… and looking back now, I wonder about my whole marriage !

        • Susan, an affair with FA? How totally banal of him. Really, the man has no imagination. I’m sorry he put you through it. Hope things are better now.

          • Talk about cliche: my doctor husband got a Porsche, fucked some married skank he met on the Internet, traded the silver Porsche for red porsche and then started up with married clinic nurse.
            I thought when he was working late he was working- chumpy me

            • Mine’s another cliche–56 year old professor screwed a 22 year old graduate student studying…wait for it…ethics, and she has a name that is an absolute cliche for a mistress (though I won’t reveal it here).

              • Tempest – studying Ethics? This reminds me of a quote I hear on TV one time:

                The difference between morals and ethics is the ethical man knows he shouldn’t cheat on his wife, whereas the moral man doesn’t cheat on his wife.-Dr.Donald “Ducky” Mallard (NCIS)

            • I got this cliche: ex joined Facebook, found a woman he use to “party” with when he was in college and she was in HS, and the rest is history.

              I stupidly/smugly believed that one had to be CLUELESS to not know.

              Well, I guess I WAS clueless. And smug. Now I know.

              A GIFT, I tell you! A GIFT! I’m free!

        • I remember 25 years ago when X first got hired by the airlines and we would receive the newsletters with the background and family of all the candidates running for Union President or whatever they were, I looked at their wives who were half their age, children under 5 years old, beside him would be his older children in their 20’s and in college. Many of the younger wives were former FA’s. I would be disgusted but thought that would never be me, and that’s an older generation thing to have affairs with the FA and leave their wives. Susan, sounds like you may have weathered the early lean years along with furloughs. Was your X in the military? mine was. I remember there were a couple FO’s who X seemed particularly friendly with, Nikki this, Nikki said, Nikki’s favorite food is.., Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, red flag moments, not sure if anything went on, perhaps, If not I don’t think X would have turned her down, knowing what I know now. Later in our marriage the red flag moments were heading more often and weren’t going away. I blamed the weirdness on stress since his Dad had passed away, time went on and he became more uptight, I blamed stress again since his mother was sick.. The feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right never really went away.
          Now that I know who he really is and think back to those awkward moments or red flags I believe there were many more. Call his room no answer, unusual, excuses he made include, Shuttle was late picking them up to bring them to the hotel, the crew had a late dinner, had to walk a long distance to the restaurant.
          From what I understand there are usually friendly women at the bar. Everyone else flirts with them but not X. Remember he’s Mr. Integrity? Is horrified and offended when people have more than one food sample at Costco when the sigh clearly states one per customer. One of the things he’d like to say when pointing out these glutens at Costco is “I could never do that,” no he couldn’t take an sample from costco.
          Taking an extra sample from costco holds more weight than having sex with strangers while you’re a married man.

          • Taken in sum all my experiences with Chumpdom bear this out. When they complain about someone, or say “OM this, OW that.” They’re fucking them or grooming them for a future fuck.

            And the radio-silence on the cell phone and being unavailable in their hotel room while away for business is also a dead giveaway for a bout of bumping uglies.

            I don’t have proof, but when Match Girl said, “I haven’t been happy for three years,” I went back to check her travel schedule. Yep, a guy she *hated* was staying in her hotel in Palo Alto in 2013. Let the fucking begin.


            • Your instincts are good, Ian. For several months before Dday Ex would complain about OW by name, though at that point she was just the “client” whose rental property he was remodeling. Seems she ordered the wrong kitchen sink or something. WTF is wrong with these assholes that they would complain to US, their unsuspecting faithful spouse, about some innocuous thing about someone they were already fucking? I think it might be a form of covering their ass.

              • You are exactly right TheMuse!!!! I was told by my ONCE best life long friend, ‘If he is denigrating some woman he is sleeping with her…!’

                …satan constantly trashed her…yep!…she NAILED IT…they had been sleeping together for YEARS…

                …for a few years there was an unsettling rumor that her daughter was actually his…I have no proof of it but…when her father died last year he told her satan was actually her father and not him. POOR KID!

                Ugh…people just keep comin outta the woodwork with this crap. I don’t listen anymore…and I don’t associate with said best life long friend either anymore. Her bag of rocks to drag around not mine.

                I just feel sorry for the kid…what a life…what a shame.

                wow huh…yeah…

                Oh wow we are so lucky to have gotten out of all of it! Cue the confetti!!!!!!

    • I agree. It doesn’t increase your worth when you can get someone other than your spouse to sleep with you. It doesn’t make you a stud or a sexy temptress. It makes you an untrustworthy liar who might just get dumped by two women or two men.

    • This comment is so interesting because before I found out anything was going on, my ex, just out of the blue, said to me, in a sneering and condescending tone, that I thought our relationship was indestructible and that I just sort of blithely and stupidly went along acting like nothing would ever happen. I was so stunned by this statement because it came, literally, out of nowhere. We had been talking and having a good time together. He was in the kitchen pouring tea for me, and I had just thanked him for it. I remember looking at him, stupefied, and quietly told him no, that I didn’t think that but that I believed he was a better person than to ever do that to me. This was a guy who always thought cheating men were idiots and that they were throwing away a loving and trusting relationship for a fling. So, I believed that was what he thought about cheating. I had never cheated on him and never wanted to, and I had been led to believe that he felt the same way. It really is stunning when they start to show their true colors.

  • I wish you hadn’t used that Twilight Zone show, it was about how culture determines beauty norms.

    • It was a good Twilight Zone episode. But the shock of the pig faced people was what I remember from it.

      No intention diss of beauty norm inclusiveness.

    • It is a shocking moment. The only thing I remember differently from CL’s descriotion is that the pig snout people didn’t wear masks. The camera just never shows their faces until the end.

      • No there was one episode were they had to wear masks until midnight as required in a will for a dead aunt or something. Of course they only wanted her money and in fact were pigs inside. When they took off the masks their faces had molded to the masks! I remember it clearly. It revealed who they really were underneath. My favorite episode… oh and the talking doll or tried to kill the step dad.

    • I don’t think it’s that far off, as the topic is about how culture determines infidelity norms. You could substitute just about anything in the Twilight Zone episode: beauty, sexual orientation, race, etc. It’s about what happens when you unexpectedly find yourself at odds with an accepted cultural norm and are suddenly the odd one out.

  • I knew within two weeks. I get feelings sometimes and those feelings are never wrong. Asswipe is an incrediably bad liar and he was acting different. And i always told him from the day i moved in with him. Tell me the truth always. I assumed he did till he didnt. I asked if there was someone else. Lies, no way! He fell asleep on the couch per usual i did something i never did in 27 years. Checked wallet and phone there it was the proof. He tried to lie became enraged how dare i evade his privacy blah blah blah. He promised to break it off with her, he didnt over and over. The whore didnt care he was married, she will if they marry hes cheated on her all the way through and cheats on her now. The third time chumpy me found proof he was still seeing her packed his bag threw him out. He booked a hotel for a week on her money and promptly moved in with her three days later. Came back a year and a half later begging forgiveness they were done! He wasnt and neither was she. Three months after fake rc asked him to leave again. She paid for month of motel room. He wanted to be by himself for awhile. Said she would pay his motel as long as he needed cause she loved him wanted him ro have his space! 1 months worth demanded he move back in cause she wouldnt pay his lodging anymore. Silly cause they belong together. He said fine and there ya go. Two things bother me most how anyone can just up and walk away and devastate someone they claim to care deeply about and how they pretty much ignore their own kids and family in favor of the affair partners family. His kids and family should not be treated in this manner. Not fair. My children have his number and my daughter has started ignoring him hes enraged about it. How dare she. But i knew within two weeks and i trust he SUCKS!!!!

    • KarMarie

      You highlighted a great point, they know we trust them so much the evidence is right there. When I suspected something when I was pregnant the love letters were in plain sight in his drawer. The big tipoff was when he continuously repeated Dianna said…..
      I believe she was pregnant at the same time as me. WTF.

    • I’m in the same camp as you, Kar Marie.

      He has more time and money for his OWife and her kids, but neglects his own. Our daughter gets stressed out before her weekend with him/them and it takes a couple days after a weekend for her to get back to herself. Such a screw job on her.

  • So absolutely true and in hindsight, it was so very obvious. But I always thought, “Okay. Things look a bit weird, but they’d never dream of crossing that line.” It was so not a surprise, in fact, that when OW’s kids found out what everyone but me’d been suspecting, they were like “Duh!” and had a good laugh about it.

    OW was. always. around. To the point of neglecting her kids on several occasions and having them brought home by the cops. And her life was so messed up that I was the polite sucker who tried to help her out. Ex and I actually had many fights because I just wanted a night where she wasn’t hanging around as I was always doing what a professional therapist should have done (she stopped seeing the one she liked probably because he told her to stop being a cheating backstabbing whore and fucking my ex), but there was always work drama, kid drama or life drama that required his support. Never mind the life and kid drama I was going through.

    It just makes me want to facepalm when I think of how naïve I really was. Their trip with a friend to a Nickelback concert? A date. Their going together to the company Christmas party and leaving me home since we didn’t have a sitter? another date. His “taking her home” since she was far too drunk to make the five minute drive to her house and being gone for half an hour? Don’t even want to think about that sort of back seat date. *cringe*

    And yeah, it was my fault for having post partem depression which, no doubt, was not helped by a husband who ignored me. My fault for letting her hang around so much (again I tried), my fault for spending so much time in my room (I was writing for money then and needed quiet to work when the kids had gone to bed or with their dad) and my fault for letting her get so close. I didn’t let her. Ex went after her and wouldn’t listen when I told him she was giving me hinky vibes about their relationship.

    How do you go through something like this without becoming crazy vigilant and without raging trust issues? Everyone tells me I’m too young to rule out a future romance and who knows where I’ll be in even five years? But I feel so humiliated, stupid and have no patience for the idea of any future SO having friends of the opposite sex that I feel like a basketcase.

      • I know, right? Their collective taste in music was enough to drive me away, never mind the smoking like chimney stacks and same dull topics of conversation. I was always the odd one out in our group music and films wise, and it appears morals and character wise as well. They all deserve each other.

    • You have small children and so of course, your first thought is that an OW taking your rightful place as your husband’s companion was both emotionally upsetting and a difficult problem, because your first thought as a parent isn’t to kick your kid’s father to the curb for abusing you so badly. It’s not that other relationships would necessarily repeat the pattern; it’s that you (and the rest of us) must have far stronger personal boundaries. You didn’t have the power to tell your “friend” (actually the OW) to stay home, see her therapist, and give you and your marriage some space. Try to imagine now (with the truth out there and XH gone) who could enter your home now and refuse to leave. Try to imagine now what you would do if your partner proposed to leave you at home and go out with another woman to a concert. That will never happen again because you won’t pick a jackass that would do such a thing. You will take your time and look for someone who is kind and honorable. Once we get enmeshed in the lying and gaslighting and exploitation, and we have mortgages and kids and bills and (on the other side) dreams, the line of what is acceptable can be pushed and pushed until your life is unrecognizable. The cures for that is to have standards and expectations of what my therapist calls “normal, decent treatment.” That’s not a high bar. That is the norm.

      I put up with stuff in my marriage to the substance abuser that just shocks me now. Never again. I’m currently seeing a man who saw a post I made on FB wishing I could go to an event. Now, I wasn’t going because I had deadlines to meet and because I usually see this fellow on Sunday. But, seeing the post, he sent me a message that if I wanted to go to the event, we could hold our plans for another day. Such a contrast to XH, who pitched a fit anytime that my life or my work got in the way of what he wanted. CL says we need to “fix our pickers.” But we also have to re-think our own standards and recognize and respond to boundary violations. What I ask myself now is: what are my deal breakers?

    • Cakeless, don’t feel bad. I stayed home sick with pneumonia once and encouraged my husband to go to an event because he wanted to so bad. I thought I was being noble and understanding to volunteer to stay home alone when I was so ill. Later I heard OW followed him around all night like a little puppy and danced with my husband all night.

  • He never had a girlfriend before me. He was a quiet introvert, with little social skills. He loved books and was oblivious to other women; he never even glanced. How could I expect him to develop an addiction to Russian women ?
    After D-Day, his own family did not want to believe that he had cheated. “Him ? No way.”

    • Mine was also a quiet introvert who never gave another women a glance. He, too, developed a penchant for Russian porn, he. C tossed the line eith Craigslist whores. Nobody could believe he was capable. He seemed so committed, the quiet but dedicated family man type.and in his free time- HUGELY into poem and hooking up anonymously with people he found online. But he is “done with all that now.” (What he always says after he was caught- three times by me! Discovered at least a dozen confirmed hookups so that means many many more). I am done with him now. I was a total chump and it took forever for me to really see it for what it was.

    • Mine had one girlfriend before me, was an introvert. Also found Russian women irresistible via I too was super trusting and when I found his poorly written love letter to the Ukrainian scam artist I was able to find everything because even when I fronted him he DIDN’T BOTHER WIPING THE HISTORY. He spent over $7000 buying credits for Anastasiadate and sent over $4000 to various scam artists (that I know of). In Australia you can go to the ACCC website & report when people have been scammed & they will send a letter to them. I did that & my husband now thinks they are monitoring his bank accounts. Idiot. He moves out this week. Bring on the meh.

