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UBT: “Cheating is a symptom, not the disease”

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BSThis Carolyn Hax column, “Getting past a spouse’s cheating requires honesty on both sides” has been in my Universal Bullshit Translator file for a few weeks. Had to oil up the UBT transponders to take this one on…

Hax is remarkably tone deaf on infidelity. In fairness, she’s just spewing the conventional Reconciliation Industrial Complex standard issue stuff  — affairs can make your marriage all sparkly and new and better than before! Affairs are just a symptom of a bad marriage, they aren’t the cause. And the requisite false equivalency that both sides are at fault.

Honesty is required? Really? Honestly, I’m sorry you were out trolling on Craigslist. Honestly, I regret marrying you. Honestly, I’ve moved all your shit over to your fuckbuddy’s trailer. 

Who doesn’t like honesty?

On to the UBT…

Dear Carolyn: I caught my husband cheating. We’ve started couples’ counseling. The counselor told him he needed to let me ask all my questions about the affair, and we had that conversation at home. I do feel better now, but he was evasive on a few of the questions: “Did you tell her you loved her?” (he dodged, unconvincingly), and “Who initiated the affair?” (he doesn’t know I know it was a lie to say she did).

How much of a red flag is this? Do I allow him to fudge some details so he doesn’t look like quite the glass bowl he was, or do I take this to mean his outward remorse and commitment to repairing our relationship are not as real as they mostly feel?

After Cheating

Dear After Cheating,

Remorse isn’t about how you feel, it’s about what he DOES.

What he’s doing is not answering your questions. Because he weighs his discomfort (assuming he feels shame) over your need for the truth (and your pain, which is much more considerable than his discomfort).

He’s an entitled glass bowl. (Asshole is such an ugly word. Cheaters aren’t assholes, they’re misunderstood pieces of crockery.)

Do you really need the truth? Hax doesn’t seem to think so. The ugly details, like he pursued her and loved her, tend to get in the way of unicorn sightings reconciliation. The truth is pesky like that.

Is this a red flag? Depends on how much “fudging the details” you want to live with.

Why don’t you test that “outward remorse” with a credit check and a post-nup and get back to the UBT?

After Cheating: I can make a case for mercy because he’s apparently doing everything you and your counselor have asked him to, and compassion says you don’t have to insist he complete every step of his walk of shame.

Compassion says you don’t need the truth.

I can make a case for mercy because he showed you such mercy while unilaterally risking your health.

You don’t have to insist he complete every step of his Walk of Shame, just shut up now. Your insistence on humility and shared vulnerability is very upsetting.

However, the best chance your marriage has is for it to become something different from what it was before.

The best chance your marriage has is to transmogrify into a flying battle dragon! Where it can swoop over the misty forests of Shame, and slay every impertinent goblin!

Dragon, Sir? Where were you last Thursday night? 

OFF WITH HIS HEAD! That will teach goblins to ask questions!

The before was something you thought was working and, most likely, largely took for granted. Probably true of both of you. And, the before is what got you here.

Taking each other for granted — trusting in that monogamous relationship you both committed to in front of friends and family, church and state — is what got you here.

You should never take commitments for granted. Did you feel safe? Shame on you.

The after can be something you’re actually glad you have even if you deplore the way you got it.

You look better with a twitch. Hypervigiliance looks good on you!

Herpes can be something you’re actually glad you have! Even if you deplore the way you got it.

It can be surprising in its intimacy — if, big if, you’re both able and willing to let it be raw in its honesty.

By “raw in its honesty” I am excepting “Did you love her?” and “Did you pursue her?”

And that points to your not dropping these last two truths.

Of course, I said it would be compassionate NOT to insist on these truths. But if you want to shit-kick mercy and everything…

One approach would be to point out his hedging and to say — calmly, since agitation tends to suppress truth-telling

It’s your agitation that makes him lie. Not his crappy character or vested self-interest.

— that it tells you he did say he loved her and did initiate the affair. Then you can say you’ve accepted these things and are ready to (work to) move past them, but you must hear him be completely honest with you. You have to know he can do it.

Then, you see.

Before he comes out with the truth, tell him you’ve already accepted it! No need for him to get raw, vulnerable, and honest because you’ve done the hard work examining your dishonesty and irrational belief in commitment!

Carolyn: Does it change anything if I definitely know (as much as I can) that their affair is over? They were co-workers, and he’s put in for a transfer, most likely at some cost to his future prospects there. So I feel better than I thought I would about looking forward. It’s mostly the looking backward that’s still kind of haunting me.

Putting in for a transfer will stop affairs! The Bad Co-Worker Menace must be contained!

His demonstrated character is kind of haunting me.

After Cheating again: I don’t think this information changes the answer any. The best way to go forward is to make sure there’s nothing behind you that feels unresolved. It’s not about whether she’s gone (though that helps), but whether he’s different — willing to admit the hardest possible things to admit. His doing that will help you see whether you and he can handle whatever else comes up in the future.

Will he admit the hard things that would be compassionate of you not to insist on and would accept immediately anyway?

I don’t know. Could you throw the softball a little more gently?

Re: Cheating: I cheated; my husband found out. I owned up. I answered all questions honestly and did everything I was asked to do.

Our marriage fell apart anyway — not because of the cheating but because the intimacy/honesty between us collapsed again, the very thing that drove me to cheat in the first place.

Cheating is a symptom, not a disease. Treat the disease.

Former Cheater

Former Cheater: Amen, thanks.

I pistol-whipped an old lady; my husband found out. I owned up. I answered all questions honestly and did everything I was asked to do.

Our marriage fell apart anyway — not because of the pistol-whipping but because the intimacy/honesty between us collapsed again, the very thing that drove me to pistol-whip old ladies in the first place.

Pistol-whipping is a symptom, not a disease. Treat the disease.

Dear Former Cheater,

You’re a disease. Your ex-husband cured himself of it by divorcing you.

Dear Carolyn Hax,

Your infidelity advice sucks.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • And I’m sure that some murderers DO feel that the murder was just a symptom of the anger the other person “caused” them to feel. Even, if the other person really was crappy to the murderer, society still considers murder a crime. Why? Because, most people can deal with anger without killing another human being. Many people struggle with intimacy, communication, etc. Some find productive ways of dealing with those problems. Others leave. Many people who don’t cheat have similar problems. In fact, some people who don’t cheat have worse problems than those who do.

    • Nailed it as usual Tempest. My thoughts were similar – cheating is a symptom of personality disorders.

    • Interesting. What really stands out is that the highest correlation with infidelity is low fiscal acumen. (Bangs head on table).

      • Funny, on my list of the three douchiest things other than cheating, number one was “major financial mismanagement.”

        • Yep, mine too. Financial mismanagement and financial dishonesty on stbx’s part caused problems throughout our marriage prior to his affair. Now he blames me for not being more understanding of him for his financial issues and that was one of the reasons he cheated. I was not forgiving enough of this “flaw.”

          • Christina, my ex husband misappropriated funds from a bank job nearly 34 years ago and was promptly sacked. His deception was such that once he was caught and had to go into the head office the next morning, he acted very normal and he allowed me to make him breakfast and his lunch as usual and left the house to go to “work”. He was home again by 10am that morning and that is when the sh*t hit the fan. I was 6 weeks from having our 2nd child our son who is 33 years old and how I never lost my son is beyond me and now my son hates me along with his sister. At first my family was shocked and supported me and then within 4 weeks, everyone in my family were blaming me for putting him up to stealing because he was just too nice to think of such a thing. I never forgave him for his betrayal of me and our 2 children but I did eventually learn to live with the fact that I knew I was married to someone with a deeply flawed character. Everyone still loves the rat even today. I cannot take a trick.

          • Me too – the financial entitlement and all the related subtly sophisticated manipulation techniques came many years before the affair. I think running out of assets to cash in and running out of cash increased her detachment from me which helped lead to the affair.

            Funny how money can hide problems for many years and once the money runs out, you can’t hide anymore and one’s true character comes out.

    • “Wrapping up, if you’re partner is any of the following – physically attractive (Self Image), really likes to drink and/or smoke (Hedonism), cares a lot about looks (Vanity), can’t manage money well (low Fiscal Acumen), is unethical, really likes sex, is selfish (low Accommodation), is not reliable (low Honor), is argumentitive (Conflict Seeking), is untrustworthy (low Discreet), really cares about money (Materialism) – they are more likely to self rate as being unfaithful.”

      My ex-cheater was all of these!

      • I enjoy the fact they take all these personality traits with them. The one that stood out the most and he worked so hard to hide was the selfishness. The rest were obvious.

        • Well, I suppose not all cheaters have a personality or narcissistic disorder.

          Also, if things are generally going well, sometimes milder personality disorders aren’t noticeable. If both of you were functional, and money or time wasn’t scarce, then these disorders may have been dormant.

          • Yup, ex’s disorder being dormant was just like the STD he gave me was dormant until two years after the divorce.

        • My ears are ringing from the clamor of crescendoing ‘DING DING DINGs’ from every box being checked in the XBF’s regard. This is the most comprehensive list I have ever seen. It’s truly sickening and horrifying that so many of these creeps walk the earth and affect so many in their wake.

      • YES. But could we add one more? Indifference to another persons feelings. Inability to empathise with someone or see a situation fron the other persons point of view. Indifference to anyone elses suffering. Basically having few emotions: rage…pride..self pity. Very stunted or absent emotional repertoir or intelligence.

        • Agree. My ex’s tears were always about his own pain for fear of losing me after cheating with prostitutes for the first 11 years of our relationship. And I never saw it coming as his previous marriage ended as a result of his ex-wife’s affair. He was devastated by the divorce and took years to get over it. I felt terrible for him and believed he would never betray me. I assumed he had empathy…yeah, I assumed so I guess this is on me.

      • My ex was every flippin’ one of these! Except confrontational — because he is completely passive-aggressive. Oh, to have known when I was 18 or 22 what I know now (sigh).

      • My exwh was all of those things except vanity. Hmm maybe I’m wrong about that. He refused to wear anything but designer clothes, down to his underwear and socks. He just looked sloppy to me because he was heavy and always bought his clothes a bit too small or too big. Nothing fit him nicely.

