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Dear Chump Lady, My heart hasn’t caught up to my divorce

Hi Chump Lady,

I’m 37. I was married to my ex for 6 years, and dated her for a total of 10 years. D day #1 was 2 years ago, when she moved out to “work on herself” and then proceed to see her ex-boyfriend multiple times behind my back. She claimed that they never got physical. Somehow, I was able to over looked that (I know I had really poor boundaries) and was really happy when she moved back. Needless to say, I pick me danced for the next few years, while she continued to talk/text him behind my back. We even went to see counseling (her idea) because we weren’t getting along. I do feel that a big reason was because she was not fully emotionally invested. Of course, she claims that it was because of me. (She kept saying that I was emotionally stunted). Earlier last year, she rented an apartment again, but never actually spent any time there. I wasn’t happy, but said nothing to keep the peace. Looking back, I was a doormat.

Fast forward to D day #2 five months ago. She had met some another guy, fell in love with him, talked to him for hours behind my back and hid everything from me for a couple months. I found the phone record, confronted her, and she was not sorry. She moved out, said ILYBNILWY, then asked for a month to decide. I finally saw the light and filed, at which point she proposed the “open marriage” to which I said no. I started reading your book, your blog, and I see that I was in a toxic relationship and everything became clearer. Divorcing her was the only logical option, so I pushed it through with the help of a good lawyer and a palatable property settlement.

The problem, of course, is my heart. We have been divorced for 2 months, and I have been in completely NC with her except for financial matters. She tried to meet me a couple times, but I denied her the opportunity. The problem is, after the initial period of relief and happiness, I’m starting to really miss her! I don’t want her back as a partner, but I miss her the way somebody would miss a cute toddler that they have been taking care of for years. I obviously want an equal loving partner that I can build a family with, but the longing for this cute toddler is growing, not subsiding. Please don’t worry, I’m not getting back with her. But is this normal? And does this mean that I’m doomed to pick a bad partner in the future because I like taking care of another person too much???

I am trying to transfer this energy/attention to myself. I’ve picked up cycling and karate (I lift weights regularly already). I’m getting back into electronics and fish keeping. Work is going well. I hang out with friends, I go to meetups, and when I’m not doing those things, I try to get comfortable being alone. Yet the longing to love somebody, to care for somebody, has only grown. I don’t have a problem with self esteem that I know of. Is there something wrong with me????

I know it’s too early for me to date….so….

what can I do to feel better and move on from this failed marriage? And more importantly what can I do to pick a better partner next ime?

Thanks so much for your time!

PS. Funny fact, she said I was a narcissist, and that I over-reacted to her affair with a divorce because of a narcissistic injury.


Dear Dan,

Your last D-Day was 5 months ago and your divorce was 2 months ago. And you’ve been mindfucked for 16 years. Give it some time, dude. It takes awhile to heal.

Let’s take that P.S. first — total projection. Her actions say she wanted cake (which is totally narcissistic). You accommodated cake with the pick me dance for YEARS (which is totally chumpy). You’re not a narcissist, you just need to un-chump. The condition is totally curable. Her? Not so much.

I’m starting to really miss her! I don’t want her back as a partner, but I miss her the way somebody would miss a cute toddler that they have been taking care of for years.

Dan, you’re a guy who wants an equal, loving partner to raise a family with. You are a stock that trades VERY HIGHLY. Never forget this. I’m sure there are a gazillion women who would fit the bill. Your ex is not one of them. You don’t miss her, you miss the idea of her. You miss the future that she represented, the life you thought you were going to have. I’m sure your ex had a few fine qualities — which are utterly eclipsed by her cheating, deception, and disrespect of you.

Pouty little cute face? ILYBNILWY. Those great Sunday brunches?  She had met some another guy, fell in love with him, talked to him for hours behind my back and hid everything from me for a couple months. Sex? She moved out to “work on herself” and then proceed to see her ex-boyfriend multiple times behind my back.

Get the picture? Nothing here to miss. She’s a cheater. Move on!

Someday you’ll have an actual toddler to take care of. They’re kind of cute in chaotic, sticky-fingered, shrieking sort of way. But these aren’t qualities you want in a partner. Equal partners take care of themselves and they don’t poop behind the sofa.

It’s okay to want to take care of someone. But caretaking should be RECIPROCAL. You have value beyond being of use to someone. You’ll need to learn to TAKE and be taken care of too. And you should expect a fully operational, responsible adult as a partner. NOT a toddler. Explore that dynamic before you get involved again. Check out all those codependency books.

I obviously want an equal loving partner that I can build a family with, but the longing for this cute toddler is growing, not subsiding. Please don’t worry, I’m not getting back with her. But is this normal? And does this mean that I’m doomed to pick a bad partner in the future because I like taking care of another person too much???

It’s normal to miss what you thought you had. Stay no contact. It subsides. Focus on building a new life. The more you do that, the less attractive the dysfunctional old life will appear. But what good is a new life if you invite all the old crap dynamics back into it?

I like taking care of another person too much is spackle for “I make my needs really small.” In fact, I make them invisible and have no boundaries, and will pick me dance endlessly to demonstrate my value to a jerk because I don’t believe in my own intrinsic value first.

Ouch. I know. I was this person once too. All of us chumps were. It’s okay to bond, it’s not okay to sublimate yourself and accept abuse. Real love never asks you to humiliate yourself.

When you figure out the difference (read! stick around here! get some shrinkage!), then you’ll be ready for release into the big, dating world, where I suspect you’ll be snarfed up immediately. Just wait and make sure it’s someone worthy of you.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I’d add “I like taking care of people too much” is also another way of saying you like to control people, in a codependent kinda manipulative way. We don’t control other people. Just ourselves. But the good news is when you learn to assert yourself and value your own needs, the urge to control other people with jujitso decency and guilt and being useful subsides.

      • Uh, I don’t mean it’s wrong to take care of people. But question your motives. Are you trying to get them to do something that maybe they should be doing anyway (love you, pay attention, pick up their dirty socks, etc.)

        Be direct. See the scary thing for chumps is, we’re afraid if we’re direct that we’ll get rejected outright. Good information to have. You’ll be okay.

        • ‘See the scary thing for chumps is, we’re afraid if we’re direct that we’ll get rejected outright.”
          That’s me in a nutshell, Tracy! It took until finding your site to learn that.
          But once, near the end, the traitor looked at me coldly and said “You’re co-dependent”. He knew all along and used it.
          Dan, they know what they are and they know who you are and how the dynamics work long before we suspect anything.

    • Thank you Chumplady for your answer! On a Tuesday!!!! Which is great omen.

      I’m starting to realize how nice it is to satisfy my needs and wants and not having to constantly sublimate myself for her. I lost myself to a large extent in that relationship without realizing it. I will never do that again! As far as being controlling by taking care of others, that is something I will need to think about for a while because it is not making sense to me yet. I would prefer that I didn’t have to take care of my ex, but she was asking for help with everything (and did next to nothing around the house)! I guess I should have said no 🙂

      • Hmmmm
        I’m wishing that ‘control others by taking care of them’ didn’t make quite SO much sense to me.
        I think I like you better calling them out Chump Lady not me!!! (Kidding. It’s all good).

        • ‘control others by taking care of them’

          Is this me? Do us chumps (because of the nature of Narc’s – or is it our co-dependancy) have ‘control’ or ‘need to fix others’ issues? This really worries me….

          • I think chumps, who are prone to self-reflection, should be wary of too-soon thinking that our ‘care-taking’ was control (in the same way that I think the “co-dependent” label should not be applied to everyone who stayed in a toxic situation). Are there instances where trying to take care of someone is because you want some control over them? Yes; I myself have a friend whose caretaking sometimes feels motivated by the person’s desire to be more than a friend.

            But sometimes caretaking is motivated by a profound ability to empathize and connect with other people, which means some of us want to make that person happy. It’s a leap to say that we want to control them by loving them and wanting to do nice things for them (which sometimes includes caretaking & picking up the slack).

            I know some chumps do self-identify as co-dependent, but I really chafe at the application of that term to everyone who kept working at a troubled marriage, or tolerated emotional abuse for the sake of keeping a family together.

            Perhaps an analogy is Fluoride–it’s a heavy metal and thus toxic. But a little bit prevents cavities. Excessive need to caretake may be toxic and possibly motivated by a desire to control the other person, but wanting to take care of people we love is a good thing (even if we sometimes engage in it for longer than is healthy).

            • control others by taking care of them” For me, I take care of everybody by making sure they are happy. I reflexively monitor everyone’s mood and jump on the first signs of unhappiness. What can I do to smooth things over for them? What did I say? What did I do? What didn’t I do? What should I have done? Oh God! What do you need to be happy?!

              Chumps are a narcissist’s wet dream. They just push us a tiny bit and we’ll cave to the pressure of taking care of their happiness. My narcissist cheater wife would use the cover of public places to start picking at me about how I dress myself. She knew I wouldn’t dare violate the social norms and would simply acquiesce. As long as she remained calm and happy everything was good. I could control her.

              Same thing socializing with groups of friends… She knew I couldn’t pick back at her when she started analyzing my flaws with her friends. If I say anything about her, the whole group would get uncomfortable. So I just laughed with them, quietly excused myself, and found a seat by myself at the bar. I feel relief because I averted a social faux paux disaster and everyone remained jovial. Again, I was in control of their happiness.

              It’s not like I don’t feel discomfort being the scapegoat; I do. But I get even more anxious feeling I’ve somehow upset someone else (perceived or real) around me.

            • I hate that term. It doesn’t give much room for people who are truly reciprocal and not controlling. It doesn’t give any room for those who, over time, ended up holding everything together before realizing that is what the relationship had devolved to. When you start out with a reciprocal relationship and the person you are with slowly changes their interaction you might not notice for a long time that you are doing too much and not getting much in return. It can take a while before you end up taking care of shit without realizing how far it’s devolved. In that situation, being told you are ‘codependent’ is pretty demoralizing and as far as I’m concerned mostly bullshit when you are with a manipulative abuser.

              • I wonder if it other people we are trying to control, or just the chaos around us. I’d say a lot of chumps have anxious temperaments, desperately want to feel safe and are doing all the heavy lifting to be in “control” of their surroundings to feel safe. That can still be too controlling for some people, of course, but I doubt we are trying to control our partners as such.

            • Tempest, I might be confused. I thought codependents care-take in an attempt to control the actions of a partner/parent that are out of control. In other words, the codependent is trying to control the uncontrollable. Maybe that isn’t completely correct. I’ve also read that codependency is more of a reaction to a relationship problem than an intrinsic personality trait. Is that your understanding as well?

              • Lyn: I looked up co-dependency to make sure I had it right (since I’m not a clinician), and this is what I found, “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.”

                As an example, I worked in a drug rehab center many years ago for a woman whose husband had been an alcoholic for many years. They had adopted two children together, and she had worked, paid the bills, covered for his addiction, for many years. The woman described herself as “co-dependent.” A strong argument can be made that she should have left him, but given that they had children together, was it “codependent” to pay the bills to make sure the electricity stayed on? that they didn’t have to worry about the house being foreclosed on? Should she have made sure her alcoholic husband was arrested once or twice to add legal bills to her problems? I saw the opposite of “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.” She took control of the finances & the family and was a pillar of strength.

                I suppose one could argue that she “excessively reliant” on her partner because she stayed and tried to get him into recovery (successfully in the end), at her own expense. But I don’t believe trying to fix a situation, especially when children are involved, is “co-dependent.” People have complex motives for many things, and labeling the person pulling their weight as “pathological” strikes me as a poor policy decision for psychologists, and as blaming the victim. (The “co-dependency” label for spouses of those with so-called sex addiction is even more galling, since their behaviors are typically conducted in private, whereas it’s tough not to know someone came home stinking drunk.)

