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Dear Chump Lady, Why does everyone assume cheating is the chump’s fault?

faultDear Chump Lady,

I’ve recently been pondering something that irks me, and would really appreciate your opinion.

In various conversations with some friends over the last couple of years, if a case of infidelity is ever discussed, usually the first thing people comment on, is their opinion of the chump.

For example:
A dear friend whose brother was cheated on by his wife several years ago, was telling me, that the man her ex sister-in-law had cheated with, was well known for serial cheating on his wife (a unicorn). My friend went on to comment that his (unicorn) wife was stunning! My friend had a look of confusion on her face. A moment later, she realised her own flawed thinking, and hastily added ‘not that anyone deserves to be cheated on’.

Last week, I had two friends over for the evening. They have a friend in common, who several years ago, cheated on her husband not long after having their third child. Think online hook up sites several times a week.
They both spoke of their confusion because her husband (now ex), had been a good-looking, really nice guy who adored his children. They decided the birth of the third child must have done something to her mind because before that, she and her husband were very happy together.

According to my friends, after he found out, and she became a single parent to three children, she sorted her head out, stopped the hook up sites, and worked every hour she could. They seemed to think this was an indication of good character. I saw it as an indication of a cheater who didn’t have a husband at home to leave her kids with while she went out screwing around. Plus financial struggles from being a single parent. But maybe I’ve grown cynical.

The only comment I made throughout the discussion, was that when an affair is brought to light, the first thing people seem to do, is scrutinise the person who was cheated on, when they should be looking at the cheater. I was met with blank stares.

But then, I think I too am guilty of this bizarre behaviour. Three years ago, I was married with a 6 month old, when I discovered my ex had been cheating on me with prostitutes since before we were married. Turned out he’d cheated on all his ex girlfriends too. When I first began to tell friends and family, I always told the bit about ‘since before we were married’ and how he’d been cheating all his adult life. To… what? Take the scrutiny off me? To let people know in an instant that it wasn’t my fault, and thus stopping them checking out my waistline/hair/face/attitude?
I know it wouldn’t have mattered/was not my fault, if it had only been the once and after we were married. Yet I still felt like I needed to defend myself in the telling of the horror story I’d found myself living in.

So what is it? Why does society first look to the victim of infidelity when trying to understand the cheater’s actions?

Yours sincerely,


Dear Lucy,

So many reasons, but the first is that betrayal scares the bejeezus out of people. It’s hard to imagine what could make you feel more vulnerable than realizing that those closest to you were conspiring against you.

Don’t want to feel vulnerable? Can’t imagine yourself powerless? Suppress your empathy. Assign blame.

Well, surely there is something you did that compelled this person to abuse you.

But hang on, we can’t call it abuse. We have to minimize it first. It’s “an act of exuberant defiance” (thanks Esther Perel!), it’s just messing around, it’s What Men Do (so put up and shut up), it’s What Women Do (why didn’t you treat her special?), it’s No Big Deal, it’s monogam-ish, it’s the subject of farce and rom-coms and wink, wink, nudge, nudge, naughty, naughty!

It’s never feet in stirrups for STD check after years of presumed monogamy. It’s never paternity checking your children. It’s never Junior opening the laptop and seeing Dad’s multimedia sexting. It’s never the vomiting and raw grief. It’s never the discovery of stolen monies spent on affairs.

What it is? Your fault.

Look, on your last point — I did the same thing. My cheater, turns out, was a serial cheater going back his whole life. Through two other marriages. Throughout our ENTIRE relationship, he maintained a double life.

So, what did I do to make this man cheat on me? I have no idea. Apparently it wasn’t so awful that he didn’t pursue me and ask me to marry him. (Excuse me, Esther, “mate in captivity.”)

But it’s no excuse! You’re supposed to have KNOWN he was a serial cheater. You were supposed to have SUSSED OUT that he was a player. How could you be so stupid, Lucy?

Why do people believe this shit is all our fault? Why do WE believe it?

1.) Chumps assume the blame because it gives us a sense of control. If this is our fault, then we can FIX ourselves and stop these bad things from happening. Control is a very seductive commodity when you’ve been chumped. False hope sells. The RIC is predicated on it.

The truth is that we cannot compel other people to act. We only control OURSELVES.

2.) There is a therapy tradition that believes all problems are 50/50. On the face of it, it seems like the grown-up approach. Own your shit! We all contributed to the unhappiness. We all brought issues to the marriage. But it flies in the face of what we know about addiction, mental illness, and personality disorders. No, some people can behave utterly self-destructively and manipulatively. People lie to therapists, their spouses, and themselves. And whatever issues both sides contributed to the general dysfunction are eclipsed when there is abuse. Infidelity is abuse.

For more on personality disorders and therapy traditions — check out blog friend Dr. George Simon.

3.) Some people suck. Not everyone can walk into another person’s cracked open heart. Not everyone can be present when you’re in pain. That’s okay. It’s scary stuff. But it takes an asshole to blameshift. Were you frigid? Did you get fat? Can’t get it up anymore? Work too late? Neglect him for the children? 

And I would argue it also says something about another person’s values when they think looks should protect you from cheating. But, but! She was PRETTY! She got cheated on? (So what, is okay to cheat on the ugly? They deserve it?) He was a good father and she checked out on him? I wonder what he’s REALLY like? (Maybe he IS a good guy and she sucks.)

Sucky people do this to feel safe. So they can check the boxes and know it Won’t Happen to Them. I’m not frigid! Check! I’m nice to my wife! Check! Ergo I’m SAFE.

Lucy, I’m glad you’re speaking up when you see chump bias in action. Chump Nation must follow your example. Let’s change the narrative, folks!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • The ACTUAL why is “fear”…CL is right that people want to maintain the belief that they have control over this not happening to them so they apply blame to you then tell themselves that they wont do “that thing you did” then they will be safe.

    And CL is right that betrayal terrifies people …I was part of a group where people were invited to have time to “tell their story”..I struggled for a month with telling my ACTUAL story or coming up with some watered down mess and I decided to be true and tell the real story and the group stopped me and (very disrespectfully) cut me off and forbade me from continuing…it was a clusterfuck moment and I permanently left the group.

    Similarly, I care for dying children for a living and you might be shocked at the responses of parents’ peers to their experiences…very often quite similar to the Chump experience…rather than compassion and support, they often get the “well, I wouldnt have ____” (blaming the parents for the thing they had no control over).

    It took me 50 years but I finally decided that “Scared people are mean”.

    • and its incredibly sad that people cant get past their own fears to be kind to those who are suffering.

      • Unicornomore,

        I am very angry on your behalf. What kind of support group cuts people off and doesn’t allow them to tell their story? I started screaming creative curses in NY. You may have heard me, but I had to stop as the dogs came-a-runnin.

    • I have encountered this firsthand, Unicornomore. I lost a ton of “friends” after my son was killed. I suspect there is some kind of unconscious subliminal belief that murder and infidelity are catching, kind of like the flu. If that person acknowledges that it can happen to someone who is blameless then it can happen to they themselves. So ergo, the victim had to do something to deserve it somehow. Although, in my case, no one saw my child as deserving of being killed, so it must have been my fault, some way, somehow. I actually had a person say to me “I don’t know what you did, Tessie, to have God punish you like he did, but it must have been pretty bad.” If they can paint us as bad and themselves as good, then bad things won’t happen to them because they are not like us. Sort of like a magic talisman against evil.

      And you are right, Unicornomore, scared people can be mean.

      I learned you can’t logic, or argue someone out of this fallacy. They will agree but still walk away. I finally had to decide that they were entitled to their opinion, they didn’t owe me understanding or compassion, and that it is evidently impossible for them to give what they haven’t got. You can’t get blood from a turnip. I had to let them go with grace…….bless and release. I chose instead, to be with those who “get” it and who are capable of being supportive. Take comfort where you can, and realize that many people are not emotionally equipped to deal with the hard stuff.

      This is what is so special about chump nation. We are a bunch of loving, supportive folks who understand and who also aren’t afraid to tell it like it is when necessary. Loving truth, so to speak. We care about each other and want to help. That, my friend, is priceless in today’s world. I get support when I need it and I get to give it back when needed. I am grateful to be a part of this nation.

      • So true! I think many people need to believe that it “could never happen to them”. It is the way they deal with the fear that it actually could happen to them! I now know that such reasoning is faulty. None of us can possibly know what the future holds for us, good and bad. Ultimately, the only thing we control is how we react to that terrible thing we were so sure could never happen. I did not always respond in an admirable fashion, but I did make it through to the other side. Some days, I have to remind myself that I did the best I could under terrible conditions. The people who wanted to judge me were left in my past. Now, I don’t have as many close friends as I did before the troubles, but the friends I have are amazingly supportive. Thank goodness for a few good friends.

        • I agree. I was talking to one of my girlfriends and I told her that her husband would never cheat on her. that she had a great marriage. And she responded to never say never, that no one knows what could happen in the future, because simply no one never knows. And it changed my perspective on relationships from that point on, and even people with great marriages, can experience cheating. It was an eye opener for me.

        • Years ago I had a friend (not even a good friend) who got in an accident and lost both his right arm and right leg (at the groin and shoulder). He was a buff workout guy and I knew that with the care he took of himself this would be so devastating. I went to visit him several times in the hospital because I knew probably very few would show up. Same reason, everyone was terrified to realize such a thing could happen to them.
          Believe me, I had no idea what to say. so I just showed up.
          Even some of his family weren’t coming. I know it was harder for them than me.
          Anyhow Tessie, you are so right. People are threatened by such deep pain and gut wrenching circumstances. By get are flat out terrified,
          They don’t realize they just need you to show up.

      • And Unicornomore, I am ticked off on your behalf that you were treated so badly by that group. A pox on them!

        • Thank you Tessie (I explained it a bit more to Patsy below) but that Pox can wait until after it has blighted the wretch who told you that you deserved your pain. the asshole.

      • TVTropes has a series of categories to convey the age of something:

        Older than the NES
        Older than Cable Television
        Older than TV
        Older than Radio
        Older than Steam
        Older than Print

        Their two oldest categories are something really special:

        Older than Feudalism – First seen between the invention of the Greek alphabet (c. 800 BC) and the fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD).

        and “Older than Dirt” : Predating the Greek alphabet (circa 800 BC).

        “I don’t know what you did, Tessie, to have God punish you like he did, but it must have been pretty bad.” is straight from the Job’s “friends” in the Book of Job – not merely Older than Dirt, but quite possibly the single oldest piece of human writing, period.

        People have been blaming victims for an /awful/ long time.

        • Job is such an amazing ancient book of the Bible that I love. His friends were so wrong as are people who say ridiculous things like that still today.

          I have struggled to say that right words and act in a truly supportive way before with friends who discovered their spouses were cheaters. I will never have that problem again. Now I have compassion in spades. I never ever thought it was the faithful spouses fault though. Never.

      • Just World Hypothesis, in a nutshell. Most people have an implicit belief that the universe hands out justice in its own way, and thus we bring misfortune on ourselves because of our sins or misdeeds. Ignore the fact that history proves otherwise–did the Jews deserve mass slaughter at the hands of the Nazis? Did Christians deserve to be fed to the lions? Did the people of SE Asia deserve to be killed or made homeless by a tsunami? Did the students of Tiananmen Square deserve to have their skulls crushed by tanks for merely protesting?

        We prefer an even balance sheet, even against the evidence. And people are willing to tolerate that adherence to a Just World Hypothesis (as Tessie stated, “I don’t know what you did, Tessie, to have God punish you like he did, but it must have been pretty bad.”), even though it results in a further assault on the victim. Cognitive biases are maintained, even at the expense of compassion or empathy.

        Unicornnomore–one of the worst things people can do to us is silence us. I’m sorry that happened to you.

        Tessie–No words. Anyone who thinks you deserved even a fraction of your misery should be smite with a lightning bolt as we speak.

        As CL said, time to change the narrative, one vocal chump at a time.

        • Heck, I struggled with the belief that the universe hands out justice myself. I kept wondering (and still sometimes do) how I was such a bad person that this happened to me. Growing up I used to always hear “that person was so difficult/did such a bad thing, that they now live alone.”

          Reading here for several years has really helped me let go of the shame. I do believe that there were things I was doing that could have been changed, had I realized what they were. Unfortunately, when you come from a childhood with betrayal and abandonment it affects you in ways you don’t understand. Still, I was committed to our marriage, and would have been willing to work on whatever issues to make it better. That’s why I chose to go to IC, because I thought “my jealousy” came from issues between my mom and dad. When I did manage to get my husband to a couple of counseling sessions, his behavior with his coworker was never even brought up by the counselor. Never even addressed, even though I’d talked to him extensively about it. Mostly it felt like the counselor was buddying up to my husband.

          My counselor did make the comment that I seemed much more nervous with my husband there, and commented that my husband was sitting very sprawled out, and looked comfortable. Looking back on that statement, I realized that it should have been obvious to him that there was some type of abuse going on, just from our body language.

          Anyway, I don’t get real upset about people not understanding how deeply it hurts to be betrayed. Before it happened to me, I didn’t understand it either. Changing the narrative is a great idea. I’d love to see a PSA with the scenes CL describes above about infidelity.

          • “Jealousy” in a person who has normal self-esteem is one of our emotional early warning systems. It’s very hard for healthy people to feel jealous of someone who is not all over their boundaries. (I’m not talking about “Susie is going to Hawaii, I’m so jealous!”). It’s funny–I’ve never been jealous of the Very Kind Man I’m seeing now, even though he has regular contact with his X. He’s got no secrets and good boundaries. I was jealous instantly when Jackass started talking about his MOW. The body knows, I’m convinced.

            • LAJ, I also believe my body knew before my head did. Lots of physical symptoms, anxiety, etc.

              • Yep. Ten years of horrible insomnia. An irregular heartbeat for the last two years. Both disappeared within of months of Cheese Fries leaving despite my shock and devastation.

        • Tempest, aren’t we also falling for the Just World Hypothesis when we are eagerly waiting for the Karma bus to hit the damn cheaters? I think it’s the same principle. So I it’s the same “logic” when others assume that if this terrible thing happens to us, we must have done something for the Karma bus to come and hit us?

          • Yes, wishing for the karma bus to hit the cheaters is hoping the Just World Hypothesis is true, but I think wishing is different from using the Just World Hypothesis as an explanation–for one, we know the cheater has done cruel things and hope the universe takes care of him/her. In the case of blaming chumps for having been cheated on, it’s the reverse–seeing that something terrible has happened to the chump and then post hoc assuming they must have done something to deserve it.

          • I think that when a lot of people talk about karma, they are actually talking about wanting the cheaters to face consequences. They are different. Consequences are “a result or effect of an action or condition.” Karma is “a force created by a person’s actions that causes things to happen”. Presumably, a future life from what I read.

            The worst thing about RIC (one of the worst things) is that it shields cheaters from consequences. This ensures their behavior continues, cause they don’t have any reason to change except their character. The lack of character is what got them into fucking around to begin with.

            • Here is an example of how I see consequences versus karma. If two cheaters marry, and one or both cheats again, that is consequences. It is a direct result of marrying a known lying cheater. It’s what you should expect, based on actions.

              Karma is more mystical, I guess. The cheaters do not marry, they change their ways and no longer cheat. They date, then marry a good person, who guess what, cheats on them. Unrelated to anything they did.

              I can’t really say I believe in karma, but definitely believe in consequence s.

      • “I don’t know what you did, Tessie, to have God punish you like he did, but it must have been pretty bad.”

        I am practically blind with anger right now.

        All I can do is chalk this cruelty up to self-righteous, abject IGNORANCE. What a smugly vile thing to say to someone. Seriously, not only is that person IGNORANT, they are lacking any common human decency and compassion. They have not a shred of empathy, and I would not trust them under any circumstances.

        Come to think of it, maybe that person is exactly the type of person who cheats.

        I need a moment. I am so angry. And I’ve read a lot of provocative things on this site.

        • I agree. Here is what I know. Shit happens. My son in a coma, my girls sliding off the road into a ravine, my ex cheating and walking out. Life is out of our control. There is no great plan regarding shit. Shit happens and I don’t believe we have a God who is raining down bad things to pay us back for poor choices. I just don’t see life that way. I do believe we rise up when we handle life challenges well… It’s what I did. It’s what most of us here do. For every challenge life has handed me I have just grown more resilient and thankful for what I do have. Tessie, <3 and strength to you.

          • Drew–the number of good people who have huge piles of misfortune heaped on them is staggering. How is your son now?

            • We are struggling and perhaps I am not equipped to do this alone. Son suffered a TBI and has the challenges that go along with head trauma. The fact that he survived was a miracle, and for that I am grateful. The girls escaped their car accident physically unscathed but this happened two weeks after my son ended up in the ICU…all my children deserve a kinder world. We are all working hard on life skills now. The tragedies preceded Dday (a young nephew committed suicide a few years before this) but I can recognize that their father’s absence in their lives profoundly affect them. I am grateful for CL and CN.

          • I’m not particularly religious, but I remember one of my favorite church services was from a deacon who was also an engineer–a very, very practical man. His sermons were always the best.

            He said it’s blasphemous to speak for God. And I do believe that’s true. He said that in his opinion, God doesn’t make bad things happen to good people. But bad things do happen to good people–and he urged us all, when bad things happen, to reach for God’s mercy and guidance.

            Drew, honey–I wanted to give you hugs. This is all too much, but aren’t you the strong one. If you’re like me, sometimes you get so tired of hearing that, “OH, you’re so strong…” You get tired of being so strong. You wish someone would be strong for you. But cheaters are cowards, instead.

            Just know that we all admire you here. You’re doing a great job.


      • Tessie: I am so sorry for all your grief. And so grateful for your wisdom. I agree completely about the “catching it” problem with other people.

        In my case, I was of an age (and a 25 year marriage) where kids go off on their various ways (mine to college), and lots of couples are left looking at each other and the dining room table. I believe a great many truths come out at this phase, and among them is LT cheating.