      • My husband was so vain. He even said he cheated on me because he “deserved” to have a good looking women on his arm and I did not look the way I used too. He told me Ho Worker was soo much prettier than me and better than me in every way. I guess that is part of the discard.

        • Pretty on the outside, ugly on the inside like him. Looks fade.. Time takes care of that, integrity and the choices you make in life tend to stick with you.

    • Tempest — is this list of traits one of those where you look for a certain number of the traits from the list to decide if someone is more likely to cheat than not? I remember when trying to understand ADHD the counselor gave me a list of about 13 traits and told me to see how many I could identify as belonging to my wasband and son. Neither had all the traits, but both had more than half of them. The wasband had more of them than the son. I used to fear that my son would turn out like his father — but even though I have no doubt both were ADHD, my son had other character traits that made him a much better man than his father ever was.

      My problem with these lists is that almost everyone I know has at least a trait or two. I mean I feel I am attractive and enjoy sex — but I don’t think I’m hung up on my looks, and I now have a long list of things that are very important for me to know before I want to have sex with anyone (giving me time to decide on their character). I wish I would have consciously thought about such a list when I was much younger — it could possibly have saved me from getting into relationships with Narcs. So I think the lists are helpful in understanding whether or not someone has good character or not, or a particular disorder or not, but what is the tipping point? More than half of the traits? I am thinking someone could have a trait or three, but still be a good person? Am I wrong?

      • Portia: the link was based on a study administered to over 1000 people, I believe, who were asked questions about their past cheating behaviors and were administered personality questionnaires. Thus, the stats are based on which traits best (and significantly) correlated with self-reported cheating behavior.

        Obviously people can have one or two or even six of the traits and not cheat, or have only one or two and yet be a cheater. The guy I dated before marrying Hannibal was an obvious narcissist, but had never cheated on any of his previous relationships, nor would he (I believe). He was merely a colossal jackass.

        The checklists are merely guides; there is not a single psychological test/evaluation in the history of the subject that has 100% predictive validity. From what I’ve read, the two best predictive traits of cheating are (a) blameshifting, and (b) sense of entitlement.

        • Thanks — that helps. Whether or not they are a cheater, if they have too many of these characteristics they probably won’t be good folks to know!

        • I had a lot of trouble sussing out entitlement. I always viewed myself as, well, special in a good way. I knew I had to work at it, but all the stories I read about the hero — that’s me!

          The meaning of blame shifting to me is that a cheater is someone who is willing to avoid responsibility for their own actions. They mess up and don’t say ‘my bad!’.

          For me it’s the avoidance, and how someone reacts to shame. Everyone messes up, things happen and we forget something, whatever. How does someone manage that?

          The ones who cannot manage it internally, they need some quick high to help them feel better. Cheating is an addictive behavior but one that’s way easier to hide than smoking pot or something.

          • Accountability was weirdly elusive for my ex, even for the smallest things. There was a time when we had returned to a ski hill and had forgotten our vouchers. I told him we’d explain that we had simply forgotten, but instead he blames the staff by saying that it was never issued to us. Really?

            And of course all the rest…

            “Bob sent me the porn link.”
            “I never thought I’d pay for sex, but John kept telling me to go.”
            “My psychiatrist told me I shouldn’t tell you I’ve been seeing her every week for the last 20 years.”
            “You didn’t want children with me. You said I wouldn’t be a good father.”

            Epically FUBAR.

    • “Selfishness and lack of curiosity defines the male cheater. Low curiosity makes sense from the standpoint that a non introspective person is less likely to consider / think about whether his behavior is harmful to others.”


      These couple of sentences are really interesting. One of the things that drove me crazy in my marriage was my ex’s lack of curiosity about me. He would never ask me how my day was, or what I thought about anything. In order to get conversation going I always had to ask a million questions about HIS life, HIS work, HIS hobbies.

      Recently my youngest son told me that the only conversations he’s able to have with his dad revolve around his dad’s business trips and career. He said he’s always the one that has to ask the questions. My son commented that he felt like his dad had no curiosity about what goes on with him or his life.

      • DD16 just said the same exact thing to me about her dad. She said all he does is talk about his stuff, how he feels. I thought it was because he didn’t want to hear more about how much he’d hurt us, but maybe it was just selfishness and lack of curiosity.

      • Bingo, yet again! My kids say their dad asks about them and their lives occasionally … and then doesn’t listen to the answers.

      • While dating (and after) I always had the sense that I was auditioning rather than X was trying to get to know me–he would ask questions, and then re-ask and re-ask until the answer was palatable to him. No interest in me as a person, simply whether I checked enough of the criteria for a serious relationship.

        • My daughter recently said she was never a daddy’s girl. She looks at her friends relationships with their fathers and sees she never had that special feeling.

          • Funny, my own dad never did ask me a question about my life or career (and I was the one traveling around the world). But, for some reason, the X was just SO special to him that he asked him all the questions and gave the X the floor. Actually, I know now my Dad was a cheater, and because he paid such little interest to me, I realize I don’t love him at all. May he RIP.

          • I was/am your daughter. My father never treated myself or my sister as a daddy’s girl while all my friend’s father’s did. It was and still is a big deal to me that my husband (ex) put our daughter on a pedestal. He didn’t – he didn’t know how either. It was a constant behind the scenes battle. I made my daughter a momma’ girl by spoiling her with little special things. I did and still do with my daughter and my son. When my daughter was in elementary school, I insisted my husband take our daughter to the daddy-daughter dances. Later when I saw the video some decent father took, my husband was texting on his phone. Shocker!! My father, my brother, my husband(x) and my son now too. Ask any of the four any question about me and I guarantee they cannot answer. It’s so sad. I told myself I would never marry a selfish man like my father and I was so happy I found a great guy…..then the mask came off. Years later and I still can’t believe it.

    • That was the part of this column that made me see red. Hack’s (typo and it’s staying) advice is the typical tripe torn from the RIC bible, but that ho’s idiocy in stating her marriage didn’t end due to the cheating…GAH!!! Thanks for breaking it down, Tracy – masterful as always. And thank you, Tempest for the additional homework reading! I look forward to it.

    • Tempest for the win :)!

      At the core of this word salad sprinkled with pretzel-logic croutons sits one core requirement: “you must hear him be completely honest with you.” Yep, there is something as possible as seeing pigs fly when you are married to a kibble-hungry, lying, cheating coward (ask me how I know…)

      Good riddance.

      • Re: “honesty” from the XBF….

        I have said this before in posts–the ONLY time I knew XBF was totally honest with me was when he said

        He was hungry,
        Horny or
        Needed to pee.

        In conversation with his second wife, I jokingly mentioned this. She said she had said the SAME THING to him many years prior.

        How’s that for a consistent legacy?

    • Hahahaha! I KNEW I was married to a moron. fiscal acumen…Negative! Lack of curiosity, hence 24/7 sitcom viewing. And so much other stuff. Selfishness. It’s a blue light special of sparkly turds. Thanks for the info!

    • All great data about the personality of cheaters but they’ve left out a key part: the whores who are NOT in a committed relationship, with whom the cheating spouse betrays the faithful one. The sad little sausagettes who need saaaaving. Or, they need to save the poor guy from his horrible wife.

  • By Former Cheaters’ standards, if I were to, say, smash her face with a baseball bat, the problem isn’t my deciding to break every bone in her face. The “disease” is actually my hostility and rage at her smugness regarding cheating. So it’s her fault that I committed a felony! Oh, I love this logic! I’ll just explain that to the judge when I’m arrested for felonious assault!

    I mean, really – a judge sitting there being all, well, judgy regarding my actions – who does he think he is? I’ll just tell him there is no black and white when it comes to the law. Only shades of gray. He has no idea how itchy my hands were to wrap themselves around that bat and how much Former Cheater didn’t meet my needs by saying cheating is wrong. She practically put the bat in my hands and begged to be hit! I’m going to have so much fun going forward with this type of right-and-wrong logic! I’ll never have to take the blame for any heinous act I committ from here on out! What a relief!!

    • Well you convinced me. Obviously she just wasn’t meeting your need for revenge. It’s all on her.

      • I really want to get to the bottom of all of this.

        If we were to compare cheaters to general bullies and compare how society closes ranks to protect the bully whether in the school yard or in the work place……. Now why is this?

        A friend mentioned to me the “just world theory” which is interesting…….

        • Just around, it’s so very similar to school-yard bullying, in that the bullies were considered ‘normal’ and even popular, the victim was told they were too sensitive or just needed to toughen up, and everybody pretended nobody was getting crushed!

          The popular discussion around bullying is starting to change; I’m hoping the one around cheating is too!

    • That’s a good way to turn the tables on the cheater’s argument. I’d never thought about it from that viewpoint. I have to admit I was tempted to throw and smash things after D-day, but I just couldn’t do it. I do believe lack of impulse control and linking consequences to actions has a lot to do with why cheaters cheat.

  • Many years ago, I met a very sweet lady. She, her husband, and three kids moved into town from the Boston area (5 hours away). The husband had a wonderful job with a big insurance company and had transferred down this way. They lived in a gorgeous house; the kids were tops academically and athletically – and they appeared to be a wonderfully happy family for some time.

    About 4 years into their new lives in our town, I noticed that the mom (whom I was casually friendly with) was losing a TON of weight (she wasn’t large to begin with.) Speculation was she had cancer. When we would ask her about it, first she said it was a new diet. When we asked her husband, he appeared very worried and said as much. Then, it was said the doctors thought she had some weird disease. A couple of months later, I found out that her husband was actually cheating and left her for a much younger co-worker.

    She opened up about it, and said that her husband had a big problem cheating in their former town. The company found out about it and threatened to fire him – but transferred him instead. Um, NO… transferring does NOT work when you are a cheater!

    My friend handled herself with grace through this whole fairly public ordeal. She had a degree that could do nothing for her, but worked her way from the bottom into a nice career. It took her a while, but she fought through it and was successful.

    • My 74-year old neighbor was in the midst of a divorce from her husband same time as I was. Turns out he had been a serial cheater in 2 marriages (usually with ho-workers), and the first wife had also suffered through the “transfer” remedy. Didn’t cure him–in his first marriage or his second. Fancy that.

        • She knows she should have divorced him years ago. Why live out your last remaining decade with an Asshat? Better late than never!

