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Lies Are Exhausting

Another primer in mindfuckery today, and that is exhaustion as manipulation tactic. If you’re a cheater and you want your chump to back off? Keep ’em running in circles, chasing unicorn (tails) tales. How is this accomplished? With a constant barrage of bullshit, half-truths, outright lies, indignation, and the ol’ I Fail to Understand Your Hostility mindfuck.

No sooner is the chump merrily chasing after the bread crumb trail of one excuse, then the cheater flings a hand-full of bread crumbs in another direction. Pretty soon the chump (who never met a bread crumb he wouldn’t follow) grows exhausted and lies down to sleep in the Enchanted Limbo Forest. Who knows? Who cares? Why am I chasing bread crumbs? MUST FOLLOW THE BREAD CRUMBS! Oh God. Another bread crumb. ZzzzzzzZZZzzzz...

Success! The cheater got you to back off, and diverted your attention with crumbly tidbits! And the whole thing made you collapse in a heap. #winning

How does this exhaustion mindfuck work? There are several ways to respond to a lie — believe it (spackle), reject it (be mighty), or take it under consideration (limbo).

If you’re a liar, obviously you would prefer the first approach — Believe my lie. Spackle over it. Trust me.

But if you can’t have unwavering trust, you’ll take the next best thing — fog.

If a cheater can just get you to doubt your senses enough, if everything is relative, if there’s no black and white and everything is a shade of subtle nuance that you’re far too unsophisticated to understand? #winning

You’ll give up because it’s just too damn exhausting to chase after the bread crumb trail. You’ll wait that 6 months before you make any big decisions on your marriage. You’ll look at trail after trail after trail of bread crumbs and think, so many bread crumbs. How can I possibly make sense of any of this? You know what would be comfortable? And so much easier? To just trust the cheater. I can’t deal with another fucking bread crumb. Where’s the sofa? I need a nap.

And as every recovering chump knows, while you were having that long foggy nap, the cheater was out fucking you over further.

So folks? Leave the bread crumb trail. If someone in your life makes you doubt your reality, if you live with dread, if your gut screams but the spackle is stronger? LET GO. You don’t need to follow the trail of falsehoods and diversions. Normal people don’t carpet the forest floor with bread crumbs. Good people are transparent and aren’t threatened by logic or questions. Good people want you to feel safe. They don’t send you on wild chases leading nowhere with the hope of exhausting you.

Stand up and reject lying cheaters. Be mighty.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • I love the part “good people aren’t threatened by logic or questions”, because YEAH, by the end of our relationship (prior to leaving him at the airport) I couldn’t even ask him if he was coming home for dinner without him snapping and barking half-responses back at me. Cray-Zee. He was offended by any question coming out of my mouth. His reactions stank of “you’re not the boss of me!” He spoke to me with sheer contempt. Wow, he was so damn obvious. Glad I left him at the airport ??

      • It’s so crazy how that works. Any question about time home or where are you going was me being controlling. No, in a normal relationship it’s caring. If you aren’t home by a certain time i’ll know to try to contact you or look for you. I remember a couple days after getting new phones an incident where she disappeared. New phone didn’t work and she took it back. I called in the morning to see what they did. No answer. Hours later after texting and calling, nothing. Called her parents to see if they had heard from her. Called the store about fixing the phone. They had fixed the problem and calls and tests were going through. I heard from her shortly before I got off work. After calling store, parents, kids, friends, hospitals to find her. She said she went to the park and turned phone off for a hike. Never went hiking by herself or turned the phone off???????? This person couldn’t go for 5 minutes without a text. Chumpy me spackled that one real good. Now, I know she was with some “special”. True liars amaze me in their ability to do it without any hesitation.

      • I’m curious – if you don’t mind, would you please fill in how you left him at the airport? It sounds like there’s a story of Mighty in your username. 🙂

        • Susannah – haha, I don’t know if my story is “mighty”, I’ll let you be the judge.

          We were both expats living and working in the same foreign country. After I had kids, I didn’t go back to work, I opted to stay home and raise our two little ones myself while everybody around us had nannies do their dirty work, as we were living in a country where everybody had cheap helper staff (maids, drivers, nannies). Once I wasn’t earning my own salary, the abuse began. I suffered years of financial, emotional, mental and controlling abuse. He treated me like an idiot! I can see now that it was all his way of keeping me “in my place”. Unfortunately for him, I was raised by a kick-ass mother and a tell-it-like-it-is father in a country where our culture is generally to “take no BS”. He comes from a culture where the men are KING and cheating is acceptable (the submissive wives turn a blind eye, as it’s “normal” for men to “play up”). So, we fought a lot because I wouldn’t take his controlling shit.

          THEN, around this time last year (and after 9years together), I found out about the CHEATING! Well – “all over Red Rover”, I thought it myself. Because I told him that if he if ever cheated on me, I would leave him. But here comes the mighty part…..

          …..I didn’t tell him I knew about his cheating. I found out through one member of his trusted staff, who kept informing me and giving me evidence (he had treated this staff member badly, so they were more than happy to let me know about his extra-curricular activities. Yes, I was lucky – I had an informant). I just let the bastard keep cheating and I kept collecting a HUGE cache of evidence against him. Ooooh, it was very interesting, I must say, to discover that the father of your children has SIX mobile phone numbers (I thought he only had 2 numbers) and THREE extra bank accounts! And that the amount of money he was giving me to cover family expenses for one month was less than HALF of what he was spending on his hooker habit WEEKLY! I shut my mouth about it all and didn’t tell him I knew. It was super hard, but I let him keep digging his grave nice and deep.

          After the initial shock and disgust (he was cheating on me with hookers so I had a full gynaecological exam and discovered he’d given me an STD) I made plans to leave him and spent the next 4 months secretly packing, selling off belongings and collecting the evidence against him as it came up (almost daily). He was so balls-deep in hookers, he didn’t even notice that I’d sold a lot of our belongings around the house. At this stage he was coming home at 2/3am every night, so I didn’t even have to come up with excuses to not have sex, because he never approached me for it. Hah!…I often wonder what the hell he was thinking that I was thinking (I don’t think these bastards care to even THINK about that). And he wasn’t spending any time with the kids (well, he was what I would call an “absentee father” since they were toddlers. Present at times, but not “present”. Always on his goddman phone and prioritising other people before us).

          It was a super tough time but I just kept packing and working through the hurt with the support of my mum’s phone messages from back home, and with a trusted friend on the ground in-country. He had NO IDEA what was going on around him. He thought I was in the dark about his cheating, but it was actually HIM who was in the dark about my exit plans. CL helped with advice on my exit plans, too (thank you CL, I bloody love you).

          When the kids and I left in May to go back to my home country for our annual “holiday” to see my family, the lousy cheater still had NO IDEA that I was leaving him for good. Still had no idea that I knew about the cheating. I had packed all of mine and my kids’ sentimental belongings and had either sold, given away or discarded the rest (left it in our home for HIM to deal with. Left all the framed photos so he could see what he had lost after we’d gone). At the airport he was eager to get rid of us quickly, saying he had “business” to attend to. Yeah, right. We all gave him a hug – I gave him a huge, lovely hug as I knew it would be our last, and I was sad that it had all come to this. He had screwed up his life and didn’t even know it yet (but I felt as though I had been backed into a corner, and had to do the best thing by the kids and myself. Getting them away from their mindfucking and neglectful father, and taking them to be with a loving family [mine] I felt was the best choice. So, we left him!) I knew that once he discovered what I’d done, things would never be the same between us. So I gave him that final, nice hug, got on the plane with my kids and and LEFT HIM AT THE AIRPORT. Arrivederci, motherf**ker!!

          Our “holiday” was suppose to be for 6weeks and then the kids and I would return to him. Nope. I spent the entire 6weeks with lawyers, counsellors and staff from domestic violence/women’s refuge seeking advice. Everybody was super helpful and I was supported by my family, friends, government and legal system. Two days before we were due to get on the plane and return, I dropped the bomb on him. In an EMAIL!! As per my lawyer’s advice. Well, wasn’t he one SHOCKED, sad sausage. He had NO IDEA. He was genuinely FLOORED. He couldn’t do anything. Yeah, you f**ked with the wrong woman, dickwad. All that hurt you inflicted on the kids and I, now enjoy it reversed. Hope you have a happy life, alone. Mic drop! ✌?

          • That is now my official favorite bed time story!! Tell it again, please!! 😉 You are mighty left him at the airport!

              • Thanks Uniquelyme, cheaterssuck, JeepTess ??? Trust me, it was a crazy rollercoaster when I was going through it all. Walking on eggshells, trying to act “normal” and keeping the kids happy while secretly packing and scheming to escape undetected (because I wanted the satisfaction of being able to drop a BOMB on a totally dumbfounded him, once we had an actual ocean between us and I had the law behind me. #winning). I was on a constant adrenaline rush right up until the plane started to lift off the tarmac. When I look back now, I have to laugh at my gumption. I don’t know how I managed to pull it off!! Haha….

              • It sounds like the perfect ‘antidote’ to the C-PTSD and extreme, rapid weight loss and sleeplessness I experience for over…wow…like 3 years. Wish I’d have known what I was dealing with from the get go…I might have been able to handle it like you, SUPER WOMAN! 🙂

                Geeze! These monsters deserve to be punted in the face!

              • JeepTess – I was so hurt, disgusted, shocked, angry and absorbed in my agenda to get away from him, that in the 4 months leading up to me leaving him (at the airport), I lost a crapload of weight from stress and genuine loss of appetite. I wasn’t hungry. I was DRIVEN to succeed and see my plans pan out as expected. Which they did! Once back in my home country, my mum quickly set out to fatten me up. A little too well! I now have weight to lose haha! I hope you are in a happier, healthier place now. Hugs from OZ ??

              • Thank you lefthim 🙂

                Yes, I am a whole lot better and ever so grateful to be free of satan. February 4th this year I will be 2 years divorced from the darkness that is him. WHOOO HOOOO!

                I guess, when I think about it, I did kinda pull a Houdini on satan…he didn’t know I had filed until he was served…he was FURIOUS, he threw the papers at me and left – I got lucky that time – I was terrified he was going to physically abuse me again…he scared the process server so bad that he left…so I was left alone with the king of darkness 🙁 But, he got in his beast and drove away.
                The divorce took almost 3 years…as soon as it was final I invited local antique dealers to come and buy all the antiques and such that we had collected over the 30 years we lived in our 200 year old house…sold just about everything…then I sold the house without ever listing it, to my neighbor’s granddaughter, bought my new house and moved within a little over a month of finalizing the divorce. The curtains came down in my old home the day I left it for good. My friend that lives down the street from my old home said she saw satan sitting in his truck in front of the old house that afternoon just staring at the ‘obviously’ empty house with a bewildered look on his face. 🙂 Take that! You evil, nasty, cruel, lying, cheating, coward!

                Jeep – 1
                lying cheating coward – 0

              • Hahaha, JeepTess that is a true classic! I love how the “curtains came down” in the final act, right before you exited stage left. Bravo!!! Encore!! ???

          • That’s my dream scenario. To not have let him leave but to be the one that dumped him in the most planned,calculated way.
            Did good in the settlement so that’ll have to do, but what I wouldn’t give for a do over.

      • Questions….yes, yet ANOTHER sign of dysfunction.
        He never asked me anything…Im sure he didnt give a fuck what I thought or felt about anything so why ask?

        He never ever ever gave me a straight answer about anything. Every question was ignored or the answer was more puzzling than the question…and it happened thousands of times and I just kept going back for more, each time that I would now get a real answer…chump of the universe.

        Even my chumpy ass eventually saw a pattern that when he wanted to send me off on a wild goose chase to occupy me (so he could do whatever) he told me he wanted me to learn to cook (I loathe cooking) and get along with my (narc/BPD/alcoholic) parents. He may as well have told me to go learn to talk to birds.

        In the end, I spackled.

      • Me calling him at 8pm: when are you coming home so I start dinner?
        Him (with a bark): Do you have any right to call me while I am at work?! I come when I come!

        Me: how was your day?
        Him: none of your business! Now you want to control my work and are sticking your nose there as well!

        Me: Can you text me when you land? I am worried when you travel.
        Him: Don’t worry. I will be too busy to remember that. I have to focus on work (and on the OW I will meet there!)

        This happened very early in our marriage. I wish I could see it for what it was. Instead I spackled over this craziness. I thought my husband was uniquely independent and had FOO issues so I spackled. A possibility of a cheating would not even cross my mind. Until, 12 years later, I finally had a proof because of my what he called dirty snooping into his phone.

        • After two years of a baffling and hurtful cell phone game (no service, battery wouldn’t charge, “I am working!”, forgot phone here or there, informed me of law that he can’t text or call from car “See now there’s a cop behind me because I am on the phone with you”, countless unreturned calls and texts, he finally hurt me the most with the snarling comment…”I can talk to YOU at home! (Which of course…he doesn’t) Actually he sits on his phone a lot of the time he is home. I am a phone ‘spy’ and have discovered more than he ever intended. Like another Fb profile and an x launcher that covers whatever he does on his phone. Wow! He lied when confronted with both telling me he is way too technically unsavvy to accomplish such things and knows nothing about them.
          I have spent way too much time on his lies and meanness. I am hurting so bad. Just want to throw up. he’s too slick to get caught. Just hints at his indiscretions…leaves clues…to torture me when he needs more distraction to go do his thing.I can only change me but it truly is gut-wrenching.

          • Darkstar, I know how it hurts. Mine was also leaving clues but never sufficient enough to be caught. I guess they like the play. There are other cheaters out there that go out of their way to hide the truth from their partners. That includes them being really nice, helping with kids and household chores, being “involved” in the family life. They truly don’t want to get discovered. In their mind they settled for a family life but also want to have some fun. Discreetly.

            And then there are others, like yours and mine, that would be distant, stonewall, pretend in front of others but build a wall inside. These ones are in for the thrill. They don’t really care as much if they get discovered or not. Or, rather, they still prefer to go undiscovered but they would do really dangerous stuff exposing themselves quite openly but not enough for us Chumps to see through them. They would really pull the rubber band to its maximum and then let it go the last moment. They are amazed with themselves that they can fool us. Mine told me once in disbelief that if he had only wanted to “do” something in front of me, he would be able to pull it off and I would not even see what’s happening in front of my nose.

            Why we keep leaving in denial is what I have been trying to figure out.