        Lots of chump spouses want to look the other way…because who wants to figure out you have a liar-cheater on your hands who’s been leading a double life while you were super busy with kids/job/house/church…whatever. So when a dam breaks in the marriage of a couple you know, so, so much easier to look away, and walk away, than think about the comparisons. I don’t think they even think about the double-damage they are inflicting on their chumped (former) friends.

        They just pick-me dance harder.

      • People who “blame the victim” lack empathy. All empathy requires is the ability to imagine yourself in another’s shoes and attempt to feel what that must be like–even though in many cases we can’t come close. It’s the effort to understand the suffering of others that matters. And even in the case let’s say, where a child is killed in a car accident and the parent truly feels responsible, we can also feel that–what it would be like to lose a child and feel at fault for that, and then try to comfort that person. Tessie, your story is horrific enough, but it always makes me furious that people didn’t stand with you through that.

      • Tessie, I cannot imagine the hell of losing a child and then losing friends. We lost a youngster in our extended family a year ago and the outpouring of support has been unbelievably sweet. I don’t think the parents would have survived without it.
        This is your tribe now. We are your people. You grieve here. Write all you want to about him. We will cry with you.

      • Tessie,

        Your strength and dignity leaves me in absolute awe and I should be lucky to speak/write/be half as graceful as you.

        You helped me tremendously today. I have been struggling with my feelings over the Switzerland friends. I think that my mind is focusing on them more because of an annual event that just passed, an upcoming wedding I am declining to attend, and I am focusing less and less on my ex. I had focused so much on my hurt and anger over the previous year on Fucktard’s betrayal, that I didn’t have much room left to think about this particular group of people that I’ve known for 22 years. You know, that close group of friends that you watch them raise their kids, their kids babysit your kids, you babysit their kids kids. You’re the first person that she called when her husband was found dead during a golfing trip. Hours upon hours in each others lives and hearts that I am now going through some of the same emotions (although less traumatic but still painful) as I have been experiencing since dday. Those feelings of neglect, loss, and pain that after 22 years I have not had one single text, phone call, letter, card, visit in over a year. I truly felt that they owed me something. They owed me respect, kindness, empathy, just something one human shows to another. I have had total strangers show more compassion that these “friends.”

        Your words, “I finally had to decide that they were entitled to their opinion, they didn’t owe me understanding or compassion, and that it is evidently impossible for them to give what they haven’t got. You can’t get blood from a turnip. I had to let them go with grace…….bless and release.” has changed my perspective. They did not promise me forever. They did not vow to love, honor, and cherish me. Yes it hurts that they could not provide me the very essential element that humanizes us, empathy. I will now “let them go with grace…..bless and release.” Thank you Tessie.

    • The group STOPPED you from speaking??????? I have heard some things, but sheeeeeesh. A support group STOPPED you from speaking?

      • It was a group of Bereavement Professionals who were each asked , in turn to “tell their story”..I was asked the month before to share “my story” at the next meeting. The 3 I had listened to prior to my turn, the group listened attentively and patiently turn they stopped me (after about 1/3 of the time given the other people) and told me that my “time was up”. My story half told looked like a naked emotional dump with no logical end and I felt so violated.

        I sent an email to the group a day or so later explaining that I had been wronged but I included a person in the email who although in the group but not in attendance that day and with no attention paid to what they did to me they claimed that I violated the confidentiality of the group by including the other person on the email.

        They wanted to have a meeting to discuss the severity of me including the person i the email and I refused to meet just to be raked over the coals again and politely and professionally told them to go fuck themselves.

        All those folks fancy themselves very self aware and rational…I learned then (and in another setting) that a person who thinks themselves very self aware who is momentlarily NOT self aware is a really dangerous person.

        • My Munch’s “Scream” face is getting a full workout today–from a Bereavement group wanting to rake someone over the coals to a fertility Ob/Gyn impregnating a patient. Reality is stranger and more twisted than fiction.

          • Yup, the person who literally told me to stop talking speaking was a Chaplain. The person who tried to set up the meeting to reinforce that I was wronger than them was a professional Hospice Bereavement Counselor. They were clearly so uncomfortable being wrong they were going to blame the victim at all cost.

  • I think one reason chumps get blamed is that we “let” people blame us. And I’m not saying that to run any chumps down, because that isn’t their fault either. But it does happen.

    If you don’t dump the cheater immediately and get the truth out there, at some point you will fall in with the RIC, a marriage counselor, Switzerland friends. Everything they advise will advise will assign blame to the chump. Basically, the chump will work to “discover” what is wrong with them and work on “improvement”. They will cover for the cheater. They will behave in ways that are ” irrational ” to other people because they don’t know the reason for them.

    • “Know your worth” as CL says here is SO important. Plus, it is good to set those boundaries early in not taking even a modicum of blame for the cheating and abandoning. However, to be fair, it is hard to have a clear head when you’ve been traumatized and gas-lighted.

      • Your’re right, Divorce Minister. But our goal is to get to that clear-headed ability to protect ourselves and know our worth.

    • When I first went to IC my counselor mainly wanted me to address my codependence. He told me to stop trying so hard to keep my marriage together and focus on what I wanted instead. He never addressed my husband’s behavior, but kept coming back to mine. It made me feel like the problem was all mine, and if I could just change, my husband would stop his behavior with OW.

      Looking back, I feel like the counselor was right in that I needed to stop focusing on everyone our relationship so much, but I no longer believe my husband’s distancing and cheating were my fault. Those were his issues that needed to be addressed. It would have taken a large commitment from my ex to stay with the IC long enough to have insight into his own issues, and there was no way he would do that.

      I wish more counselors understood the dynamics of betrayal in a relationship, and how they erode self esteem in the chump and produce codependent behaviors. If the problem was some other type of abuse , such as happens with alcoholism, you wouldn’t hear people blaming the non-alcoholic spouse for as the cause. People might say “you are enabling the alcoholic’s behavior,” but they wouldn’t say you were the reason for it.

      • I did eagerly worked on “improvements” to be a better wife like Anita mentions above, but I never felt in any way responsible for Unfaithful’s cheating. I just wanted to be the best wife I could be and work hard on our new start.

        What I didn’t know was the only thing that my cake eater was working on was keeping the continuation of his affair hidden from me. I went a little crazy when I found out. It was not my finest moment if you know what I mean.

        And my therapist? After telling him the worst of my reaction, he said the only thing I was at fault for was being too nice. He said Unfaithful treated me horribly and that being divorced and alone would be both easier and safer than staying married to such a narcissistic sociopath.

        Then, he helped me with trauma therapy to alleviate my insomnia and panic attacks. EMDR worked great for me. I think divorce will work out just fine, too.

        • It’s really quite frightening, how much a difference having a good or bad therapist can make. Seems like the luck of the draw, which is a terrible situation.

          • Yep, we had a good thread about terrible therapists here.

            I had never been to one before and I was scared of revealing anything, and then I poured my heart out for 15 mins.

            Then, looked at her, and she was asleep.

            Thank God I kept looking.

      • Lyn, your make really important points here, especially the idea that chumps should “stop trying so hard to keep my marriage together and focus on what [we] want instead.” As long as the chump 1/2 of a relationship is expending full effort in twisting into a pretzel to save the marriage, why should a cheater change? The chump is doing all the work, all the caring, all the sacrifice.

        • I have a very hard time with that. How can you stop trying in the marriage and then still have a marriage? I WAS trying. My little chump heart out. I tried so FUCKING HARD! And HE turned off and left! If I had stopped trying before then what? It would have been over before? I’m not sure I’m really getting the point of this. Why be in a relationship if you don’t try?! HELP ME! ? I need more help than there is on Earth right now!

    • Yep. Our MC, that I made the appointment with, asked me if I told anyone that he cheated. I replied with a resounding yes and started listing people, my kids (one was there the other was called by the first), my sisters, my officer partner, my doctor, the pharmacist, the lady in produce at the local market….well he was shocked. He told me to not make the situation worse and to stop doing more harm. What the fuck? He did the act, I was just spreading his glorious achievement.

      And then we went into speaking each others love language. Here’s a love language for you Mr. MC, don’t fuck someone else when your married to me. That’s my love language. I think that if I had found CL instead of a MC, the RIC would have lasted about 15 fucking minutes. The first time I read, “Leave I cheater, gain a life.” I would have closed my computer down and told him to get the fuck out.

      • AnnieGun- you totally cracked me up!

        I was also never going to shut up until every single person heard about it.
        I admit, I was a little show on the start out gate, being in shock, but once it hit me, the anger and hurt exploded all over this country and the one north of the border too.

        I don’t regret it.

        I just think it was funny when he asked me what ‘we’ were going to ‘say’.

        And, when I said, there is NO ‘we’ any more, that’s when my verbal vomit flooded everything and every one and mostly strangers.
        Thankfully, it was short-lived.

        I remember when we fell in love and we shouted it from the rooftops so many years ago.
        Wow – the fun announcing our deep love.

        Well, the break up was the exact opposite experience.
        Except, much more electrical energy in the good-bye Mr Shechump, than the hello Mr. Shechump, when we first married.

        • It is very liberating to out the cheaters! X and I both still use the same dentist. In the natural flow of conversation, I was able to say that my divorce from X was due to his serial cheating. Felt pretty good.

          • I wonder if he will figure out why his gums kept getting stabbed with the pic the next time he goes for a cleaning.

      • Yes, this is great! I’ve been so careful not to say anything, avoiding bringing up the topic. Of course it matters a lot to my cheating STBXW (and she hasn’t stopped, so what gives?). However, I’ve decided that I can hold out in telling people for a while longer. It might be tempting to not waste this opportunity too early: what if it comes in handy as a negotiating tool? (As some chumps have mentioned in other posts elsewhere on this site.) If I can keep the negotiations as smooth as possible, I don’t mind keeping some things as low key as possible. However, once the divorce is final, I can have at it! She imagines that she will retire in the condo that we bought together, but wouldn’t it be funny if I told all of the neighbors about what she did while I’m staying there myself? She wouldn’t feel comfortable living there anymore, yet she’s somewhat tied to it because we paid top dollar for it and it will take a while for us to see a return on that one.

        There is one point where I have to be careful though: if I tell too many people, but have not told my sons (both tween-aged now), then there could be an awkwardness if they hear it from someone else instead of from me. And, there seems to be agreement from the psychologist we spoke to that it’s better not to burden them with this information now.

        • IWasaChump2–many psychologists do argue that couples should not tell the children about one parent’s infidelity, but those psychologists are wrong. How do you think children are going to feel if they find out some other way, and now realize that BOTH parents lied to them? And they will find out.

          Kids need at least one sane parent who provides a stable base for them emotionally. Lying to them does not do that, anymore than your STBX lying to you about her affair provided the stable base for a marriage. Tell them without embellishment–your mother had a boyfriend outside the marriage.

          Without this knowledge, they may think that they themselves contributed to the divorce.

        • IWasaChump2,

          I’m agreeing with Tempest. She’s very smart and wise, so listen to her. I’m also going to tell you my experience with my two sons (22 & 26). I don’t have daughters. When they were growing up, I was the sane, stable, honest parent. They saw this more than I did. I always thought I was just the disciplinarian while their dad got to be their friend. For example, if I came home from work and they hadn’t completed their chores, I would tell them to get on it immediately and they could do nothing else until it was accomplished. Their dad would do their chores for them. He would get pissed about it, stomp around the house, but not say a word until everything built up and he would explode at them at the tiniest little thing that did not even merit mentioning. I made them suffer consequences, he let them get away with things and then wonder where this raging lunatic came from.

          I also always told them the truth. This led to some uncomfortable moments with their father (it’s okay to say penis but not okay to say vagina) and he had the boys will be boys mentality. It got to the point that they were bringing their friends around to talk to me. I felt like the neighborhood mom, and I liked it. I even offered advice when it wasn’t solicited. I came home one evening and my youngest son was sitting with his friend on the back porch. His friend had small gages in each ear. I looked at him told him to stay put while I went into the house for a minute, I’d be right back. I came back out with a picture of me from the 80’s. Big hair, shoulder pads in the dress, lots of make up. I asked him what he thought. He mumbled that I looked good. I said I looked pretty silly. I told him it was a fad and that like all fads, it passes. I told him that in my opinion from a women’s perspective, the gages looked ridiculous. I also told him that when that particular fad fades, he will forever be left with a reminder of his momentary stupidity. He took them out and never put them back in again.

          All this is to tell you that your children will know which parent to come to when they need help, advice, or just the truth. Your sons probably already suspect the truth but don’t want to tell you and are sparing your feelings or don’t know what to do. They have feelings about this and don’t know how to express them or where to go with them. They are telling their friends their feelings and are hearing what their friends are telling them. Don’t let their friends be the only narrative they are hearing. My youngest suspected one week before dday that his dad was having an affair. He and a friend came up with some creative ways to find out for sure before the shit hit the fan. He didn’t tell me this until after the second dday. He was ashamed of his father, embarrassed, and didn’t know how to tell me. He was 20.

          The other possibility is that they don’t know anything and your wife will then have the opportunity to tell them whatever she wants. She may even tell them that you were cheating on her. If you tell them, listen to Tempest on what to say. If they ask you how you feel about it, tell them your emotions, without embellishment, “I’m hurt and angry,”

          I know this is long and I’m sorry about that. I hope it helps in some way.

          • Thanks Tempest and Annie GYG. You make really good points. I had my sons alone with me for a nice dinner out last night and I was SO CLOSE to saying more (I had not read these posts yet, and they might have tipped the balance). However, my concern is that they are still relatively young (13 and 11). Actually, their emotional ages are both closer to 11. They would still be confused about what the heck I was talking about (fairly sheltered lives without a whole lot of examples about what a really healthy relationship looks like… sleeping in two different bedrooms seemed normal to them). They would likely bring it up in conversation with their mother. She views any little thing I do as an attack on her and she would probably both find a way to attack me (as if she hasn’t already done enough shit to me already) and find ways to corrupt the story in their minds. I feel like getting into the truth is only a lose/lose/lose situation all around.

            I DID ask them what they thought of what I had said to their mother last week before she started “cussing” me out. They agreed that there seemed to be nothing wrong with what I said and they were witnesses, this was not hearsay. Like me, they were confused why she was so angry. So it was an opportunity to explain how unbalanced the situation was, and why it was better for us to divorce.

            My older son still cried to himself at bedtime (again). It’s tearing my heart out to see him so sad.

            • It breaks my heart what kids have to suffer. If you haven’t already done so I would start out my having small discussions about honesty. Tell them that you love them and that they can always tell you how they are feeling and you will listen to them. Let them know that if they have questions that you will be honest with them and tell them the truth. Let them know that if they ask something that you don’t feel you can answer with the truth, you will tell them and why you cannot answer. It is important that the KNOW that no matter what happens they can count on their dad to be fair and honest.

              It matters to me that when I say something my boys know it is truthful. I hear them talking about their dad and some story and they both just roll their eyes. They love their dad, but they can’t count on him for anything.

  • Chumps endure enough blame from their cheaters. This attitude by others/ society just amplifies the injustice of it all. I even got it from the OM who blamed me for my wife’s cheating as I had not given her a baby for which he was happy to oblige – this coming from her ob/ gyno lover who was secretly treating my wife’s fertility issues whilst fucking her!

    It’s all about the character of the cheater… Even if the marriage did have its problems it does not give reason to lie and cheat on their partner. Each day people are given terminal diagnoses but they don’t go out and kill themselves. Each day people have financial hardships but they don’t rob banks. Each day people deal with infertility issues but they don’t f*ck their gynaecologist.

    Whilst ever cheaters avoid responsibility we will continue to encounter other people who look to blame the partner rather than see the bad behaviour for exactly what it is – disrespectful and destructive. Authentic people take responsibility and expect the same from others.

    • “this coming from her ob/ gyno lover who was secretly treating my wife’s fertility issues whilst fucking her!”

      omg, just when I thought I heard it all, yet again, I hear of a story that still shocks me! This guy could lose his medical license for having sex with a patient. What the hell is wrong with these people.

      • Sadly it got worse than that. Yet her family and friends excused/ ignored his behaviour. At their peril. Dr Strangelove has prior form which my CW knew about. Some people only see what they want to see especially when narcs influence the narrative.

    • Excellent allfornothing! You supplied the words that often elude me when trying to describe these inexplicable behaviors to clue-less friends and family. <> to you. Infertility treatments are trying enough on a couple without having your efforts sabotaged by the very person whose commitment to this joint venture was to be depended upon. Total POS.

    • Bloody Hell. Pfffffff. It’s taking me a while to process the shit you’ve been through. Just when I thought I’d seen it all. (hugs).

    • Allfornothing,

      I am so sorry. Holy crap. Some of the shit sandwiches chumps have to choke down is just unbelievable. I get angry at the supervisor/subordinate relationship that many of us experiences, but an gynecologist. Who the hell would think that their wife was cheater with her OB? I certainly hope you reported it.

      • I have considered it. His lack of prof boundaries is just one of many shitty personal characteristics. He has beat her up once and I fear if I were to report him she would incur more of his wrath as he would know it was me (though I am certain my wife is not the only woman he has prayed on)

        • If you’re in the states, all hospitals should have an ethical standards hotline. All doctors have hospital privileges.. It’s confidential. I hope he’s not a sex predator or I fear for the women he’s examining that aren’t consenting. It’s not as if he’s a lawyer or counselor (which is bad enough). He’s examining women’s bodies, inside their bodies. It’s the worst kind of violation. I certainly hope he just does fertility and doesn’t examine a young woman who is having her first Pap smear, which can be a little traumatic under the best of circumstances. Maybe it seems as if I’m a bit dramatic, but I’ve seen some really messed up things in my career.

          If he is abusing her, it doesn’t matter what you do or she does, she will continue to be abused. Abusers do not need a reason to beat, kick, choke, or rape. They feel entitled to do what they want and will give any reason for why she or he deserved what they got. The only way to stop abuse is to leave the abuser. If you’re lucky, they move on or die in jail.

          You do what you feel you need to do or not do. You’re living it and know what’s best under the circumstances. The rest is out of your hands.