  • Ugh I was the last to wife’s “weekends with the gals” were becoming every weekend and I had the blinders on, after 24 years together cheating was just not in my vocabulary. After she left me and our daughter (after her “it’s not you its me” speech, and how she’s always been a mother but needed to find herself) I saw a text pop up on my daughters phone from the cheating whore which led me to her email..there is all was, her and Mr Wonderful and “thanks Baby” this and “ok Baby” that…I literally felt my brain just freeze. I’ve never been that overwhelmingly stunned in my life.

    • Sorry you found out like that. I remember the “brain freeze” moment as well. The shock almost knocked me to my knees. I felt my heart start beating out of control and then I started shaking. I kept thinking OMG, OMG, it’s true! Yes I knew something was off, but it was impossible to believe until I actually read those texts. 29+ years. Well, I was so blessed to be referred to Chump Lady within a week of DDay #2, which was the final DDay. No more spackling after the shock wore off and I stopped smoking the hopium. Life is so awesome being cheater-free!

      • Yes it really is better! 2 years later my daughter (who still lives with me) is starting her externship for veterinary assistant and I have a great paying job with a lot less stress, and no more lying cheater bullshit!

  • Thankfully no one has said that to my face. The thing that that people have said is, “No Way! He’s such a GoodGuy!!!” And then I have to confirm with them that I was fooled too. For a very long long long long time. I do like to share the level of douchebaggery needed to keep a spouse in the dark to two decades worth of abuse. For close friends, they are shocked. For aquaintences it makes them really uncomfortable because it highlights that feeling of It Could Happen To ME!

    Only one attorney asked if I could turn the other cheek. Kind of like to be resigned to know and yet not know. Another said if I were his daughter, he’d recommend to try to work it out and stay married. Lots of legal opinions. I assume those may work for some people.

    • My daughter told me that her father likes to say, “Ignorance is bliss.” I told her that my motto is, “Knowledge is power.”

      • Cheaters know knowledge is power, too. That’s why they keep things from us–to hold all the power to their own chests.

  • So true on all counts, even when I suspected she did a great job to convince me otherwise. It took a protective order hearing and a judge asking my X the right questions before it finally came out into the open.

    When my divorce journey started in 2013 my x ran off with our daughter and refused to let me see her. I had to take her to court with a protective order just to get her to let me see our daughter. At that hearing the judge interrogated her (neither of us had attorneys at that time) and asked her where was our daughter. She told the judge in an apartment near by. The judge took a breath and said, I want an address. she relented and gave the address to the judge. The judge then asked her a most MAGICAL question, whose name is on the lease. My x tried to tell the judge that several of her friends helped her to restart a new life and to get away from me (she was playing the victim and that I abused her card which never happened). The judge then said to her, that is not what I asked you and if you have a grievance against him for that then you need to open a separate case, what I asked was whose name was on the lease? She finally said the name and it was the guy she was having an affair with (I was familiar with his name as I have spoken to him in the past, she had semi-introduce me as a friend).

    That is the day the truth set in. I suspected for almost a year prior but she did a good job of blame shifting, gas lighting and covering up and she continued to do it long after that day.

    I’ve had the very friends that are described in this article. They simply do no understand nor want to understand!

    • “They simply do no understand nor want to understand!”


  • Yeah, all too common. Was told in my three hour inteview/interrogation to keep my license as a minister that “It was doomed from the start” regarding my marriage from a fellow pastor. Nice. So everyone was wrong including me going into the marriage. Not the most sensitive thing to say!

    • On the other hand, it kind of was. Because unbeknownst to you, you were marrying a selfish character disordered looney tune, who couldn’t take responsibility for her flaws, or admit responsibility in any way. How are you going to make a success of that marriage?

      When my ex cheated, everybody told me I must have known, because they all hated him, and thought that he was exactly the kind of narcisissistic man-boy character-free entitled feels- addict to cheat. They thought I *ought* to have known, because they did. What can I say? Love is blind, and I am really, really good at spackling. One of the hardest things for me is looking back and realizing that I should have known, and would have if I had kept my eyes open. Well, life lesson learned.

  • Love this one chump lady!! So true. I definitely still hurt but am not quite in the Chernobyl stage anymore lol. What’s most amazing is how 1. Your spouse treats you so badly after they are found out and 2. How other people act about everything. I myself never blamed the chump before, but I also have never understood how blindingly painful it is. All the pain resulting from adultery is pretty impressive. The whole thing just sux from start to finish.

    • Dear Kay, I am about where you are and thank you for describing it so well. Cheers to us both, we shall overcome!

  • I had a relative say, “We’re confused. You didn’t let yourself go, so what else did you do to drive him away?” Because obviously, it was all my fault, right?

    Meanwhile, XH is now going through divorce #2 after 12 months of marriage, and some of his friends are reaching out to me for the first time since our divorce. Why? I’m not sure, but I think he may be telling them the same sob story about wife #2 that he did about me, and they’re not buying it.

    I think marriage #2 crumbled for the same reason as marriage #1: his cheating. Because he already has a “new” girlfriend less than a month after moving out of marital home #2, and he won’t be divorced until sometime this fall.

    • Red, it’s so hurtful to get these kinds of remarks from your own family. But it sounds like the chickens are coming home to roost. Hope those relatives are eating lots of crow now (to stick with the bird analogies).

  • If anyone questions whether I knew, that question could be answered the day I discovered. The doubters could witness the implosion of my mind, the shattering of my soul, and the death of my heart as I read those messages I found. They could witness the screams of unbelief, the walking in circles unable to stop weeping, and the heaving as I tried to breathe again. They could witness the questions I asked myself over and over…”how could he do this to me?” and “do I want to go on in this world?”

    It really is almost impossible to describe the feelings when 30+ years of your life is razed to the ground. I would never wish that day upon anyone. My x’s affair started a year before I discovered. He traveled for work throughout the week, and he was a fantastic actor and liar on the weekends. The only thing I am guilty of was trusting him with every bit of my heart. There is no shame in that…the shame is with him choosing to be unfaithful.

  • This is one where I tend to be pretty stubborn. When someone tosses that shit around then I refuse to let it go. It’s one thing to tell me you’re sorry it didn’t work out, you know the mystical BS that treats my marriage like the weather or an earthquake, you know it just kind of happened. That’s bad enough, but if you go anywhere near the “you had to have known” BS my first question to you will be “how?” the second will be “did you know he was cheating on me?” That usually ends the discussion because if they answer No, then the logic is then how could I have known and if they answer yes, and so far no one has, well, no one wants to go there with me.

    • That would be a problem for me, because almost all of our friends DID know my X had cheated, and also saw him flirting ostentatiously with grad students at parties, and knew of his professional reputation as a Lothario at conferences. Why? Because they were almost all in his academic department. A few assumed I knew what he was up to and looked the other way.

      Humiliating all around.

  • This is perfect for today. I had amended my divorce complaint to include Adultery once my stbx began to challenge my pre-nup… and now Mr. Sparkles is arguing that my amendment should be disregarded because I knew of the adultery at the time of filing and was “well aware of his relationship and the timeline.”

    Notice – he isn’t denying the adultery. He’s just saying to the court that it shouldn’t count because I KNEW.

    Lord, give me strength to respond effectively – and submit the additional AFF proof discovered after he moved out… maybe #4 will need it for her future divorce.

    I’m so tired of the battle.

    • ICanSee…. Sounds like some stupid ass manipulation tactic my stbx would use. Some of these guys – just give them a little time to twist things to make things ‘right’ and justified in their minds. Good luck to you. He sounds like a real asshole. Glad you are done with him!

    • Praying you will be given the strength you need. Sending hugs and care. Hang on, you are almost there! I’ll save you a front row seat here in Meh! Listen closely, and you will hear the roar of Chump Nation rooting for you!

  • I haven’t gotten that response but I also never thought he would cheat even though he has plenty of other faults. All through our marriage he told me how mad he was at his dad for cheating on his mom after 16yrs of marriage and 4 kids. After hearing him tell me that I never thought he would do the same to me. Yes, we were more like roommates but I still never thought he’d cheat after what he went through as a kid. I told him that his dad had at least had the good sense to do it away from his mom and not do it in her own house with the babysitter and displaying his affection for this babysitter and putting her before his kids mom – in front of the kids. I know his dad cared a lot about me but I’m having a hard time not throwing out anything his dad gave me because he was also a cheater.

  • My therapist pulled this one on me. Made me feel downright crappy. And when I insisted I didn’t know, I still got the feeling she didn’t believe me. :/

    • My first therapist (individual, not marriage counselor) did this too. I was getting the distinct feeling she was “on his side” or maybe a cheater herself. After a few months it clicked that I have been through a trauma and I said I didn’t think she was taking this seriously as a traumatic experience for me and she rolled her eyes. She said something about how I need to stop thinking of myself as a victim and start to look at the signs I chose to miss. After a few things like that I ended up finding a much better therapist and I’ve been seeing him more than a year and we are working on grief and it is all clicking for me. I wish I had found him before the extra damage therapist #1 did to me.

      • StrawberryJellyfish, that is AWFUL that a therapist did that to you. I’m glad you found someone better. It pisses me off so much when mental health professionals harm the ones they’re supposed to help. Sadly, it seems fairly common – I’ve had more than one of those experiences myself.

        • My husband left me and my two kids and wouldn’t answer my calls or let me know where he was. I still thought he could NEVER cheat (so so stupid I know). I saw a therapist and she said that he was definitely cheating on me, but that I shouldn’t be upset, he just needed quick comfort to deal with all the stress of HIS life. That lady better be glad I didn’t carry a gun bc I might have used it. I didn’t say anything to her though, and even made another appointment with her (which I did NOT keep). I figured that I really would have cussed her out and that would have been a waste of my time and money. Jeez.

      • A therapist! She rolled her eyes??!!! She should have them taken out through the back of her head. Rolled her eyes. The nerve!!! We are victims. Stupid bitch!

        • I had one (MC) draw her hand across her throat (as in: you’re dead) when my ex left the room. (He wasn’t ex yet, and I was in a deeply & traumatically shocked state. In hindsight, I’m proud of myself for being able to walk & talk!). Said therapist then got on the phone and informed my long time IC, as well as ex-s new IC, that I was a borderline… WTF ??? I tossed them all in the garbage and filed.

          Had a great lawyer, and found a good therapist who I couldn’t afford to stay with, but she said basically if anybody starts talking codependence run like hell–you want your trauma acknowledged. Wise words, forever grateful.

          Bad therapists are toxic.

  • I never thought that my ex would cheat on me. This isn’t very nice to say, but I couldn’t imagine anyone would want to cheat with him-he’s not that attractive. He also told me how trashy he thought cheating was and how much he detested the fact that his sister had cheated on her first husband (it runs in the family, clearly). Methinks the cheater doth protest too much…

    • This is the really hard thing for Chumps and non-Chumps to wrap their heads around: cheating has nothing to do with a person’s physical appearance. I was about 50lbs overweight when Dday occurred, and I decided that I needed a better job to support myself, and that losing the weight would help. However, he cheated on me with a woman who weighed more than I did and who is significantly shorter, so she’s very much rounder!

      Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder (see the pig people), but I don’t think that the cheaters and APs are even looking at beauty. I think they’re looking for opportunity. Once they have the opportunity, then it’s about the fantasy of their secret life, the thrill of perhaps getting caught, and the glee of having pulled one over on the faithful spouse.

      • I agree, I think it’s opportunity over looks. Opportunity for kibbles that is. I recall XH saying he hadn’t originally found OW very attractive. I don’t think he was saying that to spare my feelings because he told me lots of other (sexual) stuff about her that certainly didn’t take my feelings into account!

        So I think when he realised that there was this opportunity to upgrade his kibbles-she was giving him the ‘Oh, you’re such a genius Mr Mikky. I’ll pay for everything and give you all the BJs your little (heart?!) can take’ etc etc. He went for that er opening.

        As for the theme of ‘Did I know?’ Well I knew OW was sniffing about but I honestly didn’t think he would cross the infidelity line. I thought he would be loyal to me as he was my husband and I had certainly been supportive of him through various issues. When challenged on the loyalty – he said he knew he should be but he wasn’t able to ( those forces greater than etc ).

        • Yes she pays for everything he wants! And supplies him with some really ugly s and m sex. Apparently he loves degrading the whore and beating the shit out of her and takes pictures on his phone of the bruising. He says jump and shes says how high. I new he was kinda kinky but never like that!

  • Very meaningful.
    What’s amazing after DDay is how differently you look at them. I was so trusting and spackled bad behaviour like crazy, always willing to believe he was weak and damaged and difficult, but not bad. Now I see how evil and calculating he really is, what an unbelievably quick, efficient and creative liar and how sneaky. It’s like looking at a completely different person.

    Once the veil drops from your eyes I don’t think it can ever go back.

    • So true. For years, I vacillated between ‘he’s got Aspergers’, and ‘he’s a narcissist’. I finally settled on Aspergers because in many ways he’s absolutely textbook. So, whenever I’d get angry and frustrated with him – which was almost all the time – I’d remind myself that he couldn’t help it, he was just “wired differently”, and he was, actually, a good man with a good heart.

      Then one day, I accidentally discovered that he had been gaslighting and lying to me for more than a year about a grifting whore whose presence in his life made me uncomfortable. Now that I have the full picture, I still see him as having Aspergers … but with a hefty co-morbidity of narcissism. And now I’m free to see him as the asshole he has ALWAYS been, without berating myself for hating on a poor neurologically different innocent. It’s very liberating.

      • True; sexual promiscuity is not a symptoms of Asperger’s, but it is a symptom of narcissism.