            You are a convenient appliance but they get bored so they need to keep you on your toes with gaslighting and stupid excuses or justifications. It’s like you know something is wrong but you can’t really get what part of what is wrong. Never sure of yourself and your life. These are dangerous people!

      • I would love to hear your story. That handle is just sooo interesting. I had to leave my ex while he was at work… Something i warned him about but he wouldn’t listen.

      • Here’s a key quotation: “But mainly they lie because it gives them an advantage or an edge. If you knew what they were really like or really doing the “playing field” would be level. You’d also have a better chance to properly take up for yourself. Manipulators don’t want that. They’d rather you be in the dark and second-guessing. They deceive simply to take advantage of you.”

      • Thank you! Good article. This always got me:

        Some habitual liars are what many call “pathological” liars. That’s because they lie for no apparent reason. They’re untruthful even at times when the truth would suffice or might actually serve them better.

        This was my ex. I could never understand the lies when the truth would have been fine. Thank god I’m not with him anymore.

        • Agreed Jenny. I was always mystified by why someone would lie for no reason. Now it doesn’t matter what the reason was. You lie, I’m done.

          • I learned that the “situational ethics” he claimed he had were just the label he gave for being able to lie when the situation presented it and he could twist it to deem himself ethical. If I never hear those words again, I’m okay.

            • Situational ethics is a form of justification, nothing more. It’s the old “ends justify the means” notion. Or the “who do we throw out of the lifeboat to save the rest of us” thing. “I dismembered my family to be happy” doesn’t work under the framework of looking at actions to determine if they pass the ordinary do unto others test, so the disordered prefer to see it in the nonjudgmental light of what they were compelled to do to achieve their special happiness, which is far more important than the damage they have caused.

              That is not ethical behavior by any measure.

  • I fell prey to The Bread Crumb Trail a lot last year. But then I listened to my gut and instincts. Every time he said, “Maybe we should work it out,” absolute, undeniable FEAR would kick me in the gut. Trust your instincts! I’m so glad to be free of him, the Charade – everything. And so glad he’s someone else’s problem now. Think you won the lottery, honey? Try another box of Cracker Jacks.

  • I’m not a chump. I was in my marriage, but no longer. When my ex B/f gave me some ridiculous story, I calmly said to him “you’re lying.” That was the end of that. He cried, begged, expressed remorse, told the truth then eventually left my house and I haven’t seen him since.

    I’d probably still have a b/f if I decided to lose myself again that day, but once you find yourself it’s to degrading to go back to being a chump.

    • Mighty!!! Thanks for sharing your story, Beth K. I want to be this way if I ever start dating again. First lie. Trust your gut. Tell them they are lying. Walk away.

    • Good for you!

      That feeling, when you first encounter a liar in the wild after getting free of the cheater, and see the bullshit and call them on it- that is the best feeling in the world!

      I had the same thing happen, and that was when I knew that I’d survive. I’d graduated from Certified Spackler to Building Inspector.

    • I was similar to you. When I caught wind that he’d been lying, I became like this determined blood hound, sniffing out the inconsistencies and following those bread crumbs all the way to the name, phone number, and all the details of the woman he’d been cheating with, starting when I was in the hospital recuperating from our daughter’s birth.

      My downfall was that I kept taking him back. But that was a loooong time ago, and he hasn’t been my problem for decades. Now he cheats left and right on the nice woman he eventually married.

  • My XW at one point actually said, “I’ve always been honest with you.”

    This was after almost a year of stunning lies and obvious lies about lies. My brain reeled, I sputtered for a moment, and then was silent. What could I possibly say? It was mind boggling mind-fuckery, to deny the obvious like that. I still wonder if she really believed what she was saying. A normal and/or good person surely couldn’t?

    • ” still wonder if she really believed what she was saying. A normal and/or good person surely couldn’t?”

      Don’t be so sure about that. Cheaters are so deeply involved in their lies, that they actually believe them.
      Mine told me that he “didn’t ever cheated on me”…. of course I knew otherwise but he might have convinced himself with excuses that what he did wasn’t “actually” cheating….

      • Mine said that it didn’t count as cheating because he knew he was done with the marriage.

        Yeah, mental capacity of an 8 year old (and I’m probably insulting the 8 year olds).

        • Yeah, mine said basically the same thing. I got the feeling that he felt as if he was cheating on OW when he was with me.

          • Mine said that I was the one who was “actually unfaithful to us”, because I had failed to “validate” him as a person, for all the sixteen years that we were together. While he was cheating on me with at least 4 women that I know of. And I wasn’t doing that.

            • Mine said it wasn’t cheating because he was with the other women only for sex and not for love. He chose to stay married, so I shouldn’t feel bad. He had chosen me! So glad that is all over.

              • Mine had a complex hierarchy of relative badness so he could congratulate himself for not crossing his boundaries. And expect me to pat him on the back for being so good. Very addict brain mindfuckery.

                Also
                Me: you must put me first and only.
                Him: that’s not healthy for me.
                Me: so you are choosing those women over me and our marriage.
                Him: I am NOT choosing them over you.
                Me: so you will stop all contact with them.
                Him: no.

                Rinse, repeat.

              • Lucky you LOL. Mine also said, “I don’t know what you are so upset about- I stayed with you longer than any of the others!” Gee thanks asshole you mean you lied to me longer than you did to “The Others” whoever the hell that was supposed to be?

        • This must be another excerpt from the cheaters handbook as the ex’s famous line was: “Our marriage was over anyway.” That somehow makes cheating okay in their infinitesimal brains. Of course I didn’t get that memo. In his infinite wisdom the ex forgot that there are definitive ways to demonstrate to your spouse that your marriage is over. Filing for divorce is one of those ways, which I was more than happy to demonstrate for him!

          My other favorite line, which used to frustrate me but now makes me laugh was: “I never tried to hide it from you.” The cheater to English translation is: “I didn’t delete damning emails and texts from my phone and if you asked me, I would have told you the truth.”

          Gotta love their logic! And you gotta love that pretty much all of them are inflicted with the same type of twisted thinking. It boggles the mind!

        • Mine told me that it wasn’t cheating since we had been over for awhile. This was just 4 weeks after I gave birth to our youngest daughter after 20 years of marriage. He then said, “you just call it cheating to make yourself look better and me look bad.” To which I responded that I din’t need to do or say anything to make him look bad.

        • Xhole told me that since he had already decided to D me, he wasn’t cheating. This being a week or so after he’d been planning for us to go abroad to renew our vows for our upcoming 5th anniversary. No wonder I thought my M was A-ok. Silly me.

      • I don’t really think they believe their lies about what they do but they sure believe their lies about what kind of person they think they are. Mine will defend to the death his lie of being a good guy, great father. That’s fucked up.

        • I don’t think they really believe their own lies either. As you say, mighty me, the lies are essential to maintaining their great and fantastic facades. But deep inside, where they know the truth, they have so little self esteem that they are incapable of looking the truth in the face.

          My cheater also said it was my fault that he cheated. Of course. When I found out about it, I realized he had been fucking the OW at the same time she was fucking her boyfriend, whom she neglected to dump when she met my husband. At the same time he was coming home to me every night.

          He later defended himself by saying that he’d been “faithful” to her by not having sex with me. Frankly, I couldn’t stand for him to touch me during that time; obviously my body knew stuff my mind didn’t. But even THAT was a lie! There were a couple of times when I just couldn’t fake being asleep.

          The audacity of the blatant falsehoods and the extreme contortion of logic simply boggle the mind.

        • “I don’t really think they believe their lies about what they do but they sure believe their lies about what kind of person they think they are. Mine will defend to the death his lie of being a good guy, great father. That’s fucked up.”

          Oh how I wish I could not relate to this. Mine walked out on me and our 1 and 2 year old babies with a packed bag and a hot coffee on the counter, and just never came back. No known problems in the marriage, just asked for a divorce, unintentionally revealed an affair he’d been having with a stripper, and then went to move in with her 2,300 miles away from his babies. All of that happened in the span of 20 hours. Ask me how much I’ve learned about PTSD since then.

          But he thinks he’s a good daddy. His new wife thinks so, too. She gave birth to their son last year. He owes me $31,940 in unpaid child support.

          Went to Family Court Services recently and I laid out that he’d not visited them in almost 3 years, except once for 4 days 2 year back. Said they don’t know him as a dad and that he should not be allowed to take them out of state (which he now suddenly says he wants to do in order to lower his child support payment).

          I said he should have to fly here and do supervised counseling first to get them used to being with him before ever being allowed to do that. He said, and I quote, “Wow, I’m just floored that you would even ask for that. I mean, wow. I don’t know what to say. I’m just really taken aback.”

          Of course you are, Honey. That’s because you are the king of your own imaginary kingdom, Big Guy. But this peasant’s gotten wise. I’d rather go to the guillotine than be subjugated by your bullshit ever again.

          Viva la revolucion!

      • Narcs have split personalities. One says something and the other one won’t remember it. This is how serious it can be. X narc had “memory” problems like this. One day he could say he absolutely hated eggs, a week later he would eat scrumbled eggs happily for breakfast, and me: WTF. Things like that happened so many times…, real mindfuck.

    • Ha! My STBX (next week!), the Rev. Cheaterpants (yep–called & ordained servant of the word) said “I never lied to you.” I answered, “You mean after I found out, right? As opposed to your ‘work’ trip planned for Tuesday?” (When he planned to go ring shopping (!) with one (!) of his (also married) OW. Needless to say, he was chumping this one, too. Soooo not my problem, though, but an instant reality check of how messed up the Rev. Cheaterpants was. That’s a lot of commandments to be breaking all at once!)

    • During the settlement, my then-STBX said to me, “I’ve never lied to you about finances.”

      And then I found the credit card statements with the hotel charges and the breakup Juicy Couture watch he gave her (Juicy Couture, you ask–was she 15?!? Close).

    • David,
      See the link above to Dr Simon. He confirmed what I always thought. That is, they do believe their own lies at some point. It’s just mind boggling to me that you can reach that point, but they do. Luckily, you knew not to believe it!

      • Yes, Lost. Mine started to believe his own press to the point where he told me “I never lied to you.” When I asked how he was able to get himself to utter the words, he said “You always knew.” “Why did you feel the need to hide from me then, including your STD treatments?””I hid things from you, but I never lied. Cheating is not lying.” “And why do you think I did not leave you 20 years ago then —only when I found out last year?” “Dunno, that’s for you to sort out!” That was a special day.

      • I believe the traitor can convince himself his lies are the truth any time he wants, then stop believing them when it suits him, then believe them again, all with the appearance of complete sincerity. It’s like he has a switchboard and he flips the switches here and there. It took putting a VAR on the house phone and listening to him lying to the whore too for me to understand how totally convincing he sounds when talking absolute bullshit. Listening to his voice only, not looking at him, was the clincher. I remembered that warm, reassuring tone, that I used to trust, it spoke to my guts, and I could hear the total bullshit being said to the whore, and the other bullshit they were planning together to tell his family about me. Chilling.
        Best money I ever spent was $100 on that VAR.

        • That warm, reassuring tone. <> I have heard it from Durt and I have no doubt he used it on slut puppet, the side sluts, and his harem. I got to the point where I could see him change from one mode to another, including the charming reassuring love mode.
          It meant nothing to him. Nothing.

        • That warm, reassuring tone. I cringe at the thought of how the “love” oozed over me.l with that tone I heard it from Durt and I have no doubt he used it on slut puppet, the side sluts, and his harem. I got to the point where I could see him change from one mode to another, including the charming reassuring love mode.
          It meant nothing to him. Nothing. Words without action.

          • Early on, one of my friends called Fucktard The Man with the Pink Velvet Voice.” Just another tool of the disordered.

              • Absolutely it does. That trustworthy comforting voice is a tool of their trade. Confident and soothing. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have plugged my ears and run screaming down the road.

      • She certainly seemed to be absolutely convinced of her own lies, that’s for sure. And I know she is a messed up person–and knew it even before the affair. But I still hate labeling her a disordered person, since it seems vaguely exculpatory to me. But I suppose one can be both disordered and a cruel liar at the same time.

        • I resisted calling Durt disordered and a sociopath, at first. Until I had time away and saw the constant lies and cheating for what it was: abuse. Looking back, the stuff he did To me is awful and book-worthy. At the time, I believed the concept he had manufactured about me and thought I was at fault.

    • So funny you should say that about XW kiwichamp, my X actually said to me at one time “don’t you trust me” LOL! umm no, no I don’t!

  • CL.
    I just have so much admiration and love for what you do. This post was so accurate, so funny and so empowering. This is who I love this site and trust everything.
    Brilliant just brilliant.
    I will comment later on my own situation at the moment which bears an uncanny resemblance to the above but right now I’m just going to read and re -read this post and revel in its sheer perfection.
    So so funny and so true. I don’t even wonder why I could never see this stuff for myself besides a general feeling of ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’ but you just have a gift. Just wonderful. ??

  • I am in my dining room screaming “listen to her chumps, listen to her!!!!”
    The mindfuckery is exhausting! It’s even worse if you are raising children, work a high stress job, and maintain a home. The juggling is just too much because as we know most cheaters are responsibility averse so you are likely dong all those things like a good appliance while they are doing you harm.

    Let me testify that even though divorce is hard, life after divorce can be pretty easy. Not only do I wake up happy and look forward to my day but I am calm and relaxed most of the time because I am not caught in the vicious cycle of doing everything while trying to reason out the mindfuck.

    • “most cheaters are responsibility averse”

      ohhhhhhhh, yeeeaahhhhh.

      So looking forward to finally being divorced! In the home stretch now…

    • Yes!! With me it was chasing this grand scheme crumbs, supporting that scheme, supporting him in conflicts with a never ending roll of neighbours, conflicts (probably fake) with the whore, conflicts with the first wife, conflicts with his older sons, supporting him through “depression”, supporting his older kids with their issues, visiting the whore’s grandmother weekly. That’s how he kept me too busy to question anything.
      When I started to ask specific questions, not about his comings and goings but about the business, why something cost so much, why something was done or not done, trying to find way to make things go better, not necessarily questioning his judgement, I would get ” I feel like I am being interrogated, you have trust issues, you are controlling, you need counselling, you are depressed,…” We ran a business, it was my job and my duty to try and make it work and be profitable, to keep track of expenses, to have reasonable relations with others and to keep learning about it. How dare I question the great wizard of Oz?

    • Thank you so much for your “light at the end of the tunnel”. You moved me to post for the first time, 6 months post d-day. Divorce papers ready to go, just waiting on his signature.