  • Yep…I have learned this, that false hope sells..The alternative sucks..To work hard to build a good life, marriage…Then 40-50 years into said marriage somebody cheats and has no shame about it..The chaos and destruction in the wake of betrayal ruins lives..I guess it is human nature to want a sense of control over one’s destiny..Hence the blame game..

  • How many books and movies or TV series are out there that deal with cheating the same way. The spouse is frumpy or unloving, so we root for the cheater to find love, like that stupid Eat Pray Love book. There is not one movie that I have seen that deals with cheating without making the victim look like they are at fault or at least partly at fault or make it somehow funny. Just my take on things too. I get pretty angry trying to watch a show when the topic of affairs come up and see how the characters handle the mess.

    I still remember how bad it hurt when my MIL told me “Maybe you didn’t show him you loved him enough?” My first thought was “When? He is never here because he is out screwing around, When do I have time to show him I love him?”

    Our marriage counselor tried to convince me I had the power to fix the problem too….that kept the dead marriage going for a few more years until his last affair and I finally pulled the plug. I couldn’t give him enough love, sex, attention to fill that needy ego of his.

    • The Descendants comes close as far as movies that don’t blame chumps.

      • Ahhhh, CS! ….I remember sitting on the couch right next to Ex (but never an Ex-cheater!: doesn’t exist, IMHO) during his final fling with the infamous Dr. Hoe. He didn’t even twitch.

        I asked him in the aftermath of our marital hurricane, “how could you just sit there and watch that, sitting next to me?” “Duh, I don’t know…”

        I can’t watch that movie, needless to say.

      • Hope Floats is the closest one I’ve found to an accurate representation. The scene where Sandra Bullock doesn’t intervene when the Dad says he won’t take the daughter with him. Heartbreaking, but MIGHTY! Don’t bail out the cheaters, let them own their despicable Chumps are tired of spackling to save their precious image. ?

        • And, of course, there is always the unbeatable Dr. Foster.
          (more avail now in the US)

        • I forgot about Hope Floats. When she picks up her sobbing daughter without a word and carries her back into the house … heartbreak.

          • I agree Better Days..the sad thing is most of us have lived that experience in real life with our precious babies, and on a daily basis. Selfish narcs make my so angry. ?

    • Hmmm… The First Wives Club? …though, I guess that does fall under the “funny” category. It does emphasize the message that the cheater is as fault, though. …and the “funny” can be pretty cathartic.

      • Yes, yes! I just started a thread on that in the forum but hadn’t read this post yet. I found it to be excellent. I like when humor is cleverly used on a very serious topic. It’s one of the elements of CL’s writing I enjoy so much. I have laughed out loud many times reading responses in the archives on this site. CN is smart and funny. Nothing wrong with that!

    • “The Other Woman.” Love this exchange:

      What about the people who try to work it
      out? Maybe that would be an option.

      Cheaters don’t change. And if you work it
      out, he’s just gonna do it again. And you’re
      gonna end up right back where you started,
      wishing that you had left the first time
      around. But that’s just me. He’s your
      husband, what does your gut tell you?

      • I will have to watch that one. I watched “The Other Woman (2009) with Natalie Portman. I think it also is titled, “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.” It was a hard watch and I don’t recommend it. Portman was the other woman who intentionally went after a married man but turned around and condemned her father or cheating on her mother. I just wanted to bitch slap her. I was empathetic that the baby resulting from her marriage to him died of SIDS, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend this movie.

      • I saw this “The Other Woman” (Cameron Diaz, I think?) movie as I was recovering from Jackass and I loved how the focus was on the women figuring out who they are–apart from Cheaterpants–and what they want. He was lying to everybody and sad to say it made me feel good when he got what he deserved. 🙂

        • I watched it in the first throes of devastation last summer after a friend recommended it. I thought the filmmakers did an amazing job of depicting the stages you go through after infidelity — albeit in a very abbreviated timeframe. If only we could all heal from our cheaters in about two weeks! But it was all there — the shock, the destruction of your life, the denial, the rage, the wish to reconcile and the inability to believe the person you loved is a shit monster, the grief, and finally the acceptance.

          And yes, I loved that the focus was on the women.

          I have a movie still in my office of Kate wearing her wedding dress and shooting canned whipped cream into her mouth while her dog sits next to her. 🙂

    • “Unfaithful” with Richard Gere as the chumped husband is a pretty excellent portrayal.

      Edie Falco’s reaction to Tony’s cheating in The Sopranos is also an accurate portrayal (but don’t watch it unless you’re at least a year out from divorce; major trigger ammunition):

      • I saw the movie Unfaithful. The AP is murdered by the faithful spouse, and the married couple ride off together like nothing ever happened. Disturbing. Plus, hello! The problem is the cheating spouse not the AP. And now you’re married to a murderer, and you can never leave. I guess that’s one way to pretty much guarantee fidelity.

        • I thought Gere’s portrayal of the hard-working spouse who is devastated by the affair was spot-on.

          However, I read the ending differently than you–they ride off, but given suspicions, it seems likely Gere’s character will be caught (thereby showing the massive damage the affair has for a long time afterwards).

          And, of course, I don’t advocate murdering APs (cheating spouses, perhaps, but not APs), the murder did depict the deep rage one feels at being betrayed–also accurate.

          • Yes, doesn’t the movie end at a stop light? With no clear resolution, although the implication is that the chump will go to prison?

          • True. But, really, who in their right mind cheats on Richard Gere anyway? He plays a very loving husband. I was furious with her and I watched it before I knew I was being chumped.

            • Of course, I’m just saying he’s great in this movie. No one deserves the betrayal his wife serves up no matter what. She just seems bored and doesn’t really think anything through. Selfish.

      • The Sopranos clip gave me chills. Her reaction is spot-on … and so is his. His refusal to admit to anything she doesn’t have concrete proof of, his contempt, his anger, his look of harassment at having to deal with what he’d think of as “this shit.”

        Major trigger ammo, but also a learning experience.

        • I showed that Sopranos clip in a college class right before I covered CL’s views on how infidelity is emotional abuse. You could have heard a pin drop.

          • “What does she have that I don’t have?” I’m a couple of years out, and I STILL almost threw up. What incredible acting

          • I had one of those middle-of-the-night epiphanies thinking back on this clip. I used to see the same tight, angry look on Cheese Fries’s face … and I always thought he was clamping down on deep, painful emotions. What a laugh. He doesn’t have that kind of depth. The angry toddler who can’t have what he wants is about as deep as Cheese Fries gets.

        • Better Days, I watched both clips attached to that.
          Very spot on reaction by Camella.
          It was very triggering with his smirking going on.
          I never made it through that whole series, but the X did.
          I didn’t like all the cheating going on.

          Same with Mad Men.

    • The Intern has infidelity in it and I did not care for the way it was handled, but I love Robert DeNiro.

  • It’s a hard battle to fight. Especially in secret, alone. when you are at one of the lowest points in your life, and when you are only getting bad advice everywhere you look. Thank God for Chump Lady. And the other wonderful chumps here.

    • Anita, I very truly second that emotion!! 🙂

      Being part of this Nation keeps us (sorta!) sane in the face of the totally bizarre situation we have been thrust into…..

      • I can’t imagine where I’d be without my safe, rational places on the internet like CL. Even though my family and friends wanted me to leave the cheater, maybe I would have stayed… ew, perish the thought!

  • LucyInTheSky, excellent observation and thank you for sticking up for us chumps! ChumpLady, dead-on analysis! People want to feel comfy-cozy that this couldn’t possibly happen to them.

  • I ran into this situation last week. A mutual acquaintance had cheated on his long term gf & she left him. The general consensus was that she (the chump) must have done something wrong in the relationship in order to “make” him cheat. Random comments such as “she probably didn’t give him enough sex, wore sweatpants, etc.” were tossed around. I suggested that she didn’t do anything wrong and that he was just an entitled, selfish asshole who didn’t consider his partner’s feelings and thought he could get away with a little something on the side. My comments were met with silence ….
    Yes, let’s change the narrative, one conversation at a time 🙂

    • “Yes, let’s change the narrative, one conversation at a time.”

      Yes!! I love how you suggested she did nothing wrong and he was the asshole. Speak the truth Mavis!!

    • It’s very frustrating because my STBX is right on the verge of being an actual ? He KNOWS it’s him. He KNOWS he’s broken. He KNOWS he’s the failure. But he just can’t quite get there. I picture him as a unicorn butt and the head is a donkey with an empty toilet paper roll duct taped to his forehead. ALMOST but NOT QUITE. The whole thing is just so desperately sad. And I am the total chump taking the blame even when I KNOW it wasn’t me. It’s just my way. It’s so damn hard. And I hate it. I had no idea anyone could feel SO MUCH PAIN and not actually die from it. Or go crazy and kill themselves. It’s fucking terrible. And I think that the reason people think that it’s the chump and not the cheater is just fear. Because otherwise it’s too terrifying to think this could happen to you. You wear the right clothes, you’re attentive and good and still your cheater cheats.

      • Sad Shelby: You’re right, the worst of the infidelity pain makes one wonder how people don’t die from the agony. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other at first, and sometimes you backtrack even on that.

        As for your cheater–he is not a unicorn, or a partial unicorn. Pay attention to his *actions,* not his crocodile tears, or what he professes or texts you. Pay attention to what he DOES, and you will see he is a garden variety, selfish, entitled cheater who no longer has use for his wife appliance. He’s not special.

  • I have yet to meet a person who really understands what’s going on when the chump is blamed. When I speak up in defense of a chump, I’m also met with stunned silence and blank gazes. It’s very clear that it’s the chump’s fault is a firmly entrenched narrative. Part of that narrative is that there’s a problem in the marriage (well there is, one party is s cheater). It’s frustrating to deal with this, to say the least.

    • Indeed it is the “entrenched narrative.” As society continues to be able to blame a rape victim for THAT act of violence, chumps are “small potatoes,” comparatively. Unbelievably cruel and unjust.

      • All this goes to say we have a lot of work to do out there, educating people about character disorders, infidelity and blaming the victim.

  • Little to no sympathy from most people when X walked out. I heard comments such as, “Well, you two weren’t getting along,” difficult when it’s a one sided relationship. One of the things X told people was he wanted someone he had more in common with, 20 years of marriage and 25 years together, a child and now X decides we have nothing in common? When I did find out X had AP, others told me, X doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…, meanwhile X had demonized me behind my back and played the victim. Unbelievably, his story of being abused and unable to put up with me was easier to accept. I then questioned my own reality and blamed myself. Maybe it was the tone of my voice, or I didn’t make pasta for dinner twice a week like his mother.., maybe I did drink too much wine at bunco last month.., Thank God for CN or I might still be beating myself up because I wasn’t more like June Cleaver.

    • “One of the things X told people was he wanted someone he had more in common with, 20 years of marriage and 25 years together, a child and now X decides we have nothing in common?”

      Wow, just wow! This guy spends a quarter of a century with his wife, and then states he wants someone with more things in common. Are you kidding me?! These people never cease to baffle me, wtf!! It took him 25 years to realize supposedly you had nothing in common???? How about when he proposed to you, went through a wedding ceremony, made vows and life commitments to you, had a child and THEN he states not having things in common. What the hell was he doing for 25 years! This guy is a colossal moron.

      • Yeah… we were together ten years before we had kids. It would have been nice if he had figured things out before we had THREE children together (none of whom were “accidents,” all were planned… not really sure what the point was in getting himself that deeply to the point where he was bound to me for life).

        • Yes, one would think 3 children would constitute “something in common,” as they literally share DNA through the kids. But that would be logical.

      • My ex said this me after our 36 years together…that we had never had anything in common but the kids! I was flabbergasted. Of course, he had everything in common with his married AP. She didn’t get bored at horse shows like I did.

        • Common cheater speak. Ex also told me that we had nothing in common. They need to justify and this is a perfect lie to use. I suppose though, that in the end, we really didn’t have anything in common. Our values are not the same. He is the perfect example of who I don’t ever want to be and who I don’t ever want my daughter to marry.

        • Lyn, a Narc likes someone nearly identical to themselves to couple with. Why? Because it’s like falling in love with yourself! “You love long Horse shows? Awesome- you’re just like ME!”
          A rather shallow basis for a relationship, IMHO.
          Personally, I like somebody who’s different than me, who I can learn from, and discover many new things with! But Narcs? They just want a clone!

    • My cheater also said we have nothing in common after 28 years…I don’t like soccer and I don’t play cards. I never pretended to like those and it didn’t seem to matter. I found out the OW was in his ear constantly telling him she likes soccer and will learn to play cards. When I found out about them, he told me that’s what we should tell the kids…that our marriage failed because I don’t like soccer or cards (keep the affair a secret). Such a coward.

      • Mine told the kids it was because I was MENAPAUSAL. Lol. Dumb twit.

      • hahahaha, I also didn’t like cards and refused to pretend that I did. I also didn’t want to go out drinking all the time and liked staying at home with my (then) toddler. I was such a bore, lol.

    • Difficult to get along, or feel emotionally safe, or share activities, when one partner is always bringing a third party in between you. Even when we don’t know about the fuckbuddies, it changes the dynamic of the relationship and as a chump said about a year ago, makes the relationship 2-1 against the chump. Not even Pele could win a soccer match with those odds.

    • 38 years here before he walked out – almost a year ago to the day. I “wouldn’t do anything” with him any more. . . well, after nearly forty years of one car/racing event after another as that’s the only thing he was interested IN doing, I had enough. My kids were grown, I began to pursue things I liked – kayaking, fishing, crafts, wine, travel – things HE wouldn’t do with ME although he was repeatedly invited. And it was my fault for not spending time with him . . . Oh, and I adopted another dog after “he said no more dogs!” My crimes are numerous.

      • Snake blamed the demise of our relationship on my dogs too. His ILYBINILWY comments centered around how dirty and smelly my dogs were (they’re not) and how I always smelled like dogs (I don’t). This was all before D-Day, because after D-Day, I wasn’t going to listen to another minute of that bullshit.

        What is really ironic is that I insisted on the first dog as an act of self-preservation. I was dealing with increasingly treatment resistant depression (a couple of decades of emotional abuse and gaslighting can have that effect, imagine that), was no longer working, and we’d relocated to a part of the country where I didn’t know anyone. I NEEDED the love and companionship from the dog that I wasn’t getting from the snake.

        But I’m pretty sure he was cheating before I got the first dog. I know he was abusive before I got the first dog.

        • Havng met them, I can safely say that one-tenth of one of your dogs is worth ten Snakes, easy.

          • True, your dogs’ droppings are worth more than Snake.

            Mine blamed his dissatisfaction on my rescuing betta fish. Chronology’s a little off, as I had fish five years AFTER his affair with gradwhore, but what’s a few years between friends? And I agree with you Snakebit, rescuing animals is often a preservation tactic on our parts when we are in an emotionally abusive marriage and shown very little kindness. As my sister said to me, “You treat those fish the way you want to be treated.” I wanted someone to save me, too.

            • betta fish made me laugh. Mine cheated because I only eat 1/2 a hamburger.

              I didn’t appreciate it when he cooked hamburgers and french fries because I only ate 1/2 the hamburger and 3-4 fries.

              Yes, my harmful hurtful self only ate 1/2 a hamburger. But, I asked him, haven’t you ever noticed that I only eat about 1/2 of anything. Yes, he tells me that it drives him crazy that I cannot finish an entire meal. He doesn’t know why he bothers to take me out to eat because when he does, I don’t finish 1/2 the food. Again, I ask him if he noticed that my food does not go to waste because he eats what I leave on my plate. But, he rants at me, if he went through all the time and trouble to make hamburger into a patty and grill it while waiting for fries to cook in the oven, the least I could do was eat the entire hamburger and more fries. After I explained that wasn’t going to happen, he stopped cooking hamburgers. Of course, I do accept full responsibility for my decision to stop eating when I’m full and thus I guess I am also responsible for him sticking his dick where it did not belong. NOT!

              • O.M.G. – THIS is me! I’ve never eaten a full plate of ANYTHING.
                It’s in my psyche or whatever it is.
                I always eat 1/2 my plate no matter how small it is.
                Maybe it was growing up rather poor, but I’ve never eaten more than 1/2 a burger and rarely 2-3 fries.
                Yep – and he ate the rest off my plate.

                I still haven’t figured why this bothers so many ppl.
                People are rude about why you didn’t eat your entire plate! I’m shocked anybody can eat that much on a restaurant platter.
                I don’t mean to insult ppl that have me over for dinner, but most of my friends know I just want to take home 1/2 to eat later.
                Not that their meal isn’t delicious. I just have never been able to eat that much.

                Nice to meet a fellow embarrassed eater.

                Sorry – OFF TOPIC!

              • I just think that it’s hilarious that he didn’t pick some other flaw, of which I have many, to point out was wrong with me that led to my downfall. So my list of crimes on my rap sheet include going back to school, using him for home repair, wanting only his paycheck, using him for his dick, and only eating 1/2 a hamburger. I’m a predicate felon. Thankfully my sentence was to gain a life.

              • My crimes, loving, him, raising our kids, picking up all the slack, being understanding and soothing, waiting for him to fix shit he said only he could do to be the man. Yes, my crimes, expecting him to be honest, truthful and have integrity. My delight is finally leaving here, going no contact with my kids blessing and agreement. Leaving him behind to a life of misery which shows every day, an ap who no longer trusts him which astonds me when he was married and cheating. Whats not to trust? Deep in debt, ap threw him out, broke his heart, poor wittle sadz sausage, kids barely talk to him as he was never fully invested in them either but to listen to him most incrediable father ever! Hes in misery and despair, mad at the world. Hahahaha hope it kills him. But hes king of the walk, gonna go have multiples of women. He never should have married, he never should have had kids. Relationships for him are deathtrap to any unsuspecting woman. Im not warning them. I will soon be free just to be me. And he can wallow in his misery and physical pain. He is such a liar i would believe a damn thing he says but we will still be best friends right. Cheaters are delusional in every way!

      • “My crimes are numerous” – seriously lol’d at that! I’m using that.