        • He wasn’t sexually promiscuous – he was asexual (in a partnership, that is. Very uncomfortable with closeness and intimacy. However, lots of self-pleasuring.). I doubt he and his whore have much sex. He just needed a new wife-like appliance to pick up after him, and wipe down the shitty toilet seats, and flatter him day and night … because I stopped admiring him once his disorder(s) took over his ability to conceal them.

          And the whore is a desperate, aging sugar-baby who is happy to raid his wallet and not have to have gross sex with him. Meanwhile, he’s happy to have someone who only wants his money because that is all he’s ever been willing to give of himself.

          It’s all very twisted and incomprehensible. I STILL try to untangle the skein, but, really, it’s just impossible.

  • This hits at the heart of my being a chump. My gut was screaming that she was cheating. I even confronted her on several occasions. She always denied. I even seriously considered putting hidden cameras in my house. But then I had to decide do I truly trust her or not. I choose to trust her. I won’t ever make that mistake again. I try not to project her poor character on everyone, but it’s difficult now. I do now believe trust should be earned. If I ever have those gut feelings again about anything, I will listen to them. It sucks to be taken advantage of. I am luck that so far no one has come out and said it was my fault. I am actually concerned that if that happens i’m going to loose it and rip them to shreds. I just need to remind myself they don’t understand and are just repeating the crap we’ve all been told. You shouldn’t be allowed an opinion on cheating or any life experience unless you’ve walked through that fire!

    • lostntx, I think you bring up a good point in that we feel bad that we aren’t more trusting of the people we supposedly love, so we override our feelings and choose to believe them. It’s like we trust them more than we trust ourselves! I’ll never make that mistake again.

    • I think that it’s impossible for anyone who hasn’t had their gut screaming one thing, but their mind tricking them into believing the bullshit to understand how huge the pain is on D day. Your gut saying, “this isn’t making sense,” and your head telling you, “but they hate cheaters,” or “he said he would tell me there was a problem if he ever thought about cheating,” etc. All lies. As Lyn said, “we trusted them more than ourselves.” Well, never again. I will always trust me first.

    • “You shouldn’t be allowed an opinion on cheating or any life experience unless you’ve walked through that fire!”

      I’m going to save this. Since they don’t know the pain, why do they think their opinions are worth sharing with us?

  • “Blaming the victim is a nice little voodoo smug people do to protect themselves from the scary uncertainty that they too could be played.”

    This. Right now I have zero desire to date but I’m assuming that will change. And maybe I’ll even want to find someone to share the second half of my life with. But I have no idea how I’ll resolve the massive trust issues he left me with.

    Yesterday I had the thought that if I get married again, I’ll be going into it with the knowledge that there are no guarantees. I’m not in total control and no matter how “good” a person I am, even if I do all the “right” things, that marriage could fail too. Maybe I’ll just have to make as good a decision I can and take a chance. Things might work out or I might be going through a divorce again in another twenty years.

    Which all makes me very glad I’m not dating.

    • Almost three years out for me and ive still no desire to date maybe that will change one day. I think im scared my picker is bad. And i dont trust easily at all. And ill never buy the lines i got fed from asswipe ever again. I wont cheat its only you i will love you forever blah blah blah. Same lines asswipe fed whore juice and hes cheating on her! I will not ever live with a man have him live with me or marry again. Sleepovers maybe but nothing permanent. Asswipe destroyed all my being able to trust another significant other for the rest of my days. Friends tell me i shouldnt feel this way but i do. I love my friends but im 60 and way to old to have my teeth kicked in again.

      • Kar marie you are a BABE and true romantic FOREVER love is your right! Your asshole is gonna RUE THE DAY he stepped out on such an AWESOME WOMAN 😀

        …he’ll be so busy kickin his own ass he won’t be able to service whore juice!!! They will BOTH spontaneously combust from the GLOW of your HEALED HEART!!! 😀

        That’s my prediction and I’m standin by it 😀 YOU ROCK GIRL!!!!

          • Much love to you Kar marie!!! And some really super GIANT hugs girl!!!! You are awesome and I am just speakin my truth! 😀

            Hey…do me a favor and go get a really colorful kite!!!! GET YOUR SMILE ON GIRL!!!! 😀 Nothin like bein UNTETHERED!!!! 😀 Get it Girl!!!

            • Great idea! I love kites. So freeing. We should have a chump nation kite flying event!

              • OHHHH I love that idea!!! Lets do it!!!! Come on over! I’m surrounded by rambling fields!!! We have hundreds of uncluttered acres to fly em in!!! And I am an awesome cook!!! I’ll make lunch!!! We’ll relax with lunch and wine and toast our FREEDOM FROM ABUSE!!! 😀 Love it Kar marie!!!!

  • Ex set me up in regards to cheating before we were married although I certainly didn’t realize it then. While we were engaged, he told me that the one thing he would not tolerate was cheating. His statement stuck with me throughout our marriage and I trusted him completely from that standpoint.

    Like all marriages, we had good times and bad times. When he treated me poorly, the thought that he might be cheating never crossed my mind. The chump in me believed the excuses he gave and even came up with some for him. When I discovered his serial cheating after 24 years of marriage, I reminded him that he made this statement to me. His response? Yeah, I know.

    Fortunately, no one said ‘surely you must have known’ to me. That doesn’t sound like a very empathetic response to me so if that was said to me, I’m not sure they would stay on my friend list.

  • There’s a lot of confusion in spectators’ minds about sensing something is wrong versus actual knowledge. Plus the difference between imagining what you THINK you’d do versus what the reality is actually like. Never in a million years did I think I’d ever tolerate a cheater. But I did through three major DDays. The reality is very very different than the pat answers we might even have believed ourselves. That doesn’t excuse the lack of empathy, though. Before being a chump myself I would have felt sorry for someone staying with a cheater and confused by why they would stay. But to blame the victim? Outrageous. And how do such people explain why the person “in the know” decided it was intolerable and got out? If it was ok all that time, why not any more? Logic as well as empathy are in short supply.

    • Great points, Ohana. I also think people don’t think about how hard it is to navigate these situations when you don’t have absolute proof of physical affairs. Maybe they imagine all cheaters confess or get caught in the act.

      I never had proof that The Entitled One had anything but emotional affairs — and he swears they were never physical. After the last D-Day when I kicked him out, I told a good friend that I’d discovered texts with three different women(!), two were emotional affairs and one was sexty flirting. I also told her that it wasn’t the first time — I’d caught him before answering Craiglist sex ads and hiring a prostitute (both times when I was pregnant!) but he swore it was all fantasy (and my fault for not meeting his needs). She told me she wouldn’t kick her husband out over some online stuff. I found out a few weeks later SHE’D had an online affair years ago that had nearly ended her marriage.

      I never found the “hard evidence” I was looking for that he’d physically cheated. I have suspicions though and what he was doing — ANSWERING sex ads, HIRING a prostitute, SPENDING TIME with women he was having inappropriately close relationships with — was enough. Even if he never crossed that physical line, which of course I think he did.

      So unless you’ve lived through this, it’s hard to imagine all the ways cheating and the discovery of cheating could play out. That maybe you never hired a PI and got gaslighted and finally had to make the best decision you could in a terrible, confusing situation.

      • I understand where you’re coming from, BetterDays. Before it happened to me, I thought I’d never put up with it. But the situation looks a whole lot different when you’ve invested so many years and you’ve got a lot more to lose. Plus my husband gradually broke the boundaries down, it didn’t happen all at once.

      • BetterDays, great point about the lack of confession or absolute proof. I’ve seen many people bewildered by the idea of choosing to end a marriage based on less than perfect proof. At a certain point you have to believe the picture that’s being outlined. There is a myth of the cheater’s confession. I cringe every time I see an online article recommend an honest and open discussion about suspicions of cheating. Have they never dealt with an actual real life cheater?

        Lack of experience is also why some of my friends don’t understand why cheating is such a total deal breaker for me for any level of relationship. It points to a whole spectrum of toxic characteristics. Another area where it’s hard to understand unless you’ve been through it, I guess.

        • Ohana, I laughed out loud at this: “I cringe every time I see an online article recommend an honest and open discussion about suspicions of cheating. Have they never dealt with an actual real life cheater?”

          So it’s not funny but maybe it’s gallows humor. I bet all of us could script THAT conversation. The denial, the blame-shifting, the gas-lighting and the lingering WTF on the part of the chump.

          • It was picturing the conversation that enabled me to finally leave.

            All I had was evidence of an EA. No proof that it was a PA. But the evidence I had confirmed my gut feel from years ago, that something was going on between them.

            And knowing exactly how the conversation would go, because we’d had this conversation about other women before…. I figured if my gut was right about the one I had evidence on, my gut was probably right other times as well.

            So I didn’t need to listen to one more lying, blameshifting, gaslighting, abusive word out of him, because I could hear it all in my head already.

            And I was out of there. Done. Unable to put the blinders back on,

            • AND THE UNSAFE SEX!!!!! with all the diseases in the world today why not take precautions! At the very least! You love me asswipe you care about me asswipe? You put my health in danger with unsafe sex??!!! What the fuck?! Hookups on bondage bitch websites? One nighters. Met the whore in a bar? Fucked the first date? Finds out later whore has had dozens of boyfriends???? And never practiced safe sex? She told me she was clean oh right she told you. If you are married and have unsafe sex outside your marriage or long term partnership it should be a criminal offense putting innocent lives in danger! Im sorry kids daddy was a douchebag and contracted a bad disease and now mommy has it cause daddys an asshole! Age appropriate of course!

              • I feel compelled to respond to this kar Marie. My husband of 22 years later discovered was a serial cheater managed to give me hpv16. This resulted in cervical cancer and over a years worth of surgery, chemo and radiation. To this day , my white blood cell counts are not where they should be. I stand a chance of living only because I had the symptoms of constant bleeding which led me straight to my gyno which allowed me an early diagnosis. This may have saved my life. They are monsters and just don’t care. I could have died. To make matters worse, my in-laws still hate talk and participate in the lies and smear campains . Litterly as I’m left to wonder if I will survive this.

              • Im praying for you. What disgusting deplorable behavior these effing cheaters have. Unsafe sex these are grown ups adults and this is what they do. Expose us! Lovely of them to share the bastards bitches! There ought to be a law. Whole new meaning to assault with a deadly weapon.

      • You know I think that people who have not been through this do think that you find out that your partner is cheating like you do in a soap opera or a movie. The think you are going to find out about it because you walk in on them because you come home from work early, or occasionally someone turns up pregnant. Maybe you hire a PI and get an envelope of photos.

        But that’s not how it goes. You notice a change, you have a conversation, you are lied to and tricked into thinking it’s your issue. You see a car where it shouldn’t be or see an online conversation that makes you uncomfortable. I would say that lost of people can’t whip out their phone and say “see, here’s the proof that he is fucking the secretary.”

        As I have come to understand my situation… I have found that I am explaining Occam’s razor to a lot of people. In somewhat simplified terms, Occam’s razor is that when faced with multiple hypotheses or explanations for an event or phenomenon, the one that requires the fewest assumptions is most likely to be true. I was telling a girlfriend (who has been amazing and supportive) about some of the shenanigans I have uncovered… particularly in the business accounts and she was trying to find some convoluted excuse to explain it (she was being nice and supportive)…. and I just kept saying, but we know that the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions is most likely to be true. And the fewest assumption is that he’s cheating.

        • Occam’s Razor. Perfect!

          I stole the following from somewhere (maybe CL): If you think your spouse is faithful, you might be right. If you think they’re cheating, you’re definitely right.

      • This is such a great post. It takes time to get from “WTF????” without evidence to “Yes, this is over the line and not just a bad patch in the marriage.

    • Funny, I actually went into the whole shitstorm thinking, it’s just an affair, I can forgive that, we can get thru it. But then I couldn’t. It was so much worse than I could have imagined. So yeah, there’s just no way to know what you would do until it happens. But when it does happen to you, you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.

  • As for me the signs were all there! But I chalked it up to his constant issues another one of his phases! His bpd or whatever! If he acted normal throughout our marriage I would have caught on immediately! I always felt bad for him! Yes too nice me! After all this was with a married neighbor who lived directly across the street in a private development . Our bedroom windows faced each other! That’s how close! Yes I even had someone tell me “are you sure it wasn’t ok at that point in your marriage? All the people with crappy history gave the Best advice!!!

  • What I knew is that something had changed, and what had been a comfortable relationship became tense. His habits changed. How he looked at me changed. How he talked to me changed. How he treated my changed. But when asked directly what was behind those changes, there was blame shifting and gaslighting. It was more or less my fault, in his view.

    I had some suspicions about the MOW, because the change began when she got in touch with him about her brother’s death, but nothing that could be pinned down. And because his father died in the midst of the change, even my therapist thought it might be grief, stress and depression. And in the end, all I ever found was a FB page when he said he didn’t have one, but once I saw who his one friend was, that pretty much explained why he had disappeared from my life almost overnight.

    People who say “you must have known” don’t understand how hard it is to end a relationship when the other person is lying and gaslighting. Because we marry or commit “for better or worse,” when a partner starts to behave in ways that cause us pain, we hang in there, expecting things to get better. In the end, we too often accept escalating bad behavior until we don’t recognize ourselves.

