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But I Love Her (Him)

alwaysloveOn any given day at Chump Lady, you’ll see the following recitation: awful thing, awful thing, unforgivable thing, run-away-like-your-hair-is-on-fire abomination! …. and then the chump utterance, “But I love him.” (Or “But I love her.”)

Oh. You LOVE her? Then King’s X! Why didn’t you say so! 

I was totally mistaken that someone who threatened your life, insulted your outfit, called you fat, unlovable, sexless, and dim, cheated on you, lied to you, risked your health, spent your savings, ran up your credit cards, got pregnant, got someone else pregnant, quit their job, tripped your elderly mother, and then told you the entire clusterfuck was your fault wasn’t in your good graces.

Oh sure, you feel some consternation, or a fervent need for a reality check — It’s wrong to trip elderly women, right? Right? — but let the record be clear on this — YOU STILL LOVE THEM.

Stop the presses! OMG. This changes EVERYTHING! It doesn’t matter what the litany of horror is, if you LOVE the person, then all should be forgiven! There is hope! Because you LOVE! And love, we are told, is a super power. It conquers all.

How’s that working for you?

If you’re believing that your love will change another person? STOP. Please stop. You can’t love someone into loving you back. You can’t love someone into sobriety. You can’t love someone into monogamy. The love you feel stops and starts with you. It’s not a superpower. Love is a CHOICE.

Isn’t it infuriating the way cheaters cling to the narrative of The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants and “We can’t control who we love!” To hear them tell it, love is just this nebulous gas that descends on people, willy nilly. There’s no agency involved. One day they were out minding their own business and sha-ZAM! Love hits. Powerless against its force, the cheater is compelled to cheat — and it’s okay because LOVE. #somethingbiggerthanusboth

“Bullshit,” you say?

Well, chumps, it works both ways. You can’t go on and on and on about some abusive shit in your life and then say, “but I love him!” As if you have no agency. As if your love isn’t a CHOICE. “I love you” is an “I” statement. Any sentence that begins with “I” means YOU control it. (“I am having liverwurst and saltine crackers for dinner tonight!” “I am not voting for Donald Trump!” “I adore pinecone elves!”)

Start controlling who you choose to love. I know you’re still caught up in the shared history, and who you thought this person was, and the memories — and yes, the actual LOVE you feel. And I know that love and investment makes you feel very vulnerable and heartbroken. But you know what? You’re making a choice to confer love upon this person.

Ask yourself if they deserve it. Ask yourself if you deserve awful thing, awful thing, awful thing, abomination!

Then choose wisely.

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.
  • That was a slap well needed. That “BUT” causes the Chump to suffer more than the Cheater causes. At least I carry that BUT and it is heavy.

  • We love the person we thought that they were.They are NOT that person. They morph into what they know you want in a person. The “real” them is hidden until they can’t hide it any longer.
    Love someone who deserves your love & gives it back to you in spades. Be good to yourself!!! & don’t settle for less!!!

    • Exactly. I thought I still loved my ex at the time I filed for divorce. I thought we could consciously uncouple and all that. Only distance, therapy and CL helped me see that I had been in love with potential and not the reality, and that he really was a pathetic scumbag.

      • My daughter is telling me all the time I’m in love with the person I either thought he was or knew he was capable of being if he was willing to put on the work.

    • So true! I realized early on that I was mourning the “what could have been” you know if the Narcissist I was married to was a sane, rational, loving, compassionate, and kind human being capable of loving someone else with even a fraction of the love he has for himself. haha

    • Yes Renee, preach it girl! Once you really understand that they are NOT the person you thought they were, it becomes so much easier. Not that it is pain free, by any means, but it is easier to see that the only real choice is to pick up the pieces and move on.

    • “We love the person we thought that they were.They are NOT that person. They morph into what they know you want in a person. The “real” them is hidden until they can’t hide it any longer.”

      This is very true…It’s the one thing looking from the outside that is so obvious that they morph to gain approval of their latest victim. I wonder if this gets harder as they get older? Anyone got any experience of this..does it get harder for them to maintain the ‘false self’?

      • Yes its harder for them to maintain the mask and control the demons especially when the whore is pulling the demons out cause she thinks its cool. My kids and i all watched the demons come out and turn on us all. He showed the whore who he really was and she is delighted. Pods all of them not humans pods.

        • But you know what? I bet she doesn’t see those demons as demons because he used them against you. That makes it all okay. And of course, she’s special, it’s twu wuv, and he’d never do that to her.

          Hah!

          • Kb hes already doing it to her. Yeah! She pulled out more demons then she bargained for the dumb ass. True wuv i think not! Hope they both get exactly what they deserve.

        • The thing that the whore doesn’t understand is that all the deceit and nastiness he throws his family – well, one day she may very likely be on the receiving end of it. She may think he’ll never be like that to her – they are soooo in looooove. But since her unicorn prince is incapable of love – when his infatuation starts to fade – well, she just might find herself getting the very treatment she watched him dish out that she was so impressed with. Then she won’t be so delighted anymore.

          • BEB

            She is so insecure as he will never marry her. There are massive red flags they accept starting with they fucked a married man in my case. He has never changed his address and been lining there for two years. He’s still cheating. She is mentally ill and like the others believes she is soecial. She’s just a fuck in a long line of whores.

          • Oh she got the treatment in spades but she thrives on it me i hate fighting she loves it what she doesnt love is the distance he throws at her. She thinks she can mold hum into her perfect man. Stupid bitch. They are broken up right now again and they throw money at each other you know their own true love. He will never change he gets worse everyday and the tornado is yet to arrive but its coming and the house will burn down.

      • Mickey,

        Does it get harder as the cheaters to maintain their false self as they get older? For some it gets harder for some it does not.

        Some cheaters continue their devious ways until it’s time to take their permanent dirt nap.

        Some cheaters just wind up settling for less (a lot less ) with their new love interest/s because they do get tired of the charade.

        And some remain in between.

        In the end… bad character, selfishness and lack of empathy are a hard habits to kick!

        • It definitely gets worse as they age. As their looks fade, they begin to seek the reassurance, from whatever source is available, that they are desirable. My X was very good looking and always enjoyed the attention and adulation of his young associates/interns. But when he became “old” that need kicked in to hyper drive and, given his position, there was always someone to stroke his ego. A woman finally came along that figured X was her pot at the gold at the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately for her, she was unaware there was also a troll under the bridge-me.

          Did I love my X? Totally, completely and without hesitation, for many, many years. Perhaps in some ways I still do. We were together over 30 years. But love without trust is unsustainable and quite frankly, soul destroying. I just couldn’t keep up the day to day battle of wondering whether he was still seeing her, and he wasn’t man enough to be honest with me about what he was up to. He would swear up and down that he wasn’t with her and then I would discover some piece of information that proved he was lying. An odd phone number, a throw away phone, a card with her home address written on it. Every time I thought we had finally put it all behind us, I was traumatized yet again. And every new trauma was worse than the last. I was becoming an angry, bitter woman and for what? His ego?

          So, as much as I loved him, I loved myself more. I knew there had to be more to life than chasing a cheater. I wanted to be the old Violet, the Violet who didn’t give shit about where she lived, what kind of car she drove, or what other people thought of her. I gave myself permission, to grieve, to rage, to mourn, to act the fool. Then, over time, I began to put the past in the past. Would I have loved to grow old with my X? Damn straight and I’m not ashamed of that fact. But the universe had other plans for me and it was up to me to make a change. I believe am obliged to try and live the best life I know how. It isn’t always easy, but I’m still standing and I am proud of the woman i have become. A little ragged around the edges, but definitely stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible.

          • So inspiring Violet, thank you!
            Today was hard for me, I had been trucking along towards meh when my ex halted that forward motion. I had to disconnect our cellular plan today, which was planned. What was not planned was the ex’s demand for payment of the phone up front, or surrender my phone back to him. I informed him of an easier option that would only require a call to the carrier, and he responded he wouldn’t be able to call until tomorrow (it would interrupt his phone time with his skank can’t have that!) .I called his bluff and secured a new phone, text him to inquire as to when and where to drop off “his” phone. Meltdown on his part, resulting in a panic attack on my part. Threats concerning legal action, claims that he had been nice so far.
            The point of this story? I loved this man for a very long time. Our 23 years together conditioned me to please him, that I was the one at fault, always. He reduced me to those horrible feelings again, all because I am capable of love.
            Thankfully, back to no contact. Back to square one towards meh and I do so happily, all in the name of love. For me.

          • Thank you for this, violet. I felt like I could have written the words myself. Your post sums up exactly how I was feeling and is exactly what I needed to get through this morning of triggers and doubts.

            “But love without trust is unsustainable and quite frankly, soul-destroying.” YES!

      • Mickey

        As they age I feel it is about facing the false self. The Limited is an alcoholic and smoked weed daily. Can he maintantain a double life? Yes. Will it be as easy as it was before? No. He downgraded so low he has lost his supply. She put him on a pedistal and from what I know she is clingy as hell. His ‘poor me story’ ended when I divorced him. What’s his new narrative now that he is heavily in debt, has limited years to work in a failing business, and has aged significantly.
        He will struggle until he finds a new victim. Next.

        • Maybe because I’m a man I’m looking at this from a different perspective to the majority of the people on here which is probably fair to say are female. (Apologies if that’s not the case)

          My stbxw was attractive, charming etc.. New lover boy she’s with (not AP) has fallen for this hook, line and sinker and he’s throwing everything at her, designer clothes, vacations, cars etc…she’s created a new identity which includes a new love of football and regularly goes to the game with him, a new love of cycling and cold plays biggest fan also to impress him…all of which she hated with a passion prior to our breakup.

          Her attractiveness and because most men (myself included but I have a moral compass and choose to be faithful) think with the contents of their underwear make it easy for her to convince her latest victim. So I guess as she ages her mask will be harder to maintain, maybe not, maybe I should just not give a shit whether it does or does not?

              • Though if it’s any comfort, attractive women do have a short shelf life. She’ll have to try harder as she gets older, and desperation will likely set in. That said, I agree with others that thinking about it is a waste of time (easier said than done I know).

          • A quality man won’t be impressed by looks that much and will look for a package deal. Meaning not just looks, but personality should count for as much. Sounds like your ex was really fake and healthy people don’t put up with fakeness for very long.

  • Take the love your had for that person and love yourself. You are real they aren’t and you deserve to be loved. This person doesn’t deserve you or your love.
    It takes work to change your thinking from putting this person on a pedestal and believing all the crap they fed us to realizing the person is an asshole and was never close to who we thought they were.

  • Yeah, the cheater narrative; “The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants” (THWWTHW), sounds a lot like what I was told by cheater cheater pumpkin eater on D-day two years ago; “It Is What It Is” (IIWII). Such a complacent way to end a discussion… lazy, and speaks volumes of his character.

    Man, I have always hated that phrase… and now I can finally put my finger on why.

    • Mine said this too!! I hate that phrase!!! As if you have no control ever over what “it” is. Drinking problem? No control. Being a douche to the kids? No control. Screwing the hoe bag in my bed? Of course no control. But I guess it works both ways. When he asks why a Divorce? It is what it is.

      • I use this phase as my handle to remind me that there was nothing I could do (although I pick me danced for a long time) to change him. “It is what it is” is my way of signifying acceptance of who he really is. My ex was the one who hated the phrase when I used it. It meant I was done dancing and done dispensing kibbles. Sorry if it is triggering.

        • No, it’s okay! Not triggering. It is another good way of seeing it, coming from a person who is just trying to accept a horrible outcome.
          It is…what is is.

          Almost like an abbreviated Serenity Prayer. I think WHO is saying it is the key and the context.

        • I’m actually sitting underneath a hand-painted sign right now that says, “It is what it is.” I realize many consider it to be a trite expression, but it helped me a lot during the darkest days after Dday. I bought it at that time to remind me that there was no point in trying to figure out why my ex did the things he did, and no point in trying to untangle the skein, as CL says. It just is what it is, not worth my efforts to untangle his insanity and evilness.

          • I use the phrase so as not to have regrets or grief about the broken marriage, and as a way to accept life as I have to live it today. See couples out on Valentine’s Day? “It is what it is.” Intact families on Mother’s Day. “It is what it is.” Have to deal with an electrician the day I was supposed to get other work done? “It is what it is.”

            • My mantra is: “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.”
              Of course it ‘matters’ but in the end it doesn’t. If you know what I mean. Life goes on. He’s one guy out of 7 billion people in this world. He does not matter.

    • I got “So it goes.” tattooed on my wrist. Nothing but Vonnegut’s portrayal of the absurd quite captured how I felt about the sudden turn my life took.

    • I think in the right context for a person, It Is What It Is does it’s job. It does signify an end point of sorts. As I explained above, IIWII was used in a manner which shut me down. My context was that Cheater suddenly announced he was leaving because I could not give him “what he wants”. I just could not believe that he was walking out on me, my 4, 2 and 11mo old children. I was blindsided. All I got was “It is what it is”.

      It was triggering at the time. Nowadays, that phrase just serves as a bit of a bookmark. I’m not at all surprised or triggered on hearing that others appreciate its message. Whenever required these days, if after visitation Cheater is seeking kibbles from me (oh, “Master 2 was so grumpy today”… or “Miss 6 wouldn’t stop yelling at the boys”…) I flip it and turn it over, I serve it back occasionally to the ex, with a shrug of the shoulders and an “oh well…”

      Needless to say, I probably serve up the discussion-ending comments more and more.

      He’s such a fucktard. I hate him.

  • We love the facade they masquerade behind until it no longer serves them.I remember the shock of seeing the reality that lay behind the exterior,a Jekyll and Hyde transformation.I’ve since figured out he’s a high functioning narcissistic sociopath and he was very good at keeping his squalid secret life underground.Excellent in fact.
    It takes time for the heart to catch up with the head though.Time,a lot of pain,and no contact.

    • Seriously!! I relate to the heart catching up with the brain bit. If my heart could have chilled out long enough to listen to my brain while I was ignoring all of those glaring red flags I would have been much better off! Now my silly heart wants to ache while my brain is celebrating victory. It would be nice for them to sync up.

      • This is why we would tell a friend to immediately leave a similar situation and we stay in our own for so long. We don’t have an emotional attachment to the friend’s betrayer, so we use our brain. I wish there was a clinical trial for a drug that could temporarily shut off the love feeling after dday. I think that if a stranger came up to us and told us half the things our exes said we’d either laugh in their faces or call the cops.

        • I agree Annie, I’ve often thought that trying to break the emotional attachment I had to him for 36 years gave me an inkling of what it must be like to go through rehab for a powerful drug addiction. There are still days that I miss him, or miss who I thought he was.

          • Same here. It is the daily ritual of the shared experience, the fact that you see that person every day for years and, one day, they are gone. It is like losing a limb, something feels missing. I try to fill that loss with activity, working, gardening, spending time with the people i love. I admittedly do not give myself much free time, and I still keep my guard up to an extreme. But I am at peace with myself and no longer angry all the time, something that was long overdue. The withdrawal symptoms were a bitch.

  • I think the whole idea of agency can be confusing for us chumps. We spent so long giving the power to someone else, making our needs so small, that it’s almost a fresh concept for us to learn how to take control of ourselves, much less the situation. Then it becomes a skill that you have to cultivate in steps, deciding not to take it anymore, deciding to see an attorney, going through the necessary steps to meet with the attorney, etc. each is a building block to recovering your agency. Do it. You won’t be sorry.

    • Yes AllOutofKibble… it can actually be overwhelming to make decisions for yourself after allowing someone else that power for so long. I’ve realized that I question everything I am doing, I second guess it, I have to battle through the WWTND (What Would The Narcissist Do?) and the guilt and shame he associated with so many of my personal choices. It takes work daily but you are right… it is so worth it!!

    • This is so important, AllOutofKibble. And to extend the point, a hallmark of codependency is that the codependent’s focus is not on his or her life, but on trying to control the disordered person’s disorder–get that sick person to “do the right things,” which is what the codependent wants that person to do. So in that sense, betrayal might actually put codependency in hyperdrive, making a chump frantic to change the disordered person’s mind. Cue the pick me dance.

      In order to be in a healthy relationship, strangely enough, both parties also have to focus on their own lives, to maintain good interpersonal boundaries, to be plugged into what they are actually feeling, to know themselves well enough to say that some behaviors are deal breakers.

      • LAJ; “And to extend the point, a hallmark of codependency is that the codependent’s focus is not on his or her life, but on trying to control the disordered person’s disorder–get that sick person to “do the right things,” which is what the codependent wants that person to do.
        Sad but true.
        Cuts to the quick for some because it is often a reinjury familiar to the Chump from childhood…”this is how little you mean to me.”
        It is as if supplying this injury makes the Cheater feel powerful. The pick me dance, your devastation, your looking inward for answers instead of leaving-all kibbles for the sick. Who among us would do this and sincerely get off on it?? When we are not thinking clearly, we don’t get this.
        And right about deal breakers that we should have thought about in advance.

        • If I would have had this information when I first got married, I would have divorced without having my children. One of the things that drove me bat-shit-crazy was his, “I know you’ll be mad” attitude. For example, his staying out way past when he should have been home. He was out drinking with friends. Instead of having one or two, he would start with what I believed were good intentions and then end up staying until last call. He would say all the time, “I knew you’d be mad.” Well if he knew, why did he do it. The answer is just what you wrote above. He was showing me how little I meant to him.