  • My X tells people we divorced because I had expectations. LOL. So we all know what that means it was my fault. I expected him to keep his dick in his pants. I mean I know that is a really high expectation in all how dare I.

    • “My X tells people we divorced because I had expectations.”

      oh boy, these cheaters are something else. You probably expected him to act normal, right? you probably expected him to treat you well, act like a husband, a real man, rather than an immature cheating loser. What can we say, some people just want to remain the immature cowardly pricks they always were. Expecting anything else, is just not fair. [eye roll, sarcasm]

    • Mine told people I was a good mother to our children, but I wouldn’t let him be who he really wanted to be. In other words, I guess I wouldn’t let him be a liar.

  • My stbx’s family has been almost completely silent to me in the 8 months since I kicked him out. I saw B/SIL at an event recently and took the opportunity to tell them (clearly and from the heart) how sad I was that I had heard nothing from them or his family in way of simple kindness to me or my two sons. SIL said she is “not emotive” and “divorce happens so I will need to dig deep for inner strength” (WTF?) I explained that he had been cheating and lying and raging for a long time and I had done my best but I had to get out to save myself, etc. A week later on Facebook – she puts up a meme that says “Never get comfortable with someone disrespecting you”
    So I guess that’s her “non emotive” way of letting me know this is my fault.

  • My ex made it his life’s goal to be loved by everyone, everyone that is, except his family and those closest to him. He always had to be socializing, always! I put my foot down, for example, it would be a family member’s special birthday dinner and he’d want his buddies to stay for dinner and I’d say no- they can come another time, it’s your mother’s bday and this is a family affair. He’d sulk and pout the whole time. So, yes , everyone thinks he’s such a great guy and I must be a bitch. I think he’s got his values and priorities all messed up but that’s just me . Anyway, I don’t miss him. I continue to put my kids, my family, and my close friends first and he continues to act like a teenager, but he’s everyone’s best buddy! I do feel it’s sad how he neglects his kids, and his own widowed mother to go off drinking with like minded buddies. Those people don’t seem to get that!

    • Welcome to my boat, [email protected].
      Everyone thinks Narkles the Clown is so great too. I didn’t even bother with trying to get my narrative out there first, or at all. He had been bashing me for years so why waste my breath. I have enough friends if my own. I don’t miss him either. I expend my energy on my kid, family, friends and the gentleman in my life.
      Somebody told me the other day how Narkles is grumpy and angry all the time. Now that I am not there to be a buffer and take all the anger, other people get to see that. All I could say was “thank you for telling me” but inside I felt somehow vindicated and thought maybe now someone will begin to see I did not make home that way, that’s just who he is.
      Now what do you say us “bitches” get this boat out of here and get a life?

    • Same with my X except a female version. So happy go lucky and nice to others. Same narrative of how bad I was to her. But these same people also saw her be a stay at home person (not mom) and live an essentially stress free life. I don’t really care what her friends thought or think. They know my actions and things I did for her. The crazy is coming out little by little. They can’t hide that. Just like you guys, I only have so much to give and i’m now really picky about who gets some of me.

      • @lostntx, you mentioned “stay at home person” — I love it!! I have one of those too. )-: She could disappear tomorrow and my routine wouldn’t change much with the kids.

          • @Buddy — yeah, she’s the cheater. I had not thought that far ahead when I confronted her. Too much of a chump to send her packing, and I get to look like the bad guy, esp. in front of the kids. Not sure I’d get anyone to support me in that decision either. )-: But in hindsight, I might have been able to pull it off if I had thought it out in the beginning.

            • I realize my response was a bit hasty, abrupt and i have gone through the same thing, so I understand all too well.

              I suppose there are chumps with cheaters who are in some vein a decent parent or family contributor, and there are the chumps who have or had cheaters who not only cheated, but also didn’t work or parent or spent the family into debt etc.

              • @Buddy, no harm done. My frustration with the SAHP (stay at home person) is that she went from being very productive and successful in a high stress job to essentially going into early retirement, avoiding taking on new work and new stress. She is a good parent, but also over-values the things she does, but does not realize that I’d have less trouble taking over her stuff than she would taking over my stuff (in home family responsibilities, out of the home family responsibilities, and the work that brings in the income). I’m prepared for those fellow chumps who are SAHMs and have argued against statements like this… please trust me, my Pity Partier is not a good example of a SAHM. However, putting her out of the house (if I somehow managed to pull that off) doesn’t help move the situation forward faster, it would only satisfy my sense of frustration over the situation.

            • I can’t reply to your last message, but you are a chump and are entitled to a “pity party” as you call it. I call it being hurt, angry, resentful, distrustful, and all the other emotions that come with being betrayed. I can sympathize with anyone going through this and double for anyone who is still living under the same roof as the cheater. Cut yourself a break. Do what’s best for you and your kids.

              • Just in case it was not clear, the “Pity Party” is what my STBXW always keeps carrying on for herself. So I’ve given her the nickname “Pity Partier”. I got such a huge burst of clarity after a recent incident where she swore at me under her breath in front of the kids (they could tell she was pissed) after I had made a suggestion that I assumed would be beneficial. At the time, I was really taken aback by her reaction to my suggestion, but later this came up again when we were talking to the doctor who was doing an ad hoc psych eval of the kids. I mentioned the incident and she argued that I had used a condescending tone with her and that I was talking to her as I would have talked to people who report to me at work. So it’s apparently very easy for me to trigger negative reactions from her, and she feels I “make” her feel the feelings she has, and she feels what I’m doing is deliberate, and let’s say I give her the benefit of doubt and say that I was not using the right words or tone, it was still not deliberate on my part, but she feels justified still in doing something very deliberate back at me. Just like cheating.

              • I’m sorry that I misunderstood. I had my own mini pitty parties after both ddays, usually involving boxes of tissue and wondering why I was so unloveable that he had to cheat. Then I found CL and presto, spine and common sense returned.

                But you’re right, nothing compares to the pity party of a entitled cheater not getting what they think they deserve. No self-reflection or empathetic moments. Just “I want!”

  • I know we don’t do politics here, but just two days ago I found myself in a Facebook spat with someone who was listing all the reasons she was against Hillary. One of them, and I quote, “She couldn’t even keep her man happy.”

    Yes. His failings were/are her fault.

    I’ve seen this narrative play out my whole life. If you have been cheated on, somehow you fucked up. You weren’t fucking your spouse, you let yourself go, you were a nag, etc. If you dump your spouse after infidelity, you gave up on the marriage, you must not have really loved him . . . on and on.

    Blah Blah blah. I don’t care what people say. I know what happened, and it sure as fuck wasn’t my fault.

    • I find myself thinking of CN a lot when reading political news. This whole Trump/Clinton thing has really illuminated the general world-ignorance of NPD and infidelity dynamics. I know it’s presumptuous (hopefully doesn’t incite an argument on this thread), but I imagine that the majority of us chumps are anti-Trump.

      • I never delve too much into it here. Next thing you know we’ll be lobbing “pineapples” all over the place. Might be OK to start a thread about it in the forums . . . 🙂

        • Big hugs rumble, the other day in the store two women were engaged in a conversation about cheating with two completely different opposing views they were trying to drag other women nearby into the conversation big eye roll here. When one of them asked me what i thought i looked at her and only thing i could muster was “pineapple”. And i started cracking up. Thanks rumble to you i will be forever grateful!

    • “Keeping your man happy” was a huge theme of the 50’s and 60’s when I grew up. Society definitely placed the responsibility for keeping a marriage alive on the wife, especially in the south.

      • I remember finding a copy of “The Total Woman” in my mother’s closet when I was 12, and thinking it was appalling. Little did I know I’d be living the Dress-Yourself-in-Saran-Wrap life when I was married.

  • People blame the cheater because they want to believe that they, themselves, cannot be betrayed because they didn’t get fat, wear sweatpants, listen to Neil Diamond, etc., etc. The first thing other people think about when they hear about cheating in a relationship is themselves. Are they being cheated on? Could they be cheated on in the future? Definitely not! No sweatpants, no Neil Diamond. No problem!

    • Money talks
      But it cant sing and dance
      And it dont walk
      As long as I can have you
      Here with me
      I’d much rather be

      Neil Diamond Shout Out!!!

      • snorted coffee out my nose!

        Hmmmm, I think there’s a Neil Diamond station on Amazon music, must check that out.

        Now we know why you were chumped Sylvia. It’s all about the Neil Diamond baby!

        • And I think the man was a stone cold fox! The eye contact when he sings….so sexy.

          But I have a Barry Gibb fetish too…..

          • dork. Just kidding, I love Neil Diamond too. I think I know every word to every song. Barry Gibb, though, not so much. I will admit to having a thing for Sean Cassidy and Leif Garrett when I was a teenager.

            • Used to love Neil Diamond until he revealed that Sweet Caroline lyrics were all about 9 yr old Caroline Kennedy. ewwwwwwwwww!

              Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
              But then I know it’s growing strong
              Was in the spring
              Then spring became the summer
              Who’d have believed you’d come along
              Hands, touching hands
              Reaching out, touching me, touching you
              Sweet Caroline
              Good times never seemed so good
              I’d be inclined
              To believe they never would
              But now I
              Look at the night and it don’t seem so lonely
              We filled it up with only two
              And when I hurt
              Hurting runs off my shoulders
              How can I hurt when I’m holding you
              One, touching one
              Reaching out, touching me, touching you

    • Yep, definitely. And also, guilty of this myself. XH’s parents divorced (his dad chumped his mom, of course — so much to say about that, but the point is….), and his dad said his mom had just stopped wanting to go out and do things, was content to sit around at home, inevitably gained weight (quite a lot, really) with the inactivity, while XH’s dad remained active, hiking, etc.

      So I thought, “No way is that gonna be me.” I matched XH step for step: running, hiking, skiing. Stayed lean and athletic. — Did it help? No. He went out and found a young waitress who, to my knowledge, doesn’t hike, doesn’t ski, ….

      The point is, it’s not us. — Yes, I thought I could control the outcome of my marriage by not doing the thing that caused XH’s dad to “drift apart” from XH’s mom (neither of us condoned the cheating, of course, though that ultimately was forgiven and shrugged off with an “Oh, dad…” kind of resignation — they all hate the new wife, of course, yet no one blames dad…). But it didn’t help, because it never was going to help. I wish more people understood this.

      • I wish more people understand but they havent walked in our shoes. Asswipe wanted to be a bondage king and have a harum i guess i dodnt know that. Whore juice has figured out shes not the one either. Screw them all.

      • NWB, I can relate to the “No way is that going to be me mentality”–a self-inflicted pick-me dance. I ran to stay in shape, sharpened my conversation, dressed well, always wore makeup to go out, have two full drawers of lingerie & fishnet stockings, enthusiastically embraced sex…and I’m pretty sure he cheated on me from 3 months after the wedding.

        After awhile, my enthusiasm waned from the criticism, lack of kindness, and realization that Hannibal could never be pleased. I stopped trying to optimize his happiness (though I still ran and dressed up for ME). That was the kiss of death–a narcissist cannot handle when someone seems no longer under their control, and when the narc’s behavior results in resentment instead of the desired adoration. Then it became my fault the marriage ended.

        Relationships with the disordered are always lose-lose. It is a Sisyphean task to keep them entertained and content.

    • I did get fat and stopped caring for myself. I realize now that food was how I coped with the devaluation, gas lighting, and lies that I just absorbed for so many years. So I gave all onlookers the perfect reason I was cheated on. Now many years after d-day and 6 months since final decree I feel so much better and now take great care of myself (weight loss surgery, makeup, clothing choices) so again “they” think see it was her. I just wish they knew me before the “hell” I went through. I was beautiful, homecoming queen, and very confident and now I’m just being me again. I don’t care what anybody thinks about me. I have learned so much from Chump Nation because without you guys I’d still be blaming myself instead of having compassion (not pity) for what I’ve been through. Let this whole damn town talk. I don’t care.

      • Sketchy girl – you sound very mighty!
        ALL of us have coping methods of some kind.
        Mine was picking up smoking again.
        I wish I had more of a food issue.
        It’d rather be eating yummy desserts than smoking instead. (it dulls your sense of taste)
        Horrible addiction and I had quit for many years.
        So, I gotta get rid of that and I will then feel….super shitty (cuz quitting makes you very sick) and will start eating again.
        I won’t give a rats ass if I gain weight.
        He never looked at my ass all those years when I had a fine ass anyway.

        But, part of his blame for leaving me was that I picked up smoking again instead of pick-me-dancing.

        Shame on me, but I enjoy it! Leave me alone, for now. lol
        It’s not a good long-term plan.

        • I want to add that public smoking has probably become the biggest pariah in this country, and many others.
          So, if I ever need to smoke in public, I hide behind a building in the cold/dark/rain and hope nobody sees me.
          Great for the self-esteem. Then, to hide the stink! lol

          I get how people stare and make you feel inferior, Sketch.
          And all you’re doing is coping (hopefully temporary) methods to overcome all the stresses in your life.

          People need to let up on their judgment and I certainly will not participate in any backlash about smoking, thank you very much folks.
          I’ve had enough on other sites inciting flame-wars!
          lol – never again.

          Good luck to you on your journey, Sketch. You’re way ahead of the game!

      • One more thing about smoking.

        Ever since pot was legalized here, every single person I know has come out of the woodwork.
        People my age! 60.
        They are the ones in the pot shops.
        So, you are suddenly allowing pot smoking in your house where you would never allow smoking.
        (of course, although it smells to high heaven, it has not proven deadly in any way but, in fact, very medicinal)

        It’s funny. Hey – everybody has a vice or ways to handle both emotional and physical pain – pot is one of them.

        • Hey, I fell off the ex-smokers’ wagon too, She chump. Just so you don’t feel alone. Finding it super hard to stop again! My impression is that smoking is now more shameful than alcoholism – even though I don’t think anyone hits their kids after a few too many cigarettes… Still, maybe the shame will help me stop!

          • Glad I’m not alone with 1mm people on this site. lol. I think it’s harder to quit when you’ve picked it up after years of quitting.
            So hard to get your frame of mind back into when it’s in constant stress mode – especially during the break-up.
            But, no excuses left for me.

  • For people who don’t have much experience dealing with total a-holes, it’s probably just hard for them to believe that there are other adults out there in their community who are just that selfish, that manipulative, that irresponsible, that immature and that deceitful for no legitimate reason. Most people could never imagine themselves doing all of the shit that a cheater does (like us), so there just has to be a really good reason that would drive a person to do all of those things. Ergo, there just must be something wrong with the chump. That’s where I was initially – there must be something wrong with me.

    However those people haven’t been to their own therapist, haven’t read all the infidelity blogs, haven’t done the Amazon marathon, and they sure as heck haven’t been on the CL site to understand that ultimately there just is no rational explanation for a cheater’s behavior — other than pure selfishness.

    I understand it, heck I spent months and months trying to find my own explanation for my wife’s behavior. I felt responsible, and she certainly tried to pass most of the blame on to me – for as long as I would accept it. I don’t accept it anymore.

    But unlike most of the people around us that know about her A, I’ve come to find out a lot of the shitty details. I’ve lived it, they haven’t. Those that are close to me that also know those details have been unwavering in their support of me and are stunned that she was capable of doing those things.

    I think it’s just human nature to try and assign a reason for something you can’t find a reasonable explanation for. The chump is just the easy target.

    • Blindside, you’ve nailed it. Many of us were in marriages that probably looked pretty good from the outside. When cheating is uncovered, other people scramble to reassure themselves that such a thing could NEVER happen to them. THEIR marriage couldn’t turn out to be a lie. So they look for the signs we missed, the mistakes we made, anything but accept that some people are good at hiding the fact that they’re lying, cheating whorefuckers. And it can happen to anybody.

      • You’re right. A few weeks after dday I made a comment that I should not have made, something to the effect of some men being born cheaters. I mumbled it under my breath, but it was the wrong place and time and it was said in context to whatever was being talked about. I was still so raw, but regardless, I should have kept quiet. A woman whom I’ve known for years looked at me stunned and said, “My husband would never cheat.” At the time, I thought it was said in a holier-than-thou attitude. Now I wonder if I hit a raw nerve. You never know if someone is listing the chumps alleged shortcomings to assure themselves that their gut is wrong. They may convince themselves that since they don’t fall into a made up list of reasons to cheat on someone, they are not being cheated on. Perhaps they look at it like early warning signs in health. I don’t smoke, I exercise, and I watch what I eat therefore I can never die from heart disease. Sometimes even the healthiest of people die unexpectedly from a defective heart.

    • “The chump is just the easy target.” True. Unless we’re not. I suggest chumps go all Rumblekitty on people who imply that you were cheated on because you sucked as a spouse. They might continue to think blaming-the-victim-thoughts, but they surely won’t say it again.

    • I think it’s just human nature to try and assign a reason for something you can’t find a reasonable explanation for. The chump is just the easy target.

      I think just by our nature we set ourselves up for the disappointment. It is easy to prod us chumps just a tiny bit to get us to own everything that went wrong in our relationships. We were groomed to easily accept blame and willingly bend over backwards to fix whatever transgression our narcissists were nitpicking. Switzerland friends and family are used to our compliant behavior.

      Likewise, everyone is used to our narcissists self-centered behaviors. Narcissists are impossible to reason with. Nothing they do is ever their fault. People know not to waste their efforts attempting to reason with a rock. I believe the reason the RIC goes after the chump is because we’re the only one’s willing to take it on – at $125 an hour.

      However, the instant chumps gain a little backbone, we’re not behaving how people expect. We’re not so amiable any more. We’re pissed off. We’re very unpleasant and they don’t like that side of us. To which I simply respond, “fuck you.” Is this anti-social? Yes. But I no longer have the tolerance to accept abuse – unintended or deliberate.

      • Betrayednomore, you’re right nothing is their fault. It was always his happiness, his needs, what he did or didn’t like, the looks of disgust or silence letting me know his disproval, without any thought of how I felt. I was submissive, eagerly accepted the blame, wanting to be the perfect wife and promised myself I’d work on yet another one of my shortcomings or failures. I remember friends who called could tell if he was home but the tone of my voice, they would say my voice sounded so much more relaxed when he wasn’t home. Who the fuck did he think he was? I wasn’t living up to his standards? This was his attitude during the divorce and in court as if I was beneath him and didn’t live up to his expectations.