      Had to see him at the bank 3 days ago for mutual asset transfer. As we’re leaving he says “I still think we’re making a mistake”. The next day his car is at OW house for the weekend. Today my SIL texts me to make sure he’s not sniffing around to get together because she found out the lovely couple went on a trip to San Fran (aka our honeymoon locale) together within the last month.

      Chumps. Rough day of mind fuckery. He’s so lost and unstable, it’s truly mind boggling. Trying to recognize the tornado and stay far away but as you know, sometimes you still get hit with the flying wreckage.

  • When my Cheater isn’t outright lying to me, he is stonewalling. It’s beyond frustrating but I take cold comfort to read CL’s post here and understand this is universal modus operandi. I still take it personally of course – but again, in my feelings of betrayal and isolation, at least I can come here and know I’m not alone.

    • Ugh… the stonewalling. My ex was like that too. He’d give me the silent treatment for days until I cracked and apologized to him just to resume some sense of peace. I was an expert-level eggshell walker. When I look back at the mindfuckery, I am amazed that I didn’t end up in an asylum.

      I hope you are working toward freeing yourself, jadedmuse. You are not alone and you are stronger than you think!

    • #jadedmuse: you are not alone here. I check in and read every day, whether I post or not. So much wisdom here. It helps so much to help you before, during and after Meh.

  • “since when do I play games with you?” That was my wake-up… last week – working hard to stop this nonsense!

  • Thank you for putting to words!! This was exactly me for 2 years ‘chasing bread crumbs’. (That should be a song). It was EXHAUSTING. I couldn’t sleep at night, just would lay there staring hard at the ceiling trying to figure out the insanity. Then at work I would be so tired I couldn’t think. On the weekend when ex-fiancé was ‘out and about’ doing who knows, I would fall asleep hard for 3-4 hours. Wake up frantic not knowing what I had “missed”. He would be calmly doing something with his indignant smirk. It was no way to live, my quality of life was shit and I couldn’t figure out how it happened. Total mental paralysis. I finally found a tiny gumption to move out. He said “if you think you can do better go ahead”, I went NC and have moved on, but still healing. Thank you all here for the strength and clarity!

    • What an a-hole. Just discarded you like nothing. He never loved you, but wanted you to be his wifey. Glad you saw the light and GTHO there.

    • The catapult for me was when my ex said (during one of his rages), “Maybe I should move out and we should get a divorce!” Instead of my usual breaking down, crying, and begging him not to leave, I calmly said, “I think that’s a good idea. Go pack your suitcase.” He furiously tried to back-pedal, but I stood my ground that night. He left and I retained a lawyer the next day.

  • Thanks CL! Really needed this today. Does anyone have any advice for my present situation:
    Ex is remarrying and was going to try and put child in wedding party without my knowledge or consent. I’m dealing with a pathological liar and sociopath. The issue is child has severe special needs and doesn’t speak. I have no idea who will be watching child. And how do you coparent with a habitual liar when child can’t talk? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • What does your custody order say about special occasions and such. I would document and reach out by email and ask what support systems are in place for your child. And if he refuses to answer, I would not agree to hand over the kid. IMO, (and remember, I’m not a lawyer, this is just my opinion) as long as you have tried — and DOCUMENTED — that you’ve been reasonable, I think it is okay to SAY NO in the best interests of your child.

      And you really need to make that case — your son’s needs — and not have it misconstrued as you being upset about his wedding.

      • Thank you! You have confirmed everything I have already thought. I’m being pressured to send my daughter because of how it will look. I’m the bitter ex wife who won’t let her go because I’m pissed he’s getting remarried. Hardly. My concern is for her safety. Thank you for saying it’s okay to say no. We have joint custody and the wedding falls on my weekend so I have the right to say no. Going forward, I’m trying to document everything as he is always vague about everything he does when he has her. It sucks! We are watching her very closely. Thank you CL!!!

        • You might also consult a child psychologist and/or her doctor and get professional opinions you can cite. That sort of occasion is very stressful for kids with no particular special needs and under the best of circumstances–as anyone who has ever dealt with kids at a wedding can tell you.

    • I am in the same position. It is a nightmare and I can so feel your pain and fear. I am not sure about the wedding, but two of my best resources that I never thought I would have to rely on were private detectives and child protective services. My son is now an young adult, so it is adult protective services. The goal is to find any information what so ever that might prove that your child is in any kind of risk. Make sure their are LOTS of eyes on him like teachers, doctors, any family members you can trust and tell your story. Make sure every one knows the truth so they can also help protect your child. Once I had proof and APS was involved, his behavior started to change. Not that his heart did, but these guys do not want any pain or consequences to come to themselves. Do not be afraid to let him know through your actions that if ANYTHING happens to your child while in his care, there will be severe consequences to him. Continue to talk, comfort and reassure your child and give her the skills through whatever way she can and whatever resources you can find to deal with her dad when she is with him. Let he know that you are her safe place to come home to.

  • It was a bitter pill for me to swallow (the ‘Let Go’ one). To finally accept that I was really chasing a trail of broken dreams was soul-crushing — overwhelming disappointment and sadness. Starting over again later in life is hard and scary as hell!! But each step away from the toxicity is a step in a positive direction. My life at this age didn’t turn out as I had expected, however, I’m in a much better place than I would have been had I chosen to stay and settle for breadcrumbs. I’m very happy, too, that I found the courage to get out.

    • D-day was my “Let Go” moment, because apparently years of emotional abuse were not enough. My gut knew, though–the last 3 years before D-day I’d had unexplained panic attacks and felt very depleted whenever I was home, only to perk up at work. That fog–not understanding what I was up against, why things didn’t feel quite right, cleared immediately upon knowing he was a cheater.

      • It was for me as well… I was aware something was “off” but my ex’s gaslighting and lies kept me in the fog for quite a while until I started noticing his behavior around his phone and the computer. Found out he was a serial cheater. The years of stress wreaked havoc on my health too. I hung on for 2 years after D-Day but with my eyes wide open. The best cure for what was ailing me was getting a divorce!!

        • Amen to that, Over and Out. I lost my health, too, but I now have found it. Just had to lose him first. Not much of a loss, actually…..

      • THIS…. I loved going to work too! I felt engaged, valued, appreciated… sane. And I dreaded going home… dreaded it. It would be a glass of wine cooking dinner, a glass or two with dinner, and maybe one more doing the dishes.

        Now… I rarely even open a bottle and I love coming home to the peace and quiet and my beautiful son.

  • What a great topic for today, CL!

    By the time of my final D-day, when he left me for the OW (yes, that happens to chumps who stay!), I was utterly exhausted. I had a sleep disorder. I had anxiety. I had lost two jobs and saw a dip in my career trajectory. I the responsibility for running the house, paying the bills (he would never deposit his paychecks into the joint account and would instead give me cash each week – I eventually figured out that he skimmed about $7000 the last year we were together.). Two of my teenage stepchildren had come to live with us and I was primarily raising our son except for the days when Mr. Sparkles decided he was bored enough to engage with him.

    When I read this article, this triggered me to remember the paycheck breadcrumb mindfuck. Way back in 2008 I had installed spyware on Mr. Sparkles computer and what I found BLEW MY MIND. He was proclaiming himself in personal ads as “single”… “divorced”… “BI MWM”… you name it. SO I confronted him and we went to marriage counseling… where he DENIED everything even though I had the print outs. And he denied it with such passion that I almost believed him (gaslighting anyone?)… so the MC said that to gain back my trust, he needed to give me pay stubs every week so I could SEE FOR MYSELF that he wasn’t skimming. The only trouble with that idea is my X is in an industry where the number of checks varies each week depending on bonuses. SO – I never really knew how many pay stubs I should expect to see each week – PLUS – that meant I was now adding BOOKKEEPER to my list of things to do. When he finally walked out, I found a folder filled with a years worth of unopened pay stubs… I had given up back in 2008 but just put my head down and stayed for the breadcrumbs… the sweet cards, the occasional flowers, the way he adored me in public (read that bit again, it’s important!).

    Bottomline Chumps… if you’re here reading this, remember you are worth SO MUCH MORE. You’re never so alone that staying with these fuckwits is the right answer. I lost 6 years of my life following bread crumbs (and it felt like 20 years!). Don’t make my mistake. You’re stronger than you know.

    • Oh yes! Adoring the chump in public. Quite funny how they can convince everyone AND THE CHUMP how much they love you and are happy in the marriage and then be the exact opposite behind closed doors.

      I call it Stepford Wife Syndrome.

      Like you, ICanSeeTheMehComing, mine was in a position to skim because of the joint businesses we owned. He skimmed money out of our accounts to the tune of about $125k over a couple of years. He spent it buying his 16 year old Thai girlfriend’s family a house, and his 19 year old Australian girlfriend a car. He was 53 at the time. Ewww!

      For him, it was all about the ego of being able to have the facade of a kind, caring, good looking wife AND keep 12 year olds interested in him on the side. It mattered to him so much how he looked to his other deviant crony male friends.

      Towards the end, he used to take them to the latest trendy restaurants, parade them around, and then take me the next week to the same place. This seemed to be a combination of anger at me for… still being in his life (?) and ego?

      I found out everything, because like you, I was bookkeeper. He was out getting his knob shined while I was at home running the businesses. When the shit came down, I backed up his computer, because it was owned by the company, and I was a director of the company, so it was totally legal. Then I spent 2 months looking through the contents. Best evidence to get you out of denial, for sure! If only I hadn’t lived in a no fault state, id have gotten everything.

      Stepford wife turned mean after that and told everyone she could find, what was going on… with hard evidence. Poor sad little sausage… it was so stressful for him when his cover as a nice guy was blown that he had anxiety and needed meds. Lol! I’m sure it was an act to get the judge to side with him. But I do hope it’s true and that he has anxiety for life.

      I wouldn’t know. I’m very happily remarried to a guy who is completely unlike that one, and living in a different country now. ?

      • “it was so stressful for him when his cover as a nice guy was blown that he had anxiety and needed meds.”

        Love this. It’s part of the sad sausage ploy. The Fucktard ex read the same chapter in the Playbook, but took it a bit further by taking a voluntary leave of absence from his job, claiming “stress” from the divorce he caused. The idea was to collect spousal support from me while squirreling away time cards (he was actually working throughout) for later payment. The first part didn’t work, but the second part worked just fine for him.

        • Oh, we were running a business together and he was basically threatening that he was unable to do his work, yet at the same time insisting that I must do mine, it was my duty as a director of the company, and if I didn’t, I was abandoning the business.

          It was apparently not ok for me to abandon the business, but OK for him to because poor sad sausage. Lol.

          I got even. I had given up a good tech career to run the back office for his Travel Agency. He insisted I must keep doing that through the divorce, until we reached settlement.

          A good friend got me a 3 month tech contract that paid me $25k/month. I worked that during the day for 3 months and the backoffice stuff at night.

          He figured out I was working another job, but I beat him at his own tricks by shielding my finances in a shelf company under a good friend’s name, so he could never find it. I collected that money, the backoffice money from our company, and took the rest of the year off to fight him in court.

          Being a woman without kids, I got about 42% in the end… of what I knew about. I’m reasonably confident there was more overseas that I didn’t know about, but oh well.

          Oh, and I was stuck living in the same house with the turd during those two years while trying to settle, because my lawyer was insistent that possession is 9/10 of the law.

          But in the second year, I connected with someone I knew in school. We fell in love long distance and used to talk on the Facebook phone app for hours. Apparently I was chewing through our internet Gb and he started complaining about that. It was fun to watch him get upset and have to pay for extra giggage so I could talk to my boyfriend. Hehe!

          By the way, I moved back to my home country, the US, bought my own house, and now live with the boy I reconnected with. He is not a narc like the last one. It is like night and day comparing the two. However, the house is solely under my name and we are not married. I’m giving myself some time to decompress with my own belongings that are only mine, and the new boyfriend understands that, and even encourages it.

          The narc is back in the other country and I never have to be in contact with him again. Ahhh! So nice. I love happy endings.

      • Adoring the chump in public!! Yes!!! During the last year before DDay1, I felt absolutely hated. It was the year I turned 50 and I got a 1 litre bottle of cream (as in dairy) for my birthday. I stood wailing by the kennels after he had once again been shooting pellets at the kennels past my head because the dogs were barking. I knew in my gut they were meant for me. I wailed that I felt hated. He wouldn’t sleep in the same room anymore, only came for sex and left. Supposedly because of MY disturbed sleep. I cried and begged him not to do this, or if he had to because I disturbed his sleep, at least not EVERY night. No.
        We were due to host his enormous family in early December that year, I organised everything. It took me months to source enough second hand furniture to seat and accommodate everyone on the farm, plus a few local rentals. I did everything and he just moaned about the garden and the house not being clean enough. He sabotaged me by refusing to replace the vanity in our bathroom with the one I had sourced 3 years before and begged him to install for ages. I asked for it to be done for my 50th, not done; do it before all the family gets here because the old one is cracked and we are going to host your family, not done. He waited until AFTER they were gone, 7 months after my birthday, and we did it together. But we had had a great time with his lovely family, all smiles and happy again, kissy, kissy. And while they were here, off course we slept in the same bed! I thought we would be ok again.
        New Year’s Eve that year was DDay1 when he demanded a menage a trois with his ex (the whore) or else.
        A few months ago I found an email from him to his high school friend he had reconnected with that same year (2014). It says “now I am with the woman I should have married in the first place”. WTF???

    • OMG – Yes! Gaslighter adored me in public! Played the role of perfect husband and father. While he lied and serial cheated. Why didn’t I see this public facade for what it was? He always acted all romantic and affectionate in public while starving me of sex at home. He was always “under a lot of pressure in his business”, (yes I imagine it would be very stressful constantly lying and cheating on your business partners). I remember him “working late” several nights in a row while he was copying thousands of pages of business records to produce in court. I believed him, because he did have to produce that evidence…. But I now believe he was with Schmoopie. This lawsuit was the straw, because I finally saw who he was as a businessman. And he couldn’t talk his way out of it this time. 2 lawyers told me he was a pathological liar and the Judge sees right through him. Liar, Cheater, con. Yes, the lies are exhausting. I now realize they wenr on for 4 decades, and I was easily deceived because I loved and believed in him.