          This lasted until the end. I was talking about us buying a pontoon boat we had talked about previously. It was set up specifically for fishing. I love the water and love fishing and it was something we could do together. I came back from a week of visiting my sick father and he says to me, “I know you’ll be mad, but I bought a motorcycle.” I was pissed. Not because of the purchase. We both work and make good money and could have afforded both the bike and the boat, but 1) He thought I’d be mad, but did it anyway, 2) he bought something for only him when I was talking about a major purchase that could be enjoyed by both, 3) he waited until I was out of town and for some reason thought he had to be sneaky.

          Thanks for explaining this, all of you, it has helped clarify things in my mind. I can guarantee that I will never let this go again. My response from now on to anyone who shows me how little I mean to them is, “No I’m not mad. I’m done.”

          • “No I’m not mad. I’m done.”

            That’s excellent. I’ll have to remember that!

            Don’t you think when they say “I knew you’d be mad” it’s also a way of saying “you’re too sensitive?” or, “you’re unreasonable so I’ve given up trying to please you.” Those kinds of comments invoke guilt, which is manipulative.

      • Well said, LAJ. “In order to be in a healthy relationship, both parties have to focus on their own lives, to maintain good interpersonal boundaries, to be plugged into what they are actually feeling, to know themselves well enough to say that some behaviors are deal breakers.” I believe this. But as a recovering Chump I think my many years with the ex were spent supporting his life…until I recognized that mine had value as well. And ex was always looking for recognition. Was angry work didn’t recognize his greatness. I do believe he had a secret life, he couldn’t talk about his “feelings,” and it was frustrating being with someone who was so evasive and disengaged. All red flags I ignored.

        • Drew, it’s funny how similar our ex’s are. Mine was looking for recognition all the time too. The cheating escalated after he secured a high position at his work. He was always flirting with female ho-workers and would make an excuses for his “playful personality”. At home, he is terribly disengaged and it was difficult to do “the talk” because of his evasiveness when he talks about his feelings. I’ve read that these are signs of power play. They have to keep you off-balance by letting you guess what they’re thinking.

    • “We spent so long giving the power to someone else, making our needs so small, that it’s almost a fresh concept for us to learn how to take control of ourselves, much less the situation.”

      Ha this is so true! Even on the trivial things in life, these soon ad up though.

      My new partner (and fellow chump) asked my opinion on what colour to paint her kitchen? And then took my advice. WAIT, WHAT? I was terribly confused by it all…it would usually go like this…

      1) STBXW wouldn’t even ask my opinion, she would then just impose hers and do it her way
      2) STBXW would ask my opinion and just ignore it and doing it her own way (Still at least she asked eh!)

      When you find someone that reciprocates, listens, values you and your opinion its like a breath of fresh air! Or even if you don’t have a partner the fact you can just paint your kitchen pink with blue spots is extremely liberating!

      • Oh, mickeyblueeyes, it’s like the date I went on and the gentleman asked what I wanted to do. When I was silent he said “you get to pick things for us to do too.” Stunned silence. I honestly did not know what to say. The simple concept of reciprocity literally shut me down. I had to sit and think about it. Thank goodness he is a patient man.

        • AllOutofKibble just for the record my new chump partner painted her kitchen the colour I suggested too… Imagine that, accepting my opinion and following it through!

  • Don’t love who you thought he was or who you hope he may become. Love who he actually IS.
    Don’t bet on potential.

    “If you’ve ever stayed in a relationship long past its sell by date, you’ll have worried about what you’ve ‘put in’ and become focused on getting a return on investment. Instead of thinking about who they consistently are and the present, you think about the good ‘ole days and wish they’d change back. Or you look to the future and practically squeeze your eyes shut and cross your fingers and toes that they’ll realise the potential you’ve envisioned for them and the relationship.”

    (all from Baggage Reclaim) – also great quotes for previous post!

    • You are so right, this is how I thought of it, and investment I was afraid to sell off before the market crashed.
      Cross your fingers and pray “Please Lord, tell me I didn’t waste precious decades of my life on an Asshole!! Say it ain’t so!”
      The market crashed and the little bag you finally run off with at least has your soul in it!

  • I regret I stayed so long and sacrificed so much of my self respect. It’s just there were so many reasons I kept crying, “but I love him.” I was totally invested and committed not just to him, but to our vows, to our family, to our future, to our legacy. My loyalty runs deep, and I’m not ashamed of that. Also, the needs of our family came before my own. Plus, I did not fully realize the landscape of our marriage had changed because he hid his infidelity, and things seemed so good between us. Add to that I didn’t even know there was a cheater playbook, and I guess I should be willing to understand why it took me two full years to leave him. But still.

    Even though now the anguish of heartbreak seems unbearable at times, betrayal stings, and change in the wake of this tragedy is scary, I am much better off looking at my actual circumstances, facing the end of our marriage head on, and seeing that my spouse has lost his mind along with his moral compass and any shred of decency or good judgement he ever had.

    I believed it when he told me he’d never do it again and actually thought he would move out or file if he didn’t love me. I was not thinking with the mind of a cheater who just wanted cake. My eyes have been open, CL, and through my tears I can see healing and a peaceful future ahead. I just need to get my bearings and move steadily toward them.

    • NWHI, you have nothing to regret or feel ashamed about. You loved truly and loyally and of course you wanted to keep your marriage and your family together. Almost everyone here has followed the same path. Some got off the path sooner, and some later, but the point is the journey leads to the same place eventually. The fact that you can’t think like a cheater or anticipate the baseness to which someone can sink is a testament to your goodness, your moral compass, and your decency. His is in the toilet, as you now see. Don’t beat yourself up for not seeing it sooner.

    • I regret I stayed so long and sacrificed so much of my self respect

      In a nutshell.

      So much time, and youth, wasted. And I did love her. I didn’t love me enough.

      • “So much time, and youth, wasted. And I did love her. I didn’t love me enough”.
        Jim, my problem is/was that I never, ever loved or valued myself and that is another very long story. Having said that, I “loved, valued and respected” everyone and everything in my life so much so that I literally became invisible and I always referred to myself as just “plain old Maree”, never as someone’s daughter, sister, wife, mother or anything, I was just nothing in my own mind and yet now I realise I am something and of good solid value and that I always have been.

    • Never would have imagined – You are programmed correctly and that is to keep the bonds you have created as a family. Any normal person would feel like you do. In fact, with real men, it would take a gun to their head before they even contemplate leaving their families. But cheaters are never bonded with us to begin with, they are disordered mentally and never really attach. They go through the motions of getting married, having children, but they really aren’t invested. They just don’t put much thought into it, and when things no longer suit their needs, they just bail. Cowards do this.

        • I just told asswipe exactly that a month ago. Oh and hes not human but an evil pod. He became furious saying why? My answer was you didnt not tell me about your strange not because you didnt want to hurt me but because you didnt want to suffer consequences being called out on it ergo slimy, sniffing coward pod. Big strong tough alfa male afraid of itty bitty me. Waa waa waa. Hes is all bark no bite. Whores afraid of him it delights her. Me im not told him to bite me.

          • “Bite me” is my favorite line. Yep, mine is a coward too. I didn’t want to admit it. What woman wants to admit that the man she chose cannot have a difficult conversation as an adult. I don’t like having difficult conversations either. I have them all day at work, every day, and the last thing I want to do in my personal life is confront a problem. But I’m an adult and it’s what we do.

            I don’t scream obscenities at random drivers, I don’t get pissed at my kids and huff and puff around the house, and I don’t storm out of the house because my spouse calls me on my bullshit. I ignore reckless drivers, I tell my children what is expected and hold them accountable, and if my husband would tell me a concern I would have sat and listen and responded, not react in an overly emotional childlike behavior of denial, tantrums, or blame shifting. I also don’t feel the need to get tattoos on my body announcing to the world that I am a protector (in Latin no less) because I am a protector and my actions prove what tattooed words never can.

            • Well said. Im pretty happy being me. Fuck that asswipe. I have the love and devotion of my kids. He doesnt. They only love him cause they have to just like he did with them they dont like him and one of them the girl rarely responds to him now. Hes talking to her about sharing holidays she puffed up and told him she does what she wants and she will see him when she wants not the other way around. Hes pissed at her and me about that blames me of course as always she screamed at her dad you are the asshole not mom!

              • I feel so so sorry for that poor child, it makes me want to sob.
                The problems her Dad caused her, all for what?
                And, she suffers the rest of her life.

                Thank God for MamaBear!

              • Shes all grown and tough she used to idolize her dad because he rarely even pays attention to her even worse sunce the affair. I text her she answers me right away the rare occasions he texts her she makes him wait two or three days. He asks me hows shes doing hes jealous cause she and i talk and text all the time. I told him call her fuckhead not my job to tell you how shes doing.

            • I lived with the same personality, complete opposite of the one he presents to outsiders. No one would believe it’s the same person.
              I wonder this side of his personality has been revealed to his gf.
              Not only a coward but a nasty bully. How brave he is behind the wheel of a car or to his wife and children. Same person couldn’t ask the gardener why he didn’t install the sprinkler system on the side of the house that we paid for.

        • I know this is an older post, but Annie Get Your Gun “I didn’t realize that I married a coward, but I know I divorced one.” Best line ever. Thank you for this little gem, I will remind myself of this every single day!

      • “”But cheaters are never bonded with us to begin with, they are disordered mentally and never really attach. They go through the motions of getting married, having children, but they really aren’t invested. They just don’t put much thought into it, and when things no longer suit their needs, they just bail. Cowards do this””

        ^^^THIS^^^
        My ex wife told me as she was dumping me for Mr Wonderful after 24 years together and 2 kids that not only had she been thinking about leaving for 2 years BUT it also “never felt right” in 24 years. Fuck her.

    • Divorce Minister, can you give a little info about 180, no contact from a biblical perspective, love and forgiveness. I’ve been looking at 1Corithians 5 but I’d like more scripts if you can list them. No explanation needed but if I can get some references.
      I at one time a looooong time ago, thought we were to suffer in silence, forgiving all the while listening to chanting monks in the background. My ex took advantage of that. I’ve since then changed but people often use Christian beliefs in an effort to further manipulate their victim.
      Thanks

      • Just a note that “180,” as I understand it, is a reconciliation idea that chumps do a “180” and stay out of contact with a spouse in order to manipulate him or her into coming back or changing behavior. This contrasts with “no contact” as we talk about it here, which is a tool for getting the distance, perspective and peace of mind to recognizing gaslighting and manipulation from a disordered spouse or partner. “No contact” here is about removing ourselves from abuse in order to recover.

  • Now three years later, it just boils down to I really LOVED him with all my heart. I no longer love him anymore. Given the preponderance of evidence of the despicable, cruel and criminal things he did to me, my rational mind can not allow this. My heart wanted to spackle and not look at what was really going on… it still tries to love him from time to time. I can review the evidence and I have agency to make decisions in my best interest now…
    One big example of just wanting to love him despite what a monster he was in the end is I would fantasize about being with the man I married who was long gone. It took me so long to accept reality but now that is all I have.

  • OMG everyone here is right…but it took me SO long to realize it.

    After lies, betrayal and abuse, nowdeadhusband said to me “I wont apologize for falling in love” completely ignoring the neglect he subjected his family to in order to devote time to this nebulous thing that descended on him like fairy dust….and his “lurve” justified the whole thing. Fuck that.

    Looking back now, I would have had more respect for him if he would have said “I have decided I no longer want to be in this relationship and we will be handling the details of our divorce quickly and respectfully, please do not try to talk me out of it”. But no, the desire for CAKE CAKE CAKE motivates him to play me and blame me and manipulate me and lie to me – THAT is what pisses me off now.

    and I did CHOOSE to love him…I remember after one particular round of abuse, it was so bad that I felt myself come to a crossroads and CHOOSE to keep loving him (which I did for another 8 years until I learned more of what he did since the only truth I got was trickle truth). I would have been better off if I had chosen not to love him.

    • Yes! My soon to be ex Narcissist has told me so many times “I deserve to be loved and appreciated” and “since you don’t appreciate me and since you abandoned me… you can’t get upset when someone else wants to love me.” He also insists that he never ‘cheated on’ because you know apparently having sex with someone else while you are married does not equal cheating. He justifies it all by saying that I had already emotionally abandoned him so it doesn’t count.

      • Funny how THEY get to decide what ‘counts’ and doesn’t, what’s allowed and what isn’t! And it’s always in THEIR favour. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence ……

        • Great point KarenE. They are the supreme being and authority (in their minds) that what they say goes. Yeah, since they have such great morals and values that they should be the ones preaching values for others. We need to bend our narrative to fit their own fucked up notions. No thanks. Anytime I deal with someone who thinks everything is my fault, I’m out in a millisecond. I’m not dealing with that kind of mental toxicity. And this guy justifies that his affair isn’t cheating is a mental nut bag who belongs in the looney bin. No use in arguing with crazy.

      • My exN said a similar thing, “you killed our love years ago so I no longer felt married to you”. He, of course failed to let me in on this information. He was still playing husband and father, while living a double life of debauchery. When asked why he didn’t leave “years ago” if he had felt that way, he replied that the kids were young, etc. He only decided to leave when he had an acceptable replacement he found on a dating site. Of course he didn’t actually leave as I was dancing desperately for another couple of years. Eventually, his girlfriend sent me a letter setting me straight about their “true luv” and I filed. Best decision I ever made.

        • Passive-aggressive! You are supposed to know that he loves french toast and doesn’t like your razor left in the shower, the kids to be in bed at a certain time, dinner at 6:00 pm, or some other lame excuse he/she has been holding against you for years. Seething under the surface with crazy lame shit to hold against you. Building a case against you while you are fat, dumb & happy thinking everything is fine & that they love you. Ugh.
          You could really never win, the deck was stacked against you.

          • Amen!! They are the ultimate grudge holders. We constantly forgive them, yet they let every imagined slight fester against us.

  • I forgave him, even though he was a cruel heartless, mean, dishonest, cheating SOB. You can’t fault a snake for being a snake.
    Someone I know often says ” I love you with the love of Jesus.” That’s what my goal is now to love and not hate.

    • Not the gooey love that Chumplady is speaking of, but one we give to a despicable human being from afar.

      • Renewed

        Love from afar? Love yourself, not the despicable. Part of detaching is to look at their actions. Had to get STD testing and treatment? Discarded as if I was trash?

        The opportunity to detach with love was not in the playbook.

        If you make two lists, one of the excuses they used to maintain their position on the pedistal and one of their actions you can detach with self love.

        Reject the excuses which come with blame. It wasn’t love.

        • :”Love with the love of Jesus” or “loving from afar” is not romantic or erotic love. It’s recognizing an individual for who they are, what they did and letting go of your right to seek vengence. If I hate him I only hold myself captive. We share a family together and any poison brought into the family will be carried by him only. He did what his character dictated and therefore is a despicable human being, but still a human being and the father of my kids with many talents. His loss, not mine.
          We all reap what we sow. I have given the right of vengence to God.

          • I can’t find that place first because I will never respect him. Secondly, every action was deliberate, and it’s a waste of energy loving an evil person

              • I do have peace and I am taking care of myself. I found that once I stopped loving my abuser.

              • I don’t think it’s about making a choice between love and hate, its about accepting some very painful truths. The opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference, or in chumpspeak, meh.

            • Also, loving an evil person can get you killed. Or at a minimum, ruin your whole life, and cause loss of sanity and happiness.

              What is the pay off?

              They see your love as weakness, and will keep coming back to exploit and hurt you until you are a puddle on the floor. They will step over you, and move on.

              Loving that, even with detachment or some type of religion or spiritual bent would be…tragic and a waste of precious time.

              • What exactly are you referring to as love? Praying that God has his will in an individual’s life is not a waste of time. For those that believe we are told to pray for our enemies. For me prayer has in no way diminished my life but in fact just the opposite. We do have some rewards here on life as well as after death.

          • Sorry, just not evolved enough to love cheater ex from any perspective. My best effort seem to be meh. Vengeance and justice are between him and Spirit. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

            I’m not giving him anymore time, thought or pain than I have to. Because of circumstances, I can’t opt out entirely, which sucks, frankly, but I do try to minimize it as much as possible.

  • This is so powerful to read. The same agency they employed to be evil… to lie, gaslight, cheat, and withhold sex, and leave me and our son is the same agency I can choose to use for good… to choose to let go of love that was abused… to let go of the hopium pipe… to let go of the past… and to create a better day today.

    What Mr. Sparkles has now with OW isn’t love. It’s manipulation and lies and control. He began that relationship with LIES (and I will prove it in court, which is my superpower!)… and as we know, any relationship that begins with lies, ends with lies.

    I choose not to love Mr. Sparkles today. I choose to stop looking backward because that view isn’t going to change.

    As Georgia above said, “Don’t bet on potential.”… I add… “Even Charles Manson had ‘potential’!”

    • His potential wasn’t realized because I was doing all the work. In the end I was blamed because he couldn’t get anywhere. It’s funny now. He was living his potential all along I just didn’t know he was that Limited.