          • My ex-husband’s (not the cheater) mom kicked her husband out when she 62. He was a cheating, unreliable, lying narc alcoholic. Her 8 kids cheered her on! She said she was too old to put up with his crap anymore, and she just wanted to live the last decades of her life in peace! YAYAY for peace!

            • Hey – 74 yrs old is nothing. This stuff can go on in a cheaters head til they’re dead. My friend was 85 and her 86 ‘good friend’ moved in. She paid his bills (he was always waiting for money to come in), they planned to travel…and then, yanno, I’m shocked by now that they co-habitate. And, suddenly she catches him ‘cheating’ with the neighbor. (he used a penis pump and we sure laughed over that) Hell broke lose, and I guess he beat her up. But the tough old gal may have started it. I dunno. But, jeez – 85 yrs old????

    • My father’s company did the same thing! Apparently he had “fun” while working sales, so they demoted him. Rather than take the demotion, my father of 4 decided to quit and turn my stay at home mother’s hobby into a company. They were successful, until my father abandoned us almost a decade later and my mother lost the company to an unscrupulous businessman. The only icing, in the process of trying to get some money out of the deal, my mother’s attorney found evidence of that the unscrupulous guy was cheating with his assistant while they were in our town (this information was shared with the wife and I believe she took him to the cleaners). It’s a crazy world!

  • Don’t worry, once your hubby gets his transfer, he’ll never see or hear from his affair partner again. Unless of course someone invents a way people can communicate from long distances. But hey, that kind of technology is years away, so you’re safe. Enjoy being the Marriage Police.

    • Answers like this from writers and counselors are what makes it so easy for cheaters to gaslight and blameshift. Can you imagine finally getting an inkling that you’re being too much of a doormat, and wanting to fight back, and being told to just shut up and smile by people you respect? So much truth and consistency and positivity is squelched by these vipers. Thank you for speaking truth, Chump Lady. Just calling things what they are is a simple act but so important.

      • Chump-tastic I actually went to my doctor when my hell started – he knows both satan and I – I begged him for a drug or something to take away the crushing pain! I thought I was gonna die! To his credit he said, ‘No Jeep! I don’t want you to lay down and just take it! I want you to stand and fight for yourself! You are stronger than you know!’ Wow huh!

        I later found out he did that cause he has first hand knowledge of what I – and all of us – have been through 😉 He knew, poor guy.

        • My doc wrote the scrip but said I should think about it carefully that he didn’t want to give my stbxh any ammunition in the separation. In the end I didn’t fill it and swore off any booze too in order to keep my brain as clear as possible (with the abuse fogginess to battle as well)

          • I agree sadlady and I am grateful to my doctor for refusing my request now. I realize now how important it was to be able to process, with a clear mind, what my broken heart didn’t want to look at or believe. All I really wanted was to just run away from the pain of it all. Until I found Chumplady and you guys I really had no clue what I was truly dealing with. Thank God for all of you! And my clear thinking doctor.
            I have been trying to help a local woman, a friend of a friend, with her narc husband issues, and she is medicated to the point of seeing butterflies or something and I am so worried that, once her doctor takes away her ‘crutch’ she is going to literally jump out a window when she sees what she has agreed to. …but…I realize all I can truly do is just be there to catch her and offer her my shoulder and my ear. Her narc told her to ‘draw up the papers herself’ he will come back in a month and sign them. …oh boy… In the meantime I’m trying to get her to take care of herself financially, take apart monies and create her own accounts he can’t touch, etc. I also directed her here…hopefully she is reading here and learning what she is dealing with.

    • After i caught OW and husband kissing in our home (my first DDay) I forgave him, because it was “only a kiss” caused by too much alcohol and sadness because she was moving away to another country to do her PHD (she was a student of his), and she was married. So when she moved away, I stupidly thought (did not know of CL then) that the problem was “fixed” and that cheater-ass would never be so stupid to do it again. Eight years later, second DDay when I discovered he was going on a trip with an OW colleague, I kicked him out immediately. When I found CL two months later, started understanding that I had been a false reckonciliation, and that during those ten years there had been more OWs or at a minimum, intents to cheat with certain frequency. Yes, the marriage was failing, but you can´t save it on your own when the other person is cheating and not invested in the relationship at all, and doesn´t care about or foresee the consequences of his actions…

  • FYI “glass bowl” is the WaPo/Haxland substitute for “asshole.” Their obscenity filters are fairly strong.

    • Their obscenity filters are strong? Ha! What about the obscenity of their advice? That’s not filtered at all. They don’t like potty mouths, but they tell a poor, destroyed chump that their spouse’s cheating is their fault. What a bunch of ladies.

  • We’d all be so much happier if we owned up to our parts in the lying, risk taking, deceit and ultimately in the destruction of our marriage or relationship. It wasn’t entirely *their* fault and that’s all I’m saying.

    I’ve heard this so many times and not just from the ex. As if my bad hair days, moodiness, exhaustion over caring for the kids or anything else is justification for him to have a wandering dick and side piece for six years. Okay. Makes sense and is totally appropriate.

    • XH had the balls to say he cheated because i missed going to breakfast with him a couple of times because i had to work. LMAO. never knew his faithfulness hung on such a thin thread. don’t know how they do not hear the words coming out of their mouths.

  • It looks like a good weekend to plant my Spring garden.
    Thanks for the manure.
    That’s what this Hax crap is good for.

    • And don’t forget a heaping load of “Cheaters aren’t assholes, they’re misunderstood pieces of crockery”. A crock of sh*t that’s what they are. No more no less. And they pollute the environment with their methane gas.

  • It’s all very sad. Infidelity is a bitch to get over and past and healed from and when it happens again for a second time there’s just no going back. Some things just can’t be healed or maybe weren’t meant to. No matter how much the cheating spouse does or how honest they are.

  • Two kinds of disease… Communicable and non communicable. The cheater has symptoms of a noncommunicable disease. Cheaters disease is intrinsic. The symptoms of cheating , lying, manipulating and gaslighting cause harm not to the host but to the chump. Paradoxal disease?? Is the disease a bad marriage? No. That is situational. The disease is bad character. Hax’s approach would make the chump responsible for the cheaters disease. Just another form of blame shifting.

  • It’s the cheater that’s the disease. Get the cheater out of your life and you will have treated the disease. Divorce is the best treatment and remedy for it.
    Lawyers are divorce doctors. Take their medication and treatment. It’ll change your life.

  • “My employer just wasn’t meeting my needs for more money. So I embezzled. That was just a symptom of the problems in our employment relationship, right? so don’t judge me! I was raw and honest when you confronted me after you found out about the forged checks from the police! I wouldn’t have done it if you had just met my unexpressed need for more money! My dishonesty was just a symptom!”

    I think Caroline Hacks just did some superficial googling before assembling this crap montage of the most idiotic “don’t judge” moral equivalency “advice.” She obviously is completely clueless.

      • I have a sad friend who happens to be a Clepto. It is incurable. I read all about it – it IS a mental disease. But, her first statement to me was, you know hubby doesn’t get paid enough working for the water company (good steady job, btw) but they just don’t pay him enough. Neither did her school job. She felt strongly they were both getting ripped off. So, she justified her theft with the entitlement that she deserved it. (btw, they always had new vehicles-wth?) Like I said, that is an incurable disease and she can no longer enter any store now, grocery or other – she’s been caught 3 times now…sigh.

  • How can it possibly make a marriage better? The PTSD doesn’t go away. The memories of the lies and attacks remain strong. Trust is broken. You learn that your health and life meant nothing to them. I call bullshit!

    • Soooo true David! I have a remorseful cheater who has done all the right things, begs to come home, wants to rebuild the relationship because he loves me so much and his past life is where he should be… But what about me???? I live w the affair… 24/7 even going into the 5th yr! I hate, it I hate, it I hate it!
      He just doesn’t get it, no matter what I say, do or not. Ugh… Remorse sucks !

      • So true Susan. Even if we were to reconcile, I would be the one haunted forever. I’m the one getting triggered all the time. I’m the one constantly reminded of things exchanged in sexts and emails that he probably doesn’t even remember. He does this awful thing and I have to live with the pain.

      • So sick of stupid advice columns. Such an antiquated thing anyway. I would say these advice columnists should consult “experts” before dispensing advice, but they’re all fucked too. The only plausible advice any of these people could give when someone asks about infidelity is “I have no idea, it’s never happened to me.” Anyone can just give their stupid opinion. I could go blog about space travel or open heart surgery if I wanted to, but you’d be a fool to listen to me. People just read that shit to get the answers they want to hear.

      • Susan, why are you still communicating with him? If he really does care for you, tell him it’s over and to quit bothering you. It’s impossible to heal when they keep throwing crap in your face. You know you can’t go back to him so move forward now. I hope you can go totally no-contact so you can heal. Five years is a long time to be going through this. One year has been hell for me. Do what you need to do for you. You don’t owe him anything!

      • exactly…. I every now and again think about reconciliation…… then the visuals of her boy toy ejaculating in her face hit me! No fn way one can get past that! And its not something one can control. Damage is done…. they can want but they cant have!

  • The bottom line for me is that cheaters – CHEAT – and my husband was forgiven by me the first time – 1998; Not this time 2013 I am 58 .
    I realize that he is a twisted selfish fuck! I do not trust him not his motivations.

  • Here is a question. From what I read, there is a difference between male and female responses to cheating. The male focuses on physical the female emotional connections. Do you all agree? Am I some sick bastard as I was labeled because I wanted details of the physical? What did she do with him? Did you guys feel inadequate after your wife cheated? Always feel she would be comparing you to them? Just a few thoughts.

    • The sex differences are not as stark as usually portrayed–I’m female and I wanted physical details about then-H’s affair.

    • I didn’t want details. I found out about the fuck phone and the Yahoo accounts and read one message. That was all I needed. I didn’t want or need to know more because it hurt. Still does….

      • Lady, same here. I suspected a possible affair. He inadvertently texted me a term of endearment he hadn’t used in years. “Good morning _______.” I responded back. He then said, Oh, stupid autocorrect….meant to say good morning to a golf friend. Then texted me back with all lovey-dovey crap. Came home, went through things, never found solid evidence, but threw some crap his way. Finally he admitted the affair. All I asked was why “it just happened.” How long?….8 months. Where did you meet her? Work. That’s all I needed to know and threw him out. Still to this day, don’t know her name, what she looks like, etc. I never searched further….didn’t want to do pain hunting.