      • OMG THIS-
        Yes! Gaslighter adored me in public and gave me expensive gifts! Played the role of perfect husband and father for complete image management to the general public. All the while he lied and serial cheated with hookers, craigslist hook-ups, Asian massage parlors, etc. He always acted all romantic and affectionate in public while starving me of sex at home. He was always “under a lot of pressure at work” or “I’m not 18 anymore” or ANY other excuse he could think of….yet he obviously had no problem with any other pay for play women or porn. From the outside people thought we had a great marriage! Ha-what a joke! I even had other women telling me how lucky I was to have stbx as my husband. Um yea, lucky wasn’t a term I would use for my time served with stbx.

        • Yep, I would have women telling me how lucky I was all the time… What a con job. They steal our lives with their lies. This should be a legally punishable offense!

        • It’s truly amazing how they have multiple sources and potentially dozens to hundreds of other hookups. I mean, how disordered can you be?

          I think mine kept trading them in when they no longer treated him like king, so he ended up with hundreds under his belt, so to speak.

          I know from an e-mail I found from his Australian girlfriend to her body builder boyfriend, that was on his computer because my narc ex found it, that she was sorry she had to stop dating 20-something bodybuilder boyfriend, but right now she needed a new car and 53 year old, fat ex-narc was going to buy her one.

          I would have loved to have seen the look on his face when he saw the FACT that she was only blowing him for a car. I wonder how much he had to bend his own lies to spackle over that fact, although I’m sure the 30 or so hookers he was paying to blow him in Asia and Australia probably took his mind off things a little.

          So glad he wasn’t having sex with me. I’m sure I narrowly missed the STDs I would have gotten, and with any luck he’s had 3 or 4 by now and his dick is falling off! ?

  • And then they want you to feel sorry for *them* because keeping up the lies is HARD and it’s CONFUSING, the poor dears. That was one of my ex’s favorite attempted mindfucks, that being the liar was harder than being lied to and deserved sympathy and patience.

    Hmmmmm…nope.

    • Oh, my favorite was still after d-day #1 when I made some sarcastic comment about his cheating, while we were apparently “trying to save the marriage”.

      His response to my sarcastic comment was, “How do you expect me to fall in love with you again when you’re so mean and hateful?”

      Oh. I’m sorry you poor sad sausage. Your cheating was totally MY fault and happened because I’m mean to you, and I should behave myself and try to fix it by not being upset with your unacceptable actions. WTF?

      I didn’t tell him to fuck off until several months later on the second D-Day.

  • Yes I lost 10’s of thousands of dollars as well as sleep and sanity chasing those bread crumbs. At marital counseling, the couple of times he managed to attend, he would bitch that I was always just so black and white. Apparently, he wasn’t lying, he was presenting me with alternative facts that existed only in the land of Durt.
    Luckily, after I started getting mighty and telling a trusted friend what was happening, she and my lawyer hit me with enough 2x4s to finally file. He tried to stop me of course, but by then I had started confiding in others and reading chump lady. Telling other people helped me realize I was the sane one living in reality, and kept me from running back over the bridge (I had lit on fire by telling people) when the charm and pity channels were deployed.

    • Yes, it’s like any addiction really. Once you start telling others, then you can start admitting it to yourself. So important to do that.

      • I love the telling others part and when they find out that others know… They come looking at you wondering why you told and how they could only imagine the half truths you told or the story you spun. Funny…. when you were bad-mouthing me, you didn’t seem to have an issue with it! I told him, “behave and there’s nothing to tell”

        • Some people say not to tell unless people ask. For me, telling people was a great way to distinguish your real friends from the haters and the Switzerland friends.

          The ones who had your back were the only ones worth hanging on to. The rest were dumped. It taught me how to house clean my friends and not put up with bullshit from anyone.

      • I just told someone the other day in a totally matter-of-fact way. No tearing up or being snarky. I am 3 1/2 years out from DDay 1.

      • Yes, I found that telling other people helped me see the abuse, and kept me “honest,” as in away-from-the-spackle.
        I wish I could go back and tell my slightly younger self that not being able to confide in people about major issues in your life is a big red flag, as is the constant pathological lying and hiding of the phone.
        If your significant other needs to “go to the bathroom” more than is normal, has no medical issues, and/or insists the only bill he will pay is for his cell, run like the wind.

        • If your significant other password protects everything from you and won’t give you any of the passwords, something is up. It’s that simple.

          New boyfriend doesn’t have those hang ups.

      • Yes Dances with Meh. Yes. Until I told others, I was trapped. It was very hard to do, but once I started I knew I didn’t want to stop. My survival depended on it. Only later did I learn the stories he was spinning about me, his newlyweds wife (as in we got married a month ago).
        I later discovered messages from some asking if he was married yet so they could start screwing again.
        Wow.

        • I actually had several friends tell me after the fact that they never liked him or thought something was wrong with him and didn’t know how I couldn’t see it.

          I had other friends tell me that they could never figure out what a nice, pretty girl like me was doing with a questionable slob like him.

          Wish they’d told me that earlier in the game, but I do understand how hard it is to broach that subject when you seem to be happy with your spouse.

          I wasn’t so much happy as I was clueless!

    • Yes, being isolated on the farm and being told getting yelled at is normal, all farmers do it because farming wives don’t know what they are doing and are so irritating! Thanks to volunteering locally and getting to talk to more local women, I started comparing their lives with mine, their treatment with mine. First I was proud of myself for being so low maintenance (!!!). Then it struck me that I was getting nothing, no presents (fine), no attention (not fine). I was always the girl happy with a bouquet of wild flowers. There’s an derelict homestead on the farm where hundreds of daffodils flower every spring. He would ride past it every day, come back and tell me he’d seen some of the locals pinching daffodils (which was fine with both of us). NEVER brought me back a single flower. It would have made me so happy, just a few daffodils picked up on the way.
      My friends were getting ipads and beauty treatments, weekends away with girlfriends. All I wanted was a couple of flowers and some bloody firewood and didn’t get it.

      • That’s because these Cluster B types make sure they don’t give you what you Want and need from them. It’s intentional. It’s part of the covert abuse. Depriving loving partners of physical affection and sex is another major way they “punish” us. When I would be hurt and upset and close to leaving him, he would magically change into Prince Charming for a few months, then things would slowly go back to starvation rations. Wash, rinse, repeat. Slowly managing down my expectations while being loving in public. I didn’t see the cycles. Guess that is spackling. I wanted to keep my family together. I was sure we could fix it. We always had been able to. I’m angry at myself for settling and letting years go by. I wasn’t getting my needs met. I was becoming resentful and bitchy without having physical intimany, real affection or emotional intimacy At the same time, I didn’t understand that this was abuse until I was with the right therapist. I thought he was just being a guy. I’m still financially dependent upon him, and I know I need to push forward with the divorce. Schmoopie must be getting tired of Prince C(harming) being broke all the time. I’m sure he’s working young widow Schmoopie for everything she’s got.

      • Oh, mine had a European background. I was told by the family it was normal for men to cheat and I had no right to be upset about it. I told them I was American, that it was most definitely not ok where I was raised, and that they could fuck off.

  • I will never forget this day. It was the day I knew my XH was lying and ridiculing me to my face. We were sitting on the deck. He reached over and began rubbing both my arms and said:
    Clara, I am so faithful to you that all of my friends, everybody, they think I am gay!!!
    I wish I could tell you I came back with some snazzy reply like: Being faithful means you are gay? But I just remember backing away from him, slowly and carefully, as you would from a dangerous animal. And being nauseated. I went to my bedroom and crawled in the bed.
    I knew.

      • What? Because ALL straight men cheat and he supposedly didn’t? What kind of mindfuckery is that! His head must be a very scary place.

    • Clara, he was telling you what an enormous whopper of a lie that was by going to far with the gay statement. It just leaked out of him! So sorry, that creepy feeling is awful.

      • That is all right on the money. I was researching the Don Juan Syndrome. My XH believed that he was such a fine specimen of man (with his Vienna Sausage Penis) that he was far too special to be faithful to me. He had just enough insight to realize what he was doing to me was especially heinous. Not to stop. But to try and hide it.The gay statement was further evidence of how stupid he believed I was. He is such a stud in his pea sized brain that the fact that he turns down all these women, why….people think he is gay! Unfortunately, he never turned any of them down.
        It still nauseates me. I would have dealt better with a up front discussion- I am cheating on you.

        I have a question for the Brain Trust. Do you think, after a certain point, it is better to cry, or to stop crying. I was reading about this on the helpful site referenced above Manipulative People. I am engaging in “Morbid Introspection”? Or when I wake up and I sing The Rose by Bette Milder and sob, am I being indulgent? It has been one year and some change that the jig was up. Do I buck up and tell myself to get ahold of myself? Or let the tears flow? People are giving me the: You need to move on speech. It takes a lot of self control not to shout, Gee, really? I had no idea.

        When does grief become “Morbid Introspection”?

        • Clara–tell the people telling you to “get over it” to Shut the Fuck Up. No one has their life deliberately upended by the person they invested in completely, and then heals on some pre-specified time table. I have gone Gorgon on the two people who said that to me; next time say, “Experts say it takes 2-3 years to completely move on from a divorce based on infidelity.” (or go Gorgon on them, your call)

          • Tempest, I love you!

            Clara, go flippin Gorgon on em!

            Until you’ve been in the trenches DO NOT presume you have ANY FUCKING IDEA WHAT I HAVE LIVED THROUGH! Your ADVICE IS FUCKING STUPID.

            Yeah, what Tempest said…go fucking Gorgon on em. Walk a minute in MY SHOES bitches.

            Ugh…I am so sick of the unbelievable hell so many have walked through… Yes, PLEASE Tempest, lets FOMENT! There should be a law! …or divorce should be free and fair and quick and marriage should cost big bucks and take a while to complete…cheaters would be thwarted!

            • Yes, I want her to come live with me. I feel their pity, the judgment, the exasperation. You are still on this? I am. Do you think I like it? I will have these small moments of okayness. And then you wake up one morning, and we are back in sad town. I think Annie Lamont talked about traveling mercies. The only one I have is that he did threaten me a few times, but it all fizzled. I geared up for war and it was just a whisper and then poof! He was gone. Do you know how you feel, this sounds very new age, but how you feel that someone has mentally left you? You just know they have left your building. I feel that. It is both a relief and a grief.

              • Clara,

                The relief will one day kick the shit out of the grief and sweep it out the door. This will happen in time. No contact, in any way, will grow the relief with clarity and knowledge of the truth! And the truth will set you free!

                …you be like, …ewwwww! Yuck! And leave him and all the painful memories melting into the goo that he actually is in the bright sunlight of the truth. He doesn’t and never did, deserve you. The End 🙂

              • Clara, it lasts a long time, it’s very hard to stop ruminating, it’s very hard to stop these intrusive flashbacks of good memories that you suddenly fear were false. Of course you mourn what you thought you had, your dreams for the future. All of it. People don’t understand unless they have been through it, and even then, everyone is different and it takes some longer than others. It also comes and goes in waves. You can go through a spell when you start to feel better and you think you have finally stopped crying and aching, and it comes back, but it probably won’t stay with you as long then.
                Just keep posting here and on the forum, chumps get it, they will give you tips and encouragement to deal with it and the loving 2x4s we all need sometimes.
                Betrayal hurts more than bereavement because it is pain deliberately inflicted, not just one of life’s tragedies. It is like being a family member of a murder victim who can’t get justice for their loved one. The pain keeps coming back because there is no justice.

  • It’s indescribable when you realize that you’ve been lied to by the person you trusted the most in the world. And obviously it never gets any better when you’re “in limbo”, which is where I lived for about 18 months until I just couldn’t take it anymore (and finally filed to D). That whole time (especially “in limbo”), my wife hid money and continued to see her married COW – because she deserved “happiness” of course. And during this time, she was completely comfortable with me paying all of her bills and wandering around aimlessly like I’d been hit by a train. She wished happiness for me too – so long as I continued to be a good little husband and make that car payment for her.

    “In limbo” is a period of time where we’re even more vulnerable, I think. You have no energy, you’ve given up on being the marriage police, and you feel like you’re watching your life through someone else’s eyes. And your spouse takes that as his/her cue to just go all in on doing whatever they view is in their personal best interests because they see that the gravy train might be coming to an end. It’s like they’re trying to wring every drop of usefulness out of us like we’re a semi-damp rag before they throw us away.

    They also see you now as a shell of your former self, and that’s even more ammunition in their minds that they’re justified in screwing you over. I mean, who would want to continue to be in a committed relationship with a depressed, smoldering pile of rubble? Their AP is more than happy to see them, why aren’t you?

    I realize now that I was nothing but a sperm donor and an ATM for her. That doesn’t help too much, other than I am able to see the truth. I can see clearly now that I was used and what her intentions have been for me – give her kids, get her to a station in life, get her out of debt – and get out of the way.

    But I’m almost out of this mind-fuck of a relationship and I’m thinking positively about the future. Thank God.

    • “They also see you now as a shell of your former self, and that’s even more ammunition in their minds that they’re justified in screwing you over.”

      Bingo, Blindside. Once you’re vulnerable and hurting, they smell blood and go in for the kill. I had already kicked then-H out of the house, but was still observing to see whether he’d do anything to make it up to me. He complained that he couldn’t stay with me if I “continued to be broken.” Two months after D-day. Two months (despite reading that it took 2 years to get over infidelity within a marriage). I filed the day he wrote that. Done & dusted.

      • …they are all the same Tempest and Blindside…

        One morning as I stood shivering (nerves) and shaking uncontrollably, satan looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know why you are so upset, you like looking like that!’ …I had lost so much weight and sleep I looked like a walking skeleton.

        Monsters are real.

      • Yep. I remember going into the big walk-in closet in the MBR to bawl my eyes out (about how f-ed up the infidelity situation was at the time) so that my daughter wouldn’t see me breaking down. My cheating STBXW came in, stepped over me, got whatever it was from the closet that she was looking for, and walked out. Talk about monsters.

      • Tempest,

        Your ex’s statement about not being able to stay with you if you stayed broken infuriates me. The betrayal, the blame-shifting, the cruelty, the coldness.