      I had to alter my life around his business and business was his code word for cheating. His business is failing and he’s going into his future penniless. Lol

    • I can Almost, these are great!
      1. “choose to let go of love that was abused”
      2. “stop looking backward because that view isn’t going to change”

      cutting and pasting these to put into my journal
      thanks for putting these healing thoughts into words

  • I really loved my husband. I still divorced him and got the hell away from him. When someone has deliberately, with malice aforethought, over an extended period of time and repeatedly taken actions that have threatened your life and your security and your spirit, then you need to run. You can still love them from afar if you must.

    • M, I feel the same way. I really genuinely love a man who has almost succeeded in ruining my life. But the turning point for me was realizing that he never actually loved me. He loved the supply I gave him, he loved what my love did for his ego… but it was never about me… anyone could fulfill that for him. It got easier to move ahead with the separation, no contact, and divorce from there.

      • This. He didn’t love me but he loved that I loved him. And who wouldn’t enjoy watching someone else’s face light up with happiness when all you did was walk in the room? And the sad thing is that I recognized this fact 32 years ago, but I truly did feel that intense wash of warm, happy emotion when he was with me and I brushed the non-reciprocity out of my mind so as not to interfere with the dopamine rush I loved so much. Asking a chump to walk away from their beloved narc is like asking any addict to recognize their addiction is causing more pain than good. CL is our own personal Chumps Anonymous, I guess.

    • M, this is IT, all the way.

      I always thought that if two people loved each other, they could figure out the hard stuff in their lives and their relationship. That’s a big part of what kept me trying, after Affair #1. Well, I really did love him, and I kicked him out after I found out about Affair #2, still loving him. I knew my heart would eventually catch up with my head (and it did). What helped was recognizing that HE DIDN’T LOVE ME. He loved himself, and he loved some of what I brought to HIM, but not actually me, myself, as I am, the way I loved him. And what killed any love for him that I had left, killed it dead dead dead, was recognizing that he also didn’t love his kids, or at least not enough to actually think about their well-being, as he made a year and a half’s worth of decision that impacted their lives in huge ways.

      That’s not love. I’m not sure what it is, I guess just kibbles and image management. Disgusting stuff.

      • KarenE, I always love your posts. I think we had a similarly narcissistic cheater… when My Exhole was Raging at me, back in the a regular occurence on the cycle of abuse rollercoaster I lived in, he was always blathering on about me not “validating” him. Chump that I am, I would try to interject ideas about how we could, I could, whatever – do things differently. He would ALWAYS burst out screaming, “It’s! Not! About! You! Muse!” This went on for sixteen years. Silly me, I thought yeah, if two people love each other they could talk it out. But he seemed to resent my very existence. After being screamed at, spittle dribbling down his vile chin, I would sometimes cry because I could hold it in no longer. Voila! Cheater would instantly Burst Into Tears because it’s always (don’t you forget it!) ALL ABOUT HIM. He was the victim the poor little guy. Muse wouldn’t understand him, couldn’t understand his intensity (rage) over petty little shit that a normal person would just deal with. I don’t know if it’s scientific or not but my conclusion is that he was having a narcissistic injury… he actually hated himself. While thinking he’s Speshul.

        • Oh god, Muse, YES! When things got bad (and to justify his cheating), my ex would always complain about not feeling loved, because I somehow wasn’t ‘showing’ my love. Meanwhile, I was ridiculously warm, affectionate, sexual, and supportive, and constantly responding to his always-shifting ‘needs’. Frequent narcissistic injury, and self-hate wrapped in entitlement and arrogance.

          • same here and not only was I loving, warm, and supportive but I would apologize on and on and endlessly on but it was NEVER enough for his wounded state. WTF.

      • Yeah, what kind of father bails on sending their kids to college (when he can well and truly afford it?), and steals their savings? Who never attends their children’s High School activities because he is busy fucking his skank? Who buys their children cars then wants them written into the settlement? Who hands out scholarships to other people’s children, takes a family vacation to check out colleges and just never shows up when their kid is off to college? Who vacates the family home with twenty eight years of stuff, returns to vandalize it and allows it to foreclose?!?!? Graduations come along and his whole dysfunctional family shows up. If that isn’t disgusting I don’t know what is.

        • My friend’s dad was exactly like this. He left her mom to be with other women, and never contributed a dime to my friend’s education. She went to Law school and become a successful lawyer. Meanwhile, he contributes to charities and other organizations, has a high position in his company, yet doesn’t contribute a dime towards his own child. Yup. I see this happen often. It’s disgusting indeed. Doesn’t give a shit about her mom and doesn’t give a shit about his very own daughter.

  • One counselor I worked with, way back when, talked about how you can’t make yourself stop feeling what you feel, so the only reasonable way to let go when you still feel deep love is to change your thinking about what the love means in your real life.

    The “but how can I walk away when I still love him so much?” became “the feeling of love that’s been holding me back is still strong, but that is just one part of what’s happening, and it isn’t a problem solver.”

    I see now that she was teaching me to allow my feelings while bringing thinking back to the front of my awareness, to empower myself to take action without invalidating my heart or wasting precious time and energy on impossible efforts. She helped me move into “Yes, I still love him, and maybe I always will, but he’s an asshole, and this is killing me, and I need my f’ing life back.”

    Smart lady.

  • D-day was the ultimate buzz-kill for me. I had put up with 20 years of basic BS when I discovered the cheating… That was the deal-breaker.

    Up until then he had me snowed and I played with the hand I was dealt because I loved my family, but from that day forward the rules of his game were changed. I still had vestiges of chumpiness to sort through (that perhaps he would straighten up and fly right), however, I started getting my ducks in a row as my gut was telling me he wasn’t gonna change. My gut didn’t lie.

    Love yourself enough to not waste your love, time and energy in a bad investment.

    • Same here Over and Out, up until finding out about my X’s affair, I was doing my best to build a future for our family, I thought we were on the same team, I attributed his crankiness to stress from work, from parenting, from missing our families, etc.

      Then I found evidence about his betrayal and lies, and progressively figured out that his “I love yous” were really “Dang chumptitude, you make me look so good!” Deal breaker, and cue to divorcing him.

      Now I put my energy towards my and our kiddo’s growth, a much better investment!

      • What’s up with the crankiness? these disordered individuals are always cranky, and we keep making excuses for them. I had 2 abusive exes and the crankiness was always present, and I twisted myself in a pretzel to be pleasant with them, to set the example for them. Now when I see someone is cranky all the time, I’m outta there. Life is short to be dealing with a friggin moody losers all the time. My mother was always cranky, and she was mentally ill, incessantly raging and NEVER happy. So glad I went NC with her. No thanks, she can direct her crankiness all towards herself.

        • ~The Crankiness

          I have experienced this as well, both with Meth Boy and some other freaks. I think it is because they do not have any inner resources to fall back on when they do not have the following:

          drama
          deceit
          drugs
          secret sex or sex in the moment
          or some type of pleasure (to their warped minds)

          They need constant stimulation because their minds are like wastelands, with parched soil and tumbleweeds blowing across it, no oasis of calm in sight. So, they get irritated, rude and moody when they are not being “entertained” or the lights are not sparking in their strange minds.

          They are not capable of experiencing peaceful JOY from everyday pleasures or life; a good book, a cup of coffee, a morning walk, just talking in bed. They need the high drama, the he said/she said, the secret affairs, all that underground stuff that makes them feel superior to the trusting chump.

          Meth Boy and I had no money problems, a true blessing in this economy. We had 4 homes between us to stay in, one on a river, nice cars, no children, and lots of free time, as I work from home or anywhere and he does not have to work. A dream life.

          And guess what? 97% of the time, he was NOT happy. I can count on two hands the times he was truly relaxed and happy. (And it was probably chemically induced and false) He was always: sad, raging, high, passed out or distracted and acting cranky and nervous.

          I would try to show him how lucky we were…a fool’s errand.

          What a shit sandwich I settled for. It is pathetic. It is absurd what I accepted as “love”.

          • SS; Great post! Loved the visual of parched soil and tumbleweeds going by in their minds. Cue up Tombstone Territory!

            • Thank you Regina!!!

              I know that topic first hand. I was sitting in Panera Bread with Meth Boy (thanks Anita!!!) and an elderly woman came up to me, put her arms around me at the drink machines and told me I was with a demon and that I needed to escape. She did not appear to be homeless or insane.

              This is because he was eating stone faced, not speaking, barely holding his aggression in check and I had tears streaming down my face.

              What a great life! And this I miss?

              • OMGosh Sabine! On 3 separate occasions complete strangers said things like that to me, just out of the blue! Of course all of our family and friends thought he was such a great guy because he was very good at hiding his true self when we were around anyone else. He even had our entire church congregation fooled while he put on a big show of studying to be a Pastor, participated in VBS, finding ways to entertain all the kids, etc. He had a VERY good mask and wore it well but somehow those strangers saw right through it and tried to warn me. I wish I had listened.

        • It’s a sign they are not getting their way, and other people will pay for that. Most of these cheaters, once discovered, also had some version of “You weren’t listening to me…you weren’t doing what I wanted…You weren’t doing what I asked,” as a way to justify their affairs.

          Both the crankiness and their affair-excuses are a sign that they feel *entitled* to shape our identities and our behaviors; we are not human beings to them with our own thoughts, feelings, opinions–our value to them is dependent on how well we conform to their “perfect-life-for-ME” agenda.

        • I think, in some cases, the crankiness is a sign of the devaluation process. Everything we chumps do, or the kids do, or the cats and dogs do, irritates them and feeds the devaluation. Or because they have already devalued us, all that we do irritates them. It’s a cycle.

          • Yes, because God forbid they approve of anything we do. The only way they relate to us is with contempt and disapproval. The goal is not to relate to us as equals, but to relate to us as inferior to them. And they train us to know our place, and this constantly sucking up to them, trying to gain their approval. I don’t play into that anymore. The second someone is perpetually cranky at me and disapproves what I say, there won’t be a next meeting. Or a next time ever.

          • LAJ, this was a truth for me. I believe he started devaluing me in a Big Way the second he began his “true love” affair. I stood up for myself and called him on his crap because my children (in high school and college) were witness to it. I knew I deserved to be treated well. I wish I had the knowledge to key into those waving red flags though…as I do feel like I wasted a great deal of my life married to him. Now I am making up for lost time, trying to fit everything I want in (and still support my kids, who are still struggling with their pretend father and Disney Dad). Blech!

        • Yep, crankiness. His response to me saying how beautiful the day was, “It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.” I think that if they were pleasant we would want to be around them and talk to them. This may have led to a slip of the tongue and an uncovered lie. Better to be cranky and keep you at a distance and focusing your energy on trying to make him happy then for you to get a closer look.

      • Oh gosh, the crankiness!!!!!!!!!!!! The negativity, the criticism of everyone and everything, the judgment, the moodiness, the walking on eggshells, the trying to manage the kids so they wouldn’t act up and make his crankiness worse, the wrecking of perfectly nice days, occasions and trips, the doing more and more and more to take stress and annoyance off him so he might be less cranky ….!

        Weirdly, I got super fed up with the crankiness almost a year before Affair #2 led to my kicking him out, told him I intended to end our relationship because of it, he said he didn’t want that and SUPER improved, much less cranky and unpleasant. The kids and I loved that, it was SO much better for us, we showed him so much appreciation for that effort, our sex life improved, everything was better.

        So he fucked around again and I kicked him out, and later I find out that although he treated us better through that last period, he was still thinking ALL the same negative, critical nasty things, he was just ‘biting his tongue’ on them, and resented that I required him to behave better. And apparently how much happier the kids and I were meant nothing to him, zilch. Sigh.

          • I wish these assholes would have appreciated you all…I truly do. You are so witty and well written, insightful and fun.

            There was a friend of mine who told me the funniest, saddest story. She divorced her husband and had remarried and was so happy! I said, why do you leave your first husband? How did you find these happiness?

            She stared into the distance, and she said…many reasons, but here is the main one.

            Every morning, each morning, without fail, for 10 years….when the alarm clock would go off, and they were to start their day, her husband (EVERY MORNING) would

            exclaim:

            “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWW SHIT!!!!”

            Every. single. morning.

            She said one morning, she got up, threw on a robe, grabbed her Pekinese Ming, got her keys and never went back. She never went back. She had her sister get her few clothes and knickknacks and she did it all through her lawyer. She never saw or spoke to him again. She learned of his death through the obits.

            She is my hero.

        • This is how chumpy I was — when our kids were little, they would get so excited when Daddy got home from work. One night he told to me that I needed to keep the kids busy and off of him when he first got home because he was “tired after working all day and he needed time to unwind”. I was absolutely floored by that request.

          However after his continued bitching about it, I started giving them their baths at that time to keep him happy. I also told him that some day he would regret being so selfish because when the kids got older that excitement would disappear and no one would give a damn when he came home.

          From then on, he’d come home, grab a few beers and disappear to the computer room for an hour or so. The kids eventually caught on that he was home, but he wouldn’t allow them to bother him until he ready. That kind of deflated their enthusiasm.

          Years later, I discovered why he had such a damn obsession with the computer… Porn and chat rooms.

          All those years he missed out on our children’s pure joy to see him walk through the door every night.

  • It’s very difficult to accept that you’ve loved in vain, even after you have the proof of years of infidelity and serial cheating in front of you. Inside, you just keep screaming NO! NO! NO! I think that’s at least part of the reason why so many of us try to reconcile after D-day – we’re trying to avoid the truth that our love was wasted on a person that did not value us in the same way. It’s very hard to come to grips with that if you were really invested, had kids, a home, built a life and had plans for the future.

    Cheaters were not who we thought they were, we misjudged them, they exploited us, and we did love in vain (at least in terms of my own views of what love looks like). Bad enough, but after years of having our self-worth destroyed, we discover that the road home requires us to find something in us that has been siphoned down to a minimum over years of abuse – love for ourselves. Tough hill to climb, but that’s the path. Choose yourself, and stop investing in someone who doesn’t deserve you. You can never love yourself in vain.

  • I saw this last week and it seems to fit. I just wish I’d seen it before 4 years of ‘yeah but I love him’….

    ‘if you’re torn between your head and heart remember that one is specifically designed for thinking and the other is a pump’

    I wish I knew who to attribute the quote to because it’s fabulous

  • I have often reflected on what it must be like to be the cheater and watch someone you are abusing in every way discover the truth and then continue to indicate they still love you in word and deed. How surreal that must be. “I am a complete shit. She knows it. She is apologizing to ME!! Wow.” I imagine they find it very affirming of their high self opinion and also extremely useful. There really must be no limit to really bad things they can now imagine doing without any fear of consequences. I suggest that we chumps turn these assholes’ world view on its head. Let them know they suck in your every facial expression, word, and deed. Their mother obviously never let them know they suck … so we’ll just have to do it ourselves. The world will be a better place. Be a humanitarian. Do it for Mother Earth, if not yourself. Just.Do.It.

    • It’s chilling to think about. Mine actually admitted that he didn’t think about how his actions impacted me or our child. He was well aware of his behavior and he didn’t think it was something that needed changing. Gives me the creeps in retrospect.

      • He didn’t think about how his actions impacted you or your child??! Are you kidding me? This is not normal, and denotes a total lack of conscience. And to add that he didn’t think his behavior needed changing, but yet was well aware of it. He’s likely to be a sociopath or psychopath. Someone who has an underdeveloped conscience and emotional maturity. So not normal, I shudder at the thought humans like this exist. I’m sorry this was your husband, what a monster he is. Big hugs to you.

        • Kellia, I know a woman who has an son in grade school. She’s cheating. And she openly disrespects–devalues–her husband in public. She’s not thinking at all of her son. It’s all “me me me me me.” If cheaters thought about the impact of their behavior on their children and their spouse, they wouldn’t do what they do. In order to cheat, you have to devalue the people you are betraying. You have to think you are entitled to what you want and it doesn’t matter what happens to tun. In that sense, none of them are “normal.”

          • That’s just awful. As if these individuals get stuck at the age of 6, with no consideration of how their actions may affect others. It’s as if their emotional growth was stunted and they have adult bodies but the minds of 6 years old. You can’t expect a 6 year old to understand the ramifications of their actions, they’re not fully mature yet. Same with these disordered individuals, they think like children.

            • I’m convinced that my ex is a 4 year old in a big, handsome man’s body. But he’s also very very smart, so I think it’s not just about immaturity. It’s mainly the entitlement; he doesn’t have to think about consequences, for himself or anybody else, because, well, he doesn’t have to. And anybody who requires him to is a pain in the ass, and anybody who maintains boundaries and therefore creates consequences is mean, self-righteous and bitter. He’s always right, and even when he’s wrong, he’s right, and EVERYTHING is somebody else’s fault.

      • My ex also admitted to me that for a YEAR AND A HALF, from the moment Schmoopie hit on him, through my kicking him out shortly thereafter, up until our kids started refusing to see him, he NEVER thought about how all this was impacting them or would impact them. NEVER thought about how they felt through so many decisions he made that any functioning 10 year old could see had huge effects on them. NEVER thought about how to make this easier for them, how to help them feel secure in his love and caring, how to preserve his relationship with him, not a SINGLE THOUGHT.

        This is NOT normal. Frankly it makes me feel sick. I SO regret giving my kids this man as a father. They would have been better off if I’d just had kids on my own.

        • Not “normal,” as if “what decent people would do,” but “typical,” as in “how cheaters behave.”