      • Same here, almost exactly. I saw enough and didn’t need more. I knew then that it was over. I almost died from the pain.

        • The sheer enormity of the pain still amazes me–how the mind, the body, and heart can all feel actual physical pain that never seems to stop. I just kept telling myself to go through it to the other side because I never want to experience it again. So I wanted to feel it, process it, learn from it.

    • It’s both physical and emotional! I believe it’s harder to let go when it becomes more emotional.

      * I agree with you David, I wanted to know as well. Never got any answers. Just as well – I’d probably would have jumped off a bridge.

      Love is a choice based on emotions.

      • Chris,

        You sound optimistic and strong.

        I wish that my sense of inadequacy had left after just two weeks.

        I wish that I felt as though I would have a significant other (e.g., spouse, very long-term boyfriend) in the future. However, as 50-year-old mother of young kids (one with special needs), an extremely obnoxious STBX that scares off any suitors, and little money, I don’t see any decent prospects in my future ever. I would have loved to have had at least one healthy, happy long-term relationship in my life.

    • I felt inadequate for about 2 weeks, when I believed all of her blameshifting bullshit. I think it’s natural for people with strong moral character and spiritual depth to shoulder the blame in a personal crisis situation, and to feel bad about potentially letting others down (it doesn’t occur to all of us logically at first that the accusations blaming us for someone else’s bad behavior might be total bullshit).

      Then I found where I’d hidden my self-respect, got my ducks in a row over the course of a few months (also making good on a promise I made to my kid to give her mom every chance), and then I filed and told my cheating wife to GTFO.

      • “I think it’s natural for people with strong moral character and spiritual depth to shoulder the blame in a personal crisis situation, and to feel bad about potentially letting others down”

        My exact situation and feelings alike sephage. Unfortunately what makes us chumps isn’t having those qualities but being with someone that didn’t recognize those qualities.

        I am super happy in my cheater free life. I don’t need a woman to fill any void. But I will say when I decide to engage in a long-term relationship, one of my prerequisites is simple….it is to experience being with someone that recognizes and cherishes these qualities opposed to taking these qualities for granted.

        • SureChumpedAlot…I can’t even imagine what that would feel like…but I know I would love to feel it!!!!

          +100000000000!!!!! 🙂

          • Jeep, as you know there isn’t a one of us of that knows what will happen in our future with our romantic relationships. What I do know is I am blessed by being surrounded by a redefined group of friends and family (my 3 kids included). The love that permeates from them just absolutely brings out the best in me. Because of their selfless and sincere nature this empowers me to radiate my own love right back to them (and to complete strangers, LOL) without even a blink-of-an-eye. These loving feelings is what life is all about to me. If I ever enter in another romantic relationship, great, if not, great. I will always have my reciprocating-haven. What more does one need in life?

            • I agree SureChumped 😀

              I am also now surrounded by sincere, honest people that love me for me and never cease to SHOW me their love and appreciation. I just cannot imagine what it would feel like – I imagine WONDERFUL – to have a ‘significant other’ / relationship with some guy that truly embodies those qualities. I have male friends that ‘appear’ to want to occupy a larger part in my life…that ‘seem’ to embody those qualities…but, having been so broken by my experience I guess I am, no, I KNOW I am not ready to even try yet. But 🙂 I can dream right? 😀

              • Heck Ya, dream on girl! Being ready is key.

                I did meet a great gal shortly after my divorce. She seemed to have it all as described. I thought I was ready but I just wasn’t so I had to cut it short before it got too serious. That was 3 years ago. I recently looked her up and she is dating someone, so I backed off – Do you hear that cheaters out there – you can CHOOSE to back-off! LOL.

                Dreams eventually will fuel reality Jeep.

    • Yup for me I would always feel “her” w us if we ever made love again, it just made it impossible for me to ever think in any intimate way towards him ever again.

    • I am a female and I wanted physical details. I didn’t care if he loved her or not. The emotional wasn’t important to me because I knew it wasn’t a competition, or at least not one that I wanted to win. I think part of me knew at that very early moment that he was a sick asshole and wasn’t capable of love for anyone but himself. Good riddance.

    • You’re not a sick bastard. She’s deflecting from the pertinent topic – her cheating – to get you to feel bad asking so you’ll stop. After my D-day#2 I pretty-much knew everything about her and her facebook fuckbuddies. By digging and examining the details of their affairs, my instincts were 99.9% correct. From then-on, what became important was knowing she was capable of telling me the truth.

      I’ve never felt inadequate because a) I have hundreds of the cheating-piece-of-shit asshole’s dick-pics, b) I’ve dug into his history and he and his family are the biggest bunch of losers, and c) He knows I am still THIS close to showing up on his doorstep and bashing his head in with a baseball bat.

      And finally, yes, she will always compare you with him. She’s a narcissist, she will compare you with everyone else on the planet. It is in her narcissist DNA: What can she get from them that she can’t extract out of you?

    • David, I also needed to know the details of the physical (and the emotional also) from my ex-wife’s fuckcapades .

      For me, it just seemed so unbelievable that she would do this to me and our 3 small kids. I suppose that is why I needed details of physical – to convince myself that this really did happen. Yup it was living in the twilight zone viewing this in black and white in my head – but then she brought the gray.

      Also, I did not feel inadequate after her fuck-fests. The reason is because in most cases the AP is a down-grade. You should of seen this loser she hooked up with.

      • My wife cheated with a fat, alcoholic guy with NPD. I couldn’t believe she (who is very good looking) did it with THAT guy. But then the penny dropped…. she told me she felt loved (impossible with someone with NPD), trusted him (NPDs are compulsive liars) and “special”. That’s all she cared about. Not me or our 3 young kids. Just being “special”. The fact the guy had NPD makes it a special kind of special (ie NOT special)…. but there you go.

        • You mention that your wife cheated with a fat, alcoholic guy with NPD – shit if he was a plumber, sounds like both of our wives were fucking the same guy. Lol. Nothing against plumbers of course.

    • I needed to know as much about all the details as possible, because each detail was like another nail in his coffin. I had to be convinced that I had been conned. I had to know that I was in love with a figment of my imagination — that the man I thought he was never existed. However, I did not get details from him, because he was a liar. I joined the marriage police and did all my detective work that way.

      I was delusional because I fell in love with someone who figured out everything I needed to see and hear while he was love bombing me, and I was clueless when it came to protecting myself. The information helped my logical brain to overcome my emotional heart. Although it was chilling, it helped me to know I had been living with a stranger — someone who had none of the characteristics I had fallen in love with.

      I think many women have been convinced by social programing that men will cheat if given a physical opportunity, but to carry on over a period of time and make significant emotional gestures is a greater betrayal. The old, “I got drunk and had a one night stand, but she means nothing to me” argument.

      I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I have heard several men talk about wanting to try things their girlfriend/wife will not do that their male friends have bragged about doing. Like a competitive sport. Like they feel they are missing out on something the other guys get to do on a regular basis. Personally I always felt like I got to decide what was done to me — and if he wanted to know what it was like to experience a certain thing, I might offer to do that TO HIM. Funny, the desire to be the doer not the recipient influenced their interest as well! Believe me, a liar will lie about what he/she will or will not do with another — never expect to get the truth from them. The desire for transparency is an impossible dream.

    • I asked for both physical and emotional details when I thought there was just one OW. He wouldn’t say much other than why does it matter, etc. Then he would trickle a little info out like he was trying to bait me or keep me hooked. When I found out there were many others, I didn’t care about those types of details because I realized by then that HE was the issue, was entitled, would never stop lying, cheating or treating me poorly. I also realized that he didn’t care about those women any more than he cared about me. I was of long term use to him and they were of short term use to him.

      • Ding, ding, ding!! Yes, ByeByeCheater, THIS exactly:

        “I was of long term use to him and they were of short term use to him.”

        Cheaters are users, pure and simple. We were spouse appliances, APs are ho-appliances.

        • I got that as well. I asked for a Post Nup after DDay and was told she was “against it as a matter of principle” and didn’t want to “invest” in the relationship going forward if there was a PN. I guess I was only useful if she could take 66% of my income going forward. It was chilling as helped clarify in my head how she really felt about me – she only wanted me whilst I was useful. Fuck the kids’ welfare. Fuck me…. unless there was a financial reward for her (and wanted I offered her in the PN made her a millionaire, so she would not have suffered in any event).

      • He told me that all the other women meant nothing to him. It took me a while to see that this included me and our family as well. I was no more special than any of them. I had a ring and an official role in his life, but just another thing that served a purpose. This is when I accepted that he was a sociopath/narcissist and there never would be a cure for this.

    • Just weighing in, David. I don’t think your response sounds sick or strange. Part of wanting to know details is part of trying to make sense of the pain and trauma, as we are wired to learn from deep pain so as to avoid things that bring about deep trauma. Hence, the only real way to heal from adultery and relational trauma is getting far, far away from the disordered liars. They will always cycle back to abuse you some more. Don’t beat yourself up for wondering WTF happened. You were likely in shock. Even if the OM was somehow, in some way more attractive or enhanced, she would have cheated anyway. OM of the day was just the opportunity du jour. They’ll cheat with anyone. I hope you’re completely free of your cheater.

    • Well the only facts I ever received were from her boy toy. Every answer she gave was a lie. Did you use protection? Yes! umm nope…. Did you do oral? No! ummm yes…. He was quick it was short… Nope spent all night with him and 3 hours screwing on your pass throughs. All this info he told me because I was about to drive up and visit with him….. Not rid of yet…. August is my DDay…. Not long now before the dream home she so wanted that I was foolish enough to buy while she was out humping others… goes on the market! Her SAAP (stability and a paycheck) is about to evacuate! All I see when I am around her is constant PTSD visuals of what I do know…. knowing I don’t know it all….. They refuse to tell the truth because the truth is very bad… not that they don’t want to hurt your feelings as they say. takes a minute to fully realize there is no future with these people…. you will always have the other people in the room with you no matter what you do. Liars lie and they don’t believe they are bad…. I make mistakes but I have nerve accidently fell into a vagina!