        My STBX constantly tells people, including me, that I am crazy, lazy, manipulative, and deficient as a wife and parent. (He, however, tells the Court what some would consider a compliment–I, chump, am educated. He doesn’t make this statement to compliment me, though. He says it to make me seem like a lazy gold digger who shirks responsibility. He has our female (new to Family Law and the bench) judge snowed.) When he is mad at me or my legal counsel or possibly anyone at all, he proclaims that I need to get back on meds to treat various personality disorders (which I don’t have) to ‘do everyone a favor.’ He has heard me use these names of personality disorders as I was a psychology researcher. He doesn’t read or listen to experts enough to realize that personality disorders cannot currently be cured through medication. His projection used to make me run around in circles, baffled, defending my reputation. Now I generally ignore his outrageous claims and allegations. Hard to believe that someone who promised to defend me and foresake all others would without provocation consistently treat me so badly.

        • RSW–Both our Xs (or in your case, STBX??!! aargh!) are masters of manipulation, and most effective when they employ subtle means to malign us. You’re right that the best defense is a quiet dignity. Eventually both will fail of their own accord, and then we can plaster on an “I told you so” smile.

      • Tempest, God I wish I had done what you did the first 2 months. I never got a “get over it”, but I didn’t get an ounce of empathy or remorse either. I just got a crap load of resentment. Resentment for what? To this day I still have no idea. I must have done something wrong along the way. But I’m near the point now where I couldn’t care less if I ever figure it out. I’m not sure there’s a real existing reason for it out there to find anyway.

        • Blindside–it’s a common phenomenon among the disordered, to have no empathy for the person they’ve just wounded, and in fact, to devalue them further. My X’s affair with gradwhore that prompted D-day was 8 years prior (there is no statute of limitations for sexual harassment at my University). I had no idea at the time why he was treating me, or the children, or the new puppy so poorly. But when he decided to dump gradwhore & return to the marriage, he wrote me the most vile, degrading letter about all the things I had to do sexually (including wearing sexy underwear ALL the time so that I would be ready whenever he wanted sex) and otherwise to make him happy. He didn’t even have the courtesy to write “Dear Tempest” or to say one single good thing about me, or that he loved me, after 16 years & 2 children together. He was angry at ME for having to dump his affair partner.

          I have only allowed one other person to read that letter, and they were appalled. Thus, don’t feel bad about having tolerated poor treatment, nor wonder how they can treat us so badly and thus add insult to injury–both are standard, unfortunately. And part of why I moved so quickly after D-day1 is that I’d had enough of him and his poor treatment of me anyway.

    • Blindside, you just described my situation. I was nothing more than the vehicle to her. One of my friends actually said during the divorce that “she wants the life she had before, just without you in it”.

      Now you just need to hang in there because there is such a thing as karma. When her AP realized no gravy train was coming from me, he dumped her. She is now barely getting by and told me she has to move in the next couple of months because she can’t afford to live in the town we lived anymore (which is my fault of course). Despite the divorce being final, her lawyer is practically demanding more money from me. My lawyer said in 20+ years he has never seen anything like this and reminded them the divorce is final. Of course we should realize that rules don’t apply to the special ones.

      I just choose not to engage in her games anymore and you can imagine the rage. Instead of playing her games, I am trying to find out who I am because as others have said, I lost myself somewhere along the way.

      • Thanks Kris, and as has become readily apparent during the divorce process, my wife severely overestimated the lifestyle she is going to have post-divorce. I think she thought I was just going to just turn over the house, sign over my most of my paycheck, and get out of the way.

        She wants the marriage lifestyle (financial security), but just with none of the accountability that goes with it. One of my biggest concerns is that once she’s out in the real world, she’ll blow through her money and then come back to me looking for more.

    • “she was completely comfortable with me paying all of her bills and wandering around aimlessly like I’d been hit by a train”

      Well, this sounds eerily familiar.

      Right there with you, bro. She’s someone else’s problem now, thank god.

    • Blindside, you got that right! A few weeks after DDay #2, when I was still a walking zombie, Assholio started complaining that I was “getting old before my time,” was too sedentary, too boring, never wanted to go out, etc. Well, yeah, look what you did to me! I only wish he had left for his skank-whore then instead of making me do everything, so now he is a sad sausage and I am so mean…

  • This is so on point. At the end of 15 years of the mindfuck I lived daily my hair was falling out, I was developing a nasty ulcer, I had gained 25 pounds – what my mind didn’t want to accept my body was fighting. He lied about everything, literally everything! I think because we can’t imagine doing these awful things to someone we love that we fight believing it until we just can’t anymore. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME. Now that I’m free I’m shocked at how much energy I have, I wake up early, I get more done. While I’m still fighting through making sense of the lie that was my life, I know my Tuesday will come someday. Thanks CL for always putting into words what I need to hear to keep me going! Chumps rock!

    • Beachgirl.

      You are so spot on about the body knowing but the mind refusing to see.

      I’m almost divorced but the cheater has returned to live in the house for a month between contracts. I know. I’m mad. It’s THE most bizarre situation. He is home first which is odd to start with as he was mostly away. Always took time to adjust. Now we all know what has happened and who he is but of course I and the two boys at home are just disoriented really by having to act normal in an abnormal situation.
      I have let him back so he doesn’t spend all his money on hotels and whatever but sends it to eldest who needs it a University.
      11 year old has been less angry. 17 year old is keeping calm and mostly out of the way. I am being cool but unavailable and am out a lot. Neither boy wants to be alone with him so everyone stays in or I take boys out.
      So. You are a guy who cheated on his wife with three women for four years. Your children are NC when you are away so how do you handle this? Well you act like nothing has happened. You are a bit quiet but your family seem to be resistant to your sad sausage act so far but you get a bit snarky but as you like to be known as a ‘nice guy’ you can’t really do anything about it.
      It is freaking bizarre but I don’t feel anything. I think I have realised that getting angry or talking about anything will be pointless. He is not wired right. I am going to front it out while he is here. We often go hide out somewhere else in the house. If he has realised he is often on his own he hasn’t said anything.
      I will not touch the spare room where he is or do his laundry but I cook an evening meal.
      I do feel sorry for him but not enough to approach. I feel physically repelled.
      The boys are getting an object lesson in quiet crazy that’s for sure.
      They say how odd it is, how weird but are confident they can manage. I try not to comment.
      We shall see how it goes.
      But this I think is his special mindfuck. To basically act the same, deny anything has changed, act like the person I thought I knew.
      He’s getting an object lesson in polite Ice Queen.
      actually I’m not sure what’s going on. I said yes. I’m ok. ?

      • Capricorn, I’m concerned for you and your kids. It sounds so tense and unhealthy. Are you REALLY sure there’s no other option? Can it really be worth whatever money he may or may not save (do you really know he’s not blowing the money on something else?) to live like that? I can see it happening that you get through all this horrifying “togetherness” and on the other side, the expected money for your son’s university evaporates into thin air like all the other promises these cheaters make. I hate to think you are going through this for nothing but I fear that is what will result.

        • @Capricorn What Beth said. I had that epiphany/shit-covered 2×4 recently. I only have the one kiddo, who is 17. Probably going to take a gap year, but I think I will adopt what you have said-Mr Fab can give her money when she is 18, or graduates, directly. Kiddo is resigned to the fact that she will need to hustle, get scholarships. Bu-and we talked about this in fairly direct terms-she understands that to get any support from her dad, she has to,pick me dance. Not. Even. Close. To. Worth. It. What are you teaching your eldest and the young un?
          Kudos for keeping it Ice Qeen (I am a harpy when I am triggered), but please please please tell me you have an exit strategy….beyond when he goes back to work?

          x-Meh

      • Weird place to be. Keep moving toward the goal line. Keep doing things with your boys outside of the house. You GOT this.

        • Beth, Mephista, ANC

          Thanks guys for these thoughts. I talked to each of the boys separately about this and a couple of friends. Divorce is grinding through and will be final in march.
          He has seen the boys very little in the last six years (and me! But I used to text all the time and FaceTime) and I kind of think this is the last time we will be anything like an intact family. The boys are really very clear how I feel. It’s over. He cheated and lied and had a double life. He has lost us. He is not going to be a big part of my life now but he will be in theirs. They are weirded out by how ‘normal’ he acts.
          It has made me wonder about myself. Am I cold? Did I ever love him that much if it can just go so quickly? I’m just waiting until he goes off to Asia again then that’s it. Changed locks, NC apart from boys stuff. New pastures.
          I always said something snapped in me that day. He’s just not getting to me on any level. I have my grief, my anger, my thoughts, my fears but he is no longer the problem or the solution.

      • Capricorn, this sounds so awful, like being under siege in your home. I understand you wanting the money to be save for your son, but it sounds like you are sacrificing too much of your own well-being for this and it may be confusing for your younger sons. Too much stiff upper lip? Big hugs.

        • Kiwi.
          I would have thought the same but see comments above. He is so dead to me now I’m worried that it’s me who is dysfunctional on some level. Maybe I’m in some weird place but I feel ok. It’s weird. It’s a bit uncomfortable but it is also fascinating. I watch, I listen. I keep my distance. Keep my cool. It’s almost as if I am sort of saying my farewell to whatever we had. He is not much in my head now and that’s why I worry I’m the one who is not right! I’m already looking forward to when he goes again.
          Even though, to be painfully honest, it’s nice to have another adult in the house doing at least some of the chores. Having that significant other to confide in and rely on was nice. Not that I ever really had it.
          Oh I don’t know. I’ll let you know!!

          • Capricorn, I lived in a similar state for 9 months. And lived to tell the tale. You are in a state of numbness – survival mode. I am sorry that you are going through this, but confident you will get through it. Make sure you practice as much self care as possible. Reward yourself frequently and plan some to celebrate at the end!!

          • Glad to hear he is the sort who pulls his weight at least. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you Capricorn, you are one tough lady with great insight and coping better than a lot of us would.
            I have to work with the traitor, and it gives me the chance to assess coldly what he is doing right (there are some things) and what he isn’t, and to take a very detached look at him. It’s not a bad thing. We can have a “professional” relationship, which sounds like what you are doing with your cheater.

            • Oh my, kiwi, how can you do that? Assess coldly? No triggers? You must be at meh then!

              I can’t even stand his voice when he skypes for 20 min a week with our son!

              Is there a way to get rid of him. Like accidentally drive over in a tractor and bury him with the cow manure?

      • Capricorn, I was going through a similar situation last month. I was on his territory though but in the house I once called ours and in the cottage I once called ours. It lasted for 3 weeks. I did not do anything and he commented on that. He was the kind guy now taking care of his visiting family and planning and cooking elaborate meals and cleaning the place (he NEVER cooked in 12 years and never helped with any household chores – oh well, somebody else will take advantage of that). He would ask for help sometimes and I would cut out veggies I guess for an opportunity to be with him in the kitchen and continue the useless and aimless conversation trying desperately to show him what he is losing, how he’s been wrong in his judgements about me and his further actions. Futile. Every time I engaged with him in a conversation I felt defeated. He would be sarcastic one day, entitled and arrogant another and a sad sausage yet another day. I am not sure now what I was looking to achieve. Validation? Exactly what CL says to avoid.

        I admire you for your ability to disengage and live in the same place. You know divorce is coming. It will be over soon. The key is not to take him back another time this situation repeats. You can justify with the extra money to your eldest but you will be triggered and it’s not healthy in general. I agree that you are just numb and it’s not a meh yet. My anger started appearing in about 8 months after DDay and then failed reconciliation. In fact after I found the CL. I think this is the best emotiin I finally had. Anger. This is the driving force.

        You can go around him showing no feelings but deep in your heart there is lots of pain because of the huge changes that have been inflicted on you without your consent. They have to be punished. The balance should be rightened. You cheated? That’s fine. You can go and be with as many women as you like in whichever kamasutra positions you choose. But you don’t have the privilege of calling me your wife. Period. That’s the punishment. Although mine now acts as if this was his decision to finish our relationship because he was perpertually unhappy.

        Hang in there. Big hugs.

        P.s. I have not even filed yet, not even looked into it. I got back and was so busy with work and have to travel for another week so I plan to put my mind on it some time soon.

        • This is exactly my rationale as well. STBX can’t call me ‘nasty’ or ‘mean’ for deciding to file for divorce. It is actually for our mutual interest. He gets to have the freedom to do whatever the fuck he wants. Me, I get to be cheater-free and start over. What’s so bad about that? Let’s just live separate lives and call it a day.

  • Oh, this is wonderful. Thank you. I love the bread crumb image. You are exactly right. It doesn’t matter how much they say they love you and beg you to stay — people who love you would never scatter lies like that. Never.

    • The bread crumb image is perfect! Have you ever seen what happens when you throw a handful of crumbs in front of a chicken? They run frantically around and around with no real direction, eyes to the ground searching for every crumb. Yep – I was the chicken. Not looking up at the big picture, going nowhere fast and exhausting myself looking for every crumb in the hope that the crumbs would add up to enough to sustain me. Proudly, I am no longer the chicken!

      • yes, the chicken running around. That is how I felt trying to satisfy then-H’s demands all the time. Peace came the day he moved out.

        • I still remember literally feeling the weight lifting off of my shoulders when my ex walked out the door! It was such a relief and I slept like a baby that night.

  • Me: I know you are cheating and I don’t think we should be together anymore. I can’t trust you and the distrust eats me alive.
    Chicken Pot Pie ( aka my ex): paintwidow, track my phone. I know I fucked up before but now I’m all in.
    Me: I did track your phone, it tracked to a parking spot at a hotel and our phone bill shows a thousand messages to a # that comes up as Preston on your phone and there are no messages on your phone to a Preston. Why are you texting Preston at 2 am and deleting the messages?
    CPP: Thats bullshit, I was at the boat place with my friend so and so…..I’ll call him and you can ask him if you don’t believe me and I’m not texting anybody. That must be a mistake.
    Me: I don’t know so and so, I’m not getting on the phone with a stranger to discuss our troubled marriage, and as for the texts, there were like 845 ” mistakes” on our phone bill then.
    CPP: Well, you can’t accuse me of cheating if I’m offering you a chance to verify.
    Me: so I can show you the screenshots where your phone tracked to a particular parking spot at a hotel, and I can show you 845 text messages at all hours of the day and night to a number that is clearly not Preston, and you’re still going to tell me that you’re not having an affair?
    Where’s the couch?? I need a nap.

    Ugh!!!! There was like 10 years of this.
    He knew I would never embarrass myself or both of us by getting on the phone with somebody I didn’t know and I’m sure he had a friend that was willing to say they were together if I did grow the balls to call him on it.
    It is literally the most mentally draining thing ever. Whatever I have had to endure since he left for her is worth it to have to never have to have one of these conversations ever again.