        • That reminds me of something I asked my X after D-day. I said, “you spent numerous coffee shop hours with her, then went to her apartment, then you started to undress each other. At any point, did you think, “I should stop, this would hurt Tempest”?

          He responded, “No, I was too focused on lust at that point.”

          Cheater psyche in a nutshell. These are people who would not pass the marshmallow test, even if they knew the marshmallow was supposed to go to a starving child.

          • “These are people who would not pass the marshmallow test, even if they knew the marshmallow was supposed to go to a starving child.”

            This is as a succinct and accurate description of how a Cheater’s or Entitled Person’s mind works as you will ever get – and apparently you met my EX. 🙂

            • My ex would never pass the marshmallow test, even if he knew the marshmallow would go to his OWN starving child.

        • KarenE

          This is what sold me on his being a sociopath. The fact he chose to discard his children and granddaughter.

      • To this day, 1.5+ years out from D-day, mine disavows that he betrayed the children, too. And disavows that the affair was a big deal, and says it was 50% my fault because “marital problems.” He’d rather blameshift than try to win back DD15 who hasn’t talked to him in a year and a half. They don’t change.

        • Saddam flew into an utter rage after an MC session when he told me his cheating was 50% my fault and I told him it was 100% his fault. He lost his shit because I wouldn’t agree with that bullshit. What is it with the 50% shit? No, I had zero to do with your deciding to cheat, my admission that we had some relationship problems does not mean I’m responsible for your dysfunctional way of dealing with it. And by the way asshole, cheating on me because my Mom died and I wasn’t there for you is not a reason to cheat, it’s a reason to help me for Christ’s sake! The one time I needed you to take care of me you fucked me over because I was depressed and while I was supposed to help you through chronic depression you couldn’t even help me for 9 months? Fuck you and the stupid woman you fucked instead of helping me.

          • Other than it being the death of my son, same same. I’m sorry he wasn’t able to be there for you, Dat.

    • Dixie Chump I have often wondered the same.That’s why I could kick myself for ever having done the prolonged pick me dance.How powerful and smug he must have felt to have me competing for him.These disordered fuckers get a high from the triangulation.
      I prefer silence to pointing out the horror of who he really is however.It is impossible to prick the conscience of someone who has none and who is utterly devoid of empathy.What these people hate is the sound of silence.No engagement.No energy.Nothing signals to their brains that you are done forever like NC.

      • You are right … No Contact shatters their world like no other action. At least I HOPE it does!!! I like to think he is occasionally lonely over in that one bedroom roach-infested apartment. Or perhaps “inconvenienced” … probably the best I can hope for. I am still working on not spending mental energy pondering what emotion he might be feeling at any given moment. Meh is still a long ways off.

        • You will get there.It took me years to get to meh.
          I don’t think these people are capable of feeling deep emotions.Their emotions are superficial and transient as sociopaths are incapable of truly bonding with anyone.
          When you withdraw into silence and stop granting energy and attention it causes them the discomfort of feeling the lack of narcissistic supply.
          I loved him with all my heart and soul and it caused me so much anguish to let go of the fantasy of who I thought he was.Healing took a long time but I am healed whereas he will always be a sociopath.

          • I want to be at where you are im getting there. I become more indifferent every day. When i hear you dont smile at me….you dont chit chat with me….why are you not listening to me? I just turn and say you fired me remember and being friends is not on the menu. Hes finally buying the house his shop is here so i see him six days a week. He acts like nothing happened i act indifferent as in when is the closing date theres a life waiting for me i need to get to it. He looks sad and still keeps yapping. They just dont get it. Him and his whore are broken up yet again. And again my fault. I guess a part of me will always love the man i married but im slowly burying those memories. The pod i divorced cant stand the sight of him whiny, crabby lying little pod bitch. Two different creatures i guess the latter is what he is since he let the demons out. I want no part of him and his madness anymore. I just want to be free and me. He talks about his future with huge dread and self pity wah, wah, wah. He puts on a fantastic act when other people are around but me, his family, his kids suffer the real him, verbal abuse and anger they dont deserve, neither did i. Let the whore have him, shes thrown him out four times she thinks she can change him. Ha! Good luck with that. I aint perfect but im feeling a whole lot better. Love you guys you have all been a life saver.

            • “When i hear you dont smile at me….you dont chit chat with me….why are you not listening to me?”

              If things were going well with the OW and they were still together, he wouldn’t be saying these things to you. It’s because he’s single again and needs attention, that’s why he’s coming back to good ol’ faithful Kar Marie. So manipulative. And these are the consequences of his decisions. Why should you listen to him or talk to him? Did he do any of those things when he was cheating on you? Too bad, so sad for him. He is realizing the consequences of his decisions and coming to grip with it.

          • DeeDee

            “I don’t think these people are capable of feeling deep emotions.Their emotions are superficial and transient as sociopaths are incapable of truly bonding with anyone
            When you withdraw into silence and stop granting energy and attention it causes them the discomfort of feeling the lack of narcissistic supply.”

            This is it exactly! Great post and walking away from a sociopath is the club I want to be a member in.

        • Dixie,
          Your point is so perceptive about how the cheater must feel with the chump’s Ghandi like forgiveness for abominations.
          Meth Boy actually said to me: I would not put up with the shit I do from a woman for one second.

          If that was not someone telling me who they were.. what was? I just stared at him in silence and I guess…shock?

          They think we are fools.

          Let me be clear on this: (Sorry if it is gender specific but I can only go on what I know)

          When a man is done with a woman, he is DONE. He moves on and cheats and he is out there.
          He is not on a website analyzing any of his behavior, mooning over how he wronged her. I think that they stay on when it is convenient (food, clean clothes, an errand runner) and when they get that bit sorted out, they move right on.

          Forgiving them when they act like creatures from hell further emboldens them to act more monstrous. I see this now. It cost me a lot to learn it.

          *Loneliness and the fear of abandonment, is a terminal disease and can make you behave like an absolute clueless fool*

          • “cheater must feel with the chump’s Ghandi like forgiveness for abominations.

            and

            Forgiving them when they act like creatures from hell further emboldens them to act more monstrous”

            Forgiveness for me is a setting of boundaries. I think Paul said it best when he told us to expell the immoral brother and let satan have his way with him. Quite different than what you describe. We don’t swoon an twiddle our thumbs over the cheaters action. Quite the opposite.

            You get out of the way ansd let God have his way.

            • I think staying in a marriage long term with prove of fidelity is Ghandi like forgiveness. What else would it be?

              It is certainly not holding them to any standards of decency..right?

              But, everyone does not believe that a divine cosmic justice will make all the pain in the world go away. They just don’t. It is a deus ex machina solution, magical, to some minds.

              But, if that gives you comfort that is super. But not everyone can hope that a Sky Wizard or a “Satan” idea will make years of abuse, betrayal, treachery and heartache set right in an abacus that no one can see, or has no proof of.

              • People get stuck for all kinds of reasons. And forgiveness isn’t condoning or accepting the behavior, it’s letting go which consequently gets you unstuck.

              • Fellow Chumps…I got a text from satan 2 days ago…

                …and it read…

                ‘Somehow I don’t feel responsible for everything that happened. I miss you everyday.’

                …narc much satan?

                …yeah…I don’t think there is much to hope for in relationships with these disordered users.

                …I’m guessin he was ‘dateless’ or ‘lonely’ or ‘low on fuel – aka kibbles’…ugh

  • First off, it’s probably not love they have for the other person, it’s dysfunction and the highs and low drama makes you think it’s love, when it’s not. Love is calm, respectful, mutual. And waiting to be loved is not love. Also, if they love the person, then they should just shut up and not complain about the person or the relationship.

  • Ex gloated that even years later one of his OW still loved him and missed his d*ck. It was incredible boost to his ego to think that some woman out there somewhere was pining over him.Gag. He also referred to her as a troll in the same breath. History rewrite anyone? Towards the end he could not keep it inside any longer. A real gem.

    • It seems to be cheaterspeak to view the world as though another person’s genitals are such a specific point of unique focus that a person could/would miss the other person’s genitals specifically. It is so bizarre. By that logic, if someone loved your cooking, and you loved cooking for them, you would have to miss their taste buds, esophagus, stomach, and bowels (and anus, Nomar, LOL!) whenever they weren’t around.

      So weird.

      • Ex would often describe a woman in particular by a certain body part. You know “so and so with the big tits.” He also suffered with ED and hid his prescription. Modern medicine has provided the cheater with an extended time to cheat. It’s unfortunate as couples that have this issue really benefit from these meds.

        • I would expect a 16 year old to talk like this, but not a grown man. Would you ever say oh that’s the guy with the bulging dick. This guy has the emotional maturity of a pimple faced immature 13 year old.

              • He really sucked his thumb? What does that EVEN MEAN???

                Spot on. Imagine if I said to a person:..You know, Larry the guy with HUGE balls? Yeah, he bought a time share and had a problem…

                No professional in my field would NOT know I said that. But when a man says it….

    • Asswipe said every woman hed ever been with still wanted him and would never forget what a great lover he is thats why all of them contacted him on facebook. And when i think of him i will think of him in bed and want him again. What an ego what an asshole first thing out of his mouth re what hes good at sex. I told him when you suck as a father, brother, friend, boyfriend and suck at relationships in general your old limp dick is not important. Stick with the bondage bitches dude they only want to get off.

      • My Ex had a “trophy” folder in his PC of all of his conquests. There was one photo of me, the woman who paid for all his food, housing and cell phone for sixteen years and loved him with all my heart, gave into his fetishes and let him dominate and control me and my children. I finally cancelled the landline phone in my (formerly our) house last year when an ex GF from a foreign country called here looking for him, probably because she was going to be in the states soon. I found out AFTER D-Day, because I contacted his two prior longterm ex GF, that he stayed in touch with and continued to fuck and take them out to dinner, for the first 7 or 8 years that he was living in my house with me and my sons and being my “boyfriend.” Obviously means a lot to him to have his Exes pining for him for decades!

        When I kicked his ass out on DDay one and only, he pleaded that “we could get back together if it didn’t work out with OW.” Fat chance… I told him NFW, that if he was “leaving” me (because he didn’t really leave, I kicked his ass OUT), for another woman, there was no way in hell that he would ever be getting back together with me.

        What an asshole. What an overinflated ego.

        • The body part did stop working that why he went off into bondage sex really needing to feel like man cause that screaming penis was failing him. Lots of tricks to make it snap to attention hey our bodies are never gonna be like when we were young. I accept it he didnt. That dick stopped working and all hell broke loose. Stupid ass. Massive amounts of viagra and sticking that ego still dont work its a mindset and hes got a bad one.

  • I had it bad CL. I loved him and his love was greater. He loved alcohol, weed, fucking strange, lying, working out, playing drums, looking at women, getting hotels, and leading a double life. Face the pain the first time, its not love.

  • The night I found out about the ex’s affair, I thought I could actually feel the love I had for him vacating the premises. I tried to stop it because at that point it was a 24 year investment.

    Fast forward to two years later when I was languishing in wreckconciliation and I found another text to him from the OW. It didn’t say much, only “what happened” but at that point I no longer cared. I could actually feel whatever residual love that was left evaporate. I knew at that moment I no longer loved him.

    It took another year to get the courage to leave but during that year, the eyes I viewed him with had much clearer vision. I think it’s true what they say about love being blind.

    • I always felt like my love was a bungee cord – when he would be a giant fucking asshole I could feel myself pulling further and further away but would always rebound my way back to him,, I recall with great clarity the day that I felt my bungee cord “snap” and knew that was it over in my heart. I had kept trying but after the 3rd d-day, it was done. Love had left the house for good.

      • Yeah, I know exactly when love left in my case. I had just been in a minor fender bender, and I came home and I was really upset. And as I was sitting on the couch crying, he looked at me with those cold shark eyes, and simply said ….Shut up. I was so upset and scared at that point and it shocked me. And suddenly, as I looked up at him and his face was so ugly, I realized…..he doesn’t care. I’m so upset that I am in tears and he just said something unbelievably cruel. And I realized at that moment I no longer loved him. Pfffft….it was gone.

        After that I started seeing him m with much clearer eyes.

        • Your X makes the pattern clear for all of us. We have a human need for comfort, love, affection, and they find a way to say “shut up.” Some would just stay, “Why are you making a big deal? You are fine.” Or ” If you had been paying attention, you wouldn’t have been in an accident?” Or
          “Don’t be so dramatic.” In the end, so many interactions, even those that seem normal, come down to “shut up, go away, keep your messy emotions to yourself,” but we speckled and tell ourselves that it’s something we did. But when you see the shark eyes, or in my case, the smirk, their contempt for us becomes clear. On the plus side, once you’ve been through this horror show, there’s no going back to the person who can’t or won’t see.

  • I know Divorce Minister doesn’t like the movie Fireproof (and I agree that it’s totally wrong in that it puts all the blame on the porn viewing husband rather than the “emotional affair” having adulterous wife. I rewatched it not long ago and was really disturbed by him asking her to “forgive” him. Wow.).

    Despite its flaws, this movie was a turning point for me. It was the first time I ever questioned what “love” really is. I had bought into the garbage society likes to perpetuate about love, I was groomed to look for “that feeling” that told me I had found the One. And I found it, a lot. And it was always dragging a loser behind it. Cheater, liar, druggie, drunk, abuser. As Chump Lady says, my picker was broken. Thing is, I never had actually realized I had a Picker. It was a truly amazing revelation.

    • Anita,
      Wow…that we HAVE a picker. We have a choice, agency, control.

      I want to believe this. Intellectually, I believe it.

      But, the first night I saw Meth Boy as adults again (he was my unreciprocated childhood crush for many years, the only one) I was goner.

      I have thought over it. I should have immediately left the country or checked myself into a mental hospital after the first night we even saw each other. He captivated me, utterly. Watching him light a cigarette (nasty habit) was an exercise in ecstasy.

      He even said, My God, babe after the 3rd date you were ready to marry me. (See the arrogance?)

      What a horrible thing to say. And it was true.

  • Agency? But my X said “Affairs just happen.” (scratches head)

    And I DID love him, but now I hate him.

  • While i realize i let myself suffer this madness soon it will be over hes the one suffering so much now. I should hsve believed the first time he showed me who he was now he is so worried about everything. Careful what you wish for you bastard. Do i still love him yes but its fading fast and fades faster every day i dont hate him i never will takes up too much real estate in my head and he aint worth it. Now im indifference and i can see me not feeding his ego is bugging the hell out of him. My feelings
    will continue to fade and thats good im heading towards a more drama free peaceful life and that makes me happy. I guess i will always love the more nicer person he used to be and the mask is on for everyone who is not close too him. I dont feel sorry for the whore shes getting exactly what she deserves hes getting worse in his attitude evert day. Soon i will be free of the madness completely. Yeah!

  • For many many years, I though that the love I had for my XH the drinker was all powerful. I waited nearly 30 years to marry him, while he paraded other woman in front of me, drank with his buddies, and groomed me to to expect very little. I was “In love” and no one else was ever quite good enough. A couple of weeks before the wedding, he threatened to call it off because I objected to one of his female friends drunk calling me to ask me to pick him up after a work party. But I married him anyway because love.

    I still love him in the sense that I care what happens to him. He has much good in him but he has zero idea how to live a happy, healthy life and I’ve been on the business end of his mean streak many time. But I was with him because I too was screwed up. I thought that he would change! I had known him as a blackout drinker for 30 years and I thought he would change. Really. That level of delusion is all on me. Being a child raised in a home with a narcissist mother and an alcohol-abusing, workaholic father, planning my life around earning the love of a drunk seemed normal to me, even after years of therapy and reading about substance abuse and codependency. For me, being betrayed by Jackass after finally living XH was a true wake-up call.

    I had to live in the present. No pining for what was gone. No daydreaming about a future that depends on someone else changing. Even when the present was unbearable painful, I lived in it, moment to moment and found there is beauty and power even in despair.

    I had to focus on changing my own life, on taking responsibility for myself emotionally, socially, professionally, financially.

    I had to stop normalizing the dysfunction in my primary relationship and admit that things were fucked up–in part because I was a world-class taker of abuse, trained from childhood.

    I had to stop “fixing” the situations of others. I had to stop giving advice or thinking I knew what they should do. It’s OK to notice that someone you care about is making a giant mess of things, but it is unhealthy to take on the job of cleaning up that mess. Today, I will help anyone I can who needs help and asks for it. But it’s up to them to figure out that they want to clean up the mess and how to do that.

    So a major point on the road to Meh for some of us is recognizing that I had to change my default setting in how I related to other people.

    • LAJ, This is so insightful. My father was a catastrophic drunk who left when I was 12, but we saw him drunk and living in filth. My mother is a….soul stealer, martyr, BURDEN.

      I KNOW…I am certain…this is why my picker is so faulty it needs to be trashed. Being with someone who is painfully abusive is quite normal to us.

      I think when you know better, you do better. I am learning that my love, as grand and effusive as it can be, will not change someone. This is not a fairytale. I can keep casting my pearls before swine my whole life and I will get to the end of my life, if it does not change and no one will give a damn. I will have just wasted my life on assholes.

      How sad would that be?

      • That’s why it’s so important for us to get right with ourselves and let go of the need to be in a couple.

    • Powerful, LAJ. Pretty close to my FOO. I had no clue of what was normal and healthy. It’s taken lots of time, and therapy to figure it out. Now I have a pretty good idea, vs none before.