        Back then, if I were to stand up and show independence there would be punishment in the form of silent treatment, or questioning my sanity. What was wrong with you Brit? What came over you.
        A Switzerland said to me, after Cheater sent her and everyone we know one of my personal e mails to him, no wonder he’s leaving.., no wonder? he’s destroying my life and I’m not supposed to respond in anger? My guess is they would have responded much less politely. It was so out of character for me I suppose. At that time I thought these same people were my friends. I know better now, thanks to CN.
        I wish I had this attitude back then. Fuck you and fuck off to all Switzerland’s, if I haven’t said it to their face they can see it in my face and they know better than to come near me. I will never have a conversation with any of them again.
        Not one of them ever confronted him, even when he told them he could have tried in our marriage but didn’t. They invited him to dinner, called him on the phone, laughed at his jokes of which I’m sure I was the source of his humor more than once. He felt comfortable enough to confide in them. So fuck them all.
        I was the nice,people pleasing, wife, mother and neighbor. I refuse to talk to any neighbor, ” friend” who associates with the jackass.

        • As I read your post, I thought: how powerful a Cheater must feel when we go full tilt into the pick-me dance, when we assume that the relationship requires us to change in order for a cheater to stop doing something wrong. That’s so fucked up. They have taken themselves out of the marriage; given their time , love and attention to the AP; and devalued us to the AP and others. But we are the ones who need to “change” to be worthy.

          I say we should indeed work on ourselves in order to develop our sense of self-worth and our mightiness. They’ve already demonstrated they aren’t worthy of a faithful partner.

      • BetrayedNoMore

        -zero was a huge disappointment to me every single year. It got to the point I could no longer anticipate ANYTHING with joy. I stopped going places because who the hell wants to hear complaints about every single activity planned with love. On top of that were excuses for riding mountain bikes I bought and playing golf.

        All in all nothing was good enough whether it was a home, car, or job.

        “I think just by our nature we set ourselves up for the disappointment. It is easy to prod us chumps just a tiny bit to get us to own everything that went wrong in our relationships. We were groomed to easily accept blame and willingly bend over backwards to fix whatever transgression our narcissists were nitpicking. Switzerland friends and family are used to our compliant behavior.”

        You hit the dick on the head with this! I was groomed from the beginning to believe it was my fault. I went to two therapists before the final DDay wondering why he Could not plan, pick out a nice gift in his own or have a conversation. YET, within weeks of fuckong the whore he was able to plan a vacation for her birthday.

        He was the disappointment in MY life. Knowing this helped me heal.

  • What also hurts about the 50/50 blame narrative is that even when the infidelity is removed from the equation, the chump is (in my case) apparently the sole source of blame for the marriage problems. So it’s a 50/50 blame situation only when it’s convenient to view it that way.

    • Yes. I’ve experienced a subtle version of this–the “All’s well that ends well” interpretation. Since I am demonstrably happier since X left (due to the absence of control, criticism & emotional abuse from the asshole), and X is happier because he has moved into a new mansion with his 20-year younger girlfriend (probably an AP) who obeys his every wish, Switzerland friends have decided, “no harm, no foul.” If everybody’s happier, then the divorce was for the best, no?

      Ignore the fact that X could have left HONESTLY any time he wanted (I was sick of his abuse and brought up ending the relationship annually for the last 12 years of the marriage), and the rampant betrayal of his serial cheating can still take my breath away with anguish 2 years after D-day. In the eyes of these Switzerland friends, his “mistake” can be wiped cleaned because everyone ended up happier in the end. Fuck them.

      • …with a cactus. Sideways. I hate Switzers! Basically, their attitude is that the ends justify the means. Same attitude as Machievelli. Or Stalin. Or Mao. I have cut such people out of my life. Painful, yes, but it is not my job to teach grownass people their boundaries. I only get to control me.

        So, like most Chumps here, I say my piece, and ghost. No time or room for people with a grudge against reality.

        • Yes, those people are not friends of any type. My friends would cut Jackass’s spleen out with a rusty spoon and eat it sauteed in garlic butter, with some Merlot and key lime pie for dessert.

      • You know one of the hardest things for me to deal with was the numerous times I told her I would leave and give her a divorce since she didn’t seem happy. She always responded that we would work through our issues and never divorce. Until she decided we would after screwing a few other people and having several skype buddies. Why the hell can’t they just say you are right and we need to get divorced? They just string us along because we are the ones that keep shit together and are useful I suppose. In the end, I guess they just SUCK!

        • In my case, Pity Partier my STBXW threatened divorce many times — I remember one time where she was yelling and swearing at me in front of the kids and telling me she would get a divorce after she got stressed out about a mishap with our son’s homework (I wonder how that memory registers in his psyche!!). Yet years later after both of us knowing the marriage was bad and her claiming I was at fault for everything, she seemed a bit surprised that I would up the ante and actually request a divorce. She even tried to delay the process by five years. But… the cheating part was okay because she deserved it and I deserved it.

        • Maybe the ticket is to see that we can leave no matter what they want or say they want, simply because it is miserable to live with someone who dissatisfied and who devalues you.

      • Tempest, exactly.

        If you had survived cancer or a mugging or a mugging while being treated for cancer…no one would say, “all’s well that ends well,” with no thought for the enormity of the experience

        • I think it’s down to the awareness, at some level, that betrayal is the worst pain and most people would like to stave off by superstitiously minimizing or casting about for a chump to blame.

          Probably similar to dealing with the Black Plague. Burn the witch.

          • I think that people that haven’t been cheated on just DON’T KNOW. They see the TV/movie woman kick him to the curb and strap on her 6″ stilettos and find a new man. They don’t realize that it DEVASTATES you. You don’t know who you are. The person you knew and trusted more than anybody else becomes a cruel stranger. Your entire world falls off its axis. On D-day I actually remember thinking that I was having an out of body experience. I could like feel myself not even in my body anymore. It was the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had. The person I loved more than anyone was not that person anymore. If they could show the weeks of dry heaving when you replay those words in your head over again or show pictures of how exhausted and old you look after weeks of eating nothing and crying non-stop and how none of your clothes fit anymore after d-day or the way you can’t get out of bed or even muster enough energy to brush your teeth or shower anymore. THEN maybe people would get it. They would understand and feel pity for the chump if they showed the montage of the chump doing everything right and then the cheater with the smirk going off to cheat after telling the lie. “I’m going to the gym.” “I’m meeting the guys for a drink.” “We’re just friends.”

  • This is going down in my hall of fame for all-time favorite CL articles. It is so, so tough to see this crap happening to ourselves and to other chumps, and it was cathartic to see it all laid out so logically here. I have to admit that I have done the same in my language when talking about what happened with my cheater, like “I take care in my appearance every day,” or “I’m just one size larger than I was when we met, pre-babies,” etc. WHO CARES. The point is, he pursued me, and he swore to love me no matter what came our way. So it shouldn’t matter how virtuous, skinny, or whatever I am — cheating is a wrong, life-wrecking evil and not to be justified for any reason. I will work harder to live this out in my own life, and call out victim-blaming when I see it coming from others.

    • This is perceptive. Notice how chumps often state…but I am a smoking hot mama….I am thin….I am blonde….it is sad.
      I made the cringe worthy mistake of telling a first date MORON I had been cheated on. He took on a pseudo tone of half pity/half contempt:
      You might want to explore why he felt the need to cheat. Perhaps he was not getting his needs met.

      My X had to sew his pants shut to keep me out of there. I lived for sex with him.

      I said to this cretin on this date…buh bye because right there…he showed me who he was….an Asshole.

      • OMG, I’m livid on your behalf. “Perhaps he was not getting his needs met.” There’s a phrase to make my head explode since that was Cheese Fries justification for years of infidelity and passive-aggressive shit. Perhaps Mr. Date From Hell is a cheater who believes getting his needs met justifies anything he wishes to do. Glad you left immediately and I hope you stuck him with the check!

        • I got that “unmet needs” line too. When I asked him “Well, who was meeting MY needs when you were getting your needs met by the OW”….crickets could be heard for miles.

        • BetterDays.. you have radar. He was a cheater! He emailed me a few times after and HE CHEATED ON HIS WIFE.
          And had all the usual revolting excuses. I never responded to any of his emails.

          I still remember the audacity of his words, the roaring in my ears. I was just trying to have a nice time, and forget that someone I was madly in love with was snuggling up to a 20 something whore. He was implying I was a frigid freak who deserved to be cheated on…..and wow, just wow.

          There is nothing I would have rather have done than have sex with my X. It made me feel like the woman I was born to be. Our sex was amazing.

          Do you know what this article (excellent!) sparks on for me the most?

          THAT THIS IS ABUSE. Infidelity is abuse. It is like being beaten and tortured. It is soul rape.
          We have physical symptoms, as CL noted: the vomiting. I had stomach problems for weeks….like Am I going to make it to the bathroom? level for weeks.

          This sounds mean, but for all the smug bitches and bozos who have no sympathy for chumps, I hope you read this. I have traveled so much, and do you know how many times a married man has given me his (tried to give me) his first class pass to the luxury flight lounge at our next airport, or his hotel and room number in Brussels, or his mobile number? Or just down right flirted with me like a fool, while making a mockery of his marriage vows? And it has nothing to do with my looks. Often, I looked like something caught in the drain. THEY JUST WANT TO FUCK AROUND.

          Have no sympathy, and stare at us with dead baby doll eyes, and comment on our appearance behind our back, and pray to whatever God or Gods you believe in…that this does not happen to you.

          The floor will shift beneath your feet, and you will beg the Universe for mercy and deliverance.

          • Sylvia, you reminded me of when I was single and would go out with friends after work and the married men who would ask me out, or tell me they were in town for a few days and would I like to meet them for dinner, drinks or come visit them in their room. I hadn’t thought of that in years. I always refused, and thought of them as assholes. I remember one was even kind enough to mention to me that he had had a vasectomy as if I’d change my mind once he told me.. Maybe I should have known better than to marry a pilot, but of course he was different and it was always someone else who was messing around. Just ask him.., I think it was Tempest who mentioned that when someone in the marriage is fooling around the dynamics change. I believe that’s true especially immediately afterwards. I felt it but brushed it off until I started feeling that way more often and asked him. What did I expect him to say? he laughed it off, and told me I should write novels,or even soap operas, I was insecure, and needed a hobby, I should know he wasn’t that kind of guy.
            Yes, there’s the blame, she’s always in sweats, her ass has gotten big, she didn’t appreciate him. Usually us Chumps are the one working to maintain our marriage, doing the cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, volunteering, shopping, entertaining, holidays are all ours while our Cheater mopes around thinking of who they’d like to fuck and while creating things to find fault with, resentments so they can fuck guilt free and blame the Chump.. If only she had made Tacos on Taco Tuesday I wouldn’t be screwing this whore.

          • YES, @Sylvia. “The floor will shift beneath your feet, and you will beg the Universe for mercy and deliverance.” When it comes back around for them, they will see. They will see.

    • Ah yes, I do that too when I describe the OW. I say that she is bigger than me, plain, 3 times divorced and a grandmother. I think mostly I do that to let others know that cheaters don’t cheat to upgrade…they cheat for reasons they can’t fathom. Like selfishness and entitlement and a lack of empathy. When a cheater tells you “you never sat on the couch with me” as a reason to cheat. Fuck them.

      I also find myself explaining the desire *I* had for sex with my husband. I will tell people that i was initiating sex. That is really no one’s business.

      And, like you, he pursued me, professed his love for me, asked me to marry him, wanted babies with me…until he didn’t.

  • The blaming and shaming is sickening. First it’s comments like “something must have been lacking in the relationship” or “you must have gotten too comfortable and let yourself go” or “something you did pushed them into the arms of another”. Then it escalates to things like “well how could you not know what was going on behind your back” and “you must have known deep down but chose to ignore the signs” and “strong women/men don’t let this happen to them”.

    You’re blamed for the affair, then shamed for being a victim of it.

  • My xh spent YEARS blaming me for everything behind my back. I was forever the villain to his victim, Hence, my moniker, “Magneto”. If you are going to be a villain might as well be a good one. He even sends snippets of emails and plays secretly recorded voice clips to others to “prove” his case.

    I thought it weird and unfair, I’m sure he wouldn’t like it if I played audio clips of him losing it, and it took me Years to recognize this as the abuse it really is. Weirdo.

    • In many states he could be prosecuted for recording you without your knowledge. Check your laws.

  • Another excellent analysis, especially the point that “chumps assume the blame because it gives us a sense of control.” Unicornnomore quite rightly sees that this assumption of blame is related to fear of losing control, losing the life we have invested in, losing the family. The dream of “happy ever after” and (later) a stable family unit is part of the very identify of many chumps, so most of us also face a loss of our identity. No wonder chumps double down on the hope that they can control the outcome of the betrayal, even though the very affair itself shows that control of others is an illusion.

    I think, in many cases, by the time the cheating comes to light, chumps have already twisted themselves into pretzels because it is so difficult to maintain relationships with disordered people. We get used to looking at what we can make smaller in ourselves, how we can stretch our notion of what is tolerable, where we can spackle over the unacceptable in order to save the marriage–because that is the 4th item on this list: the cultural notion that marriages must be saved at all costs and if one marital partner has broken the marriage, it is the duty of the chump to reel the cheater back in line and get that spackle out.

    Part of resisting this “blame the chump” narrative is not tolerating the cheating in the first place. If chumps kick the cheater out and files, that’s a signal to everyone that chumps believe they don’t deserve poor treatment–that they don’t deserve to be betrayed, abused or blamed.

    • “I think, in many cases, by the time the cheating comes to light, chumps have already twisted themselves into pretzels because it is so difficult to maintain relationships with disordered people.”

      I completely agree with you. I’d already started to join the dots that, through his actions, my ex just simply didn’t care about me. Was never there for me when I needed him. Would apologise if he was doing something was upsetting me (never argued with me), but went right on ahead doing what he was doing, etc etc.

      I think being already pissed off when I discovered that he had a double life, helped me in the end.

      If I’d stumbled across the truth while I was still loved up to the eyeballs, I do wonder if I would have tried reconciliation.

  • My MIL pulled the 50/50 thing, too, and it took all my courage to not go into detail about all the horrible things her son had done, in order to show her that his behavior was truly eclipsing any minor, human-nature infractions that I might have unknowingly possessed. If I could go back, I would have shared it all.

  • Wow. Right on, CL. Thank you for keeping us encouraged and empowered. It’s been a year and a half since I left my crazy (therapist!) ex who had a double life. I just want the pain to go away, but it’s still here.

  • And then, of course, some of these people are blaming the chump because they themselves are secretly cheaters.

  • I’ve had two experiences with folks who knew I was filing for divorce because my ex cheated. It infuriated me!!

    1. I was talking with girlfriends who had also been cheated on and I bluntly said that I held him fully responsible. And their response to that? Well, don’t you think you contributed to it? Don’t you think you have room for improvement? WHAT??? I’m not perfect, neither are you. But we were in the SAME marriage and I didn’t cheat. That wasn’t good enough so I had to walk away.

    2. I had a woman tell me that I needed to forgive the OW. I suspect this woman has cheated on her husband in the past and he doesn’t know. These types always forget that God also said to rebuke an unrepentant sinner. If we hadn’t been in public, and trapped in a booth in a restaurant the ending would have been very different. She judged me as bitter and angry and unChristian. The nerve.

    Even now, 2 years post DDay, I realize there are so many clueless people out there who don’t understand that cheaters cheat because of what’s wrong inside THEM. It wasn’t me.

    • Unbelievable! Yes, I’ve been told that I needed to work on me? Seriously..33 year marriage. Watched him go through a depression or I thought it was. Did everything I could to make his life easier. Don’t you honestly just want to put up a sign in front of all the stupid people you know who think this will never happen to them. Yep. Mine supposedly a Christian husband also. Actually acted like one up until the point of hiding forty thousand dollars from me because he had issues and hated himself. Right!!!!

  • Chumps did nothing to deserve this shit. Im a big girl i would rather have had the truth from asswipe about his feelings and concerns but no he just didnt care way more fun to deceive the old girl. Prick. And he has no feelings just boatloads of guilt hes more concerned how the whore was hurt than his own wife. Of 30 years. Saw her across the bar and fell totally instantly head over heels in love she was trolling the bar. Shes been in love dozens of times and she knows how to play a man. Sorry love at first sight may happen but to me its a crock. Told his first wife that, told me that, now the whore. I did nothing to deserve being hurt, yelled at, hit or anything else. Nothing. I will own my part but what can you do when hes selfish, stops listening, yells at you when you try to communicate and plead for help, when this goes on for months and years i did what he did and gave up trying i own that but at least i tried, he never did swept all problems under the rugs and when i grew angry would act like nothing is wrong or buy me something. He never got the little things please me the thoughtful things. Just buy her something so she wont be mad. That is not me but his whore is the same way control everyone by purchasing them. I thought the man i married was a decent guy and father great provider but give of himself and his time no. And if anyone tries to blame me for the failure i will tell them i owned my part and lord knows i tried go and bitch to him and ask him why instead of doing the right thing which hes big on he didnt? The right thing for me is after the closing, move and cut all ties. And guess what he will blame his further guilt on me too like everything else. Obviously she never loved me if she refuses to be my friend so i can subject her to further hurt and harm and continue to remind her what value she is cause im a insensitive bastard who just doesnt care. The new whore is slowly figuring this out. Thought she knew him like a book i think not. Her oldest daughter told her hes just gonna hurt you, no he luvs me! And he has over and over. Good bitch she gets everthing she deserves for being part of this caper. Suffer whore! He is a pod and a prick.