    • LAJ, I agree, looking back I can see that his angry behavior towards me came along around the same time OW started working for him. At the time I knew he had a very heavy workload and was extremely stressed, I kept trying to find reasons for the way he was behaving. There was once when we were on a trip and he had to much to drink at dinner, though. I’ll never forget the look of loathing in his eyes as he passed me that night. It creeped me out. But I couldn’t put my finger on it, it didn’t make sense until I found hard evidence of their affair.

      • Oh gosh the anger towards us. I’ve lived through that, where it’s also accompanied by the look of loathing. And there’s nothing we did to cause our partner to feel that way towards us. There are so many behaviors which don’t make sense to us, and we can’t explain it, because we don’t have the full truth. How could we, when the other person isn’t being truthful, but rather deceitful, covert, lying to us. Once the truth comes out, then we can connect the dots and look back and realize why they were behaving that way. But when we were going through it, there is NO WAY we could have known.

        • the contempt and “look of loathing”–Check. The irony is that I am now repaying X’s contempt in spades x 1000. I loathe him with an intensity I didn’t think possible. Shoe’s on the other foot, now, eh, cheaters?

          • I got that look of loathing and, ‘I want to run away from you,’ and ‘I want to date other woman,’ from my friend of 30 years/boyfriend of a year who called me every day for a year and often told me that he loved me. We never argued. (I wanted to marry him, did everything I could to make him happy, and would have thrown myself on a grenade for him.) I feel eviscerated.

    • LAJ, you described it perfectly: “People who say “you must have known” don’t understand how hard it is to end a relationship when the other person is lying and gaslighting. Because we marry or commit “for better or worse,” when a partner starts to behave in ways that cause us pain, we hang in there, expecting things to get better. In the end, we too often accept escalating bad behavior until we don’t recognize ourselves.”

      This is exactly what I went through. Ten months after the last D-Day, I’m still sorting out what the hell happened and repairing the damage to my self-worth that accrued over years of subtle (and not-so-subtle) manipulation and emotional abuse.

  • I met my ex husband when we were 18. Even back 46 years ago I knew something was not quite right but I could not put my finger on it. However, I came from a very violent, drink fuelled and poverty stricken home. Then along came mister ‘quiet’ who never said much but anything had to be better than what I was raised in and he treated me well and that had to be a bonus. As I got to know my ex he came across as someone who had the same morals as myself and that was very important to me and he was what I thought to be a very decent chap who didn’t speak much. He pursued me and as I was a very naive young woman without any experience I fell for his smooth talking but I still had that uneasy feeling. That feeling stayed with me right through our 37 years of marriage and now at the grand old age of 64 years I know never to ignore my gut instinct again. I am left on my own now whilst he swans around with his 23 year old in SE Asia. My gut instinct was so right. He is a predator who still fools people with his quiet persona. He now makes out that he detests the exploitation of people in 3rd countries but he doesn’t get that he is exploiting the tart he has hooked up with and she is also exploiting him but he can’t see the hypocrisy because he presents and behaves like a decent person still.

  • A dear friend, that I trust, was in a bar over Christmas and saw satan and some of his flying monkeys…one of the flying monkeys approached my friend and said to her, ‘Jeep won’t talk to us! None of us! What did we do??’ My friend replied that she was standing on ‘Girl Code’ and he would get no information about me from her… The flying monkey got angry with her and said, ‘What Jeep did to him was wrong! satan has always had other girls and Jeep knew it! satan has had lots and lots of other girls over their whole marriage and she knew it! What Jeep did to satan is WRONG!’


    Disordered assholes…

    …geeze I am sooooo glad to be out of all that damn drama!

    • [Insert picture of Munch’s ‘The Scream’ here]. The triple whammy from his friends:
      1-Jeep knew about his hos
      2-She was okay with it for years
      3-How dare she divorce his cheating ass.

      Wow, cheaters find their level with friends, too, don’t they?

      • Amen Tempest! Actually the ‘men’ (I’m using that term loosely for these assholes) she was talking with could be interchangeable with satan and you’d never know the difference…all cut from the same cloth…all cheaters…all abusers…

        ugh…thank goodness I am out of that drama!

        On a different note…Beau the Wonder Dog has to have surgery to remove a growth the size of an orange on his abdomen…don’t know if it’s a ‘lab’ thing?…hopin it it just nothing…and my oldest son came out and contributed to the ‘Beau Surgery Fund’ to help me out… I’m takin him in in the morning…please keep my guy in your good thoughts Tempest..I couldn’t bear it if it is something bad.

        • Jeep–I’ll bet it’s something minor. I volunteer at a shelter and a number of dogs (including my Chihuahua) get these benign tumors that are unsightly, but often don’t bear removing unless they start to impede their limb movement when they get too big.

          Beau will be great, and back to kite-flying in no time! Keeping him in our thoughts…

          • Whew! I hope you are right Tempest! I just knew you would know! 😀

            He’s a great guy and doesn’t deserve any MORE abuse!

            …oh…ever since the Cooper’s Hawk sat down on the Ash tree in our backyard and picked off one of the downy woodpeckers Beau loves…he’s afraid of anything of any size that flies…poor guy! The kite had him describing large circles around me until I pulled it in. Then he was my bud again. We took a walk in the woods after that and left the kite at the edge. He just loves runnin through the undergrowth! He is like drooling and smiling like an idiot it makes him so happy 😀 I just love seeing him enjoying that. It’s like he’s left earth behind 😀 It is awesome to behold!

          • Ahhh thanks Ian 😀 He deserves the best you betcha!!! He is awesome!

            He saved me from possible paralysis at satan’s hands just a few days / weeks after I rescued him 😀 He went right for that abusive cake eater’s balls!!!! Got him off me Ian!!! YA FOR BEAU THE WONDER DOG! Despite the fact that he was uncontrollable those first few months there was nothing in me gonna take him back to dog prison…(I truly believe that english wasn’t his ‘first’ language (LOL!)) Even before he saved me I was determined to help him have a better life.

            …my Mom always told me dogs are better judges of character than most people. Amen Brother! Momma was usually always right!

            He saved me and I saved him right back.

    • My jaw just dropped to the floor reading that! OMG – that is absolutely ???? (I can’t even think of a word to describe the audacity!) WOW – just WOW! Sounds like they are all entitled pos. Morons.

      • Oh LadyStrange they are absolutely all the same in his crowd…as I told Tempest, they are interchangeable. All cheaters and drinkers and liars. Birds of a feather and all that.

        …I don’t know what took me so long to step away from the drama that they thrive on and I lived in…

      • Yes BetterDays 😀 Wow is right. I guess I just didn’t move far enough away…crap…

    • Im glad you are out too jeep. What nerve. Bastards. All OUR friends jumped on asswipe side and wouldnt have a thing to do with me anymore. People ive known thirty years. Fuck them!

      • Kar marie we are sooo lucky to be free of the fakers!!!! 😀 Better to have real people around us that have actual real emotions and are truthful and ohhhh just such a JOY!!!!

  • My x made sure that we spent every available minute together. When he wasn’t at work he was home. On weekends he spent every minute with me. He told me stories about his step father cheating on his mom and how devastated she was. What I eventually found out was he was driving across town during his “lunch break” to pay hookers for blow jobs. He had to have been speeding there and spending maybe 5-10 minutes with them and speeding back to work to make that work. WTactualF? He time card was never off. There was no ‘missing time’ in our life. He never went out alone or stayed out late. So, how exactly was I supposed to know? If someone is spending that much time with you as a cover, how could you know?

    I felt so stupid, but my therapist kept telling me ‘you are a good person so you have no frame of reference that would make you suspect this especially given the amount of effort he put into covering it up.’ She kept saying ‘you are a good and honest person so of course you wouldn’t assume he was cheating, especially with absolutely no evidence or suspicious behavior.’ It really helped to have her frame things like that. I’m not an idiot, he really is a horrible human.

    What he did was sort of covert gaslighting, if that makes sense. It was preemptive gaslighting. Make it so ridiculous a notion, given that he spent so much time with me, that there is no way I would even contemplate the possibility.

    Cheaters suck.

      • Someone I know saw him across town in the middle of the day and mentioned it to me wondering if he was on vacation. I did a bit of sleuthing after asking him about it and him denying it and found out there were girls working out of a house in that part of town getting clients via craigslist.Yes, craigslist. Classy.

    • Sam, I too spent every available minute of our lives, 22 years, together. Except for work. He wasted not one minute of his lunch hour or any minute of his “breaks” at work. He was such a hard worker, always with me and he was doing “according to him, just EA’s” for fricking years,YEARS!!! Damn bastard, even “scheduled” lunches with me, even if it was not good for me, for years. Ugh, I can’t believe that I believed any of it, except that he was that good at manipulating me.

  • I remember on my 1st DDay, I uncovered 2 affairs simultaneously. The first of the two affairs (which were 2.5 yrs apart) was that my cheater-wife was screwing my brother-in-law – in my home. I mean that’s my little sister’s husband. In addition my 3 kids ages at that time were – 4 months old, 2 yr & 3 yrs old. How could anyone have known or fathom that your spouse would be cheating under those circumstances?

    DDay #2 was almost 4 yrs later. In those 4 years I honestly thought the worst was over – that I survived it – that it would never happen again. Ex-wife was very convincing during that 4 year period. She would always tell me how much she loved me, how she loved our love and we had sex all the time. In retrospect there just weren’t any MAJOR signs that she would be a repeat offender.

    At the end , when anyone asks me, “Surely you must have know” – my response is usually – Yes, you are correct, I should have known – I should have known that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

    • That’s horrible! It never fails to amaze me that some cheaters manage to cheat with their inlaws! Ugh! I truly feel for both you and your younger sister.

      • Yup!
        My charming cheater wife was fucking our daughter’s boyfriends dad…you know, a “family friend”…but it’s all about
        HER happiness and I didn’t make her happy anymore. In fact informed me as she was dumping me “in 24 years it never really felt right”…okkkkkkk thanks.
        Never look to these disordered freaks for “closure” or friendship, they’ve written a new narrative and it’s all our fault.

    • ^^^^This^^^^^. I will always believe that the only thing you are guaranteed to get when you stay with a cheater is another dday!

    • How awful SureChumpedALot–the family-fuckers are the worst, IMHO (followed closely by the nanny-fuckers). To cheat with someone who has been invited into the intimacy of your home is beyond-unforgivable.

    • Absolutely scary how these defects claim & certainly act like they are in love with you then turn on a dime.

    • ^^^^^^^^^^ I completely agree and are grateful for the all the comments above. Even though I am now 3 yrs divorced ( 5.5 yrs past last DDay) the aftermath from her “family-fucking” still leaves my family, friends and I completely speechless.

      The casualties and aftermath are immense in ANY cheating fiasco. In my case, after her 3 affairs (that I know of), I counted 10 innocent kids that had their peace, harmony and lives permanently altered because of ex-wife’s supremely selfish acts (my 3 kids, my sisters 3 kids and her last affair partner had 4 kids).

      “Surely you must’ve know” comments almost always comes from self-righteous asses – all this means to me is it just corroborates how pompous these asses really are. These are the same people saying, “Why did you invest your money with Bernie Madoff?, surely you must’ve know”.

      • Next time someone tells you that you should have known, look them straight in the eye and say, “I knew about the cheating inasmuch as I knew you were intractable pompous ass. Apparently both are true.”

  • “Ex set me up in regards to cheating before we were married although I certainly didn’t realize it then. While we were engaged, he told me that the one thing he would not tolerate was cheating. His statement stuck with me throughout our marriage and I trusted him completely from that standpoint.”

    Exactly my experience ByeByeCheater!

    Aah, the lectures about honesty, loyalty, integrity, honour and family, on an almost daily basis!
    When we first dated he literally grilled me about infidelity and loyalty, had I ever been unfaithful (no!) etc. Had I experienced and unfaithful partner and forgiven (yes!). I passed the test with flying colours to be the perfect mark. I must have known, right!

    The first year, he was an angel, I couldn’t believe my luck. Then the yelling and raging started. When did he first cheat. I’ll never know but he lied all along anyway. I only realised what a supremely talented liar he was during one of his disputes with someone else 2 years ago. I remember feeling a chill watching him lie so convincingly. Then I remembered that in the first year of our relationship he had a drama class as part of his training and I noticed he was so much better than anybody else in it. I suppose that was a sign too. I just thought he was incredibly talented. I thought he was reckless with money, bad tempered, emotional but truly loving and loyal and would never deliberately hurt me, he was just a tormented man because of his terrible childhood. Mine wasn’t that flash but I’m stable and responsible!

    He made me feel guilty for being strong and “unemotional” while I was supporting him through his odd ways and disturbed family relationships, and I was going through 6 miscarriages. Master manipulator, it’s always been all about him. Now his family tells me so,they’ve always known and are supportive of me. I guess they saw I was completely blinded in the early days and would have simply defended him against his family.

    Better Days, love your nickname for him The Entitled One. That’s it in a nutshell.

    • kiwichump – OMG, I got this too: “He made me feel guilty for being strong and “unemotional” while I was supporting him through his odd ways and disturbed family relationships, and I was going through 6 miscarriages.”

      Yep, I was so strong and self-sufficient that he wasn’t really worried about hurting me because “the kind of person” I was meant I would pick myself up and move on with my life instead of falling apart. And that somehow also meant that I wasn’t emotionally supportive enough all the years I was the rock in the family while he fell apart.

      Well, he was right about one thing. I’ll be JUST FINE without him. Better, actually.