      LAJ, I always enjoy what you have to say, it always hits home with your wisdom. Let’s hear it for resilience. We are survivors.

  • The emotional affair with his ho-worker was the main reason I asked my XH for a divorce. But the other reason had to do with the fact that almost every time I asked him to do something for me–run an errand, perform a chore, coordinate on care for the kids–the response I got was, “Oh, I forgot.”

    Did you put your paycheck in the bank? It’s been 3 days since I asked and my card was just declined. “Oh, I forgot.”

    Did you take those computer parts in the trunk of the car to Best Buy for recycling? You’re the one who filled the trunk with them and it’s been 6 weeks and I’ve asked at least 10 times. “Oh, I forgot.”

    Did you cancel your $200/month personal trainer sessions? “Oh, I forgot.”

    Are you on your way home so I can take our daughter to physical therapy with our one car? “Oh, I forgot.” (And now it’s too late to get there in time.)

    Are you on your way to get me for the date you asked me on? I have the babysitter here and I’m dressed up for it and waiting. “Oh, I forgot, I’m not going to be able to make it.”

    I am not exaggerating; he would do this with 90% of the “adult” tasks that I asked him to perform or help me with. (Another 8% he would just do the most crappy, half-assed job I had ever seen so that I would have to re-do his work, and maybe 2% he would do and do right.)

    It finally dawned on me that when he was saying, “Oh, I forgot,” what he was really saying is, “I don’t love you.” A person who loved me would not consistently “forget” to help me with so many things that were important to me.

    And that made it that much easier to finally pull the plug and walk away.

    • I too was an afterthought in his list of priorities. I repeatedly discussed my needs and it was always about money. He preferred spending it on whores. I’m worth so much more, always was. His loss.

      • What did he care about?

        – His dance “career” (I use the term loosely)
        – His ho-worker
        – Later, his mistress (different woman)

        I eventually confronted the ho-worker and told her that her “friendship” with my husband was ruining my marriage. She claimed she had no idea and that he had insisted I was cool with everything (she’s an idiot for believing that). She broke off their “friendship” just a few hours after he basically told me he wanted a divorce. Suddenly he came home, begging me to get back together with him and swearing he wanted to work on the marriage, and also begging me to talk to her and help save their friendship. And that was how I wound up baking the ho-worker a pie (yes, I am the chumpiest of chumps).

        Anyhow, you should have seen the look in his eyes. He was far more upset about losing the ho-worker than he had been telling me he wanted a divorce just a few hours earlier. It was sick.

    • Holy Shit, Rarity, that is Mr Fab to a T, except his go-to phrase was ‘Nearly.’
      SMH, what I put up with….because I loved him.

      x-Meh

      • And then moan that you don’t feel like,having se with them because they have become your child…….blearGGGH.

      • I think this was it.

        With my XH, there was some real mindfuckery going on because if I asked him whether he had done something, and he either had or he just hadn’t gotten to it yet, he would say, “Have faith in your honey!” He would chide me and shame me for asking him about it, because I didn’t have enough “faith” in him.

        So I would try not saying anything about it. I would try just trusting that he would get it done and having that “faith” that he was always haranguing me about. I would let an allotted amount of time (days, weeks, whatever) go by before asking him about it. And that’s when I would get, “Oh, I forgot.”

        Looking back, I think he intentionally shamed me, avoided doing, or did a crappy job because he knew that if he did that long enough, I would stop bothering him about it and just take care of it myself.

        When he stopped making money at work and tried to push me to go back to work (2nd trimester pregnant) to support him so he could party with the ho-worker and spend all his time with her, that’s when I finally snapped and decided to leave.

    • This would be a great subject for a future CL post. What kind of phrases that have been dumped on us consistently in the past (and hope to recognize in the future) really mean “I DON’T LOVE YOU!”? Rarity got us started with “I forgot.” And she’s right. Here are a few others that I remember:

      “I don’t want to talk about that any more.”
      “I’m too busy.”
      “I don’t want to go with you. Why can’t you do more things alone?”
      “I’ll do it later.”
      “We all gotta do what makes us happy.”
      “You are imagining things.”

      • “I don’t have anything in common with those people.” (Regarding extended family)
        “I just need time to figure myself out.”
        “I don’t have to tell you about or explain (fill in the blank).”

      • “I went there already and didn’t like it. Why do you want to go there?” (Anyplace he didn’t suggest going)
        “Why don’t you do that with a friend?” (Anything I liked to do and wanted him to do with me)
        “I’m not interested in doing that.” (Pretty much anything I suggested we do)
        “I don’t have anything in common with those particular friends of yours.” (Any friends that I had before I met him)

        My particular favorite was when I wanted to do an activity, he would turn me down saying he wasn’t interested, and then do that activity with someone else or a group of people. Then he would come home and tell me about it and what a good time he had. If I would get upset, I would be told how I was making a big deal out of nothing.

        You can’t twist that shit into love even if you used a wrench.

        • “Whatever you want,” said in a snippy tone in answer to any attempt to discuss a mutual decision with him like two adults.

      • Any chore or errand, “I forgot.”

        When I asked him anything important, such as asking if he wanted to go with me to visit his dad in the hospital, “I haven’t really thought about it.”

        I’d come back from grocery shopping and he’d be gone golfing, the bar with friends, whatever. The reason he would give why he didn’t ask me to go with him, “I thought you wouldn’t want to go.”

        The reason he’d give when I was angry because he was four hours late, “I thought I told you I was going out after work.”

        His reason for not going to the park, swimming, hiking, whatever with me and the boys, “It’s too hot,” “It’s too cold,” “I’m tired and just want to relax,” “It’s too crowded.”

        His response to me giving him choices of what he wants to do, eat, watch, “I don’t care.”

        The reason he gave for not doing things with me or the kids, or anything such driving me to the emergency room for a concussion that I got when the garage door came down on my head because he forgot to fix it because he didn’t think about it, “I have to go to bed because I have work in the morning.”

  • I knew I didn’t love X anymore. But l loved our three children, with all the pent-up, unstoppable force of a tsunami. I couldn’t imagine breaking up our family. I refused to inflict upon them a life of custody and visitation. For two years I slept-walked through life. Then, our middle child, turned 18 and left for college. With her gone, X gave up any pretense of caring about me. I hurt so much that I knew I had to file for divorce, even at the expense of our remaining minor child, S15.

    The guilt of sacrificing my son nearly crippled me. How could I choose myself over my baby? And yet . . .

    A year and a half later, I am healing, on my way to meh. Son is happy, grounded and NC with narcissistic father. When I chose to love ME, I chose life. And that is what this mama has done for her children.

    • “But l loved our three children, with all the pent-up, unstoppable force of a tsunami. I couldn’t imagine breaking up our family. I refused to inflict upon them a life of custody and visitation. For two years I slept-walked through life. Then, our middle child, turned 18 and left for college. With her gone, X gave up any pretense of caring about me. I hurt so much that I knew I had to file for divorce, even at the expense of our remaining minor child, S15.”

      I can relate….

    • Eve- Too bad he wasn’t he concerned so much about the well being of his family and breaking up an intact family. The callous way they approach family values and their non-existent morals makes me shudder. The lack of conscience is baffling.

    • Right there with you, Eve. I openly admitted to a friend that I stayed for the children. But children don’t benefit by having one parent who has clearly de-valued them; better to have one parent who adores them and is willing to sacrifice for them (rather than a 2-parent household where one of the parents is willing to sacrifice the children for their own elusive ‘happiness’).

    • For several years, it was my kids well-being that kept me investing in my relationship with their father. Once he cheated for the second time, it was my kids’ well-being that kept me from taking him back. I needed to show them that marriages are NOT made of one abuser and one victim, one person who takes advantage and one who lets them, one who disrespects and the other who puts up with all that disrespect. I didn’t want them growing up thinking that was normal, and choosing which of those two roles would fit them best in their future relationships.

      I stayed for my kids, and when I woke up from that, I left for my kids.

      And ya know what? We’re ALL happier now, without that negative, unpleasant guy in the house. And he continued to show how little he cared about them, post-separation, so they have very little to do with him.

      I’m now quite proud of showing my kids that self-respect is more important than, well, anything.

    • Eve, that was my life, too. I tried to stick it out until my youngest was out of high school, but I was so miserable that I thought I was going to lose my mind. I filed when he was just shy of 16 — hardest thing I ever did, not because I had any feelings for my then husband but because I loved my children and hated that their peaceful lives were going to be thrown into emotional chaos. I felt incredible guilt that my son had to go through the divorce without his older sister who was away at college.

      We made it through it all somehow relatively unscathed. I stayed strong for my son. I threw all of my emotional energy into making sure he was ok and had the skills to cope with his dad who was acting insane during the divorce. My son is 22 now and will be completing graduate school in a few months. Both of my kids are well-adjusted and thriving on their own. They love seeing me happy and thriving on my own! 🙂

  • Hi Nation. I’m fairly new to all of this. D-Day was on January 1, 2016. I pulled myself together and got a great settlement, the divorce is filed, my house is sold, and many positive steps have been put into play. What hasn’t been in play was my own understanding of how I could love someone for 17 years who put me through so much crazy shit. I had a cold this weekend, my daughter was at her Dad’s, so I relaxed in bed and read in depth about narcissism and realized that my husband had all 47 red flags of a narcissist. Every. Single. One.

    I am realizing now that he never loved me. Never. I was simply a tremendous source of supply. He wasn’t wired for love and that all of my investment mattered not a bit once he was able to secure “supply” with the 24 year old girl who has “captured his heart.”

    It doesn’t matter now that I pick me danced for about a month month, it doesn’t matter that as recently as a week ago I fucked him in his new bachelor pad, none of that matters and I’m not going to rake myself over the coals about my mistakes. What does matter is that I finally understand who he is, I got the best settlement legal representation can buy and I’m moving forward with my daughter, focused on gray rock/extremely low contact, my mightiness, my own recovery and living the rest of my beautiful, precious life.

    I have a lot to be grateful for. Professional skills, a loving family, tremendous friends, interests and talents, and the most precious little girl in the world. I’m a long way from “meh” but I can even begin to pity his sorry, empty soul and know that old age will not smile kindly on my STBX.

    I read CL every day and want to thank you ALL for putting me on this incredible path to discovery and recovery! Forget forgiving him. I’m forgiving myself and moving forward. That’s most important.

        • Ahh, and spoken by a REAL man!!! I love the meme that I see every now and then. It says “Is wasn’t Disney that ruined men for me, it was Tolkien!”

          • Tolkien is one of my favorite authors ever. ‘The deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised..”

    • Well-done, Chumpbunny. There’s no substitute for time in this healing process, but understanding who they are, and learning to love ourselves are good steps.

  • When I was going through my first divorce after a twenty year marriage, I cried out to God “where did all the love that I gave him go to…was it just dumped like trash into a black bottomless hole”?

    The answer He gave me was only three words: “I have it”.

    You cannot imagine how much comfort “hearing” that was to me…perhaps some here will get some comfort knowing it too.

    OUR love was never anything wasted…the Lord “has it” and will reward us for it in due time regardless of whether or not the cheater ever appreciated it.

    • Oh boy…I shouldn’t write this. But…I am not being ugly or challenging you. But do you honestly believe a Sky Wizard, A God, this Being would want you to suffer for two decades…in this short, limited time here on earth…like a cosmic joke? To go through this…for year after year? Why not intervene the first year? The second? Life is so brief.

      I am, in good faith, trying to understand this. You believe that when you die, you will have a celestial reward or some never ending paradise/heavenly experience, and it will be enhanced because you tangled with a bad person. That the “Lord” has this love, tucked away in a celestial savings account, so to speak and you will get it back?

      I am not being sarcastic. I am trying to understand where your comfort comes from. I don’t have that comfort.

      • Sabine, you don’t have that comfort. But this is NOT the place to challenge and mock others for their beliefs. (And YES your words are mocking.)

        If you have questions about spiritual beliefs, if you really want to understand, there are places to ask those questions, but not here, and NOT so disrespectfully.

        • And NO. You see, loving was MY choice…the Lord takes that into account…who I choose to love is something that He can work with to make ME a better person regardless of the circumstances/pain/suffering. Love is never wasted even though it is often misdirected. I ended up with four great kids in the end…for everything else there is Mastercard.

          • Sabine,
            I am sorry that you do not have that comfort. When I was 28yrs old I gave my heart/mind/soul over to the Lord. There were no marriage issues present at that time. Fast forward, that faith in Him sustained me when the shit hit the fan years later. It is not something that I can persuade you of…especially here on this site.

            I only know that when I was at my darkest hour, I turned to the Lord and He spoke comfort to me in my spirit…and at that moment, I understood that He was walking through the fire right along with me. Yes, He “could have” done something, like save my marriage (which is what I had wanted Him to do). But, I also learned that He is a respecter of agent and free will…which my ex chose to exercise against me. The Lord saw/knew that I was never loved by my ex…that there are wicked heartless people masquerading on this earth…like the wheat growing with the tares. He can use even that for our own good if we choose to let Him. I let Him.

            HUGS

            • I am not at all religious, but your way of viewing your marriage seems very comforting. I suppose any marriage that gives you four beasutiful children cannot be all bad. And as the country song goes … “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers …”

              • Oh yes…and He did answer my prayers…but with a resounding NO! The way I look at it is that He allowed the divorce to happen to “deliver” me from a man who would never choose to love me as I had loved him. So that NO was Gods answer because it was what was best for ME and even the kids…although I could not see any of that at the time.

                What I wanted was not what I needed.

      • I don’t think Sweetz was saying that God wanted her to suffer; I think she is saying that (in the words of the great novelist Alice Hoffman “love is never wasted.” If we love (and by that I mean not just feeling some emotion we call “love” but the actions that further the life and health of our beloved), that comes from a sacred space and is part of (in my view) the life force that powers the universe.

        If we think that “love” is about getting emotion back from another person, it’s not love; it’s commerce. Business. Those of you who are parents know this (although narcissistic parents will not): even in those moments when you wonder why you ever had kids because one of them is one your last nerve, you would sacrifice yourself in a heartbeat for the same kid. Even if you don’t believe in God, watch a pair of wrens battle a hawk to save their nest and the babies in it. Love is a force in the universe. But even the Christian Bible cautions us not to love blindly; we are “to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” That’s one place where Chumps lose their bearings–and themselves. They love the cheater but not themselves.

        • Yes,LAJ…
          I made choices on “who” to love…some of them good, some of them obviously very bad. I was 18yrs old the first time I married…and not a Christian at the time. I learned that I chose badly. THEN, I chose badly AGAIN this time around at the time of 50yrs old…ignoring or hoping against hope regarding the “red flags” and buying into the misguided “unconditional love” stuff in order to forgive deal breakers. My faith worked both for me and against me (though I learned valuable lessons about good and evil). I learned that I needed to hone in my perceptions, beliefs and understanding about human nature and truth…and nothing was wasted in the long run.

          We only get one life to live. I do not see “time wasted” or “unrequited love” as being the greatest part of the sorrows of my life. I see MY own character through all of it as being the main focus…how I handled rejection and the evil that often came against me, and how I taught my children by the things they watched me do.

      • Your right Sabine You shouldn’t write that. Who are you to judge what brings others comfort?! I find your statements very passive aggressive!

        • There will always be grounds for misunderstanding between those who have faith, and those who don’t. I sincerely doubt any offence was intended, and I sometimes share the same wistfulness-I wish I had something I could believe in that strongly, to carry me through the shitstorm. In the end, I chose free will. And free speech. We can all-including Sabine-express and describe our views as we see fit. If her or my words prompt you to further examine your faith-great! An examined and better understood anything is better than blindness, and that includes faith.

          Atheists – and I speak only for myself, here- find cold comfort from, say, Codependents Anonymous. It is that ceding to a whole higher power thing- as absurd an idea for me as making a sacrifice to the Easter Bunny in the hope life gets better. As a cultural historian, I cannot but see the celestial reward paradigm (as used by Isis, Sin Fein and many a government) as a tool of abuse.

          I do not beleive in a god, or an afterlife, therefore I live this life as if it is my only one, trying to do and be good to myself (finally) and others (in a healthy, boundaried manner) Atheism does not negate morality, it just means a different route to Meh.

          I loved an abuser of my own free will-for a while, that felt like a waste. Because it was-time is linear and I will not get that time, effort, money and pain back. Twenty years out of my threescore and ten is a huge percentage. I do not intend to waste the rest…

          Ultimately, though I came to the understanding that my definition of love was not a correct one, and I am learning to love myself in a manner which befits my beleifs.

          In other words, God, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Shiva and Nothing at all can be routes to Meh. And all preach tolerance.

          We have all chosen the get-a life path, which means living, and letting our cheaters live, along with everyone else, including saying what we need to say, the way we need to say it.

          love to ALL Chump Nation
          x-Meh

          • Thank you Mehphista!

            I was not being sarcastic at all. I was being serious. I have always asked questions about things I do not understand.

            It is fascinating, in a nauseating kind of way, the one sided, strident and aggressive view that people have about religion, and they believe that it should never be questioned…but we question EVERYTHING else and have on this site: ideas of fidelity, love, marriage, respect, sex, relationships, gender roles.