              • Tempest, in the old days, this woman would have been called a saint by people around her, now she would be labelled by some as co-dependent. If all the caretakers in the world stopped, life would become a lot harder for the vulnerable.

        • Morse.
          It’s fine! We chumps are ok. It’s a boundary thing. There is a difference between caretaking (not so healthy) and caregiving (healthy). Caretaking is taking care of others when you take on their feelings and needs and misery as your own. So caretaking would be trying to fix a problem for someone as soon as you saw they were struggling. Caregiving would be to wait for them to ask for help or ask them ‘what are you going to do about that?’
          Its totally a habit and fixable. Any codependency book/website has loads of help (ask me how I know!). ❤

          • This!
            This distinction is so important to understand! I think that is something that may affect all our relationships, not just with the WS. I have been thinking about this on my relationship to my son. I think sometimes my instinct is really to take care of things for him whenever I sense (or imagine) the slightest struggle. I have realized that this is because I was actually not being able to stand back and wait for him to deal with it. It is as if I did not trust him. Now I am making a conscious effort to change that just assure him that I am around and if he needs he just need to ask.

            • This. Years ago, I was at a plantation with friends celebrating the Fourth of July. The young son decided that it would be fun to catch a big alligator on his fishing pole. He asked his dad for permission and the dad said, ” Sure son”. The 16 year old son caught the alligator and then, after rejoicing over catching it, he asked his dad what he should do with it? He dad responded, ” I don’t know son. You should have thought about that before you decided to catch it”. Responsibility. Boundaries.

          • I also think that it’s not healthy when the chump’s own needs are made so small and marginal that they are no longer priorities for the chump or within the family. Or when chumps pick up the adult slack while the cheater plays. I agree that working at a marriage is not “codependency.” Here’s a definition from the internet (for thought): “It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.” I don’t see a whole lot of difference between waiting for a drinker to get sober and stay that way (enabling along the way) and waiting for a serial cheater to stop for good and feel some remorse. It’s still a relationship that is unbalanced and based on neither party working on their own individual development so that the “healthy, mutually satisfying relationship” is possible.

            Tempest, you are far smarter than I am about these things, given your academic credentials and experience. I’m writing, though, from the inside, so to speak. I’m not sure “codependency” is the right word. But chumps are almost always carrying the relationship and the family while the cheater unplugs and eats cake here and cake there.

      • Dan, you are describing my brother’s story except your ex took a little more time to stomp on you. I think the reason he got over her so quickly is became he realized that he had been a single father for years. His wife was one of those that just left. He went through grief pretty quickly and got royally pissed. She had been absent for years. It was the old frog in the boiling water story. Each day she just moved veeeerrrrryyy slowly out of being a wife and mother and nobody noticed…..until she left. No one likes to feel like they are worthless and she did that to a good man and some precious children. He got busy going out with friends, dating and getting sole custody of his kids. Nobody knew where she was and he quickly stopped giving a shit. You will too.

        • I’m sorry to hear that happening to your brother and his kids(and to you as well). I must admit that life has gotten easier around the house, once I got comfortable being alone. It turned out I had been doing all the chores myself . All the bills, mortgage, insurances, taxes, yard work, car maintenance, shopping etc… My ex never cooked or cleaned or did the laundry (we have a weekly cleaning lady who does our laundry and we ate out a lot). So yeah, it’s actually gotten a little easier, as now I don’t have to put out any fire or walk around on egg shells. Even my house plants are doing better. It’s crazy but true.

            • That’s funny about the house plants!! My beautiful red frangipani hasn’t flowered since my divorce and I have this magical thinking that it’s because I still have more progress to make. Strangely, all the cuttings I have given others are doing just fine.

              • Try replacing half the soil with fresh soil. It sounds like there’s a mineral or nutrient imbalance in the plant’s pot.

          • Dan you’re doing amazing focusing on taking care of yourself and doing the things you enjoy. My children and I just moved into our own apartment as our house had to be sold (my soon-to-be-ex found it hard to pay the bills on his new life plan that no longer includes me – but seems to be affording the younger woman no problem). I haven’t made it to that point yet – doing things I enjoy and taking care of myself. I did manage to stop crying this afternoon. And my orchid is about to bloom again after months of being dormant. So maybe that is a good sign. Enjoy not walking on eggshells anymore. I know that is a perk I am thankful for every day! I’m glad some things have gotten a little easier for you. I’m not quite 4 months past the day the bomb went off. Some things get easier, and then I find myself slipping backwards again. But one day at a time and one foot in front of the other. The hardest part is over, right?!

            • Dumped_chump my heart goes out to you and your children. The plant knows. When the energy is good, it grows and blooms. The hardest part is over, and you and your children will do great!

              • Thank you! And thanks for reminding me about my plants that I’d been neglecting since our move. Sometimes it really is the small things that can help pick us up and spur us on. I hope you find more peace with each day that passes. It’s so basic and central to our human spirit to want to have someone to love, and to be loved in return. I think you are heading in the right direction, and in time that empty space will diminish.

      • In my own experience, I came to understand that the “controlling” part of codependency in me wasn’t so much that I wanted to control other people like narcissists and cheaters want to do, but I wanted to control their perception of me as this helpful person. To me that was what love was, making myself indispensible to someone so they would love me and wouldn’t leave me. I thought that was all I was worth. And you know what? That doesn’t work anyway, because it entirely suppresses a huge part of you (the part that has needs, too). I was not setting out to manipulate anyone, but I realized it was manipulative because there was an implicit bargain in that kind of relationship (“I’ll take care of you, you’ll love me and appreciate me and stay with me, and in exchange I won’t have any needs at all”). If it wasn’t manipulative, we could have all just talked about it directly.

        Painfully, sometimes even when we finally identify our needs and ask for them to be met, sometimes people say no! That happened to me recently when I asked for a commitment from a nice guy I was seeing. He said no, but at least he gave a choice in the matter (instead of what my cheater did, which was just lie to my face and do whatever he wanted to behind my back). So I had to put my big girl pants on and leave this relationship, because my needs were NOT getting met, and damnit, I do have needs! I need commitment! I need communication! I need to be called your girlfriend in view of everyone! So that’s growth. Me a few years ago would have just made my needs smaller to keep him around. Now, I love and value myself *first*. Even though, believe me, I’m currently sad af and miss that commitmentphobe. But I know I did the right thing, and I can respect myself.

        Take some time, Dan. You’re doing all the right things. You’ll get there!

        • K, your example makes a lot of sense to me. I think caretaking in order to be view as a “nice person” and expecting something in return is indeed manipulative and controlling. I don’t think I have done this consciously, but maybe I need to rethink why I put up with things “just to keep the peace”. Like, I’ll do the housework myself rather than make her do it because I’d rather not argue about it. Making my needs smaller to keep peace instead of asserting my boundaries like that is NOT something I plan on doing in future relationships.

          • This is getting really interesting. Do we chumps want to be seen as nice people because we are not sure we really are nice? Do we do all this caretaking to confirm our niceness to ourselves and demonstrate it to the world, but maybe deep down we are not so sure? If we were sure, we wouldn’t worry about perceptions, would we? I don’t know. I’ve done what you are all describing all my life; been the nice one, the competent one, the caretaker and the cheque book. I have abandonment issues and shame, I know that. But when I read all the above, I wonder, am I sure I am nice? Do I “self sacrifice” to prove it to myself? To stay on the straight and narrow? With all the revenge fantasies I’ve had, maybe there is a demon lurking under all this.
            Just throwing the questions out there.

            • Just remembered I was like that even as a really small kid in kindy and primary school. Helping other kids, settling disputes ( I remember instances when I was 4 years old!), doing other kids’ homework just because they asked. Trying to please everyone back then. I wanted them to like me so much.

              • kiwichump – I think you are right! This has really triggered something for me. I’ve now bought and read (I like to devour books) ‘Codependence for Dummies’ ummmmm

                Tempest, K and Cap – Suspect I might be a ‘Caretaker’ – certainly in my marriage (late husband BiPolar) and most recent relationship – Ex a Narc for sure.

                Think we could look at this more closely in the forums.

                Dan – It just takes time – and time and thought will also fix your picker – you sound like a sweetie and quite a catch!

        • Even though it’s written in a book, I steadfastly refuse to believe that the vast amount of helping and charity that goes on in relationships, or the world for that matter, is due to people seeking “control” over those they are helping. If helping other people is now seen as a taint on the helper, someone please just shoot me. Not a world in which I want to live.

          • I agree. Helping others should be something all human beings view as the price of admission. Not for purposes of control, not because one is weak, but because it is the moral thing to do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the altruistic impulse. I believe where we chumps run into trouble is when we make our own needs unimportant to the ones we love. By not expressing our own wants and needs, we find ourselves being treated with disrespect.

            Now, think about Nazi Germany. Many, many ordinary folks undertook extraordinary sacrifices, including the loss to their own lives, to help their fellow human beings escape the horrors of the death camps. Were these heroes merely seeking to control others? Was their help a sign of some type of weakness? Hell, no, these people were seeking to fight evil in the best way they knew how. That is a far cry from helping others out of a need to feel loved.

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to help others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting other’s needs ahead of our own. What we chumps must avoid, though, is allowing people, who claim to love us, to take advantage of us simply because we do not think we have the right to insist on being treated with love and respect.

            I personally despise the whole “co-dependent” label because it seems to me to be a part of the blame the victim mentality. It becomes the chump’s fault that they desire to be needed. I prefer to believe that our goal should be to insist on the right to demand reciprocity in our personal relationship, while also understanding that the need to help others is a noble characteristic, not a sign of weakness or disfunction.

            • Right there with Tempest and violet. My desire to do things for STBX had nothing to do with control and everything to do with loving him and wanting him to be happy. It wasn’t about me MAKING him happy or controlling anything other than me trying to be the best wife I could. Maybe I’m just too chumpy but isn’t that part of being in a relationship? Doing things for the person you love? To show them you care and help make their life happier?

            • Well that IMO might be going a bit too far. The word ‘control’ seems to be a bit triggery obviously. I put my hand up to being codependent and controlling ‘sort of’ in that I can see and admit to and not feel ashamed of caretaking a lot to avoid seeing any one else suffer painful feelings. I think it’s not trying to ‘control’ others so much as ‘control’ bad feelings that start to arise IN US when others around us are unhappy. It’s a boundary thing. I had no proper sense when I used to see unhappiness in others that it wasn’t my problem to help solve. This is not to say that taking care of people when they are unhappy is s bad thing. As with anything it’s a question of degree. If caregiving becomes EXCESSIVE then it’s better seen as caretaking. It’s NOT about controlling others again it’s about our own feelings. I used to be much worse than now. I used to be very very unhappy at the slightest sign of misery or frustration or anger in my kids. I would take on their emotional state like it was my own. I used to not be able to tolerate such uncomfortable feelings in myself or in others. So I would try to sort them out and help the boys too soon. And too much. I wasn’t letting them learn how to tolerate their own uncomfortable feelings. Luckily I had someone around who didn’t and whose children were much more resourceful and less prone to anxiety than mine so I did a lot of thinking and research and changing my style. I am still not ‘there’ but I wait now if my kids are in uncomfortable places and see if they can manage. I put up a boundary. I still tend to be over involved with them but we have had many conversations about this.
              With my STBX I knew I was the same way but did not see the consequences might be that he never developed his own resources to manage and chose to cheat. Not as a consequence of my caring style, his pattern of dealing with emotional stuff or not dealing with it was set in stone before we met as we married at 30 but I can see I was useful to him. The dynamic of him not really being able to ‘feel’ emotions very well and me being his added on ‘exceptional emotion feeler’ as it were.
              So it’s not me being ‘controlling’ of others in the usual way so we can all relax and stand down. It’s just that we do more than our fair share because we have a low tolerance for the perceived sufferings of others and the key is -the degree to which your own emotional world or practical life is affected. If not so much then fine. But if other people’s unhappiness impacts and impairs your own life then it’s time to do a bit or readjustment.
              This is how I have worked with the concept of codependency. Am I officially codependent ? Who knows! But I do find it useful to look at my emotional boundaries and I found mine weak.
              My mother was punitive if in a bad mood. I had to be highly sensitive to her moods to survive. I lost touch with how I felt. It has made me a great therapist but I have had to learn to put up proper strong emotional boundaries so that I don’t come a cropper when facing all my clients unhappiness.
              Just because chumps take regular care of their families is not controlling but each one of us will recognise in the above if we might be vulnerable and can sort that out. It’s awareness and practising new ways.
              Hope this helps.