  • My soul was a lot like Chernobyl….well, more like my self-esteem. Have made serious progress on that front 🙂 Run from the pig nosed aliens!

  • Well put, thank you for addressing it all.

    I feel irked by the notion that cheating is understandable should a spouse had let themselves go or they were in a sexless marriage. While these are surely reasons to part if unresolvable between both parties, they are not reasons to lie and cheat and to alter a spouse’s reality, destroy their soul and wreck any memory of past they hold.

    Should I have know? About the cheating.. no. It was hidden from me. About him saying he was doing this while he did that? no. it was hidden from me. WHAT I DID KNOW and lived in denial about was he was more distant, shared less of his world with me, pulled away from intimacy to even those small hugs and kisses goodnight and good morning. He did less and less with me, he became very critical of me and very defensive, nasty and mean. Did I try to talk to him? Yes. Spackle, deny, self blame is what resulted. When I finally did suspect an affair(s) I simply did not believe it because of the way he looked when he left house. Come to learn he was smart enough to and just change before he went to AP or not (her problem).

    Maybe I could have not known about the affair(s) but I did know but did not believe I was worthy of better, a better spouse, a better life and the promise of a better future for my investment.

    I am soooooo glad he unveiled his horrors to me, I was so stuck on loyal and my love and devotion for him that would never be, without the absolute horrors he imposed I would have never been free of it. I am better ALONE and whole than with a spouse and sick.

    • I agree. If they want out, they should get out before they cheat. There is no excuse for lying and sneaking around.

    • “Maybe I could have not known about the affair(s) but I did know but did not believe I was worthy of better, a better spouse, a better life and the promise of a better future for my investment.”

      Thats were I was too. The marriage slowly died. He treated me like trash but I never though he would screw around. I no longer adored him so he had to show me. I knew I had settled for less but the kids…. you know the mind drill.

      I mention this because finally I think 8 months after the divorce was finalized I am getting my life back and really beginning to feel like I am worth more. I am doing more now… making decisions for what is good for me! I could see I was victimizing myself… punishing myself… I took on his opinion of me for a bit. But thats changing finally. I think thats part of getting to “meh”

      • Of course our marriages slowly died. That is what will happen when you marry a cheat. Even if they had not cheated yet or are.. that person is capable of cheating.. nuff said.

    • Serial cheaters gonna cheat. That’s what they do. I neither let myself go, nor was our marriage ever sexless. Nonetheless, my X was cheating even when we averaged sex 4 times/week. Why? Cuz that what serial cheaters do.

      It bears reminding that Christie Brinkley (who claims she was adventurous in bed, and willing to dress up, watch porn with her then-H), Eva Longoria, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Pattinson, and even the young George Clooney, were all cheated on.

      • Tempest,

        You are right. A cheater is a cheater, period. It does not matter if you are a supermodel, superwomen, superman etc… Cheating is about a void in their soul NOT OURS.

        Article addressed how other viewed the betrayed. Like somehow we must have known. And if we all admit deep down no matter how blindsided we may have been, how much sex we were having.. something somewhere in that relationship was making us sacrifice something of our soul to them. We gave up somewhere, I truly believe that, that we gave up that we deserve better.

        Christy Brinkley… Sorry but Billy Joel was NOTHING to look at especially compared to Christy Brinkley. It is a good example of just because you are this or that a CHEATER will cheat no matter what. A cheater is a empty soul pretending and mimicking what is normal. I mean lots of cheaters step DOWN like bottom down from what they are cheating on.

        It really comes down to US. I think we should have known. Not the cheating but if we knew and valued ourselves (which I believe we believe we were but now see maybe we didn’t). I think Christy could tell us today that something was off there too.

        None of us dreamed of growing up and investing in a cheater to be left in ruins and surely we were too good natured to think that it could happen to us.

        Should we have known? YES.

        • Did Billy Joel cheat on CB? I was thinking of her last slimy husband, Peter Cook.

          • You know, I don’t know. Regardless of who we use an example, the example being it does not matter who you are when they are a cheater.

              • I just google Peter Cook, Wow. Clearly much better looking than Billy Joel, LOL. I thought it was Billy Joel.

      • Let’s not forget Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Maria Shriver, and Julianne Philips! Whenever I get down about myself while ruminating about the ex-hole, I think of beautiful, accomplished women whose men fucked them over, and I feel better.

  • One Step At A Time nailed my reaction. When I first found out about the gf five years ago, I couldn’t believe that my husband of (then) 30 years had cheated. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t accept it. My friends had to come over to help me get dressed and go to work. I almost lost my job. I had crying jags everywhere. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t believe that this man I spent my life with, grew up with, was a cheater. I was terrified of the future- financially and emotionally. I was humiliated and ashamed. We went to marital counseling and the counselor blamed me- she asked if I had always been a nag. The marriage had been sexless for years. He always had an excuse. He was always sleeping on the couch. He never felt well and I thought he was asexual. He had many surgeries so I had reason to believe that he was really not well enough for sex. Who knew? And yes, I took him back three more times until the last hurrah in May of 2015, when I caught him again texting her. People say, oh you must have known. But I never did (until the last year or so, when I felt uncomfortable and wrong about trying to reconcile yet again) because I trusted him my whole life. It was hard to stop trusting him even though he was the person who was hurting me. He would say confusing things, telling me I was the most important person in the world to him, he was there for me, he would do anything for me. The real truth was he was the person creating all my misery, he was doing it TO me. He made me feel like I was so unattractive and stupid (and I am a lawyer) that no one else would want me. It was only when our 22 year cat died and he was so mean to me, that I began to see who/what he really was. So did I know? Definitely not before the first time- but maybe the other times were denial because I just couldn’t believe it. I continued to trust him even though he had shown me exactly who he was. Because I am a trusting loyal dog. Because my vows were important to me. Because I would never never cheat. I expected the same from him. With wisdom comes deep sadness. Now, waiting for the final divorce decree, I will move forward but I will never get over this.

    • I wanted a sexual relationship. He told me he had erectile dysfunction. I was a nice person and was sympathetic and didn’t nag. I gently helped him get a couple of doctor’s appointments. Always an excuse, nothing ever worked, prescriptions never filled. I didn’t want to be a horrible person so I left him alone thinking he was embarrassed. Turned out he only had ED with me, not the hookers he was seeing. OMG.

  • I also wanted to say that looking back, he did change after the affair started, even though I didn’t know it then. He became harder (not referring to the limp noodle), he became meaner and more critical. (He must have been comparing me to her). He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He became less interested in me and wasn’t committed to our life together. He wouldn’t make plans. So yes, looking back, there was a change. I just didn’t understand then what was going on. Hindsight is a bitch.

    • Exactly, Lostandfound. The ramped-up crappy treatment was how I was able to determine when my X’s main affair started (since he was claiming it was only 3 weeks instead of the 5/6 months it turned out to be), and the lightbulb went off that his treatment of me 7/8 months prior to D-day meant he had embarked on another significant affair (though I only divorced him on the basis of the first affair from years prior).

    • Yes, exactly. When they are a soul cheating or capable of cheating it is NOT possible, in my opinion for the betrayed or to be betrayed partner not to be spackling somewhere along the lines. I think of my 23 years with my EX cheater the first few were okay… he really was a good fun date. But looking back, I was pretty hot (lol) and that is what he wanted, it was newness, it was both of us in our 20’s experiencing life that added to excitement. I was me that pushed to move in, it was me that pushed for ring, it was me that made our home, it was me who made things happen before he completely stop responding. After the newness died, he did too but I did not relent for 20 more years. What it could have been if he was healthy and loved me back and I hung onto that in complete denial that I was. So for that it is MY FAULT. If I had been self aware I would have demanded more from a person I invested in and would have been gone year 2 and not have seen the day when he cheated and learned that it was likely all along. I would not have suffered this fate had I believed in me, stood up for me. Oh I stood up for me but not to step out for me.

      • Jackie, this is brilliant. I’m printing it out and pasting it to my wall: “If I had been self aware I would have demanded more from a person I invested in…”

      • That is true, we all spackled and tolerated waaaaayyy more than we should have

        But I don’t believe in stacking blame on people who behaved honestly and compassionately within a committed relationship. Should we fix or confront whatever FOO issues led us to tolerate bad treatment for as long as we did? Sure. But “FAULT” implies intent to do harm, and most chumps did not have that. We worked hard, physically and emotionally, to keep families and marriages together with very little support from our partners. We largely did so for the right reasons. We did not deceive or gaslight, whatever our other imperfections.

        I really shudder to force people who have had a trauma thrusted upon them to make them own that it was their fault for staying. It was a mistake, to be sure, and one we need to learn and grow from. Heaping opprobrium on chumps for tolerating poor treatment for valiant reasons (compassion toward their spouse, trying to have a happy family) seems a bit strong.

        As for a lie only being given life if someone believes it–yes, but most of us weren’t even cognizant we were living a lie.

        • All true, Tempest. I guess I feel being pissed of at myself at least it is fixable. Being pissed off at him is a waste. So yeah.. Fault is not the word to use nor blame. Mistake, yes. Funny, the cheater says they made a “Mistake” and don’t take fault and here most of us take fault when it really is truly a mistake. This shit really does unground you.

          • Interesting point, Jackie–we want to believe it is fixable. That is SO chumplike, lol! We wanted to think we could be magnificent and prevent them from even *wanting* to cheat. Then, many chumps became convinced that wreckonciliation was possible–just work harder at your marriage! You can do it! Once we realize we have no control over the disordered, and can do nothing to fix their character problems, we want to resort to still having power–This is fixable! I can make sure this NEVER happens to me again!

            Exactly what I love about you, and about chumps–we are “can do” people. The hard lesson for us to learn is letting go of our perceived power, and realizing we don’t have superpowers (even if we have super traits, per Sandra Brown). Releasing ourselves from the pressure of trying for superpowers is what’s really scary for us. How do we go from “Rocky” to Zen?

            • I still have a hard time grasping he is disordered. I invested my world with the devil himself. I still cannot grasp the heartless nature of what he has done and I know I don’t know even truly know a spec of it. But I can say one thing, I rather be the betrayed then the betrayer. I would hate to have to be him for one second even though it would appear he remains unaffected and appears to be having a grand time of things. But I do love him and would never want him to feel the heartbreak and mind twist he has left me in. I hope he is happy and has a great life just so long as it is no where near me.

              • Yup, hard to grasp that they are disordered. Even harder to wrap our heads around how they could do to us what they did.

                You’re a better person than me, Jackie–I no longer love mine, and instead of wishing him a happy life, I hope he develops internal parasites (Discovery Channel style).

          • Oh shit Jackie! Another ‘THING’!! Wha!!!! Yes, satan’s flying monkey friend berated me at length for divorcing him saying, ‘JEEP! He only made ONE MISTAKE!’

            …uh yeah right…it lasted 36 years and ran through multiple women apparently…

            Oh…then he said, ‘satan told me about Mr. Electric Hands!’ (Wha? Who?) When I couldn’t wrap my head around that twist in the conversation I said, ‘Who?’

            Flying Monkey replied, ‘ONE OF YOUR BOYFRIENDS!’ (???)

            (by that time ‘Jeep’ had quit participating in idiot flying monkey games) I said, ‘I don’t know him, but, hey! When you see him PLEASE give him my number k? 😉 I haven’t had a date in a while and he sounds like he might be worth my time!’ ( ;D )

            …and I walked away slowly shaking my hiney and twirlin my hair 😀

            …asshole flying monkeys…

      • Jackie, this is my story too! I pushed for the marriage (2nd marriage for both of us) and I was all in. He claims now he never loved me and the first MC we went to suggested that I was responsible for all of the Shit Show because I must have known how ambivalent he was from the beginning.

        Is that a hard truth? I probably did know he was ambivalent…but there was no gun pointed at his head on our wedding day. Or later, when I paid for him to go back to school to re-train for his 2nd career. Or when I paid for the insurance for his major heart attack.

        And, what STBX and 1st MC fail to recognize is that I was GREAT at this marriage. I supported him, nurtured him, made him laugh, improved the quality of his daily life, shared my daughter’s life with him, shared my amazing family, worked full-time, created a beautiful home and garden…

        He is the ASSHOLE who threw it all away for the “intimacy” of a teenage girl on a porn site.

        I’m not perfect but I am who I say I am and I act according to my beliefs.

        It irks me that these ASSHOLES not only cheat and lie but they have the temerity to suggest or even outright assert that the problem was with us.

        Fucking fuckhead fuckers who fuck around. Fuck off fuckhead fuckers. Fuck off!

      • This is wonderful. It explains how I feel exactly. I was going to say that I feel stupid for all that I put up with in 27 years, but stupid is not accurate. I feel the self-assured woman he married was worn down after years of putting up with bullshit. I threatened to leave him after the second year for drinking. I gave him a choice, our newborn, me and our life or his alcohol. He chose us, but I always stayed on guard against him coming home drunk. He did so every once in a while. He also told little lies. If someone would lie over little nonsense stuff, wouldn’t they tell lies over big shit? So I don’t feel stupid, I feel eroded.

  • I confess that I did know immediately but only for affair #1. (I think it may have been after my EX and OW#1 first slept together.) I just felt something was ‘off” and at that point had absolutely no proof other than a profound feeling that we were no longer connected. As it progressed, the evidence — all of the classic stuff — was there. And then later, while there was no admission (and I think it was over) he said ‘he was messed up and was going to get some therapy’. Cue me looking paralyzed and I just can’t get the words out to get clarification.