  • Best reply from a British site called Mumsnet:

    “It drives me mad that some neanderthals still believe this – problems in the marriage are caused by the wife!
    Not enough sex? her fault, and justifies shagging around (with a ‘slut’, of course, angry – another nice bit of misogyny there too angry)
    She ‘nags’? Of course it’s not that he is a totally useless feckless lump of shite who does noting in the house, she is a ‘nag’.
    ‘Bickering’? Her fault, even tho it takes 2 to argue…

    In a marriage, a ‘man’ should have the life of Riley – if he is nor happy – it’s her fault. SHE is not doing enough to ‘keep’ him.

    leef you are a woman-hating twat. Have a think about what you are saying.”

  • I’ve got so, so many thoughts on this. Brilliant post, CL.

    This, especially, is so important for chumps: “2.) There is a therapy tradition that believes all problems are 50/50. On the face of it, it seems like the grown-up approach. Own your shit! We all contributed to the unhappiness. We all brought issues to the marriage. But it flies in the face of what we know about addiction, mental illness, and personality disorders. No, some people can behave utterly self-destructively and manipulatively. People lie to therapists, their spouses, and themselves. And whatever issues both sides contributed to the general dysfunction are eclipsed when there is abuse. Infidelity is abuse.”

    I wasted so many years believing the 50/50 narrative and hoping that owning my shit would solve all problems. That narrative doesn’t account for the fact that sometimes one side of the story is a lie.

    When D-Day#3 hit and I kicked him out, Cheese Fries immediately changed the narrative from he-got-cheating to We Had Nothing In Common, We Were Just Roommates (who had sex, called each other their soul mate, and told each other they love each other), and The Marriage Was Dead Already. He also cast me as an antisocial shut-in who never wanted to do anything. He even said to me, “We never had close friends. We’ve never even been invited to any weddings.” I could tell by the way he said it that he’d been repeating this story to other people. Utterly shocked, I said, “Here are ten weddings off the top of my head we’ve been to. One of which you were a groomsman in.”

    Whenever I think of that episode, I remember squabbling with Cheese Fries about something in our past during MC and Enabling Shrink cutting me off to explain that no one’s memories are accurate and the episode didn’t happen exactly the way either one of us remembers. Yeah … especially when someone’s “memories” are LIES. And as for my memories not being accurate … I have photographic proof of these weddings.

    When you throw in personality disorders, untreated mental illness, and/or addiction … one half of the narrative is going to be extremely skewed.

    • This exactly. The narrative of the personality disordered individual is mind-blowing. Once you hear it and see it, you know that this person is mentally ill. And if this person is in denial over their illness, they cannot be helped.

    • yup. that paragraph is a gem: “There is a therapy tradition that believes all problems are 50/50. … People lie to therapists, their spouses, and themselves…”

      When one person lies directly to the therapist and mindfucks the therapist and weaves a false tale and offers false presuppositions to said narrative, then the therapist doesn’t even know what the real problems are. How can a false problem even have a ratio of blame?

      • Yes, mine lied to the therapist in MC. And couples are treated separately at first so he could have been honest without hurting me. I wasn’t there. Then, he lied to our Pastor. Heck, he even lied to his own mother. Of course, no one knew the truth.

  • “Sucky people do this to feel safe. So they can check the boxes and know it Won’t Happen to Them. I’m not frigid! Check! I’m nice to my wife! Check! Ergo I’m SAFE.”

    THANK YOU! 100% agree. When I got chumped, the x-hole’s best friend described me: “I always hated how she got so sensitive over any perceived slight” as if my pain was only my own perception and him cheating was just a “slight” (gaslighting). But, of course he had to blame me. If his wife ever left him, he would be completely screwed. You see, he married WAY up. She came in with a condo that they live in paid for by her parents (no rent), she doesn’t work (parents pay for her lifestyle), they go on an extravagant vacation every January for a month (paid for by-yep, her parents), and he is an assistant manager at a coffee shop in a very big (read: expensive) city. If he even thought for a moment that this could happen to him, he would have to admit that his whole life was footed by her and her parents, he isn’t the special snowflake he believes he is, and it would all come crashing down around him. He would have no way to stay in this city, let alone (probably) keep his under one year old child. I realize that this is an extreme example, but I think that he is also an extreme asshole and probably best friends with my ex because they are two peas in a pod. Maybe he doesn’t have the means to go screw around, but I would NOT put it past her…

    • “parasitic lifestyle” is one of the checkboxes on the sociopath checklist. Mine was too. OW is his new Sugar Mama. He rewrote his entire sixteen years with me as my “not validating” him thought I paid for all his housing, food and cellphone and every fucking thing we ever did together. “Didn’t pay enough attention” to him though I had him on a pedestal, worshiped him, fed his ego, indulged his deviant sexuality, and basically enabled his very existence. Till he was caught.

      • Totally. I think that his whole crew are sociopaths. It is scary! But, I have NC and am so grateful to have cut the toxic from my life!

        I am sorry that you had to deal with your parasite. But, I am really glad you got rid of him. Now you have more money, time, and ability to focus on what IS important-YOU! And, when the time comes, I am sure that you will find a partner that will believe in mutual give and take. And him and his new sugar momma? Give it some time-he will discard her too. It’s just what these monsters do!

  • Sometimes I go all reverse psychology on them.

    I say, “Well, he found someone on FB–an old girlfriend–and he fell in love with her. She’s really pretty. You know, I don’t think he was ever happy, to be honest. Maybe he’s happy now, I don’t know.”

    And then I grin, like, that’s pretty fucked up, isn’t it. But I don’t say it. I think if I take it away from them, they pull to the other side, and walk away scratching their heads, like, who cares what she looks like, that’s fucked up.

    There’s a chapter in the book The Right Stuff, that talks about this phenomenon of blaming the victim. That Could Never Happen To Me, because I [x,y,z.] It gives one a sense of security. I wish I could find it to paste it here, but I haven’t been able to.

    • Miss Sunshine, Like! This is so funny too. I am going to practice. “My ex ran off with his racquetball partner because he loved her. He never loved me, not once in 28 years together. She’s pretty too and nothing like me. He’s happy now, married to his one true love. And reminds me often that he makes a lot of money and no longer has to deal with our children (he didn’t actually ever want to be a father, you know) on a daily basis ’cause that was so hard… I miss him.” Smile. Wink, wink.

      • Oh, I’m going to incorporate one of your lines–but switch it up just a smidge. Not ever within earshot of the kids, but I think I will add,
        Yeah, she doesn’t have any kids, so it’s just an easier life, you know? I guess…. She does have, like, three chihuahuas though…. [confused look] It’s just so weird, because he really doesn’t like dogs at all. But she’s really pretty, so….

        • Miss Sunshine–brilliant “explanation” of the breakup of your marriage. Somehow I see reverse psychology responses as the start of a new CL blogpost…..

          • Tempest, you are such a kind woman. Your ex is an ass of epic proportions.

        • Okay, here’s mine (with me twirling my hair around my finger for effect and chewing gum), so yeah, like once my youngest was almost 21, like my husband started fucking this other woman who like had younger children, cause he like, likes raising kids. Yeah, like he was her boss, but it’s cool cause he’s like such a good dad that he has to spread his awesomeness to other women’s children. Oh, like why am I talking like this? Oh, she’s younger than me, and like I thought this was like how you were suppose to talk. And, like she’s just so awesome too.

    • Hahahaha.

      Great idea!

      “STBX? Oh, he met the love of his life on an interactive, internet porn site. She’s a fifteen-year-old, sex-trafficked prostitute who barely speaks English. Obviously, I could not compete. If only I hadn’t been so normal and our twenty years so stable. Naturally, I decided to step aside and let true love run its course. I’m sad but gratified to know that at least he’ll be happy.”

      • That is so gross, Roaring.

        Jeez. And you just HAVE to get that out there. Clearly he’s the fucked up one.

        Just gross.

  • Recently I went out with some girlfriends, one of whom was cheated on. She said that a therapist once said to her, “What’s your part in all of this?” I could not believe any therapist would say such a thing but sadly, it’s a truth that’s out there. However, I replied to my friend “Your part in his infidelity? Nothing. If he was unhappy he had all kind of other choices to make but he chose to betray you. That is 100% on him.”

    We do live in a society where we are encouraged to “own our shit” and that’s great. However, when it comes to abuse you do not own any of that. Abusers are to blame for their abuse. There’s a fantastic book out that I think has been mentioned here, “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. It should be required reading for every therapist and every person dealing with infidelity and abusive personalities. It explains how abusers manipulate therapists, families and their victims. And how to leave these relationships safely.

    I make it a habit of confronting anyone who blames me for infidelity or tries to shift the blame to 50/50. I straight up say that while my ex cheater may have been unhappy it’s his responsibility to let me know that and if we can’t solve our problems, divorce is the sensible option. I can assure you I was not responsible for his drinking, his bar fly habits, his dismissiveness, his gas lighting, blaming and cheating. Those actions were driven by a destructive personality, one that is very difficult to treat.

    So yes, change the narrative and speak up. You are not to blame.

  • By the way, I’ll tell you what I did to deserve being cheated on: I mated with a loser coward, that’s what. I knew something was off about him when I was dating him, but I was young and naive and a little bit desperate to be in a relationship and make a family. And he seemed to have some qualities that I liked, and I just happened to have buckets of spackle that I was good at using from childhood. And I forgive myself, and I actually have very few regrets, and life is so much better without him. He served his purpose in my life, and now I am happy that he is gone. I’m not happy that he fucked me and the kids over, but he did, and I accept it.

    • Miss Sunshine,
      You inspire me. I was like you (but not young when I agreed to marry my soon-to-be adulterer/abuser/criminal). I am close to Meh but still not quite there as the standard of living of the kids and me has dropped noticeably this month (had to move and commit to paying $$ in childcare so that I could work more) but who’s loudly complaining–not the kids and me, but the cheating STBX who complains about paying any child/spousal support although he now lives in his parents’ house for free (as his parents took pity on him because I ‘took him to the cleaners’ although I need to work full-time to support the kids and me now and have never lived lavishly). I told him that he ‘made his own bed’ as he decided to serially cheat (and abuse), filed for divorce, and refused to reconcile even when I gave him chances to do so, even going as far as telling him that he could maintain extramarital affairs although I would not. (I was a world-class chump.) To that he responded, ‘I think about getting back together with you every day. Would you let me have five affair partners? Twenty-five partners?’ This is a guy who also denigrates and falsely accuses my parents of child abuse while taking advantage of them by telling them and me that he wants them to babysit the kids while I work but refusing to pay my parents! On top of all this and more, he tries to make himself look penniless but me busting at the seams with money. He tells people and reports to the government that he has no ‘income,’ although he can easily earn $1500/day (about ten times what I earn), as he has tons of (fake) expenses and I receive some child and spousal support. If he had it his way, I would pay HIM support for the rest of his life. Sometimes, I almost forget how terribly wrong my marriage was–and then I have to deal with this monster face-to-face! I hope that once our youngest child reaches majority that I will be able to very nearly completely eliminate contact with the con I married.

      • Hang in there, RockStarWife!

        My xMIL also resents me for taking her son to the cleaners. I don’t know what she expected when he walked out and left me to finish raising our kids full time. He probably told her that I was keeping them from him, which is 100% untrue. Poor babies, they are!!

    • Well said Miss Sunshine – I feel exactly the same. You described me to a tee……

  • “So, what did I do to make this man cheat on me? I have no idea. Apparently it wasn’t so awful that he didn’t pursue me and ask me to marry him.”

    This is it right here. My ex pulled the same shit, blame shifting me for everything. Finally I said to him “if that’s true, if I’m so BLANK, then why won’t you leave me alone now?” He got what he wanted – a different vagina – yet he still contacts me constantly.

    He stopped after that.

  • I agree Chump-tastic – this is a classic article, it has to go in the hall of fame favourites.
    It has been several years since the devastating implosion hit my little family and I have attained a great degree of inner peace and serenity – I guess acceptance is the most descriptive.
    If there is one thing that irks me, it is this attitude that it MUST have been my fault.
    I ran into this situation just a few months back. It was with a couple that we knew through our respective children’s lacrosse/hockey teams. This couple had moved away and we had lost touch. I was with a mutual friend who had been invited to their beautiful home for dinner and they were surprised to hear that I had divorced the ex. Their attitudes were astounding. I felt like a little bug under the microscope. I was upfront about his cheating – and it was almost instantaneous the way they looked at me. The atmosphere changed from the warm welcome to almost ignoring anything I said after that. I heard via my kids that this couple were suddenly Facebook friends with the ex and that there were posts back and forth. I couldn’t help but feel hurt and the sting of the injustice of it all.

    It is sickening, and were it not for CL and Chump Nation, I doubt that I would ever have achieved this level of acceptance that I have finally achieved. I never saw that infidelity is a form of abuse until it was spelt out here. Me in an abusive marriage? Never! My mother was, and I would never follow in her shoes. I purposely married a man who didn’t drink much alcohol or have any addictions. He told me every day that he loved me, we were happy and “had the same values”. Haha. Until I found out that we didn’t.
    Chumps here have a language that CL has created for this epidemic of cheating and deceit in our society that seems to be accepted so effortlessly. And assigning blame to the chumps.
    It is maddening and sad and has to change – as chumps we have to do our bit to change it one conversation at a time.
    I find that I have become more observant in noticing injustices since my world as I knew it collapsed and I had the good sense to leave after I found out that he was a serial cheater (pre- ChumpLady days). I am becoming more vocal about the injustices I notice. (For example – work-place bullying and the pack mentality that becomes so apparent when someone is being targeted. I speak out, whereas before I would have kept quiet.)

    I still come to this site every day, though I don’t post often – it is a matter of time-constraints, and by the time I read here, much of what I can and add has been said by those who are so supportive to each other.
    I bought CL’s book, and within day’s passed it on to a fellow chump and gained a friend in the process. (I am so lucky!).
    I just want to say that I love you Chump Lady and Chump Nation – you rock! Together, we can work to change the attitudes towards us and empower ourselves. And move on – which seemed so impossible at the darkest time of my life and for the longest time…..

    • And now you know what kind of people those other hockey parents are.

      You don’t need trash like that in your life.

  • I had two interesting instances with this same situation after XH checked out for OW. A friend’s husband asked me: “What did YOU do?” in context of him leaving me for the whore. On another occasion, I had a good friend going through her own D Day pain. She admitted that when I was going through this pain, she wondered what I did to cause him to cheat. When the shoe was on the other foot, she genuinely felt horrible for that view. I don’t think this viewpoint is uncommon. It’s sad for the chump, but I don’t think people think that way to be cruel. I think Chumplady is spot on. People want to be able to think that if they do X and Y, that it won’t happen to them.

    • “What did YOU do?”

      Chump: “I was so helpful! I corrected the grammar in his Ashley Madison profile. And made sure he didn’t have to pick up groceries the day he was due to fuck some skank from AM in a cut-rate hotel. I also reminded him on those days to manscape and wear clean underwear.

      As for his long-time affairs, I was effective at helping those, too. I took care of the children 95% of the time, and stayed home from my job for repairmen so that my cheater could be satisfying and alluring for his AP. Because that’s just how i (with a smiley face for the dot) am!!!!!”

  • One of the funniest conversations I can recall is when the 8 years long OW1 called me because she found out my Not-Yet-Ex Husband was cheating on her. She filled my ears with all the things I had done wrong (according to him) and that she had never done (ie slept on my side, stayed with the kids when we couldn’t get a babysitter, not had sex with him every night). She was heartbroken as she shared all the things she’d done right, and yet he still cheated on her. I was trying to empathize and explain him to her. Trust that he sucks. Read CL’s blog. It is NEVER about you! It is ALWAYS about him.

    • omg, is this for real?!! The OW called you to vent and have her sympathize with *her* situation??? I am speechless. You should have told her to fuck off. The nerve to call you and then tell you what you did wrong in the marriage. Who the hell does this bitch think she is?! Unbelievable some people are this mentally deranged to call the wife to complain about their situation. Narcissistic, self-absorbed, self centered and self-serving. Unbelievable.

      • I know, right? She shared all of his devaluing me stories and projections of blame, giving me lots of evidence for an adultery charge. He settled before court to prevent her from being my witness. She called me because someone had called her anonymously to tell her he was cheating, and she thought it might have been me. She finally figured out that all her pick-me dancing won her the booby prize.

  • In the movie Focus, there is a scene where Margot Robbie seduces Will Smith into promising to leave it all behind to run away with her. She then reveals to him how she’s fooled him with these skills she had learned over the years to play men. And she walks out. The thing that caught my attention most was when she told him about all he had taught her. It was the poison in the dart.

    After D-day, I found some emails from my ex-wife to the OM (which was an ex-boyfriend) about how he showed her who she was and made her the woman she is. This dude was all-in and ready to marry her and move her in right away even though she walked out on him 2 years prior. He even gave her a key to his house within a week.

    To add to what CL said about betrayal scaring the crap out of most people, I don’t think people who have never gone through infidelity, can comprehend how manipulative and deceptive cheaters are. And that they are really con-men and women who have honed their craft, especially those who been serial cheaters for a long time.

    • No, they don’t, do they? I think that average people are chump-like, like us, in that they/we project our good values onto these sociopaths. We and they think no one is really capable of such evil. It is how they get away with their shit. And I think they know it. For they are indeed major Con Artists.

  • I always had an easier time wrapping my brain around things I can’t quite understand by making an analogy. I’ve been working on an analogy to clarify this particular issue for a while. First, it’s for myself (because if we can’t convince ourselves it’s not our fault, we are not going to convince anyone else) and next it’s for anyone who asks me about it. It’s still a work in progress, so feel free to edit it for yourself as you see fit. I always imagine it as if I’m talking to a friend who doesn’t get it, because, hell, who does get it until they’ve been run over by it??