    • CPP to Paintwidow/Poptart: “Well, you can’t accuse me of cheating if I’m offering you a chance to verify.”
      Me, on behalf of Paintwidow: Yes she can. And she can choose what counts as “verification,” and it’s not a phone call to some other jackass who will say anything, If she has a choice between believing you and believing her “lying eyes,” the GPS and the cell phone record that has over 800 calls on it. Some mistake. .

      • This is why I am cautious of revealing my evidence to STBX because he has such a way of gaslighting and minimizing them that I cannot risk him seeing me feel vulnerable to that and feeling he still has power over me.

        Well, I have turned the table. I kept him in the dark of what I know and let him have the “burden of proof” to prove he is really not doing anything wrong. A non-guilty person usually can defend themselves pretty well, but STBX resulted to pathetic excuses, half truths, and sad sausage ploys.

        Needless to say, I liked being in the One Up position after being One Down for so long. 😛

  • Following the bread crumb trail is such a horrible, horrible place to be. I followed it for years, while my Narc XW played with my brain. She would deny that she was having an affair with my friend and our neighbor, while she openly flirted with him and said they were just friends. She would also belittle and demean and rage at me, but then tell me if I just improved myself and met her needs, she would treat me like she used to and appreciate me.

    I am about 3 years out from D-Day (the time my XW and neighbor started making out on a party bus in front of 40 of my neighbors and acquaintances). She told me she was drunk and did not have feelings for him, but she was no longer in love with me. I still went down the bread crumb trail for several months until she left. She was so proud when she told me “she was leaving me.”

    I am pretty good now. I love the time with my kids and have a great job. However, I still see myself following that trail of bread crumbs and cannot get it out of my head. I was so pathetic for so long and hate her for that. I know she does not care, but it really scares me. Will I follow the bread crumbs for another person when and if that time comes? Will I be attracted to someone who is a Narc who likes to make bread crumb trails?

    Is it ok to feel this way still? This post really hit home, because I really can see myself in a Ground Hog’s Day scenario of picking up the bread crumbs, doubting myself and fearing the breakup of my family. If I had to courage never to marry or leave my wife years before we had children, I would never be in the place I am today – 3 confused children who have to go back and forth between me and my XW who now lives with her AP (they bought a very expensive house in my neighborhood less than a year after we officially divorced). She tells my kids that “you should always be happy,” so it was ok to leave me and constantly bashes the woman whose life she destroyed. She actually tells my kids that she deserved what happened to her, and they believe it. Because I don’t date, my kids keep telling me that I must be unhappy, because I am not with someone. I love my kids with all my heart and prey they will be fine, but I just do not know how they can move past this dysfunction. Ugh!

    • You won’t follow the bread crumb trail for another because you’re going to fix your picker. Good people don’t barrage you with lies. That’s the other part of this — the lies are pretty damn constant. It’s chaos and crazy making.

      Look for reciprocity, transparency, and mutual respect and you’re going to be fine.

    • Scott–you are one of the two most important figures in your children’s moral development, and the other figure is an empathy-lacking, lying jerk. Ergo, it is up to you to explain why what Mommy Dearest did is wrong, why it was selfish, why it has impacted you so greatly that you are scared to trust again in a dating scenario. I don’t care if your children are 3 & 4 (and frankly, better if they are because there is a critical period for empathy)–these things can be explained to them in an age-appropriate way, without ambiguity.

      Yes, we want to teach tolerance for other people when they wear different clothes, or dye their hair purple, or like to tell bad jokes, or are heavily into mystery novels or collecting Pez dispensers. But we do not want to teach tolerance when people perform acts that victimize others. That is not okay, your children should hear the alternative truth to your XW’s drivel, and you’re the only one who can provide it.

        • Scott, time to teach your kids that dating does not mean happiness. You were married and she cheated. Was being married to the wrong person happiness? No. Dating or being married does not mean you are happy or unhappy. Those are completely independent things. They can be taught this. Their mother is teaching them that dating is happiness, that they can’t be happy on their own. This is toxic and says a lot about what her problem really is.

          • Happiness for me is being happy with who I am, and I am at that point right now. My XW is definitely toxic and has deep, deep problems. I hope my kids will get this some day.

    • You won’t follow the same bread crumbs, because you’ve seen this, you’ve learned from it, and you won’t allow yourself to have someone treat you like that again.
      Tell your kids, you stand on your own two feet and are happy that way. That you do not need to have someone other than them in your life, you are happy to not have anyone else in your life but you and them right now. And maybe later, you will have someone else, but that person hasn’t come to you yet.
      Then follow that up with actions, be happy with them, let them see that you have done some outside of their life, show them pictures of you out, show them awards or medals, or you preparing to do something in their absence. Share your adult life with them, that you do live outside of their life, but also are them for theirs.
      My 2 important things are me, then my kids, everything else doesn’t matter.

        • Stand tall Scott. Be the sane parent. Take the high road. I was told these things when I filed for divorce. I did the best I could for my kids who were 9 and 12 when I left. It wasn’t always easy. I bit my tongue just about every time when I would have loved to have told them the latest thing their dad did to negatively affect our lives. Two weeks ago after battling with the EX for 6 years, I walked out of the courthouse with a finalized divorce decree. My sons are now 15 and 18. Taking the high road is paying off. You will see that when your kids get older and it is sweet. You won’t follow the breadcrumbs. You’ll learn and grow from the experience and your gut will kick in when you meet someone. You’ll also realize that after what you have been through, there’s no need to waste your time on someone who doesn’t share the same beliefs as you. I’m single and make it clear to my kids that I do have a life – especially on the weekends that they are with their dad. They’re quite aware that mom doesn’t need anyone to make her life complete. Hang in there!

          • Margo. That was very inspirational. It’s good to know the high road does pay off in the end for someone who has been there.

      • And also let them know that it’s not normal to be happy or look happy all the time! Life has many neutral moments, lots of annoying or bleh ones, and some very difficult times. We live all of them, and constant happiness is not normal or healthy! And most importantly, we don’t treat others badly, in order to do something we think will feel good. For example, if you are unhappy in a marriage, you can talk about it, try counselling, or get a divorce before getting involved with someone else. It’s still hard, but it’s honest that way.

        And you’re working on your OWN happinessm and theirs, right now, not looking for someone else to create it for you. You may want a romantic partner in the future to add to your happiness. Kids can understand that/

    • Scott,

      Regarding your statement; ‘I was so pathetic for so long and hate her for that.’ I am not sure exactly why you felt pathetic as what causes that thought varies from person to person. I, too, was left by a cheater long after first D-Day. I was bothered by the fact that my abusive, unfaithful spouse left me instead of me leaving him. I am guessing that you feel the same way. I might reframe the thought you share as ‘I was so committed to honoring and nurturing my marriage that I would do almost anything to maintain it, even to my own detriment.’ The new interpretation shows commitment, determination, courage, and honorable character. You are the captain who goes down with the ship (as I did). However, in ‘our next lives’ (life after divorce), perhaps we will let an irreparable ship go down without us on board.

      • You are exactly right. I would have stayed forever, no matter how horrible her emotional abuse. That is where I feel pathetic, because I allowed her to make me feel like I was nothing, and I was so desperate not to divorce, I would have done anything to stay in the abusive relationship when I should have left years before.

        Although I have established as much no contact as possible, I still cannot even make eye contact with her or her AP. I think about what she said to me on almost a daily basis, and yet I would tell myself she was in some type of phase. If I ever went grocery shopping, she would have me hand over the receipt and make sure I bought what she thought we needed, and she would tell me how I wasted her money (she made more than me). She would criticize me if I used the grocery supplied bags. Looking back now, I know this was so messed up, but back then, I would just tell myself to try harder – to please her more – to be a better husband – to remember her bags. – to not be so wasteful. That’s what is pathetic. If my children ever knew I was this weak, I would be so embarrassed.

        Yes, I will not make this mistake again, and yes, I was determined to make it work. I know I am a great person and father. I have that back. The places Narcs will take loving, decent people is horrifying, and yet, they will always think we took them to a dark place which caused them to behave the way they did.

        Thank you

        • Scott–it’s their way of undermining us so that we, the conscientious chump, keeps hopping to keep them happy. That way they have power over us.

          Among the stupid things I was criticized for: (a) returning an unused sugar packet to the stand in a coffee shop; (b) breaking spaghetti into thirds instead of halves; (c) the dogs whining to play with us one night because apparently I “pampered them too much”

          Did I mention how much better life is without being sniped at constantly?

          • No need, Tempest. Snipe-Be-Gone is nothing short of a miracle product. Guaranteed to prevent those pesky WTF complaints immediately on application.

            • That’s the spirit, Scott!

              I feel where you are coming from-but remember this mantra: “I was genuine in truly loving my husband. I got Chumped. It doesn’t stop the pain, but ultimately, it reflects my character. And it’s a good one.” Eventually, it sticks. Part of the process of Meh is focusing back on you, and your needs, which have been made to be very very small….

              Sole sane parent is a long, hard, lonely road. Lots of skills to learn all at once-fixing your picker while helping your kids hone theirs.

              Chump Nation has your back.

              x-Meh

              • Good man Scott, she’s just a nasty idiot with no morals. You will do great! Your kids are lucky to have a great dad.

    • I have gotten good advice from my attorney and my children’s therapist to broaden the conversation to talk about my own values and to help him talk about and form his own. I don’t have to make it about me or their dad. My son is noticing and bringing up stories of celebs and others who have cheated. I let him know that it’s important to be honest and fair to others and to choose people who are honest and fair to you too. Reciprocity. I never have to say don’t be an ass like your dad.

  • Biohazard used the exhaustion tactic all the time. He would wait until bedtime to pick a fight, even wake me up after I’d gone to sleep, to fight over something that has happened hours before. When I tried to have a reasonable discussion he would send me in circles with what was wrong with me and how I needed to change. I’d try for hours to get him to see my point of view and finally just give up.

    I was utterly wiped out so the prospect of trying to divorce him was simply overwhelming. I didn’t have the energy to do it. When I filed for a restraining order he kept me up all night trying to talk me out of it, so I just didn’t have anything left in me to go back to court the next day and finalize it.

    The good new is that eventually, with the help of CL, I stopped engaging. He would talk to me and I would consider whether I was required to answer (kid stuff) and just walk away if I wasn’t. It was a major battle to get him out of the house and I had to stop wasting my energy on him. Divorce still felt sisyphean but I made it through.

    • My ex used these same tactics. He was also the one who would not answer me when he didn’t feel like it (even when it was urgent). I always tried to be the bigger person, tried to be the person I wanted him to be. One day he was the one who laid down the rule that we would only communicate by email and text (this after I would often find anywhere from 10 to 50 missed calls if I walked away from my phone for a bit). To his dismay I followed this rule religiously. He tried everything to get me on the phone, even involved the kids by having them hand me the phone when they were done talking. I started turning my phone off during certain hours of the day and hung up on him so many times that I must’ve finally broke him. I NEVER respond to a text right away. It helps me formulate a non-emotional answer and also keeps him in check. He is the type that is constantly looking for a chink in my armor so he can get access, so I have to maintain this without any mistakes or I’m back to square one. Example: if I call him or take a call, he will act like the email agreement is null/void and that phone calls are our official means of communicating now. He is extremely manipulative in person and by phone so it is killing him to not have this tool to use against me. Conversely, he is so inarticulate in writing that it is almost unintelligible. And he knows it, hahaha!

      • Yep, Mr Fab is about eighth grade in literacy. And he did the same-thng, in fact had an asshole boss who woild do the same (while negotiating changes that would effect that way thpusands of people woild do theirs jobs, some contentious issues, and it was my job to ask questions). F emailed, he would phone, if I wrote, he would visit.

        It is bush league shit, but I found a spreadsheet useful. Document, document, document, by date, type of contact. We got that boss fired for incompetence in the end, sounds exactly like what you and I did with our cheaterss. HIGH FIVE!

        x Meh.

      • Jbaby, my stbx HATES email. He has written me tomes of emails to protest my insistence that we communicate that way (that irony is lost on him) then blamed me for how much time he has to spend on email. Yeah. There’s no way to use your manipulative mojo in email. How selfish of me not to give him access to mindfuck me. He used to text me, then immediately call both phones multiple times and then text again to tell me he was trying all avenues to reach me and where am I and why am I being so hard to reach. Then I’d get lectures about needing to be available to him within seconds of him sprouting the thought that he needed me to do something for him. Those lectures did not lead to the result he wanted. This is just one example of how he tried to exhaust me with and narrow my world to defending my behavior around the smallest pettiest most meaningless things possible so I would have no bandwidth to look at his behavior or the big picture. It drained the energy and will out of me.

  • When I read this post, all I could think about was how cheater trickle truth’d me. I caught him with one woman and kicked him out. Over the next 6 months, we were in counseling (wreckconciliation). The first therapist grilled him and forced him to tell me about 4 other OWs. She then referred him to a male therapist that he couldn’t charm. The male therapist wasn’t hard enough on him in my opinion but did tell cheater that he needed to stop trickling the truth out to me because each time he did, it reset me to day 1 trying to process and reconcile it all in my mind. But as CL says, that’s what they want – to keep you confused. More women spanning more years eventually came to the surface but I had to force those confessions. I finally had to to say “enough” and walk away. I’ll never know the full truth and I’m ok with that.

  • For a year prior to him announcing he wanted a divorce, he ignored me. When I would ask a question, say a statement (about anything), he would say WHAT? Feigning to not here and showing disgust on his face. I begged him to talk over and over. I cried softly and loudly and he’s turn up the tv, drowning my sobs. He would say everything is my fault. Little did I know he was starting something with a woman at the gym. He made everything feel like it was my fault. He had choices: he could have met me at the therapist’s office, an appointment I booked. He could have talked. He could have hugged me, kissed me. Anything and everything people do to make relationships work. The truth is that he was hot on the trail of someone else. Rather than admit it, and the affair that followed and ultimately admit that he left me for her, he denied absolutely everything and convinced his family that he was unhappy for 15 years. What do you call this? He even told our 12 year old son “I should have left your mother while you were in her tummy”.