            • I think it can go either way. Does the helping “help” or does it prevent the other person from experiencing consequences for bad and destructive behavior? I know a man who drive a neighbor for rehab counseling every day. That’s helping. Then there are people who lie to the spouse’s boss, hide the drinking from the kids and other relatives, and go on a daily booze run. That’s enabling. With addiction, the bottom line is an active drinker/addict is “not available for a relationship” because the primary relationship is with the bottle or the drug. So at the very least, the “helping” spouse or partner needs to know that there will be no help and support and love coming from the other direction, until the person has at least begun recovery. It’s complicated. My own criteria: does the helping prevent either party from taking care of their own needs in a healthy way? Whose responsibility is it? And can a helping hand provide a base for recovery and independence?

      • @Dan I could’ve written your letter. I know exactly how you feel. I’m going through the same motions. We have two kids together so it makes it all the more difficult. He is also now for the last few months since the last court date trying to make this all my fault because I filed and ended the family (not his multiple affairs, etc). I’m doing all the things as you are and trying to keep myself busy, meeting new people online mostly. Instinctively I know this takes time. The last court date was in December and we still have another to go to finalize the divorce. I can always trust chump nation to make me realize I’m not alone.

  • “Funny fact, she said I was a narcissist, and that I over-reacted to her affair with a divorce because of a narcissistic injury.”

    Yeah… no. Double homicide is overreacting. Divorce is pretty proportionate.

    • Yeah, if I had a nickel for every time a serial cheater diagnosed a chump’s supposed emotional pathology as the root cause of marital problems. . . .

        • If I had a nickel for every time, Ex told me that some personality flaw was his reason for cheating, I could fund the retirement of everyone on this board! The “root cause” tha Nomar cites is just part of the overall blame-the-victim game that goes on with Switzerland friends, frenemies, the Wreckonciliation Complex, incompetent therapists, etc., etc., etc. The whole cliche of “If you were a good spouse, or if you weren’t a nag, fridgid, (fill in flaw here) they wouldn’t go looking elsewhere”.

          Yeah, tell me how you feel about that once you are on the receiving end of infidelity.

      • Nomar, may I be so bold as to add, “or transferred their own shortcomings on to the chump as a rationalization to cheat and steal?”

        Contrary to what other people think of me, in X’s mind, I was a calculating, frigid, acerbic, alcoholic. Strange though;

        I wasn’t the one who moved out of our shared bed FOR THE REST OF OUR MARRIAGE after making a cutting insult about my crying wife’s growing belly when she was eight months pregnant with our first son and she had the gall to ask to be held. And then laugh.

        I wasn’t the one who took the week off from work to build a basement mancave when my wife delivered our first child. And got mad at my wife that time she didn’t gush over my photos when I popped in to the hospital for 30 minutes TOPS each day to show photos of the soffit or homemade bar I was building while she was recuperating from a c-section and learning how to breastfeed.

        I wasn’t the one who back to work the day his wife and son got home from the hospital. And never once got up to take care of any of the babies she delivered by c-section in the middle of the night. Because after all, “You’re the one who thinks he needs the boob.”

        I wasn’t the one who moved down to the basement to sleep on an old pull out sofa next to my homemade bar – the one I dumpster dived behind the 99 in the middle of the night for expensive, empty liquor bottles to fill with cheap hootch to impress my neighbors when I would invite them over for parties and then let my wife know.

        Very strange, indeed.

        While I was raising our family, X lived in the basement within an arm’s reach of his beloved booze and his computer loaded with porn site tabs. Still, the attorneys still heard his alternative facts in a deposition. Both attorneys found him despicable and unbelievable, and when I defended myself, his own attorney told him IN THE DEPOSITION that he shouldn’t have made such accusations.

        Still, even on his way out the door, he still managed to effectively cast aspersions on me. It took me years to realize he lives in a world where he is king and I am – and always was – his enemy.

        When I tell you I have absolutely zero regrets in divorcing him, it is the understatement of the century. My biggest regret is that I never knew my own worth until his cheating made it crystal clear.

        • “It took me years to realize he lives in a world where he is king and I am – and always was – his enemy.

          When I tell you I have absolutely zero regrets in divorcing him, it is the understatement of the century. My biggest regret is that I never knew my own worth until his cheating made it crystal clear.”

          These words really resonate with me!!! Beautifully said!!

        • My STBX was sending money (probably still is) to a Nigerian scam artist who would refer to him as “My King”, he referred to the scam artist as “My Queen”. Wish I was making this shit up.

        • CandL,

          Your ex is a monster. And, yes, they project so much garbage onto us, mental and emotional issues being only a part. And being chumps, we think, “There must be something to all these allegations against me.” It’s as if, waking each morning, you’re told that you went sleep-walking in the night and wrecked havoc on the house. You don’t remember it, but there’s a shattered vase on the dining room floor. Your spouse tells you that it was you. And though you don’t recall it, there’s no other story being told of how the vase came to be smashed. And it happens every night, so you start to believe. And it’s soul crushing.

          The only upside is that, if a chump can escape the false narrative, the self they rediscover is usually so much more competent, independent, and lovable than the chump ever thought.

    • My painful encounter 5 years ago with a 64 year old man who deceived me as being available and single, revealed only that he was divorced from a “narcissist”. Of course I knew the term, but not what it REALLY meant. It was, in fact, what he was as I read and studied and learned, in a very serious and intensive many years study. Although I am a layman, I am well-versed in NPD, (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Your ex-wife is classic, incurable, sans some minor miracle, and will continue to hurt many more as she goes through life. Your feeling of longing is part of the entire experience of having loved a narcissist, because the heart is separate from the brain, the heart overrules our logic when our emotion is in charge. That man was a serial cheater, as I learned, and had destroyed many lives, hurt many people. One classic symptom your ex-wife has shown is the piggy-backing-the narcissist CANNOT be alone. They will always be with someone, while looking for the next source of supply, to use, when the present relationship falls apart. You can see this, her pattern already, with you, and another simultaneously, and the other man and simultaneously a second other man. It may take years, but at some point you will see your healing when you logically see the ridiculousness if her life. You are a valuable stock as Chump Lady has written.

      • Very, very true about their complete incapacity for solitude. Cheater boy actually texted me a constant stream of self-pity as he moved into and started living part-time in his bachelor pad. (Rest of the time living in very, very nice shack-up house with the slut.) Also many pathetic texts about having nobody to talk to, and nobody to hang out with in the months since. Plus, I kid you not, seeking bonus kindles from both me and the kids for, according to him, the fact that slut has “not once” entered the bachelor pad. Bitch, no. No extra credit for treating the mistress like shit, too. Sheesh.

        • Im getting emails that vacillate between mild threats and anger to Im sorry ‘ I caused you pain but you handled it the wrong way’ yahoo showed that before I even opened it. Couldn’t bare to read it so binned it. Others I’m fit and strong and happy. Umm yeah noticed when you stalked me at the beach with the kids you had clearly been at the gym. Me I’m busy shedding weight and vomiting in the shower every morning.
          Another piece of gold was trying to get me to go into telco company with him, reply to all zero.
          ‘Maybe in a year we can both get along like adults’
          In my head maybe in a year I wont give a crap and have a super hot b f who treats me right. In the mean time your mind fuckery gets crickets and tundra. Expect a letter from mediation regarding seeing the kids as it failed epically sunday when you wanted them to visit but I couldn’t have your address. This is me trying to ‘always have things my way’ whateva.

          • Sorry to reply to my own post.
            Latest antics from douchebag.
            He has seen legal aid and honestly thinks his expenses are more than mine.
            Ok yeah I’m paying a 500$ a week mortgage and have to kids to feed. I get $285 a week child support and have a fairly well paid part time job which is on the rocks atm.
            Whateva I have seen a real lawyer who said pursuing anything in regards to house and contents is futile, no equity in home anyways as it was purchased 1.5 years ago.
            I have been paying it since Nov.
            In the next breathe oh maybe we can be friends in a year.
            Go do whateva you want I’m not replying to this garbage.
            I’m way smarter and there is no way under the sun that he is going to pull the house from over us. What a flat out entitled fucker. Poor him all the way. Me no fucking reply. Gloves on mother fucker.

  • Dan:

    Your X is a gold-digging whore.

    Dude, you must go 100 percentage full no-contact.

    You are ready to date casually – don’t catch a disease, don’t make babies, don’t sign any contracts together and Bob’s your uncle.

    I fucking hate the fuck out of your cumdumpster X for you until you can hate her yourself.

    Bro – you got this!

    • Thanks Dubious for the righteous anger, as I’m preparing the marital home (which I paid everything for including the mortgage) to put on the market so she can take half. Arghhhh!!!! I get so pissed off thinking about how much I gave to her (and continue to give now due to legalities)!!!! The loss of money hurts, but the loss of years of my life spent on this woman is so much worse!

      • Yes, Dan…..It is a sick thing to go thru. {{{HUGS}}}
        My court date is coming up next week. After 36 years of identifying myself as wife of cheaterpants, it hurts like the dickens! (and we have already been separated for 4 years) So I totally get what you are saying
        Your feelings are soooo very normal….For us genuine people, that is. We do not have an on / off switch on our hearts, thank goodness!
        You are grieving & grieving is different for everyone. I agree it is best to stay away from dating for now.
        The difference is what we do with these emotions, these longings……You are very aware of the dangers involved and that is so important.

        If you have not already, check out selfcarehaven / Shahida Arabi. You may find some tools & info there to help with this stage of the grieving. I am currently reading her newest book “POWER”. I urge all Chumps to check it out.

        Gotta go now & live some cheater-free life!

        Love all of CN as we all ForgeOn!

        • The worst part, Dan and Forge On is when they take that half that you were forced to give them, at an inflated price (that *&&^%$ judge better not step in front of my car on a bad day) and then they in less than three years. Meanwhile, you’re eating ramen, putting the kid’s summer camp on credit cards and praying that the transmission won’t blow. Righteous anger indeed.

      • Dan, Yes it is normal to miss someone that you bonded with and loved. Shows that you were vested in your marriage.

        I am years out and I once felt what you are feeling now. I also got ILYBINILWY. Which is why, when cheaters say this, it’s worthless. Because they don’t even know what they are saying. They can’t differentiate shallow shiny love vs. a deeper love.

        The pivotal point for me was once I realized that there was no possible way that I would ever have the deeper love that I so desired with her. Not because of me, but because of her. She wasn’t capable. She swims in shallow waters. This is who she is. She will always seek happiness in others (shiny others!) and not seek happiness within herself. Sucks to be selfish whore but not my monkey anymore.

        • “I realized that there was no possible way that I would ever have the deeper love that I so desired with her. Not because of me, but because of her. She wasn’t capable. She swims in shallow waters. This is who she is. She will always seek happiness in others (shiny others!) and not seek happiness within herself.”

          Words of wisdom, my good man. Words of wisdom. Muchas gracias.

        • Wow that’s exactly what a couple of close friends told me about my ex after hearing about the divorce. One told me that my ex wasn’t whole, and there was nothing I could do to “fix” her even if I tried, and the other told me that my ex wasn’t capable of loving me deeply, but that she probably tried during our marriage. I think that is in line with what’re youre saying SureChumpedALot.