      • I knew very little and what I do know make me want to throw up. Both to visualize them together and the thought that I eventually I let him be intimate with me after I tried reconciliation for 11 months. We were together just a week before the 2nd and last Dday and he was cruel. Any visual you have to use to prevent reconciliation, use. Any information you need in order for you to keep moving forward, use. This time, it’s all about us. Fuck them (although not literally any more because that’s just disgusting)!

    • I never wanted to know what my ex ho wife did. To me the physical was only 5% of the issue. The emotional and trust betrayal is what killed me. Serious PTSD since.

    • DavidB – I think there’s a time early on when you want to know everything because you’ve been in the dark so long.

      Certainly as a male I was concerned about the OM – was he better than me somehow etc.

      But the more I read and understood about cheating the less that mattered as that was focussing on them and the more it mattered about focussing on me and my healing.

      Time gave me perspective as did dating as the leaving the ex. So much of the illicit emails and texts I read between them were really just them talking themselves up about their prowess etc and which showed to me how really insecure they were.

      That and knowing my ex she certainly wasn’t all that she thought she was in bed or appearance. Sex for her was a way of luring then trapping and controlling her victim. It’s how she’d operated her whole life (as I found out the more I dug).

      And the OM – as well as having a very shitty charter was much older than me, fat, not particularly attractive and had a bad back limiting his “prowess”. So looking back at that I lost my self confidence issues associated with him.

      But the years of abuse from the ex – still working on that.

    • David B the physical really really bothers me too. Not that I could care less about the emotional, but emotions change like the wind. Once it’s physical it’s well- physical. You can’t undo it. Yuck yuck yuck. I think they look at like eating a really fattening meal- it was bad for you but it’s over. how long is anybody really satisfied on one meal? Like my kids: that was fun, but what’s next? Always looking for the next thing. They are done with it, wasn’t as satisfying as they thought it would be so what’s the big deal? Jeez.

    • DavidB, there’s more recent research that shows that when a man is emotionally attached to his partner, he’s just as upset by emotional affairs or the emotional aspects of physical affairs as women are typically seen to be. Men who don’t feel any particular emotional attachment or closeness with their partners are more upset by the physical cheating, and not as much bothered by the emotional side.

    • I wanted details. Not as personal torture, but as an understanding of how much he considered me a non-person. Like a magic wand, that was all I needed to know and understand that cheaterpants thinks love is filling holes. Any hole. And the kids and I are merely things to occasionally deal with.

    • David, your pain is emotional too. You and I both know that she was hooked into an emotional affair (at the very least) with another man. I truly believe that that hurt you as much as the physical affair that you know about. I remember the night you found the FB book posts …. You were devasted, rightly so. You can’t prove the cheating was physical with POS man. But she “loved” him. She kicked you out of your home and away from your kids to carry on with him. Did she F him? I don’t know but she knocked you on your heels with that because you LOVED her and you were like the rest of us chumps… wiling to take the blame for “your part”. She’s exactly like the rest of our cheaters. She’s willing to throw anyone and everyone under the bus to advance her agenda. You’re a good guy David. No matter what you decide to do, don’t let her make you feel inferior. All of the cheaters here (and everywhere) make their partners feel inferior… Mentally, spiritually, physically. Unfortunately when it came to choosing a spouse we all drew the short straw. You’re a good dad and a good friend and a good person. Fuck her (not literally) ?

      • Bev you always make my day better! Yes I have had two ddays and tend to focus on the second. The first was actually worse than number two! Except, she really believes she loves him. That at least makes it better than fucking a stranger to get off. What I have found out is…… you have been right over the years about 99.999999999 percent of the time! At least in relation to my marriage and her. I am thankful for your friendship over the past 5-6 years and would probably be dead without. Thanks!

    • David,

      As a female chump, I can tell you that it is equally devastating for me to think of the physical and emotional connection XH had to OW. XH denied everything, but it did not keep me from asking the questions. When he destroyed our new car seat having sex with Stinky the Slut, I told him that I wanted to hear the “play by play – and don’t leave out the good parts – I want to hear all the little nit-picky details.” I even asked him a series of very sexually explicit questions as far as what they had done and also proposed sexual scenarios that I had envisioned him doing with her and asked him if I was correct. Of course, I got no answers. I know I must have PTSD because I do frequently imagine X-rated scenarios of them that are as distressing as they are disgusting, accompanied by the beating of my racing heart. Just the thought of any part of his body touching any part of her body makes me cringe.

      I think of the way that he must have chased and pursued her behind my back. I think of the way he must have turned on the charm and flirted with her, when I was begging him to be affectionate with me. I think of how flattered she must have been when he showered her with attention and how they must have basked in the happiness of each other’s attention – that thrilling feeling of a brand new love. When I told him it looked like someone had sex on the car seat one of the first things he said was. “You say I have a girlfriend and I’m madly in love.” I said, “I didn’t say you had a girlfriend and were madly in love. I said it looked like someone had sex on the car seat.”

      The bottom line is whether he was touching her vagina or her heart, he shouldn’t have been any where near her. The only one he had a right to touch was me.

    • I think society puts too much pressure on men to “satisfy” their woman. Feeling like they didn’t do well enough at satisfying her makes most men feel like less of a man. I think it’s BS. Every woman is different, so every woman needs to know what she likes and communicate it. Also, the pressure that is put on men makes me feel pressured too. Sometimes, it took me longer to cum because I felt like I’d hurt his ego if I couldn’t . Instead of being all about performance, sex should be all about team work and fun.

  • My favorites from this post are: “You look better with a twitch” and “It’s your agitation that makes him lie. Not his crappy character or vested self-interest” LOL! Thank you so much Chump Lady for providing the validation that I could never get from my lying, gas-lighting, whore-monger husband.

    • “You look better with a twitch”
      Funny, my ex-hole told me that I looked better now that I was smaller, after I lost about 7 pounds (that I didn’t have to lose) after d-day#xxx. I’m back up to my fighting weight now though. What a POS.

      • satan said the same to me Rachel…I lost a total of 57 pounds and looked like I was dying…he said, ‘What?! You like to look like that!’

        …monsters…all of em…

        Two years later at agreed on meet up to discuss – I thought – the divorce…no…satan wants to come home…’Jeep, you are a beautiful woman…I can’t stand the thought of you with another man!’ (cue his rage – no more meowing now!) Ugh…guess he didn’t think it through huh…asshole!

        • You should have gone back and told your doctor that you really really needed a pill this time. Maybe he would have given you cyanide. Bye bye satan. I mean, it’s only a symptom after all.

        • Jeep

          I swear if the Limited ever approaches me and wants to come back I will knock him to the ground and beat the hell out of him.

          • LOL donna!!!! satan showed up across my new driveway as soon as my new property transfer was in the paper…asshole probably thought I was gonna jump for joy and climb in on his lap! 😀 Nope…I ignored his sorry sick ass and climbed in my little Jeep and waited for him to move his disordered crap on down the road then I drove away in the other direction…he was just sitting there blowin me kisses and mouthin I love you Jeep.

            My friend, Barbie, (who reminds me a whole lot of Rumblekitty 🙂 ) said, ‘You should have pulled your .38 and aimed it at his sorry ass! Nothin like havin to clean your shorts before meeting with his customers!!!’ She cracks me up!!!! Yeah, nothin says leave me the fuck alone like the barrel of a gun! 😀 Alas, I am a pacifist. Plus, I’m certain he is his own worst enemy and I can’t top that cause I am a peaceful soul and hate drama and chaos.

  • Oh, I’ve quoted this before from the film When Harry Met Sally, but it’s just so applicable to the symptom scenario. And Nora Ephron was a Chump Lady before there was the Chump Lady.

    Jess : Marriages don’t break up on account of infidelity -it’s just a symptom that something else is wrong.

    Harry: Really? Well, that ‘symptom’ is fucking my wife.

    And Off Topic but noticed that CL proudly (rightly) championing Self-Publishing (and a nod to this blog) in a Guardian comment on this article http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/mar/21/for-me-traditional-publishing-means-poverty-but-self-publish-no-way#comment-71055315

  • Oh, no, it’s a symptom all right. But just of sh*tty coping mechanisms, selfishness, and a high sense of entitlement.

    • Keep on Thriving – You got that right! It’s a symptom derived from a diseased person, aka the Cheater. And Supreme Chump said it best that get rid of the disease (the Cheater) and you’ll live a healthy life.

  • Anyone else think of “When Harry Met Sally” by the late great Nora Ephron (former chump)?

    Jess: Marriages don’t break up on account of infidelity. It’s just a symptom that something else is wrong.
    Harry Burns: Oh really? Well, that “symptom” is fucking my wife.

  • After my Dday #2, I also bought into the “cookie cutter” reconciliation hype that Hax and others like her say you should. Because of that – and at that time – I honestly felt that my wife’s affair saved our marriage. Imagine that, believing that my wife laying on her back on a dirty rug – in a plumbers garage – saved my marriage? I am ashamed to have been so naïve at that time. I also have nothing against plumbers, LOL.

    The fact of the matter is there was NEVER any ownership about HER character flaws, entitlement issues or poor impulse control, you know, the “root” of the cheating. Because of that , 3 yrs later, I was guaranteed Dday #3.

    An alcoholic, drug addict, gambler, abuser, thief, liar, etc can NEVER fix themselves without FIRST acknowledging that they have a problem. PERIOD!! The same goes for a cheater. PERIOD!! Why is this so difficult?

    • Agreed – I raised this by email with our marriage counsellor 7 months ago (1 month after DDay). By coincidence, I found the email I sent the MC today and forwarded it, noting not one thing has changed (with a second DDay, possibly third, along the way). All the while the MC was telling me to “claim” my insecure wife and let her know that I love her (ie I have to do all the work). The Wife meanwhile found every excuse to NOT do any introspection (kids, work, having to discuss the Post Nup, the divorce petition I filed). But she said she was sorry, so therefore she was. Sorry she got caught, of course.

  • I hate these people who write this crap. It makes women think that they are part of the problem. I fell for this crap in the being too. Oh it must be something I’m doing to make him feel unloved by me. Then it hit me one day wait what? What am I doing to myself. NO I didn’t do anything wrong. Everyone always told him how lucky his was to has a wife like me.