    Fast forward ahead 4 or 5 years and the lies and gaslighting are taken to near Olympic levels. AND all of the Switzerland friends are now unwittingly part of the same gaslighting campaign.

    What happens when you live with someone who lies about almost everything — all the time — including MC during reconciliation — is that you can no longer discern what part is true and what is false. He continues to be successful in business and is loved by everyone.

    I could never EVER have guessed that the very unattractive 25 years old sitting beside me during dinner parties at my house was OW#2. My EX (just about to turn 40) repeatedly told me how unattractive she was….

    DD#2 was such a relief because I really thought I was losing my mind.

    Always ALWAYS listen to your gut.

    • It’s a weird truth, that the person they start critisizing turns out to be the AP!
      Maybe not so weird, because they sure do critisize us.
      One thing is for sure, no one should have a sense of ‘unease’ in their marriage, or have to be put in the position of figuring out WTF their spouse is up to! Why bother being married, then?

      • Complete mindfuckery includes lines like: “I never lied to you, I just left out details”.

        Truth: Yes – she is a client. Yes – I took her our for dinner to celebrate because I take all my clients out for dinner. Yes – she is new in town and getting settled. Yes – Friend was the server at the restaurant last night. Yes – I had way too much to drink last night. Yes – I am hungover and miserable today. Yes – I turned my phone off during dinner because that would be rude. Yada Yada Yada

        Omission: That moment in the evening after dinner and before all the alcohol — you know…when they got naked and screwed in her new place.

        • Oh yess I get it. Mine said it wasn’t a lie because I didn’t ask the specific question. Lying by omission is his specialty but he just outright lies as well–about EVERYTHING!

          • Mine lied by omission. No stories, no made up tales. Just no information. I think back now that I knew deep down if I dug for info it was info I would not want to hear. It was part of my spackling, accepting the lie even if by omission and plugging along in my little world.

            • Judas is an expert at ‘lying by omission’ too. They are master manipulators… Assholes.
              I also got the “I never cheated on you!” So going behind my back and buying a burner phone to sext other women and having Yahoo accounts to chat it up with other women is not cheating? Dumbass….


  • Match Girl and I had both been Chumped before we met each other.

    A shared scrutiny of the sorry history of humanity had cemented our conviction that there are indeed bad actors who gleefully perpetrate horrors on other people. Yes, “aliens” walk among us.

    We championed the cause that sexual, physical, spiritual, and mental abuse was the *most* insidious and egregious characteristic of our species.

    We promised each other that because of all we knew, our marriage was, at its core, based on monogamy.

    “Surely you must have known?” Yes, I thought I *knew.* What I didn’t know is, knowing isn’t enough.

    • Ugh. Sorry I word-salad’ed all over y’all.

      Obviously, I really let her do a number on me.

      I guess my conclusion is that people are even worse then I could ever know, and I will never, ever put myself in a position to be harmed again.

      Nice huh? Cynical much?

  • It’s amazing how we each feel so unique, but the experience is so universal. Because no one I know has experienced the same horror I have- this site is a godsend (and I am not religious). moving forward said the words I meant: that there was a profound disconnect between us that I couldn’t put my finger on, but it made me very uncomfortable. Something happened to sever whatever bond we did have. But he didn’t bother to tell me because he wanted ‘cake’. Instead, I felt that there was something profoundly wrong with me, a feeling both he and the marital therapist manipulated. I made him work too hard. I should get a second job so he could work less. I should lose weight. I preferred my son over him (and if I did, well, that did turn out to be a good choice). All, poor me. Poor emotionally abused husband (huh?) while he was cheating and lying and (sorry) fucking someone else. As Ian says, knowing is not enough. The mindfuck is so deep, so profound, that even when we know, we don’t know. Stbx’s first lawyer kept asking me (at the first sit down)- do you want to get divorced, Ellen (my name). She kept asking me repeatedly and I said to her: when some one you love and trust lies to you so much that up is down and down is up, when you are fighting against a ghost you don’t even know exists, you can be the smartest person in the world and you can simply go crazy. (I later found out that he had told her that he was trying to leave for ten years but I wouldn’t let him). I would lie in bed, crying every night, writing in my journal, asking why he did this to me, why he broke my heart, my son’s heart and destroyed our family. But now I know that the answer simply is that he did it because he wanted to. Some people are just predators. But you don’t expect them to be the person you spent your life with. He did warn me. Every once in a while he would say: “I am a bad person. Stay away from me.” Other times I would hear: “I’ m not a bad person. I just fell in love with someone else.” But now I think, if someone tells you they are a bad person and you should stay away, you should listen.

    • My husband also yelled, “Okay, I’m just a bad person!” At the time he was trying to make me feel guilty for him feeling that way, but I could tell the emotion was actually coming from deep inside himself. He sounded like a small child when he said that, it was totally out of character for him.

  • I think the only time “surely you must have known” would be appropriate is when the ow/om finds out the cheater that cheated with them is now cheating on them.

    • @KB—that is brilliant! The one who should have known was the one who cheated with the cheater and then got cheated on…..

      The XBF’s second wife cheated with him on his first wife (there was another AP in the mix at the time also). She still married him.

      Guess who then got cheated on multiple times?

      • Gotta love it when cheaters lives implode. I cannot think of one couple, that got together due to cheating, that went on to a happily married life.

  • I guess I should have known something wasn’t right. First he pushed me to be friends on Facebook with her and the other circus monkeys who adored her. He NEVER missed work, but would come home and tell me all the “cute, dumb fake blond” shit she was doing and he thought it was just so funny and adorable. I would check Facebook and not one of those stories would show up publicly, so it was all private messages. My Ex just couldn’t get enough of her silly antics. Then my FIL kept telling me that he felt they were a bit “too cozy!” I blew it off because she lives about four hours south in a different state. I figured the distance and the fact that she was married to a wealthy man was insurance policy enough! Not to mention the fact that once I added up all the hours my Ex spent on Facebook just while at home it was well over forty hours! Add that to the forty hours at work when he was messaging her back and forth and well…..the rest is history! By the time I truly realized that our marriage was in need of an adjustment it turned out to be the same day he returned from a “business trip” for three days to her city. He had been screwing her for three days non-stop and announced he and Schmoopie were “in love!” WOW! My world crumbled and hasn’t been the same since! Now Schmoopie is history and I have him sniffing around me constantly! Wants me to forgive and forget, RIGHT! You blew up my life for three years, tossed me aside when I needed you most, I divorced you and you did nothing to stop it, but now you love me again!!! Sure! Until you don’t again! Should I have suspected? Possibly! But I trusted him implicitly after 38 years of marriage! Dumb ass me!

    • Roberta, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I know exactly what you mean about trusting him implicitly after such a long relationship.

      Good for you for not taking him back now that “twu luv” didn’t work out for him. One of the most painful things for me was the realization that when he told me he “loved” me and would always “love” me, he meant something vastly different than I did by love.

      • Better Days, they for sure mean something else when they tell you they “love” you versus the skank they hook up with! I know mine “loves” me because I got EVERYTHING in the divorce! Now that he and Schmoopie are not in “love” (read lust) anymore, he is flat broke, sick and unemployed. Not only did his Schmoopie drop him, but she took her cash settlement from her divorce with her! Both of these idiots spend money like crazy and she was going broke! What my Ex believes when he tells me he loves me is: “I know you have my money and you have always been the fiscally responsible adult. Please take care of my sorry ass!” “I know you are a soft touch and I assume you are stupid so I can BS my way back in (wrong again!)” ” I know I can make you feel guilty about my illness and you will give in eventually.” Well, you get the idea! I’m like a comfortable old shoe! There is no romance or passion for me, that was wasted on skank whore! Sorry, I have better things to do with my time. I also find it supremely insulting!

    • Roberta, I’m sorry too cuz I know what it is like being left to rebuild after 30+ marriage.

      We have been separated for almost 5 yrs. and my life still isn’t right either.

      I find even if I look or talk w another man that wasn’t part of us, I feel like I’m the cheater now.

      We have never finalized anything bc of our finincal world…

      This was no how I imagine the empty nest was going to be.

  • I knew, knew all about it, because he flaunted it in front of me. It just took me waaaaaaay too long to figure out what it meant. Just straight up denial, on my part.

  • I always felt something was off but I didn’t “know”. He was very good at covering up. If I ever voiced my concerns he would brandish anger and condemn my suspicions. I felt guilty, like I was a horrible wife. For twenty years I bit my tongue (most of the time) and worked on my trust issues. When he revealed his 30 year porn addiction and that he was chatting with women online I was devastated. He also confessed to an EA with a coworker but I’m sure it was more than just that. All the lies, deceit and telling me I was crazy for suspecting him I now know is textbook for these cheaters. I wish I had known before. Thank you Chump Lady for this website as it has been a lifeline.

    • That is one of the worst side-effects of gaslighting and blameshifting, how they make you end up feeling like the guilty party for not trusting them enough. My STBX was a master at it. Like so many here, I knew something was “off” for years–hell, I could pretty much check off every single one of the items on the “Top Ten Signs Your Spouse is Cheating” list.

      But whenever I brought up my concerns and reassured him that as long as I knew the truth, I could handle anything that might be going on, OMG, the shitstorm that was unleashed on me! How DARE I question his integrity, if there is one thing in the world he would never, ever, do, it’s cheat, and the very act of asking the question was such a deep, searing pain to his soul, I should be ashamed of myself for hurting him like that.

      Then he would go on about how the fact that I would even entertain the idea, for just one second, that he was capable of cheating only shows how many emotional and psychological problems I have that need to be worked on, the poor, sick, mean little woman that I am, dumping my issues in his lap and wounding him like that. He was so hurt he had to give up all of his many, many hobbies (for a few days) because I used them as an excuse to accuse him of having an affair. See what I’ve done, robbing him of the things he loves?! It made him depressed and unable to sleep!

      For years I would walk away from these conversations feeling profoundly guilty and ashamed of myself for questioning him. It wasn’t until my gut nearly exploded and my head finally started to accept reality that I realized his denials were always about cheating, not about lying, and that he never once told me he would never lie to me. Truth by omission, how beautifully disordered is that?

  • Thankfully….no one ever said “you must have known” to me. But if they did, I would have said….YES! I did know. My gut was screaming to me almost immediately that something wasn’t right. And from that moment on… life became a living hell and it changed forever! Knowing and getting your spouse to admit to it would be a dream come true. But living your life with that wondering……well, that is destructive. I became a shell of myself. I thought I was going completely mad. He told me it was in my head. He would get mad at me for asking him questions. Then I would secretly berate myself for being so jealous or suspicious. It wasn’t just him getting angry with me, it was me getting angry with me. He saw what it was doing to me. He knew the truth and withheld that truth to protect himself. His affair changed me emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

    That statement/question of KNOWING is so unrelated to the issues of the cheater being a cheater. The act of cheating makes everyone uncomfortable, therefore statements/questions like these are posed to explain away the behavior and make it tolerable to deal with.

    I consider what my ex-husband did to me as mental cruelty.

    • Kimmy, you couldn’t have said it better!!!!!

      Your XH and my XW are of the same mold…

    • Mental cruelty, agree. Everything about cheating is abuse. It is abuse on so many levels.

    • very much mentally cruel….. they use terms such as… crazy, psychotic… make you question your own sanity! These people are evil no other word for it.

    • Kimmy, FreeWoman and Jackie, you guys nailed it perfectly…yes, yes, yes!!!

      …when I asked questions…the only answers I got were meows…

      Yes, you bet it is mental cruelty and soul shattering abuse in the worst form.

      They walk among us…and, if we don’t get out and save ourselves – regardless of the fear – we will lose ourselves for the rest of our lives. Get out and get away Chumps! There is a better life beyond the abuse!

  • I believe a lot of us knew. Once you get the gut feeling you know. Then you look up the classic signs of cheating and they meet most of the criteria. Their best friend is our denial….. You just don’t want to believe its true. Funny they all seem to respond with anger to the question. A good spouse would ask why…. what have I done to make you think that…. what can I do to fix this? Nope anger!!!!

    • Mine got very angry when I asked because I asked if he were gay and having an affair with a MAN! I don’t know how that came out of me but there it was. Maybe a bit of Narc in me that they way he looked at that time and his behavior being so unattractive I could not imagine what woman could ever want him. Really. I felt that. Man he hit to roof!… But I kept at it and he exploded! That is when he came clean about his then affair just to show me he was not GAY!!!! Let me tell you what, I hit a nerve and I remain stunned he is able to get these women.

    • A lot of us, emphatically, did NOT know. Mine conducted his affairs and hookups during business hours & while on conferences. Did not miss a single dinner I can think of, home to read Harry Potter to my oldest, never any unexplained absences. Some of these cheaters are masters at what they do, and don’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

      Mine was the Kasparov of deception; it was not simply that I didn’t want to believe.

      • Hear, hear, Tempest. Had I known, or even suspected, I would have been a super detective, and once confirmed (at least enough to feel there was something going on) I would have confronted and been outta there like a shot! I didn’t hang around waiting, knowing. Hell to the NO!!! I don’t even think I would stay with someone I suspected of cheating, this is supposed to be love and partnership, not desperate and clinging on to someone who clearly doesn’t make me feel safe by their actions. I also had the master of deception, he surprised himself at how great he was at undetected cheating – no one knew. Not one single person. It still stuns me.

        • Life’s too short to be the marriage police or cheater cop. I trust you until I don’t. The level of their deception seems to be a reflection of their malevolence. Our hatred toward them is justified.