            Further, we would never take seriously ideas from 2000 years ago about hygiene, TREATMENT OF WOMEN, geography or even food preparation..but to question the belief system sends people into self righteous hysterics where they feel entitled, yes entitled to scold someone for merely asking a question.

            And to admonish me….a grown woman…like hens pecking…it is so not cool. *There are no sacred cows.* Chumps should know that, right?

            I guess the head scratcher to me was…if this comfort was that soul saving…I am not sure I would be on this site. The only reason I am on the site is because I truly feared I was (am?) losing my mind. Like real worry…Am I going to make it? As pathetic as it was, I loved him with everything I had.

            CL’s writing was just so good and brutal. The bitch slap I needed. Her writing is the catalyst that keeps me on the straight path.

            If I had “the peace that passes understanding” I would not be frantically looking for help on the Internet. I would be at peace.

            I wish there was even a MOTE of evidence there was a cosmic justice waiting for all these despicable cheaters. It is much better than the thoughts I have that involve Chechenayan mercenaries, a hammer, and a pair if pliers and me and Meth man in a bunker locked in a bunker.

            To the people who “scolded” me…let’s go to Vegas! Because you can read minds. You do not know me…not one drop…and I simply asking someone to explain something I cannot understand. Many people have called me Ms. Question Mark. In Judaism, it is your duty to ask questions.

            To me… talking about Satan and what Paul thought (the biggest misogynist ever!) ….it would be the same as someone saying a Leprechaun or an Elf jumped out and gave them a hug and a pot of gold to feel better.

            This person was representing that 20 years of a con marriage that involved catastrophic betrayal was given to the Lord and she felt no need for revenge, and indeed could
            “love him like Jesus”. That is a bold, HUGE claim. Almost miraculous.

            I found that fascinating…to believe that. If I could have that type of peace and comfort over someone abandoning, betraying and kicking me in the teeth…I would jump at it. But the part of my brain that seeks reason and evidence just can’t get past it.

            Thank you for all of the wonderful comments and suggestions the time I have been on this site! But, I will peacefully check out…and not comment anymore because…..

            if I wanted to feel bad, and have someone accuse me of things I did not do… I could call METH BOY. 🙁

            That’s the damn truth.

            BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR PATH TO MEH!!!
            NO CONTACT or Here Comes the Pain.

            WARMESET WISHES.
            PEACE OUT.

            • Sabine, don’t leave CL or CN. I believe in God, I believe that we suffer here on this plane to become better for the next phase. I didn’t take your questions or even some of the sarcasm that you used as disrespectful on that original reply, I thought that you were searching, you were looking to see if you could find something that might help you. Suffering for a Christian means a lot of things that a non Christian is going to question. Many times even Christians, because there are so many denominations and beliefs, don’t understand what redemptive suffering is. It isn’t just wasted suffering, it is something that Christians go through to atone, to atone for not being perfect, and if you are a human there is no damn way that you are perfect, there is something about each and every one of us that is f*ed up. It’s the way things are, this is our “lot” in life. That doesn’t mean that all Christians look “down” on non Christians, that means that we, as humanity, are always searching for something greater than ourselves, because if this life is it…….. then damn we are all spinning our wheels, if this is it, then there is no hope. In your heart you know that there is hope, there is hope that you will overcome this horrible situation, you have hope that you will love again, you hope that you will be able to step away from the crazy and that you will be able to have a good life, filled with joy, filled with happiness, filled with love, you hope that even if you do not find blissful joy and love you will find PEACE OF SOUL. That you will be able to be by yourself and that you will find peace, you will look back at your past and you will still feel peace because you overcame!!!

            • So Sabine…I think that I am the one who you made your original comment to. I understand people who don’t believe, but was sharing my comment for those here who do. I originally came to this site when I received a letter from a woman that my most recent cheater husband #2 was trying to get into bed with. Chump Lady did a UBT on that letter…and I hung around because I saw so much that resonated with what I endured from Cheater X number two.

              I too, went through hell when my first cheater X left after twenty years. I would fantasize killing him even…but instead, tried to kill myself. But one day, about a year later, after I got home from the hospital, my anger turned into grief and that is when I asked God that question…and He did answer me so quietly and unexpectedly. It put everything…all the love I thought I had “wasted” during that marriage into a much larger perspective. I guess I should have indicated a “time line” so you could understand that I too suffered…at least for the first year before I found my relief.

              Having gone through this in years past is probably what helped me to see that “it is what it is” when I went through it a second time just a year and a half ago. I stayed on here, not because I am full of turmoil…but because I am NOT. I guess I was questioning if something was actually wrong with me because I so easily breezed through the final end of THIS marriage as opposed to the last one. So I read and read to see if something someone says can “jolt” me into feeling anything at all towards my recent cheater EX. So far, nothing has. I am just glad that he is gone…it is as simple as that after ten years of seeing his character play out and seeing the handwriting on the wall from the first year of our marriage. I KNEW it would end.

              I am probably the one who should leave rather than you.

              • No one needs to leave. While we are a tremendous, supportive community, we can hardly be expected to agree 100% of the time. Sometimes things are said that resonate with us, make us question, and may change our minds on an issue. Often debates can be therapeutic. We have all survived a life-gutting trauma (or know someone who has). It’s natural to be triggered, to take things too personally on occasion, and to take a few days break from CL to regroup.

                What a boring world it would be if we all thought the same things. Everyone on this site has taken healing time, or lurks for a while and then posts. Trauma makes us oversensitive, but it can make us resilient. And we’re more resilient if part of a group than by ourselves.

    • Although I do not embrace a “higher power,” I certainly don’t feel my love “wasted.” It’s right there – in my beautiful daughter and her daughter and my wonderful son.

  • “OUR love was never anything wasted…the Lord “has it” and will reward us for it in due time regardless of whether or not the cheater ever appreciated it.”

    +1

  • I have found….. that the farther out you get, the less you feel about them. The initial reaction is from the shock. Once the brain starts to function again, you see the situation as it really is. The sum total of what they did comes together and you get a clarity you can not get in the first year. The lies, the abuse, the life threatening diseases, the total lack of morals and character these people have just make you not like them. Once you dislike someone that much, the love fades at a rapid pace…… It just takes time to get there!

  • Tracy, this is an excellent post on the bull shit excuse of using “love” to remain in an intolerable situation. Bravo.

  • Tracy, I don’t know who you are, or where you came from, but you are one of the smartest writers and thinkers I have ever come across, in my life. And I am a reading fool.

    You need to get an agent and get a talk show, Sirius show, some way to broadcast your thoughts into the world on a larger platform.

    LIFE CHANGING WRITING.

  • Love is a choice. I really needed to hear that today. So beautiful, simple and true. Keep it real, Tracy. Don’t ever change.

  • So right CL!
    Love IS a choice.
    It is about how long it takes for the cheated on to reconcile who this person is that they thought they knew, and who this person actually is. You were counting on and believed in something that didn’t exist. Being naive and spackling was a lot more fun than the reality of “who is this monster?” And more fun than rearranging your life and future because of the selfishness and stupidity of your mate!
    The upside is you don’t have to waste any more of your life on this creature who you made such an investment in and whom let you down in virtually very way possible. Must add, I was not the quickest to realize this,(did not have CL or CN for a few years in) but would love to help ANYONE to get there sooner!
    Go Chump Nation!

  • CL, this is great today. Because, after more than a year of him not talking to me, lately I am thinking about contacting him. Then, I remember how he treated me and our son. How he lied. How he was just the ultimate drama queen. But after 40 years together (35 of them married) he is part of my soul. Because I am real. Because the love I felt was real. I still feel attached. The heartbreak is so deep, it will never fully be gone. I work. I have friends. I have my son. But some days- like yesterday- Sunday, he was supposed to be here with me. But of course, when he was here he just sat on the couch probably daydreaming about the OW. For the last ten years, he tortured me. i didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t. And I still don’t. But I finally do accept that he is a really bad person. I don’t know if what I feel is love or if he had me so negatively conditioned that it’s Stockholm Syndrome. But whatever it is; it’s real and it still hurts.

    • lost, you were honestly attached o him, and that takes time and other interests, to wear out. A year of No Contact is not that much, since you were together so long. You’re still grieving. But the better and busier your ‘real’ life becomes, that easier it will be for the longing to fade.

    • Oh, please don’t contact him. There’s a great prayer in Marianne Williamson’s book “Illuminata” in which you pray to cut the cord that bind you to that person. I prayed that everyday for a long while until one day I realized the connection was gone. I had to learn to let go.

      • Thank you both. I didn’t have the urge for contact and now I do again. I only stop when I realize the options: (a) he will not respond, leaving more dead silence; (b) he will respond with how much he and pos OW are destined for each other, how happy they are together; (c) he will ask to come home, but only if I can help him get over the OW (been there, done that). All three don’t work for me. I will read Illuminata.

        • You say, “But I finally do accept that he is a really bad person.” Read this every time you get the urge to break no contact. If you contact him, he will know there is nothing he can do that will close the door completely. That really is a powerful kibble source, knowing he can be abusive and you will still want contact. He’s a bad person. Trust that he sucks.

      • I feel much the same as lostandfound. Those many years together are very hard to forget, most of them when he was the most loving husband on earth. I wish I could hate the guy – I hate/love/hate/love, but that’s all just a form of love. I’m 3 yrs out from dday and divorced but somedays it’s very hard not to remember what a great guy he was. The great conversations, the trips….okay, I don’t miss the lack of sex we didn’t have and I keep bringing my head back to that. He really didn’t value me at the very beginning if that was any indication. I try and keep concentrating on how he was the last 4 years of our marriage and how awful he was….but my head keeps going back to the 30 yrs of good times before that. I imagine it just takes time but I have just recently gone fully N/C so I feel like I’m starting all over again. blech-

        I make this promise to SheChump – I will never ever contact him again and hope that any feelings fade really fast.

        • Shechump and Lost and found. I totally understand that feeling of love regardless. I have been married twice, both cheaters. Cheater number one…. met him at 16, married him at 19, divorced him at 22. Loved him so much, but came to think of him like yummy candy, but sadly, poison yummy candy. Yup, tastes good temporarily, but oh, the price you pay for that tiny bit of fleeting yumminess. The man could not keep his pants up to save his life, among other crappy things, so he had to go. It broke my heart, but I had a child to raise, so he had to go.

          Eventually I came around to I and my son deserved better.

          Thinking of the cheater as delicious but deadly poison helped me stay no contact in the early days when I felt weak.

          Hugs to both of you.

    • Its always gonna hurt so i try not to think about it. I dont believe the saying time heals all wounds it doesnt those open sore wounds scar over eventually but the scars remain. I will wear those scars with pride for someone tried to destroy me for no reason other than his own greed and i will triumph! Distance and no contact make us stronger and vibrant and then we feel better, much better. Those scars remain the hurt will linger but we overcome, let that shit go and come out more beautiful in the long run. That bastard tried to destroy me, steal my soul, take everything from me and still wants to be good friends. He they the cheaters will be left with only their own filthy, greedy black hearts and that my fellow chumps is justice the truth always comes out. Hes done his damage, hes proud of it. His sibling and kids have damage done to them he can never fix nor wants to they suffer cause hes an asshole let him suffer in the island of black hearts.

  • I loved my Ex with all my heart, but obviously he did not love me. I’m certain that these cheaters have no real idea of what love really is. It was apparent in the remarks he would make to me about his reasons for being with his beloved Schmoopie. Such as, “she makes me happy” or “she’s loaded”! It’s all superficial shit that usually benefits the cheater and not a damn thing to do with deep love and commitment. They are committed to only one damn thing and it’s their “feelings”. Feelings are fleeting so once they don’t “feel” love or happiness with thier new Schmoopie then they will be off and running to the next best thing. It’s really kind of sad. I filed for divorce after eight months of false promises, lies and deception. It was the most heartbreaking thing I had to deal with in my then 58 years of my life. But the strangest part of driving to the attorney’s office was the strange sense of peace that came over me. I knew deep down inside of my soul that I could no longer subject myself to he and Schmoopie’s abuse. I knew they were getting off on my pain and it was the glue that was holding them together and I was right! As soon as our divorce was final he moved into her condo, four months later the epic love affair was over! Do I still love him? Yes, but I love who he was before Schmoopie! That guy is gone, destroyed by his own choices. Is it painful to be alone at 60 years old after 41 years of marriage? Yes, it sucks to see the sunk costs, but there is no real alternative. I can’t rewind the clock or look back because it changes nothing.

    • Roberta, “I knew they were getting off on my pain and it was the glue that was holding them together and I was right!” This++
      I used to try to explain to people that that is what x is doing, but people who have not gone through this don’t understand. Especially when x tries to get me to be in the triangle again. Schmoopie left him after only 6 months of bliss, they didn’t even live together LOL!!!! After the 6 months of NC on his part he “finally” comes to the “realization” that he made a “mistake”. Ya motherf*er you sure made a mistake, you showed me exactly what you were and there is no way I’m going back to that. That was around 2.5 years ago, after 1.5 years we were thrown together for my daughters wedding, same sorry assed, poor, sorry, sad sausage bs, while he is with another gf. Apparently Schmoopie #1 is not impressed with Schmoopie #2 at all and the triangulation is not as satisfying. Fast forward to this year and I unfortunately have to break NC for settlement purposes, and yet once again I get the “I messed up”, and my thoughts are, sure you did, you idiot, you didn’t think that my presence in the triangle was necessary anymore. Not my problem, not my monkey, not my circus. It still stings though, knowing that this person that I wasted my youth for is nothing other than a soulless narc, willing and able to try to get me to go another round of pain and suffering.

  • Trauma bonds. Infatuation. Limerance. Obsession. Need. Dependence. That yearning, aching feeling isn’t love at all, for either us or them, it’s just what we’ve learned to call love.

    • And addiction. And co-dependence. Don’t forget them.

      So many of us need to learn what ‘love’ really is – what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like. It’s a huge help.

      For starters, it’s NOT pain.

      • So true! Whatever the cheaters feel isn’t love. Idiot ex told me “If it’s love, it’s supposed to hurt!”. Uh, no.

        He threw away a wife and daughter who loved and was devoted to him to chase a whore and her brat. We reconciled, and I convinced myself I loved him, but whatever it was, it was not love. I don’t think real love, once it is destroyed by adultery can go back to its true, original form. And whatever that it is can’t last. After I stayed, I just dispised him more and more and more. Hatred for him took over my heart, my mind, my soul. I could not stand to see him, hear him, touch him.

  • My God! It is so true. I rationalize the hell out of staying with my cheater. I go through my whole list of rationalizations each day:

    1. Her 5-month long affair was a one time deal that happened during a period in which I was preoccupied taking two full-time class loads at two different colleges while working 30+ hours per week. Of course, I was an unavailable husband.

    2. I thought I was just “cranky” all of the time , but now I can see why she was under the impression that I had permanently turned into an abusive ass that she wanted to dump for Mr. Millionaire MacSunshinepants. It really was my own fault that she cheated on me.

    3. Her AP lived the rest of his life in misery and addiction before choosing to end it all…He is not coming back and I proved to be the better man after all. I guess this means that I won?

    3. My cheater is extremely hot and really looks damn good on my arm…at my age and income, I may never be able to get another woman like that. She tells me this all the time and I believe her.

    4. If I divorce her, I will have to divide assets and pay her alimony. Damned if I am going to give her money to get her rocks off with some other dude!

    5. I travel out of town for work most of the time, so I will be forced to either find another job or give her full custody. I have nobody else to care for my children while I am away.

    6. She has made threats that if I ever divorce her, she will launch an epic smear campaign against me. She is very convincing that she can turn everyone I know including my children against me. She said that she will NEVER allow me a moment’s peace or allow me to have another relationship for as long as I live. She reminds me that her brother-in-law has close ties to an organized crime syndicate implying that “as long as I live” may not be very long after all.

    In conclusion, when I add everything up, I feel stuck with the cheater. She is a true master of manipulation and I am honestly afraid of her.

    • Wow, I’d be gathering all the evidence I could of such threats. At in the years to come you would be able to prove to your kids what you endured. I hope you are slowly formulating a departure plan.

      • She caught me recording her and threatened to run in front of a moving train if I didn’t destroy all of my evidence against her. She cried and begged and went for her car keys while telling me that she wanted to die so to be with her AP and escape the world that has been so cruel to her. In the heat of panic, I gave in and destroyed all of the evidence right in front of her.

        • Next time call 911–if she’s serious about suicide then she needs help. If it was manipulation, she’ll never pull that again.

          Cuckedoff–you need to get documentation, and start telling your children (and others) what she did. Better yet–tell her you’re only willing to stay if SHE tells them (that’s what I did so that there could be no misunderstanding about the cause of the divorce. It doesn’t prevent a smear campaign later, but at least the core truth is out there).

          You can’t live like that. It is a living death. You are of more value than to tolerate that. Many (most?) of us have had to sacrifice long-term friendships, and sometimes jobs, financial wealth, etc. to be psychologically healthy again. I’m not going to tell you that you won’t lose treasured things in a divorce (including, possibly, your income through alimony for a year or two), but GET OUT. Eventually, feeling like a doormat will affect your health and sanity.

          • Listen to Tempest. Document. Sit down and tell your own family what’s goes on. See a lawyer for advice. Get yourself a good therapist to help navigate life with this crazy person, until your path is clear.