    • Anyone who dumps their shit on their kids just sickens me. — But I get the rest of it, as well. I think a lot of us do. Very shortly before Dday, we were on a wine-country trip in California with some friends. I got sick at a restaurant, as I sometimes did back then during fancy meals. In fact, it had become so common that he & I had a system where I would just return to the table and sit (not eating) until he was done. I believed then (and still do) that his dinner shouldn’t have to be ruined just because my guts are acting up. — Well, on the California trip, I felt pretty bad so I decided to sit out in the car instead to try to rest a bit, maybe. I don’t know how long I was out there, but it felt like a long time. Our friends were European, so they tended to linger a LONG time over meals and after-dinner coffee and drinks, so it might even have been a couple of hours I sat in the car. — I finally got up and tried to go back into the restaurant. And he had the most disgusted look on his face when he saw me. It was really unlike him, and for a second I thought, Who *IS* this person? What happened to my loving husband? Who is this cruel man glaring at me?

      In hindsight, I got a lot of that in the last year of our marriage, but it was a lot more subtle. And the whole thing about being tired from work — that’s common, I think. And here I thought I was prepared for what it meant to be the wife of a business-owner. I’d even read an article written by a former entrepreneur’s “widow.” It’s the perfect guise under which to cheat — there’s always a reason they should be “at the shop” instead of at home. And where better to meet a sparkly young waitress/assistant/coworker? — Gross.

      • I bet that your tummy settled down after you got away from a glaring, uncaring bully. For every thought we have, there is a physiological correlation that follows.
        The night my XH finally packed up the last of his things, it still makes me very sad, but the sweet relief to be free of his exhausting lies almost made up for it. I slept for 18 hours.

    • The cold shoulder treatment is abuse, pure and simple. To keep that up for a year is outright cruelty. I’m glad you’re free of the fucktard, MJo.

      • Thanks Tempest. It took me a while to see that and there is still a part of me that feels I could have “fixed the marriage”…I know…it’s a messed up thought. At one point he even got upset with me for moving the coconut oil from one cabinet to another (I was spring cleaning and spent 4 hours in the kitchen washing walls, etc, etc.) he said because I moved it, he was no longer going to make dinner for the family(we had divided a schedule). At that point he was coming home later and later. I think, for me (this might sound naive to say)…however I can’t imagine a person being this cruel.

        • MJo, you couldn’t fix anything with someone who can torture you like this. Pure cruelty. I hope you are well away from him and being kind to yourself.

  • I followed the trail plenty last year. After all I loved him truly. And any path that led to him was worth taking. He lied since the first day I met him. Small ones to where he was born and his education alll the way to the affair and god only knows what else. He always said, “for every wrong I did I also did a hundred good things”

    I fell for it at first. So glad I’m over that now. Still hurts like a bitch but I believe the bad things in life are just a way of Leading us to the path of the best things yet to come.

  • Just reading this made me remember the exhaustion all over again. SO exhausting. Still makes me tired, to be quite honest. And so very true. But…are these fuckers really that intelligent? Or is it just sheer “survival” mode to keep their story going?

  • In my experience, there’s just enough logic and/or truth in a Cheater’s lie to make it sound truthful.

    “I can’t keep any promises to you because I own my own business and it keeps me so busy.”

    Truth: People who own their own businesses often have to work long hours because everything depends on them.

    Lie: When he is using that kernel of truth to justify neglecting his family because he is out fucking around.

    Because Chumps ARE reasonable and logical people, we grab hold of that tiny bit of truth and use it to spackle the hell out of their behavior.

    Sift the excuses; identify the lie; run like hell.

  • In retrospect, I can’t believe all the bread crumbs I ate after DDay. Even now looking back it’s hard to see the very few signs there were. I forgive myself because I was completely blindsided.

    When someone tells you that they love you in the morning then 8 hrs later you discover an affair, ?@&!#? You are then put in a position to *initiate* seeking bread crumbs. And the cheater is more than happy to create a trail of fuck. “Here little birdy, birdy, here are more crumbs for you……peck, peck peck, peck.”

  • This is the story of my 25 years with my ex. By the time I got out, which, btw, was only because of a serious cancer that made me start counting my days, I lived in constant fog. I was in a fog 24/7, unable to make even the easiest of decisions. I’m still there sometimes as we go through a contentious divorce, but as my mind clears I see how often & easily he lied to me. I am amazed I survived it! I was 100% paralyzed. Motherfucker.

  • Great post! I am a Chump who has already left the Breadcrumb Trail but this post really applies to another recent dilemma that I’m faced with as well. Recently a good friend of mine told me that she has been cheating on her husband with a married man. She gave me the same old BS about how she is unhappy in her marriage and that this new guy really gets her and it’s DIFFERENT. But she is also not willing to divorce her husband because she doesn’t work (because of her health…however she can have unprotected sex…) and needs the financial support from her husband. She is giving her AP till June to get a divorce from his wife. Meanwhile she is trying very hard to convince me this is The One.

    This is the second time (that I know of) that she is involved with a married man. The first time was more than a decade ago and me being young and naive then believed her schpiel about her being The One for him.

    While I am still conflicted about whether I should tell on her to her husband, I have made a decision to go No Contact on her. I am very disappointed and angry at myself that it took me so long to see her for the Narcissist she really is and I just hope that I will learn from this and become a better judge of character in future.

      • Question – how do I tell him? I’m not close to him and we live in different states. Also she will know that I told on her.

        Another question – how do I know for sure he is not cheating on her also? Maybe they are living an ‘Open Marriage’. She told me they dont have sex. But she also told me she doesn’t think he is cheating on her but she wants an Open Marriage with him.

        • Anonymous letter, set up a gmail account and e-mail him, find an e-mail service to anonymously text him, send a TD flowers bouquet with a note, sky writing, (sorry starting to feel snarky maybe not the last 2) the world of technology and anonymity works for and against a cheater.

        • Tell him any way at all, and since she’ll likely figure out it was you, you can even be open about it if you prefer You’ve broken off the friendship, so if she hates you, who cares? Actually, having a narc hate you might even be a character reference!

          Tell about the previous affair, too, and tell about her plans to leave him once AP is free. She may be manipulating the finances as she heads out the door.

          If her husband is OK with it, in any way, because he’s cheating too, or he’s a huge chump and will keep spackling, or he just doesn’t care, or he realizes they’re headed towards divorce, that’s fine. No harm done by giving him the info. But at least then you can be sure he HAS the info, so he can make informed decisions.

        • If he has an open marriage then he won’t be surprised his wife is sleeping with someone else and it won’t matter than you’ve said anything.

        • WalkingAway, I too struggled with my fears of retribution around this topic. I agree that however you do it, anonymity can be kept, although not easy. It’s also scary. But know that you are doing the right thing. After much consideration about a previous concern I had and some advice I received here, I’ve done the right thing. I know it can be scary, but that’s how these losers win. Good people staying quiet!

        • What matters is that she is using you to validate her behaviour. As long as you listen and keep her secret you are validating her cheating. So, it’s good you are going no contact, but by keeping her secret you are still validating her cheating. I understand it now, I didn’t years ago when a friend of mine was doing the same to her husband. So I ended contact eventually but didn’t tell. They had a daughter who enjoyed a very comfortable life she would have lost in a divorce (finances would have been severely affected). After a year reading CN, I now regret not telling the husband. I was trying to be a good friend to this woman, telling her to stop, telling what a good husband she had, even if he is not everything she wanted (no one is!). I did that for a few years but she was just not going to stop. Basically she liked to slum it with rough men and enjoy a the posh life with hubby. Her main AP was married with small kids too and cheating left, right and centre, I knew him too. Her husband was just one hard working chump, work, work and pay bills. He deserved better.
          As long as her friends said nothing, we all validated that it’s ok to look for what’s missing in your marriage with APs instead of looking at yourself as the source of the problem.
          You are actually not even helping her by being silent, she could be forced to confront herself if the truth came out, and who knows, become a better woman.

    • Everyone has the right to live an honest life. Tell the wives of these men. You may get some pushback (perhaps even nastiness), but it’s the right thing to do and will at least make them alert to the mindfuckery in their marriage.

      • Agree. If you are NC with this friend the what is the difference.

        “Everyone has the right to live an honest life”. I had friends who knew, and it hurt like a MF that they didn’t honor me in that way.

        It’s not a friend thing, it is a Decent Human Being Thing. Why the everlivinheck would you care what a liar thinks of you?

    • Tell the OM’s wife and your ex friend’s husband!! Who cares if she thinks its you, she is a piece of garbage. Plus more people know than you think or they think. I would send anonymous letters or e-mails to both at the same time and I would also give them each others contact info. Let them piece together the affair. They may turn a blind eye and ignore the info but they have a right to know that they are getting screwed over.

    • I got an anonymous email, and I’m eternally thankful for it. It took me a long time after that to get through the lies and the bullshit and make it to the end of the breadcrumb trail and find some truth, but I got there eventually. Without that, I’d probably still be living in a world where I would never believe that my spouse was capable of that. I’d send him an anonymous email – and you’d be fine as that could have come from anyone.

    • It seems incredibly insensitive of a person who you describe as a good friend to divulge not one but TWO affairs to someone who has been chumped, and then justify her shitty behavior with hackneyed rationalizations that we have all heard a thousand times. Is she perhaps stealthily looking for insight into how to hoodwink her poor husband further based on how you were chumped? Maybe she wants to use you as a sort of confessional so she can get implied absolution from you and justify cheating on him? What’s her endgame here? Either way, her character is horrible and not to be trusted. Cheaters are soul-sucking manipulative bastards so be wary that she may be trying to lure you into being a support system or, worse, a pawn in her machinations against her husband. She is using him to support her while she cheats on him? Blecch. Every cheater out there has some woeful tale about why it’s “different” for them. “Cheater moral-speak” makes me want to punch their lights out. I wish someone had told me years ago. It wouldn’t have spared me any pain, but it sure would have ended the self recriminations for being a “bad wife who didn’t appreciate his specialness” when I didn’t have all the facts and never stood a chance. And it would have spared my kids a lot of confusion as well. If you wish someone had told you straight up, tell.

  • For those of you who are still stuck, I can only tell you that when you look down and see the breadcrumb trail and you step over it instead of following it, that’s your first glorious step on the path towards Meh. And when you stop trying to come up with any sort of explanation, rational or otherwise, for their behavior you’ve arrived on the border. Meh’s a great place to be. Can’t wait to see you all here.

    • I’m just wondering how much this present craze of “alternative facts” will normalize such behaviour. Imagine young kids now, seeing their country’s leader condoning such lunacy…I hope it results in a soIid public lesson in recognizing narcissism..hopefully at least some history lessons will see it all in hindsight for the manipulation it is.

  • I caught cheater red-handed about having met his ex-girlfriend for dinner and god know what else while I was out of town. The first clue was…an old friend saw them dining together and called to see if we’d broken up? When I subsequently checked his phone, there was a text from the ex, saying “thanks for last night, sorry I couldn’t drop you home in the morning”. When I asked him if he’d seen the old GF at all, he said “what a crazy question!” I shot back “you’re gaslighting me, I know the truth”. His reply: “you use big words I don’t understand”

    My strongest emotion upon confirming the infidelity? Angry at myself for getting suckered in by such an embarrassing dork.

  • Yep, Mr Fab’s first words were “Thank God, I don’t know how much longer I could have kept it up, this has been driving me nuts.”

    Step away from the crazy…..

  • Limbo. You know the truth. It is indisputable this time. It always was … but THIS time even YOU must admit that there is just no other explanation than the obvious. You’re being cheated on by someone who has absolutely no feelings for you. Even the bread crumb trail was pretty half-ass after the nth Dday. I didn’t even warrant decent lies! How rude!!

    I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even identify that I was exhausted. Just numb. I sometimes wonder just how long I would have stumbled along. To the grave, probably. Thank you, CL. You really did save me. And so many others.

  • Continuing to live this first hand OMFG!!!

    As of last night, I picked up my daughter from her mothers home and she tells me that the entire weekend her mother spent trying to convince her AGAIN that I had sexually, physically and mentally abused the both of them. She even forced my daughter to watch a Youtube video about abuse and how to get rid of poison people from their lives. Since my daughter was not really listening to her she asked her to sit on the floor with her. When my daughter refused she grabbed her by the hand and forced her to sit down. In doing so she bruised her hand.

    Our custody trial is less than a month away and my daughters lawyer and therapist are on my side and asking for every other weekend as a maxium.

    GOD I CANT WAIT TILL THIS OVER!

    • That is very scary stuff! I assume your lawyer is aware of what she is trying to get your daughter to do. She should lose custody over that.

  • I said, “I know you are lying. YOU know you are lying. I’m asking you to just please tell me the truth on this.” there was a looooooong pause, I thought he was going to cry. Instead of a truth, I got…..

    “I told you I said all I was going to on this subject. I have nothing to add and the situation is closed.” Like I was a child that needed to be addressed.

    THAT’S when I knew he was not in control of his mind or mouth. It was a very sad day for me.

    • Ooooh, he was COMPLETELY in control of his mind and his mouth. What he wanted was not to lose control of YOU, or at least of his image. But things had already gone too far for that, good for you!

  • I so remember the exhaustion of trying to sort out the puzzle with the missing pieces, but in my case there was also intentional sleep deprivation. I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work. The Fucktard generally worked from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. By 10 p.m., I’d be nodding off, only to be prodded awake. The TV blared until midnight. He actually had the balls to tell me that there was no point sleeping in on weekends because “you can’t make up lost sleep.” I was so tired I didn’t realize it at the time I was being systematically tortured.

  • The flip side of this always fascinated me about my ex wife… she exhausted me, but how the hell did she maintain the energy to constantly and seamlessly lie for years? Well, narcissism never sleeps people. While you slumber, your cheater is sharpening spears and honing stories. How this works is beyond me.

    Trying to imagine how she did it (and how many lies was that… thousands?) was just a testament to me how weird and damaged these people are.

    • I don’t think it takes much energy on their part to lie, sneak around, and generally be assholes. It comes naturally to them! Chumps would be exhausted by lying, because we actually know and feel that it’s wrong. But cheater narcs are FINE with it! And doing forbidden things an creating drama is SO energizing!

      • KarenE, you nailed it. They have enough sociopath in them to make lying (alternative truths!) frictionless combined with getting some sort of dark energy from creating drama and damage.

        It is sort of like when those deep sea oceanographers discovered those worms that get all their food and sustenance from deep sea sulphury volcanic vents and are completely disconnected from the sun -powered biosphere.

  • One thing that has always baffled me is how some betrayed spouses stay with their cheating wife/husband and then other betrayed spouses end their relationship with the cheater. Do those who stay just accept the lies and focus on all the positives outside of the affairs and lies?

    • Spackle spackle spackle, that’s how! Smoking lots of hopium. And fear of being on their own.