          • Spot on, Ian. No way was I going to – or will I ever – play marriage police. I’m worth so much more ☺

          • I regret playing marriage police. That meant 4 years of financial ad every other type of abuse and lying. Now I can’t retire lost too much and he didn’t earn a living all last year so no spousal support . Well played asshole. King chumped I am.

            • Before it came to a head and it got really bad, my sister told me to follow him, to check his phone and computer all that. I told her there is no way I am going to do that, never will. I did not do any of it. During Wreckonciliation part of it is to be able to check his phone, he is supposed to be transparent all that. I did not want to babysit my partner. YUCK. Nor could I take his word for anything. So here I am. Living my life with all the drama, lies and abuse removed.

  • We do see the signs and we do ask the right questions, because our intuition rightfully picks up on all the signs. But our partners are the ones who deny, lie, cover the truth. They dismiss our intuition, which is the only self-protective mechancism we have. And Scott Peck once wrote that anyone who dismisses our intuition is EVIL. So true.

  • I was completely blindsided, although in retrospect, the red flags were visible.

    Throughout our marriage, STBX would often tell me about the guys he worked with who were cheating. He was always so dismissive of them- being a conservative, “family values” type of guy.

    After D-day, he looked at me with disgust and said, “Okay, you win. For the past three years YOU’VE had the moral edge. But for 17 years before that, I was better than you.”

    First…WTF? Since when is any of this “winning,” Charlie Sheen? Our marriage wasn’t a competition.

    Second…WTF? Three years? Try the whole fucking marriage. But I guess the cheating didn’t matter earlier because he didn’t fall in love with the 15-year-old, Filipina, webcam sex worker (slave?) until three years ago. The earlier cheating was “just sex.”

    I hate this whole experience. I’m insulted that an idiot ASSHOLE took up any part of my one “wild and precious life.”

    Oh, and the crazy thing? Every time I’ve seen him since D-day (five months ago) he let’s me know that I shouldn’t “get my hopes up…”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Now when I think about him, I laugh the crazy laugh of utter disbelief.

    • “Every time I’ve seen him since D-day (five months ago) he let’s me know that I shouldn’t “get my hopes up…””

      Holy crap! Bwhahahaha. I guess all these cheaters truly believe their theme song is: “I’m Too Sexy.”

      • Oh shit BetterDays!!! ROTFLMAO!!!! I’m too sexy!!! HEHEHEHEHEHE!!!!

        GOOD ONE!!!!

  • You know, I have a relative whose husband faked completing an advanced degree course AND graduate school. As in he left for “classes” every day for YEARS. Faked going to study groups for YEARS. Somehow managed to walk at the undergrad graduation for a degree he didn’t earn and then explained away why he couldn’t walk at the ceremony for his advanced/grad degree. And even as he stalled for months about getting a job in his field, none of us suspected a thing was off. His wife talked excitedly about the opportunities he was pursuing and the exciting new life they were building together. And she didn’t suspect for one single second that everything he told her about his daily life away from their home was true, until she happened to find a single piece of financial paperwork that conflicted with his story, and the whole house of cards came tumbling down. We’re lucky that he didn’t lash out at her when his lies were uncovered.

    They got a divorce, because while he was lying to her about grad school and huge amounts of debt she didn’t know he’d taken out in her name, he was also cheating on her. For years, people told her, “You had to have suspected SOMETHING.” With this note of judgement in their voices. but she didn’t. He left the house everyday at the same time. He talked about his professors and classmates and assignments. His movements matched the school calendar/schedule. If he’d studied with as much effort as he put into faking, he might have made it into grad school. But she loved the man. She trusted what he told her. She was a high-achieving academically gifted person who did get through several grad school programs and she believed that the man she’d chosen in life, who had presented himself as a fellow high-achieving academic, would be doing the same things with his life. But, like a lot of cheaters, he was just mirroring what he thought she wanted.

    Watch a couple of episodes of Dateline, some people are just really good at setting up false narratives for themselves. Mark Hacking. James Keown. John Perry. Cheaters are just creating those narratives on a smaller, less murder-y scale.

  • Hmmm. I live in a small town. It became public knowledge, oh, about five minutes after the OW told me. The next few months I kept asking my closest friends, “did any of you know, or even suspect?” Ie, “how stupid and clueless have I really been here? How could I not see he was fucking my lifetime friend for fifteen months while I blithely had her holiday with us, invite her to all our parties and dinner parties. How completely blind am I really?” They ALL said, ” nope. No clue.” My best friend said she did once question how close they were but was convinced HE wouldn’t cheat, even though she thought the OW probably would. How to feel like your usually razor sharp judgement need a good run over the sharpening steel. The humiliation stings. But nowhere near as much as the devastating heartbreak and colossal grief.

    • Cheating and divorce in small towns is different. In a large town there is much more anonymity available.

      Living in a small town, I chose not to tell people the reason we divorced, since I don’t want my kids to have the whole town know their mom is a cheater. My stbx’s AP lived in another town not in the same town, which made it easier for her to keep her secret.

      At the same time, everyone in my small town knows who the primary parent was in our marriage, so they never accused me of blowing up a good marriage. I was the one at all the kid events, the one who arranged playdates, the one who coached football and wrestling, the one who volunteered in the community, but had I felt some “blame” from the town, I may have had a weak moment and sung like a bird.

      • Yeah, Buddy. The OW was from our town originally, but lives in a city about three hours away. I got blamed to some degree by the locals. And I was the primary parent and active in the community. No one could cope with the nice guy doing such a shitty thing. So I must have been awful behind closed doors, right? Or known and turned a blind eye. He genuinely was totally lovely for more than twenty years. So the one and only time I felt weird about his very open ‘friendship’ with her and asked, “just checking, you aren’t doing anything inappropriate here, are you, Bear?” – this as it turns out was as he was ending the affair, she upped the texting as the claws wouldn’t retract – he snuggled into me and promised me that of course he wasn’t. I never thought about it again. He had great history. Never cheated on anyone. Had been a great partner. Not a liar. I believed him and just. Never. Thought. About. It. Again. Until after D-day.

  • I unfortunately after the first time knew he was that kind of man and I stayed anyway – twisted myself into a pretzel to make him happy and was cheated on over and over again – I just didn’t want to see it. Then, in my late 40s I was discarded for his newest one the Sugar Momma. Hell, I probably knew before I married him and just didn’t want to believe it.

    I have to own that and I am ashamed that I allowed myself to be treated like that for so long. It should have never happened. But I’m free now, and once someone told me as I was crying pitifully, – “he did you a favor”. You know what? She was right!

    Life in my early 50s is fantastic. No I don’t have another man in my life, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I’m not sure that I want one. From what I can tell, relationships take work, and after giving for so long, truth be told, I want to be a bit selfish.

    Since my divorce (2012), I’ve traveled like I never have before – I’ve gone on a cruise to Canada, to FL to visit my MIL (yes, my MIL), Hawaii with my MIL, SIL, BIL and my nephew and his wife, San Diego, Aruba, rented cottage for 3 years in the summer on the beach – this year, I’m headed to FL again, Montreal and then to Cancun with my girls in November! It’s been pretty wonderful if I do say so myself.

    Every trip I ever went on married, was marred somehow with pain or hurt. These past excursions were nothing but fun, peace and good memories. I can’t wait to do more of this!

  • I did suspect and he denied it and lied to me. I didn’t think people could be this cruel especially some one I loved.

  • I think a lot of that also comes from friends/family of the cheaters who just don’t want to FULLY acknowledge that their loved ones did wrong.

    “I mean, yeah, what he did was totally wrong and no one’s denying that… BUT (and that shit is ALWAYS followed by a but)… *insert bull shit about how I didn’t react properly, surely wasn’t perfect, either (since only perfection obligates your spouse to be faithful) and just general sniffing around for something that made it my fault.”

    People get on this kick about “taking the high road” and “being the bigger person”. Translation: The thought of getting caught and called out is scary so what can I throw out there in hopes that s/he’ll keep their mouths shut and not do anything back for fear of embarrassment. If I can get her to fear being caught not being the bigger person, maybe I can totally get away with everything!

    • I consider the “high road” speaking up about the emotional terror of infidelity, and the havoc it wreaks on chumps, so that society starts a very different message about cheating that does not include ‘blaming the victim.’ That’s how we become “the bigger person,” not by forgiving hideous deceivers.

  • Before I was in-the-know, I always thought of cheaters as deplorable, knew there was no good excuse, knew the affair partner was nothing more than an opportunity. What I did not know is that this happens in “happy” relationships. So yes, I absolutely thought the betrayed knew– at least that they weren’t surprised since their marriage must have been full of arguing, disdain, resentment, well you get it.

  • I believed I was married to someone who would never ever cheat. So once I found out she was cheating, I was beyond surprised and floored. But what shocked me even more was, after 8 years of absolute fidelity, the ease with which she suddenly slipped into the her affair and the entitlement she felt to have the affair. It really was mindblowingly shocking. I will never understand it.

    Of course, looking back, there were red flags. But I believe cheaters can lie dormant for many years before the opportunity arises and they cheat again (or for the first time).

    Perhaps there are two types of cheaters: the types that are always working on the next fling, always working some angle and the other types that lie and wait for the just the right opportunity, waiting for their truer love to walk into their lives, and once he does, then, bang! instant affair.

    • Hi Buddy

      You are correct, many types of cheaters out there. What they all share in common is their depiction of what true love really is. Their depiction is so convoluted but yet so simple.

      True love to them is all about limerence. They feel this rather quickly and they really think this feeling with the AP will last forever, hence true love. They not only convinced themselves that they must act on this feeling but that they have never felt this way before. The way they do this is simply by rewriting history.

      In addition to major character flaws, entitlement, selfishness, (list is endless) – they are also flat out stupid-fucks in understanding how a long term marriage works. They lead with their emotions always over logic – this is how they justify their cheating.

      • I loved and respected more as I built a life with her. When she gave birth and breastfed, I loved her more. When we planned trips and traveled, I loved her more. Each experience, to me, formed a richer fabric, a beautiful touching history, a life together.

        But looking back, I see now that she never really cared about me, or considered me, and I take the blame for not seeing at the time. She was happy to let me provide for her, let me work, let me parent, let me clean, let me pay bills and so on and so on.

        But emotionally, she never really gave herself to me, and was always on the lookout for something better, something more magical, something she felt entitled to.

        Finally that something came along in the form of a fellow married narcissist, and together they over-valued then devalued, then discarded each other, leaving my wife as a pathetic, useless, nonfunctional being.

        I couldn’t understand the ups and the downs, until I figured out about the affair and snooped into various accounts and saw the truth of what was happening.

        I suppose I’m off topic.

        Cheating and betrayal hurts like a m’ther-f-ker.

        • Yes Buddy – it does hurt and no you are not off topic at all. You mention – “But emotionally, she never really gave herself to me, and was always on the lookout for something better, something more magical, something she felt entitled to.”

          I’m sure your wife had “new love” feelings for you at one time otherwise why would she of married? Us betrayed spouses know that these new love feelings fade in a marriage, as they should, one has to know how to transition into a deeper – longer lasting love – like the way you describe you did with your wife. Your wife was not able to do that. Instead of her just realizing that she should live a noble life because she had the man, the kid/s, the family and instead of being grateful for that, she was just fixated on a feeling that she thought she should have or was missing. That feeling was more important to her than you and your kids. I’m sorry but that is just plain cruel. She chose to chase those feelings instead of being grateful for what she had, that is her problem. Sounds like she found that out the hard way. Same happened with my ex-wife.

  • I found out that a lifelong friend made a suggestion aloud within my social circle that my husband may have been travelling for work so that he could cheat on me and/or get out of being a parent to our very young babies. How DARE she! He works so hard and sacrifices for our family by working overtime jobs out of town to pay off the medical bills we accrued during my month-long high-risk pregnancy hospitalization! He would NEVER do that. I was so deeply offended that I contacted her and told her that denigrating him like that in public was a deal-breaker for me, that she was dead wrong, and that I didn’t feel that we could be friends anymore.

    When he came home from being away, I told him about it. I told him how upset I was that this friend of ours would say such a thing, and how broken-hearted I was to have to end that friendship. I told him there’s no way I’d let someone harm my husband’s reputation like that and still remain friends with them. He was quiet, and had the strangest look on his face that I couldn’t place. There was a very small wry smile – almost a smirk – which I took at the time to mean he was insulted and uncomfortable. All he said with an exaggerated lilt to his voice was ‘Huh.’

    2 weeks later on a Saturday night, I had my life-shattering D-Day discovery. Less than 24 hours after discovery, he abruptly left with his packed bags and moved 2,300 miles away from me and his babies to go live with his AP, a stripper who claimed to be pregnant with his baby. Ummm…

    Needless to say, that friend of mine was the first person I called. And as if abandoning me and his babies wasn’t enough to display his obtuse disregard for others (wife-appliances and children don’t HAVE feelings!), he was obviously prepared to let me end a lifelong friendship on behalf of his ‘good name’ and could not possibly have cared less. I now realize that smirk was not discomfort, but AMUSEMENT. Shudder.

    So much for defending the honor of a douchebag who deserved NONE of the myriad of positive attributes I ascribed to him.

    Huh. Go figure.