            #3 and #4 on your list are pretty shallow reasons to stay with someone who may be deranged. Arm candy? Really? And division of assets, while often not as fair as we would like, acknowledges that both parties made an investment. So it’s not about “giving her money to get her rocks off.” #1 and #2 sound like you’ve been assigned the blame for her behavior and apparently you know that’s nonsense. So that leaves you with 2 things to content with:

            #5 can be dealt with in the phase we call “getting your ducks in a row.” Why are you leaving your kids every day with this whack job? Are concerned about traveling out of town most of the time when your kids are the ones exposed to her craziness, watching her cheating. absorbing that role model? If you are afraid of her, what about your kids? My father left child-rearing totally to my mother, the narcissist. As my former therapist once said, I might as well have been raised by wolves. Looking for a job that will allow you to be primary custodian would seem to solve many problems. It may not be your dream job, but you only get to raise these kids once. They should be first priority, not maximizing income or career success. If you fail with your kids, how well your career goes will not mean much.

            #6 means you need to see an attorney and a good therapist with advice for getting this woman some help and/or getting yourself out of the situation. If she’s this manipulative, if she’s homicidal, if she’s suicidal, you have a real problem that can’t be solved by rationalizing her behavior away. Good luck.

            • I am really glad that I wrote my list down and shared it with all of you. It made me realize how silly it really looks in black and white.

              • See, that’s what a true support system does. Help ground us in reality. Now write down 3 lists: 1) What you want for you life (without reference to Whack Job; 2) What you want for your kids; 3) What your next steps will be. And do NOT discuss next steps with Whack Job. This is about getting your own life back and protecting your kids, no matter what you choose to do. She will not aid you in those projects.

          • Tempest,

            You are right once again. She is the Queen of Self Image. When I demanded that she go public with her infidelity, she told me that she would never allow me to take that “power” over her. She must own the narrative that I was the one in the wrong and that I should take all of the blame.

            • You’re going to lose friends, and sometimes family, to her smear campaign. I won’t kid you–my X behaved like an ass in many public contexts for years, I was the model of self-restraint, and I still lost friends to his lies. I won’t deny that it hurt, and made me furious with indignation, but…. I’m happier now than I was in the marriage, and I have the love & respect of all the people that matter (my children, and even X’s family). Better to get your word out first, then behave with class afterwards.

          • Tempest is right. I used to get sick quite a bit. I had several specialists on speed dial. I haven’t been sick since the day a judge ordered my cheater to leave the house, a year ago. My necessary for survival medication had been cut by a third. I’ve kept most of my infidelity diet weight off. I no longer need a cardiologist or any other specialists. This shit will start to slowly kill you. Take care of yourself.

            Keep a diary for your kids to read years down the line about what you are thinking related to them, about what she has said about turning them against you and how scared you are by it. A friend of mine suffered from parental alienation and her father kept a diary of his thoughts over the years, everything from “I wonder what you are doing today” to “I stood in the back of the room at your dance recital so no one would see me, you’re amazing” she went looking for her dad when she was 18. That diary helped her understand that he did love her.

        • I’m still in rage mode right now, so my first thought was not to let the door hit her in the ass on her way out.

          Okay, I would have called 911…..maybe…..eventually.

          • I’m with you, Annie. I might have handed her the car keys–I was trying to tailor my advice to something Cuckedoff might actually use ; )

            • Yeah, I wonder if I would have been brave enough to take the keys, start the car and open the door for her and tell her, “Your carriage awaits, Madam.” What a manipulative bitch. Run! Run! Run!

              • In reality I’d call 911, but (sigh), it sure feels good to imagine what we’d want to do. 🙂

                I just had another quick flash of Snidely Whiplash. Was he really such a bad guy? Now that I have another point of view, it may have been poor Snidely just trying to help a girl out.

    • Cuckedofff,

      Just threats. Threats are the tool of the weak. I don’t know what country you are in, but tell HER if she makes one more remark about organized crime and her brother in law, you will go straight to your local FBI office and spill the beans. She would be called in and questioned. The FBI is a whole different ball game than state or local law enforcement.

      If she is TRULY has ties to organized crime, and they knew she was “bragging” about it…she would not longer have ties to organized crime because she would not be alive. (Believe me). This is my job. I write appeals for people in federal prison. I deal with them ALL. DAY. LONG. They never talk about it. You never talk about it. People who do talk about it end up not being around anymore.

      You stating that she is “extremely hot”…maybe you get what you deserve?

      You are afraid of someone..but still focusing on her appearance as one you desire and you “care” about what people think of how hot someone is “on your arm.”

      Most people here are agonizing over children being ripped apart emotionally, families of decades being cast aside like 3 day old fast food, and you are talking about how “extremely hot” and “how good she looks on your arm”?

      Really?

      • I am really not afraid of some hitman taking me out. I am afraid at the lengths she might be willing to go to make my life a living hell…although I suppose she is doing that to me already. Good point.

        It is that I have a list of rationalizations that runs through my head on a daily basis that keeps me feeling helpless and stuck. I know they aren’t logical.

        The truth is that I have only been in one relationship who is also my one and only real sexual partner. Now after all these years, I don’t know what life would be like outside of this situation. I hate it, yet I still cling on to my cheater like a wire monkey-mom. Every time I begin to feel strong, she does or says whatever it takes to keep me in check. The only spark of sanity I ever receive is from this blog. Thank you everybody!

        • Uncertainty is not a reason to allow someone to keep kicking you in the teeth. Uncertainty sometimes leads to “better.”

            • Trust me, YOU want to be the one who takes action here. It is empowering. Otherwise you’re waiting for someone else to rescue you (e.g, the AP). That’s no way to start a new life.

        • P.S. You’re already in a living hell, IMHO. No one else should have that kind of control over you. Any alternative is an improvement.

        • I’ve got the one-word answers to your question of what life would be like outside of this situation: Better. Happier. Healthier. Saner. Peaceful.

      • Sabine – I agree with you. So many people here go through agonizing pain in divorce, their futures and lives torn apart, fearful they won’t have a roof over their heads or be able to put food on the table, and this guy is thinking that his wife is extremely hot and he’ll lose his arm candy. So one of the factors for staying is due to some female body parts. Wow, talk about being shallow. Shaking my head…

        • I read cucked’s comment differently, as being one more example of the ways in which narcissists belittle and shame us by hitting on our deepest vulnerabilities.

          In this case it seems that she’s taunting him for not having had any other partners and telling him he could never do “better” in terms that make HER feel superior, i.e. she’s amazing “arm candy” and the best he could ever do again will never measure up her sparkly beauty.

          Honestly, they all find ways of colonizing our minds, as CL says. Cucked, I hope you can take the very on-point advice from wise chumps on this thread and start taking steps to decolonize your mind and gain a life away from this woman.

          • Kellia and Kat,

            It is true that she hits me again and again at every angle: She is helpless without, the kids need me, she will destroy me, I am nothing without her, nobody else will have me because I am too old, not rich enough, slightly overweight, from a trashy family and so on. She reminds me of how attractive she is and that men would “line up” for her.

      • Quit keeping her SECRETS, Cucked. They are what has the power over you. Not her. Ninety percent of the time, secrets are used for evil. They are really just lies of omission you are telling for someone else.

  • When I was struggling with the love/hate/indifference issue, I spent a lot of time in therapy and in reflection thinking about this. I struggled with it because in an almost 30-year relationship, it is impossible to say that it was all bad. Even if the good was them faking it, as a family, there were a host of good memories that we shared that I refused to let him faking taint because the children and I were fully vested and not faking it.

    With that said, I know my EX is a sick fuck who is set to the “do the most harm” channel where I am concerned. Intellectually, I knew I could not and cannot have a relationship with him. However, I had to acknowledge that I had residual feelings for him and I was searching for a way to resolve the issue. Then I came across a quote from Leslie Vernick that completely resolved the problem for me – it was something along the lines of that it is true that God wants you to love everyone. However, that does not mean that God wants you to relationship with everyone. This is where I think we get confused – that to love someone is to have them in our lives. Someone who mistreats you does not deserve a seat at the table of your life or a room in the hotel of your heart. It’s like the quote I added to the list, “If I loved you, I’ve still got love for you. Stay away from me though.”

    Thank you Tracy for this post. You have so much excellent writing, but this is truly one of the best. You have more clarity than most people “practicing” therapy.

    • Totally agree Princess. I just cancelled my therapy appt after todays post.
      Thank you C/L and C/N.
      Priceless….not even MasterCard is needed! lol

  • The only people I give unconditional love to are my kids and myself. Everyone else has to earn it, and bad behaviour is a huge turnoff / lurv killer.

    I can think of the d-days and the actual moments of discovery when my Love Meter dropped below zero for my various cheatin’ men. The best time for this to happen is before the Cheater realises they have been exposed. It gives a chump time to plan. No mushy stuff for me.

    The greatest joy is the love one can feel for a long term faithful partner, true, but it is not smart to let sunk costs / sunk time interfere with any decision to end a relationship. Kids and self first!

    • Amen, no more unconditional love for anyone except my child. It’s a blank checkbook to be abused. And even unconditional love doesn’t mean no consequences.

  • This post reminds me of the Eva Braun documentary called, “Mr. and Mrs. Hitler”. The young woman loved him, because he brought her a puppy when she threatened to kill herself. Nuf said.

  • While it is very very difficult to control our emotions, we are always in charge of our REACTION to those emotions. It is completely possible to both love someone and leave that someone because his/her actions are not acceptable. We feel strong emotions all the time, and yet manage to control our response; just because I am very angry at someone doesn’t mean I can give in to a desire to do them physical harm. “Love” is no different — it does not take away a person’s free will or agency.

    My suspicion is that most of the time when someone insists they can’t leave because they “love” their cheater/abuser so much, it’s really FEAR that keeps them in place, but they can’t bear to admit that to others or even to themselves. Our society romanticizes losing self control and willpower due to love, but does not do the same to actions taken out of fear.

    • Glad, you nailed it. For around 2 years he ignored me, emotionally abandoned me. I no longer loved him….he killed that. But I stayed out of fear…mainly financially. Fear of being alone had already passed….I was alone for years. Dday came, that was it……..done, OVER. I struggle financially right now, but I have all I need at this moment, knowing this is only temporary. I needed him gone so I could have a future.

    • It is definitely FEAR. And that’s with all breakups, not just where cheating is involved. FEAR of being alone, FEAR of never finding another mate, FEAR of not having enough money, etc. etc. But you know, you’ll never know if you don’t try, and if you have been to rock bottom, and made it back up, you will know that you can handle ANYTHING. If you stay in a bad relationship you will never know what happiness is out there! Don’t be afraid!

      And by the way, you can be happy without a man. I am happily single right now, and I’m even happier than in my last relationship where we had arguments all the time. I realized I wasn’t even that happy with him. But I couldn’t see that while I was in it, or when I just came out of it. A RELATIONSHIP DOES NOT MEAN HAPPINESS. Lots of couples fake being great. Don’t look at their outsides (the way they portray themselves to the world), you don’t know what’s going on in their insides. So, do not compare yourself to other couples who may look happy but may not be. Don’t compare your insides to their outsides! Actually, stop comparing! Focus on yourself. I can’t stress enough: A RELATIONSHIP DOESN’T MEAN HAPPINESS. I know that now, and I believe it 100%, and I believe I can truly be happy without a man, and I am right now. But I also want to have a relationship again and I believe that I will find the right guy if I am in a good place. They say water seeks the same level, and that you will attract a mate that is as healthy as you are (i.e. the relationship is as strong as the least healthy person). Well, if you want to attract someone amazing you have to be amazing yourself.

      I had a bad breakup before (no cheating involved) but I loved the guy so much, and I went rock bottom, I had given up my home, my friends, my family, moved countries for him. Settled down in a new place with no job, no car, no friends yet. And we broke up. I literally felt like I had nothing and that I was all alone. I went rock bottom. But I got out of it. I survived. And that’s why this time with a cheater I got rid of him asap. I now know I’m strong, and that I can survive, and that I can love again. I will not take crap from anyone anymore. Life is too short to waste time!

    • Yes! I really do think the “but I love him/her” is the last-ditch excuse that many chumps use when our supply of spackle starts to run dangerously low and we begin to fear what life might look like without it (because once we can no longer spackle, we have to face the ugly reality and decide how to deal with it).

      I have a dear friend who is at this stage now and it breaks my heart. She hasn’t even found (mostly because she doesn’t look) evidence that her asshole of a husband has cheated, but she has started to face up to the reality that he’s an off-the-chain narcissist who has emotionally and financially abused her and her children for years (as well as threatened physical abuse).

      Every few months things will come to a head and her family and friends will start up round 112 of “You need to leave,” only to be met with, “I know he’s done some terrible things, but I can’t help it, I love the man.”

      This, too, from a woman who has long been active in domestic violence advocacy. Which brings me back to my comment above about CL’s point about how narcissist abusers find ways of colonizing our minds, sometimes even in violation of our most cherished values.

  • Yes, exactly. I was afraid. I was afraid of having no money and no roof over my head. I was afraid of my friends and family thinking I was a failure. I was afraid my son would be so sad and disappointed (which he was, but not of me). I was afraid of being alone the rest of my life because he made me feel that no one else would want me. And he stayed with this OW. It’s been more than a year since he left, and even though I am no longer in the dance, they are still together. Yes, I ended up being powerful- I can support myself. I got nothing in the divorce but the debt and the house. But I am strong. I have ALL the friends and ALL the family (except his, and they also treat me like I am invisible), and most important, my son. But he got away scot free and got to start a ‘new life’. So when people tell me how lucky I am to be rid of him, I am not strong enough yet to agree. So lucky to be alone at this age, starting over again.

  • Yeah, it started out with a simple suggestion like, “You should get a real job and stop all that nonsense about making it as an artist.” or “the shirt looks like a kitchen rack, why don’t you wear khakis and a white shirt when we visit my parents, like the J crew models” (Huh?) After all I thought, the comments are not that far off base, and I certainly dIdn’t want to appear unappreciative or defensive. At that stage of my relationship, I wanted to please him, not alienate him. It was more important to appear receptive and understanding of Fucktard’s opinions than to challenge him, I certainly didn’t entertain the idea that what he did is EMOTIONAL ABUSE and rotten character.

    Of course he continued to be critical and I picked eventually up on that emotional undertone that suggested if you don’t abide by my opinion, I will be angry, punitive and emotionally manipulative- silent treatment here I come, so lovely ! I don’t know about you guys but I was easily sucked in and than finding myself managing his critical side, that was a full time job, that kept me in the loop.

    I was so consumed with keeping his emotional judgments at bay that I had trouble considering if the demands have crossed over into an abusive and inappropriate arena. My judgment was so clouded. Is it me or him? I still do that sometimes. Trust that they suck doesn’t come easy for Chumps. Most of the time I felt so anxious around him, believing that somehow I can make things right again; I wanted to feel the “Love” we had when we first got together.

    I think Deep down, my biggest fear was that his opinions of me is right … that there really is something wrong with me, and I just may not be lovable the way I am.
    A lesson learned the hard way. I worked so hard to get out of that cycle and I don’t ever want to get sucked back in. I don’t want him near me, and my heart rate goes up when he try to contact me. All I can think of now is:” Run like the wind bullseye.” No more of that BUT I LOVE YOU nonsense.

    • “I think Deep down, my biggest fear was that his opinions of me is right … that there really is something wrong with me, and I just may not be lovable the way I am.”

      YES. I stayed 20 years with a man that I KNEW had sex with other men and didn’t really care about me because I completely believed that I really was the boring, nothing person that he considered me. Good for nothing but using as a maid/cook/babysitter/facade.

      I still struggle with it, actually. Twenty years of mind fuckery and a FOO with some serious dysfunction leave a person with a steep uphill climb to self acceptance. Thankfully, I’m slowly working my way up that hill.

      • I also stayed with a man I knew had sex with other men for far longer than I should have (which is, not one second after discovering he was gay). He kept trying to convince me that the problem in our marriage wasn’t that he was gay (he only had “same sex attractions”) but that I was such an angry, pathetic shrew.

        He did have me convinced of this reality at times, and this version of the demise of our marriage has become the centerpiece of the smear campaign he’s mounted against me. But it does feel good to no longer accept intellectually or feel in my heart any aspect of his narrative about our marriage. I do have my set backs for sure, though each day brings me closer to Meh.

    • Schmetterliqng – God, that’s awful that he would try and control what you wore. I suppose he wanted you to emulate the OW? Barf.

      Mine had a more underhanded approach.
      I went to great lengths to stay in good shape and I bought really sexy outfits just for him!
      woooooeeeee.
      He never noticed me – not really at all. Not in a sexy way.
      Just would say, You look NACE!
      And, then go pick a fight on the way to a nice event in the car. I would turn the radio up on him.

      And, still feeling sexy upon arriving home, never got the lust from him and I’ll never forget how many nights I slowly removed my come-fuck-me-tall-boots, my sexy dress, my sexy lingerie underneath and crawl into bed alone while he went downstairs to watch Bond movies. And then fall asleep in another bedroom.

      Yeah, it sure fucks with one’s self-worth all right.

      Galdammit, but this is making me angry all over again!
      Fuck him.