      • Dan I totally get this part. I had to pay my cheater ex a fortune. He spent the 15 years of our marriage barely employed while I worked my ass off. So in a addition to being cheated on we take a financial hit, really rubs salt in the wounds. I tried to look at it as the cost to get out knowing I would recover financially and he would be broke again in a few years. Staying married to him would have cost me a lot more in the long run both emotionally and financially. Write the money off, look forward, you are mighty!!!!

        • So true Beachgirl, me alike. However one looks at the loss, there is going to be a loss. By accepting this, it will allow you to mitigate your loss without further to do. It’s merely the cost of have married (or breeding) with a fuckwit.

          • Yeah a lot of my friends are incredulous that I have to pay her to go away even though it’s her cheating, so I have to explain to them that the court doesn’t care. I keep telling myself that “divorce is expensive because it’s worth it”

  • Missing what you never had but thought you had is tough. Just.Don’t.Think.About.It… Go clean the floorboards behind the toilet or some other nasty job to get her out of your head. And sorry you’re in this boat but welcome aboard…..

  • You seem to be doing so much so well, Dan! Don’t forget to recognize how important your steps forward are.

    The one suggestion I have for you, based on all the activities and concerns in your letter, is that you look for an opportunity to be a leader. Perhaps instead of going cycling or attending meet-ups it would help to take a position where you are recruiting people for a new cycling group and beginners newbies how to succeed or starting a meet-up that does an activity you enjoy. Putting yourself into a position where showing up is not enough–where people are dependent on you to set the times, book the room, organize the supplies, welcome the newcomers, help others make connections etc. might give you an outlet for your care-taking impulses without diving too deeply into the dating pool yet. If the idea appeals to you, set a short goal–an 8 week project with a clear goal (6 weekend rides or 6 hikes in local parks)-and reassess after that period. If it is fulfilling, keep with it. If it is not, you’ve met your obligation, and you can drop that experiment and try something else.

    But most of all, be patient with yourself. You are doing so many things well. Trust us when we tell you that 3 years from now you’ll be horrified at the fact that your EX still had appeal for you in February 2017!

    • That’s stellar advice. I think it’s spot-on for Dan and plan to use it for myself, as well…struggling with some similar emotions right now. Thanks muchly!

  • Grief hurts. I know that is an obvious statement, but it is important because it is all too common to just try to do something to avoid the pain without letting yourself go through it and reach the other side of it.

    Grief hurts and you can’t avoid it and remain functional and healthy. You can’t 100% mire yourself in distractions and also heal. Balance will be important here.

    Staying no contact will be critical, so you are very wise there. Listening to her (probably new agey, sounds like…) BS will just set you back to square one.

    Aside from that, keep doing the other things you are doing for your health, but maybe, if you aren’t already, try to set aside brief pieces of time to let yourself feel like shit. Pop the edge of the lid of the pressure cooker and let the emotional pressure off. We don’t always have to like it, but the truth is that the only way through grief is to go through it.

    You might not feel super comfortable with those emotions. Believe it or not, you can set a timer (seriously, like, 15 minutes), let yourself think and feel it, then get up when the timer goes off and wash your face and do something else. I was skeptical, but I did actually find it both possible and helpful to do this right after the split.

    Two months is a very short time from a grief perspective. There are so many little “anniversaries” in a close relationship. The first year after the loss is steeped in reminders of both bad times and good times. It seems long, but compared to the length of the amazing life you will create for yourself, it is really quite short.

    If you do decide to “date”, just remember to honor the other person by being honest. If you are looking for an emotional thing, remember that if you are still missing your ex a lot, it really isn’t fair to infer to the new person that you are totally in to her, because at that point, it’s not true. If you’re just looking for some sexual connection, say so from the beginning. Women don’t always understand how the oxytocin bond will affect them, so just be clear from the start and you won’t get caught up in distraction drama. That would be going backwards.

    Take care. We’ll be here.

    • Thanks amiisfree. I cried a lot during the first few months, especially after work when I was alone in the empty house. I think that allowing myself to cry, leaning on my family and friends, and time and space from has helped a lot. I no longer have the urge to cry so I guess I’ve made progress. I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship yet, so only casual hangouts. I trust that with time i will feel more whole and hopefully a relationship will magically happen ?

      • Dan–may I suggest making new friends first and foremost (rather than concentrating on casual hangouts)? Any hint of romantic possibilities will be fraught with underlying expectations and judgments, which may make your emotional state better, not worse. You need to experience the warmth of other people, and to have the pain you implicitly came to expect from time with your STBX replaced with the realization that people can be kind. Friendship will give you that; dating–probably not.

      • Dan – you were a really young guy, not far out from high school, when you hooked up with this disordered nutjob. I know what it’s like to feel like all your 20s and 30s were “wasted” on a lying, cheating, douchebag. I lived it as well, only MY journey with a disorderd freak started at 16 years old. I had just turned 39 when I finally caught the serial cheat, and at that point the “waste” included my late teen years, as well. Yes, nothing can get us through, over, or under the grief. You have to walk through the stages of grief and yes, IT SUCKS.


        Consider the amazing gift that you’ve been given. I didn’t see it for at least a year out. The gift is that you’ve only known adulthood being tethered to that fool, so you doubt your feelings and identity in this life on your own. But life un-tethered is actually REALLY awesome. You only need to honor yourself with proper time to transition into both feeling and believing it.

        My divorce was finalized 15 months after Dday, and it’s been 2 years since. I can honestly tell you that yes, there will be days when you grieve that IDEA of forever and growing old with that person who promised you their life, and especially when you see all the people with their +1s, but dude! When you have those feelings creep in, remember that you finally have your life and sanity back, and there is no one in your own home lying through their whore mouth to you on a daily basis. Plus, all those coupled-up people have their own issues and disorder to deal with, as no relationship is perfect, so don’t envy them.

        As you move through this, you’ll learn the difference between solitude and loneliness, and it sounds like you are not lonely at all. The love, support and now protection of family and friends is gold; I have that, as well. We are certainly not lonely. Solitude (and sanity) is a choice through this. If you jump too soon because you’ve confused solitude with loneliness you risk welcoming insanity and disorder back into your life. For what? A warm body next to you? Just rescue a pet and you’re guaranteed the loyalty and genuine love that we all want. Human love and loyalty can come later after LOTS of self-care.

        I do hope you’re considering or in counseling. I still go, and I’m at a point where I feel mighty and am involved in life, community and family like never before. You’ll get there, but honor yourself with time to heal properly. If you disrupt that process too soon you can become emotionally stuck at the point where your grief was sidelined. It’ll eventually come out sideways with any new partner. Respect the process, and you’ll be even more amazing of a partner/boyfriend/spouse than ever before.

        Good luck and stick with Chump Nation and Tracy. I’m sorry you’re here, but I’m so glad you found us, and that you’re not wasting anymore years on someone unworthy of your love. =)

        • Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind and wise advice. I am planning on going through this process the same way you have. I’m not afraid to be alone.

  • Dan… I empathize with what you’re going through. My divorce was just final after two years. He’s had two “relationships” already and I haven’t even been on a date. Yet, like you, I’ve got a great job. I’m active socially and am the sane parent. I have money in the bank an no debt (except for my mortgage). I’m datable, but I know I’m not ready… and it is easy to think you miss THEM. I just use CL’s analogy in her book about the barbed wire monkeys. I refuse to love a barbed wire monkey… all pain no gain.

    Stay no contact. It does get better. You’ll heal, but being a pathological lying cheating whore is forever for her. (And her p.s. was just projection. You’re teflon. You got out. Rock on.

  • These sparkly serial cheaters who provide just enough intermittent reinforcement to keep us invested, but never enough to keep us happy, or even content, should be viewed as an addiction. The most common time for relapse is 3-7ish months after you’ve quit a drug. That is what you are going through–withdrawal from the positive effects of the relationship (without the memories of how horrible the hangovers were).

    To cure your selective memory, carry around copies of emails, texts from whorezilla, write down notes of all the crappy, manipulative things she said & did and read them EVERY DAY. Three times minimum. Chumps are used to thinking the best of people and we need reminders that people have injured us greatly. Carry those notes around even after you get so angry that you know there is no chance you will ever go back to her (because odd days will crop up when you need the reminders).

    • I second this method, Tempest. I needed the reminders. I swear it was because they were so good at throwing dirt over their crap like a dog. I smelled it, I stepped in it, walk it through the house on the bottom of my shoe and they would swear it was not theirs.

        • Just read my five page reminder or what cheater pants did to me. He can appear SO NORMAL! So charming. But yet he sucks. Big Time.

    • Tempest, thank you! It was then the 7th month of relapse after 12 years of intermittent reinforcement that got me into the wreckonciliation mode last summer. Bad idea. I wonder if I had found the CL and CN at the time, would I have succumbed? It’s what I regret the most- that I bent backwards again and full-heartedly accepted his idea to ‘save the family”. 2 months of efforts was too much work for the cheater so he went back to his normal.

      I have been feeling this “miss him” lately and I just went and re-read yesterday our email communication that happened right after the 2 wonderful summer months. Total devalue and discard. Absolutely blunt about how he does not care and I should bend backwards “if I want to be part of his peaceful and drama-free life”. Hahaha! Totally drama free. I think he himself lost control of his multiple empty relationships.

      Re-reading what they said helps. It hurts a lot, but it helps to put things into perspective. It helped me realize that I CANNOT miss this cruelty. That whatever nice and fine qualities he has or whatever good times we shared or my tremendous desire to secure an intact family for our child – none of these can survive his cruelty, his calculated deceit, his gas-lighting and manipulation. Yes I miss somebody. But I definitely know it’s NOT who I know exists today. Thank you for putting this into words. I will watch the 3-7 month period after DDay 2. Or 3? Lost count. Anyway, something in December.

  • No contact is key. The more time that passes that I don’t speak to him the more fucked up I realize it was. I don’t miss the toddler at all – toddlers are adorable until they stomp their feet and scream as you run carrying them from the store acting like you are murdering them as the squirm in your arms.

    Hey doormat let’s try an “open marriage” as in I will screw whoever I like and STILL have my faithful loving husband at home that would be so awesome!!! What’s that doormat? You said No? Toddler stamps feet and then throws herself to the floor saying “why” over and over again with ugly cry face with tears and snot running down her face. You catch my drift – this to shall pass Dan.

    You will find someone who is mutually deserving of your love who is a grown ass women who wants the same things you do. It’s still so new and we chumps always miss what we thought we had but it was just an illusion or should I say delusion that creeps up on us chumps time to time during our recovery. You are going to gain a much better life!

    • Yes to the toddler deal, though most toddlers are way more highly evolved emotionally than a cheater. This is exactly why I call mine “cheater boy.” The world might have been hoodwinked into seeing successful businessman, but I know better. Little boy emotions all the way.

      • I whole heartedly agree with you and I actually like toddlers – cheaters not so much. LOL!! Cheaters are emotionally stunted forever – sparkly turds they are, but us chumps know the truth!

    • I never understand the “open marriage” thing, anyway. That would only work (IMO) if two narcs were married to each other. Chumps tend to fall in love, I think — we make attachments that override the physical.

      The only open marriages where I’ve ever personally known the people, one partner inevitably fell in love with their fuckbuddy and the marriage dissolved. It’s like open marriage is for cheaters who are too lazy and cowardly to sneak around and/or completely sever their marriage without having DEFINITELY found someone else first.

      (Also, XH was so bad in bed, I’d’ve been tempted to leave him for any guy that took his socks off, if you know what I mean.)

      • They are not really offering an open marriage. It would open in theory, but they know the chump wouldn’t act on it. But every time the chump complains or cries they would say it’s an open marriage and chump is allowed to do the same. It’s a smoke screen.