  • This makes me think of Anistons vanity fair article…. She chose to believe he didn’t cheat on her before they separated…. Because he was her husband. And you believe your husband. That resonates with me. That level of spackle that you just have to keep up. We’re there flags? Hella to the yes. Do I feel dumb? Used? Yes, thank you. What I really need from a bystander is a merit report on my ability to detect and act on misdirection and lies. How I obviously valued myself so little that I thought my sham of a marriage was worth clinging to because sometimes things were good and I wanted to believe my husband. So keep telling me how I should have owned those clues and done anything differently when either people knew and didn’t tell me, or were as clueless as me.

    Shame on the people who have never been chumped, may be unknowing chumps, or are pretending to not chump others, when postulating stuff-opinions, advice, hindsight jibberish that is frankly- of no damn use. Whether I knew or I didn’t… I know now. I have to fix myself now. It still hurts me just as deeply, now.

    • Let’s “pour one out” for the Chumps who *do* know about the infidelity. Here’s hoping that anyone lurking and reading this can finally admit to themself that yes, one transgression really is *that* bad. If you’re still soldiering on thinking you have a unicorn, please stop it. You’re valuable. You deserve better. Leave a Cheater; gain a life.

  • Oh, that Aniston article was on my mind so much after D-Day #1 when I caught him answering Craigslist sex ads and he swore it was all fantasy and he’d never really go through with it. I used the exact same phrase to the few people I told: “I chose to believe him.” And always wondered afterward if I was duped like Aniston.

    After the third and final D-Day, I found his profile on No Strings Attached. He was advertising for anonymous, kinky sex. More than anything else, that drove home how naive I’d been to buy his “fantasy” explanation — and his blame-shifting that he needed the fantasy because of things *I* had done in the marriage. Nope. The sex ads were because he likes it like that.

    • BetterDays, me too!

      [Once again, I can’t believe how unoriginal these ASSHOLES are – although every stage of this journey sure seems brand new to me!]

      I have always been Team Aniston and I thought she handled the whole thing with dignity. I have so much more compassion for celebrities these days – Jennifer Garner being as honest as she can, looking fantastic, raising three kids and her ASSHOLE unrepentant.

      My STBX advertised himself on Craigslist with the most pathetic “kinky” sex outfit cobbled together from a pair of my black Spanx (how he squeezed 200 lbs. of pure slob into that tight little girdle…) and a cut off black T-shirt. And hair gelled into a Mohawk. A quasi-Mohawk. A fat, drunk, 54-year-old hillbilly white socks with sandals-type Mohawk. Oh and a tiny little dick poking its tiny little head up (probably gasping for air inside the Spanx).

      Oh yeah. It’s “Business Time.”

      Anyway, I now really admire women who Did What They Had to Do. My daughter reminded me that “…25 years later, Hillary is running for fucking PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” – I’d love to have a Chump Nation tete-a-tete with her in the Oval Office.

      • Roaring: that image of your STBX in Spanx just made me cough out my dinner. Hysterical and pathetic all in one!

        • Yes. I find the images of them in their dating/sex site profiles a huge turn off. My ex posted a picture of him naked in our hallway with an erection. A lot of women complain about all the “dick pics” on these sites anyway, so I don’t understand why guys think it’s so awesome to put a picture of your dick as your profile picture.

      • Roaring: OMG thanks for the laugh! Hahahahahaha. That is one awesome picture. Gasping for air inside the Spanx … I’m dying.

        And YES on how unoriginal all these cheaters are. Although in their own minds they are ONE OF A KIND.

      • OMG, Roaring, THAT is hysterical!!!! That poor little nub gasping for air!!!

        • Roaring

          That was the best laugh I’ve had in a long time. Cobbled together….the more I read the harder I laughed. I believe THIS imagery should be captured in a CL cartoon. What did he call himself? I.Cant.Stop.Laughing. Holy flying fucks of fucked up funny!
          Quasi mo-hawk spanx freak fucker.

      • OMG Roaring, and this is the man telling you “not to get your hopes up” each time you have to see him??? Ha ha ha ha ha.

        [Insert crude jokes about other things that are not getting up in that picture.]

  • Absolutely correct. And the person who cares the least about the relationship has all the power.

  • So true and hard to read because it is so true, how could I be so successful and smart and not know, had to KNOW….so upsetting to be judged liked this and I know that it is the case they have said it to my face, makes me just want to start over in another far away zip code. #byefelecia

  • I had gut feelings that something was amiss, had a feeling he was out scouting around, but didn’t put on my Marriage Police hat and go investigating- I knew in the end he would get caught one way or another, and he did.

    Little did I know until a few months after D-Day and he had moved out that he actually had an OW right under my nose for 4-5 months, and God only knows how many hook-ups, online flings, etc. He will never come clean about any of it, ever.

    When I finally spoke the truth about him and our marriage and about him as a husband in general, my friends and family weren’t surprised at all. They knew he was a piece of shit, but cared enough about me to not speak up to me because I hid it all so well for so long. I had just gotten used to it that I just thought no one would believe me and I was actually ashamed to admit that yet again I had picked a total narc asshole to make wedding vows to.

  • “Hell, I probably knew before I married him and just didn’t want to believe it.”

    Yes. Probably time for a thread on ‘Red Flags I Ignored’. Boy, I could contribute to that one.

  • My ex cheated on me for about 17 years of our 25 year marriage (that I know). About 4 years into his individual affairs and groups sex with two co-workers, when I was pregnant with our third child, I suspected he was cheating. He pulled out every lie in the book, looked deep into my eyes to assure me, went to my friends and family, all to convince me I was insanely jealous and “crazy” to suspect him. And he kept this up for years. It was actually a group gas lighting venture in some ways since everyone I knew thought I was nuts and told me so. Even my two oldest children thought I was just irrationally jealous. This went on until I trusted him.

    And in reality he had been and was still cheating on me, and he just took it deeper underground. I didn’t understand that someone would cheat on you and still choose to STAY for years, for decades. I didn’t get personality disorders. I didn’t expect pure heartless evil. I didn’t think anyone who had ever loved me just a little could waste so many years of my life. He told me and everyone else how much he loved and respected me, every damn day. I believed him.

    Then, 4 years ago, it all exploded, the truth came out, and it was astonishing, bewildering, soul-destroying. This man now said he loved AP#1 better. Within weeks of D-Day he was planning to marry her, someone with whom he had been having unprotected group sex, along with her best friend, for years and years. She was also someone who had become a family friend, someone who had a husband and two sons herself (one of whom had to be DNA tested later), they were people we socialized with, people I cared for, people I trusted.

    I kicked ex out of the house on D-Day, I filed for divorce within a week, and I was divorced in 4 months. Ex left happily, never looking back. It was hard to see that he did not care at all, hard to realize this was the real man I was married to. I will probably go to my grave stunned by what he did. He does not even have any real contact with our 3 children…he just never cared enough to make the effort to maintain a relationship with them once he left. My husband had evaporated, the man in his place I never knew and did not want to know.

    These people are monsters, inhuman, beyond any explainable rational understanding that a non-disordered and loving spouse could possibly have. They play on your love, they rely on your trust, and they lie as easily as they breathe.

    My response to “surely you must have known?” I had a counselor ask me that once. My response? “No, I didn’t. And surely you saw what happened when I did know.” (I kicked him out, filed for divorce, manipulated him and rammed a quick divorce down his throat, remortgaged the house, protected my children. And on the emotional end, I was devastated, hopeless, sobbing, sometimes screaming, felt like I went through the stages of grief about a thousand times, despaired that the best years of my life were wasted, and felt like I was blundering down a dark unfamiliar and sometimes quite terrifying hallway, blind, confused and stumbling).

    So NO you assholes who claim we surely must have known. I mean really, you twits couldn’t survive one hour, one day of what we have had to live through, what our children have had to face. So UP YOURS!

    • (high five to you!!!)

      Thankfully, no one has said those exact words to me, but none were actually shocked or surprised either.

      Anyone ever dares to say that drivel to me would get such a response as yours.

      You are mighty Kelly!!!

      These people are monsters, inhuman, beyond any explainable rational understanding that a non-disordered and loving spouse could possibly have. They play on your love, they rely on your trust, and they lie as easily as they breathe.


      • They lie as easily as they breathe….yep. It’s insane how effortless it is for them. I can’t lie to save my soul. Even when I was a kid, my Mom would say, ‘honey, never lie, you’re not good at it’.

  • “Surely, you MUST have known?!”. That’s been said to me twice after he abandoned me. The day the douchelord left, I called my FIL to find out if he or anyone in the family had a clue as to what was going on. The ex FIL said, “he told me you were ‘onboard’ with him leaving. You must be lying…he’s been planning on leaving for nearly a YEAR….No wonder he left you…you’re oblivious…you MUST have KNOWN!. Then one friend said,’you live with him, how could you NOT know?” Cause if it were MY spouse…I would know!

    Here’s the truth. I knew that ‘something’ was wrong, that ‘something’ was off. I was seeing things that didn’t add up. So I confronted him,…there was anger, there were tears (on my part), There was denial and lies on his. At that time, I had no proof…just a feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right.

    But he was good…the best liar I’ve seen. An absolute master at covering up, Of course everything came out after he left. All of it. The thousands of $$ he was funneling out of the joint account. The credit cards that were maxed out. Sixteen thousand dollars on one alone. Plane tickets, rental cars…he supported her for MONTHS. My ex daughter in law…who had run out on my son and their baby. The whole thing is a freaking nightmare.

    How can you ‘know’ when you don’t really have proof….just a feeling in your gut?

    If someone had told me, when we got married that he would cheat on me….I would have called them a liar. He was the most dependable, honorable man (I thought) I knew. We were married for 15 years, together for 18. I thought I did everything right. I didn’t ‘jump’ into marriage. I waited…we had a long engagement. We lived together. Even before I ordered invitations to the wedding I said. ‘we don’t have to do this’. we don’t HAVE to get married.” Yes, we do, he said, I love you and I want you to be my wife.

    Now, when I look back, I can see all the red flags that I chose to ignore. The little tell-tale signs that he wasn’t who he portrayed himself to be. He was in the Navy, and I was caught up in all the deployments and the happy homecomings and when things just began to fray and the real him began to peek out…I chalked it up to pre-deployment stress…then, he was gone again.

    But did I know? No. I think when the ex FIL and my friend insinuated that I ‘had to have known’ was just another knife in my soul. As if ‘knowing’ I could have somehow stopped it…or not be as upset and hurt over the betrayal as what I was.

    It’s kind of like blaming a victim of rape. What were you wearing when he left? Are you sure you didn’t lead him on? What’s so wrong with you that he would cheat on you?

    And there it is. What’s wrong with YOU that would cause him to cheat? You must have gained weight…let yourself go…didn’t ‘put out’ enough. Keep the house clean enough, make enough money, Bottom line…you weren’t woman enough to keep your man. (or man enough to keep your woman).

    Some where along the line, it was my fault.

  • No, I really never had a clue, and I don’t blame myself at all because I couldn’t see any red flags, and still after being divorced almost three year, four years from BD, looking back with wide open eyes there were no red flags to be seen.

    The reason is that my xh was living our life and marriage with a wonderful act but the reality is he was a fraud. You must’ve known!? Let’s see he as totally involved daily with me, he told me he loved me, he held my hand, he made plans with me for our future, we had sex five times week, we played and worked together, we spent almost every moment together, I worked 3 days parttime, he worked 2 days parttime, we laughed together, had meaningful conversations, argued only five times in 20yrs, his family is normal, my family is normal, no financial stresses, no kid stresses, living our dreams on hobby farm, he told me he was happy, he told me I was his best friend, great wife, he didn’t have any personality change, he didn’t start acting obsessed over anything new, there were no weird calls, no unexplained times.

    My now xh was basically a home-body, didn’t socialize much, was around most all the time. But found out he left me for an Thai woman that he fell in love with over internet in just a couple weeks and became sucked into a fantasy. EA’ can destroy marriage too, he left me before he ever met her. Suddenly he had never loved me and she was his soulmate.

    Truth is how could I have known???

  • This really got to the heart of my experience with Mr. Cheaterpants. Thank you CL for an extremely well-written article – for giving voice to my thoughts, my feelings, my anger when others assumed that I was part of the reason he cheated. The damage that particular little nugget causes to one’s psyche when trying to deal with the shit storm is immeasurable.
    This article resonated with me so deeply and it’s several years since my divorce.
    I am mostly at meh and thankfully the lousy days are few and far between now. This particular article really resonated with me and brought back memories of how hard I tried to process the fact that I was married to a serial cheater who thought nothing of altering my reality and was a really great actor. Both my children commented that their father really should have received an Oscar for acting as if he loved being such a devoted father and affectionate husband who was so proud of his family. The lies and denials were crazy-making. The discard so absolute, so total and so final when he realized that the gig was up that I am still shaking my head, saying WTF?????????happened? 31 years of my life spent with a lying cheating pos.
    He inadvertently gave me a precious gift – I am single and healthy – had I stayed, I would have become sick and unhealthy (and probably committed murder).
    ((((Hugs)))) to CL and CN.

  • When I felt something “off,” I asked questions. But they weren’t direct enough for him. The day the truth hit the fan, he said, “I answered the questions you asked, not the question you really wanted the answer to.” I thought we were invincible, this could never happen to us. We’d both been cheated on in our previous marriages and we both knew how awful it felt. So in my naivety, I thought it was ME. I WAS THE CRAZY ONE. I’m being too sensitive/over reactive/insecure/selfish/fill in the blank. It’s just crazy-making.

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