    Symptom of something else being wrong in the marriage WTF. Then work on what is wrong instead of making thing worse. Or just leave if you spouse is the problem.

    I also hate the word I made a mistake. It’s not a mistake. A mistake is something you didn’t mean to do. Having an affair is. Your dick doesn’t just fall out of your pants. You just don’t by mistake go to some ones house and fuck them.

    I think she is one of these people that believe every kid should get a trophy.

    • It’s not a mistake I agree. It is a succession of choices that a person makes, voluntarily and willingly. To get emotionally involved, to kiss the person, take your clothes off, get sexual, go home to the spouse and act like everything is ok. It’s definitely not a mistake, but definitely conscious choices made every step of the way. It’s a DECISION or multiple DECISIONS. And the cheater knows this too, but they’re too cowardly to admit this, so they excuse it by saying it’s a mistake. Which is another lie.

    • What they miss is the simple idea that cheating is “Malum in se.” Even young kids understand this concept (go ahead and ask any ten year old if cheating is right or wrong).

    • Same applies to us guys. I also thought in the beginning it was because I was a horrible person and spouse. You know, I probably was at some points but so was she. I like you realized at one point that people also said I was a good husband and father. I didn’t cheat even though there were certainly opportunities. The do lack character and self-control. She should’ve just divorced me if I was so horrible. Not cheat on me and test the waters and work on disconnecting while I was fighting like hell to become what she wanted. It’s just all crazy. I could have never been what she wanted and I realize that now. Just sucks to have invested so much emotional energy into something that was doomed!

      • lostntx, so true! These cheaters will never be happy…not with anyone…not even with themselves EVER. I can’t even imagine a relationship with someone that cherishes me for me. Wow! I have a dream 🙂

  • I would just love to tell the stupid bitch who wrote the “advice” is that what GOT ME THERE was being a good person who gave the benefit of the doubt and trust to an asshole who did not deserve it. Period!!!! End of the fucking story!!! I will never again assume one iota of responsibility for that shitshow. Ever !!

  • Well if you listen to Esther Perel’s “Rethinking Infidelity” you will know as a Chump not to ask for the What, When and Where’s, the Why. Rather, you will ask the “How did that make You feel?” And take those answers to improve upon yourself and your marriage. As a chump you will see that you may have been at fault of your decaying marriage. Esther believes that if they were not somehow happy in their marriage, they would simply divorce. There must be something to them they like about the marriage.

    I looked back and thought oh boy if I did this or that… or I did get comfortable etc.. yada yada yada.. But I think back and maybe the decay started right when he devalued and began his affairs or indiscretions. Just maybe his hidden double life may have been the total reason for the lax marriage before Dday (the Dday at the time known about.. then current AP). An oh, their must be something in the marriage that he valued because he did stay. Yes! He valued having a cook, housekeeper and bookkeeper surely that freed up his time to play.

    I even read that the reason they hide the affair is because they do love you and don’t want to hurt you. WOW.

    Here is the thing. It does NOT matter a bit if the marriage was awful, terrific or stale. It does not matter if you were the worst and impossible. There is a thing called communications and a word called exit. How long does it take to say ” I want a divorce” ? About 1.5 seconds. Kick up the dust and fix or cease your current contract before you act on your desires. But “It just happened” Yup. Sure. Right. Got It.

    If you cheat on your partner you are a shit. Beit a kiss, flirt with intent, Hookups via websites whatever your method. If you are putting energies outside your marriage for anyone you are a piece of fucked up shit with no character and you do not LOVE your spouse. Let alone have a long term affair. EA’s come on. I think it was said here. Grown ups boys and girls FUCK. If you think anything is emotional you are an idiot.

    If your spouse cheats, you may forgive… fine. But like Esther says, that marriage is over now, would you like to marry him again and start over? She says YES. Bad enough getting with a cheater that you know cheated on his spouse but to get with a cheater that you know cheated on you, your family and your kids.

    I THINK IF YOU ACCEPT A CHEATER – YOU BECOME THE DISEASE AND HIS CHEATIING THE SYMPTOM.

    There is no forging on with a cheater. PERIOD.

    • Esther would ask, “How did that make you feel?” eh? Well, Esther, news of his infidelity made me feel like hitting him in the head with a frying pan, dismembering him, and putting him through a woodchipper. There–did that help my marriage?

    • Jackie’s Done, I think a major reason cheaters don’t want a divorce is cause the affair is the relationship they want with the co cheater. It’s a no commitment road to cheap sex. They don’t have to meet the family, the friends, the kids. They can fuck and bolt. They don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do, basically. If they want to skip out on something, they have an automatic excuse. They don’t want to give up all that for a mundane, ordinary relationship.

    • I want a divorce. Yes, it’s that simple. I can’t tell you how many people believe I stayed with him because I didn’t want to be alone.

      It is the cheater who does NOT want to be alone. We are doing all the work while they fill us with false promises and make us believe they love us while fucking strange. May 3rd I received a message, love you. May 18th, receipt for a hotel with a whore.

      Fast forward he’s still looking for cake. In July before I filed he WANTED me at his birthday just weeks after SAYING he wanted a divorce. I filed. Three months later his lawyer dumps him for raging and abuse. I wait three more months while he supposedly is getting another lawyer. Then it’s a no show. Court orders an appearance for February or default. He shows up looking mentally crazed and threatens to get a lawyer and finally signs the agreement with NO representation. While waiting fir the copy of the agreement he gives me the SADZ and says I think about you ALL the time. Guess what? He didn’t want a divorce. He wanted me to save him from the whore he’s still stuck with. He wanted cake. Fuck him.

      Yes if they could just be honest and sat I want a divorce. But cake is so very yummy. Dumped. His. Ass.

      • Mine didn’t want a divorce either, Donna. He wanted to be a middle aged Playa. With a middle age whore. She was his dream girl, you know. As long as I was there to make sure he didn’t have to follow through on his dreams. Loser.

      • the big giant head actually asked me to give him advice on how to break up with his girlfriend….i told him to pretend she was me, he didn’t have any problem walking out on me.

      • My cheater told me once “you have to help me get over him” – she was drunk and later told me she didn’t mean it, but fuck me they say some stupid shit.

        I was also constantly being threatened with divorce (followed by a pull back and a refusal to engage on the divorce or kids arrangements). In her case it’s an insecure attachment mentality where she threatens, expecting me to pull her closer and, when I don’t, she then regrets it and tries to pull me back in by refusing to execute on the divorce. It’s her way of remaining in my life and trying to keep her options open.

        I am now pretty sick of it, so have my new home ready, divorce filed and lawyers engaged on financial settlement.

        It’s amazing how the entitlement mentality slips into gear and, upon reflection, seems to be something that permeates their thinking. My cheater was outraged when she thought I was having an affair (because I had gotten into shape and was spending more time out with friends), even though she was 18 months into an affair herself. She felt entitled to a bigger house and car when we were married and got very upset because we didn’t have it. She told me she thought better things would happen to her.

        With the post nup, she wouldn’t sign as she thought she was entitled to a return on the time invested in the marriage. Now with divorce settlement, she thinks she is entitled to more than the 60:40 I have offered her (which still makes her a millionaire). And she is such a special mother that only she understands the kids so she needs to help them through this difficult period by having them spend more time with her.

        There’s no logic to any of it – she is special and is entitled to all of it. Maddening stuff.

        • My husband said I put so much pressure on him to make a lot of money. But really he’s the one who wanted to be rich. I didn’t grow up rich and didn’t need that life, but he wanted it. He’s upset we don’t live in the best neighborhood but says I’m the one who wants it?!! But I never complain about where we live or mention moving. I just begged him to spend time with me. He said he had to work to support me and give me all the stuff that “I” wanted. (He wasn’t being complimentary lol) I said I just want you home more. It obviously didn’t work.

  • Must jump on the bandwagon here….Cheating is not a symptom of a bad marriage, it is a symptom that you are married to a horrible, selfish, entitled brat. I’m 4 years out from Dday and going through a bitter divorce battle. I’m watching how much of his behaviors that told him it was ok to cheat has transferred into other areas of his life and it is clear at this point how much of the problems are his….ALL. By the end of the year, the karma bus will hit him hard. I’m buying lots of popcorn to enjoy the show.

  • Gag…you need both people to put on their big girl/guy panties at the same time and deal with their shit together to move ahead. And, of course, those panties need to stay on in the presence of anyone else.

    During false reconciliation and MC, my EX continued to lie, gaslight, blameshift and bonk OW#2. I was knee deep in self-help books trying to make myself change/fix it. Oh yes – and my EX lied about the cheating during MC – so it was sort of like trying to heal an insidious cancer with a few band aids and a swig of whiskey.

    • This…

      I did every self help book I could get my hands on and went to IC weekly to sort my own shit out. The Wife just did IC to tell the IC how bad a husband I was. Completely self absorbed. Nothing to get over the OM (whom she still “loves”) or fix her impulse control (she was messaging him a few weeks ago) or take understand the damage she has done.

      I have finally realised I am the only one growing from this. She’s just trying to feel ok about what she did.

      • FSTL: I hope you’re able to extricate yourself from your marriage now.

        You wrote, “I have finally realised I am the only one growing from this. She’s just trying to feel ok about what she did.”

        That is *exactly* what continues to happen after divorce–chumps seek to grow, to solve our issues/fix our picker,and cheaters just head into the next relationship and try to cover up what they did with excuses, blameshifting, and impression management control.

        • I am trying to get stronger after getting hit by a series of catastrophes, including the death of my cousin’s four-year-old son (just learned about the death yesterday). My middle-aged abusive STBX and not-so-honest ‘nice guy’ ex-boyfriend are running around like 14-year-olds in a porn store trying to hook up with as many women as they can to find The One (as I was nowhere near good enough for either one of them). They have even directly told me that that is what they want to do (e.g., ‘What do you expect? I just got separated/divorced XX months ago. I am terrified of committing to a long-term relationship (with you).’ Me (in pick-me-dance mode): ‘Is there something I can do to salvage the relationship? This is the first time (in years) I’ve heard you mention a problem with our relationship.’ Them: Something’s missing from our relationship; I don’t want to see you any more (until my kibble supply from other partners runs dry); and I want to immediately run out to find The One…When things cool off (you no longer hate me), we can be friends.’ (I guess the ‘We can be friends,’ is like the consolation prize on old game shows, ‘You didn’t win the brand new car and the European vacation, but you got a box of macaroni and cheese. Thanks for playing!’)