      But I’ve read that over 80% of marriages where infidelity is discovered do end, just often not right away.

    • There can be a number of reasons, but for me, here are things that kept me stuck:
      1. Not recognizing my own value.
      2. Not letting go of the need to fix other people.
      3. Fear of the unknown.
      4. Misplaced pride.

      As far as I know I am only doing the best I can to keep my relationship afloat. But I failed to see STBX was the one poking holes on the ship. Luckily I had several informants and a badass support group who put a life vest around me to keep me from sinking further in the dark waters… But I had to learn how to paddle on my own to get to the shore.

  • What’s even more exhausting is lying coupled with projection. The Worm has a Ph.D. in Optimization and Projection of Alternative Facts.
    The most memorable example of this is, after I found his car parked a block from Pookie the Cow’s house, he said, “I actually parked there for a week to see if you’d notice. I wanted to catch you not trusting me.” Then wanted to have a “reality based” discussion about how I don’t support him, don’t earn enough money, etc……DARVO anyone?

    • Oh my gosh, he’s GOOD at this! At least my ex is an incompetent liar, it makes my life easier. He was very good at the DARVO bit, though, any time we discussed anything I was unhappy about. Now that I recognize it, it’s impressive.

      • Pathetic and disgusting but impressive. Rattlesnakes are impressive too…..haha, don’t want to be married to one though…

      • KarenE, the Fucktard ex was a stellar liar. Olympic Gold medal material. Some of the disordered are absolute superstars of straight in your face deception. Chumpy me at the time didn’t know such creatures existed. In the end, I manufactured a “tell” to simplify the process of finding the truth. Honest to my bones by nature, I told a Big Stinking Whopper of a Lie. I told Fucktard that when he lied his pupils contracted. From that moment forward, he would not look me in the eye while he was lying, which turned out to be most of the time. It never occurred to the jerkwad that his chump would pull his leg like that. I still giggle when I think of it.

        He also tried telling the MC that he had to walk on eggshells around me because I was all kinds of crazy, but stopped right there when I stared him down.

    • My STBX has done similar things to bait me–that is to make himself look suspicious and then get angry at me or ridicule me for being suspicious. I could list a lot of examples here, but to summarize: he would create a situation to make me question what he was up to and let that fester for a while (hours or days). When I would question him and not let it go, then he would tell me that my imagination was making something look negative or that I was “going down the wrong thinking path.”
      Now, I just tell myself that whether he has really been cheating off and on for years or not (and the evidence makes him look guilty), he has obviously wanted me to think that at times by making sure that I saw the evidence.
      That is messed up.
      He has been saying that he wants me to trust him and believe in him. So, that leaves me with two options:
      Do I believe the evidence that he makes sure I see?
      Or do I believe him when he says he is innocent?
      He is a game player and manipulator. I truly believe that his goal is to confuse the heck out of me for his own amusement. He has a history of this kind of behavior. His siblings have told me similar bait and attack situations from their adolescent years. And one of his coworkers once told me that “he is good at pretending.”
      I choose to believe the overwhelming evidence and my screaming gut.

      • This was a response to Wormfree2017, regarding her cheater’s comment ” I wanted to catch you not trusting me.”
        Mine has never been that blunt about it, but has intentionally created doubt in me and then ridiculed me for doubting.

      • I am in the same position as you. I could give yrs of examples but I can never quite catch him. It’s getting harder and harder to keep trying. He may do some of it to create fights so he can say I am being crazy again. These fights usually lead to him leaving; sometimes overnight. I end up home with the kids…a worrying wreck. When next I see him he acts indignant not sorry. Many new demands and excuses follow. He NEVER admits to a truth unless caught red handed in a lie. Then he is sorry n depressed. He told me recently he could never do anything to hurt me.
        We were fishing recently…a new serious hobby of his…and out of the blue he said, “Have an affair and fall in love…It’s the American way, right?” I replied “it’s not my way”…He said nothing. I can’t seem to get those haunting words out of my head and you know he knows it. More bread crumbs delivered from the rooster himself!

        • Darkstar,
          I hope you find a way out of this relationship. Like mine, it is not healthy. I think when we have been with this kind of person for so long, we assume that it is normal. But it is not normal, and it is not acceptable.
          No one should live in constant confusion and uncertainty about her spouse. It is a sick control game for them. When you have the clear-enough perspective to see that (and this blog will help you gain that perspective), you can stop playing that game with him and trust yourself again. And make healthy changes, which might include divorcing a manipulator.
          This blog has been such an eye opener for me, and probably for you now, too. Take care of yourself and keep reading here. You deserve so much better.

  • This is great advice!

    The first few months that I knew about my wife’s affair, I did try to crack every deceptive but and FIND THE TRUTH!

    (At the time, I thought the affair was only emotional, but I’ve since received confirmation otherwise.)

    But after I stopped trying to figure it out, and stopped being echaused by it, I began to focus back on me!

    Look, I still hate the lies more than the cheating. But in my “wife wants an open marriage, and won’t let it go” situation, even talking it through with her assuming she was being honest led me to accepting I’d have to leave her. (And then, to confirm that I wasn’t crazy in this conclusion, I spied again for he first time in months…and got all of the confirmation I needed.)

    It was very hard for me to let go of my need for the truth. I value facts. But once I put more energy toward myself and less toward sleuthing, I realized what needed to happen.

    The search for truth is the game cheaters want you to play. They know you can never truly win, and they can keep it going indefinitely.

    • The search for truth is the game cheaters want you to play. They know you can never truly win, and they can keep it going indefinitely.

      ^ This.

  • There is a reason I named myself TIRED CHUMP…………………….. I not only followed the breadcrumbs, I became an FBI-level detective to gather more and more proof of the affair, which is ridiculous because for most of us, A LITTLE PROOF SHOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!

    ……………………I think we need a new cartoon of a chump untangling the cheater’s skein of fucked-upness — while simultaneously trying to follow the cheaters breadcrumbs…..it would show a cheater so disoriented that she/he doesn’t realize “meh” and a great life are literally a few steps away!

    • TiredChump, count me in the tired legion. I have a friend who asked me early on,”what more do you need to know?” And although I agreed with her I still was a detective for a long time. With every new proof my friend would chime in “Do you need more before you make the decision?” I would say “no” to her but also chase my own tail and it just never stopped. Until it did. When I finally accepted. It takes time. I don’t look for a proof anymore. I am on the way to filing. But I still have this hopeless hope that I can’t even logically define anymore. Chasing the unicorn. Maybe, just maybe..my situation is different and he would finally get it and turn around.

      Then I laugh at myself….

      • Longtime, I too had those feelings of hopeless hope. It helped that I realized that my heart could still love the cheater narc and wish there was some miraculous way to work the mess out, while my head knew very well who he was and that there was no miracle coming. I just followed my head, ’til my heart caught up. It took a while, but No Contact really is what speeds that up!

  • I have a question chump lady & chumps. I know I am an outsider, but I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil. Not a common occurrence. The subject was infidelity. Sarah Symonds was co starring. What I don’t understand is how can people listen to this woman without thinking this lady is full of sh**! Her target audience is people that have some vested interest. Either the mistress that wants to justify her destruction, the mistress that wants the husband for herself, or the wife that wants to thwart the mistress. Silence regarding the one person who called her on her crap. Chump lady. While the affair partner has the information necessary to make a choice knowing their life may be derailed while the chump most likely does not have the information necessary to make an informed choice. Maybe I am just being reactive to the perpetual crap hitting my chump.

    • There are plenty of people out there profiting from the drama caused by cheating. Here, the focus is on removing the chump from the drama so he or she can find perspective, support and a road back to self-determination. It’s not reality TV, so it takes more than a half hour. But so does most everything else worth doing. Welcome, A Survivor.

  • One of the best decisions I made was to talk to people. Tell them my story. I would go over everything often asking, “Who says that?”, “why would someone do…”

    At first, they listened and validated, then one by one, I got some feedback “If I asked you the same thing what would you be thinking?” Type stuff. Then finally I asked someone, “what do you think” about some really cruel shit that was said to an innocuous question. She answered, “what you are telling me is not normal, it is not acceptable and I think your wife is incapable of being a good person.”
    Did it bring me Meh? It’s not possible right now because of my situation but it fucking really helped.

  • Thank you,ChumpLady! Just what I needed. Until I found you a few months ago, I was in that bread crumb chasing mode going through all those motions that you have so perfectly described. I did not even realise that I was living with this constant obssessive chatter in my mind imagining my husband cheating on me and me catching him in different circumstances for about 6 years! All this time (and 6 earlier years) he has been doing exactly that but I just could not face the reality. That is, I did not bring myself down to the level of a spy (how could I! He would never do it!) Until I actually did snoop into his phone and my obssessive compulsive chatter all of a sudden started making sense. And the best thing is that it stopped! I now live with the pain of a betrayal but my mind is clear. I recall I used to describe my chatter to the cheater and voice my fears and he would always brush it off shifting the focus onto me and my “insecurities of a 40plus year old woman in a midlife crisis”. He then would advise me to take care of myself, concentrate on my job and on our son and stop thinking bullshit and bothering him with those “stupid suspicions”. He had “better things to do than to answer my obssessive compulsive mind which was creating stupid stories while he was innocently and busily carrying on with his own life”

    It’s so good to realise that nothing was wrong with me. In fact, my mind was giving me all the hints but I instead of trusting it, I chose to run after the bread crumbs. ZzzzzzzZzzzzz!

    Thank you!

  • After reading everyone’s post I’m thinking I might have got off easy. No breadcrumbs here! He just walked , blamed me AND the children for his one off fling ( although found out through small town gossip it was an affair with co worker 19 yrs his Jnr – still with and they are getting married 6 months after AP became public) although that’s traumatic enough when your not worth even trying for ??

    • Freewill, of course that sucks. But your new replacement part now has to worry that there will be a co worker 20 years his junior, or 21 years, and so on. She’s already accepted his bad behavior, and he’ll expect her to go on doing that while he continues shopping for the next best thing. Trust that he sucks and you are fortunate that he didn’t “try” to convince you to see that sort of crap as normal.

  • I am very good friends with a neighbor of mine for nearly twenty years. She has been married for nearly 23 years. Last year, she caught him in an affair…a TWO YEAR long affair. Oh, he’s sorry, oh, he loves her… and she has cried on my shoulder many, many times….He travels extensively for business, and it is my guess that the infidelity has been going on through nearly their entire marriage. I told her she should leave him, but she insists that she can’t because she “loves” him, he really “loves” her….not sure how you “love” someone you don’t respect, but I digress…and you know, the kids lives would end if they divorce… also not true, but you get the picture. One, is it really true that 75% of spouses that are cheated on stay in the marriage, and two, how do I provide her with emotional support knowing there will be a next time?

    • Tough one, QueenB, can you tell her to read CL? Tell her there will be a next time, this is just the tip of this iceberg and you will be there for her? I’ve read these stats often, people stay together after affairs, but does anyone look beyond the 5 year survival rate? In the meantime tell her to change her life insurance, EPA, next of kin, put half the money in her own account, get a job, get all the paperwork, talk to a lawyer, protect herself, get STD testing, etc. Just focus on the practicalities since she is unable to face the emotions (understandable, we’ve all been there).

  • Seriously. I am so sick of the lies and half truths and righteous indignation and bullshit. We mediated. He needs to sign. He’s back peddling. It’s so frustrating and I’m freaking exhausted. He is a masterful liar. I am very glad I controlled the truth. Once I knew there was no reconciling. I told people all the awful crap he pulled. Not gossip. Close friends and family. They know the guy without the mask. Trust that he sucks.

  • When I was in my dense fog days one of the hardest thing for me to get through was how he held me up on a pedestal for a very long time to sheer hatred in his face to me. Things he once thought wser so funny and laughed and smiled about were now met with aggravation and disgust. I can still see his face. Sickening!

    This post goes to supposed family and friends too who lie and hope for you to believe them or even if you don’t, as long as you keep quiet, that’s good enough for them. Been there too.

  • Most True. Best. Article. Ever. Thank you for putting into words all the things I’m still trying to figure out.

  • The breadcrumbs were scattered everywhere….i felt i was going insane, someone once passed me in the street and told me to “cheer up” my mind couldnt seem to come out of this daze of knowing my gut was telling me there was more to this. it. Then I found out he had been lying for 3 months, depression…not ready for commitment ( together for 4 years, married for 18 months), stress, all those excuses for moving into his Dads bedroom , he asked me to remain as his wife and help him through his “depression”. I stupidly did but once he came home ( he told me he was now ready to return and that i was the love ofhis life ) the breadcrumbs were everywhere. The day ( 2 weeks after he moved back) i found him at the Gym with the OW at that was the last day i saw or heard from him. He never came home that day and its now 2 months later. Nothing said to me, just gone. I have made no contact but the worst thing is I felt I had no closure, no argument, no goodbye, just a man i spent 4 years with had gone. How can they be that heartless. And the next morning he had joined 4 hookup sights, thats so confusing for me. Why would he do that if he had his new OW…..Shouldn’t care to be honest. Anyway filed for divorce and moving on. Happy days to come …..

    • The man is only in love with thy self – that’s why.

      Never did CL’s tagline rings more true – Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.

  • I need to figure out how to get my chump here without driving him away. Thanks survivor. Confronting the problem without him running for cover has been quite the balancing act. I think Arnold and Nomar would be great for him.

  • I’m in the middle of the Divorce trial so need to be brief. Douche testified yesterday — major lies revealed. First thing he said: he’s been living with gold digging whore this entire time! Since before he left our home, since before we went on wreconciliation trips together, 20 months of daily (hourly!) lies that he had stopped seeing OW and wanted another chance with me. Thank God for CL/CN that helped me insist on real evidence of intent to commit– he refuses to give it (post nup,long term IC…) people…. liars lie and cheaters cheat! There are NO unicorns!

  • Tracy, I love you! Thank you for helping me crawl out of the hole and save myself.

    The Clip and The Muse, I love you! Thank you for being there in my early days of WTF!

    Tempest, I love you! Thank you for always being there!

    KAR! I love you. You got this!

    Arnold…glad you are back dude! Missed you bein here!

    Chump Nation, WE ARE MIGHTY! Wow! This shit is HARD…no doubt! But we all forget that we were doin the heavy lifting the whole freakin time!

    http://www.lifehack.org/521663/once-you-learn-these-8-hard-truths-about-life-youll-become-much-stronger

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