    This is how my mental conversation goes: Look, it had nothing to do with me. I know that sounds weird, but it has everything to do with him. Let me make an analogy. You’ve got a friend, his name is Bob. You and Bob invent the Next Great Thing and you decide, this is amazing, we should start a business together! We will put in the time and effort to grow our business, and it will have an incredible future, and we will be rich and successful, LET’S DO THIS!! You start your business and decide on your roles. Bob is going to be the salesman, he’s charming, everyone likes him, he could sell frozen margarita machines to teetotaling eskimos, it’s perfect! Meanwhile, you are going to handle the office, since you’re better with the books anyway. Fast forwards a few years, business is going well! Money is coming in, you’ve hired a couple of employees, and everyone at the company holiday party is congratulating you on what a great team you are. Everything is going so great! The future is so bright! Then, one day while you are working on the books for the upcoming tax season, you realize you are about $50,000 short. Wait a second, that can’t be right. Doesn’t make sense. So, you run the numbers again. Same thing. You go talk to your business partner, Bob, and say, Hey this isn’t making sense, do you have any idea where this $50K went? Bob says he has no idea, isn’t handling the finances your domain? And anyway, it’s only $50K, he brought in $750,000 worth of business last year. It’s probably nothing, don’t stress yourself out about it. Well, this is your business, and this is too important to just let go, and you didn’t give bonuses this year because you and Bob agreed that you didn’t have enough net profit to afford it! So, you go back and check the books again. Digging in a little more, you realize that Bob’s been reimbursing himself for way more than the usual number of business costs, like trips to see clients, dinners with potential clients, etc. And some of these reimbursements didn’t make it onto your ledger. You’ve always trusted Bob to handle his own reimbursements, because this is your business together, and of course he would always do everything in the best interests of the business, this is obviously so important to both of you! So, you ask Bob about it: Hey, Bob, it looks like the money all went to your reimbursements, but there’s way more than usual, and you didn’t put some of them on my ledger, what’s going on? Bob says, yeah, I’ve been working overtime to try and grow our business, but I didn’t want to stress you out with the costs, so I just didn’t put it on the ledger. This explanation aaaaalmost works for you, but things are starting to smell a little fishy. You go back and look at the reimbursement sheets, and you realize some are missing receipts, and others are just missing. You ask Bob about this, he says he’s been so busy “working so hard”, he just didn’t have time to fill them out. Now, this is not the proper way to run a business. So you ask Bob to make the time to do it properly. And Bob balks. He won’t, he can’t, he obviously doesn’t want to. It dawns on you, he can’t provide receipts, because there aren’t any. When you confront him, he gets angry at you and says stuff like “Do you know how much more money other salesmen in my position make? Way more! I’ve obviously been undervalued for a while now.” At this point, you stop listening, because you realize the baseline truth: Bob stole the money from your business. You tell Bob that he has to pay the money back, right now! Bob says he can’t, he’s already spent it. Ok, he sees he made a mistake. He’s sorry. But it’s in the past, and he can’t change that, so there’s no need to dwell on what “happened”. Let’s just move forward.

    Now, it’s time to really dig down and ask yourself: What did you do to make Bob feel that he needed to steal that money? Is his salary really not high enough? Maybe you didn’t make him feel like an important enough part of the company? Did you end up spending too much time training your employees and not enough time with Bob?
    Are you angry with Bob? That anger is probably making you make some irrational decisions regarding Bob, don’t you think? Remember, you two have run a successful business together for years, does it make sense to just throw that away over this? Don’t you think you need to step away from this issue for awhile, to “cool down”, so you can both make better choices?
    Maybe you don’t want to mention this to any of your mutual friends, because it obviously makes perfect sense that they would wonder what YOU did to cause this. You should just keep it quiet, so nobody’s uncomfortable at the next company party.
    Why don’t you and Bob go to a therapist so you can talk over what you did to make him feel like he needed to steal that money. You know, you’re both in this business together, so you have to share responsibility for what happens in it.
    Then, once you’ve worked out and fixed the underlying issues of yours that made Bob steal this money, why don’t you guys go and re-invest some more money, time and effort into your business. After all, you’ve told Bob you didn’t like it, and yeah he already spent the money, and he can’t afford to pay it back, so what’s done is done. It was a mistake. It’s in the past. He said he was sorry! I’m sure now that he was found out he’s learned his lesson, and he won’t do it ever again. You should probably put him in charge of employee pensions, so that he has a chance to prove himself to you again.

    Ooooooor, has Bob proven to you that he is untrustworthy, that he puts himself before anyone else, that he did not value your (business) relationship the way you did, and that he obviously lacks respect for you and for the business that you built together. If that is how you see it, then Bob has proven to you that he lacks character, and that Bob is a fraud. Then it would be crazy to do anything less than toss him out of your business, in order to protect yourself and your employees from future damage that he will very likely inflict.

    My take-away from this analogy: Cheating is fraud.

    (Sorry for the super long post, once I got going, it was hard to stop going!)

      • I have finally wrapped my brain around losing 220 lbs of lying, cheating, fat bellied, limp dicked, balding, toothless, moaning and groaning, never happy, never satisfied, grouchy, mean, nasty, fat bastard. And its starting to feel really good!

    • Very nice analogous story, told beautifully! Now, where I thought the story was going to go was that Bob the sales guy would go and start up another business in parallel, which is could be be even more similar to an affair, but sounds even more absurd and fraudulent from a business perspective. Either way, your story helps put this in terms that law abiding citizens would know not to cross. Plus the added bonus that the business clients (I liked “teetotaling Eskimos”) really cannot be held to blame for Bob’s criminal behavior either.

  • Since my husband moved out I am much happier these days. I have my bad days but I am mostly happy with charging forward with gaining me a life. My husband is not so happy with OW he moved in with and lets everyone knows that will listen to him. I’m sure she doesn’t have any idea what he is saying behind her back (not my circus anymore).
    My friend said to me the other day “He did you a favor because you are much happier now and he is miserable”. I replied to her “He did not do me a favor. He cheated, lied and manipulated the situation. A favor would had been him coming to me before starting to F*** OW and ending the marriage honestly and right. I’ve had to deal with STD testing, abandonment and betrayal issues and completely change my lifestyle (due to finances) because of his so call favor. So he could have kept his favor. I didn’t need that kind of favor thank you”. She just look at me and said “all I‘m saying is that you are much happier now”. I really think people who have not experience this level of betrayal and deceit really do not know what to say to those of us dealing with it.

    • “My husband is not so happy with OW he moved in with and lets everyone knows that will listen to him. I’m sure she doesn’t have any idea what he is saying behind her back (not my circus anymore).”

      This guy will never be happy. And what a swell kind of guy to badmouth his partner to others. My ex was doing this, unbeknownst to me. He was telling me all these nice things to my face, yet to my back, he was telling others how he’s not attracted to me at all, how he’s with me because of my lifestyle. Asshole. I’m so glad I instantly dumped his ass as soon as I found out about it. And it’s not a favor they do to us, it’s betrayal and deceit.

      • So true, Kellia. I’d pay good money to know what my X said to his gradwhore and undergradwhore (both of whom demanded that he leave me to be with them, and they felt certain he would do so given how he devalued me & our marriage to them). It bothers me less these days, as I now think I was a pretty good wife in most ways, and an awesome wife in other ways.

        Cheaters are backstabbing liars. period.

    • I used to get quite mouthy when people would talk crap about the nature of cheaters, especially if I was out and had had a couple of drinks. I was still going through my divorce and very raw.

      Folks really had no clue about the type of people we are dealing with. Clueless about the mindfuckery and how cruel a person is to put anyone through that, never mind a spouse.

      Im not angry anymore and am able to calmly point out chump bias. Took a few years to get there though.

  • The attitude I’ve seen is when the man cheats on his wife, it’s the man’s fault for sneaking around on her but if the wife cheats on her husband, it’s his fault she went looking around because he wasn’t a good husband! I’ve dealt with that since my wife left for a cheater ex who contacted her on Facebook.

    • Not entirely; people whisper in hushed tones about how a woman must not have been attending to her cheater husband’s needs, or she gained a few pounds after childbirth, or stopped going on date nights because she was too tired from the children. Women get plenty of opprobrium for “causing” their man to cheat.

      The assumptions are bad enough that I felt the need to broadcast that I was having sex with Hannibal Lecher 3-4 times a week during his affair with gradwhore. Oversharing was better than being blamed for his betrayal.

    • I agree with Tempest. The assumption is that you didn’t give him enough sex, or you gained weight or didn’t dress sexy enough, or were a naggy shrew.

    • And, Mike, I don’t doubt that it feels like people are blaming you. That’s the point of the post. It totally sucks. NOBODY–including YOU–deserves to be cheated on.

      If someone is unhappy in their marriage, they try hard to work it out, get counseling, be clear about their feelings. If that doesn’t work, then one separates from their spouse BEFORE finding someone else. That’s the order of things. Cheating is all on the cheater. CL has a brilliant post or two about this.

      NOT your fault, Mike. Hold your head up high.

      • This sounds like a nice idea, Miss Sunshine.
        However, I don’t know of one person who left a marriage, especially an LT marriage, without something in the wings.

        I’d love to hear a story of how a spouse stood up and said, we are done and the other spouse agrees.
        Probably rare, but that would be the way to go, as painful as it might be.

        I’d give that a 2.5% chance.
        Most people are cowards when they want to leave for the greener grass.

    • Funnily enough before this happened to me I felt that if a man cheated he was just a cheat because men are dogs and like to cheat or the wife was old, or fat, or frigid, or bitchy, or nagged. If a woman cheated on her husband she was just a big ol’ whore that couldn’t keep her legs shut. I guess everyone has their own ideas. But since I’m a pretty freaking awesome person and the whoremat is a disordered train wreck my narrative is that STBX is fucked up and he fucked up. That’s it. He takes his failure. There were issues in our marriage just like every other marriage. He fucked up. He ruined everything. If he could go back to before it happened and everything would have worked out differently and he could have 100% gotten away with it he said he’d punch himself in the head for even thinking about it because it wasn’t worth losing EVERYTHING including his sense of self and his morals over.

  • dense reader alert:

    While I agree with Chump Lady’s response and the many comments above, I’m somehow failing to see how LucyInTheSky’s friends, other than perhaps the blank stares, blamed the chump. I suppose I would interpret looks of confusion as “he/she must really be messed up if they cheated on someone like that”

    But then I also failed to see that I married a narcissistic 🙂

    • That’s actually what most of our mutual friends and family said.
      What could possibly be wrong with him? With this situation? Everything was just fine for years!
      A brain tumor? Dementia?
      I guess ppl couldn’t get it in their heads that he would ever cheat, let alone on me, not that I’m that great but we had a great relationship, in their eyes.
      And, when I show them a picture of her, they scratch their heads even more.

      I think some of the good people are really trying hard to rationalize this extreme oddity/peculiarity in his personality, suddenly and don’t have a clue how to process the information. So, they often say something really stupid.

      I know I’ve done that more than once. But, that was before I saw the world for what it really is.

      I call it, being in a bubble. No experience with the pain at all.

      • Thanks Shechump, that does clarify things for me a bit. I suppose I was placing those sort of things more into the “Switzerland friends” category than the ‘blame the chump’ category, but they are a bit orthogonal corollaries. “Switzerland” friends are not motivated to trust that they suck, but suck they do. So if they don’t suck, then there must be some “valid” reason to cheat. But there is no valid reason. They just f’ing suck.

        • Agree, Buddy.
          Once everybody figured out he didn’t have a brain tumor and saw the stupid things he started doing during the divorce…
          The majority admitted, alongside me, that – Yeah, that guy just sucks.

          Pretty sad for all of us to realize this.

          He just SUCKED. No other reason.

  • Chump Lady,

    Your comment, “My cheater, turns out, was a serial cheater going back his whole life. Through two other marriages. Throughout our ENTIRE relationship, he maintained a double life.” really hit home for me.

    Just days before I married my college sweetheart at age 21, he confessed that he’d had a 1-night stand some 20 months earlier, just 3 months into our dating relationship. While I was completely hurt and shocked, after I thought about it long and hard, I chose to forgive him primarily because it was very early in our dating relationship and we hadn’t had the “exclusive” conversation yet.

    Little did I know that 1-night stand was an enormous red flag of what was to come… enormous like the size-of-a-billboard enormous.

    I didn’t find out until we’d been together for almost 40 years that he’d had at least 15 extramarital affairs with women who occupied every pocket of our lives… the wives in couples we socialized and even traveled with, the Team Mom for our son’s soccer team, a former babysitter, a woman whom we brought into our home because her addict husband was beating her, several of his coworkers and even a neighbor. He was, simply put, the ultimate expert at crafting and hiding a double life. After this all came out, it took me exactly 30 minutes to get into the stirrups to be tested for every STD known to man. One hour after that, I was meeting with my divorce attorney.

    Once he moved out, I’d been so brainwashed and gaslighted that I actually believed that I was 100% to blame for his infidelity. I agonized for days about all the things I could have done differently in order to be a better wife and mother (we have 3 grown children).

    Thankfully, the vast majority of the people we jointly knew put the blame squarely where it belonged… with the cheater (him) rather than the cheatee (me), and they talked me out of thinking his over-the-top addiction was somehow my responsibility. My therapist, who has counseled many a dysfunctional couple, echoed their sentiments completely… in our 4 decades together, my ex had more than enough chances to state he was unhappy and if he thought the grass was greener elsewhere, he could have ended the marriage in the right and dignified way for all concerned. But he didn’t; as a bonafide cake-eater, he apparently thought it would be much more useful to keep his mailing address intact, have a continuous supply of clean underwear and dinner on the table each night, all while neatly juggling his various Tinkerbells. Good riddance!

    • NICE!

      Well, that gives us a little hope for humanity! Glad you got good support from decent people!

  • ADVICE PLEASE and relevant story
    My exhusband, Peter Pan, has an old friend from uni who now lives in the US. He is on his ssecond marriage- he cheated on his first wife. he rings Peter Pan with the news that he and his wife have just had a baby girl- and then starts telling him how the mariage is over and he has been seeing someone else, a coworker, for 2 months, but his wife doesn’t know. Yet. My ex husband often forgets that we are not married, and rings to tell me things- so he tells me about this phone call And Peter Pan, straightfaced, tells me how his friends wife ( who I have met once, seemed very nice) is abusive to poor friend, gets drunk, attacks him etc etc- and I’m thinking- didn’t his first wife ( who I knew quite well) get accused of punching him too?And I know for sure that Peter Pan told everybody what a crazy bitch I was, as a reason for why our marriage broke up- not the fact that he was a serial cheater who was never faithful to me in twenty years.Even cheaters solemnly recite all the chump blaming shit, when they must know it’s crap!So, Peter Pan and I still own a business together, becuase of reasons. I am too much of a coward to reveal directy that he shared this information with me, in case it gets nasty at work, but I’m damned if I’m going to be complicit in this. So my best friend, who is better with social media than me, has found the wife , and her mother, on facebook- her mum is from the UK but is visiting her daughter due to brand new baby. My friend sent an anonymous message to the chump wife’s mother, saying that husband had been having an affair, get your daughter home to the UK. It’s been 2 days! She hasn’t checked her facebook!I have to message the wife directly, right? i can’t just let this go. the poor woman has been stuck in the US without a green card for years becuse of his job- I think she’s just got one, but would have had no earnings of her own for years. he is earning a shitload of money. They also have a little boy.Advice? Actually I just want somebody, anybody, to tell me to go ahead.

    • Ugh, I suspect almost everyone will be in favor of telling the wife eventually. But I’d give it a few more days for the FB post to the poor woman’s mother to hit home.

  • A thousand thank yous, Chump Lady, for answering my distress call. I actually feel quite bad now, for some of the ones who question chumps’ roles in disaster. Insecurity all over the place (be it founded or unfounded). I think understanding of where people are coming from, makes it easier to deal with them/educate them from a more compassionate place.

    And your ‘no shit’ reply has got me thinking more. I first became aware of my chumpdom during one of the most vulnerable times of my life – on maternity leave from work. I opened my legs for STD tests (first time I cried my soul out, was to the nurse who performed the swabs and blood tests), After my husband bankrupted me, I sat through interviews for financial assistance while passing grapes to my giggling, innocent infant. I sat in front of a strange man (my lawyer), nervously telling my story while mostly staring at the floor, scratching at the eczema that had erupted on my hands.

    Thanks to following Chump Lady’s advice, my lawyer was overjoyed with the excel spreadsheets/emails from ex I supplied, and the Scottish Family Law Court awarded me everything I had requested within two days (usually a two week minimum) – 100% custody and an added extra of being in complete control of my daughter’s whereabouts, i.e. ex couldn’t take her to the bottom of the garden without my consent (he’d emailed me a threat regarding abducting my daughter which I had provided to my lawyer).

    Since then, a lady from the Scottish government phoned me to say that as my wee one had reached two years of age, I was entitled to 3 hours a day of free child care to help help me get back on my feet, and to help my child socialise with her age group, in preparation for school.

    After that phonecall, I applied for childcare assistance. The lady at my local nursery, was the warmest, most lovely lady I’ve met in a long long time.

    I am now approaching my first year of successful self-employment, registering my business with the government, selling my artwork worldwide. Still blows my mind.

    When my ex first made a few confessions after an oscar winning performance from me (I had already found out the truth and wanted to hear him say it), white noise descended over his bullshit excuses, and I saw my deceased mum in my mind (she had died of cancer 8 years previously). In that perfect moment of clarity, I thought: she didn’t wipe my arse for years, spoon feed me, stay up all night to calm Jaws-related nightmares, make me breakfast before school, iron my uniforms, design and dress me in Halloween costumes, come and listen to me sing in competitions 30 miles away from home, run parent races at school sports day (she was really bad at sprinting), sit up with me at night discussing the ills of the world during my teenage angst, smile when I pierced my nose and shaved half my hair off before dying the rest purple, wave me off to college etc, for some characterless fuck to turn my life into a miserable passing of time. And with my mum’s sense of my worth, I went to war and won. I have since learned my own self worth for myself.

    I’m rambling now. Anyway, I’m a born optimist, and my point I’m badly trying to make, is: despite all the arseholes who have made our nightmare situations more difficult than they were already, do you still think of the people who have helped you personally, even if they were strangers passing through your life in a moment of time?