          • RockStarWife, it feels like these two guys are occupying way too much of your mental real estate.

            Where are YOU? The smart, strong, independent woman is in there somewhere. We need to find her again.

    • Dana, Carolyn Hax, Esther Percel, Dr. Laura DO GET IT. They are preying on us to fund their pockets. They are disordered themselves. They see our weakness and hurt and desire to heal and see unicorns. Most go through a really bad unicorn stage.. they is exactly their target.

      • BINGO! They’re simply following the money (clickbait?). Narcissists aren’t going to seek therapy because it’s everyone else around them who are fucked-up – not the narcissist. Chumps hate feeling the conflict and will do anything to make everyone and everything all better; even if it means sacrificing themselves. Because SURELY the narcissist will eventually realize what they’re doing is wrong. Right?

    • I would bet good money that, to a one, Perel, Hax, Dr. Laura and many others are themselves cheaters. The only 4 people who have believed my X’s lies (including that ‘marital problems drove me to have an affair’) are cheaters themselves.

      • “Former Cheater: Our marriage fell apart anyway — not because of the cheating but because the intimacy/honesty between us collapsed again, the very thing that drove me to cheat in the first place.”

        Clearly the solution is more cheating. Oh wait you aren’t married to that guy anymore. You should now cheat on your current partner. Anytime you feel a lack of intimacy and HONESTY from from people, you should immediately DECEIVE them or someone else in response.’

        Cheater Pretzel Logic 101.

  • Marriage counseling before IC for the cheater is a waste of time. Trying reconcile without ownership by the cheater of his/her shitty choices is a waste of time. The cheater has to want to be a better person with no guarantee that the marriage will be saved.

    • Agreed. My cheater wants to keep the cake of having both options open and in the seven months since DDay has gradually managed expectations down (eg she now won’t leave the job at the same firm as the other guy, will no longer tell me anything about the affair, won’t let me have access to her computer, phone, etc, won’t tell me when he contacts her), but still insisted we should do MC. So no work on herself, but somehow wants to use MC to “fix” me, even though I’ve been doing IC and read every book I can since DDay. She’s used every possible excuse to avoid proper IC (kids, too busy, PN discussions, divorce filing). Either they want to be a better person or they don’t, and MC is the wrong venue for making them a better person – rather, it just lets them get away with feeling like their “needs” weren’t being met, so it feeds their entitlement mentality.

  • Can we start calling a spade a spade here, Hax? Cheating is emotional abuse. Just because you cannot see the bruises and pain, does not mean they aren’t real. The shock, turmoil, and exquisite pain felt after infidelity are the most intense trauma that I have ever experienced. Telling chumps that they need to “be honest” and “take some of the blame” while giving the cheater carte blanche to act like an asshole (*ahem* glass bowl) that is just acting out because he/she is unhappy is VICTIM BLAMING! Lots of unhappy marriages end respectably and without the husband sticking his dick in another woman or the wife spreading her legs for some strange. Do we forgive spouse batterers as “misunderstood” or displaying symptoms (beating spouse) of a disease?! No-we don’t. I am so sick of people acting like this is just some victim-less, wayward, and sometimes ROMANTIC (God, that’s the worst) act. It isn’t. It is deliberate. The cheater often gets pleasure from inflicting pain. And the spouses are almost always completely rocked because they had NO idea that the “disease” even existed, let alone the “symptom”. Stop trying to make victims stay with their abusers! It’s gaslighting them further. It’s WRONG!

    • I totally agree it is the worst pain ever. I have been through a lot of crap in my life from child abuse to being molested being taken away from my mother and lots of family deaths. But I have to say having my husband cheat on me has been by far the worst. I’m a year out from Dday and I still have trouble eat and sleeping and sometime just making through the day.

      • I was the victim of a very violent crime when I was in my 20’s, just before I began dating ex. I survived something very few people survive, and it was just a very ugly crime. I required massive surgery and I have quite a large scar to boot.

        I told ex shortly after D-Day that the trauma of that assault and my injuries were a cakewalk compared to what he did to me. And that given the choice, I’d gladly suffer another near-fatal attack by a stranger any day over a lifetime of lies, betrayals and gaslighting from the man who professed to adore me.

        Ex was insulted and kept insisting he had been a good husband. Even though he admitted to me on D-Day that he had lied to and cheated on me in astonishing ways, he couldn’t in the end seem to believe that this counted. It was as if since I had BELIEVED he was a good husband all those years, he really WAS a good husband.

        Sociopaths…..bah…..they suck….

  • I ate this shit up early in my wife’s affair. Shared blame. My ability to change her behavior. Etc.

    What a bunch of BS. I was such a chump.

    My marriage did have problems. With hindsight, there was a decreased level of intimacy that may have been beyond what is normal for a couple together for a decade.

    But as soon as my wife started cheating, she destroyed any ability to say which came first: the affair or the reduced intimacy. And now I’ll never know. (Her refusal to stop cheating points strongly to the former.)

    Affairs don’t save marriages. Honesty, respect, and hard work do.

    • JC
      “But as soon as my wife started cheating, she destroyed any ability to say which came first: the affair or the reduced intimacy. And now I’ll never know.”

      I thought that myself. Which came first. I would guess the cheating.

      • I have some empirical data on the subject.

        Intimacy fell off very early in our marriage, and about a year in I found incriminating texts. Based only on that, I was in the same boat as you – which came first? The cheating or the lack of intimacy?

        After her death last August I found a large cache of online chat logs that show conclusively that she was pursuing inappropriate relationships online and emailing intimate pictures to her ex even before the wedding. Other comments indicated that I was always a “Plan B”, and that she was never really attracted to me.

        The cheating comes first. The intimacy goes away because of the internal devaluing of you she does to justify the cheating to herself.

        • HeatDeath

          Narcissists fake intamacy. The difference in my opinion is they used us from the starting gate. The Limited also cheated prior to and during our marriage. They used us financially and to maintain an image. They pick us because we have the qualities they mirror and use to gain supply. OW/OM prefer cheating with someone married as the believe they are special in some very fucked up way. There is no doubt the Limited knew exactly what he was as he referenced his dark side repeatedly when I won the pick me dance. It wasn’t until the finally when he admitted it was the thrill and he wound discard her in a heartbeat if she didn’t put out when he wanted sex. Mind you he’s seeing someone who is married while living with her. They have a script and just as we gather evidence they gather supply/new victims. In my case I refused to continue with the game as I finally saw him. I despise the idea it was never personal as narcs supposedly have an inability to feel. They take it to a whole other level and do enjoy the pain they inflict.

        • HeatDeath – Omg, I feel your pain. I just ended things with a guy after I found out through a reliable source (his family friend) that he was never attracted to me but I was plan B as well. When I confronted him with it, he denied ALL OF IT and still insisted we continue the relationship. I dumped him regardless, because I know that said family friend would never make this up. I never understood why people would be with someone to whom they’re not attracted to, let alone marry. I could never fake attraction that way. They are truly disordered people and I’m so glad I found out. I hope you are in a better place and sorry you had to go through that.

  • If only cheaters would marry other cheaters the world would be a better place.

    But no, they marry trusting people so they can fuck those they don’t trust. I don’t think she understands the mentality of a cake eater.

    I usually like Carolyn’s view on things, she missed the mark here. Big time.

    • Calamity Jane – Right on, why don’t cheaters marry cheaters, or have an open marriage or relationship rather? Why make a commitment to one person, only to breach this agreement. I’m sure with all the resources out there and the internet, they are likely to find willing candidates to share in their follies. Go figure.

      • Cheaters marrying other cheaters…what is fun about that? Its more thrilling for them to marry a loyal chump, lie to them, put one over on them, fool them. Thats why its cheating. They dont want someone who cheats on THEM because they are entitled to lotalty and faithfulness. Selfish fuckers.

      • That would be ideal for us but not them. You see, they need you to be faithful and worship them. My STBXW actually told me at one point at the end that she was finally ok with me being with someone else. She couldn’t stand the thought for years of me having sex with someone else. So, she started fucking someone else and detaching from me. She could divorce me now and I could find someone else. Really bitch! You’ve been fucking a loser for a couple of years and now you’re mentally ok with me finding another person. They are just totally fucked up!

  • Former Cheater is a textbook case of the consequences of devaluing. In order to start cheating she devalued him almost to the point of nonexistence in her world. The, surprise surprise! She had a difficult time feeling loving and intimate toward him again? Shocking! And totally his fault. NOT.

    Combine this dynamic with his entirely sane, rational, and predictable wounding and consequent reasonable lack of trust, and you can see why reconciliation practically never works.

  • This is such a hard thing to wrap your head around in the beginning. I was smart enough to know that I wasn’t responsible for my wife’s cheating, but at the same time, it wasn’t hard to imagine at the time that perhaps, if some things had been different in our marriage, it might not have happened.

    And any rational person should file that under “who the fuck knows?” Maybe she would have, maybe she wouldn’t have. But even if there is something that you could have done or could do in the future that would stave off affairs, you’ve got some serious problems. Because if anything is keeping your spouse from cheating, it sure as hell isn’t morality, decency, empathy, loyalty or compassion. And why the hell would you want to be with someone who lacks those qualities, or who only applies them to you selectively?

    Maybe you go into counseling to “address the problems in your marriage that led to the affair.” But let’s be honest about what that means here. On their end, there’s only one “problem” that led to the affair, and that’s their own lack of character decency, and as CL has pointed out many times, their own massively inflated sense of entitlement. Is that what you’re going to address in therapy? Good luck with that. No, what you’re going to do is provide a platform for your spouse to complain about YOU, and addressing the “disease” is going to mean trying to fix all the things that are “wrong with you” that tempted your spouse to wander.

    Maybe you do it. Maybe you “fix” yourself. You do everything you can to make them happy, and maybe they never cheat again. But of course, you can never really be sure. Of course, you’ll live every day with them looking over your shoulder wondering if your performance is good enough to meet whatever arbitrary threshold your partner has for cheating on you.