      • Yeah what is it with the whole open marriage thing? My STBX tried that one on me several times after the ILYBIJN “Passionate about” Y (his own variation on that theme) speech. That was foolish of him, however, because that was one of the few boundaries that I was not willing to cross even when I was in full “pick me” and “lets save our marriage” mode. That is part of what eventually led me to pick the divorce option because I didn’t want to end up in an open marriage by default. I told STBX that I did not want a marriage that was just on paper.

        • They want an open marriage a la Karl Marx or Arnold Schwartzenegger, they have the wife and the maid, except the wife is the maid, and the mistress is having all the good times…
          As a parlour game, as your friends “What do Karl and Arnie have in common?” Exploitation of the proletariat and the wife…

        • My take on the “open marriage” theme is that it’s open for the cheater, but *not* for the chump. They want you home doing the adulting like child care and bill paying, not out chasing your own schmoopie. Besides, in their own warped minds, they think they are so wonderful that they are not only enough for you, but too much so they have to spread the wonderfulness around. Uh, no, not really.

          • I agree. And I can’t help but wonder if I started texting XH that *I* wouldn’t be home that night because I was shacking up with Fuckbuddy, how HE would like it. Probably not for very long. And, as someone above said, then why even have a marriage at all?

            • Also also, these things are usually decided in advance and are mutual rather than being lobbed at the chumped partner once it’s already happening.

      • Cheaters want an open marriage because money. I have known a couple of people who were poly and they did fine. It actually takes more trust and honesty to do that kind of relationship than a mono one. I did try this long, long ago and found I am wired for mono relationships no matter how open minded I am. Different strokes. Tolerance. But dammit I hate that cheaters make open relationships less than due to their duplicity in suggesting it. Exasshole wanted to keep his friend but I assure you he was not ‘open’ to me being open. I agree with others, this is a ploy and if you said YES and then fucked someone the cheater would go nuts.

  • I agree with Dubious (above). You haven’t had time to find your righteous anger yet. It took me a good 7 to 8 months before I started to really get pissed that my xw stole 30 years of my life. I was used. Everyone saw it but me. The anger opened my eyes to how bad she really was. It will definitely help you move on. And don’t worry about it, it doesn’t last forever. Just long enough to make her a bad memory. Good luck, you’ve got this!

    • Marked, it’s horrid, I know, but I always find it comforting to know that others were also chumped on a very long-term basis. The sense of having been robbed of many, many years that could have been much better spent is the special twist of the knife that we are left with. Really hard. I’m always glad to know that others who have experienced this version of hell have emerged whole and healed. Seems impossible, some days, but taking it moment-by-moment.

    • Im sorry Marked711 that you lost so many years to your ex. I feel the same way. Better late than never to live an authentic life. I like Chumplady’s line of thinking, though, that you bought you A game, that you were genuine, that you loved with your whole heart. So what if your ex didn’t? You did! I find that thinking always make me feel better. I can even look at my stupid grinning face in my wedding photo and feel proud!

      • I’m in complete agreement. I know I am able to love completely. She puts on a good show, but is empty inside. Took me almost two years to get over the anger, but right now I’m at meh. It’s a true state of mind that you will achieve too. Life is better than it ever was with her. And I have two wonderful girls that get all my love. The 30 years want a total loss. 🙂 Give yourself a lot of time. My therapist said 1 year for every 6 together (rule of thumb).I’ve got three more to go. 🙂

      • Awwwww. This! I was present. Loving. And brought my A game. Thing is, with the disordered you always feel a bit off, like there is something wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it. You work hard, right?!?! Lol. The “love” ex had for me never grew and I felt that. Daily. When Dday arrived I realized that the fairy tale I wanted was never going to happen with someone who was/is incapable of love.

        • Yup. I always feel a bit off with her. She was often unhappy about something even though everything was going well. I should have listened to my gut instincts. It just didn’t make any sense to me at the time and I chose to spackle over it.

      • I agree. You can accept that you can no longer be with your ex without completely demonizing them and feeling every moment spent with them was horrible. I think that’s part of getting to ‘meh’. I still have several fond memories of the good early years with my ex, and I will continue to enjoy those memories unapologetically.

        The emotional whiplash going from being deeply in love with someone, and then hating them because they cheated is exhausting. Finding that middle ground, rejection of who they are now with acceptance of who you thought they were, is the long term goal. Eleven years past my divorce (today), I’m mostly there, but still working on it.


  • You sound like you’ve not only got a good heart, but a good head on your shoulders as well. Recognizing your feelings, all the shit your ex has put you through and that you want to be happy and ultimately rid of her are huge steps. So props for that alone.

    The codependent piece is big, but I also think sometimes us chumps can mistake loneliness for missing the person who’s caused it. My situation was so toxic, and I was so full of rage, hurt and hate that I didn’t miss that son of a bitch as soon as he walked out the door because I knew in my head and heart that kicking him out was right. But that first night alone rambling around my house after the kids went to bed went on forever.

    I find it’s the overall loss that’s hard. Friends of the Switzerland persuasion, that companionship that was there so often in at least a physical sense, or single parent problems like, “Honey, I know you’re tired. Wy don’t you go to bed and I’ll put the laundry in the dryer?”

    But if I look back on those occasions, how often did I have to beg for them? Look at how hard you had to dance for the crumbs she threw your way? I think sometimes we get so sad and overwhelmed about not only having to refashion and reshape an entirely unpredictable future, but also because of the relationship/marriage we deserved or thought we had that the glossing over can continue long after we’ve been discarded.

    Speaking of single parent problems, I have to run. But you’re doing well and don’t feel ashamed or sad about your feelings. Humans are social animals, and the hurt goes so deep when someone mascarading as a human does to us what your wife did to you. Date, make friends, do what you love, and it will all get better in time.

    • Cakeless
      The absolute genuiness and authenticity that allowed me to feel safe here at CL and trust what was being said by other chumps is all in that one phrase “Honey, I know you’re tired. Why don’t you go to bed and I’ll put the laundry in the dryer?”
      This is exactly it. ❤

  • Dan, I know it feels like you need to be healed and moving on, but you’ve gotta slow down. You’ve only been divorced for 2 months.

    The “need” you feel to take care of another person is, frankly, still tied to your feelings about your ex. Yes, a man can feel the need to take care of someone else. But first there has to be a period BETWEEN your old need to take care of your ex, and your new need to take care of someone else.

    And in that period in between, you take care of yourself, and you stop feeling that need to care for someone else. It sounds like you’re great about getting out and trying new things, so I think you’re on the right track.

    My story is somewhat similar to your own (same age, similar circumstances — my ex also “requested” an open marriage retroactively to find a way to make her cheating okay). And I totally sympathize the feeling you have. When I got divorced, I missed being part of a couple. I missed domestic life, sharing responsibilities, caring, building something with someone else.

    But I now see that I was just grieving my marriage.

    It’s normal to want to be with someone else and want to share a life. But, for better and for worse, we have to start back at the beginning. And that “beginning” means being a single person, focusing on ourselves, and letting time pass. A lot more time than 2 months.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t date again. I dated a bit when I was ready, and I got into a long-term relationship while I was still healing. It didn’t turn out right due to a variety of factors. But it did teach me that I, in fact, didn’t miss being in a relationship as much as I had thought. As time went by, and our issues became apparent, I increasingly saw that I was putting “togetherness” on a pedestal.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Feelings change over time. It’s hard to see in the moment, but a year from now you will likely look back and see how much your feelings have changed.

    • Thanks JC. I don’t plan on dating again in the sense of going out an looking for a partner. In fact I never had. My past relationships just kinda happened organically. I hope that can happen again this time, and if it didn’t I would be ok being alone.

  • Tracy said “Real love never asks you to humiliate yourself”. Wow, Tracy…. thanks for that. It seems so simple, yet its actually really profound and perfectly summarizes what so much of us have experienced. Thank you Tracy,

    And Dan, I’m so sorry for your suffering. I think the Chumps nailed it when they say you miss what you THINK you had or what you wanted. I think you should re-direct that longing to finding someone else.

    Of course you want to be with someone, most people do. And at 37 you are not even old like a lot of us here…. time is on your side.

    Its great you are doing well at work and involved in activities. You should try going out on some dates, I bet you are a swell guy. Its fun and distracting and you might meet someone cool. Even if you dont , you get to meet new people and that is always fun.

  • This post really hit home for me. I’ve been churning through actions my ex did throughout our marriage, questioning it, wondering when his love faded. And it doesn’t help. It really doesn’t. I also miss what I thought I had, but I would never take him back. I’m three months post divorce, so I have a feeling this is normal. Hang in there, it’ll get better. For both of us.

    And try not to dwell on it. You’re plenty busy, but maybe go out on a date or two, like Doubious suggested. And be open that you’re not ready for a committed relationship. I wish I could find a few guys in my area like that. I’m sure there are women who’d love to date you casually.

    • “I’ve been churning through actions my ex did throughout our marriage, questioning it, wondering when his love faded. And it doesn’t help. It really doesn’t.”

      God, CDL, me, too. It’s not a conscious thing for me, not these many years later (it’s been almost three years now since Dday), but, like a shipwreck, every once in a while, something pops up to the surface and I feel the need to check it out in case THAT’S where the “treasure” (the Why) is. As if it will lend any peace of mind. It does not. Ever. Just more unanswered/unanswerable questions. As my therapist said, “Sometimes horseshit is just horseshit.”

      • Why is all a joke. I love to watch The First 48 and they always want a motive for murder. The answer to why is that person acted like an asshole. That’s why. I’ve asked my STBC why 2,000 times since d-day and he’s even in therapy all on his own trying to figure out WTF happened and he literally has NO ANSWER. There is no answer. Because I felt like it. Because I was stupid and got caught up in the fantasy. Because I felt bad about myself and didn’t have the coping methods or the self awareness to realize that my chump wasn’t the problem. Because I like weird sex. Because I’m a manipulative see you next Tuesday. There isn’t ONE answer. And if you get that ONE answer it will never satisfy you because it will NEVER be enough of an answer to justify how much they hurt you. Why is just something there will never be an answer to. (Believe me this is NOT coming from a real legitimate healthy place because I’m an absolute shit show, just offering my opinion.) When I went on a tirade this week (I should be trying harder at NC but I’m still weak and stupid) I asked STBX why why WHY?! And he even said when he looks back at what was going on when it all happened it’s like a weird blurry nightmare and he can barely even believe it all happened. And when he tries now to think about how or why he can’t even come up with an answer about what was even the idea/mentality/attraction to any of it. Probably because he’s suffering the consequences now, too bad he didn’t fucking think of it before!

        • You are not weak or stupid. It’s written on my fridge as a constant reminder: “Demonize yourself less.” (Also, I love that my therapist knows me well enough to know that “Do not Demonize yourself!” was never an option, so we’re aiming for “less.”)

      • Oh, I know! I know why! (Jumping up and down, hand raised!)

        Cheating happens because these people don’t know that happiness is something you find within yourself.

        They are deeply unhappy, although you may not see that at first, being mesmerized by their charm and charisma. At one point he looked to YOU to make him happy, and you did for a while.

        Mine stayed with me for 31 years until, at age 55, he found an affair partner who made him feel young and virile and attractive and godlike again. Now that I understand the paradigm, I know it’s just a matter of time before he realizes she doesn’t make him happy either. Because what these pathetic excuses for humans can’t do is find it within themselves. And since they can’t do that, they will never be happy. They will always be looking, fruitlessly, outside themselves.

        I have to think that we are the lucky ones. We are normal!

        Good luck Dan!

        • I believe this too. Crap people will always need new, or shiny, or __________. Ex actually could not stand real life, things like holidays, time with family, a pregnant wife, or vacations. Not okay.

        • I 100% agree that’s the deep rooted reason but it’s still not good enough. Everyone has shit they have to deal with and “unhappiness” doesn’t give you the right to destroy other human beings lives.