    • Lucy, O.M.G. Your mum sounds exactly like my mum, who died far too early at 60.
      She was the one who encouraged me every step of the way and taught me so much.
      She was very fragile in emotional strength but she wanted me to have great self-esteem, even though she had none herself.
      I cry out for her every night just before I fall asleep.
      I think it’s her way of saying good-night.

      Sure miss her.

      • Lucy – ‘I’m a born optimist, and my point I’m badly trying to make, is: despite all the arseholes who have made our nightmare situations more difficult than they were already, do you still think of the people who have helped you personally, even if they were strangers passing through your life in a moment of time?’

        THIS is spot on, mighty Lucy. I love your attitude.
        You have your head set on your shoulders just right, as my dad used to say.

        I also am a pathetic optimist, when I can be myself. Which is lately! yay to optimism.

        That is what we have to concentrate on – is the GOOD ones out there.
        The negative ones are far too easy to think about and get down about, but they are rare.
        It’s like taking my dogs for walks on the beach. Some ppl don’t like dogs but the majority are welcoming.
        Some will absolutely scream bloody murder at you if your dogs get within 100 yards.

        You just have to able to tell the difference. Many foreigners who come here with Burkas on in Asian clothing are very uncomfortable around dogs, for instance. Probably culture. So, I keep my dogs away from them.

        You can always tell the ones who welcome them, and they are the majority. Happy to say.
        That’s my little analogy.

        • Ah now Shechump, you’ve strayed into something else completely. People (wearing burkas or not), being frightened by your dogs is no indication of their ability to empathise with people affected by tragic events.

          My daughter has been terrified of dogs ever since an owner allowed his dog to bound up to her in a children’s play park. The dog was taller than her, without standing on its hind legs.

          I’ve been out for many walks with her as a baby, and people have allowed their dogs to run up to the buggy (with the dog giving no indication of friendliness or otherwise). My heart pounded every time, ready to physically defend my child. I grew up with a dog, five cats, two gold fish, and several hamsters. I love dogs, but I still have an instinct to watch them.

          I’m a Scottish/Irish/Greek atheist. I’d behave exactly the same if I were in Afghanistan, regardless of my clothing.

          • Great response, Lucy! Thank you.
            I knew I was way off base after I hit the send button.
            I guess I’m not good at analogies and sure hope I didn’t offend.

            Looking back, it made no sense.
            I guess we all have our moments. oops 😉

            • Oh no, please don’t worry. No offence taken at all. It’s always good to talk 🙂

        • Just a little FYI from my endless fount of useless knowledge Muslims avoid dogs because they are “unclean” any animal that licks itself and leaves spit residue on its fur is “unclean” to touch and if they do touch them they have to go through a very elaborate cleansing ritual to make themselves clean again.

      • How long has it been Shechump, since your mum passed? It sounds as if your pain is still very very raw. Of course you miss her. (hugs) You’ll miss her the rest of your life, but that’s not as sad as it sounds. Sending lots of love.

        • Well, I was 24 when she passed and I’m 60 now.
          Nope, guess you never quite get over your mother, if she was a good mother.
          Mine gave me priceless advice and her photo is the only one displayed in my house, by my bed.
          She gave me self-esteem and I’ll always love her for that.

          • I think you’re bang on. I feel the same about my mother – so grateful for the self esteem she taught. There wasn’t much of it left by the time I unearthed even just a few of the horrors, but there was a special emergency reserve supply.

    • Lucy, your paragraph about your mom brought tears to my eyes. The real thing that pushed me over the edge after D-Day #2 was looking at my little infant playing on the floor nearby. I thought, “If I let him stay, if I cover up this arrogance and abuse, I will be sending her a message that this kind of treatment is okay, so she can go and accept the same treatment from someone when she’s grown up.” And that was it. If I don’t want this kind of mistreatment and despair for her someday, I have to take the reins now and SHOW her that it’s not okay. One day when she’s older and asks me questions about what happened, I will tell her the honest truth as matter-of-factly as I can, and I hope she will value the decisions I made. And have the courage to dump cheaters if they ever darken her doorway, too.

      • I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’ve been a Grade A lurker here for a couple of years, and didn’t realise you had replied to my comment (I’m just now seeing the boxes I should have ticked).

        Anyway, I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. I wonder too, about the questions that will be coming my way when my daughter is old enough to ask. Used to worry about it. Now I don’t. You’ve been so mighty in your decision not to put up and shut up.
        Some people are so doom and gloom about what ‘WE’RE DOING TO OUR CHILDREN!!!!’ when we divorce an abusive partner, but I swear, you never know what’s ahead for you or your daughter, so in day to day life, you have to set the bar of what’s acceptable and what’s not.
        My mother showed me through her every day actions towards me, how valued I was. She had passed when my world collapsed, but she still saved me. Never forget how influential you are. I’m so glad you decided to get out.

        • No worries! It takes me a while to respond too sometimes. 🙂 You’re so right about what “we’re doing to our children.” Imagine how much worse it would be if we stuck around and showed them that this kind of treatment is okay. To me, that’s clearly way more damaging. Thanks again for your bravery in sharing your story.

    • Thank you @LucyInTheSky78, your “ramble” was actually very meaningful to me. You had an incredible mom who supported you in all of your life changes, including the purple hair, and that was all part of your respect for self. No one should be allowed to tear you down.

      • Thank you x
        Despite all the shit, I have much to be thankful for.

    • What an amazing piece of writing, Lucy! I can only imagine that your Mum would have been so proud of you For me – my inspiration was sticking up for my son when his mother was obviously not going to bother. She left shortly before Christmas. I asked her what I should do if he was inconsolable that night – should I phone her – get him to phone her , take him round to her new place? Her response? “It’s the staff Christmas social that night” With those words my broken heart began to heal.
      Anyway, as one Scot to another, thank you so much for sharing.

      • I just want to say, to begin with, I’m truly sorry for only replying now. I didn’t realise you had replied to me until now. This is the first time in a couple of years of lurking here, that I have ever commented on anything. I didn’t see the wee boxes I should have ticked. Would hate to think you thought me rude.

        Regarding your reply… wow. The selfishness of these people still takes my breath away. I just can’t comprehend it. The fact that A) she would WANT to go on a work night out after the carnage she’d caused, and B) not wanting that same night out, disturbed by the very same carnage. WTF???

        There’s nowhere to go with that. And told you everything you needed to know about her true ugliness. I think that in itself can be a little bit devastating in the beginning but you turned it round to finding confidence in your role as the one parent to care. Hats off to you.
        How’s your son doing?

        • He’s doing very well, Lucy. There’s been bumps along the way (at Xmas time) but I’ve been very proud of him.
          PS No problem at all re delay in response – these things are not as user friendly as they could be.

  • great question. i agree about people being afraid and falling into victim-blaming because of it.

    one thing that i slowly came to realise was that certain people (maybe all people) were going to blame me and that there’s nothing i can do about it other than get on with my life. the truth is, affairs are a tidy bit of gossip that occupies people’s minds for a little while. then they forget about it because everyone’s got more important things to do than waste energy thinking about somebody else’s relationship troubles.

    but the person who’s been cheated on never forgets it. it redefines you a bit and you can’t go back. there’s a part of you that really wants people to commiserate and show some understanding that it really wasn’t all your doing. the truth is that what’s happened to you doesn’t occupy the minds of most of the people you know. if you’re lucky you’ve got a sympathetic friend who can give you some validation.

    so, in my opinion, chumps being blamed for affairs is just how it goes. it’s unfair, and it sucks, but unless someone’s been cheated on they really don’t have a deep understanding of how and why these things happen.

    • I completely get what you’re saying. That’s what I thought too when I was going through it, which is quite depressing. Since reading Chump Lady’s answer to the question, I feel like there’s a whole new light on the subject. People’s reactions are not as superficial as they seem (not from friends, at least). Switzerland friends are a whole different ball game of course.

  • If anyone had a reason to want to leave the marriage, it was more often the chumps. Cheating is the last straw, not the first.

    xH was neglectful in countless ways, totally entitled, and not a lot of fun, frankly. But, like moth to flame, boy, did I blame myself. I bought that Dr. Laura book, Proper Care And Feeding Of Husbands, and I devoured it, and I gleefully pointed out all the ways I could be a better wife for him.

    I was a good wife who did not marry well. The married women I am friends with are lovely, and what they have that I didn’t have is a good husband. The end.

    • Miss Sunshine, this is the truth.

      “I was a good wife who did not marry well. The married women I am friends with are lovely, and what they have that I didn’t have is a good husband. The end.”

      I see now that most of my married friends are not suffering in their marriages. They are not kind of beaten down contemplating the evenings and weekends. They are not seeking distractions of any kind to take up the empty, weighted space when you’re both in the same room.

      The last nine months of grief have happier in some ways than the last several years of marriage. Less stress around feeling worthless.

  • And I think if I am ever asked what I did to contribute to xH’s cheating, I will look the person right in the eyes and say, “Oh, don’t worry, my dear. You married a good man/woman. You have nothing to worry about.”

    And if they ask me, “Wasn’t The Coward a good man?” I will, with a twinkle in my eye, reply, “No. I married a cheater.”

    • Miss Sunshine – ‘Cheating is the last straw, not the first.’
      Good one! Very true.

      I tried to get thru that Care and Feeding of Husbands; I was *that* desperate at that point.
      I couldn’t make it past Chapter II.
      When Dr L talks, she blames chumps for being bad wives and that’s why they cheated. She’s a joke.
      She’s just trying to sell RIC thru her books and her warped way of thinking like you should be a 50’s wife and it will all work out.


      Read her bio – she’s cheated many times and had many husbands.

        • I wrote the ‘good doctor’ a letter and put it by the forums.
          She never answered the first one so, I cleaned it up and resent it.
          Never got an answer from her. Coward.
          She had my full name and phone number too.

          I do a lot of driving and, weirdly, have her plugged in and listen to stories. My own fault.
          But, I was just waiting for the 1 in 10 calls that came in every hour on the subject of cheating.
          Usually women and she would scream them down, berating them that they didn’t treat their husband with the love they deserved.
          Not so much to the guys.

          So, I challenged her on that specific topic.
          Why she would defend a cheater at all!
          I brought up the simple stuff: Unintended pregnancies, STD’s, the break-up of families, the DNA tests…and laid it out for her.
          No reply from her.

          However, lately, (yeah, I’m a loser and still listen to her) her attitude seems to have changed about the risks of ignoring the issues for the ‘sake of being a good wife’.
          Probably a coincident but, she is now bring up more of these subjects when dealing with cheaters.

          Hey, if you can change the very large Dr L on this, you’ve got a following.
          But, she’s a coward for not answering me directly!

          pfffft – I would have gone on her show!

          • She’s desperate to believe that you can prevent a cheater from cheating. A player’s a player. An asshole’s an asshole. No amount of being a good spouse, friend, lover, girlfriend/boyfriend will shield you from the machinations of someone who is willing to betray you to get what they want.

      • Isn’t it interesting how this stuff is marketed and sold to Chumps instead of Cheaters? Have you ever seen marketing/advice books and websites targeting those who did the cheating? IMO, this is because Chumps are far more likely to be the ones working to save the relationship. They are much more invested. The Cheater is checked out. I’ve never seen a “how to stop cheating and be a better person” book or website. Has anyone else?

  • Regarding movies, I didn’t notice it when I originally saw there movie years ago, but adultery was a big theme in Cape Fear and I thought they did a good job with it and showing the chaos it brings.

    I saw it again a few months ago and I thought it was spot on. The main couple was in Wreckconciliaton, Nick Nolte tried to act all nicey nice, but when the shit hit the fan, out came the Cheater Handbook. As the chump Jessica Lange was beautiful, talented, kind, wonderful. And the poor family / daughter who had to move / run away due to the serial cheating father’ s whoring ways. And the main thing was just Nick Noltes generally crappy character.

    • You’ve got me wanting to watch it again.
      But, the original movie was much better, fwiw.

      1962 – Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchem. Classic

      • I always wanted to see that 1962 version but never did. Gregory Peck is the man, love him. I hope he wasn’t a cheater.

  • When I was still with the ex, my only real support system was a several of the RIC blogs. It was always so disturbing to me that when any chump refused to accept blame for the cheating, all the other Betrayed Spouses would jump on them. You need to Own Your Part ! The blame is 50/50! No spouse is perfect! You won’t Heal unless you accept Responsility for causing him to cheat. Etc.

    I saw that happen so many times. It made me sick then and it makes me sick now thinking of it.

  • I’m so glad you posted this. I am swimming up to my eyeballs in this bullshit rhetoric. I have started to ask people who start sputtering on about how infidelity is shared “why?”, “why do you think that?”. And start to dissect their response and Usually it ends with “I never thought of it that way”. But that gets so tiring, this shit is so pervasive. So important to keep trying though!

    • Earlier today, someone posted about going on a date, and the guy turned out to be a cheater. When (if) I ever go on a date again, I think I’m not going to bring up the ex’s cheating for a while. Just hold back and see what the date has to say about things in general. My favorite question to gauge morals on this is “in what circumstances is it justified to cheat on your spouse/girlfriend, etc?” If any answer comes out besides “none ” or “never”, that’s all you need to know.

  • I think our culture, and our legal system in particular, helped to validate the idea that chumps are to blame for their own abuse. Take rape cases, for example. In an attempt to smear the victim, it was common for a sick version of comparative negligence to be deployed. Oh! She was wearing a short skirt! She practically INVITED some strange man to rape her. Strangely enough, many women still eat this line of thinking up. The idea is that if they avoid doing the thing that invites trouble (like wearing short skirts), they can inoculate themselves against harm.

  • I think humans in general are inept in critical thinking and far too often base judgements on emotional responses. We all experience and process life differently — one’s perception of reality may differ vastly from that of someone else’s although they experienced a similar event. Hence the saying, ‘there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle’…

    I think, too, that adultery is one of those emotionally charged “grey areas” — people generally agree it’s morally wrong and no one wants or expects it to happen to them. BUT, people don’t get arrested and thrown in jail for doing it, so it’s just one of those ugly “societal norms”. It’s hard to accept that bad things happen to good people and, sadly, many people rationalize those events by doling out a little blame on the victim to justify why it happened to them.

    In countries with adversarial legal systems both sides present their cases to a judge or jury who then attempt to determine the truth and decide what’s “fair” in settling the dispute. Unfortunately, such a legal system is a virtual playground for people with personality disorders. They are skilled persuasive liars, blame-shifters, and manipulators who can draw attention away from their bad behavior by exaggerating their perception of alleged misbehavior of others… People often get swept up in the high emotional conflict and theatrics that cheaters present. So much of it is ‘he said, she said’ and the betrayed spouse is placed on the defensive and burdened with providing proof against the unending lies and blame that the cheater throws into the mix… It’s crazy. If there were stiff legal penalties and consequences for cheaters, they might think twice before doing it. They absolutely hate to lose and hate to be forced to own up to their misdeeds.

  • I thought I learned of one affair, then came upon another with my ex, only to later realize (gut) that it had been most likely all along.

    Over the past two years I analyzed the crap out of this mess. After much such blame, I come to realize that the things I was blaming myself for could not be judged, learned from etc.. because what I may have been reacting to or fending off at the time I now see may have been very well gas lighting, my own denial, and a total lack of self awareness.

    Where I think I am at fault (but with no bad intent) is that I was ignorant to my ignorance. I was 23 when we met. Knowing what I know now, maybe the second year in I could have admitted to myself there wasn’t much of that relationship that was to my benefit. I am a spackle queen. So my fault is that I was there. I was there, present to have these horrid things/events be in my world.

    If someone only taught me in my young years to stop and think about what was happening. For example, a conversation from a friend, family or parent… Hey, so you really like this guy… does he do this or that for you? How do you feel when you do this or that for him, I don’t see he does for you. Are you okay with that? I see you make him very happy and your happiness appears to be coming from your success in making him happy, I don’t see him this or that…

    You know anything, a conversation like when I was in grammar school. Your teacher yelled at you today, how did that make you feel? Was it fair? Was it her acting out of frustration and taking it out on you?

    Ask the questions to your kids if you have them, let them answer to you or just to themselves. Give them these thoughts to think about, it creates self awareness and approval to have it.

    Teach your kids self love. Please.

  • I think this is one of most insightful posts I have ever read – not just about infidelity but about life in general. I would like every child to read it before they leave school – it explains why people rush to judge others, it explains why blaming chumps is one of the few occasions where it is still acceptable to victim blame and it also highlights how infidelity is tacitly and sometimes not so tacitly accepted in wider society. Thank you Chump Lady! A thousand times.

  • Sadly, silencing people who are speaking of difficult, painful, and sad things happens everywhere, not just in therapy or group sessions. Too many of us are raised in families where our voices are silenced and we are forced to deal with our pain alone…or labeled a “drama queen” when we do find the strength to speak up. One of the kindest things we can do for another human being is to allow them to tell their own story, regardless of how painful and frightening it may be to hear it. And, only the most superstitious, ignorant, thoughtless people believe that speaking about something negative somehow causes negative events. Ignore those kinds of people, they’re pathetic.

    • LostToAWartWhore – you make an excellent point!

      The Drama Queen’s issues….roll eyes.
      The Sensitive Guy’s issues…roll eyes.

      Just why can’t they let it go?

      I’ve seen this happen far far too many times.


  • You might be a cheater if you smell like semen BEFORE you have sex with your husband!

    (Yes, that really happened to me)

      • Suddenly my skin is crawling with worms, reading this.

        I can’t imagine that.
        But, I guess I did accidently pick up her used cheap panties, unbeknownst to me, hidden in a bunch of blankets I was then disinfecting.
        From his scummy activities….and there they were. All clean when I pulled out those blankets from the dryer.
        Ewwww….to think I touched those!

  • So. Fucking. True.

    When or if I explain to people about the TWO men IN A ROW that cheated on me, I’m quick to point out that they were serial cheats, had cheated before, that there were other big lies besides the cheating, etc. etc. If i speak about it, I can almost literally feel someone thinking “Oh I wonder what their relationship was really like?” OR “I wonder if she drove him to it, what’s she REALLY like?”.