    Maybe you’ve “saved” your marriage, but what has it become? A horrible prison of mistrust and self-doubt. You’ve won the wonderful prize of getting to stay with this person who so callously used you and disregarded your feelings. What a privilege!

    They say people in happy marriages don’t cheat. First of all, this isn’t true. But more importantly, even when cheating does coincide with marital malcontent, it reveals something profoundly important about what a “happy marriage” means to the kind of people who cheat. Happy marriage means their own personal contentment and satisfaction. It means their own arbitrarily defined felt needs being met by you, the person whose responsibility it is to keep them well fed.

    These people don’t really love you. Maybe they loved the way you made them feel when you were first united. Maybe after a time you didn’t make them feel that way anymore. Maybe someone else did. Maybe they loved the way you made them feel, but they didn’t love you. Maybe you could make them feel that way again if you try hard enough, but why would you want to?

    Why would you want to sign up to be a kibbles dispenser for someone else’s ego? That’s not a relationship. Let them go, let they feed off of someone else, and count yourself better off for being free of their soul-sucking presence.

    • Well said MikeB!

      At the time of MC, I was just in survival mode. Now that time (and some therapy) has given me perspective I can clearly see the ‘state’ of our relationship. When given a real opportunity to tell the truth – when he moved out to ‘think about things’ (he really moved in with OW#2) – he left me in limbo for almost 1 1/2 years. He lied to me but told his friends. (I stupidly waited because that’s what I though you should do.) I still don’t understand this kind of fucked up logic but I know it does not scream ‘I love you with all my heart and would never hurt you’.

    • “But even if there is something that you could have done or could do in the future that would stave off affairs, you’ve got some serious problems. Because if anything is keeping your spouse from cheating, it sure as hell isn’t morality, decency, empathy, loyalty or compassion. And why the hell would you want to be with someone who lacks those qualities, or who only applies them to you selectively?”

      This. This. This. A thousand times this,

      I could stand to read these words every morning. It’s a touch wordy to tattoo on my arm, but it’s still tempting.

      Was I perfect? No. Were there things I could have done better? Sure.
      I could of been more urgent about fixing the ED/performance anxiety. I could have exercised like crazy and gotten a 6-pack like the ones she (too enthusiastically, if you ask me) admired on TV I could have ramped-up and continued the lovebombing (the only form of affection she recognized) to the pathological degree she craved.

      But even if I had, and it had worked (unlikely!), then those specific actions would have been the /only/ things keeping her from cheating. As opposed to, as you say, “morality, decency, empathy, loyalty or compassion”. If those are lacking, and they were, then the relationship was doomed, and always had been.

    • MikeB -Applause applause applause! Well said.

      As you mention the hardest part is wrapping our heads around it in the beginning.

      Thats part of the mind-fuck these cheaters used for their power and control – the element of surprise – by emotionally detaching themselves from us without upholding any sense of loyalty.

      In the beginning the only thing wrapped around our heads is the heart they ripped right out from our chests – and in an audacious way – they say “you didnt need that anyway.”

  • There was some kind of murky timeline when Carilyn Hax divorced her first husband and married the second (while pregnant with new husband) all in the same year. This was about ten years ago

  • I hate this reconciliation crap written by these people who have no clue what they are talking about. I would love to be a fly on the wall when it happens to them – they find out that their own spouse has cheated and lied and betrayed their love, loyalty and trust.

  • I get so tired of KNOWING that people believe that ALL people who cheat were in a bad marriage or unhappy, or don’t have the capacity to love, whatever. Some people cheat to fucking cheat!!! And we all here know that some people who may have been unhappy were too cowardly to have a sit down honest talk with their spouse.

    And in the end, it really doesn’t matter does it? What IS important is what the the cheater DOES. Sorry is a VERB. Just like LOVE.

  • It’s no surprise that marriages with a cheater don’t work out, because they are piss ants to begin with . Nothing to work with there.

  • What I still can’t wrap my mind around is how people seem so quick to want to look at what must have been wrong in the marriage to “cause” the cheating, yet it seems so uncommon for people to consider the impact of the cheating on the marriage and family.
    My husband’s infidelity had a devastating impact on our marriage and family. I noticed and objected to the tone of his friendship with the AP from the very beginning, and I can go back in my mind (and even through our email exchanges) over the last couple of years and almost watch the impact and destruction of it all. Why is it so uncommon for people to look at it from the other side–what infidelity does to a marriage and family (and to the cheater’s perceptions of those)?

    • Yeah the cheater cheated us out of time, energy, passion but they did it SECRETLY. So it isn’t like suddenly every weekend they want to go golfing, or camping or whatever hobby is going to take up a lot of time. Those you can see and hear and then, one can only hope in some marriages this happens, you talk about priorities and that these hobbies are fit in below the family in terms of time and energy.

      But if this is all secret? They just have less care, energy or interest in their own family. And you don’t know why and they lie to your face when you ask what’s going on that it feels like you are the least interesting thing in the world to your own husband.

    • That is why chump lady and chump nation is so needed. This blog tells the truth of infidelity in an empirical and rational way. Hopefully more and more critical readers will come here and learn the truth.

  • Where is creativerational? Her deadline for leaving the cheater has come & gone. Time to assemble the kidnap Swat team….

  • Google Carolyn Hax’s own marital past. She and her husband had separated and she became pregnant (with twins!) with another man. I used to respect her advice, until I found she viewed everything thru a cheater’s lens.

  • Why is taking your spouse for granted a bad thing ? I don’t see the value of marriage if one is not allowed to take the person you married for granted. If you have to worry all the time about being abandoned, why get married at all ?

    • “Don’t take your spouse for granted” is just a friendly piece of advice from the narc industrial complex. What it really means is “Your presence is tolerated because you are, currently, a source of high quality kibble and cake. See that it stays that way, citizen. We reserve the right to start fucking strange if, at any moment, we no longer feel like we’re on our first date with you. We deserve first date kibbles forever. Remember that, and everything will go (or at least appear, to you, to be) just fine”

  • I heard that exact line from Cheater. “Cheating is a symptom, not the disease.” I heard it when I was engaged to Cheater and he was explaining why his mother cheated on his father. Oh, it wasn’t really her fault. His father was too busy with work. He wasn’t meeting her needs. She was lonely and bored. Blah, blah, blah.

    At the time, I thought he just loved his mom too much and couldn’t face the fact that she was selfish. I even thought maybe he was right that his father was too distracted, etc. Now I see that as a huge red flag. Note to future generations: If your fiance had a cheating parent, and your fiance believes the non-cheating parent was to blame… DO NOT MARRY THAT MAN. He has internalized the idea that cheating is acceptable if you can blame-shift to your spouse.

    Cheater also said his father was a great man for giving Cheater Mom dozens of chances … before she ran off with another man. It was the Right Thing to Do, but unfortunately too late, as his mom was already in love with someone else. Red Flag #2: If your fiance thinks cheaters ought to be given as many chances as they want until they decide who they’d rather be with… DO NOT MARRY THAT MAN. To my credit, I never did buy that one. I told him his dad should have dumped her a long time before he did.

  • “intimacy/honesty between us collapsed again, the very thing that drove me to cheat in the first place.”

    Funny how intimacy and honesty can collapse when you’re flirting with a co-worker and not telling your spouse what you’re really up to. I believe that being fine with cheating and telling lies caused the lack of intimacy, not the other way around.

    Not everyone that’s lacking honesty and intimacy from a partner turns into a lying whore and feels comfortable risking family and marriage for a quickie in a sleazy motel. Some maintain integrity and manage to stay strong and understand the risks of flirting and crossing boundaries. Some wouldn’t be able to lead a double life and live with the guilt and shame of playing people that care about them for fools.

    These types of quotes like to imply that anyone can cheat. It’s something that happens when you put the dishes in the dishwasher the wrong way or wear sweatpants too many days in a row. They tend to overlook the real issue, the character of the person cheating and what REALLY led them to cheat. It’s insulting.. it implies that chumps don’t cheat because we aren’t worthy, otherwise we’d also have a fuck buddy on the side. Everyone that’s lacking honesty and intimacy in marriage finds a side fuck, you’re a freak if you don’t. Probably ugly and can’t get laid.. Forget that you haven’t been looking, that you’ve been shutting down advances.. you have no Craigslist account.. it’s just that you haven’t found someone yet.

    Often the marriage has one person cheating and the other one isn’t cheating. That blows a giant hole in the ‘lack of intimacy drives people to cheat’ theory.

    Honesty didn’t ‘collapse’ it was never there. An honest quote would be ‘lack of honesty and integrity on my part, weak boundaries and poor character drove me to cheat and that killed the intimacy between us’.

    Partner sneaks off and robs a bank, doesn’t tell you about it… Then when they get arrested, they say ‘our finances collapsed again, the very thing that drove me to rob the bank in the first place’ How much time should YOU spend in prison? After all.. you did take money out of the bank last week for groceries…

    These articles make me throw up in my mouth a little.

    • Except the conversation on the first D-Day never seems to go that way, does it? It’s never “Hell, yeah, I’ve got a side-fuck. What’s wrong with you, that you don’t?”

      it’s always “How DARE you even SUGGEST such a thing, you jealous controlling JACKASS?! If you think I’m cheating, then maybe I should just go out and ACTUALLY cheat!”

      The RIC would be much more convincing if gaslighting wasn’t a thing. The cheaters /know/ what they’re doing is wrong, no matter how many advice columnists try to convince them (and us) otherwise.

      • “Therapist” said ‘were you controlling?’ I said ‘Seems not controlling enough she was running around for years without my knowing…’ when she asked if I was jealous, I said that I thought I was but now I know that it was just my instincts and gut telling me something was off. The affair verified that my instincts were spot on.. I wasn’t jealous, I was being lied to and manipulated. So basically, who was controlling in the relationship? The one that knew what was going on, or the one left in the dark? The one being manipulated and played or the one telling the lies and doing the manipulation? When she tried the ‘did communication break down in the marriage because you didn’t talk?’ I told her I talked, I said ‘are you cheating on me’ and she said… you got it, ‘how dare you suggest such a thing’ etc.. (your quote above.. stupid shit cheaters say). Don’t insult me with communication lessons and worksheets quack…

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