  • Dan……there are times I miss my wife and my marriage too. But those moments are gradually getting farther and fewer between. I see her and feel sorry for her and want to help her. But you know what, whenever I start falling into these feelings, I just remember these things:

    1) She ran around with her OM for several years behind my back;
    2) She mapped out with her friends how to divorce me and get the OM to divorce his wife;
    3) She paraded that asshole around in front of our friends, our kids, his wife, and my family for years;
    4) As a part of her divorce plan, she hid money away while leaving me to pay all of our bills (and hers);
    5) She still hangs out with this asshole.

    Now she’s sad because OM won’t leave his wife for her (surprise) and she now has no chance of ever being promoted at work (that happens when everyone in your office knows you’re having an affair with another married COW). And like a sucker, I still feel bad for her.

    But Dan, all I can say is just take a moment to look at your spouse’s actions, look at how she actually treated you, and the things she actually did. And that’s just the stuff you know about, there’s plenty more that went on that you have no idea about. All I need to do when I’m falling into that trap of missing her, is remember that the things I listed above actually happened, and it’s like taking part in the ice bucket challenge. And then BAM!, I’m wide awake and seeing things clearly. No more mushy feelings, no more nostalgia – and then you can start looking forward to your future instead of backwards to your past.

    • Blindside – thats good advice and I’m glad you’re moving on without her. Acceptance hurts but gives perspective. Also Time helps and thats something Dan needs.

    • Thank you Blindside for your advice. I will keep her deplorable actions and not her words (or good memories) in my mind.

  • Dan, there are undoubtedly hundreds of Lady Chumps reading this post thinking, “If only I could find a guy like Dan.” 🙂

    You are on the right path: reading CL, getting the support of CN, and allowing the rest of us Chumpies to help you escape the mindfuck and shitstorm of your cheater.

    You may be getting lonelier, and I think that’s normal the longer you’re single. But you are NOT getting lonelier for the past, you’re eager to start a new future! You’re wise to give it some more time. Be mighty and WHOLE before you jump back into a relationship. Because two halves might make a whole, but a truly great relationship is when two WHOLE people come together and aren’t needy to be “completed.”

    For what it’s worth, here’s a great blog post on choosing someone who is Worthy and Fit, from a favorite writer of mine. It was just published today and seems incredibly fitting for you!

    Hang in there, Dan. You are mighty!!!

    • I hope I can find a man like Dan. ? His letter makes me so hopeful that there are men out there who are not cheaters/liars.

      • There are lots of men who aren’t cheaters. Plenty of them are here. Plenty more out there, looking for a nice woman. If your picker is repaired, you’ll find one. I was lucky enough to find a great woman right after my divorce, and we’ve been together nearly a decade.

        Good luck. Peace.

  • This sounds a whole lot like what happened to me with the ex-boyfriend and all except you relationship was much longer and cheater seems more educated on psychology. Calling you a narcissist seems like a pre-emptive strike. I actually spoke to Dr. Simon about why someone would go backwards. His response was that they never truly parted ways with their demons.

    In retrospect I felt more like a parent as well, with her being the toddler. And yes, even though my head saw her for who she really was, my heart missed her. Later I realize I missed who I thought she was, not actual her. That will pass with NC. You’ll just have to sit it out and let the poison run its course. If you have to chase after someone to make sure they behave, that’s a dud dude and it’s not taking care of a person. It’s policing them.

    Maybe you’re like me and wanted rescue her or thought if you loved her just the right way she’ll come around and be a decent person. That sounds so stupid now. I’m embarrassed for even admitting that but if that’s your thing you need to work on yourself or your picker will never get better. Don’t date someone for their potential. Date them for who they are.

    • “Don’t date someone for their potential. Date them for who they are.”

      Excellent advice. We chumps are good at projecting our values onto these cheaters.

      • I remember CL had a post on being addicted to a project, a doer-upper. It must be in the archives but I can’t remember where. Great read.

        • I am soooo a project and fixer upper type of person. I love to sit and look at a spot in the yard or in the house and start visualising what it could be. I always think I can do it myself. I never thought of the connection to trying to fix my STBX.

          • I wish I could remember which CL post this was. It was really eye opening for me. Just trawl through all the archives, it’s worth reading everything anyway.

          • That is an amazing observation! That is me!! Also I never made that connection but i was always focussed on the ‘hanging in there’ principle on the basis of being resourcful enough to fix him. Its the mind set that needs to change …

  • My 21st wedding anniversary is this coming Friday…well what would have been. Our divorce was also final two months ago. In the days leading up to and right after the divorce, I literally thought I was going to loose my fucking mind. I was torturing myself with the thoughts of the way things were “supposed to be” rather that facing the cold hard facts of the way things were, and that for 21 years, he was a lying, cheating, manipulative, sorry son-of-a-bitch. He had already moved on to yet another woman prior to me even filing for the divorce and tried to tell me that he’d gotten lonely “after” I had filed & that’s when he started seeing her. Wrong, mother fucker…you introduced your whore to our 19 year old son, who friended her on FB a few weeks before I filed. I’ve gotten really good at keeping what I know to myself, so don’t think I didn’t notice THAT.

    I started seeing a therapist a couple of weeks post divorce. Best money spent EVER. Upon his recommendation I started keeping a journal. I’m amazed at the things I go back & read that I don’t even remember writing. I went and got a new tattoo…an anklet with a Celtic symbol charm. The meaning of the symbol is “New Beginnings”. I am so proud of it!!!

    I went NC as much as possible. He unfriended me from FB the day of the divorce, but I took it a step further and blocked him and all of his close family & friends and changed my privacy settings to my friends only. At one point he had one of his co-workers send me a friend request…I guess he thinks I’m stupid. He would contact me with things regarding the divorce settlement & remarkably he would know things that I had posted that only my friends would know about. Turns out, my son was informing him of my every move/post/article shared…EVERYTHING including the fact that I had been on several dates. He even told me “it didn’t take you too long to move on after our divorce”. Ha, this coming from the man who told me right after the divorce was final that I was going to end up an old maid, all alone just like my mother. I bet it shocked the shit right out of him that other men are actually interested in me and that I’m not sitting at home getting wine drunk & feeling sorry for myself crying over his sorry ass. I will say that my son & I now have a new understanding that he is to keep his damn mouth shut to his dad regarding me & my business. There are SEVERAL things that I continue to pay for him while he’s in college that his dad cannot help him with (thanks to my child support settlement LOL) and he’s aware that all of that help will come to a grinding halt should he continue to spy on me. Needless to say, I am very careful about what I reveal around my son. He did tell his dad that I got a new tattoo. The last phone call my ex made to me about selling our house, he mentioned my tattoo & how he’d like to see it & how he bets it looks really good on me. Yes, it does, asshole & you ain’t getting a peek.

    Don’t get me wrong…I haven’t reached MEH yet, but I’m a helluva lot closer that I was prior to starting therapy and finding CL. The community here is strong & supportive & helpful & humorous & I’m glad I found it!

    Continue NC, stay mad…let it fuel you to move on to a better life. Breathe & take one day at a time…

    • You moved on quickly after the divorce. Well you moved in quickly while we were STILL MARRIED MOTHERFUCKER! What is wrong with them?! ???

      • That’s exactly what I told him. I really think his ego was hurt that I could actually have a life after him…MOTHERFUCKER is correct 🙂

    • Brandib, I’ve read before what your 19 year old son is doing and it’s disgusting. I think if you haven’t told him all you know yet, you should. And if he knows, and he is spying on you, I would close my purse real tight…

      • Yes Ma’am, it is disgusting. My son lived all of this for 18 years…ENCOURAGED me to get the divorce TWICE before he went to college.

        Here’s the thing…during WRECKONCILLIATION, it was decided that my son would go live with my ex MIL while he attended junior college. After I found out that my ex had been lying to me, yet again, during this time, I begged my son to make other arrangements. I offered to pay for his gas back & forth to school (we lived an hour away). ANYTHING but go live with her. My ex talked him into it. He moved in the weekend after I filed the divorce (of course, I didn’t say a word about filing because the papers hadn’t been served yet).

        SO, since September, he has been under the influence of my ex & all of my ex’s family. My ex MIL is a pathological liar…you literally have to pick & choose what you think is the truth in any & everything that comes out of her mouth. They have poisoned him with lies about me & it’s ok, I know the truth & deep down he does as well. They are buying him alcohol & pretty much letting him do what he wants to do. He never failed anything in high school while he was under my roof. I know that because of his partying, he has failed at least one test. He’s a grown man now & making choices that aren’t very smart…just like his dad. There are consequences for these choices & I have a feeling it’s going to make a huge fall before he comes to his senses. Call it tough love, call it whatever, but I’ve had to wash my hands of it because it’s out of my control. I have a 16 year old daughter under my care who sees what’s going on & she’s just as upset over it as I am. She even says that as long as he’s with them, he’s going to end up just like my ex…a shitty person.

        He doesn’t come home very often at all, but when he does, I make sure that things, especially anything financial or personal is put away. It sucks, but I’m protecting myself & my daughter.

        • Brandib, I hope he has a hard fall very soon otherwise they’ll have more time to corrupt him. It is sad to see that often young people can be co-opted with these bribes for so long that they lose their character. I hope that doesn’t happen with him. Your daughter is smarter than that, thank goodness.

          • I agree with all of the above. We used to get compliments all of the time about what a fine young man he was. Now, I hear stories of people running into him and then they ask me if he’s ok because he’s not the same person as what he was when he lived at home. Yes, my daughter is very intuitive. She sees the corruption that is taking place.

  • Dan — don’t worry, missing her is normal. Your mind still has to get unwired from the far-too-rosy perceptions you had. It will take time, but one day, you’ll wake up and realize how little you miss being treated like crap.

    Speaking of…don’t worry, you’ll find someone who will love you like you deserve. As for now, even though it’s hard, don’t date, at least not seriously. A lot of guys in your boat go find something light and temporary on Tinder, but be careful your heart doesn’t get ensnared with somebody that will do the same thing your ex did.

  • The word “control” bugs me. We can seem to control because we’re trying to make sense of chaos. Cheaters, covert narcs, etc., cause chaos, cognitive dissonance, and chumps try to calm this, find some sense, some order without the cooperation of their “partner”. I think there’s a difference between control and finding order, or taking the lead in a relationship when you’re living with a “toddler”. I think that’s a strength, to know that we were still an adult in a dysfunctional relationship, and all we wanted was another adult to share our life. That’s not control … that’s just living without chaos.

    • I agree; living with the disordered is so unsettling that we spend most of our energy trying to get a stable footing (which is not the same as trying to ‘control’ the disordered person). I liken it to a toad turned upside down–my marriage was a constant struggle to turn myself right-side up, interspersed with periods of trying to re-orient my perspective so that ‘upside-down’ seemed normal (when, despite my struggling, I remained on my back because of X’s manipulations). The world looks pretty darn good now that I am right-side up again, with legs back on terra firma.

      • Yep, me, too. In fact, I mostly think I gave XH too much liberty. But I value freedom and always thought, “If you can’t trust a person, it doesn’t matter how many rules you hang around their neck.” In fact, I had a friend accompany me to one of his work Christmas parties where all the little girlie waitresses were giving him big hugs, and my friend said, “Man, *I* wouldn’t let him do that!” I said, “Do what?” She said, “Let all those cute little girls hand all over him!” And I seriously thought nothing of it. We live in a very huggy culture, no problem, right? — He left me for a 25 year old waitress. (cue the rimshot)

        But I always thought, Sure, go ahead, have your freedom. I’m not trying to tie you down. And, you know what? Now I kick myself for THAT! Maybe (says my deranged exhausted little brain), maybe by not reining him in more, I was demonstrating that I didn’t really care?!?!? — I can’t win. No matter what, I didn’t love him enough for him to stay. Or I didn’t love him in the right way for him to want to stay.

        but just like nearly everything else here on CL, for every think I did one way, someone else did it exactly opposite and the cheaters still used it as an excuse. Too much control/Not enough attention; too sexual/not sexual enough; too happy/too sad — somehow it was always the wrong thing that we did that “justified” what they did. — I guess no one works on fixing things anymore.