      • I remember TWO nights in ten years where my husband actually came to bed to actually sleep with me. Both nights he had a raging fever and simply could not stay sitting upright. The entire ten years, from day one, I went to bed alone around 10-11pm. He stayed up drinking, gambling and looking at Porn until 3am or fell asleep the entire night at his desk. I’d wake up and have my coffee alone too since he was still sleeping in till around 11am…and I’d leave for work w/o ever seeing him. He is 63 and never once considered that his behavior was not normal for a married man. He has a day job being self employed and his adult son was hired to cover for his night owl lifestyle choice.

        Sex was “why don’t you go upstairs and take a shower?”…this was the extent of his foreplay, and usually said a few hours after dinner. He would say this with his back to me while playing Party Poker on line. Then he’d jump up when he was finished like his hair had caught fire and go back downstairs to play on the computer some more. Rinse, repeat.

  • The following helped me along my journey in dealing with my ex “no contact” loving and forgiveness etc. There is so much more but I will only quote the following.
    1 Corinthians 5

    “5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
    and
    11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

    • I dont know why…but I rather like the “destruction of the flesh” part. Really….I mean, doesn’t the Bible say that if your hand offends you to cut it off…or if your eyes cause you to sin to pluck them out (as a manner of speaking about the serious nature of sin). Well then, my “brother’s” sexually immoral penis needs to fall off and the greedy dogs can then eat it as I forgive him while he stays away from my table while he waits to be saved on the Day of the Lord.

  • My husband didn’t cheat. He was just never really there in the 16 years we were married. He played games of testing my “loyalty”. Blamed his problems on me. Called me a gold digger for asking him to maintain a job and provide shelter for me and the 6 kids. He went on Vacation to Russia. Came back and dumped us. He told the kids he was leaving to “become a better man” for them. I find out he is out clubbing and spending tons of money. He has given us a dime or called my kids in 2 months. His family expects me to have patience, let him get through this, and take him back for the sake of the kids…bullshit. But yes, I catch my self saying “but I love him” all the time. Then I hate myself for being so weak. I know there is a long road ahead for recoveryou. I just wish I was at the end of it already.

    • “He told the kids he was leaving to “become a better man” for them.”

      Men don’t leave, unless there is another woman. Your husband did not leave to become a better man, that is bull shit. He went on vacation to Russia. He’s likely porking other women. And he is out clubbing, acting single. You may love him, but he does not love you, if he did, he’d be taking a vacation with you and his children. He’d be spending money on his family, than on alcohol and bars or in a foreign country. And he hasn’t even called his kids in 2 months, is that love? When you love someone, you can’t be away from them. Please, please, PLEASE, see the signs that your husband is cheating on you.

    • Susan, feel what you feel, but DO what your head knows is best for you and your kids. Because he doesn’t love you, or even respect you.

      I hope you’ve got a lawyer and you’re working out all the legal and financial stuff. Because the sooner you get this asshole out of your life, the sooner your recovery can begin! (But wouldn’t it be good if we could just fast-forward to the ‘so much better’ part?)

    • Susan,

      I agree with Kellia and CalamityJane (below) – everything you said about your husband indicates that he is cheating on you. And if he is out living like he’s single, if you are having sex with him at all, he is putting your health in danger. If you cannot or are not ready to acknowledge that he is cheating on you, I understand. But at least leave your mind open to the possibility and protect yourself physically from the possibility of an STI.

    • I don’t think it’s weak to want back the status quo and want to appease all the people pressing you to take him back. It’s holding on to a dead dream. It is strong, however, to stand firm in your own principles and fight for yourself and your kids. You deserve better/

    • Susan, does it even matter if he’s cheating when he’s abandoned you and the kids? Get a lawyer, in most states his leaving for 6 months is desertion, file for divorce. You ‘love’ him? Write down every thing you love or like about him, write down everything you hate or dislike about him. When you finish go back and write next to each love/hate thing when was the last time he did or acted in those ways. You will find it’s been a long time since he did anything that felt good. That’s not love. People who love you, they show you. And when you see how long since he’s shown you it will help you realize you don’t actually ‘love’ him anymore, he’s a habit, a really BAD habit

    • My ex was just “never there” either Susan. And that is red flag #1. You and your children deserve a better life.

  • THIS!

    I was afraid. I was afraid of having no money and no roof over my head. I was afraid of my friends and family thinking I was a failure. I was afraid my son would be so sad and disappointed (which he was, but not of me). I was afraid of being alone the rest of my life because he made me feel that no one else would want me.

    Now 2 1/2 years later, I know that I never had anything to fear. My son & I are making it on the other side.

  • Thank you Chumplady…this comes at the right time…when I feel weak again. Make me realize that i have a choice….also in love.

  • We are also both making it on the other side. My son has a happy life with intermittent texts from his father that demonstrate how important he is(n’t) to him. Could you imagine giving up your child? As for me, I am still in limbo. No longer manically dancing. But I won’t lie- I do want things to fall apart with him and schmoopie. I want him to experience the dark panic and fear he put us through. Because he CAN’T be alone- without me or the schmoopie, he will drink, he will spiral down. And i am still thinking about testing the waters with dating because I want to experience someone wanting to be with me, somebody liking me. I want to have an adult relationship. I’m tired of being the mommy. My son grew up but my husband never did.

    • lostandfound – Gosh, you are really resonating with me tonight. I also totally want to know if he and the slut have remained together. He tells nobody and he certainly tells me nothing. Granted, we have no reason to communicate w/o kids, but still – I sometimes would like to know. He knows where *I* live. I really really doubt she would ever be accepted by either of their families, especially his, so I’m sure that puts a strain on the relationship.
      Why I care, I have no idea!

      I do know that he was falling apart physically during the last 3 yrs having his affair.
      Hygiene, weight gain, high BP and eventually Prostate removal from cancer and folks said he didn’t look good.

      Also, these men don’t age well as much as they’re trying to feel young by leaving their rich lives of history and people behind it.
      I’m convinced it’s not what they expected.
      What can you really expect from a real 2-bit whore, literally?
      He was a man of fine quality who went from the top of the heap in respect and goodwill and friends and all that, down to the bottom of the pit.
      Hiding so much that his own family only has a PO box for him.

      I guess a moving target is hard to hit.

    • “And i am still thinking about testing the waters with dating because I want to experience someone wanting to be with me, somebody liking me. I want to have an adult relationship.”

      Lostandfound, isn’t this self-medicating with people?

      To want an adult relationship is a wholesome desire for the long-term, but it sounds like you might not be ready yet, and may pick a loser because you fall too easily for someone who acts like they want you and like you.

      I have been reading saferelationshipmagazine.com, and one of the things they warn you about is that the psychopath out there is listening to every word you say, and shape-shifting as you speak into exactly the kind of man you think you’re looking for.

      Please don’t date unless your self-esteem is intact. Don’t date to get self-esteem. It’s too risky, and you can be retraumatised so easily.

      • Lola Granola – SPOT ON! with the shape-shifting character.

        He’s out there. He’s my X.
        Be careful.

        He was a master of it. Think The Talented Mr Ripley. (and he loved that movie)
        He could sound like almost anybody – he was quite talented in the voice department.

        He knew a lot about a lot of things and well articulated.
        He would take on the persona of a farmer – if he was talking to a farmer.
        Or the bond-trader – talking like a bond trader because he was one and a master salesman.
        Or the neighbor who lived in a poor trailer – he could get everybody’s love.
        I was in awe of that until I realized I fell for it too.

        He told me what I wanted to hear but without action.
        I know him better than anybody.
        He’s not exactly a con-artist but he’s a really good fake.

        I have no interest in the dating pool.
        They all look like jackels out there to me.

        No offense to the good men that surround me. And, on this board.
        But, it will just take me awhile to trust again.

        • Shechump, are we married to the same guy? Mine is intellectual with interests and great articulation in politics, global economy, trading and then recently surrounding himself with new artist friends who provide their adulation to him. Recently also on the path to write and direct a movie. We went over vacationing on a farm and he totally impressed the farmers with his knowledge and genuine interest. This is what I fell for. His ability to find a common language with anybody. For me it was the top of perfection. Something I lacked. Oh…and the different languages he spoke so fluently. I wonder why we value ourselves so low and then try to compensate by being with somebody who has the qualities we wished we had ourselves. We are ready to bow to them and take infinite amounts of abuse just to be able to breathe the same air with them. I also understand now that most of his shape-shifting is done with the only aim to impress. Who the audience is does not matter. One time he decided to play a devoted father he made this great party for all the kids involved. Once in 12 years. He was just on the road to impress. They are so shallow and yet we still “love them”.

  • I would rather spend the rest of my days single, peaceful and content than spend another second on that asswipe. Its just not worth it but he keeps hoovering for cake. Just go away dude sheesh!

    • I know, why do they hoover? They think they’re that irresistible and we want them. They think that just because we put up with their shit over and over again, that set a standard in their minds that they are desirable and we’ll always want them. Um, no, the sun doesn’t shine through their butts and they’re not that special. They really don’t understand that WE DON’T WANT THEM. Sheesh.

  • This is kinda on topic with today’s discussion. I would like to hear what other chumps think. I have chosen not to love my x. I’m very no contact. I got a call this morning about 2am from the X and didn’t answer it. At first, i didn’t realize it was her because i took her name out of my phone over a year ago. Anyway, my daughters were with me so I didn’t think it could have anything to do with them. Turns out one of my daughters had called her upset about a friend that was talking about committing suicide. Now, I am doubting my judgement to not answer the call. Also, the x’s mother is not doing well health wise and something could happen with her any day. Additionally, X has a loser living with her right now. I assumed it might be some crap from that. Have any of you been so angry at the X that you wouldn’t even answer a call that could in some way impact your children? Right now, I have so much resentment towards her I don’t even want to speak with her. If something happens to the kids grandmother, I want her to contact them directly and not me. Of course, I would be there for them if anything were to happen to my X or their grandparents. Help them in any way I could. My kids are 16 and 18, so they are older. I did discuss the situation with my daughter and told her to wake me up at any time for any reason in the future. She said she just panicked this morning and didn’t know what to do. I reassured her what she did was the right thing to do. So, has anyone else gone from love to resenting someone so strongly that they refuse to communicate with the X at all? Should I just answer calls that could be emergencies involving the x or her parents? Of course, I would’ve answer the call if they had been with her.

    • Yes, I went from loving my then-H to despising his narcissistic, serial-cheater, pathological liar, manipulative, sociopathic self. Fully. I have no desire to see or talk to him.

      Your X was being manipulative. She could have told your daughter to go talk to you if she herself didn’t know what to say. X was just trying to rope you in with that phone call. Congrats for not letting her. No reason to relax your policy.

      • I agree with your assessment, Tempest. That is a weak excuse to call someone at 2am. Lostntx, I can tell your boundaries are a little wobbly because you’re second-guessing yourself and making exceptions for things that cannot be predicted. How will you know if the phone is ringing because there was some emergency involving someone you are loosely related to, or if your ex broke a nail and needs to be consoled? You have to let some things go, for your own sanity. Set rules, and let the rules be the bad guys, not you.

    • I have an answering machine to screen any calls from ex. Only a true emergency that affects me or child directly would receive a response. Otherwise, you end up encouraging drama.

    • That’s what voicemail is for lostntx. If it’s important, she’ll leave a vm message. My kids are adults so I block the ex from calling, texting or facetime. Even with the block I’m told that he can leave a VM but I wouldn’t be alerted to that fact. I may or may not notice it and I may or may not care. Not my circus or my monkeys anymore.

      I left email as the only open venue of communication and that’s mostly because he hates to write so I know I won’t hear from him unless it’s important. You have one minor child so you can’t go there yet but your 16 year old should be navigating her relationship with her mom on her own. Your ex didn’t need to call you because that wasn’t an emergency. Just more kibbles for her.

      Your judgement was sound not answering the phone. Your first reaction, much like the first answer you give on a test is generally the correct one. When you second guess yourself you’re just trying to talk yourself out of what is the right thing to do. Trust your gut! Don’t second guess!

    • lostntx, agree with the others that you should not have to answer any calls from her. If it would set you at ease then set a boundary that if she has some emergency information about your kids she can text you that info and you will act on it but you won’t speak to her. If she refuses that validates she is just trying to suck you into her life again. Jedi Hugs!

      • Thanks for the replies and confirmation of my response. I did let the call go to voicemail. You all know that most of society would say what I did was too harsh. Just nice to be backed up by those that are actually going through this.

        • I think you are doing fine, just be sure to lay out your boundaries, especially with your kids. You are no longer a couple so your kids need to be clear if they need you, YOU are there but they have to reach out to YOU. If you care about extended family of hers and they still care about you, don’t be afraid to let them know they can contact you, just be clear that it is not cool to do that if it’s to rope you into your ex’s shit. Jedi Hugs.

          • I agree with all of the above, especially Dat’s point that the kids should wake you up if a friend in trouble calls or texts them late at night. It amazes me that kids are on the phone all night sometimes, but that’s how things are today. If the X calls and it’s about the grandmother, you can check your voicemail. That will give you time to think about how you want to respond. Even with a death in the family, there would be no reason to call the kids in the middle of the night. The people on site dealing with the death are usually smart and sensible enough to let others who do not have to be involved in decision making get a full night’s sleep. I don’t see what you did as harsh; I see what she did as triangulation. That may, in fact, be why daughter contacted her in the first place. Sometimes kids, consciously or unconsciously, try to bring their parents back together, and one of the parents loves a triangle, so…you get a call at 2 am. (It occurs to me that the mother living with a problem loser might also explain the phone loop. Nothing like waking mom up in the middle of the night to annoy the loser boyfriend. The fact that you think some problem with said loser might end up in a call to you is a sign that no contact is your friend.

            • Just to clarify a little, the daughter called her mom because she is 3-4 minutes away from the girls house vs 20 min for me. She sent her mom over there to alert the parents to what was happening because her friend wouldn’t respond to her and she didn’t have the parents phone number. She did the right thing and I told her so. I don’t even know if she knows her mom called me. It is still great that i can come here and get good, honest advice. I felt it I was right but still navigating the when to break no-contact, if ever. I have very open and frank conversations with them and tell them why I do what I do regarding their mom. I know deep down they probably do want us together, but I make it clear periodically that will never happen. Thanks again for responding.

  • Yes Susan, yes he is. There is NO GODLY REASON for him to do what he is doing otherwise. He could have become a “better man” by STAYING rather than running off seeking/finding Russian whores while partying w/o you having any way to catch him.

    Cut that guy out of your life asap…one advantage that you have over most others is that he isn’t around at the moment. HINT.

    You know, you would not even BE HERE at Chump Lady unless you already KNOW in your heart the REAL reason why he left…to seek out his dopamine fixes with other strange women…you’d be parked at some RIC site lapping up the “make your marriage stronger” or reading the “husband suddenly left” sites. But the fact that you are HERE rather than admiring him for what he is now doing says it all.

    Sorry…

    • Susan,

      Oh, so sorry…I re-read your post again and you said that “he CAME BACK and DUMPED US”. Well then, he dumped you and the kids for WHAT? Only because he got a taste of the freewilly life while away on his trip? More likely, because dumping you means that he will not have to hide what he was/is doing. Yep. That way, he can control the narrative and never admit to what he had been doing and just say that you both “grew apart”…only, the truth is that he was always “checked out”.

      Does he think getting a new schmoopie will make him a better man for the kiddos? Subjecting them to his new fantasy life? Nope. He is doing all of this strictly for his own pleasure and trying to pass it off as being magnanimous somehow.

    • I heard the “better man” thing from Jackass. And all he did was run off to Mama’s house to find himself…but it turns out there was a Schmoopie around the corner.

  • I used to love my husband like oxygen,like the lights came on when he came into a room,and now I wish he would die in some way that wouldn’t incriminate me and wouldn’t traumatise the children toomuch. I think he thinks I still like him. He recently made a comment about what an awesome wedding we had, and I couldn’t answer, I was so taken aback. Glad to know youenjoyed the wedding, dude,but the multiple D Days and the parade of crazy trolls since then have kind of soured my memories…
    So I am sad about the death of that love, I had it for a long time and I treasured it….and I mourn it. But it is dead, dead, dead. And I can’t remember howit felt-in fact I think I have traumatic amnesia,because alot of my life with him priorto Dday 1 has really just gone. I know,for example,that we went to Africa twice,but I can’t remember much at all about how it felt or what we did.Eight years of mylife is a blur. I think when I found out how much of it was a lie my brain just threw everything out for self protection

    • Count that as a blessing mamma. That is what happened to me too. Only difference is that I do not even have anything left in me to “mourn” for what was lost…given that I cannot remember much that was truly authentic or tainted on some level by his deceit. I cannot even mourn on an intellectual level. I feel such peace that he is gone and everything is settled. It was a long ten years. It is now as it should be. I think that I did most of my trauma processing as each violation happened and I shut down all the tender feelings and hope as I went along. I read here that one day it will all “hit” at once for those who are “numb”. I will fight that with every fiber of my being if that is true. I already went through my “trauma” just living with him and I am DONE with that.

      After he left, I looked around at what still remained…and I am really liking it and see it as a blessing on every level.

    • My brain has blocked out many of my good memories before dday. Probably a coping mechanism. I honestly can’t recall even one good memory unless it involves the kids somehow. When I do have those memories he’s not in the picture which is odd because he was for 24 years. On some level it’s like what they do to us when they re-rewrite marital history, except I am not doing it on purpose.

      Serves them right I suppose.