        • “but just like nearly everything else here on CL, for every think I did one way, someone else did it exactly opposite and the cheaters still used it as an excuse. Too much control/Not enough attention; too sexual/not sexual enough; too happy/too sad — somehow it was always the wrong thing that we did that “justified” what they did. — I guess no one works on fixing things anymore.”
          Got that right. It doesn’t matter what we say or do, the cheaters are still going to be who they are.

        • NWBiblio, fuck that old brain nibble. Love that is full and reciprocal does not require constraints and doesn’t require jealousy. It is their disordered bullshit that translates “I trust you” into “I can do anything I want cos you won’t mind”. We had a relationship the bounds of which were understood and they betrayed that. It’s not on you. Jedi Hugs!

    • Yep, control is paying the bills, making sure there is money to pay the bills, buying the groceries, making sure there is enough in the pantry for the next meal for the kids, getting to places on time especially to pick up kids, being where we say we are. Unbearable despotism! Warrants all these “acts of glorious rebellion”, aka fucking around on the chump.

      • “control is paying the bills, making sure there is money to pay the bills, buying the groceries, making sure there is enough in the pantry for the next meal for the kids, getting to places on time especially to pick up kids, being where we say we are. Unbearable despotism!”

        Brilliant, Kiwichump! going to borrow that “unbearable despotism” line, if you don’t mind?!

  • I love this site because everyone here truly feels your pain. We’re the only ones who get it how fucking bad this hurts. Dan, I feel your pain. I’m a supreme chump who did all the right things like you (kicked him out, divorce), but my heart was absolutely broken. Like you, there’s no going back. No fucking way. But I still feel sad sometimes. Similar to Tempest’s suggestion of carrying around copies of all the shit he did, I have a note on my phone of all the shit he did, including things he said, threats he made, secret account names and passwords, his dating profile pics, copies of the text messages from his howorker the whole 9 yards. Some people might find it too triggery– I find it necessary when I feel nostalgic (becoming fewer and farther between one year after divorce…). I also have another note of my favorite CL and CN nuggets of wisdom I’ve collected over the past year and a half. It helps so much!

    Another thing that helps is to think: if I met someone today with his/her qualities, would I consider him/her dating or marriage material? In my case, that’s a big fat FUCK NO. An alcoholic pot smoker who can’t manage money, willingly signed away custody of his daughter, lives in a shitty apartment and sleeps on a yoga mat on the floor? Also who is a proven serial cheater and liar? FUCK THAT SHIT!!! I’m better than that! You’re better than that! Get a little angry. I’ve been working on this in therapy. I don’t usually get angry. Sad is my default. Get yourself a little angry! It helps.

    I’m also in my 30s, and as was so lovingly pointed out to me when I posted yesterday about my dating woes in the forum, we are young! We have time on our side! Lastly, as many people have said, plenty of women would probably love to date you. Grieve a bit more, cry it out, get angry, and give yourself some time. (Now let’s see if I can take my own advice here.) Hugs!

  • Dan, I feel your pain. Like you, I was married to whom I thought was a loving, caring woman. Dated for 6 years and married 18 more. Four kids together, 2 of them special needs. After years of me putting up with her being gone 3-4 nights a week, always with “friends”, one of the OM finally spilled the beans and that became DDay #1. I got the ILYBNILWY speech too. Funny enough, he only told me because she had started seeing yet another new guy so was simultaneously cheating on both him and me. She moved out to think about what she wanted, then 4 weeks later announced she was moving in with the new guy. A guy in his late 40s making min wage and part of a biker gang – wow.

    That was 2 years ago. Let me tell you, life does get better, and your ex is on a path of destruction. Of course, life didn’t work out as planned for mine – her true wuv Harley boy eventually started cheating on her and she left him on the day of our divorce. Currently living with her sister 2 hours away and pretty miserable from what I can tell.

    On the other hand, I started dating about 9 months after my DDay and met a few wonderful women, and a few scary ones. Let me tell you, dating in your 30s and 40s is totally different from your 20s. I had zero self esteem and figured I would never find anyone again. On the contrary, what I found was that a nice, stable, and caring man is in high demand. I eventually found a fellow chump, and two of us been together over a year. Taking things slow but both very happy. It takes time. Stay NC with the ex and enjoy being single for while. There is a wonderful life on the other side of this.

  • Hi, Dan —

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Hurts like hell, doesn’t it? We all know, and we all sympathize. And as you can see from the replies above, there are a lot of good suggestions how to get through it. You’ll have try some of them and decide what works for you (for instance, I’m an atheist, so “praying” and “getting involved in a church community” doesn’t work for me, y’know?). Yoga might not be your thing. I tried yoga and drinking, and drinking (while more fun in the beginning) was ultimately not a good choice. (I’m joking. Drinking is always a good choice. <– joke)

    You said this: "what can I do to feel better and move on from this failed marriage? And more importantly what can I do to pick a better partner next time?"

    To address the latter part, I would offer this: It helped me a lot to realize I don't miss XH so much as I miss the relationship. XH, himself, was kind of a dick — and he was NEVER the person I thought he was (that was all me, projecting). A toddler, as you astutely observed about your STBX. — The point is, by realizing it's not the PERSON I miss, so much as the SITUATION, it helps me miss him less. In fact, it's not a huge exaggeration to say I don't miss HIM at all. That makes it easier to think about him cuddling up to OW because there are lots of people cuddling up to someone else right this very minute and I'm not jealous of THEM (ok, I am just a little bit, but not them any more or less than XH/OW).

    By turning XH into a placeholder, it makes it easier to think about putting someone else in that place. Maybe someone like you, Dan (not YOU you, of course, but someone LIKE you) – someone who is responsible and knows how to Adult. I already dated one guy who made me realize I can do better than XH.

    You can do better, too, Dan. You just have to have courage, and it's maybe too soon for that. As Tempest said, the body remembers and has to get over its addiction. But get out there and get involved in group activities that interest you, and it stands to reason it will draw women also interested and maybe something will spark — maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day when you least expect it.

    There is no quick fix for all those years of togetherness — the secret jokes and funny traditions — but that core of trust you miss was never really there for you, or for me, or for any of us here, if the cheaters so easily threw us over for "something better." To me, that's the saddest thing of all.

    You sound like a great guy. You can do it. I'm sorry for your pain. <3

    • Nice to hear from another atheist chump! I struggled to find things that worked for me but ultimately landed on lifting, lots of time with my dogs, playing soccer and getting involved in politics. Anytime you want to chat, I would love to talk to another person with a similar non-belief structure.

    • Thank you NWB! The “placeholder” thought is very helpful to get my mind straight, because I do miss the SITUATION of having a loving partner (that I did not actually had).

  • Dan,

    Lots of good advice here. My $0.02:

    As has been said, you don’t miss her, you miss the idea of her, the ideal, loving partner you want, you deserve, and you thought you had. She ain’t that person, and you’re better off without her.

    In a very real sense, the only way to replace that feeling of being loved by someone and loving them in return is to find someone to live it with. That isn’t to say that being single for a while is horrible, it is what it is. Some of the people here really need (or needed) to be single for a while, maybe a long while, as part of their healing process. Others, not so much.

    Me, I left the courthouse on the day the divorce was official, went home, was depressed, and got an account on J-Date (dating site for Jews). Called and contacted several people within a few months, dated one, and we’ve been together almost ten years, married four and a half.

    Anyway, the only person who can know when you’re ready to get back out there is you. Listen to your heart, and your needs. Are you ready to date, or do you anticipate being an emotional train wreck if you try it? Or maybe you need to dip a toe in the water. Casual dating, maybe coffee or lunch, and that’s it. It’s up to you.

    One other recommendation, if you think it would be at all helpful (and you can afford it), consider seeing a therapist. They can do a world of good, and just saying the things you know in your head out loud can help crystallize them, and help you realize how you were used and abused.

    Good luck. Hugs. Peace.

  • I don’t know if this idea will help at all — I was never very good at dating, even when I was young. The “rules” have changed so much now, and in my opinion, not for the better, that I just don’t care what “other” people do, I just do what I believe is right. I married too young, and then I remarried too soon. I think that is why I picked two narc’s — I never took the time to really learn how to protect myself, or improve my picker. However, I have two son’s who taught me a new twist on dating when they were teens. The did something called a group date — it was really a bunch of their friends or sports team mates, both male and female, and they would go to eat, or a movie, or bowling — whatever, as a group. There was no pairing off. They had fun, they didn’t look for “the one”, and they learned how to act because their friends told them off if they were being jerks.
    I don’t know if I ever want to marry again, and I don’t believe in “the one”. But I go out with my friends (we play music together) both male and female. I am having fun, and I’ve made good friends. Something like this may be a good transition for you — you are still young, and may want to remarry. It might be worth a try. My son’s are 27 and 30, and have not married yet — which I consider a good thing. They do date, but if they are not on a date, they go out with friends. Don’t stay home alone and be blue, don’t dream of a relationship you didn’t really have (it was a mirage.) Take your time and have fun, and work on your picker. Good Luck!

  • “She kept saying that I was emotionally stunted”. Wow! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. What a perfect example of projection. It is so obvious to everyone on these boards that she was the emotionally stunted one. You have to be in order to cheat. Emotionally mature people know better and are willing to work on improving an imperfect relationship or get out before going fishing if it isn’t going to work. Dan, you seem pretty emotionally mature to me and that will be gold to many women out there.

    • “She kept saying that I was emotionally stunted”, is another classic from the cluster B Operating System they come out of the factory with…

      • I got i was ‘unevolved and running programs instilled in me in childhood’ wtf ie he didn’t like the fact that I believed in family values

  • Dan: I went through something similar. Two marriages to the same “wife”. Each marriage she had long term (over 2 years) affairs. When I took her back for marriage #2, she had convinced me that she had changed and that the married affair guy was totally out of her life. Wrong. She just got better at her deceptions.

    People like this are sociopathic. They are most certainly on the Cluster B spectrum. Long term affairs, not learning lessons, and hundreds upon hundreds of lies. You didn’t cause her to act the way she did. I would say the fact she actually married you speaks volumes about how she saw you. But, this is a woman who cannot love in the sense you and I know it.

    You were/are in love with an illusion. A façade she presented to you. You need to truly focus on the FACT that this isn’t the true person she is. She is an amazing actress. You need to work on allowing yourself to see her (and truly accept) for who she is. For who her true character is. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking the mirage is the real her. The real her is a vile, unempathetic, immoral wench.

    When you accept that you were in love with someone who didn’t truly exist, you will begin to heal.

    Absolutely 100% no contact if possible. She is horribly toxic to you and your self-worth. Don’t ruin yourself anymore than she has already.

  • I’ve got a kajillion things to get done today, so all I need to do is paste this sentence here and say “read it over and over until it sinks in”: “I’m sure your ex had a few fine qualities — which are utterly eclipsed by her cheating, deception, and disrespect of you.”

    The most important thing I did to detox from BOTH Jackass and XH the drinker (because I didn’t do my homework on that front) was to get real about who they are. XH actually does have fine qualities and a good heart, which he has fought so much over the years it is shriveling up and dying, in a literal way. I spent a lot of love and (especially with XH) years mooning around thinking I would never be happy unless that stupid fairy tale worked out. Get real about people, including yourself. I had to face up to being someone who never, ever stopped to feel and process; to being someone terrified to face the world without a date and preferably a mate; to being a champion spackler and denier of red flags; to having standards that were appalling in terms of how I expected to be treated. And so on. There’s more but you get the drift.

    None of us get over these abusers without doing the work. It takes time. It takes commitment. And one key goal needs to be giving up control (that’s the codependent’s little secret–fear of losing that) and learning to let yourself and others just BE. And if someone you are attracted to isn’t for you–let that person go. A woman may try on 50 dresses before she finds the one but will marry the first jackass who takes her to a movie. I’m sure there is an equivalent on the male side. Getting over a jackass is about deciding to do the work, even if you can barely get out of bed in the beginning. Baby steps.

    • Looking back at this, I see the word “commitment.” What does it mean to make a commitment to our own happiness and well-being? We one get one “wild and precious life.”

    • Yes, there is an equivalent on the guy side. The first woman who has, or does, or is, some little thing you fantasize about. That one thing gets your heart (or your wedding tackle) doing all the thinking, and you dive in head first. You’ll look at 30 different packages of screws at the hardware store, but marry the first woman who checks off that one magic box.


  • LAJ great post. The comment about trying 50 dresses but marrying the first jackass to take you to a movie. Exactly.

    • Yes, the perfect set up for a codependent who thinks she should be married, because that is what she is supposed to do, who she is supposed to be! So you go to the movie, and all of a sudden find yourself working your ass off to “have a relationship.” You are exactly right — I spend more time shopping for a deal on a car, or an outfit for a special event than I ever did looking for a worthy mate. Thought I could “fix” whatever needed fixing! What a laugh (now)! To twist and abuse an old Shakespeare quote — parting was such sorrow, I should have run away from what I believed to be tomorrow.

      • These are good points. So is it because we are also taught not to be judgey about people, but we are also taught and encouraged to be discerning consumers? Maybe we need to teach people to be a bit more judgemental again about others’ behaviour. I think the drive for acceptance of different lifestyles and sexual orientations, which is good, has been misunderstood to mean that anything goes. We should be aiming for a society where honesty is valued above all, so people can be honest about their orientation and lifestyle choices and be accepted and treated equally. On the other hand dishonesty should be strongly disapproved of and in the case of marriage/divorce/custody it should carry some penalties, just like in commerce/contract law.

  • Great post CL.

    I recall similar feelings post DD#2 — aka ‘when will I feel normal again? and ‘how long will it take?’

    Everyone is going to have a unique healing journey. Think of it this way, if your wife had died would your grief be gone after 2 months? You’ve had your heart broken, lived through lots of crises, and experienced emotional manipulation/drama — and god knows what else.

    I never experienced the longing to care for someone though. I was too worn out and it was a relief when the chaos was over. I did however have a dog that I loved to bits! He kept me sane.

    Dan, you are doing great! Just keep going. AND keep NC!

    • That did capture the pain of what it’s like to be cheated on AND then maligned to other people for being a deficient spouse.

      [However, this paragraph is not so on target: “Normally a spouse who falls prey to an affair is a decent person that is aware of their behavior and how it is frowned upon by society. Even though they are aware of the immorality of their actions, they continue with the relationship, which means dealing with feelings of guilt.”

      Count me as skeptical both about the “decent person” and “feelings of guilt” part. No “decent” person would add insult to injury by having an affair, devaluing the faithful spouse, and then blaming said spouse for their crappy actions. As for guilt on the part of most cheaters? Hahahaha–they think we deserved it (see “deficient spouse” idea).]

      • I think there are different types of people that cheat. And I think MOST just DGAF. They do it because they can, because they like to, because it feels good, because it’s fun. I mean how good do you feel when you are praised? “Good job at work! I’m so proud of you! You look good! Have you lost some weight? That haircut is AMAZING!” Except it’s coming from the AP. That’s why they do it. Everyone wants that feeling. And when you get it from the AP and not from the chump of course you are going to resent the chump. “If the AP can see how AWESOME I am why can’t my own SO?! They live with me! They should see my awesomeness! Well fuck that noise! I’m taking all this awesomeness to the AP because at least THEY get me and want me!” It’s sick. And stupid. And pathetic. But I know how it happens. It just depends I think on how far it goes and what type of person the cheater is. Some are just disordered POS and NOTHING will make them feel bad. Ever. Some I think are regular people that have gone sadly off the rails. But I do NOT think MOST feel guilty. They say that later to spackle for themselves (genuine Naugahyde remorse) because “Fuck you! I can do anything I want!” Doesn’t generally play well in society.

  • How I wish I could find a man that wanted to be a reciprocally caring and loving partner. A man who wasn’t constantly on the lookout for someone better. A man with a soul and integrity.

    Dan, your stock does indeed trade high.


  • Dan, you are rather muddled, but you have come to the right place.

    “but I miss her the way somebody would miss a cute toddler that they have been taking care of for years. I obviously want an equal loving partner that I can build a family with, but the longing for this cute toddler is growing, not subsiding.”

    These are contradictory statements. You want the cute toddler but you want an equal loving partner?

    I think that at the moment, Statement 1 is the true one.

    Statement 2 – about the equal loving partner – sounds like you are saying it because it’s expected of you.

    But given that you don’t really know what an equal loving partner looks like or acts like, it’s only natural that you yearn for ‘the devil you know’ – the cute toddler in an adult woman’s body.

    Dan, as a 47 year old bag who is rather cynical, I can tell you now that kids inside adult bodies are NOT CUTE. They are DANGEROUS.

    I notice that you don’t mention having any kids with her, which could also explain why you see toddlers as cute.

    Are you getting some therapy, along with the physical activities and hobbies? My old Family of Origin Issues Detector is buzzing, telling me that you need to do some serious examination of your deep-seated attitudes to women. You sound like a man who has only limited experience with actual mature, stable, reliable women, which may explain why you were prepared to tolerate an immature and unfaithful Petra Pan.

    • I don’t have any children, so I have no idea what a real toddler is like. I do want kids though, so maybe one day if I’m lucky enough I will find out.

      In my one other long term relationship (3 years in college), my ex gf was nothing like my ex wife. She was super stable and reliable, and often made me feel like the slacker. So yea, I don’t know how I ended up here with immature Petra Pan.

      To clarify, I don’t want her back. I do miss how cute she was, though, and she was definitely irresponsible like a toddler.

  • Hey Dan – Thanks for answering.

    “To clarify, I don’t want her back. I do miss how cute she was, though, and she was definitely irresponsible like a toddler.”

    So…. what does that tell you about what you find attractive? You had a super-stable girlfriend, but you married Petra Pan.

    Why is ‘cute’ more important to you than ‘stable’?

    Don’t answer me; I’m not a therapist, but I’m just saying – this is the kind of stuff you need to be examining if you want to fix your picker and have a proper relationship with an adult woman in the future.

    Otherwise you will keep self-sabotaging and choosing ‘cute’ and flaky over stable and perhaps less sparkly-exciting.

    One thing that has been articulated for me really well on Chump Lady is the danger in making romantic choices based on ‘sparkles’. When you feel that almost narcotic attraction to someone’s charm, vim, sparkles – like they set your world buzzing – then you are almost always in the presence of a deeply disordered person.

    Unfortunately you tend to learn this too late.

    Anyway, get a professional eye on those strange life choices and mystery outcomes. There are answers in there, but you may find them a bit uncomfortable at first.

  • PS. Here’s a hint:

    “She was super stable and reliable, and often made me feel like the slacker.”

    WERE you actually the slacker in that relationship? Think about that one.

    And why didn’t you like feeling like a slacker? Some men would thrive on this. What makes you different from them?

    And is Petra Pan’s allure in the fact that she was a widdle baby girl who needed you to be a big stwong man and take care of widdle her? So that you wouldn’t feel like a slacker?

    I’d be looking at that fear of being a slacker, myself. Because it might be that this is why you chose to be enslaved to meeting Petra Pan’s every cute emotional need, including her cute habit of fucking other men behind your back and lying to you about it?

    • Well said Lola.

      These are the things I wish somebody would have told my 20 year old self.

      And my 20 year old self probably would not have listened.

  • “And my 20 year old self probably would not have listened.”

    Yes, I’ve been there too.

    But your 37 year old self needs to start asking these questions and answering them in a supportive environment, like a therapist’s office.

    Therapy can get your picker fixed a lot faster and more permanently than just white-knuckling it and flicking at profiles on Tinder, hoping to randomly get a decent woman next time.

    PS again – When a 37 year old man who was with a lady for 16 years, but without kids, tells me he wants kids, I am inclined to answer, ‘No you don’t. Not really. Because if you wanted them, you’d have had them by now – either naturally, or adopted, or fostered, or you’d have a house full of dogs and cats and birds and stray snakes.’

    I don’t know your situation, and perhaps you and Petra Pan couldn’t have kids. But people who ‘want kids’ usually find them in one form or another.

    So perhaps this is not entirely true – you like the idea of kids, but not the reality.

    Perhaps this also helped to keep you with Petra Pan – the ideal fantasy toddler. All cute and cuddly, but also able to change her own diapers, earn money, and have sex with you?

    Keep processing. It will take a while, but I can see tons of things here that you can take to the therapist, if you really want to fix your picker.

    But do you REALLY want to fix your picker? That’s the million dollar question.

  • Very astute lola. I agree. Actions speak louder than words.
    Your cheater wife suited you Dan. For some reason, and vice versa.
    Other men would have seen through her and bailed years ago.
    I know that is also true for me. No way would some of my friends have tolerated my ex.

    • I think the wonderful thing about this blog is that we’ve all been there, and we can all speak from experience and from the dumb-ass things we’ve done.

      For example, the reason I am questioning the ‘wanting kids’ thing is that I told myself I wanted kids for years.

      But did I really want them? HELL TO THE NO. I turned down every opportunity I had to have them! I even resisted pets for years. I simply wasn’t cut out for kids, but it took me a long time to accept that about myself.

      Actions spoke louder than words, and I finally listened.

      It’s good to be able to let go of cherished fantasies about oneself, as well as about the exes. You end up having a much happier life.

  • I keep seeing it said that men like Dan are in demand, but in my experience as a 38 year-old man with many of the same qualities, this isn’t so. Maybe I’m a cave troll, but I haven’t got that impression at all. I think the group here is self-selected on being burned and being on the lookout for quality partners, but the world at large isn’t like that. Sparkly is what sells.

    • You’re right, there is a superficial side, especially in online dating. Straight men want the wispy sexy women, straight women want men who make a lot of money and are at least 6′ tall.

      That’s why online dating is not for me. I’m a fat woman with pink hair. It’s tough out there.

      But the reality is, when you get right down to it, good people are in demand.

      • I have never done the online dating thing, but some of my single friends have. They told me that they tend to have better dates (and relationships) with women who did not have sparkly profiles or pictures. Something to think about!

        Also, I think that love just happens, you can’t search for it. But you have to put yourself out there and be emotionally available.

  • Dan, you’re doing awesome for being just 2 months out. The pain most definitely sucks, but as CL said, the pain will subside. Each day, although it doesn’t feel like it, will get better.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be absolutely fine. In fact, more than fine. We are the same age (I’m 36) and I am finally finding my voice. You will too!

  • I am feeling so much of what is on this post today. 20+ years together–3 months since I made him move out. I’ve had good days and bad days and was starting to have more and more good days which was such a relief. I know it’s all part of the LONG process but I feel like I’ve hit a wall the last several days and I’m stuck I’m keeping busy, seeing friends, therapy, reading, exercise, all that stuff but at the end of the day I’m just tired of being alone. Not all the time–I’m enjoying most of my alone time. I know from everything I’ve read on this site and in the CL book it just takes time but I am so ready for the damn time clock to speed up a little! BTW we work in the same office so I have to see his fucker face Monday-Friday even though we are NC other than that.

  • Cannot imagine how hideous working with my ex would be.
    Kudos to you Pennybacker. Give yourself a medal. Nightmare scenario.

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